As we close in on the holiday season, Dan's ToyBox is excited to bring you another Marvel Legends 2 in 1 Action Figure review. Today we are taking a look at the Retro Spider-Man Series Animated Series Cel Shaded Spider-Man and The Lizard. I was very happy to see these two figures arrive this past week, rather unexpectedly. Both figures are better than I could have hoped for, but are not without some issues, especially the Lizard.
Brilliant geneticist, Dr. Curt Connors, while researching the unique regenerative characteristics of lizards, devised a serum that he hoped would help him regrow his lost right arm. He thought his serum could help others regrow lost limbs. Initially, the serum was a success as Connors' arm slowly regrew. To the doctor's horror though, his body started changing and Curt Connors soon found himself transformed into the terrifying, rampaging Lizard! Though defeated by Spider-Man with an anti-serum, the Lizard buried itself deep into Connors' psyche and would re-emerge in a quest to turn the rest of humanity into lizard-like creatures. Time and again, Spider-Man would face this menace, invariably finding a way to defeat the creature and reverse the transfiguration, bringing Connors back. Fortunately, Dr. Connors greatest fear, that he wouldn't be able to reverse the transmutation and would remain the Lizard forever hasn't come true... yet. Dr. Curt Connors and The Lizard first appeared in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man #6, November 1963, created by the iconic duo of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.
If you're familiar with Dan's ToyBox, go ahead and scroll on down to the rest of the review. If you're a new reader though, Dan's ToyBox rates four categories: Accessories, Appearance, Articulation, and Affordability and then gives the figure an overall score of Zero (skip it) to Ten (gotta get it!) ToyBoxes. With that in mind, let's go ahead and jump into our first category.
Both of these Marvel Legends come packed with several accessories. Starting with Spider-Man, the webhead comes with three interchangeable sets of hands: fists, thwipping, and wall crawling hands. It does seem that Hasbro is finally including the wall crawling hands as a staple accessory (finally). He also comes with the two web splat effects that we've seen multiple times already and still scratch our heads on how to properly use. There's really nothing new or out of the ordinary that we're missing here. Innovation would be nice, I suppose, for some new web type accessories, even an unmasked Peter Parker head would have been a nice touch. Spider-Man gets a just over average 6 out of 10 for accessories. The Lizard, on the other hand comes with four different hands; right hands: fist and open/clawing, left hands: open/relaxed and item holding. Additionally, he comes with two heads, one sculpt based on early designs and his cartoon appearance, the other based on newer, more reptilian designs, with yellow eyes and a long flicking tongue. Lastly, he has two beakers with the lizard serum and an anti-serum. I like the variety in hands and the different heads that this figure comes with. The Lizard easily earns a solid 8 out of 10 as he comes with the perfect accoutrements for the character. To be quite honest, I like both head sculpts equally and aren't really sure how I want to display him on the shelf. I am leaning more toward the yellow-eyed tongue sticking out look as it is more reminiscent of the design based on one of my favorite stories. When Todd McFarlane launched his Spider-Man book, the first story arc featured a very savage Lizard, under control of a voodoo priestess, relentlessly hounding Spider-Man. To this day, that five-part story is still one of my favorites as the Lizard is reduced to a mindless, savage beast and the fight scenes between him and Spider-Man are exceptional, with Peter desperately trying to reach the mind of Doc Connors, to no avail.
Images © Dan's ToyBox 2022
I know that many collectors have been eagerly waiting for these figures. Mine arrived and not long after, I started seeing them pop up in Walmart, which was pleasantly surprising, given that my local store never seems to get anything new in a reasonable time frame. We'll start with the Lizard... this is just a "wow" figure! The detail on the sculpt is excellent! The scales are all really intricately designed and there is a black wash over all of the green parts on the figure, giving them a beautiful depth and realistic look. The head sculpts are both incredible looking. The white eyed head sculpt looks just like it popped out of both comic and cartoon and the pink tongue paint application is a nice touch. I was also very pleased to see that the black dots for the pupils on his eyes are centered nicely on both sides, which means he doesn't have a cockeyed look to him. As much as I like that one, though, the more I look at the other, the more I like it. The more reptilian head with yellow eyes, tiny black pupils, outstretched tongue and very clean rows of teeth is frightening and menacing. The tongue sculpt is surprisingly well done as well, with a tiny fork at the tip, just like a real lizard. Though I know that an equal amount of care is placed on the design of both, I feel like the yellow-eyed version is just a touch better and I think I've decided which display version I'm going with. The Lizard's white lab coat is also nicely done but should have been weathered a bit more to give it a more ragged look. The only tatters are around the wrists and the rest of the coat is super clean, which doesn't seem like a reality given the character. The black t-shirt is a matte color, with seams and wrinkles sculpted cleanly in and his signature purple pants are just a solid purple plastic with tatters sculpted in at the ankles. Again, maybe adding some more tears to them would have given a more accurate look. The wired bendy tail is also done exceptionally well, with a black wash to give highlight to the scales and ridges sculpted within. The tail plugs into a port on the Lizard's back side and compliments the rest of the green skin pieces very well. I give the Lizard a stout 8 out of 10, which may be a bit generous considering, but this is a good figure, nonetheless. The cel shaded Spider-Man is more cartoon accurate as the design is meant to be. With that in mind, Hasbro has achieved the look they set out for, but in my opinion, likely could have done a bit more. My absolute favorite part of this figure though is the head sculpt. I finally have a Spider-Man figure with eyes shaped just like what I grew up with. I feel like this is the most perfectly shaped Spider-Man head we've received on a figure, ever and the design of the eyes helps convey the proper contours on his face. The wider shape of the eyes and the white lenses is, honestly, my absolute favorite feature on this entire figure. Moving onward, I was very happy with how cleanly the weblines were applied on the suit and the designs of both front and back spider emblems are rendered very well. Sadly, the most important design feature for this figure is probably the most disappointing for me. The cel shading which is really just a darker blue is laid out in kind of an odd pattern. The bulk of it is on the underside of his arms, which certainly makes sense as those would be least touched by light. However, based on the design on the legs, it would appear that any light source hitting the figure is coming from his right side as the inner right leg is darker and the outer left leg as the darker shade. To me, it seems then, that the left side of his body should have more shading than it does. I almost feel like whoever laid out the design for the shading didn't quite understand the concept of light sources and how best to utilize them. Also, very sadly, there is minimal darker red shading on the figure, just very limited to the forearms and a couple of barely noticeable spots on his boots. The entirety of the red and the rest of the blues on his costume are very bright and vibrant, but the overall brightness of the reds tends to stand out in a relatively stark contrast to the blues. Thankfully, the black weblines do provide a bit of help in toning the red down somewhat. I do like the fact that when you crunch the figure, the red belt around his waist is expanded somewhat so as not to break up the look, however, when we talk articulation, we'll talk about another issue with the design that we've seen before. My biggest peeve though is with the shoulder joints. There is a very visible difference in the blue on the shoulders and on the rest of the body and that's because the shoulders are molded in red, with blue paint applied over them. Sadly, I cannot help but notice them each time I look at Spider-Man and that's disappointing because it is an unnecessary distraction. Yes, I realize that maybe I'm being overly picky, but this was a figure that I was really excited for when it was announced and though they are minor gripes, they do have a negative effect on my overall enjoyment of the figure. As much as I want to give Spidey a higher grade for the things they did right, the few issues unfortunately bring him down to a 7 out of 10 for Appearance.
Images © Dan's ToyBox 2022
There's a whole lotta good and a whole lotta meh going on with the articulation on both of these figures. Starting with Spider-Man, there is really nothing new as we've seen this body mold a number of times for the web-slinger now, but we'll go over everything. His head looks up and down very nicely, with solid range of motion. It turns easily, but there is almost no head tilt because of the ball hinge design. The shoulders will raise out to a near T pose and can rotate a full 360 degrees. The butterfly joints are decent, but lack the range we've seen on others, simply because of the longer peg within the joint. His bicep swivel is good enough and the double-jointed, pinless elbows bend in fully. Each of his hands will hinge and pivot easily enough as well. The upper diaphragm is on a ball joint and can tilt side to side and rotate well enough, but the forward and backward crunch is very lacking. There is a lower diaphragm crunch that helps to get him into some relatively deep forward bends, but there is no waist swivel as a result of this design. The big problem, which we've seen before, is that when turning the upper diaphragm, the costume lines are broken which means we get an awkward look to the red section on his torso. His legs can actually get into a decent split, which is great, and they will kick forward/up an exceptional distance. The upper thigh cut works fine and the pinless double jointed knees also bend in far enough to reach his backside! There is a boot cut, which is hidden nicely and works well and his ankles hinge and rock easily and smoothly. Unfortunately, there is no toe articulation, which leads me to ask... why did Hasbro only add it to one Spider-Man figure while ignoring the rest? I do feel like Hasbro takes a step or two forward with Spidey-designs, while simultaneously taking a step backward. Still, that being said, you can get this figure into some decent crouching poses and some fairly accurate wall crawling and web slinging poses. Spider-Man earns 7.5 out of 10 for articulation. The Lizard also has some great points but some very exasperating features in his articulation as well. Both heads can look up and down and turn easy. The added feature is that the neck itself is also on a joint and can tilt forward and backward, giving increased range to the head. This was a great discovery I made when swapping the heads. The shoulders on mine were a bit stiff and can get out to just about a T pose, but the design of the coat sleeves at the shoulder does prohibit them from going any higher. Both shoulders will also rotate 360 degrees and the bicep swivel works fine. The elbows have beautiful double joints which bend in all the way so that hands meet face and all of the hands hinge and pivot with ease. Now... there is an upper diaphragm joint like Spider-Man's that swivels and tilts, though crunching is limited. The problem is that his long coat tends to prohibit the side-to-side tilt and causes him to straighten up. There is a lower ab crunch that is, unfortunately, relatively loose on mine and will need some remedy. The shape and size of his upper legs though limit the width of his splits and, once again, the coat also hinders. The legs will kick forward reasonably well, not backwards much at all, and have a functional upper thigh cut. The knees are double jointed and bend in very deeply, which is fantastic, however, it points out a significant problem with his feet and ankles. Due to the size and shape of his feet, they will hinge downward really well, but there is almost no upward movement, thus limiting his ability to crouch flat footed. The ankle pivot is nice, but the lack of toe articulation means that putting Lizard into a crouch or running pose will mean having basically having him balanced on his toes. Thankfully, the bendy tail does help to stabilize his poses, but man... it looks sad. The tail itself can rotate around and though it is bendy, the harder rubber does reduce the amount of bend and flex you can get. Still, it's better than a rigid, fixed pose for the tail. I understand there is only so much engineering that can be done, especially with a character design like this, but if any character screamed for toe articulation, the Lizard is it. 6 out of 10 and I feel I'm being nice.
Images © Dan's ToyBox 2022
I was very fortunate in that I was able to purchase both of these figures for $25.99 each. I had expected that they'd both be higher as exclusives tend to be. Given that this is on the lower end of the Hasbro oddball pricing structure, I'm quite happy with what I paid. Are they necessarily worth the price? Maybe. Could they have been at the upper end? Certainly, which makes them worthwhile additions at this price point. I'm actually going to give them an 8.5 out of 10 for Affordability, simply because the Lizard should likely have cost more.
Overall, I'm very happy to have both of these figures in my collection. Any opportunity to add to Spider-Man's gallery of villains and to grow the webhead display is a good one. There is enough good to outweigh the negatives for both of these figures, so I'm going to give them each an overall rating of:
8 out of 10 ToyBoxes!
As we draw closer and closer to Christmas and the New Year, I'm excited for what is to come and as always, I appreciate all of you for dropping by Dan's ToyBox! Until next time... GEEK OUT!!!