Monday 24 January 2022

Toybox REVIEW: MAFEX Spider-Gwen (Gwen Stacy)

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Release Date: September 2021
RRP: 9800 yen

These days numerous companies have gotten in on the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse action but when Medicom first announced they'd be tackling the Academy Award-winning film in their MAFEX line, things were pretty damn exciting. Fast-forward nearly two years and several delays later and both their Miles Morales and Peter B. Parker figures proved to be worth the wait, so it's only natural that they should be joined by a third. MAFEX Spider-Gwen (Gwen Stacy) is the first time MAFEX have tackled this alternate universe Spider-Man where Gwen was bitten rather than Peter, even though they've been also been tackling comic versions of Spidey for some time now. However since her appearance in Spider-Verse Spider-Gwen (or Ghost Spider if you prefer)'s popularity has only continued to skyrocket, so if any version deserves to join the ranks of the MAFEX line it's this one.

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The 134th release in the MAFEX line (which just goes to show much of a gap there can be between releases, given that Miles is 107 and Peter is 109), Spider-Gwen comes in packaging that uses the same graphics and colours as the previous Into the Spider-Verse figures. Which is just as well really, because it's hard to imagine them matching the whole aesthetic of the film much better than this. The spines and back of the box each have some great images of the figure in various poses, where you'll also find Gwen is joined by the bonus Spider-Ham figurine that's also included in this release. Inside you’ll find all the parts neatly laid out on a moulded clamshell tray, and the stand parts all bagged up and taped to the back.

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While this particular Spider-Gwen figure is based on her appearance in Into the Spider-Verse, the changes the film made to the comic Spider-Gwen/Ghost Spider costume are extremely minimal so this could easily work just as well in a comic Spider-Man display as well. What we have here is Gwen's standard white and black costume with pink and teal web detailing on the arms and hood lining, as well as the teal ballet shoes which contrast beautifully with the black leg colouring. The black section of the costume also has some ball-like texturing to it which looks great against the smoothness of the white and pink parts. The biggest clue that this is indeed a Spider-Verse Gwen (other than the proportions that is) is the pink around the eyes, which has that blotchy, almost pixel-like look of the film's art style. It's only really noticeable up close though, and even then when you do see it it only serves to enhance the look of the figure. Miles and Peter were both great figures in their own right, but this might be MAFEX's cleanest Spider-Verse release yet.

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While Miles and Peter both have two distinct looks in the film (standard costume as well as with clothes over the top) that were perfect for Medicom to reproduce with their figures, Gwen doesn't have quite as much in the way of variety. But what this figure lacks in clothing options, it definitely attempts to make up for with head options. MAFEX Spider-Gwen includes two masked head sculpts (one with a wide-eyed expression and the other with a squinting look) and two unmasked Gwen Stacy heads, as well as an alternate hood piece to display with those latter heads. That said, the masked heads can also be used alongside the lowered hood for a unique half-way look. But on the back of the masked heads you'll also find something pretty interesting - a small magnet that corresponds with the magnet on the raised hood to keep it properly in place. An extra little touch that you wouldn't expect to be there. The unmasked heads look amazing, and like the ones included with Miles and Peter look as though they jumped straight out of the film. Though there isn't a whole lot of difference in their expression (one is a default smile while the other has a slightly open mouth with the eyes looking to the side), they do highlight Gwen's personality in the film pretty well.

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The MAFEX line may not have been on the scene quite as long as their market rivals but Medicom got the whole articulation 5-6" figure thing down pretty soon, and with PLENTY of Spider-Man experience already under their belt Spider-Gwen is looking pretty good indeed. Altogether this figure includes;
- Ball jointed head, neck, torso and waist 
- Pull down ball jointed hips
- Swivel hinge shoulders, ankles and wrists
- Butterfly joint shoulders
- Double hinge elbows and knees
- Single hinge toe sections
It is worth noting that Gwen is closer to Miles proportionally than she is Peter, which means that you should err on the side of caution when it comes to handling some of the thinner joints present on this release. That said, I'd argue that Gwen isn't quite as bad as Miles when it comes to fragility, so a lot of the articulation shouldn't prove an issue if you're used to handling more high-end releases like these. The hands however can fit onto the wrist joints rather firmly, so if you're ever in doubt about pulling them off it's worth heating the areas up first just to be sure. With all that in mind Gwen is another fantastic Spider-Man release from MAFEX, and with no soft goods coming with this figure you can always see just how the joints work and what kind of bending they can withstand.

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Though Gwen may lack the additional clothing options that the other MAFEX Spider-Verse figures have had this release still isn't short of accessories. Along with the aforementioned alternate head and hood pieces the figure also comes packaged with six additional pairs of standard hands, one pair of magnetic hands, an alternate pair of magnetic feet, six webbing pieces and a standard articulated MAFEX display base. These webs are identical to the ones previously included with both Miles and Peter - two short web lines that loop around the wrist joints, two longer lines and then two web ropes that are meant to be held in the designated hands. Similarly the magnetised hands and feet are also designed in the same way - the hands have two raised pieces in the palms holding one magnet each, while the feet have two magnets built in that sit flush in the sole of the foot. With these attached, the figure can cling on to metal surfaces reasonably well. The selection of hands on offer here will also be pretty familiar to anyone who's purchased any of the previous MAFEX Spider-Man figures - web shooting hands, web-line holding hands, closed fists, various posed hands etc. It's all pretty familiar territory, but one unique addition with Spider-Gwen is that each set of hands (as well as the feet) have their own little plastic tree piece to keep the pairs together. It's an odd little addition that's perhaps a bit of a waste of plastic, but does help keep the various pieces organised in the box.

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But that's not everything MAFEX Spider-Gwen comes with, because it CAN get weirder! Also included in this set is a scaled mini-figure of Spider-Ham - the cartoon who became a hero when a spider was bitten by a radioactive pig. Spider-Ham is a mostly static figure but sports a ball jointed head as well as replaceable arms, which are all also rotatable at the shoulder connection. As well as a pair of default arms bent at the elbow Spider-Ham also has a pair of outstretched web-shooting hands AND an additional left arm brandishing a cartoon mallet. Though the figure is a little top heavy and requires a clear plastic support piece to help it stand, this is a fantastic accessory nonetheless. There was no way Spider-Ham was ever going to get a MAFEX release of his very own (nor would he really warrant one unless MAFEX delved into smaller and cheaper figures), so bundling him in as an accessory to Gwen (who has much less to come with than Miles or Peter) was the right way to go. Even if MAFEX never get around to making a Spider-Noir or Peni Parker and SP//dr figure (thankfully Sentinel have got fans covered on that last one), four out of six still isn't too bad at all./

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After the success of previous two figures it doesn't come as much surprise to see that MAFEX Spider-Gwen (Gwen Stacy) is another win from Medicom. Though on the surface it might seem like this release has a little less to offer than Peter or Miles, but none of the quality that those two figures exude has been lost here and it certainly makes up for it in different ways. The various heads are amazing (both in screen likeness and the magnet system built into the masks/hood), and the wonderful little Spider-Ham figure is just the icing on the cake. The Amazing Yamaguchi Spider-Gwen might have a lot to offer when it comes to action poses (though for static poses and head sculpt not so much, as you can see above) and the Marvel Legends when it comes to film accuracy and affordability, but if you want a high quality Spider-Verse Spider-Gwen figure that combines both the look and the articulation then MAFEX is really the only way to go.

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