Ultimate Venom

The Marvel Select line of figures continues to roll along, bringing out characters we're less likely to see in a mainstream line.  The latest release is the 'ultimate' Venom, from the Ultimate comics, of course.

The style and quality of these figures has increased fairly steadily, and the Venom builds on past success.  You can find two versions - one with his trademark white spider emblem on his chest (and around his back) and one without.  I have no idea which is rarer, but I've seen more of the emblem-less version.  That might not mean a thing though, as it could be a regional distribution thing.

The Marvel Select line runs for around $18 most places.  It's predominately sold through comic shops (and I have a couple suggestions at the end), but there are also some specialty stores like Gamestop or Media Play that carry them.

Packaging - **1/2
The packaging is serviceable, but I'm not a huge fan.  It's just so big, and it's going to take up a lot of storage room for the MOCer.  Still, it's sturdy, shows off the figure well, and can fit on a book shelf just like a book.  It's a catch 22.

Sculpting - ***
The sculpt on Venom is large - you can see in the comparison shot with Zipline Batman and some of the other Marvel Select figures just how big this guy is.  That's not too far off the source material, but might not be everyone's cup of latte.

The head sculpt is well done, especially with the detail work around the teeth and tongue.  Here's a guy that Gene Simmons envies!  The musculature is oversized, similar to the standard style of most comics today, but there's not a tremendous amount of detail work there.

Paint - **1/2
The paint apps aren't quite as nice as the sculpt.  Part of that is due to the tough colors that they have to work with.  White and black conflict pretty easily, and even the slightest overspray or poor definition between these colors is quite obvious.

Venom suffers from these problems around the white eyes, and on the version with the emblem, around it as well.  The paint work with the tongue and teeth is nice, but the rest of the body is your basic black.

Articulation - ***
For a guy with a lot of articulation, he's oddly stiff.  Venom has neck, ball jointed shoulders, wrists, waist, funky hips, and ankles.

The pre-posed leg sculpt means the hip and ankle articulation won't do a whole lot.  Considering the design of the hips - they move forward and back and in and out - you'd think there would be more he could do with them, but alas, it's not to be.  He does stand fine on his own though.

The upper body articulation is a little more useful, and you can use the shoulders and wrists to get a pretty wide range of poses.

Accessories - ***
All the Marvel Select figures come with bases, and Venom continues the tradition.  His isn't quite as cool as the best - like Black Cat's - but it's not bad.

His base is a section of wall, with a built in safe.  There's also a small section of floor in front of it.  Parker, in his Spidey duds, has been attached to the wall by Venom with the usual webbing.  This is the young, teenage boy of the Ultimate comics, not the older, wizened Spidey.

The safe opens, and you can place the other accessory, a flask of the black symbiote that turned Eddie Brock into Venom, inside.  The safe works well, and while the flask lacks details, it's an appropriate touch.

The sculpting and paint work on the base is great.  It's a tad small compared to some of the best dioramas that Marvel Select has produced, but it's still nicely done and looks good with the figure.

Value - **1/2
I'm betting you pay $18 for this.  Anything over $15 is a tad too much, but if you're lucky you might be able to get it down in that magic price range.  I know that Media Play clearanced out some of the earlier Marvel Select stuff, so you may find Venom there (or at their sister store, Sam Goody) for a more reasonable price.

Overall - ***
As action figures go, Venom isn't exceptional, but he's certainly a decent representation of the character.  He follows the source material pretty well, the base and accessories are cool, and he has better than average articulation.  There's certainly been worse versions of this character produced, and not too many better.

Where to Buy - 
Check your local comic shops, or perhaps Media Play, Sam Goody, Electronics Boutique or Gamestop.  Online options include:

- Red Planet Toys doesn't have this one listed yet, but they usually carry the Marvel Select figures.  Give them a call - expect to pay around $19.

- Alter Ego Comics has him for about $16, but won't ship for a couple weeks.


Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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