Tuesday 10 October 2023

Toybox REVIEW: MAFEX Scarlet Spider (Comic Ver.)

MAFEX Scarlet Spider (Comic Ver.) 01

Release Date: June 2023
RRP: 9680 yen

One has to admire Medicom's dedication to releasing as many different Spider-Man variants in the MAFEX line as possible. While on the one hand it is just them getting their money's worth out of the moulding/tooling, on the other it's delivered some fantastic versions of the wall-crawler so far. As such a MAFEX Scarlet Spider must have been on many fans' wish lists for some time and after the release of the Ben Reilly Spider-Man figure seemed inevitable, yet it still took another year and a half to become a reality. The 1990s are back once again with the star of the infamous Clone Saga, as the clone Peter Parker (renaming himself Ben Reilly) takes on this mantle after donning this makeshift costume.

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If there's one thing Medicom know how to do its packaging, with the MAFEX Scarlet Spider coming in a bold blue and cyan box that really shows off the figure in all its glory. The front of the box is especially good, with the size and numbering of the figure up in the corner alongside an image of the Scarlet Spider - just like the numbering section on comics back in the day. Both sides of the box feature nice big images of the figure (on one side alongside the Amazing Spider-Man comic 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 two moulded plastic trays, 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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There's a certain elegance to the simplicity of the Scarlet Spider's costume. While it may just be an all-red body suit with a spider-logo blue hoody, Spider-Man's look is just so iconic that it's still instantly recognisable as him (or at least a clone of him) even without all that additional detail. Having already produced several Spider-Man figures in the MAFEX line it goes without saying that Medicom have done a fantastic job on the sculpting, but what really makes this figure work is that soft goods hoody. While soft goods clothing can sometimes be a little baggy and/or unwieldy, this fits over the figure like a dream - tucking in just under above the belt to help keep it into place. Plus the wearable hood just adds so much more character to the figure. The colours are all really bright and bold which sell it well as a comic-styled figure, and short of a bit of shading he looks like he leapt straight off the page. Additional touches include the belt and ankle pouches, as well as those iconic web shooter wrist gauntlets. The Scarlet Spider may have an air of 90s design sensibilities around him, but this suit never stopped being cool and has possibly never looked better in toy form.

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The articulation matches up to that which has been seen on previous MAFEX Spider-Man releases, with the body made up of;
- 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 
While on paper MAFEX articulation can't be faulted, in execution it isn't always so straightforward. It seems the colour of the plastic can greatly impact its quality, so while all Spider-Man figures are technically built the same they don't all always have the same range of articulation without bits popping off (or even worse, breaking). Thankfully the Scarlet Spider isn't one of these more egregious examples, instead being an absolute delight to pose in all manner of Spidey aerobics. While I do recommend newcomers exercising a bit of caution with hips just until you get used to them, nothing really here feels like its at risk of suddenly breaking if you treat it as you would any high-end action figure. While it can certainly pull off some great standing and crouching poses, it really shines when combined with a display stand for all those wonderful mid-air and web-slinging acrobatics.

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Accessories are another element that have remained fairly consistent across all of the MAFEX Spider-Man figures, particularly the comic-inspired one. While there aren't any huge changes here with the Scarlet Spider, there are some little changes to keep things interesting. Among his accessories are two alternate heads (one with rounded eyes and the other his iconic angular eyes), four pairs of standard additional hands (including closed fists, web-holding, open and web-shooting hands) and a whopping ten different web effect parts. Among these are the ones commonly seen across both MAFEX and S.H. Figuarts Spider-Man figures (web shot effects in both long and short, straight web ropes), but Medicom have also provided two brand new types - web ropes with curled parts to give them a more "realistic"/comic-inspired look. There are two copies of each webbing in the set, so five types and ten in total. While it is strange that the usual Peter Parker head has been omitted, these new web parts really make up for it. Web effects have always been a great addition to Spider-Man figures but can sometimes look a little stilted, but the curled parts of these new ones look considerably better. The two alternate heads included are great too, not only giving the Scarlet Spider a good variety in eye shape. So while there's technically nothing unexpected here, the accessories are a great example in how to make those common parts just a little bit better.

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Rounding off the accessories are a staple of the MAFEX Spider-Man figures - a pair of magnet hands and feet that allow the Scarlet Spider to truly wall crawl by sticking to metal surfaces. The design of these hands and feet have gone unchanged since MAFEX first started doing these figures, and honestly they could do with a little bit of tweaking. They aren't bad per se, but the tiny magnets aren't always strong enough to firmly hold the figure without it slipping down the surface. They do the job though, and I do appreciate the consistency Medicom have had in ensuring all of their Spider-Man figures have this feature.

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The MAFEX Scarlet Spider (Comic Ver.) might just be my new favourite Spider-Man figure. While the costume might not be immediately interesting or detailed as the classic suit and its many variations, there's just something wonderfully simple about those bold, bright colours. The soft goods hoodie just adds to the overall quality of the figure, with its wide selection of web parts the kind you'll want to use across all of your Spider-Man figures. The 90s may have called and want its Spider-Man clone back, but tough - it can't have it back because this thing is just amazing.

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