Amazing Spider-Man (Classics)
Hobgoblin and Spider Hulk

With Toybiz going bye-bye - at least as we've known them for some time - at the end of this year, there has been much wailing of voices and gnashing of teeth. Whether the most dire predictions come true as Hasbro steps in on the Marvel licenses is yet to be seen, but one thing is for sure - Toybiz is going out with a bang.

They revealed a TON of product for 2006 at the recent Toy Fair, and it looks like we'll be getting flooded with much of it this spring. The newest wave of the Amazing Spider-Man figures are now hitting shelves, and along with the usual goofy Spidey variants, has two figures that really catch the eye.

One is Hobgoblin, kissing cousin of the Green Goblin. The other is Spidey Hulk, which visually is pretty much the Hulk wearing Spidey's PJ's. These are hitting Targets and Wal-marts all over the country right now, and running around $8 each.

Packaging -  **1/2
I like the light blue colors, and the basic logo is fine. The info on the back is generic though, and having a little personalized info on each character would have gone a long way to improving these. This is mass market stuff at it's usual mediocrity, looking to reduce theft, catch the eye, but not cost too much.

Sculpting - Hobgoblin ****; Spider Hulk ***1/2
Let's start with the pick of the litter, Hobgoblin. Now, I'm not a huge fan of the character, and I have my suspicions that in the films we'll end up with a whole new version. But I can safely say that this figure is now my favorite Goblin based action figure, orange or green.

The sculpt is fantastic, with a wonderful job on the face and expression. This is the classic version of Hobgoblin, so if you weren't thrilled with the more modern demon-like version we got earlier in the Spider-Man series, you'll be much happier with this one. Hell, even if you loved that one, you'll want to marry this one. I think that's actually legal in California.

The intricate ribbing on his arms and legs is entirely sculpted, and the wrinkles and flow of his costume look realistic and appropriate. The cape and cowl are separate pieces, so that the cowl does not impinge on the articulation of the neck (a huge plus here!), and the hands are sculpted to take a million perfect evil villain poses.

The Spider Hulk is almost as good, although I did have a couple minor nits. He's definitely an unusual combination, sort of like peanut butter and chocolate before Reese's came along. While Spider-Man and Hulk have been in a ton of comics over the years (and are a perennial favorite match up for "who would win" arguments among the dweebiest of nerds), I don't every actually recall a Spider Hulk. Granted, I'm not the best judge, since I'm more of a DC man than a Marvel man, but I'd think I'd remember this guy.

Is he the Hulk bitten by a radioactive Spider? Is he Spider-Man, hit with gamma rays? Or did the Hulk just steal the outfit off Spider-Man's clothes line? Personally, I'm betting this is a gamma radiated Spider-Man, and that would make the most sense in the actual comics.

Spider Hulk has an excellent body sculpt, with each tear in his suit given tremendous detail. The fingers and toes have rough sculpted nails, and he definitely needs some industrial strength Lamisil. Some folks have disliked the large jaw, but I think it looks appropriate and sensible, and gives the figure a Hulk appearance to the face without totally losing Spidey.

This is a 6" scale line, but the villains tend to be on the large side. Hobgoblin is about 6 3/4 inches tall, and Spidey Hulk is about 7". I think the size is about right for Spidey Hulk, but Hobgoblin is definitely a half inch tall. They fit in pretty well with the rest of the Spider-Man lines, and even Marvel Legends. While Toybiz isn't perfect when it comes to scale, they do a damn sight better job than a lot of other companies I can think of.

Paint - Hobgoblin ****; Spider Hulk ***
Adam had Eve, Sonny had Cher, Hannibal had Clarice...and a great sculpt deserves a great paint application. Toybiz knocks another one out of the park with the work on both of these figures.

The orange and blue of Hobgoblin look terrific, and there's a light wash used to highlight the intricate details. It's not overdone, and therefore actually does the job that was intended. The paint work on the eyes, teeth and tongue is outstanding, especially for a mass market toy, and other small details like the belt buckle are at least solid, if not perfect.

Poor Hulk didn't fair quite as well, but this is likely to be an issue with only mine. I'm betting that had I noticed this problem at the store, I could have picked up the other one and avoided the issue. But you see, I don't tend to stare at other men's crotches. Call me silly, but my eyes just aren't drawn to that section of the male anatomy.

This ended up being a problem this time. It appears as though poor Hulk was damaged goods, and some factory worker did their best patch job by hand. Unfortunately, this globby, dark patch is really obvious once you notice it, and you can't NOT stare after that. I suppose I could just pretend that when he hulkified, the suit tore there as well, and Aunt May did her best to patch things back up to avoid any embarrassment.

In general, his paint work isn't quite as neat and clean as Hobby's, with some slop on the black lines, and some bleed between the skin and suit.  These are pretty minor issues though, compared to the excellent work on the fingers and toes.

Articulation - ****
The Spider-Man line is very Marvel Legends like in it's articulation, and there's certainly no shortage of joints on either of these figures.

Hobgoblin and Spider Hulk both have pin jointed necks, which means they can turn left and right, and move forward and backward, but unlike a true ball joint, they can't tilt side to side. It's not a major loss here, since the sculpts on both would have restricted that movement anyway. More important for them is the ability to move forward and backward, and both do it much farther than you might expect.

Hobgoblin also has ball jointed shoulders and knees (with movement on both sides of the ball), double jointed pin elbows and knees, pin wrists and ankles, cut joints inside the boots, a cut waist at the bottom of the belt, a chest joint, a pin joint at the half foot, cut wrists at the gloves, and a pin joint on both hands for the fingers to move together. This joint is actually included on the left hand, but doesn't move at all on mine due to the glued in place pumpkin bomb. When this figure was originally solicited, he was advertised as having a "bomb throwing action". I suspect the joint was included as part of that, and the ball joints at the shoulders even click when moved at the torso, but the action feature was dropped at some point.

Spider Hulk also has ball jointed shoulders and knees, again with movement at both sides of the ball, pin elbows and knees, cut wrists, cut waist, a chest joint, pin ankles and half foot, and two pin joints on each of the eight fingers, with one pin joint on each thumb. If you can't get these two guys to hold a pose, you just aren't trying hard enough!

All the joints were nice and tight as well, but I had very little trouble with any of them painted tight. The articulation junkies will definitely be happy!

Accessories - Hobgoblin ***; Spider Hulk **
Hobgoblin comes with a couple nifty accessories, accurate to his character. There's his man-bag, which he uses to carry around his potent pumpkin bombs (and if you've ever gorged yourself on pumpkin pie, you know just how potent those bombs can be). The purse - and let's be honest, that's what it is - can be removed going down his body much easier than trying to go over his head. The sculpt is great, and the paint is very detailed, even highlighting the small goblin insignia.

His glider is the traditional style, and attaches to a smoky base that has wheels to roll. This is technically his action feature, and that's my favorite type - one that has nothing to do with the figure itself. Even better, you can remove the glider from the smoky base and play with it independently.

The pumpkin bomb in his left hand is technically not an accessory, as it is glued into his hand. I really wish they'd been a little more careful about the placement of the face, so that when he has it raised over his head, ready to throw, the face was looking straight, but that's a minor nit.

The Spider Hulk has much less in this category, probably due to the extra plastic required just to make the figure. There's a beam that fits together tightly, and can be tossed or broken by the figure. It's nothing special, and has a rather odd paint job. One half is a very different color than the other due to what appears to be red overspray from some other paint operation.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
These are great toys - really great toys. I'm so tired of the lame excuse "those are just toys for kids, so they don't have to be good sculpts, good paint, good etc. etc. etc.", as though kids are less discerning, or can't tell crap when they see it. Obviously, Toybiz is fed up with that lame excuse as well. Remember when I said I was more of a DC guy than a Marvel guy? Then it should be extra impressive when I tell you to steer your kids away from the Superman Returns crap, right on over to the Spider-Man stuff.

Value - ***1/2
At $7 - $8, these are actually about the right price for mass market. Long gone are the days of decent $5 action figures, and even the $6 stuff is predominately small scale.

But these figures get extra points in this category because of the excellent sculpts, paint and articulation. While other companies can't even come close to this for less than $10, Toybiz continues to crank out impressive work much cheaper. We can only hope that Hasbro is paying attention.

Things to watch out for - 
Watch those paint ops on Spider Hulk! You should have no trouble finding him on the peg in quantity, so pick out the best you can find, and avoid the crotch rot.

Overall -  Hobgoblin ****; Spider Hulk ***1/2
Fans of the Spider-Man line won't be surprised at the quality of these two, since the line has had its fair share of winners over the years. This Hobgoblin will look terrific on your shelf with a variety of other 6" scaled Spider-Man and villain figures, and even Spider Hulk will fit right in with his Marvel Legends counterpart. The rest of this particular series is less than exciting - and don't even get me started on the God awful Hydro-man - but these two get a big recommendation from me.

Packaging - **1/2
Sculpt - Hobgoblin ****; Spider Hulk ***1/2
Paint - Hobgoblin ****; Spider Hulk ***
Articulation - ****
Accessories - Hobgoblin ***; Spider Hulk **
Fun Factor - ***1/2
Value - ***1/2
Overall -  Hobgoblin * ***; Spider Hulk ***1/2

Where to Buy -
Your best bet is your local Target or Wal-mart, if you must. I'd stick with Target though, if I were you. Online options will be few and far between, since most small shops can't compete on mass market items like this.

Related Links:
I have a number of related links:

- 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, or Venom.

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

- 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.

- Diamond Select also did a Hobgoblin bust, which unfortunately wasn't nearly as cool as their Green Goblin version. Such is the luck of the draw for old Hobby, never quite as good as the original.

- and if you're like me, and were wondering about who Spider Hulk really is, check out the back story here.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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