#1895: Spider-Man & Mary Jane

SPIDER-MAN & MARY JANE

SPIDER-MAN: HOLIDAY SPECIAL (TOY BIZ)

“Peter Parker spends a lot of the tome swinging from building to building, patrolling the streets as Spider-Man.  But when the holidays come around, Spidey makes sure he’s home in time to spend them with his wife, Mary Jane.  Spider-Man and Mary Jane celebrate the holidays like any normal couple, except that Spidey delivers the holiday gifts by swinging in through their apartment window!”

It’s once more that time of year; another Christmas day, a therefore another Christmas-y review!  I’ve covered all sorts of different topics over the course of the last five Christmas reviews, from basic Christmas concepts (Santa and a Gingerbread Man), to classic holiday specials (Hermie from Rudolph and Charlie Brown from…well, A Charlie Brown Christmas), to one of my favorite Christmas movies (White Christmas).  This year, I’m actually playing it a lot closer to the sorts of things I review on this site from day to day, and taking a look at Spider-Man and Mary Jane…albeit a slightly more festive take on the characters.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Spidey and MJ were released in 1999 as part of a seasonal “Holiday Special” pack, which was an extension of the Spider-Man: Animated Series line that was still running at the time, as well as a more festive take on the Famous Couple’s pairing of these two from the same year.  It included the two figures, as well as a Christmas-themed magnet featuring the two of them.

SPIDER-MAN

Headlining the pack is our main man Spider-Man.  Spider-Man takes his usual look, and adds a Santa hat, belt, and boots.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 11 points of articulation.  He uses the Spidey-sculpt first introduced with Octo-Spider-Man, which would be one of Toy Biz’s favorite sculpts to re-use during their 5-inch days.  It’s not the most posable take on the character, but it worked well enough.  The new parts, with the exception of his belt buckle, are all cloth parts.  It works best for the hat (which, it should be noted, is glued in place), and the belt is decent enough.  The boots, however, are kind of odd, and make keeping him standing a little tricky.  They’re removable if you so choose, though, so you have your options there.  The paintwork is mostly standard, though it’s worth noting that he gets a metallic blue in place of the classic blue.  Not entirely sure why the change was made; perhaps metallic blue is more festive?  Spidey actually does get an accessory; it’s a cloth bag, with a little printed cardboard insert with some presents on it.  It’s a little finicky to get him holding it, but it’s a decent addition.

MARY JANE

Both of Mary Jane’s figures during the Toy Biz run came in 1999, and they were built from the same base figure.  I mean, I guess that’s pretty sensible, right?  She stands 5 inches tall and has 9 points of articulation (though the neck is, as always with this mold, very restricted).  Like her Famous Couples release, this Mary Jane is a repainted Invisible Woman from the Fantastic Four line.  It’s  decent sculpt in its own right, though it’s slightly hindered for this release, by virtue of all the cloth and such she’s got glued to her.  The hat’s okay, and the skirt’s workable, but the fake fur on the arms, legs, and especially the torso end up looking really goofy.  She’s just not particularly playable as a figure, nor is she particularly appealing to look at.  She’s definitely the weak link of the set.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I remember seeing this set a good number of times at various stores back when it was new, but I never got around to actually buying one.  As regular readers will have no doubt noticed, I’ve actually had to outsource a couple of my Christmas review items in recent years, but last year, right before the holiday, I actually came across this set at Gidget’s Gadgets, and while I couldn’t get it done last year, I was able to ear-mark it for this round.  It’s goofy, and hokey, and totally without use outside of the holiday season, but the pair does have something of its own charm.

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#1525: White Christmas

BETTY HAYNES, PHIL DAVIS, & BOB WALLACE

IRVING BERLIN’S WHITE CHRISTMAS (EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE)

“IIIII’m dreeeaaming of a Whiiiite Christmas….”

Heyo, it’s another Christmas morning, and another day of me being a little bit festive here on the site!  My family and I have a whole ton of various holiday films and specials we have like to watch during the season.  The exact order is mostly free form, but the whole thing is always kicked off by the same film, which we always watch during out assembly of our main tree.  That film is the focus of today’s review: White Christmas.  It’s one of my very favorite holiday films (and really one of my favorite films in general), though it’s not necessarily the most toy-etic film in existence.  Despite that, it still managed to get a set of figures courtesy of Exclusive Premiere, who built a whole company on releasing toys based on non-toy-etic properties.  Perhaps surprising no-one, they didn’t go very far with that business plan.  But hey, at least we got these guys, right?

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Betty, Phil, and Bob were all released in 1998 by Exclusive Premiere.  It’s sort of an odd line-up.  I mean, yeah, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye, and Bing Crosby were all in starring roles, but there’s kind of a major character missing here: Judy Haynes, Betty’s sister, played by Vera-Ellen.  Admittedly, she’s the least known of the four leads, but she’s still a major part of the story, and it’s a little weird she was left out…but like I said, it’s kind of a miracle they got made at all, so, I guess that’s the thing to focus on.

Betty’s the most unique of the three.  She’s built on EP’s standard female body, standing about 8 3/4 inches tall with 11 points of articulation.  The body was alright, I guess.  It doesn’t have elbow movement, which is kind of frustrating, but there’s been worse base bodies.  She’s got a unique head sculpt, which is probably the best of the three here.  It’s got a passable resemblance to Rosemary Clooney.  I’d hardly call it spot-on, but given the quality of the other likenesses put out by EP, it’s borderline amazing how well this one turned out.  The tailoring on her dress is decent enough even the price point, and compared to the others.  It doesn’t look terrible by any stretch of the imagination, and it hits all of the major design points of her on-screen dress.  There are some smaller details that are missing, but the important stuff is all there.

Phil and Bob are both essentially the same figure, separated only by a head sculpt.  It’s not the worst thing ever, I suppose, since it’s not like Kaye and Crosby were horribly different in build.  That being said, the standard base body they’re both using is a little on the buff side for either of these two guys.  They both stand 9 inches tall and have 13 points of articulation.  At least their elbows can move.  The bodies are kind of similar to the Playmates 9-inch Trek figures, which isn’t awful, but these are definitely of a slightly lower quality.  The heads are decent, I suppose.  I think Phil’s the stronger of the two.  It looks kind of like Kaye, but not a ton.  I guess you can figure him out in context, though.  Bob’s…well, Bob looks a bit like a cartoon character.  Like, I guess it’s Bing Crosby, but it’s more like the Genie as Bing Crosby caricature from Aladdin and the King of Thieves, and less like real Bing.  There’s noooooo doubt about it.  But, like Phil, you can kind of piece him together in context.  Neither head is particularly helped by the hat that’s permanently glued to it, but I guess they won’t bet lost that way.  From the neck down, they’re both wearing the same Santa suit.  It’s not great.  It’s really baggy, and lumpy, and sloppy, and not particularly accurate to the suits seen in the movie.  This is probably due to this same exact suit being used on EC’s Miracle on 34th Street Santa Claus, where it was still inaccurate, of course, so I guess they just spilt the difference between the two looks.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like the previously reviewed Charlie Brown, these guys aren’t technically mine, but are instead more of a joint family possession that gets pulled out and put on the shelf every holiday season.  They’re goofy as all get out, and even 20 years later, I’m still a little bitter that Judy got left out, but the novelty of just having White Christmas figures forgives a lot of sins.

#1160: Hermey

HERMEY

RUDOLPH AND THE ISLAND OF MISFIT TOYS (PLAYING MANTIS)

hermie1

Christmastime is here.  Happiness and cheer.  Wait, wait, sorry, that was last year.  Yes, it’s Christmas once again.  So, to those of you that celebrate, Merry Christmas.  And to those of you that don’t Happy Holidays! Last year was A Charlie Brown Christmas. This year, it’s the other big Christmas special, Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.  Of course, I’m not looking at Rudolph himself.  No no, that would be too obvious.  Instead, I’m looking at his best pal Hermey, the elf who dreams of dentistry.  Because why not?  You do you, Hermey.  You do you.  Let’s get onto the figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

hermie2Hermey was released in the first series of Playing Mantis’s Rudolf and the Island of Misfit Toys line from 2000.  As with many of Playing Mantis’s lines, Hermey was available as a single packed figure, as well as in a multi-pack with Sam the Snowman and Yukon Cornelius.  My figure was the single release.  The figure stands about 4 inches tall and he has 10 points of articulation.  Not the most posable figure ever, but he was actually pretty innovative for the time.  The hip articulation in particular is very clever, and pretty much entirely hidden.  Hermey’s sculpt is all-new to this particular figure.  It’s not a 100% accurate recreation of the stop-motion model from the special.  The head’s a little more rounded, especially around the chin, and his neck is a bit shorter.  That being said, he’s a pretty darn close recreation, and it seems the changes that were made were mostly in an effort to make the figure a little sturdier, which I can certainly appreciate.  The level of detailing on the sculpt is quite impressive.  The hair in particular is very well rendered.  The figure originally sported a removable hat, which mine is sadly missing.  It was actually pretty cool and it was secured on his head via a rather discrete set of raised ridges on the back of his hair.  Hermey’s paintwork is pretty solid work.  Most of it’s just pretty straightforward color work, but the face and hair sport some quite effective accent work, which offers the sculpt some “pop.”  Hermey included two large teeth (removed from Bumble), a pair of extracting tongs, a book on Dentistry, and a small hammer, which is a very nice assortment of extras.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up Hermey when he was new.  I believe my Dad and I were running an errand to Target just prior to setting up the usual Christmas decorations, and I was allowed to pick something out for said decorating.  What a shock, I went for the action figure.  Yeah, I know.  Who’d have guessed?  Hermey’s always been my favorite character from Rudolph, and this figure’s a pretty darn good representation of him.  Playing Mantis had a tendency to take outside of the box properties and turn them into some pretty awesome toys, so it’s a shame that they aren’t still around.

#0794: Charlie Brown

CHARLIE BROWN

A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS

CharlieBrown1

Hey! It’s Christmas! So, to those of you who celebrate the holiday, Merry Christmas! To those of you who don’t, I offer a more generic, but still fully sincere Happy Holidays! Coming up with Christmas-themed figures to review is sometimes a little difficult, since I tend to go for more year-round applicable stuff in my collecting. But, I do have a small little pool of various holiday-themed stuff. One of the classic Christmas specials is A Charlie Brown Christmas, which marked the second time the popular comic strip characters made their way into animation. Generally speaking, a bunch of normally dressed kids don’t make for the most toy-etic property, but there have been a few tries at translating the characters into plastic form. In 2003, toy company Playing Mantis (who are sadly no longer in business) did a rather expansive line of honest to god action figures based on the characters, which included a whole set devoted to the Christmas special. Today, I’ll be looking at their version of the titular character!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

CharlieBrown2Charlie Brown was part of the A Charlie Brown Christmas line of figures from Playing Mantis. He was available as both a single release figure and as part of a three-pack with Linus and Sally. Mine is the single release. In addition, he was available with two different facial expressions: a fairly basic smile, and a singing expression, as seen at the end of the special. This figure is the latter. The figure stands 4 ½ inches tall and has 10 points of articulation, which was actually quite a step up from the movement on the non-Christmas figures. The Peanuts characters have a pretty distinct look about them, which is pretty largely linked to them only being seen in two-dimensions. That being said, this figure’s sculpt actually a pretty great translation of the mid-60s look of the character. The head shape in particular is pretty spot-on, and looks great from just about every angle. The one real inaccuracy of the figure is the hands, which forego the usual shaping of the hands in place of more functional hand meant for holding accessories (though none of Charlie Brown’s accessories…). For the most part, Charlie Brown’s molded in the proper colors instead of using paint, but he does have a few painted details. His face is a good match for the look from the cartoon, and the work on his hair and shoelaces is pretty solid. CharlieBrown4Charlie Brown includes his signature hat from the special, as well as two versions of the classic tree, both spindly and fully decorated, as well as snowy display stand. The trees are pretty cool, because the fully decorated version can be cracked open, so that the smaller tree can be placed inside it, and its one ornament shows through the outer tree, just like in the actual special.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, Charlie Brown isn’t actually mine. He’s kind of a joint possession of my entire family, along with the rest of the A Charlie Brown Christmas figures. We pull them out and set them up every Christmas season. For a Christmas decoration, he’s actually not bad. As an action figure? Eh, he’s reasonable. The articulation’s not exactly the most extensive, but it’s good for a few basic standing poses. Plus the actual look of the guy is pretty great, and he has a cool selection of accessories.

#0070: Gingerbread Man

GINGERBREAD MAN

LEGO MINIFIGURES

In the spirit of being festive for Christmas, I’ll be looking at something vaguely Christmas related.  It’s another figure from LEGO’s Minifigures line.  This time depicting everyone’s favorite Christmas themed cookie (okay, maybe not everyone’s­) :  The Gingerbread Man

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Gingerbread Man is the 2nd figure in the 11th series of the LEGO Minifigures line.  He uses the traditional LEGO body, but he has a specially sculpted head in place of the usual piece.  It’s a really cool piece, and looks perfect for its intended use.  The Gingerbread man is molded in a creamy brown color, and has detailing to represent his icing details.  In addition to the icing, he’s also got a slightly darker brown detailing to show the texture of the gingerbread he’s made from.  It’s a subtle effect, and could have easily been left out, but the extra mile really adds to the figure.  The Gingerbread Man includes a mug and a LEGO stand.  The mug has painted letters that read “DUNK ME!” which is another really cool touch.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked the Gingerbread Man up along with several others from the same series from a bookstore at the beach while vacationing.  I think he’s really cool, and is definitely a shining example what LEGO can do with the line.