#2535: Gwen Stacy

GWEN STACY

MARVEL LEGENDS RETRO COLLECTION (HASBRO)

“A bright student with a keen scientific mind, Gwen Stacy is girlfriend to Peter Parker.”

Hasbro’s Retro Collection sub-line of Marvel Legends is loosely meant to replicate the Toy Biz toys of the ’90s, which typically means aping at least a little bit of what the ’90s cartoons were doing.  Today’s figure, however, kind of spits in the face of that whole thing, since by the time Toy Biz was making Marvel figures, Gwen Stacy was about two decades deceased, and Peter had been with Mary Jane Watson for about half of that time.  That, and the fact that Gwen was just a civilian with no costume or anything, meant that Gwen was absent from the Toy Biz Spider-Man line*.  Hasbro has, nevertheless, decided to include her in their latest round of Retro-inspired figures, and I’m not really going to fight them on any of it at this point.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Gwen Stacy is the second figure in the recent Spider-Man-themed Marvel Legends Retro Collection assortment, which just started hitting retail in the last month or so.  She marks the second of the two figures I’ve looked at so far that don’t actually really fit in the packaging style the line is emulating, but, honestly, that’s become something of a running theme with these figures.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and has 27 points of articulation.  Gwen uses the Phoenix body as a starting point, but is mostly made up of new parts, with only the legs and hands ultimately being re-used.  Everything else is new to this figure, and that’s probably for the best.  Gwen is seen here in her attire from “The Night Gwen Stacy Died,” a suitable choice for her, given it not only captures the spirit of the character well, but is also a pretty slick look, and by far her most memorable design.  The sculpt does a pretty solid job of capturing her design from the comics, and just generally making her look as one might expect Gwen to look.  There’s some really nice texture work on her sweater, and both her jacket and hair get a nice bit of dynamic flow to them, which helps keep her from looking too static.  The head sits a touch high on the neck for my taste, and I wouldn’t have minded seeing a different set of hands used (I’m getting a little tired of that splayed oped hand), but the sculpt is overall a good translation of her design into three dimensions.  Gwen’s paintwork is overall pretty solidly handled.  It’s clean, and it gets the job done.  I think I might have liked her jacket to maybe be a slightly brighter shade, just to give her a little bit more pop, but the application is all pretty clean, and she doesn’t look bad in the slightest.  In terms of accessories, Gwen gets a handful of items that all seem…misplaced?  The big one that caused a tiny bit of controversy was the Mary Jane head sculpt.  Some people misread it as Hasbro saying that Peter’s love interests are interchangeable, and were rather miffed at the thought of putting MJ in an outfit that is so clearly linked to Gwen.  Of course, I see it more along the lines of Mystique‘s Lilandra head, or Skullbuster’s Reese head, where they *can* be used on the body they’re included with, but are more meant to give collectors a head that can go on another body, effectively giving them two figures in one.  I myself like how the MJ looks on Jessica Jones’ body, albeit with a hand-swap as well.  Also included are a rolled up copy of the Daily Bugle, which feels more like a J Jonah Jameson bit than a Gwen one, a binder (which is admittedly the one inoffensive piece here), and a Midtown High School yearbook, which long-time Spider-Man scribe Dan Slott pointed out makes no sense for either Gwen or MJ, since neither of them actually went to Midtown High.  Odd choice.  Still, props to Hasbro for trying *something* I guess.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Gwen’s one of those figures that I wasn’t sitting there desperately waiting to get or anything, but that I was happy enough to see turn up in the line.  She’s a solid addition to the ever growing roster of civilian supporting cast members, and definitely a key character that deserves some proper toy coverage.  Her accessories are maybe a little odd-ball, but they don’t detract from the core figure, and I’m pretty happy to at least get the MJ head as an option, given I never got the two-pack version back in the day.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure for review.  If you’re looking for Marvel Legends, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

*Gwen did eventually get the Toy Biz treatment in their Silver Age line, one of their many one-off lines distributed through specialty retailers, so she wasn’t entirely left out of the fun.

#2388: Peter Parker & Mary Jane

PETER PARKER & MARY JANE

MARVEL MINIMATES

During the first year of Marvel Minimates, DST put together a few exclusives to bulk up the line a little further than just the core three series.  In the nature of repurposing all over the place in those early days, one of those exclusives, Grey Hulk and Ultimate Spider-Man, was a pairing of figures that would be literally everywhere by the end of the line.  The other notable exclusive is today’s pack, Peter Parker and Mary Jane, a pair of figures that were never directly re-released in any fashion.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Peter and Mary Jane were available at San Diego Comic-Con in 2003, alongside the previously mentioned Hulk and Spider-Man.  More than the other set, they feel like a direct continuation of Series 2’s Spider-Man theme, and pretty much slot right in with that set.

PETER PARKER

We got a half-Spidey/half-Peter ‘mate in the main line, so this figure creates the counter part to the full Spidey, giving us a full Peter.  Yay, I guess.  He’s built on the standard old-style ‘mate body, so he’s 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  He got a new hair piece and book bag.  Both would see re-use later, but they were new here.  Like Bruce Banner, the glasses are opaque, something I don’t like as much here as I did on Banner.  Beyond that, he’s just paint, which pretty much just replicates the Peter half of the Series 2 figure directly.  It’s definitely a ’60s Peter, that much is certain.  It fits in alright with the style of the early ‘mates, so I can’t really knock it.  Peter was packed with a book accessory, to go with that book bag, I guess.

MARY JANE

Peter’s main love interest and a long time fixture of the comics, Mary Jane didn’t really get her proper due as a Minimate until 15 years into the run.  She did get this…thing, however.  Mary Jane was the standard ‘mate body, but with a new hair piece.  A hair piece that was clearly aiming for some kind of recreation of John Romita’s look for MJ, but…well, it missed the mark a bit, and ends up looking more like a crappy mullet.  With the one piece of new sculpting dressed down, let’s talk about the paint.  Oh, it’s not good.  There’s way too many lines on that face.  That would be too many lines for a modern-style ‘mate.  For a year one release?  She looks like she’s a million.  The eyes are okay; it’s really he lower half of the face that ruins it.  Moving past the face we can stop and ask “what is she supposed to be wearng?”  MJ was pretty well defined as always having pretty flattering wardrobe, but this ain’t that.  She’s got a sleeveless shirt that may as well be a pillow case, plus capris, and…dress shoes?  I don’t know.  I don’t think this replicates a specific look.  Wouldn’t it have made sense to, I don’t know, go for that distinctive design that she has on that distinctive panel that everybody remembers that introduced her?  No, that would be too on the nose.  Let’s go with this ugly thing.  Making things uglier, the plastics on the various parts of her pants don’t match at all in coloring, which looks awful.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got this set from All Time when they got that large collection of ‘mates back last fall.  At this point, I was really just working on filling in my “year one” set, which these guys are a part of, and that’s about the only reason I bought them.  Peter is kind of meh, and not exactly enough to sell the set on his own.  MJ, on the other hand, is quite possibly the worst Minimate in existence, and is certainly the worst the first year had to offer.  Clearly, the reason neither of these two saw re-release is because they just really didn’t warrant it.

#2141: Spider-Man & MJ

SPIDER-MAN & MJ

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

Students at the Midtown School of Science and Technology, Peter Parker and MJ experience the powers of Spider-Man firsthand when the web-slinger must suit up to take down the Vulture.”

The Legends coverage for Spider-Man: Homecoming followed the usual Spider-Man movie range, meaning we got the main villain and a bunch of Spider-Man variants.  We did also get an Iron Man figure, but that was sort of on his own merits.  Beyond that, the other characters were really left out.  While the Far From Home offerings more or less followed the same set-up, but between the two, we did get one of the more important supporting players, albeit in a slightly rebooted form with Michelle “MJ” Jones.  Of course, surprising no one, there’s also another Spidey variant along for the ride.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Spider-Man and MJ are a Target-exclusive part of the Marvel Legends line.  They’re both officially based on Homecoming, though the set was clearly meant to tie-in with MJ’s increased role in Far From Home.

SPIDER-MAN

We got both of Spidey’s main looks from Homecoming back when the movie came out, but there was one notable design missing.  When locked in the Damage Control vault at the movie’s mid-point, Peter keeps himself warm by layering up and putting his hoody and decathlon team jacket over his costume.  It’s a pretty distinctive look, and was even used on the film’s main poster, so its recreation as a toy was pretty much inevitable.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 30 points of articulation.  Spider-Man uses a lot of parts from the initial Homecoming figure, but obviously swaps out the arms for a new pair with sleeves to match the jacket.  It also re-tools the upper torso to remove the butterfly joints at the shoulders.  I was admittedly never a huge fan of how they were implemented on the original figure, so I don’t miss them here.  In addition to the arms, he also gets the Coulson jacket, plus a new hoodie piece that slips underneath of it to complete the look.  Paintwork on this guy is actually a little different from the original release; the weblines are a little tighter and the tech-lines on the blue sections are a little darker.  It makes the figure pop a little more than the original, but the reds on the suit are the same, meaning the extra head from the first figure is still compatible.  Spidey is packed with two sets of hands in fists and thwippign poses.  It’s a shame he didn’t also get his Beats, but the hands are at least something.

MJ

Zendaya’s Michelle “MJ” Jones caused a fair bit of controversy when she was added to the cast of the first movie and was originally rumored to be a more direct adaptation of Mary Jane Watson.  It was honestly downright comical given how minor her role was in the first film.  Whatever the case, I found her performance to be enjoyable and the character to be a quite likable reimagining of a character we’ve seen quite a few times before.  And now I’ve got an action figure of her, which is always the best thing about any fictional character.  She stands a little over 6 inches tall and has 27 points of articulation.  MJ is built on the same body as the last Legends MJ, which is also the one used for Jessica Jones and Elektra from the Netflix line-up.  It’s a pretty sensible body, and fits the general build and look of Zendaya in the movie.  The figure gets a few new parts to help sell the new look better.  She has a new set of arms and jacket piece, as well as new lower legs.  It’s all topped off with two new head sculpts, one with the hair down and a more intense expression, the other with the hair pulled back and a more amused expression.  Both have a pretty spot-on likeness, but I personally prefer the second one.  MJ’s paintwork is more reserved than Spidey’s, but it’s still a pretty solid offering, with plenty of nice little touches, especially on the jacket.  MJ is packed with two sets of hands, one set in open gesture, the other in a gripping/fist combo.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Wanna guess where I got this here Target exclusive?  Did you say Target?  How ever did you crack that one?  This set first started hitting way back in June, but I didn’t actually find mine until a few weeks ago.  I had almost given up hope of finding it at retail, when a quick stop off on the way home to grab a few other things led to me finding a whole stock of them.  The Spidey variant is actually a lot of fun, and MJ’s kind of an essential figure, so I definitely dig this set.

#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.

#1475: Mary Jane

MARY JANE

SPIDER-MAN: THE MOVIE (TOY BIZ)

Back in the day, when super hero movies actually got dedicated toy lines at mass retail, one of the nicer things they offered were figures of some of the less dynamic members of their supporting casts.  Perhaps one of the best examples of this is the toy line for 2000’s Spider-Man film, which gave us figures of J. Jonah Jameson, Norman Osborne, and today’s focus figure, Mary Jane Watson!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mary Jane was released in Series 2 of Toy Biz’s Spider-Man: The Movie toy line, alongside variants of Spider-Man and Green Goblin, as well as a Peter Parker.  She’s seen here in her red dress she wears during the first movie’s World Unity Festival scene.  While it’s not necessarily a definitive look for her, it’s easily the most distinctive look from the movie, and more exciting than her others.  The figure stands a little under 6 inches tall and she has 10 points of articulation.  Though many of the figures in this line were super-posable, MJ was on the lower end, more on par with the X-Men: The Movie figures.  Like those figures, there’s not a ton of poses possible, but you can get at least a little bit of variety out of her.  The sculpt was unique to this figure, and it’s actually pretty good for the time.  The proportions are still a little bit exaggerated, and the articulation isn’t integrated as flawlessly as I might like, but it looks solid overall.  The detail work on the dress is actually pretty nice, and the likeness on the head isn’t a half-bad Kirsten Dunst.  The paintwork on MJ is pretty solid overall, apart from a few small nits.  The skin’s a little pasty, and the face is a bit sloppy, but the work on the dress is nothing short of amazing.  It definitely makes this figure worthwhile.  MJ is packed with a section of balcony, which is meant to work as a stand, I suppose.  There’s no foot pegs or anything, and it’s only really stable if you’ve got a window to mount it on, but it’s still a pretty cool piece.  There’s a breakaway feature, allowing it to split, not unlike the damage seen in the movie.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

17 years ago, I picked up this figure in a Toy Zain toystore.  She was rarer at the time, so I almost got her, but she was also $7.99, which was a $2 mark-up from the usual going rate, and I just didn’t know if she was worth it to me.  So, I didn’t get her.  And then I didn’t really see her again, until a few weeks ago, when Cosmic Comix put her out, as one of the many figures they’d gotten as part of a larger collection.  The price?  $7.99.  Nowadays, that’s not so bad, and I was hardly going to leaver her behind again.  She’s actually not a bad little figure, certainly not for the time. 

#1354: Mary Jane Watson

MARY JANE WATSON

MARVEL FAMOUS COUPLES (TOY BIZ)

Hey, so Spider-Man: Homecoming is out today.  That’s pretty cool.  I mean, it’s not a super rare occurrence in this day and age, what with this being the sixth Spider-Man flick in less than 20 years (and the second reboot in five years).  Still, this one looks like it should actually be pretty good, which puts it above the last two movies in my eyes.  Anyway, in honor of the film, I’ll be looking at long-time Spider-Man recurring character, who may be his funky and fun female friend, his girlfriend, his wife, or his awkward ex via deal with the actual devil.  Yes, it’s Mary Jane Watson!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mary Jane was released in a two-pack with a Spider-Man variant as part of Toy Biz’s Marvel Famous Couples line.  It’s not a huge shock, since the odds of getting a Mary Jane in plain clothes sold on her own would be far from a solid business plan.  The figure stands about 5 inches tall and she has 9 points of articulation (albeit with limited motion on the neck joint).  She’s patterned on her design from the ‘90s animated series, which is certainly a solid look, and more importantly, it’s a look that was fairly easy to pull off with completely re-used parts.  Yep, Mary Jane is head-to-toe a re-use of the Series 2 version of Fantastic Four’s Invisible Woman.  The sculpt works surprisingly well for this design, and it’s also more unique than a lot of re-paints, since the original figure was all clear.  The hair’s not right for MJ, but you take what you can get, I guess.  The heavy work here is being carried by the paint work, which does its very best to turn Sue’s spandex costume into a sweater and jeans combo.  It actually works out pretty well, since MJ’s outfit was usually depicted as rather formfitting both on the cartoon and in the comics.  The only really unconvincing part is the boots, which are just painted on, and therefore look a little goofy.  Still, the paint is very bright, pretty clean, and largely very convincing when it comes to making her look like MJ instead of Sue.  Mary Jane included no accessories, unless of course, you count the included Spider-Man.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I saw this set a number of times growing up, but I wasn’t enough of a Spider-Man fan at the time to get the pair.  Since then, it’s never been super easy to find, so I just never got one.  Mary Jane was another figure from Pop Culture Exchange in Omaha.  She was loose and by herself, which is fine by me, since I have plenty of Spider-Men.  She’s not anything amazing or spectacular, or even sensational, but she’s decent enough, and she’s an important enough player that I feel my collection would be incomplete without her.