SuperHero Showdown
Black Costume Spidey

What happens when you take Marvel Legends style action figures and cut them in half? How about throwing in a Heroclix style trading card game on top of it? That's just the question Toybiz set out to answer when they developed Super Hero Showdown.

The figures are in a 3 3/4" scale, fitting in somewhat with many other smaller lines like Star Wars or the 1/18th scale military. The black costume Spidey I'm reviewing tonight is almost 4" inches tall, and I really think these are closer to 4" scale than 3 3/4". Still, you'll get some display and play out of them with other lines in similar sizes.

Each booster pack figure comes with a display base that includes power/attack information for the game, six character cards, a 'battle tile' (a big card), and some sort of projectile weapon. There are also starter packs of two figures each, that along with twice the number of all that stuff, also include more battle tiles and a pair of six sided dice.

This first wave of starter packs includes figures for Wolverine and Hulk, and Spider-man and Thing. The first series of booster packs include Doc Ock, Punisher and Ghost Rider (reviewed here), along with black costume Spidey reviewed tonight. And just to be as annoying as possible, oh, I mean make collecting these more 'fun', Toybiz has included a variant, Berserker Wolverine.

The second wave is advertised to include Captain America, Ironman, the Human Torch and Doctor Doom. There's another chase of course, and this time it's Spider Sense Spider-man. You can find these at stores like Toys R Us or Wal-mart, and at some online shops. Expect to pay at least $8 each for the booster packs. Yes, you read that right.

I'm not going to go into the details of the game, other than to cover what comes with the figures. For how to play and what it all means, I suggest checking out the article on RTM, where Rob and Bobbi did a very nice job explaining it all.

Packaging - ***1/2
Generally I'm not big on bubble/cardback packaging these days, but Toybiz did a nice job here. The front is very colorful and bright, and gives the idea of a battle royale. The back includes info on the whole series, with some basic info on the game. More game info would be nice with the booster packs, especially once you open the package up. There's only a small sheet with the most basic of info, but I'm assuming the starter packs do a better job in that regard.

Sculpting - ***
Spidey is a fairly basic sculpt, with a completely smooth texture and a simple design. The design works alright with the articulation, although I had some issues with the right hand, but in general the combo of joints and sculpt plays nicely together.

He actually stands fine on his own, although there's the display stand for more complicated poses. I was fairly surprised since he has pretty tiny feet, but I was able to keep him upright in several action poses.

The hands are sculpted in two standard web shooting poses. The right has the two middle fingers bent against the palm, while the left has all the fingers bent in (but not in a standard fist). That works fine for most posing, and since he has no accessories he can actually hold, makes sense.

Paint - **1/2
The paint ops on Spider-man are pretty straight forward - black costume, white spider details. The black is the color the plastic is cast in, but it does have some inconsistencies - lighter, shinier areas, and darker, matte areas. The white eyes, webbing and spider are fairly clean, but there's enough slop and bleed that it's an average to slightly above average job for a mass market toy.

I did have an issue with the webbing on the shoulders. I had a hell of a time getting it to line up well, and I never managed to get it quite right. The shoulders are simply painted in too tight to get any movement. 

The printed cards that come with the set are pretty damn sweet, however. Nice colors, great graphics, and certainly something I could see kids getting into.

Articulation - ***
Spider-man has neck, ball jointed shoulders, double jointed elbows, pin wrists, chest, ball jointed hips, double jointed knees, cut calves, and pin ankles. That's pretty good for something in this scale, so why the less than perfect score?

Mostly because of the damn wrists. They have pin joints, so the hands can move forward and back, but there's no way to turn them. That means you're stuck with the hands in the same position relative to the forearms and biceps. They added the cut calves for the legs, but no cut joints for the forearm or wrist, and that knocks them down a squige. Still, they are far more articulated than just about any figures in this scale, other than the Palisades Army of Darkness line.

The arms and legs pop off pretty easily at the ball joints, which is intentional. Actually, you might find it easier to pop them off and move the ball to the new position, rather than trying to move the arm in place. The plastic they've used is a tad soft, making it tough to move some of the joints through the full range of motion without worrying about damaging them.

Accessories - **1/2
I'm not considering these from the game aspect, and that hurts the accessory score. If you like the game, you'll appreciate the inclusion of the battle tile and booster cards, but for me, they hold little appeal.

The base is better for some characters than others. You can put Spider-man in some jumping/swinging poses with it, and it's fairly sturdy, but the bottom seemed a tad cheap and dollar store, both in terms of heft and the quality of the sticker used for the power/attack numbers.

There is also the projectile weapon, but less said about that the better. It's a fist that fires out of a arm band device. It helps with the play value, but at the end of the day it's still a firing fist.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
Even ignoring the game, these have a lot of fun potential. The figures are well articulated, a great scale for kids, and can match up with other stuff currently in their toy box, like Star Wars. They might get a little frustrated with the arms and legs popping off, but they are easy enough to put back that most kids in the 6 - 8 range should be able to handle it on their own.

Value - **
Ouch! Did that ring up right? Eight bucks? Considering that eight bucks will buy you a regular sized Marvel Legends figure - more than twice the plastic, lots more articulation, and better accessories - you can see that this is definitely not an appropriate price point.

I mentioned the Army of Darkness line earlier. These were $7 - $8 a figure, had a ton of accessories, and were a specialty market line only (i.e. far lower production runs). Since these are a mass market item, it really is unforgivable that they are this expensive. $5 would have been the sweet spot, $6 tops.

If a kid is lucky enough to have eight bucks, they'll weigh the purchase against a) a full sized action figure b) other trading card games like Heroclix, Pokemon, etc. I have a bad feeling that Superhero Showdown will lose that particular fight.

Things to Watch Out For - 
As almost always, keep an eye on those paint jobs. Otherwise, I saw very little to worry about.

Overall -  **1/2
This is an interesting concept, but at this price point Toybiz is going to have a tough time getting it rolling. Kids have go get hooked first, and any good dealer knows you have to give them a taste first. At eight bucks a pop, kids are unlikely to be taking that first taste, making it tough to get enough kid collectors hooked to make the line viable long term.

Marvel Legends collectors will probably jump on for the ride, but considering how it appears the sales of ML has been going, I'm not sure that will be enough to keep another Marvel mass market line alive.

Packaging - ***
Sculpt - ***
Paint - **1/2
Articulation - ***
Accessories - **1/2
Fun Factor - ***1/2
Value - **
Overall - **1/2

Where to Buy -
I picked this guy up at a local Toys R Us. You can also get them online:

- Killer Toys has the two packs for $18, or a case of 12 for $100.

- CornerStoreComics has the individual boosters for $6 - $9, and the two packs for $16.

Related Links -
I had a guest review of three of the other booster packs earlier this week:

- the guest review covered Doc Ock, Ghost Rider and Punisher.

- RTM did a great job explaining the aspects of the actual game right here.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

This page copyright 2003, Michael Crawford. All rights reserved. Hosted by 1 Hour