Here we go with part 2 of the Hasbro Retro VHS Animated Series Spider-Man/Carnage 2 Pack review. This time we're looking at the Amazing Spider-Man himself, decked out in that slick black symbiote suit, complete with cel shading. I admit it, I actually like this version a bit better than the retro black suit version released last year. Now, that doesn't mean there aren't some problems with it, but in terms of looks, I like it a bit more.
In the Carnage origin segment, I shared the comic book background of that character. For purposes of "animated continuity" the symbiote suit was introduced in the Spider-Man Animated Series in 1994. The symbiote itself had "hitched a ride" back to Earth on a Space Shuttle flown by none other than John Jameson. (Even though the Secret Wars storyline would eventually show up in the series, Marvel wanted Venom introduced much sooner, thus crafting a new origin.) Spider-Man, realizing that he is becoming more brutal and aggressive seeks help from Dr. Curt Connors to understand the suit and learns it is a symbiote and therefore... alive. The increasing effect of the symbiote leads Spider-Man to literally fight to get it off of him. Using the same method as in the comics, Spider-Man is able to weaken the symbiote with sound and escape. Earlier in the episode, we also learn that Eddie Brock has been disgraced and fired for fabricating a story about Spider-Man stealing the contents of the Space Shuttle when it returned. His hatred of Spider-Man now brimming and matched with the anger of the rejected symbiote brings the pair together. Venom announces his presence to the webslinger by singlehandedly defeating Rhino and Shocker together and then turning his vengeful attention to Spider-Man himself. Yes, this is a seriously BRIEF synopsis of the 3 episodes of the Animated Series, but hopefully enough to entice you into finding the series and enjoying the story in its entirety.
As mentioned, this is part two of our Spider-Man/Carnage review series this week. We will, of course, discuss our regular categories: Accessories, Appearance, Articulation, and Affordability. Each will receive a rating and at the end, we'll give the figure an overall score of Zero to Ten ToyBoxes, with Ten being a "must add" to your collection! On with the show!!!
To say that I'm shocked at the few accessories packed with Spider-Man would be untrue. He comes with three pairs of hands: Thwipping, Fists, Wall Crawling, and nothing else. I had thought MAYBE we'd get a web accessory... in fact, how cool would it have been for Hasbro to give us one of the oft-used web lines, painted black to match the symbiote webbing? Yes, I'm not a fan of their webbing, but getting something a tad different would have been nice. On the plus side, they DO include wall crawling hands, which means it might finally be getting through to Hasbro that Spidey needs those too. Sadly though, it also means a trash grade as there's nothing to get excited about. 4 out of 10 for the sub-standard, standard Spidey accessories.
We know this is just the retro symbiote Spider-Man with some paint apps, but those new additions really help it, in my opinion. I know there are many who aren't fans of the cel-shaded look and I won't disagree with them, especially on certain characters. This one though, at least for me, works. I like the blue highlights placed around the figure. Although, if you look at him from the back, the only wraparound shading you get is the gray paint on the white spider. All of the blue highlights seem reserved exclusively for his front and profiles. That is actually a shame because I am relatively pleased with the layout and design of the blue paint applications. I think, why I like them, is the hint of blue highlight we get on the Mafex Black Suit Spider-Man and this is the Legends attempt at replicating that. I do like the gray shadows on the white spider emblem though, but when you pose the figure, it does get broken up, as do some of the blue lines at articulation points. That is rather disappointing, but creative posing can hide it for picture taking. I also get that the blue is actually where light is striking the figure based on how it was applied, thus there not being any blue on the interior sides of his arms and legs, and likely with light hitting from the front, none on his back as well. Still, it feels just a bit inconsistent and, well, incomplete. Overall though, I do actually like it myself as it adds depth to the figure and helps him stand out better amongst the rest of my black suit Spider-Man figures. Inconsistency hurts though and I have to give him a 7 out of 10 for appearance. A bit darker blue and more application would have made all the difference for me.
This figure is built on the retro body mold we've seen for Spider-Man over multiple offerings in the last year, but with one great addition! Like the "Renew Your Vows" Spider-Man, this one also has Toe Articulation! That's the best part, because this is where things go a bit sour. The head SHOULD be able to look up and down quite far, but mine is very gummy and I have a terribly difficult time getting it to look up. I heated the figure and gently worked on it, but to no avail. I couldn't even pop the head off of the peg as it felt like I might actually break the peg stem! The head will turn side to side, but again, has a very gummy feel to it, which thankfully, has loosened the more I've worked with it. The butterfly joint shoulders will allow for both forward and backward movement, though forward is a bit more limited. The arms do raise out to just beyond a decent T level and can rotate a full 360 degrees. The upper bicep swivel works just fine and the pin less, double-jointed elbows can bend in very deeply. All hands hinge and swivel just fine as well. The upper torso will allow for a bit of crunch and back bend but is disappointing in application. It does have some nice side to side tilt and rotation though, which helps when posing. The lower diaphragm hinge does couple with the upper for decent crouching as well. I still fail to understand why other figures are capable of splits, but Spider-Man suffers in that area. The legs do split out, but it's nothing like it ought to be for this hero. Both legs do kick forward nicely, which is good especially paired with the crunch. The upper thigh cut works fine but breaks up the blue paint apps. The pin less double-jointed knees will bend in exceptionally well, bringing heel to back action and the ankles hinge, and rock nicely. Be careful with your knees though, I needed to heat the right leg a bit as that knee joint was badly frozen on the shin side. Oh yeah, the toe articulation works great, though the toes on my figure's left foot are a bit loose.
I hate that the head movement is so restricted, and I'm concerned that the ball peg is potentially damaged inside. That with the frozen knee drops his articulation points down a bit. Truthfully, though I like this body, the engineering is still just a bit too restricted for Spider-Man. 6 out of 10 for articulation.
Honestly, I'm lifting this right from the Carnage review as it's the same pricing structure. The VHS Animated Series Spider-Man/Carnage two pack is available on Hasbro Pulse for $52.99, which makes each individual figure $26.49 and 1/2 cents each. I'm sorry, but that sucks. I bought the cel shaded animated series Spider-Man and the retro Lizard for $25.99 each and those were Walmart exclusives. Truthfully, all four of these figures should hit the standard retail of $24.99 each as there's nothing intrinsically special about them other than the cel-shading and animated looks. Breaking down the two pack in terms of pricing is a huge disappointment. Sorry, but at best, this earns a 4 out of 10 for pricing. I don't care if it is an exclusive, that's no reason to up the prices.
Overall, Spider-Man himself earns a rather disappointing 5 out of 10 ToyBoxes. I have to admit, from an objective point of view, the problems I had with mine outweighed the things I enjoyed. From a purely subjective point of view though, I like how they look on my Spider-Shelves and can live with the things I'm not crazy about. Now, for the package itself, the Hasbro Marvel Legends Animated Series VHS Spider-Man/Carnage Two Pack earns:
5.75 out of 10 ToyBoxes.
I really hoped that I could give this a higher overall score but there's really nothing so special about it to make this a must have for collectors. I mean, if you're a Spider-Man purist and try to add all the webhead figures you can get to your collection, then perhaps, this is the set for you. However, if you're a casual collector, this is likely an easy pass, especially if you're a customizer and can make your own versions. Thank you for spending time with me in Dan's ToyBox today and until our next review... GEEK OUT!!!