Monday 23 May 2022

Toybox REVIEW: MAFEX Spider-Man (Ben Reilly)

MAFEX Spider-Man (Ben Reilly) 01

Release Date: November 2021
RRP: 7800 yen

The various Spider-Verse titles there have been in the past few years may have shown that there's much more to Spider-Man than just Peter Parker, but back in the 1990s when comic readers were introduced to a brand-new Spidey he wasn't that far detached from our original hero. Popularised during the infamous Clone Saga that ran between 1994 and 1995, Ben Reilly (combining Uncle Ben's forename and Aunt May's maiden name) is a clone of Peter Parker that originally fought as the Scarlet Spider before truly taking the mantle of Spider-Man in Peter's absence. His time as Spider-Man saw him bond with the Carnage symbiote as well as take part in the multiversal Marvel vs DC crossover, though Peter would eventually return when Ben took a fatal wound from the Green Goblin. Despite the Clone Saga's notoriety, the character's popularity makes him an obvious choice for Medicom's "miracle action figure" line. MAFEX Spider-Man (Ben Reilly) is the next in a long line of Spider-Man figures from the company, and it looks like they have no plans on stopping any time soon.

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MAFEX Spider-Man (Ben Reilly) comes packaged in a bright red and blue box that’s not only obviously meant to mirror Spidey's costume colours, but parts of it are also laid out like a comic front cover. The main giveaway is the boxout in the top left corner, which instead of featuring a price and issue number instead proudly displays both the scale of the figure and its designated number in the MAFEX line (143). Both sides of the box feature nice big images of the figure (on one side alongside the classic Amazing Spider-Man logo), while the back gives you a better look at all the poses this figure is capable of as well as all the accessories included. Inside you'll find both the figure and these parts neatly stored on a moulded plastic tray, with the MAFEX articulated stand taped up in a bag behind. It's a shame that the city scape backdrop behind the tray is directly printed onto the box rather than a separate piece, because it would make an ideal backdrop for photos and display.

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The Ben Reilly version of Spider-Man reuses the mould MAFEX have previously used for both their standard comic and comic paint Peter Parker Spidey figures, but while the deco might not look all that difference on first glance it's the little differences that count. The most obvious difference between the two costumes are the spider logos on the chest and back, which in Reilly's case are considerably bigger with legs that wrap around the body to connect. Reilly's costume also features considerably less red, losing it on the arms, gloves, belt and boots. In their place is the usual red webbed detailing on the thumb, index and little fingers of the gloves as well as red strips running down the legs. Finally like his Scarlet Spider costume Reilly wears his web shooters on the outside of his suit, designed like web cartridge gauntlets. The colours of the suit are also much darker than MAFEX's Peter Parker Spidey figure, which used a metallic shade of blue as opposed to the dark blue seen here. When it comes to Spider-Man figures Medicom have a keen eye for detail which is more than evident here, capturing all those differences to create what's easily the best action figure this costume has ever had. Every detail is perfect, right down to the gauntlets also having little nozzle pieces moulded onto them in addition to the individual cartridge pieces.

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It isn't just looked that have earned MAFEX's Spidey figures their high reputation, with them having plenty to offer when it comes to articulation as well. Altogether the Ben Reilly Spider-Man features;
- Ball jointed head, neck, torso, waist, wrists and hips
- Swivel hinge shoulders and ankles
- Butterfly joint shoulders
- Double hinge elbows and knees
- Single hinge toe sections
- Bicep and thigh swivels
My personal experience with MAFEX Spider-Man articulation has been rather tumultuous. Collectors raved about the articulation on the Peter Parker figure but the Comic Paint version clearly had some issues, not just due to mine having wrist joints that crumbled right out of the box but also because comparing it with this one is like night and day. The Ben Reilly Spider-Man is an absolute dream to pose – extremely flexible and able to pull off all those athletic web-slinging Spidey poses. The ankles on this figure are particularly great, and manage to even look the part thanks to the half red/half blue construction they have so not to break the flow of the suit. The Into the Spider-Verse figures have all been excellent too (even if in some cases the joints are scarily thin), but with this version in hand I can finally see what all the fuss is about. I haven't had this much fun posing a Spider-Man figure in a LONG time.

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The accessory count is pretty standard MAFEX Spider-Man stuff, which is to say that it's mostly the same pieces you'll have seen with previous releases. Altogether this Spidey comes with five alternate pairs of hands, an additional pair of magnetic hands, alternate magnetic feet, two web ropes, four web shoot blasts (two long and two short), an alternate masked head sculpt with smaller eyes, alternate Ben Reilly head sculpt, a removed mask and the standard articulated MAFEX display stand. The hand selection includes a number of open hands as well as the necessary web shooting and web rope holding hands, while the web shoot pieces attach via a loop that fits over the wrist joints. Despite being the same kind of accessory previous figures have had the removed mask is actually a new sculpt, plugging in its designed hands at a slightly different place. The only significantly different accessory here is the new Ben Reilly head, which looks absolutely fantastic. It's been built off of MAFEX's existing Peter Parker head to give it that proper clone look, but the new blonde haircut and slightly changed expression are more than enough to give it its own character as well. While it would have been nice to get some other Ben Reilly-specific accessories like impact web blasts, there's no doubt MAFEX will probably do a Scarlet Spider eventually so there's every change they could come with that instead. Even if it's the same things we keep seeing with every subsequent Spider-Man release, it's a solid set of accessories that covers all the basics for great Spider-Man posing.

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The magnetic hands and feet are something that have been a staple with MAFEX Spider-Man figures since the very beginning. Sadly the magnets aren't the strongest so it's hard to pose Spidey without using all four of them, but they do at least allow the figure to stick on metal surfaces. They're nice pieces to have and I appreciate the consistency Medicom has had using them, but going forward they need to be much stronger if they can truly match the poseability this figure has to offer.

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Medicom have gotten Spider-Man figures down to a fine art now and as my favourite Spidey costume of all time I'm pleased to say MAFEX Spider-Man (Ben Reilly) continues that high standard the company have set for themselves. Highly detailed, super articulated and complete with all the basic accessories you could ever want from a Spider-Man figure, this is the perfect package for all the Clone Saga and Ben Reilly fans out there. Comic journalism may like to pretend like we don't exist, but Reilly's fanbase as well as his recent comeback definitely proves otherwise.

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