The Blaster In Question #0066: Venom Blaster

BlasterInQuestion1VENOM BLASTER

DART TAG (SPIDER-MAN)

venom1I was wondering what would break first: your spirit, OR YOUR BO- what? Oh sorry, wrong Tom Hardy role.  Why Tom Hardy, you ask.  That’s because he will be playing Eddie Brock in the upcoming Venom movie.  So in the spirit of that film, I thought I’d showcase something that only exists for its context to Spider-Man, but without any mention of Spider-Man on my part.  I give you the Dart Tag Venom Blaster.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

venom2The Venom blaster was actually part of the Spider-Man vs. Venom set in the Dart Tag line, released as a tie-in with the film Spider-Man 3 back in 2007.  It uses a pretty unique mechanism as far as I’m aware, featuring an air pump and 3-tier staged trigger.  This allows you to fire each of the 3 barrels one after the other in semi-auto fashion, or just mash the trigger down to launch all 3 simultaneously.  The shells of both the Venom blaster and the matching Spider-Man blaster in the set are the same aside from the colors, but beyond that, they are unique.  Being Spider-Man themed, the ergonomics are a little strange, but perfectly functional. You secure the blaster to your inner forearm using the Velcro strap, with the trigger in reach of your middle and ring fingers.  While on your arm, the most awkward part of the operation is by far pumping up the air tank as it takes a decent amount of force to actuate the pump handle, particularly when you get close to maximum pressure.  That being said, they do stay pretty secure on your arm, and the cloth Velcro strap doesn’t cut into your arm the way the plastic venom3watch strap things on more recent arm blasters do.  The performance isn’t the best, but keep in mind these came out well before N-Strike Elite was even a thing, and they’re licensed blasters, so it’s pretty easy to forgive.  While it won’t hit very hard, you do effectively have a 3-round burst strapped to your arm which can be somewhat concealed fairly easily, especially if you’re already holding a blaster in your hand.  That way, when your younger siblings think its safe because you’re out of ammo, you can blast them with an extra 3 shots they didn’t know existed.  That’s how you know you’re the cool older sibling: subterfuge and treachery.  The Spider-Man vs. Venom set originally came with the 2 blasters, 1 in each color scheme, a Dart Tag vest for each, a set of Vision Gear goggles that also matched, and a total of 12 Dart Tag darts, 6 for Spider-Man, and 6 for Venom.  I, however, picked mine up second hand, and as a result, only have the Venom blaster.  No Spider-Man anywhere.  But if Marvel wants to use any of my review in their current Tom Holland Spider-Man movies, I’d be more than willing to license it out to them. 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

Movie politics aside, I was actually one of those kids growing up who didn’t really care about Spider-Man, the character, but I thought Venom was awesome.  Pair that with Nerf and it was fairly inevitable that I would pick one of these up sooner or later.  And to be fair, the movies I’ve seen that had Tom Hardy in them, for the most part, I thought he did a good job.  Overall, my opinion on the blaster is it’s a bit dated but still fairly fun and I’m glad to have it.  Do I think the movie will be any good?  I think Mad Max said it best when he said “Hgrmngr rgn rgmrn mrgrnm…”

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#1100: Spider-Man

SPIDER-MAN

SPIDER-MAN 3 (HOT TOYS)

spidermanht1

We just got through the whole “three years” hubaballu, and now we’ve got another monumental review?  Sheesh, I gotta space this stuff out more.

Hi there readers, and welcome to the 1100th review on The Figure in Question.  As with my other “00” reviews, this is another deluxe review, where I look at a slightly higher-end figure.  Today’s figure once again comes from out friends at Hot Toys.  While HT has been making their mark with a number of figures from the very successful MCU films, they haven’t shied away from some of the pre-MCU films.  In addition to a few Wolverines, and a handful of characters from Blade, HT put out three figures from Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy (well, specifically Spider-Man 3, for whatever reason).  The figures hit right on the cusp of Hot Toys exploding in terms of popularity, in much the same way that the movies hit right on the cusp of the whole super hero movie explosion.  It was pretty fitting really.  Today, I’ll be looking at the basic Spider-Man figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

spidermanht2Spider-Man was figure 143 in HT’s Movie Masterpiece Series, placing him between their two Tron: Legacy figures chronologically.  He was released in mid-2011, which is a bit odd, since Spider-Man 3, from which his appearance is taken, was released three years prior.  As noted, this figure is based on the main costume design from Spider-Man 3.  It’s essentially the same design that was used in Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2, but, like the Stormtroopers in Star Wars, there are small details on the costume that change from film to film, which someone with a more mindful eye then my own could probably point out.  Of course, all three versions of the costume are in turn based on the classic Spidey costume from the comics.  The only real difference between the movie and comics designs is the movie designs have raised silver webbing, rather than the printed black webbing from the comics.  Spider-Man stands about 12 inches tall and, going by the Sideshow website, he has “over 30 points of articulation.” 

spidermanht3Unlike most HT figures, Spider-Man possesses neither an actor’s likeness, nor any real discernible head sculpt to speak of, for that matter.  I mean, there’s a head, and it’s unique to this figure.  The sculpt is certainly important, but in a different manner than usual.  The mask is cloth, but there’s a “blank” head underneath, which gives the mask a proper shape.  It’s actually very nicely done in that respect.  The shape matches pretty well with the appearance of Tobey Maguire in the mask from the movies.   The tailoring of the mask itself is pretty good, though it could perhaps be a little better.  The seam right at the top is sort of annoying (and it was something that future HT Spider-Men removed); it really should have gone somewhere more inconspicuous.  There are also a few issues around the neck of the costume, with it bunching up at certain points in a rather unrealistic way.  A lot of this stems from HT’s decision to make the mask and suit all one piece, presumably to emulate the look of the film (where movie magic makes the whole thing look seamless).  Unfortunately, it doesn’t translate quite so well to the smaller scale.  The later symbiote Spidey forewent the idea entirely and just had the break right at the base of the skull, which looks quite a bit better.  The head is topped off with a set of sculpted lenses (which hold the whole mask in place on the head), and they work pretty nicely (though there’s a slight scratch on one of mine), as well as a small bit of rubber for the webbing.

spideyht1The costume on this figure is technically made up of three parts, though they really function as one big body suit.  The main suit is pretty well done.  As with the head, there are some issues with the cloth bunching up weirdly in a few areas, which has a lot to do with the one-piece nature of the design.  That being said, it’s very well tailored to the body, is incredibly flexible, and offers a really great range of motion.  The suit ends at the wrists, but there’s enough extra material to cover the wrists and join up pretty well with the sculpted hands. The boots are a separate part (which you’d really only know if you had to disassemble the figure like I did.  More on that in the next section), starting halfway down the calf.  They’re actually a pretty clever in design.  There’s a sort of a skeleton calf and foot, to keep the articulation at the ankle, which is then incased in a rubber material to maintain a more natural shape.  The actual visible boot is really just a sock that slides over the foot, and it’s all held in place by a plastic sole that clips into the base of the foot.  The figure was originally shown with plastic boots (like the ones sported by most of my prior HT figures), but after some fans brought up how it ruined the seamless nature of the design and would also rob him of ankle movement, HT changed it for the final product.

The underlying body is, I think, unique to Spidey, though I’m not 100% sure on that.  It’s a good body for him aesthetically, being lean but still muscular.  It also offers a good deal of posability, and it looks good from under the costume.  That being said, the major issue that plagued this body was its durability.  Remember how I said I had to disassemble the boot?  Yeah, that’s because when I got this guy he couldn’t stand, due to his ankle joint being broken into three pieces.  Fortunately, the foot is easy to access and repair, but I’ve heard stories of figures breaking at the hips, shoulders, or even the neck, places that are virtually impossible to fix due to the design of the suit.  In addition, to make sure they blended with the costume, Spidey’s wrist pegs were cast in red plastic.  Red plastic is notoriously fragile if you don’t pay for a very high quality product, which it seems HT did not.  The pegs are only good for about one hand swap, and then they’re pretty much done.  Fortunately, this figure was released after a spare set of pegs became the standard, but it’s still very frustrating.  I myself have already broken one of the pegs (which is why you only see him wearing one pair for most of the pictures).

spideyinventorySpidey included a fairly decent accessory complement.  He has four pairs of hands, several different lengths of webbing, the edge of a building to perch on, and the usual display stand.  The hands are in fists, open gesture, web gripping, and web shooting poses.  Apart from the issues swapping them, they’re pretty cool.  The open gesture ones are my personal faves.  The webbing is fairly cool, and tow of the pieces can be slipped over the wrist pegs to look like he’s firing it from his wrists, which is a fun touch.  The perch is a pretty cool base, though he has a little trouble actually standing on it.  The basic stand is exactly what it says on the tin, but it works for its intended purpose.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Despite being a huge fan of the Raimi Trilogy (even Spider-Man 3!), I didn’t get this guy when he was new.  At the time, I didn’t have the funds for Hot Toys figures, and he fell right between my birthday and Christmas, so I couldn’t even really ask for him as a gift.  By the time I got into HT collecting hardcore, his price had gone up a fair bit.  I thought about getting the black suited version, but it wasn’t really the same.  I ended up finding him on Ebay for a reasonable deal, from a collector who had opened him and put him on the shelf, but that was it.  Despite his issues, I really like this figure a lot, and he’s probably one of my favorite HT figures I own!

#0943: Venom

VENOM

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

VenomSM3a

Spider-Man 3 is a movie that a lot of people don’t care for. I actually don’t mind it. In fact, I kinda liked it a lot. Is it a perfect movie? No. Honestly, it’s probably aged the worst of the three Raimi films, and even Sam Raimi’s said he feels it could have been better. It still entertains me, and that’s really all I can ask.

I actually don’t own a ton of toys from Spider-Man 3, though (apart from the Minimates), because of some general weirdness surrounding the tie-in figures. Spider-Man 3 came out in 2007, which was the year that Marvel toys switched from Toy Biz to Hasbro. Despite the prior two Spider-Man films (and pretty much everything else Marvel-related from the early 2000s on) having been pretty much exclusively 6-inch scale, Hasbro opted to release the Spider-Man 3 figures in 5-inch scale. It was a really odd move, and it wasn’t helped by the fact that the overall quality of the toys fell pretty steeply too. The end result was a large number of fans boycotting the smaller line (I didn’t boycott it; I just happened to not get many of the figures). Fortunately, Hasbro recognized the frustration, and put together a series of Marvel Legends based on the Spider-Man trilogy. Most of the heavy hitters from the films were covered, including the third film’s (somewhat maligned) version of Venom, whose figure I’ll be looking at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

VenomSM3bVenom was released in the “Sandman Series” of Hasbro’s first go at Marvel Legends. The series was released at roughly the same time as the Fantastic Four-themed “Ronan Series,” which was between Series 2 and 3 of the main line (The SM3 and FF series served to discontinue attempts at referring to Hasbro Legends by numbered series from there on). Venom stands just over 7 inches tall and has 30 points of articulation. Of the eight figures in the series, Venom was one of the four to get a new sculpt. It’s a rather sizeable sculpt to be sure, though it’s more than a little off from the movie Venom. Topher Grace’s Venom wasn’t anywhere near as big as the comics version, but all the SM3 Venoms seemed to go with a more comics-inspired sizing. So, while this figure’s sculpt certainly has an impressive amount of detail, it’s far from movie accurate. The proportions seem a bit crazy even for a comic Venom. The arms, hands, and upper torso are huge, while the waist and legs are small to almost comedic levels; his fingers come down past his knees for Pete’s sake! The head is also quite exaggerated, far more so than it ever looked in the movie. The crazy open mouth isn’t terrible, but it’s the sort of thing that really should be accompanied by an alternate, less crazy head (similar to the most recent Legends Venom). On its own, it seems rather limiting. Venom’s paint is at least decent. He’s molded in a slightly metallic black, which looks pretty cool, and he sports a nice, subtle silver on all the webbing. The paint around the mouth is a little sloppy, but not horribly so. He could probably stand for a bit more color variety in the gums, but that’s minor. Venom’s only accessory was a piece of the Sandman Build-A-Figure, but mine was acquired loose, so he doesn’t have that.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Venom came from the same random lot of Goodwill toys as the 12-inch Spider-Man I looked at last week. Because of the rarity of pretty much the entire Sandman Series, I never saw this figure at retail. Of course, I can’t really say I would have gotten him if I had seen him. As part of a bag of figures for $10, he’s kinda cool. For full price? Ehhhh. He’s an alright figure, but is definitely from a period when Hasbro were still finding their footing.

#0706: Unmasked Black Costume Spider-Man & Gwen Stacy

UNMASKED BLACK COSTUME SPIDER-MAN & GWEN STACY

MARVEL MINIMATES

Spidey&Gwen1

Hey, you guys like Minimates, right? Well, if you’re still following this site at this point, you kind of have to, don’t you? Though Marvel Minimates based on the latest Marvel movie are more or less a certainty these days (unless you’re Fant4stic…), they weren’t always such. X-Men, Spider-Man, Daredevil, Hulk, and Fantastic Four all had to make due with loose, comic-based tie-ins. It wasn’t until Series 14’s X-Men 3 Minimates that we would see any direct representation, though that series sure did open the floodgates. It was followed shortly thereafter by a whole two series based on Spider-Man3, which included the pair I’ll be focusing on today, Unmasked Black Costume Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These two were released as a two-pack in Series 18 of Marvel Minimates. Gwen was the regular release figure, who was swapped out for Mary Jane in the variant set. But, I don’t have Mary Jane, so…

UNMASKED BLACK COSTUME SPIDER-MAN

Spidey&Gwen2Wow, that’s a long name isn’t it? Need a few more adjectives there Pete? Trying to compensate for something? Every single pack in these two series featured a Spider-Man variant and he’s the one for this set. Yay. The figure is about 2 ½ inches tall and has the standard 14 points of articulation. He is, of course, based on the symbiote version of the Spider-Man costume, as seen in the third movie. He’s got a specially sculpted mask piece, with his mask part of the way rolled up. I’m not a fan of this piece; it’s awkwardly shaped, and, for some reason, the bottom, unmasked portion of his face is a part of the piece, making his head look really bloated. Also, given that this figure is packed with Gwen, one would presume the rolled up mask is meant to replicate their kissing scene from the movie. Except for one thing: Peter’s still wearing his normal costume at that point in the movie. So, I’m not really sure what this is meant to be. Overlooking the whole bit with the wrong costume, the paint on this figure’s not bad. The weblines are nice and clean, and the texturing on the unlined portions looks great. Under the mask is a Peter Parker face, with more or less the same expression as what’s on the bottom of the mask piece. It doesn’t really look much like Tobey Maguire, but it’s a decent enough Peter. The expression’s totally wrong for this costume, but oh well. The figure included a spare hairpiece, allowing him to actually live up to his name.

GWEN STACY

Spidey&Gwen3This was actually only the second time Gwen made into the Minimates line. This one’s based on her movie appearance, of course. Her inclusion as the heavier packed figure between her and Mary Jane was somewhat odd, seeing as she has a rather minor role in the film. That said, she was played up pretty heavily before the film’s release, so that probably influenced DST’s decision. She was based on her appearance from the previously mentioned “kissing scene” (which only further emphasizes Spidey being in the wrong costume). She’s built on the standard Minimate body, with add-ons for her hair, jacket, and skirt. All of these were new to this figure; they’re well sculpted, and they capture her look from the movie very nicely. The skirt would go on to become a standard piece, which is still in fairly current use, but the other parts remained unique to Gwen. The level of detailing on her hair and jacket is actually very nice, and marked the some of the Marvel Minimates line’s earliest transitioning into the more modern style of Minimates. Gwen’s paint work is fairly basic, but it does a pretty good job of translating her look from the movie into the ‘mate style. Her jacket could probably stand to be a few more shades removed from the flesh-toned plastic, but that’s a minor issue. The face has a rather good likeness of actress Bryce Dallas-Howard, which is good. Gwen included no accessories.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got this pair, as well as all of the other regular release Spider-Man 3 Minimates, as a Chritmas gift from my parents, the year they were released. Purely looking at the quality of the ‘mates, they’re pretty well done. The mask on Spider-Man is weird, but it’s easily swapped out for the much better looking hair piece that was included. Gwen is actually a pretty top-notch ‘mate, with some fantastic sculpted pieces, a good likeness, and pretty decent paint work. As a whole, though, neither of these two is particularly exciting. Maybe they would have fared better if they’d been packed with other figures.