Friday 22 April 2016

Toybox REVIEW: Marvel Legends Spider-Man (Ben Reilly)/Spider-Carnage

The 90s were a pretty weird time as it is, but for Spider-Man they couldn’t get much weirder. 1994 brought along the infamous two-year-long Clone Saga arc, which ended with Peter Parker, given the news that he in fact may actually be a clone, leaving to begin a new life with Mary Jane as a new Spider-Man took over duties in New York City. This Spider-Man was Ben Reilly, the former Scarlet Spider originally perceived to be a clone. Of course this being comics the status quo didn’t last forever and Peter one day returned (with confirmation he was the original), but Ben’s time as the Scarlet Spider/Spider-Man and eventual sacrifice has made him a favourite amongst fans despite considerable backlash at the time. Now Hasbro have added the Ben Reilly Spider-Man, complete in his rendition of the costume, to their Marvel Legends line – complete with alternate parts to create Spider-Carnage, the twisted mix of Reilly and the Carnage symbiote.

The Marvel Legends line has gone through a fair few packaging variations over the years, both during its Toybiz days and since Hasbro took over some time ago. However the current style is definitely the best, combining sleek collectors' style packaging with an aesthetic that fits on toy store shelves. Since this particular wave is made up entirely of Spider-Man figures, the packaging also features the general Spider-Man logo along with the "Edge of the Spider-Verse" tagline. The back features some stylish shots of the two "big" figures of the wave - namely this Spider-Man along with Spider-Gwen. Below that are some profile shots of the entire wave, along with a shot of the Absorbing Man build-a-figure and which each part is packaged with.

I’ll be honest – Ben Reilly’s Spider-Man costume is probably my favourite of the various iterations the wall-crawler has had over the years. The classic look will always be the most iconic, but this version really gives off a fresh and unique feel while also keeping things recognisable. The giant chest emblem and web-cartridge gauntlets are also really nice touches, harking back to Reilly’s original Scarlet Spider costume. Hasbro already have a number of Spider-Man figures under their belt in this line, in fact this isn't even the first version of this costume they've produced. However some time has passed since then and now it’s fair to say they’ve managed to nail the look, because he really looks superb. The obvious joint-cuts might stop it look like a premium figure, but given the line’s price point it’s extremely hard to be disappointed with the end result.

But if there’s one thing Hasbro really get, it’s how to make a Spider-Man figure loaded with the articulation he needs. Spidey boasts a ball-jointed head, hinged neck, ball-jointed shoulders, bicep swivels, hinged elbows and wrists, ab-crunch, waist swivel, ball-jointed hips, leg swivels, hinged knees and ankle rockers to top it all off. The combination of the deep ab-crunch and waist swivel are especially good in getting him into all sorts of Spider-Man-like poses. The back of the figure also has a small hole perfect for most types of figure stands, making sturdy web-slinging poses also a possibility. However the light construction of the figure does highlight some balancing difficulties, with the feet able to hold most poses but needing a bit of fiddling about to do so.

Spider-Man’s specific accessories simply consist of a range of alternate hands – closed fists, open hands and of course a pair in the iconic web-shooting pose. Swapping them out is fairly easy, but just how sturdy they are will likely vary (for example, the left web-shooting hand on my figure is INCREDIBLY floppy). It’s a bit of a shame Hasbro didn’t decide to throw in any webbing pieces to go along with the figure or an unmasked blonde head, but given the other accessories included here they’ve done more than enough to make up for it. Two alternate heads would probably have been overstepping the mark a bit.

That’s right – also included are the necessary parts to turn this figure into Spider-Carnage! While some might remember Spider-Carnage from the short arc in the comics where the Carnage symbiote left Cletus Kasady and took over Ben Reilly, Spider-Man fans of a certain generation are more likely to remember him from his appearance in the final arc of Spider-Man: The Animated Series. Here he was a Peter Parker of an alternate dimension, driven insane by the idea that he may be a clone and taken over by a dimension-hopping Carnage symbiote. With his new powers, Spider-Carnage vows to destroy all of reality – to which the Beyonder and Madame Web form a team of Spider-Men from across the multi-verse to stop him. 

The alternate parts consist simply of an alternate head and a pair of hands, which replace the human figures with long pointed claws. The head is beautifully sculpted, not only managing to capture all of Carnage’s features perfectly but the colours also giving off a nice comic art vibe. While there’s no real problem when it comes to the hand-switching, swapping the heads is a little trickier just because of how damn stiff it is. Thankfully this isn’t the kind of figure where you have to worry about anything breaking, but the socket in the head is clearly smaller than the ball-joint and takes quite a bit of force to get it on. Once it’s on though it’ll stay nice and secure.

Having the exact same body as Spider-Man means there’s not really a lot about this version of the figure to say that hasn’t already been said, but it is worth noting that there is one minor inaccuracy thanks to the fact that Spider-Carnage is a straight parts swap. Unlike the comic and animation models, the figure sadly doesn’t have the Carnage symbiote tendrils wrapped around the arms and legs. It’s a very minor complaint, but for those (like me) who bought the figure primarily for Spider-Carnage it may come as a little bit of a blow. It’s a bit sad that he (they?) only get one set of hands too, but I guess that’s what happens when the whole look is basically just one big accessory. Still, it’s undoubtedly the best Spider-Carnage figure we’ve ever had and worth every penny for that alone.

Finally there is one last unrelated accessory – the parts for this wave’s Build-A-Figure, which as previously mentioned is the Absorbing Man. Spider-Man/Spider-Carnage comes packaged with both arms of the figure, the left of which has the skin transformed into metal from the bicep down. The arms are adequately articulated and would be part of what is likely a great figure, but these are only going to be relevant to someone who’s planning to pick up the entire wave of figures. If you don’t fall into that category, these are more than likely going to sit in the packaging and stay there permanently.

Having only ever watched the Marvel Legends line grow from the sidelines I didn’t quite know what to expect from this figure, but Spider-Man/Spider-Carnage has definitely won me over and led me to planning to pick up a few more as soon as I can (particularly Scarlet Spider and regular Carnage, funnily enough). What you have here is both a fantastic Spider-Man figure (in a costume that doesn’t get nearly enough love) and Spider-Carnage, wrapped up in one neat little package. The overall quality may not match up to the Marvel figures Japan are offering, but I’d still argue that you get more than what you pay for here. There may still be a bit of a wait until Tamashii Nations get their Figuarts MCU Spidey out, but in the meantime Hasbro are doing some great things with the comic variants that are well worth your time.

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