BEN REILLY, SCARLET SPIDER, & SPIDER-MAN
SPIDER-MAN (TOY BIZ)
“When the scientist known as the Jackal cloned spider-man, he intended to destroy Spidey! Now several years after Spider-Man defeated the clone, he has returned as the hero, Scarlet Spider. Fighting alongside the original Spider-Man, the spider clone seeks to uncover the answers behind the many players in the clone saga!”
Oh boy, you want a fun time? Why not have a little talk about “The Clone Saga,” the gargantuan, over-stuffed Spidey crossover from the ’90s that forever is remembered in infamy. Early commercial success of the story, which brought back unexplored plot threads from two decades prior, led to Marvel editorial greatly extending its run through the Spider titles, adding in all sorts of aimless and needlessly complicated plots that seemed to go nowhere. At the crux of the story, it was revealed that the Peter Parker the audience had been following for two decades was in fact a clone, and the recently introduced Ben Reilly was the original, which was really Marvel’s first stab at the “carefree, single” Peter Parker that we would later get out of “One More Day.” By the end of the story, Ben was dead and confirmed as the clone, and the whole thing was put to bed. Of course, that didn’t stop Toy Biz from taking advantage of the story in order to get some toys out of it!
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
Ben Reilly, Scarlet Spider, and Spider-Man were released in the fall of 1997 as part of a BJ’s Wholesalers exclusive “Maximum Clonage” boxed set, which also featured unmasked Peter Parker, Kaine, Spidercide, Jackal, and Sandman, and covering the Clone Saga as a whole.
“When the clone of Peter Parker left New York City, he took the name Ben Reilly. Now, Ben Reilly has returned to join Peter Parker in his quest to find the truth behind the clone mystery. Just as much hero as the real Peter Parker, Ben creates a new super hero costume and takes the name Scarlet Spider. Fighting together as the Scarlet Spider and Spider-Man, Ben and Peter are an amazing web-slinging duo. But when the real Peter Parker loses his powers, Ben takes his place becoming the all new Spider-Man!”
One of the handful of truly exclusive figures in the set, Ben Reilly in his civilian garb has so far never been done again in action figure form. The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 10 points of articulation. Ben was built out of the main Spider-Man line’s Peter Parker figure, at least from the neck down, anyway. It’s a guy of average build wearing a bomber jacket, jeans, and sneakers, so it’s reasonably generic. Plus, even if it weren’t, it’s not like there isn’t a good excuse for the two to look similar. It’s honestly a very nice sculpt, and definitely one of Toy Biz’s best civilian looks. To differentiate himself from the original Peter Parker, Ben bleached his hair blond and got a very mid-90s style ‘do, which this figure replicates by throwing the head of Archangel III on top of the body. While it does the hair justice, it’s a little off on the facial front, since it means he doesn’t look all that much like Peter, and he also has Warren’s super intense stare. Still, there were worse parts choices that could have been made, and at least he was slightly different from Peter. The paintwork further differentiated the two, changing his jacket from brown to black.
“Returning from a self-imposed exile, the clone of Peter Parker reappears, now calling himself Ben Reilly. Possessing all of Spider-Man’s powers and abilities, Reilly begins to fight crime as the Scarlet Spider. With an all-new costume and special high-impact web-shooters, the Scarlet Spider fights with the enthusiasm of a rookie hero. Patrolling the same streets as the original Spider-Man, the Scarlet Spider leaves no doubt for criminals their days are numbered!”
Previously offered in another exclusive release during the Overpower line, this figure is pretty much unchanged here. This figure, just like the original release, was built using the body of Octo-Spider-Man, which would become one of Toy Biz’s favorite base bodies. It’s not terrible, and benefits from not having sculpted weblines, meaning that Scarlet doesn’t look odd or out of place. The downside is that the hoody is just a painted on element, rather than something new. He does get webshooters, a belt, and pouches for his legs, which mix up his look well enough. Ultimately, he’s sort of simple, but he’s probably my favorite figure from the set, so I really can’t complain much about him.
“When Peter Parker temporarily steps down from his crime fighting career, his clone Ben Reilly takes his place as the all new Spider-Man! Wearing an exciting new costume and utilizing the impact web shooters of his Scarlet Spider suit, Reilly can tackle anyone. Facing the threat of the evil Jackal, and the enigmantic Kaine, the new Spider-Man will have his work cut out for him!”
The “New Costume” Spider-Man had previously seen release in Series 7 of the main Spider-Man line, but saw another inclusion here, for obvious reasons. This new costume design is definitely a favorite for toy makers, and I myself am rather fond of it, probably due to its inclusion right here. This figure is built the same way as the Scarlet Spider, which is sensible, them being the same guy and all, but he gets tweaked forearms with the webshooters molded into place, just like his single release had. This figure does change some things up a little bit from the single, swapping out the blue for a darker shade that’s a little more appropriate for the character. My particular figure is also missing a chunk of the spider insignia on the front, for whatever reason. He’s been like that since I got him.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
“Maximum Clonage” was my first introduction to the Clone Saga, and I got the whole set as a Christmas gift from family friend Pat Sponaugle back in ’97. While I ended up losing most of the other figures, these three in particular have always been some of my very favorites of my 5-inch Marvel collection. I’m glad I hung onto them over the years, and someday I really do need to replace the rest of the set.