Marvel Icons
Spider-Man and Beast

When you have a line called Icons, and it's a Marvel line, you have to be surprised when the first five figures released DON'T include Spider-Man. Oh sure, we've all had about as much of the web slinger as we can take I suppose, but still - this is supposed to be Icons, and there is no one in the Marvel Universe quite as Iconic.

But you knew the line wouldn't go forever without him popping up his web head, and in series 3 we get Spidey along with a classic X-man, Beast. There are variants of both once again, with Spider-man coming in an unmasked Peter Parker head version, and Beast wears a lab coat and glasses (reviewed here tonight). The regular Spidey is masked of course (reviewed here tonight), and the regular Beast lacks the coat and glasses, and has a much grayer coat of fur.

These are just hitting stores, including Toys R Us, for around $15 - $17 each. Your local comic shop may already have them in stock too, and I have my suggestions of sponsors at the end of the review.

Packaging - ***1/2
I mentioned last time that the Icons packaging was growing on me. The comic book included with the figure works as the back art and text for the box, with a cut out allowing it to show through. The tray on the inside sports mini-covers of some great Spider-man or Beast comic covers, and the window allows you to see the figure nicely. They aren't exactly collector friendly (and you'll be undoing twisties with Spider-man til the cows come home), but they do protect the figures adequately.

To add a little spice to the sauce, they've packaged the regular Spider-man in an upside down hanging pose. It looks great, although the tray isn't quite sized right to allow the pose and not cause bending in the ankles.

Sculpting - ***1/2
Both sculpts included plenty of detail, and are in a sharp, defined style. Muscles and tendons bulge and extend just like the comic books, and the Beast's fur is deeply cut in most areas. Spider-man's web design across his suit is also deeply cut, which help hide some of the deep cuts of the articulation in the arms, chest and legs.

Beast clocks in at 12 inches tall, the same as Spidey, but he's VERY bulky, making him fit in pretty well with Venom and Hulk. Spidey is pretty lithe and stands 12 inches tall, but still fairly comic book accurate. Some folks may find they prefer the cheaper rotocast version to this one, and that wouldn't surprise me in the least, but the sculpt here is much more detailed and textured than the rotocast version.

Both characters stand fine on their own in basic poses, but unfortunately the hyper-articulation doesn't work as well as you'd expect for the more wacky poses. More on that later. The hand sculpts work pretty well in a number of different poses, and if there were accessories, they'd even be able to hold them.

Paint - ***
While neither sports a paint job that would threaten Da Vinci, they both have above average work for a mass market toy.

The hair looks good on the Beast, largely due to a wash that's not over done. Edges are clean, and what few small details exist are done acceptably well. My only question is - why is his face a different color blue than his body? I'm betting it's the application of the wash that caused it, but in person there's a stark contrast between the brighter blue of his face and the darker blue of his overall body.

Spider-man doesn't have any single issue that's quite that glaring, but more subtle issues across the board. There's a bit more slop between the black, red and blue, and I'm not a huge fan of the glossy look of the plastic, but he'll fit in well with the rest of the line on the shelf.

Articulation - Spider-Man ***; Beast **
As you'd expect from super sized Marvel Legends, there's plenty of articulation. Alas, it doesn't all work particularly well.

Spider-man has a ball jointed neck, ball jointed shoulders, with joints on both sides of the ball, double jointed elbows, pin wrists, and pin fingers, with each finger moving independently. There's also a cut waist and a 'clicky' chest, and those funky torso/shoulder joints that are intended to allow for more movement inward and outward of the arms.

Below the waist he has ball jointed hips (again with joints on both sides of the ball), double jointed knees, cut calves, pin and swivel ankles, and a half foot pin. So yes Virginia, there's plenty of articulation.

But what's here works poorly in several cases. For Spider-man, his biggest issue is the ball jointed hips, which I could not get to turn at all in the hips. The legs turn fine at the ball, but the ball won't turn in the socket, so I can't get a whole lot of posing out of them. His funky shoulders are also fairly worthless, and do more to hurt the sculpt than they do to help the posing.

Beast has far greater issues in this category though. He has a similar joint layout - ball jointed neck, ball jointed shoulders and hips, double jointed knees and elbows, pin and swivel ankles, pin and cut wrists, and a cut waist and 'clicky' chest - but he has two major differences. He doesn't have individually articulated fingers, instead having a single pin that allows all four to move together, and he has a hinged jaw.

Whereas most of Spidey's issues are below the waist (poor guy), most of Beast's are above. The ball jointed shoulders don't allow the upper arms to come anywhere near the torso. His arms will always stick out from his body at an angle, with no chance to hang straight at his sides. They can't bend towards his back either, so his elbows jut out at a right angle from his chest, and there's only a very few poses that you can manage with his upper body that look reasonable.

Also, the hinged jaw is a nice idea, but since the neck joint is almost completely immobile in the backward/forward department, when you push the jaw down it appears that he has one Hell of an overbite. Your best bet is to tilt him back at the chest joint if you'll be posing him with his mouth open.

Between the awful hips on Spider-man, and the awful shoulders on Beast, both of these figures fall well below expectations in this category.

Accessories - ***
The main accessory for both these figures is the included comic book. Now, I generally hate included comics. They're usually reprints of bad issues to begin with, and don't add much to the figure. The Icons are a whole different story though. Each of these comics contains a brief (several pages) history of the iconic character, and then quite a few more pages of artwork showing the evolution of the design. These books are great, and certainly add to the overall appeal of the figures.

Beast actually has a couple more accessories in his variant version. There's a lab coat, which looks reasonably okay even if the buttons are a bit oversized and the tailoring isn't perfect. Considering the price point, I'm surprised it's as nice as it is. He also wears glasses, but they aren't really accessories. Mine doesn't come loose, and they are glued tight.  I've seen photos of blue Beasts without the glasses, so mine might be a fluke, but they are definitely glued in. The glasses actually look quite good, and are in a decent scale for his head. That's a real rarity for glasses on an action figure!

By the way, there are strings in the regular Spider-man package that he's hanging from. These look good for the purposes of packaging, but once you have them out, you'll see they are just two short hunks of thin rope. You could certainly get creative with them and find a way to use them in your display, but you'd be better off just getting some thinner string yourself.

Fun Factor -***1/2
Kids of all ages can enjoy these figures. They're toys first, and they haven't forgotten what that means. The only thing holding them back from a full four stars here are the issues with the articulation that can make them a tad frustrating for kids.

Value - ****
Major retailers - Target being one, I believe - are actually selling these guys for $15. Fifteen bucks! Even at the $17 I paid, they're a smokin' hot deal. When other companies are selling far less articulated 12" plastic figures for $30, and most 6" specialty market figures are running $13, it amazes me that Toybiz is able to pull this off. Don't expect them to continue this cheap from Hasbro, although I expect they'll still be cheaper than the $30 other companies are trying to charge.

Things to Watch Out For - 
I don't know if it's possible based on how they are packed in the tray, but if you can get a Spidey with ankles that aren't too badly warped by the twisties, I'd do it.

And while you can get the coat off the variant Beast, you can also pop a seam doing it. Take your time.

Overall - ***
Here's a rare case where an excellent value score - something that's so unusual these days - manages to save a figure from a much lower score. Spidey is a solid three stars, good but with enough issues to hold him back from the promised land. But poor Beast...those damn arms are just so annoying. Add in the difference in color between the face and body, and you get a figure that at a higher price point (say, $20) would have gotten **1/2 stars overall. Ah, but you can pick him up for a mere $15 at stores like Target, and that's a terrific value. At that price point, a price that specialty market figures can barely hit when they're only 6" tall, Beast is elevated another half star.

Still, neither of these come any where near the quality of the recent Venom and Hulk, so don't be surprised when they aren't your favorites of the line.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - ***1/2
Paint - ***
Articulation - Spider-Man ***; Beast **
Accessories - ***
Fun Factor - ***1/2
Value -  ****
Overall - ***

Where to Buy - 
Some stores, like Toys R Us, are already getting these in. Online options include:

- Amazing Toyz has Spider-man in for $19.

- CornerStoreComics has Spidey at $19 as well, along with Beast at $17. Both are in stock.

- YouBuyNow usually gets these in, but doesn't have this set listed yet.

Related Links:
Out of the previous five, I've reviewed the Wolverine and the Venom.

Scroll down for lots more photos - I kinda went snap happy with this pair!

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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