SPIDER-MAN (TOY BIZ)
Marvel has a great history of wacky c and d list villains that would get passed back and forth between their various leading heroes. One of my favorites is Abner Jenkins, formerly known as the Beetle. He’s kind of a low rent Tony Stark, which amuses me. Of course, he’s no longer The Beetle, he’s Mach IV of V or X or whatever he is this week. But that’s another story. Good ol Abner’s gotten a few figures over the years, but it all started with today’s figure, from the golden age of Marvel action figures, the 90s.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Beetle was released in the “Spider-Force” series of Toy Biz’s Spider-Man line from the 90s. It’s kind of funny, because he never actually showed up on the Spider-Man cartoon, but he did cameo in the Iron Man cartoon from the same time. He’s based on his “classic” look from the 70s-80s (officially known as his MK II armor), which is probably his best look. Curiously, this is the only figure of him to use it. The figure stands about 5 ¾ inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation. Of course, a lot of that articulation is rendered somewhat ineffective due to the use of these freaking “v” style hips, which make doing any real posing of the legs virtually impossible. Beetle sports a body sculpt that would go on to be used for a couple of Toy Biz Marvel figures, but I believe he was actually the first to make use of it. It’s a slightly wonky sculpt, with some weird proportions. The waist is definitely very thin for a guy this size, and the pelvis seems a bit high-set. The hands and feet are also pretty huge, giving him an overall very exaggerated look. The body also has a slightly pre-posed nature to it, though exactly what pose they were going for, I can’t say. The hands definitely suggest some villainous gloating, though. His head sculpt, which was unique to him, does a pretty decent job of capturing the classic Beetle look, though, like the rest of the figure, it’s a fair bit exaggerated. One piece conspicuously missing from the figure is Beetle’s signature wing-pack. I’m not sure why it wasn’t included, but it makes an otherwise very accurate figure rather inaccurate. Beetle’s paint work is fairly straight forward, but generally well done, and it has a few nice touches. The purple areas are all done with a metallic finish, which looks really sharp, and the green areas have a nice wash to keep those sections from being too drab or boring. The accessories are where things get weird. The main gimmick of the whole Spider-Force series was that each figure came with this sort of a bug… buddy. So, Beetle comes with a giant beetle thing. Said thing can be taken apart and clipped onto Beetle, transforming him from Beetle into, to quote the box, “The Dangerous Beetle.” Because that lovely shade of salmon is just soooooo dangerous….
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
Despite the fact that I quite like the character, and the fact that I had quite the expansive collection of 5-inch Marvel figures back in the 90s, Beetle was not a figure I owned until fairly recently. I ended up picking him up at this year’s Baltimore Comic-Con (from the same dealer who sold me US Agent, Lasher, and Hybrid). He’s definitely one of the more exaggerated figures Toy Biz put out, and the gimmick is goofy as heck, but he’s pretty cool figure.