#2577: Kingpin

KINGPIN

MARVEL LEGENDS RETRO COLLECTION (HASBRO)

“Wilson Fisk ruthlessly rules New York City’s underworld with cunning and a keen intellect.”

Waaaaaay back at the beginning of 2019, which feels like several decades ago at this point, if I’m entirely honest, there was a somewhat soft and not particularly thrilling assortment of Spider-Man-themed Marvel Legends with one notable hook: it’s Build-A-Figure of Wilson Fisk, aka Kingpin.  This subsequently made said Kingpin figure pretty darn pricey on the aftermarket, only adding further barriers to entry on owning a modern Legends Kingpin.  Fortunately, Hasbro’s been doing a pretty good job of keeping their fingers to the pulse on these older releases, and has been pretty steadily providing new avenues for people to pick them up.  Kingpin found his way into one of said avenues, and now I’m taking a look at the resulting figure.  How about that?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Kingpin follows in Mysterio’s footsteps, and is his own standalone release for the Retro Collection sub-line of Hasbro’s Marvel Legends.  He’s at their deluxe price point, but comes in his own replica vintage card, which is downright massive, as you would expect for a figure this size.  The figure stands 7 1/4 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  Rather unsurprisingly, this figure’s sculpt is mostly a re-use of the Build-A-Figure.  That was a really strong sculpt that did Fisk a lot of justice, so it’s certainly a sensible and well-chosen bit of re-use.  Also not even the slightest bit surprising, what with it being the same guy and all.  There’s one sculpting change between the two releases: this release trades out the last one’s tie for a far more fashionable ascot.  It’s a far more classically Kingpin piece, and it really sells the character even further.  It’s about the only change I could ask for, so I’m happy they went for it.  Beyond that small change, everything else on this figure relies on paint to sell the differences.  While the BaF went for a far more modernized color scheme for the character, this newer release leans into that retro angle, and gives us a far more classically inspired color scheme for the character.  While I didn’t mind the more subdued modern color scheme, there’s just something to be said for how well these colors pop.  And he’s even got the purple pants!  Dig!  The heads even get some minor reworking as well, with the eyebrows on both now being black instead of grey (again, helping things pop a little more), and the screaming head also gets some painted battle damage.  Again, dig.  This Kingpin once again gets his diamond-topped cane.  He’s still got some trouble holding it, but it’s still cool.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was a big fan of the BaF version of Kingpin when it was released, but I’ll admit I was hoping for an ever so slightly more classically colored version of the figure.  When this was announced, I was definitely on board, though he was, perhaps, not quite at the top of my list, given the similarities to the prior figure.  That said, he ended up being an even better figure than I’d expected, and this new deco adds a lot more than I’d expected to the figure.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy 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.

#2575: Spider-Man 2099

SPIDER-MAN 2099

MARVEL MINIMATES

When last I talked Marvel Minimates, I was discussing the rather infamous Series 7, the line’s dreaded “retread wave”, an assortment that was more than 2/3 redundant.  I had delved most of the way into it, but of the two actually new ‘mates included there in, I have thus far only reviewed one, leaving one last figure for me to look at.  Gee, I wonder what I’ll be looking at today…perhaps that exact figure?  Yeah, probably.  Let’s do this, I guess.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Spider-Man 2099 was one of the two unique pieces in the seventh specialty assortment of the Marvel Minimates line.  In fact, if you *really* want to get into it, he was actually the only truly unique piece in the line-up, since the other one, Chameleon, actually got two releases within Series 7 itself.  So that’s…cool, I guess?  2099 was packaged with Silver Surfer, which was an off the wall pairing to be sure.  Surfer had, of course had one prior release, and had another two on the horizon following this one, and is a ‘mate I’ve already reviewed.  2099 is a vanilla ‘mate, relying on just the core long-footed Minimate body, meaning he’s 2 1/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  2099 is, notably, one of four ‘mates in Series 7 to not use any add-ons, making it a very parts sparse assortment as a whole.  He really *should* have gotten a cape piece, and honestly would have probably benefited from Venom’s clawed hands.  It probably would have helped add some pop to the design, because as it is, he’s kind of…flat?  The paint work is doing the heavy lifting here, and while it’s fine from a technical stand point, it doesn’t really do a ton to make the design pop off of the page.  The blue seems a little light, and the red a little dark, and he lacks any sort of musculature detailing or anything.  Again with the flatness.  2099 included no accessories, lest he have anything else going on to add potential excitement to the assortment.  Can’t have that, can we?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When Series 7 hit, the only set I actually picked up was 2099 and Silver Surfer, because it wasn’t totally redundant, and I didn’t yet have Surfer.  As I noted in my review of Surfer, I lost a good chunk of the parts to my 2099 over the years.  The one seen here is actually on loan to me from Max, who was kind enough to help me round out this last piece of Series 7, just so I could finally be done with it.  Honestly, there’s not much to write home about here.  He was new and unique at the time, but I can’t say he was particularly thrilling.

#2555: Mysterio

MYSTERIO

MARVEL LEGENDS RETRO COLLECTION (HASBRO)

“A cloud of smoke heralds the arrival of the villainous mastermind who uses the art of illusion against Spider-Man — Marvel’s Mysterio!”

Man, remember when the Lizard Series Mysterio was so easy to get and not stupid expensive and really illusive?  No?  Oh, that’s right, because that was never really the case.  From the moment he was released, that figure was always the first one pulled from any case and remained well above regular retail pricing for pretty much his entire shelf life, if you can really call it that.  I eventually got one, but it certainly wasn’t easy.  Since it was so darn hard to get him, it’s probably not a huge surprise that Hasbro’s already got a repaint of him out, just two years later.  I’m taking a look at that figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mysterio is his own standalone release for the Retro Collection sub-line of Marvel Legends, released to coincide with the recent Spider-Man-themed assortment.  Given how popular the last release was, singling him out was definitely the right call.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Structurally, he’s *almost* identical to the prior comics Mysterio.  It was a pretty decent sculpt, and also a largely unique sculpt, so seeing Hasbro get some more mileage out of it makes sense.  It certainly looks impressive.  I’m still not overly fond of quite how the cape/helmet piece attaches, but I’ve had time to make my piece with that.  The only change to this figure’s sculpt is one that’s not evident at an outward glance: the head under the dome, which on the original figure was a skull/tentacle-illusion thing, has now been replaced by a sort of holographic Quentin Beck head (a repurposed Multiple Man head, for those that are curious).  I can dig both ideas, but I think I personally prefer the Beck head.  Beyond the un-helmeted head, the major change-up for this release is the paint work, which is, simply put, just a lot better this time around.  The helmet is now mostly opaque, allowing it to more properly capture the classic Mysterio look, and the jumpsuit’s impressive quilted sculpt is now much better showcased by the more intense accent work going on it.  Also, the gloves, boots, and clasps on the cape are all gold instead of light green, which is a slightly later look for the character but one that I think works better in toy form, as they add some extra pop to the figure.  Additionally, this figure avoids the clashing plastic colors of the last release, which again help him to just look a bit cleaner. Mysterio includes the two effects pieces for his feet, which are essentially the same between the two releases.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After the difficulty of getting the last release, this one was, comparatively, much easier to acquire.  I wasn’t sure I was even going to get him at first, but I really liked the new look in person, and I definitely wanted that Beck head.  Ultimately, both figures have their merits, but this release is definitely the superior offering, and I’m glad to have it.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy 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.

#2541: Spider-Man

SPIDER-MAN

MARVEL LEGENDS RETRO COLLECTION (HASBRO)

“Bitten by a radioactive spider, Peter Parker now possesses all the arachnid’s attributes­­—he’s the Amazing Spider-Man!”

Long-running, ever-improving lines have a pretty much unending need to keep updating those core characters, lest they fall behind and look out of place with the latest releases.  Also, core versions of main characters have a tendency to get really pricey the further you get away from their initial release.  In 2015, Hasbro produced a standard Spider-Man update for their newly rebranded Marvel Legends line.  Dubbed “Pizza Spidey” by the fans (due to the slice of pizza he included as an accessory), he was the gold standard for Spider-Man figures for five years.  But, even with two separate releases a couple of years apart, he remained fairly tricky to acquire for a decent price on the after market.  Faced with the prospect of needing to do another re-issue, Hasbro instead has decided to re-invent the wheel and set a new gold standard for Spider-Men.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Spider-Man is the final figure in the latest round of Marvel Legends Retro Collection figures.  He’s been by far the most in-demand of the whole assortment, so one might be forgiven for not even realizing he’s supposed to be shipping with the rest of the set.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 36 points of articulation.  That makes him Hasbro’s most articulated standard Spider-Man (6-Arm does slightly edge him out, by virtue of his, uh, six arms), by a few points.  But simply having a high count doesn’t mean anything if the posability’s not there, so how’s the actual range of motion?  Not bad.  His articulation design takes a page out of Hasbro’s Classified Series and Lightning Collection figures, and gives Spidey a ball joint/ab-crunch combo on his torso, as well as a set of drop hips.  All of this is in addition to the highly articulated arms and legs from the 2099 mold, as well as an incorporating of that mold’s very useful butterfly shoulders.  About the only joint I’m not super jazzed by is the neck joint, which isn’t terrible, but also isn’t quite as posable as I’d hoped.  I’d really like to have seen the Classified-style neck joint crop up here.  Also, another slight tick against the figure is one less about him personally, and more about the overall planning of the line.  Hasbro just introduced the pinless double joints on a couple of their figures, which is something that would have finally fixed the issue of Spidey’s inner arms always having those jarring red pins sticking out.  Sadly, this figure just missed the boat on those, and still has the issue.  It would have really pushed the whole “new gold standard” just a bit further if Hasbro had managed to get that new styling on this figure as well.  The actual sculpted details are pretty basic.  He’s still using a lot of the 2099 mold, but with the new torso and head, which match pretty well to that build.  It makes him more of a John Romita Sr-style Spidey, which is exactly what a number of fans (my self included) were hoping to see.  On the color work, aside from the somewhat annoying peg issue I already discussed, this figure does also have a few issues with bleed over on the transitions from red to blue.  Fortunately, they’re pretty minor, and he does look pretty solid overall.  They definitely got the classic color scheme down well.  Spidey is packed with a second head, with slightly squintier eyes (pushing the Romita look a little more), as well as two sets of hands, one in fists, and the other in thwipping pose.  No open gesture hands or pizza does knock him down slightly in my eyes, but this isn’t a bad set-up.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was a really big fan of Pizza Spidey…like a really big fan.  So the prospect of replacing him was iffy for me.  Sure, he looked cool, and all, but could he really be that much better?  Is he really cool?  Absolutely!  Is he a great standard Spider-Man?  Yeah!  Is he a better standard Spidey than Pizza Spidey?  Honestly, no.  They both bring cool stuff to the table.  The posabilty is better on this guy for sure, and I dig the Romita look, but the streamlining on the accessories and the fact that he still hasn’t fixed the elbow issues makes him feel like more of lateral move than anything.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy 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.

#2540: Green Goblin

GREEN GOBLIN

MARVEL LEGENDS RETRO COLLECTION (HASBRO)

“One of the few who knows that Spider-Man is really Peter Parker, the Green Goblin is perhaps the web-slinger’s greatest foe.”

Every good hero’s gotta have their nemesis.  Sometimes you gotta have multiple nemeses, in succession, just in case people get tired of the last one.  That seems to be Spider-Man’s deal.  Perhaps his biggest contender for that nemesis title, however, is Norman Osborne, the Green Goblin…except for when he’s Iron Patriot…or the Goblin King… or Red Goblin…look, he jumps around a bit.  Green Goblin’s really where he’s at his best, though.  Subsequently, most of his toys are of that persona.  So, let’s jump into the latest version of it, shall we?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Green Goblin is the fifth figure in the recent Spider-Man-themed Marvel Legends Retro Collection assortment.  This is main stream Green Goblin’s second figure under Hasbro’s current Legends run; the first was in the Sandman Series back in 2017.  While that one went for a more modern interpretation of the character’s design, this one instead opts for a much more classic appearance, akin to what Toy Biz did with their Legends Green Goblin, as well as more cleanly tying into the loose Animated Series feel of this line-up.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Most of this figure’s sculpt is shared with the Sandman Series version.  That one was a pretty solid offering when it was released, and it still holds up pretty well, so I’ve got no real complaints there.  He does get a new head sculpt, which aims for that more classic mask design.  While I appreciated the prior figure for trying something a little bit different, this is ultimately the styling I was far more interested in for the character.  It’s got that really clean, somewhat cartoony classic appearance, but still has a lot of sharp detailing going on, resulting in a really strong head sculpt.  Goblin also gets a new collar piece, which, while a far more minor addition that the new head, is still a nice piece, and helps to really complete the look just a little bit more.  My only wish is that is was actually secured in place some how.  Another area where this figure really changes things up is the paint.  The last two Legends Goblins have been really subdued in their color schemes, and that’s really been my main complaint for both of them.  This one just goes for full-on crazy bright colors, and I am just all about it.  My only complaint is that the pupils placement on the eyes does seem slightly off from where it should be, but that’s somewhat minor.  Goblin is packed with the same glider and pumpkin bomb as the Sandman Series figure, but also gets an unmasked Norman head to swap out for the mask.  It’s a more calm and collected Norman, which makes it perfect for popping on one of the suited bodies, if you want a more civilian Norman to plague your Marvel Universe.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The old Toy Biz Legends figure is one of their best, and the first Hasbro attempt took a different enough take on him that it wasn’t really a replacement.  I’ve been waiting for a slightly more proper replacement since, and this one ends up being a bit more up my alley.  The classic head’s awesome, and even more awesome is the classic color scheme, which I’ve been waiting 14 years to get.  I’m glad to finally have him!

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy 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.

#2537: Peter Parker

PETER PARKER

MARVEL LEGENDS RETRO COLLECTION (HASBRO)

“Peter Parker is the college student & photo-journalist who is secretly the Amazing Spider-Man!”

The civilian identities of super heroes don’t tend to be the most toyetic things, so they don’t tend to actually get toys, unless their alter ego is really well-known.  Fortunately for ol’ Peter Parker, Spider-Man is kind of up there on the list of well-known super heroes.  So, since all the way back in 1974, Peter’s been privy to the toy scene.  For the majority of the Legends run, Peter’s inclusion has been more through extra unmasked head sculpts, but now we’ve finally gotten a proper full Peter Parker figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Peter Parker is the fourth figure in the recent Spider-Man-themed assortment of the Marvel Legends Retro Collection.  Unlike the three prior figures I’ve looked at from the assortment so far, Peter actually has a direct comparison in the ’90s Toy Biz line that this set is meant to be a throw back to, which featured a standard Peter Parker figure as part of its Series 2 line-up.  That said, this figure still calls attention to the fact that these are comic figures that happen to line-up with a few animated elements by virtue of pretty much not looking like the cartoon’s version of Peter in the slightest.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 30 points of articulation.  Peter’s sculpt is technically mostly re-used, but will end up being new to most collectors, due to the Stan Lee figure that he’s patterned on not really showing up in most places yet.  Honestly, it’s a pretty clever idea having the two share parts, given their usual similar build and the fact that Stan was pretty vocal about seeing Peter as something of an author avatar.   But I can get more into that if I ever get the Stan figure.  Let’s focus on Peter.  In addition to using the new windbreaker jacket from Stan, he also uses Spider-Punk’s sneakers, as well as a new head and hands.  The hands are pretty basic in their own right, mostly just getting tweaked posing so that they can hold his camera accessory.  The head is…well, it’s an attempt at something, but I’m not certain it worked. They’re clearly going for a heavily Ditko-inspired head, which isn’t a terrible idea in its own right, since it’s a surprisingly rare thing to see.  What I’m not so big on are the permanently attached glasses.  They’re thick, goofy, and totally opaque, which really plays up the cartoony side of the figure.  If there were at least the same head sans glasses included, it wouldn’t bug me nearly as much, but it feels very limiting this way.  The paint work on this guy is probably the most basic in the set.  It’s a lot of neutral colors.  They look fine, but I was a little bummed by the stark white shoes; the ’90s figure had actual colors, and I wouldn’t have minded seeing those crop up again here.  Also, they’ve painted the eyes under the glasses, which seems a bit silly, given that no one’s ever going to see them.  In terms of extras, Peter’s got the camera I mentioned above, as well as an alternate spider-sense head, which is certainly an improvement on the standard head, but still falls into that slightly limiting category.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was quite fond of the old Toy Biz Peter Parker figure, and he’s definitely one of the best civilian figures out there.  The prospect of an update was definitely okay by me.  The final figure’s certainly not bad, and I can’t really directly fault anything about the figure.  It’s just a few minor things that hold him back.  That said, throwing on the previous unmasked Spider-Man head actually looks pretty solid.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy 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.

#2536: Electro

ELECTRO

MARVEL LEGENDS RETRO COLLECTION (HASBRO)

“As the villain Electro, Max Dillon wields full control over electricity in his never-ending quest to defeat Spider-Man!”

When Marvel was putting together Spider-Man: The Animated Series in the ’90s, James Cameron was still signed on to put together a live action theatrical film.  He had chosen Electro and Sandman as the villains of the piece, and they were subsequently left out of the cartoon, so as to avoid any brand confusion or competing versions of characters (it’s something that Marvel gave up on pretty quickly, but that DC still holds onto fervently to this day), but as the show got well into its run, it became clear that Cameron’s film wasn’t going to materialize.  Sandman never got to make the transition over to the show since they’d already worked in Hydro-Man to replace him), but Electro did manage to make it over, albeit re-imagined as the Red Skull’s son.  That late into the cartoon, the toyline wasn’t quite as strictly tied to the animation, so Electro never got released on that classic packaging, but, well, here he is now?  Sort of?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Electro is the third figure from the recent Spider-Man-themed assortment of the Marvel Legends Retro Collection.  He’s also the third not to have a ’90s counterpart he’s recreating, but at least in his case, there actually was an Electro figure in the line, just after they had changed the packaging.  This marks Electro’s third time getting the Legends treatment, the second under Hasbro’s tenure.  The last one was a more modern-inspired take on the character, while this one goes strictly classic.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  The last Electro figure was built on the Pizza Spidey, and I thought that worked pretty well for the character.  Hasbro seems to have felt rather differently, so he’s been moved all the way up to the Spider-UK body for this release.  It seems kind of bulky for how I usually think of Electro, but he’s a character who’s fluctuated greatly in size from artist to artist, so this one feels valid too.  Ultimately, I don’t actually dislike it as much as I initially thought I would, and it’s not like the UK body is a bad one by any stretch of the imagination.  Electro re-uses the classic-style head from the previous release, which is honestly just sensible, since it’s not like Hasbro was ever going to do a better classic Electro head.  This one’s just pitch-perfect for the character, and even manages to somehow not look completely ridiculous on this bulked up body.  He also gets a new set of forearms, which add his little electric bolts from the tops of his gloves, completing that classic look.  Electro’s paint work is pretty standard.  It’s very classic, and very bold.  It changes from the slightly metallic shades of the prior figure to just strict yellow and green, and also differentiates the head sculpt by actually painting in the eyes this time around.   On the accessories front, this figure amends the one major flaw of the last Electro by including hands with and without the electric effects.  I’m glad to see them learning.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was very lucky to actually get ahold of the Space Knight Venom Electro, and I was pretty happy with that release, but I figured this guy was coming sooner than later, especially as Hasbro filled in that Sinister 6 line-up.  Personally, I wasn’t terribly excited for him, since, as I noted, I was pretty happy with the prior release.  I also wasn’t big on the base body choice on the prototype.  But, I’m not really turning away any Legends right now, so I bought him along with the rest of the set.  Honestly, he’s better than I’d expected him to be, and it’s really a toss-up as to which version I prefer.  They’re both very nice.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy 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.

#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.

#2532: Ultimate Spider-Man & Chameleon

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN & CHAMELEON

MARVEL MINIMATES

As they arrived at the end of their second year, Marvel Minimates found their first true moment of weakness.  Throughout the first two years of the line, DST was experimenting with having multiple release venues for most figures, with a select few maintaining a more exclusive status.  Nevertheless, they managed to keep the main line pretty pure, allowing for collectors to more or less stick to the specialty two-packs as the main attraction.  Then came Series 7, an assortment referred to in the collecting community as the “retread wave,” due to it having not one, not two, not three, but four re-packaged figures, as well as one of the lamest standard/variant split ideas DST ever put out in the line (and that’s bearing in mind that the second year started things off with unmasked Daredevil!).  It was…not ideal.  But, we all managed to suffer through it, and 78 main series later, I guess it’s not all that bad.  Today, I’m diving in with Ultimate Spider-Man and Chameleon!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Ultimate Spider-Man and Chameleon officially make up two of the sets from Marvel Minimates Series 7.  Why two?  Remember that lame standard/variant split I mentioned?  Here’s where it comes into play.  The standard release of this set was Spidey and Chameleon.  The variant was Spidey and Chameleon…with a J Jonah Jameson mask.  Yes, they hid the disguise mask for the character whose whole gimmick was disguises behind the variant wall, but also made it completely pointless to actually purchase both versions of this set, because who in their right mind would want the exact same Chameleon, just without the mask, as well as a second copy of the Ultimate Spider-Man that most of the fanbase already had at least one of before going into this series?  No one.  Not even me.  And I’m insane.

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN

Ultimate Spider-Man holds the distinction of being perhaps the least exclusive Minimate of all time, which is impressive, given that he began his life in an SDCC-exclusive two-pack in 2003, alongside Grey Hulk (who is, I suppose rather fittingly, the runner up for least exclusive Minimate).  Following the two-pack release, he was packaged with Kingpin for the Target/Walmart assortments, and with Bullseye, Kingpin, and Peter Parker/Spider-Man for the TRU four-packs.  And then, after this release, he cropped up one more time in the 10-piece Gift Pack, forcing faithful fans to buy him yet again.  That marks six separate releases of this exclusive Minimate, for those of you playing at home.  Ultimately, he’s the same construction set-up as most Spider-Men, meaning he’s on the standard ‘mate body (or the long-footed variant, anyway) and has no add-on pieces.  The main thing here is the paint, which is like the main Series 2 Spider-Man, but less so.  Since in the Ultimate line, Spidey’s costume wasn’t actually different from his main line counterpart, DST instead differentiated them by basing this figure on the costume right after Peter first gets it, before he adds the webs to it.  Honestly, it’s not a particularly exciting or needed variant, but, umm, here it is.  And aren’t we all so glad it was released so many times?

CHAMELEON

One of only two new figures in Series 7, Chameleon made up for that by taking up two of the slots.  Yay.  At least he stayed contained to this assortment.  Like Spidey, he’s just a vanilla ‘mate, built on the standard long foot body.  I suppose it’s not the worst thing in the world, since he’s usually a pretty svelte guy, and it fits the sort of spy/espionage thing he’s got going on.  In terms of paint, he actually re-uses the tampography from Professor X for his suit, albeit in a different set of colors.  He did get a new set of details for his head, which sports his distinctive mask that he wears under other masks…as you do.  It actually looks pretty cool, and is by far the best part of the core figure.  The standard figure had no accessories, but the variant that should not have been the variant and should have definitely just been the main release and that I’m definitely not still mad about added a J Jonah Jameson mask, which is a pretty nifty touch, and remained the only way to get Jonah for another 35 Series of the line.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Series 7 is a definite rough patch for the line, and this set pretty well exemplifies it.  This Spider-Man was a stretch for his first release, and the subsequent five really pushed it too far.  He’s not bad, but he’s really not very exciting.  Why did this one get so much love?  Chameleon is the worst use of variant for the line, but to DST’s credit, he did seem to mark a turning point, as they never were quite this bad again.  So, I guess that’s good?  I don’t know.

I honestly didn’t pick up these two when they were new, mostly out of frustration.  Fortunately, my sponsors at All Time Toys were able to finally help me get the Chameleon I actually wanted, allowing me to write this review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2409: Masked Spider-Man & Gwen Stacy

MASKED SPIDER-MAN & GWEN STACY

MARVEL MINIMATES

In its second year, Marvel Minimates worked to fill in some of the gaps left by its first year, but also looked to find its footing and how to successfully carry on a brand when you’ve already put out a lot of the heavy hitters.  For their first series in the second year, they had a theme of “retread and new” to their pairings.  This was already visible with the Doc Ock and Unmasked Spidey set from last week, and it becomes even more obvious with today’s set, Masked Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Masked Spidey and Gwen were released in Series 4 of the Marvel Minimates specialty line-up.  Gwen would remain exclusive to this particular assortment, but this version of Spidey wound up paired off with Series 5’s Wolverine variant for the Walmart/Target assortment.  Oh good, he was more places.

MASKED SPIDER-MAN

So, yeah, I’m wondering the same thing you’re wondering: isn’t “Masked Spider-Man” just a regular Spider-Man?  I mean, that would be my guess, but this figure seems to think otherwise.  I believe the figure was originally solicited as “Half-Masked Spider-Man”, and perhaps they realized this was too many words to fit on the packaging.  They were still committed to giving each figure a unique name, though, so “Masked Spider-Man” he became.  From the neck down, he’s the same as the other two non-battle damaged Spider-Men, which I guess is good for consistency.  It means that the majority of this guy is the same as a really good ‘mate.  But now he’s got his masked pulled up to reveal his mouth.  It’s not an uncommon look for the character, and was of course prominently featured in the first Spider-Man movie, so I guess it makes sense?  It would make more sense packed with an MJ, but I digress.  To further mix things up, this guy’s also got a new web-line piece.  Its attached to a hand, and the end of it is shaped to a Minimate torso, allowing him to grab them.  It’s probably the best thing about this figure.

GWEN STACY

After butchering poor MJ’s debut ‘mate, I guess DST felt the need to prove that not every woman in Peter’s life was a horrible monster mash.  So, we got a Gwen Stacy.  How about that.  Gwen didn’t have a costume, but DST opted to put her in the outfit that most people remember: the one she died in.  It’s got a distinctive flair to it, to be sure, and it’s certainly iconic.  Gwen is constructed from the usual base body, with add-ons for her hair, jacket, and skirt.  All of the add-ons were new for this release, and they look decent.  The jacket does really bulk her up, though, especially when compared to other supposedly larger characters, who were still just on the basic body.  Hey, that’s the difficulty of using the same base for everyone, I suppose.  Gwen’s paintwork is cleanly done, and pretty basic, but that’s honestly a good thing, because it’s really that too many details approach that messed up poor MJ.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t have this set when it was new, but my brother did.  I myself was never majorly impressed by either figure included.  However, I found them from Luke’s Toy Store for really cheap, and I’ve been slowly filling out my early Minimates collection, so now I have them.  I still don’t find it to be a terribly exciting set.  Gwen’s okay, and honestly better than I expected, but Spidey’s just kind of pointless, even moreso than the unmasked figure from the same set.  Fortunately, they would learn how to make better Spidey variants as the line progressed.