Saturday 5 November 2022

Toybox REVIEW: SV-Action Peni Parker & SP//dr

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Release Date: June 2022
RRP: 13750 yen

While it seems that MAFEX have given up halfway through the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse cast, thankfully Sentinel arrived to pick up the slack and see the main Spider crew through right to the end with their aptly-titled SV-Action line. Starting things off simply with figures of both Miles Morales and Peter B. Parker, Sentinel then threw a bit off a curveball - not going the predictable route by doing Gwen next but instead surprising everyone with SV-Action Peni Parker & SP//dr. Given that even Hasbro haven't touched this pair with the Marvel Legends range, it certainly shows their dedication to the critically-acclaimed film.

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Straight off the bat Sentinel have done a great job with the packaging of the figure, which uses the style and colour palette of Into the Spider-Verse to full effect. But rather than show off the figure inside laying on its plastic tray, the box is a largely windowless one that instead shows off the toy in a range of dynamic poses. The only window present is a tiny one in the top corner, which shows off the Peni Parker figurine included rather than the main SP//dr figure. Meanwhile the other side of the box (which could be the back or front depending how you look at it) features proper artwork of SP//dr together with the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse logo. Open the box up and the contents are spread across two plastic trays - one main one for the figure/accessories and a smaller one underneath for the display stand. Also included in the box is an instructions booklet, which shows off the various features the figure has via step-by-step images.

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First appearing in Edge of the Spider-Verse #5 in 2014, SP//dr is robotic suit partnered with Peni Parker - the "Spider-Man" of Earth-14512. The Peni Parker and SP//dr of Into the Spider-Verse are a little different to their comic counterparts though, hailing from Earth-TRN704 and a more stereotypical anime look. This SP//dr features an egg-shaped body with long spindly limbs, with a domed-screen face that can display a variety of expressions. Sentinel have translated the design into figure form beautifully, with their SV-Action SP//dr sporting vibrant colours and clear moulded detailing. The dome has been done in a semi-translucent black plastic with painted eyes, nicely giving it the look of a screen display. Similarly vibrant are the clear blue plastic joints connecting the limbs, which are an effective way of conveying the absence of joints the onscreen design has. While it isn't quite the same, the colour and size of the joints (in comparison to the body pieces they're connecting) do make them them feel like some sort of energy or magnetism connecting them together. 

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The clean look is perfectly fine but if you want something a little more grungy and film-accurate, Sentinel have included a sheet of waterslide decals which can be applied to the figure should you so wish. These decals are directly based on the ones that appear in the film, ranging from a number of kawaii graphics to a   "Hello, my name is Spider-Man" name badge. The decal sheet has multiples of each design just incase something goes wrong when applying (or if you want to use them elsewhere). Despite having trouble with using waterslide decals in the past, thankfully these ones were really easy to work with and applied to the figure without any issues. That said, I have mixed feelings about having to apply them myself considering this is a 13750 yen figure we're talking about. I can kind of see why Sentinel did it though, given at there doesn't seem to be definitive places for each of the designs to go - even the instruction booklet only gives a few examples. Looking at screen caps and promotional art the placement of a couple is pretty consistent, but then there are a few that seem to move about (or outright disappear) depending on the image.

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SP//dr's head and body may be one solid piece but there's still plenty of articulation in the limbs, consisting of swivel hinge shoulders, elbows, hips, knees and ankles as well as standard wrist swivels and hinged hands/claws. Right from the initial reveal of this figure collectors may have been concerned about the use of translucent blue plastic for the shoulder/elbow/hip/knee joints and how fragile these might turn out to be over time. While it's still a bit too early to tell if the plastic will degrade over time, for now at least collectors can rest assured that there's no immediate issue with the joints - they have the same buttery smooth motion you'd expect from opaque plastic. The combination of numerous swivel hinge joints and long spindly limbs make for some really great posing opportunities - crouching poses are a particular joy. That said, it certainly doesn't mean the figure isn't without its issues. The design might not allow for a waist joint, but it's pretty disappointing that the face dome can't swivel to face a direction other than head on. The means to do so would have been easy, but for whatever reason Sentinel decided to have it so that the dome piece locks into place. A simple change like that would have elevated the articulation to something really special.  

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Both the arms and legs of the figure are modular, so you can remove them from their translucent joints and rearrange/reattach them to the various sockets dotted around the body. In addition to the "standard" arm and leg sockets there is also another pair on the back, which can be used to give SP//dr a more spider-like silhouette. Again while one might think that translucent joints would have fragility issues, the limb pieces can all be removed and reattached without any notable issues. The alternative limb layout does look rather strange, but that kind of seems like the point so as a play feature it's been pulled off brilliantly.

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As you'd expect from a release of this caliber SP//dr comes with a variety of accessories, starting off with an alternate smiling face display screen. Switching between the two is as simple as pulling off the standard display screen and locking the new one in its place, giving SP//dr a cheery (yet somewhat sinister) expression lifted straight from the film itself. Again it's a shame that the dome isn't able to rotate separate from the body for better posing, but the expression is the perfect opposite to the default one. Next up we have a rather heavy duty display stand, consisting of a large square baseplate and an articulated stand arm with claw attachment. The claw itself is a bit of an oddity really, since not only does it not grasp onto SP//dr's egg-shaped body very well but the arm can just directly plug into the back of the figure anyway. Even connecting the arm to the baseplate is more involved than you'd expect, requiring the removal of a thin clear plastic strip and then fixing the arm to it with a removable plug piece. It's a bit of an odd connection when it could have just plugged into one of the holes on the base, but it does allow the arm to slide across the strip to be positioned as you please.

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Of course the release wouldn't be complete without a Peni Parker figure to go along with it, which sadly is a bit of a mixed bag. Presented in a cliche "anime girl selfie" pose, this Peni Parker isn't just a static figure with no articulation - it's also one that requires a display stand just to stand upright. A display stand that fits into the figurine rather strangely no less - awkwardly sticking into her backpack at an angle which it can easily fall out of. The look and sculpting of the figure is immaculate, it's just a shame that this is all we get when it comes to Peni Parker. Even the various Spider-Hams (both by Mafex and Sentinel's forthcoming release) have alternate arms to give them slightly different poses, so why couldn't the same have been done here? She may look great alongside the rest of the Spider-Verse crew, but the big black display stand sticking out of her does rather ruin the illusion.

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And even after all that there's still one bit of fun left to be had. Once you've managed to pry the battery cover off the back (and this is surprisingly difficult - long fingernails will definitely help here), pulled out the battery tab and turned the revealed switch to the "on" position, you'll discover that the SP//dr also has two built-in LED lights! These red lights are located inside the body just underneath the face screen, and are bright enough to light up both the face and spider emblem on the chest (and in turn the whole red half of the body as well). Gripes about how difficult it is to get the battery cover off aside it's a simple but very cool feature that further adds to the "robotic-ness" of the design, as well as making it an insanely cool display piece in the dark. It's not just the eyes that look amazing all lit up red, its how vibrant the honeycomb-like pattern around it becomes as well.

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Sentinel have set a pretty high standard with their Into the Spider-Verse releases, and while SV-Action Peni Parker & SP//dr certainly doesn't lower the bar there's also the feeling that more could have been done to justify the price. While the figure itself is fantastic with its modular limb and LED gimmicks, touches like having to add waterslide decals yourself and a static Peni Parker figure (which again needs to a display stand just to stand up) leave something to be desired. That said, at the very least Sentinel went as far as to make SP//dr in the first place, and as a figure that blends just as seamlessly with the MAFEX releases as it does Sentinel's own figures this is definitely one Spider-Verse fans won't want to miss out on.

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