Spider-man 3
Super articulated Spider-man, Venom

The new movie is still months away, but the toys are already here - I'm talking Spider-man 3 of course. Hasbro hit us with a March 24th street date for the figures, and they went out in force over the weekend. I'm a little confused as to why there was a 'street date' on these figures, since we'd seen pretty much every villain several weeks earlier, and there's nothing beyond Venom's appearance (which is pretty much what you'd expect - thank God), but they still felt it necessary to hold the release of the toys til a particular day.

And there's a whopping bunch of stuff too, including figures that aren't even in the movie. Characters like Rhino and Kraven get the special Spider-man 3 packaging, along with Spidey, Venom, Goblin and Sandman.

I'm not particularly into superhero movie figures these days (Batman and Superman have pretty much killed my interest), but I figured I better pick up a couple for a review. So I grabbed the black suited super poseable Spider-man, and the standard Venom. BTW, there are even several packaging variations, and I noticed that Venom came with his webbing placed in two different locations. Ah, Hasbro, how you love to screw with us.

These are all over the place right now, selling for around $6 each. I've heard some people say they paid as much as $8 each at Wal-mart, but they were only $5.99 where I grabbed them. And no, I usually don't buy at Wal-mart, but I was in San Antonio this weekend, and that's what was available closest to the hotel.

Packaging - **1/2
It's fairly standard movie fare. Sorry the photo isn't better, but I wanted to de-card these guys before hauling them home to save space, so you get a nice hotel room photo of the card.

The odd die cut shape of the bubble makes them tougher to store for the MOCers, but the small card footprint means they're less likely to bend. The graphics are decent, but only a few other figures are shown on the back of any one card, so you won't know what's in the whole line up.

Sculpting - **1/2
When I first got these, I was happier with the sculpt.  After playing around with them for a bit, my favor turned sour.  There's a few decent things - the sculpted web lines are nice, and Venom has a nice bit of bulk over Spider-man. He also has his trademark tongue, although it looks more like Gene Simmons and less snake-like than most comic book versions.  But there's enough issues to really start bugging me on a visceral level.

Venom has his usual expression, sticking out his tongue and showing his teeth. The look fits him fine, as does the lack of any real expression on Spider-man.

Proportions are a tad annoying.  Spidey's head is small yet his chest is square and bulky. Venom is bigger than he across (as he should be) but his height makes him appear stumpy.  As I said, when I first picked them up, the proportions seemed decent if not spot on to the previous movie versions. But the more I posed them and shot them, the less I liked them.

Scale is also going to be the biggest issue for most folks. At just 5", these are done in the same scale as the Mattel Batman and Superman Returns stuff, rather than the more traditional (at least for the last 5 years or so) 6" scale of past Toybiz lines. There are rumors of a 6" Hasbro movie line, but we'll see if that materializes.

Paint - Spidey ***; Venom *
Now here's where things get a bit strange, at least for Venom.

I picked up the black costumed Spidey because I really do like the look of the suit in the film. The small scale version isn't quite as nice, but the paint job is decent for a mass market toy. The silver highlights are relatively clean, and the black suit is consistent and even. It's more of an ash gray than black, but I think they were trying to get that slightly shiny metallic look we see in the film.  Outside of those two colors, there's not much to screw up.

The same could be said for Venom, and yet they did find a way to screw it up. The silver is still fairly clean and even, including his eyes, but what the Hell happened to his color? Why is the poor guy PURPLE? Did I miss something in the trailers?

I'm color blind, and even I can see he's purple from across the room. And not just this version, but every version I saw on the pegs was purple. Why would they do that? What makes it more perplexing is that his webs that come as accessories are black...huh? If they realized the webs were black, why would the suit be pimp-mobile purple? Even better, his webbing on the suit is closer in color to the gray webbing on Spidey's suit, making the purple all that much more obvious.  I don't get it, and it ruins an otherwise reasonable mass market paint job.

I'm also deducting for the brightly colored pink tongue. This might be movie accurate (we won't know for sure for awhile yet), but if it is, that's a failing of the movie too. The tongue should be darker and redder to make it more threatening and less disgusting.

Articulation - Spidey ***1/2; Venom **
Spider-man is 'super articulated'. It says so on the package. And he is pretty well done for a 5" figure. He has what is supposed to pass for a ball jointed neck (the head sits on top of a rounded neck post and pops off pretty easily), but it only operates as a cut joint, not really allowing any forward/backward or side to side movement.

He has good ball jointed shoulders, jointed on both sides of the ball, and pin elbows and wrists. Unfortunately, the pin wrists only allow the hands to move forward and back, with no cut to allow for them to turn. This makes a lot of hand/arm poses impossible.

He has a ball chest joint (which works mainly as a cut joint), pin ankles, and a new style of knee. There's a single pin at the knee, with a sort of swivel/pin joint slightly above it. This allows the same type of bend as a double knee joint, but allows the lower leg to turn as well.

Venom also has the same style neck, shoulders, hips, and knees, but lacks the chest joint, elbow joints, wrist joints and ankle joints. Yep, he's not nearly as articulated. His waist is also designed to work with the action feature, so while you can turn it, it stays in position with a series of clicks.

The lack of the cut wrists, using only pins, is a big drawback on these figures. I don't mind the knees, although some people may find them less aesthetically pleasing. These figures remind me of slightly bigger versions of the Superhero Showdown line, but with better quality joints.

Accessories - Spidey ***; Venom **
There's certainly not a ton of stuff included with either of these figures, but both have some basics.

Venom comes with two hard plastic webs, both of which can be attached to his hands. The fit fine, and don't look too bad, but that's pretty light for a kids toy. They are a hard enough material that they don't wilt too easily, but soft enough to fit on the hands without too much effort.

Spider-man only has one accessory, but it's fairly cool. It's a large chunk of black webbing, with suction cups to attach it to a smooth surface. It works pretty well, and you can hang Spidey from it in several poses. It's a soft rubber too, which gives it a bit of the ick factor for kids.

Action Feature - Venom ***; Spidey Bupkis
Venom includes an action feature which helps make up a bit for the lack of accessories. He has one of those 'spin attack' waists, you know the type, Twist his torso around and let it go, and he flips back, whacking what ever is in his way. This one works pretty good, and he spins quite a bit further and with more force than usual.

Spider-man lacks any silly action feature, which is a plus in my book. If you have to live with an action feature though, Venom's is useful and detracts the least for the overall look of the figure.

Fun Factor - Spidey ***; Venom **1/2
These are toys designed for kids first, and they function in a pretty average way in that department. The articulation is solid on Spider-man, and most kids will like the accessories and action feature. The scale might be annoying to collectors, but at least it allows for some playsets and vehicles, some of which are already on the shelf.

Value - ***
I've heard some bad reports of these things selling for $8 each - they ain't worth that by any stretch of the imagination. These are $6 figures, and I certainly hope it's just some errors on the part of some retailers. I paid $6 each at a San Antonio Wal-mart, and I'm hoping that Targets (my preferred retailer) won't be charging more than $7.

If you do pay $7, I'd knock off a half star here, and if you pay $8, I'd knock off a full star at least. In fact, if you pay eight bucks, that would be a poor enough value to knock some off my overall as well.

Things to Watch Out For - 
Not a thing, really, at least with these two figures. There's some variants on other figures floating around out there (like Sandman), so you'll want to pay attention if you're looking for something specific. Also, they don't have all the characters on the cardback, and there's a ton of Spider-man versions, so look through the peg to find your favorite.

Overall - Spider-Man **1/2; Venom **
I'm pretty blasť about this line. This particular black suited Spidey looks pretty good with a decent movie Batman and Superman, but he's not going to fit in with any of your larger scale line ups. Unless you plan on buying quite a few of the other villains, he's probably not going to hold much appeal for most collectors.

Venom is a disappointment, since he's obviously the wrong color. This is a good example where he'd have done fine had he been black, but such a blatant screw up takes away any pluses he might have had. He has the same scale issue as Spider-man of course, and since every version I saw of him so far was in the wrong color, the lack of a good Venom to pose off against the movie Spider-man makes the Spidey's even less attractive.

You can pick up a decent Sandman though (if you don't mind that he looks nothing like Thomas Haden Church), and there are even a couple versions of Spider-man where he has 'sand damage' on his body.

Score Recap:
Packaging - **1/2
Sculpt -  **1/2
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - Spidey ***1/2; Venom **
Accessories - Spidey ***; Venom **
Action Feature - Venom ***; Spidey Bupkis
Fun Factor - Spidey ***; Venom **1/2
Value - Spidey ***; Venom **1/2
Overall - Spider-Man **1/2; Venom **

Where to Buy -
Obviously, head down to your local retailers. I prefer Target whenever possible, with Toys R Us as a backup, and Wal-mart only when necessary. I do know that both Wal-mart and Target have different exculsives with the line, so you might want to check all your options.

Related Links -
There's no shortage of Spider-man reviews:

- I've reviewed, or had guest reviews, of past Amazing Spider-Man and Spider-Man Classics figures like Venom and Man-Wolf, Buzzing Beetle, Mysterio, Sandman/Scorpion/Spider-Man, Sandman all by his lonesome, magnetic Spider-Man, Daredevil, Lizard, Spider Hulk, Hobgoblin, or Venom.

- Marvel Legends did the great Spider-Man Fearsome Foes set.

- there's also the new 9" Spider-man figures like Green Goblin and Symbiote Spider-man.

- and let's not forget figures based on the films, like Doc Ock from the second series, the Green Goblin, or the super poseable Spider-man.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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