Since the dawn of civilization certain unanswerable questions have plagued mankind, such as, "How many Spider-Man figures is too many?" Hasbro, in its hubris, has once again tried to answer that question by producing another 3.75-inch Spider-Man themed toyline, this time supposedly in conjunction with the new The Amazing Spider-Man film.
Ultra-Poseable Spider-Man (or Spidey, as I'll be referring to the character) is thus far one of the only two figures in the line actually based on the film. Ultra-Poseable (UP) Spidey boasts a somewhat impressive (for a 3.75-inch figure anyway) 20-plus points of articulation, including double-pinned elbows and ball-socketed wrists.
Though how does he stack up against previous Spider-Man figures? Stick around after the jump to find out.
Toy Name: Ultra-Poseable Spider-Man (The Amazing Spider-Man figure line)
The front packaging elements are excellent. The card uses a glossy stock, which gives the appearance of the Spidey character burst almost being a photo. The insert features a custom figure element with molded plastic for the lower portion (meaning they aren't doing molded character bursts). The insert elements consist of the new movie Spider-Man logo, the character name, the character burst, and finally the feature/gimmick burst (in this instance, it's the articulation). My only criticism is the huge, glaring blank space behind the figure. It's doubly evident because this figure lacks accessories which would have otherwise hidden it.
The card back features various poses in which UP Spidey can be placed. Note that none are particularly creative. Toward the bottom of the card are three random figures also available from this line. I personally detest this practice. Growing up I loved seeing EVERYTHING else available in the line on the card. I found it somewhat exciting, especially since in the absence of the Internet you never really knew what else was out there. Getting beyond that, please note how little text is on the card. Once more, we just have a lot of blank, empty space. Had things been adjusted they no doubt could fit in more action poses and more character selections.
Like with previous movie lines, The Amazing Spider-Man figure line seems to be broken up into several smaller series. The first is the comic series, comprised of various comic-looks for the characters and is currently the bulk of the line. The second, as seen here, is the movie series which is composed of designs taken from the film. Presumably there is or will also be a concept series, but I haven't seen any examples of it yet. The concept series is generally a catch-all which features designs not really appearing in the film or comics. The series name will be displayed near the top of the packaging.
On his own merits, UP Spidey is fairly nice. The sculpt is passable and features a matted surface throughout much of the costume. A web-like pattern is etched into the red portions seen on his upper torso piece, shoulders, head, calves, and feet. A spider emblem is molded onto both his front and back. There are additional carves and upraised portions on the figure, but they're less significant.
The paint generally has a glossy, metallic finish. The two exceptions to this are the eyes (which look more white in person; I think they're supposed to be gold in the film) and the red portions of the forearm where paint was globbed on, obscuring sculpting elements. The other major flaw is that the paint just seems too dark in places, which is an issue in the red portions of the costume, specially on the lower torso.
Obviously the most important element is the articulation. After all, this isn't just Spidey, it's ULTRA-Poseable Spidey (and if you're wondering why it's "ultra" as opposed to "super", I'd wager it's because they did a "Super-Poseable" Spiderman in the previous line. We'll get to him in a bit). As previously discussed, the packaging mentions over 20 points of articulation. I've honestly always wondered how they calculated these things (especially since not all points are created equal) and, rather likely, I doubt Hasbro knows much better which leads them to go the safe route of advertising over x points rather than giving us a number. Here's a quick breakdown: ball-socketed head, shoulders, and wrists; the hips use a restricted ball-socket; double-pinned elbows and knees; torso joint; and ankle rockers with forward motion.
[Spidey vs. the Marvel Universe Namor the Sub-Mariner]
Articulation afficionados will probably see an issue right away. However, for everybody else, I need to point out the lack of any kind of joint at the calf. Something like that is rather crucial considering that ankle rockers lack rotation. This drastically reduces poseability. It's a strange omission on an "ultra-poseable" figure. UP Spidey also curiously lacks foot peg-holes, which have been a standard on most of Hasbro's articulated Marvel toy lines.
[Spidey vs. Marvel Universe Absorbing Man]
The ball-socketed wrists are useful for grappling poses. They'll help with balance when UP Spidey is suspended on another character, as seen with his right arm on Absorbing Man's shoulder in the first shot. It's less useful when holding a character since most of the strength needs to come from the limbs and general pose.
UP Spidey has these really weird open hands. Either a fist or a web-shooting finger pose would have made more sense. The ball-sockets somewhat solve this problem since you can just position his wrists down for web-shooting. In addition, you can always stick something in his hand for web-swinging.
While there are numerous materials you could use for webbing in a display, I think the most convenient are those little coated wires that are used in packaging to hold figures in place. They're malleable, hold their form fairly well, and have a fair amount of strength to them. You could possibly mold them into specific poses then apply an epoxy or spackle to give them a more web-like texture, although they'd likely lose their flexibility.
[Spidey vs. 3.75-inch Spider-Man Classics/"Fiercest Foes" Hobgoblin]
Ankle rockers are always cool for giving a deep foot/ankle pivot that keeps the soles of the figure's feet firmly on the ground. They can also be tactically positioned strictly for balance rather than appearance. Either way they're becoming more of a mainstay on Hasbro's Marvel Universe line even as foot articulation vanishes from the movie lines (and don't get me started on what little articulation found on the rest of The Amazing Spider-Man toy line, they make The Avengers 3.75-inch stuff look good).
Overall I'd have to say that UP Spidey has a strong sculpt, okay paint-work, and decent articulation, but how does he stack up against previous 3.75-inch Spider-Man figures?
First up is UP Spidey's predecessor, the Super-Poseable (SP) Spider-Man from Hasbro's 3.75-inch Spider-Man Classics/"Fiercest Foes" line (the packaging on those is just labeled Spider-Man). Despite being billed as Super-Poseable, even at the time of his release SP Spidey offered little over his Marvel Universe counterparts and was really only "super articulated" when compared to his under-articulated line (which generally lacked things like ankle articulation and sometimes even knee articulation).
As mentioned earlier, SP/Super Spidey's existence is the likely cause for UP Spidey being called "Ultra" rather than "Super". However, there is relatively little actually "super" about SP Spidey. His elbows and knees are ball-socketed rather than pinned (a practice also common in the movie lines). He has a forearm cut rather than a wrist cut (there is no reason for this), his head is on a physical ball, and his ankles are ball-socketed. You'll notice he lacks bicep rotation. SP/Super Spidey's hips are similar to UP Spidey's (but SP has a larger groin plate which impedes motion) and, while both have torso joints, SP Spidey has a wider range of motion on the forward/back. UP Spidey's articulation blows SP Spidey out of the water.
I will say that SP/Super Spidey's paint really works a lot better than UP/Ultra Spidey's. The brighter, clean colors just photograph better. However, UP/Ultra Spidey is still the superior figure. His sculpt is far more functional and the articulation is stronger.
Within the fandom, ToyBiz is widely acknowledged as Hasbro's better. While ToyBiz is acclaimed for their 6-inch scale lines, less known is their 3.75-inch Showdown line (first called Marvel Superhero Showdown then later Marvel Legends Showdown). The Marvel Legends Showdown (MLS) Spider-Man, like many ToyBiz collectibles, has a greater emphasis on paintwork. There are a greater use of color and variation in his costume. However, the sculpt itself is fairly ugly.
MLS Spidey's articulation puts UP Spidey to shame. The two figures have similar jointing at their elbows, knees, and biceps (as well as hip rotation). However, MLS Spidey has additional points in the form of a waist cut (in addition to a somewhat impeded torso joint) and rotation at the calves (something that UP Spidey really needs). ToyBiz made the regrettable choice of using actual ball-joints for the hips and shoulders (and presumably also the head) which can occasionally pop off. While MLS Spidey both ankle rockers and ankle pivot, he does have a deeper forward/back movement. Rather than ball-socketed wrists like UP Spidey, MLS Spidey has a forward cut and a pinned wrist which offers the same basic movement.
Both figures have excellent movement despite being very different. MLS Spidey is easier to move and pose but he lacks stability between abnormally weak joints and a lack of stability in his sculpt. It's worth mentioning that he has a peghole which works with a flight-stand (meaning more posing options), something that would be wonderful to see Hasbro do as well. At the same time, UP/Ultra Spidey's stronger joints and better stability just make him easier to work with. Plus MLS Spidey's sculpt always struck me as being ugly. UP/Ultra Spidey seems the better figure.
UP/Ultra Spidey's articulation really isn't amazing by the standards of newer Marvel Universe sculpts. He has some points they might necessarily not have, but they'll also have points he doesn't (like calf cuts, waist cuts, etc). That said, he remains greatly better than most Spider-Man figures still coming out as they tend to recycle older, outdated molds or opt for less articulation. At this moment, he's the one real must-buy from The Amazing Spider-Man 3.75-inch line, and is currently the best movie-based Spider-Man figure (including that junky-looking SDCC exclusive that used the Raimi films design).
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