One criticism of Hasbro’s Marvel Legends toy line is that it hasn’t focused heavily enough on the bad guys of the Marvel Universe, but the latest Spider-Man themed wave certainly bucks this trend. The lineup sports a sinister roster including Morbius, Speed Demon, Venom, Ultimate Beetle, Jack O’ Lantern, and a Build-A-Figure Absorbing Man. Not enough villains for ya? In classic Toy Biz fashion, not only do we get the head of Silvermane as an accessory with Speed Demon, but the all new Ben Reilly Spider-Man includes alternate parts to convert him into Spider-Carnage!
All of this is to say, if you’re looking to bulk up the rogue’s gallery of your Spider-Man toy collection, the new Legends should be right up your alley. We’ve got a few repeat characters in this wave, but each manages to bring something new to the table. As opposed to Toy Biz’s more classic approach, Hasbro’s Jack O’ Lantern features his modern costume (a smart reuse of the Ghost body), and his flaming pumpkin mask is a fantastic original sculpt. Morbius gets a well-earned redo, so we can finally replace our melty-faced Toy Biz figures… and as an added bonus, the new figure sports two alternate cape pieces so it can either rest of the vampire’s back or spread out when he’s posed with his arms extended.
It’s hard to deny a figure as great as the new Legends Venom, who uses the bulky Toxin body and includes two iconic heads– one styled after Todd McFarlane’s original, needle-toothed design, and a second based on the artwork of Erik Larsen, during the dawn of Venom’s slimy, tongue-filled appearance. With a height and heft that leaves him appearing like more than a match for Peter Parker, I’d be hard pressed to see a better version of Venom than what Hasbro has delivered here.
Absorbing Man, on the other hand, was a character I didn’t really think I’d need a rehash of… until I got this Build-A-Figure in hand. Hasbro’s new sculpt adds both height, personality, and detail not seen in past Absorbing Man figures, and the result is one of the most fun BAFs in the long history of this toy line. Carl Creel finally rocks his classic purple striped pants, as well as a right arm caught absorbing the steel of his ball and chain accessory. The villain makes smart reuse of the Terrax base body, but it’s the great new headsculpts, all scowling rage and empty-headed stares, that make this version of Absorbing Man totally charming and cool. And yes, I said heads– by collecting this entire assortment, you can not only assemble the Avengers’ long time nemesis, but also get a second head caught mid-transformation to metal, as well as two alternate arms which simulate Creel transforming to either wood or stone.
Weirdly, The Beetle is one of the few long time Spider-Man foes we’ve never seen in his classic costume in the Legends line. Toy Biz opted for the big, armored version seen in the Thunderbolts comic, and Hasbro has brought the female Ultimate version to this wave. This is fine by me, since this version helps continue Hasbro’s long-running attention to a respectable number of women in the Legends line, while Ultimate Beetle’s costume shares enough traits with the classic look that she can remain completely recognizable and iconic.
As for the heroes, this wave include the previously-mentioned Ben Reilly Spider-Man, and a newer addition to the Spidey mythos, Spider-Gwen. Gwen Stacy’s super heroic alter ego became an overnight success in the comics, and Hasbro’s action figure offers her the perfect toy adaptation. Spider-Gwen uses the teen girl base body, employing its great range of motion to make this an appropriately flexible figure, capable of striking any number of acrobatic poses. Gwen’s sleek black and white costume is accentuated by details like the teal soles of her boots and the pink webbed underarms and trim around her mask. While Gwen lacks any accessories, she does include a very nice alternate unmasked head (which bears a probably-not-coincidental resemblance to Emma Stone), and even an alternate, folded-down hood, which is a great detail.
Rounding out the assortment is Ben Reilly, star of the (rightfully) much maligned Clone Saga, in which the Peter Parker we knew was revealed to be a clone of Ben Reilly, who re-appeared with blonde hair and a new costume, and… y’know what? If you know the story, you share my suffering… and if not, you’re better off. Anyway, despite his terrible and oh-so-90’s gimmicky history, Ben Reilly managed to rack up a number of really great costume designs during his tenure in Spidey’s story. Hasbro already delivered a great Scarlet Spider in the previous wave, and now they’ve tackled Ben’s Spider-Man costume, once again employing the awesome “Pizza Spidey” base body. The streamlined detailing of this outfit are perfectly rendered, and the darker tones of blue and red help make this outfit stand apart from the other recent Spider-Man figures. But it’s the cool alternate parts which really make this a fun toy. Ben gets alternate hand poses, but also repaints of the Carnage clawed hands and head, to transform this figure into the short lived Spider-Carnage, when the symbiote took over Ben’s body. Like much of the Clone Saga, the notorious lame-ness of that story has every right to prevent Spider Carnage from being released as his own action figure, as far as I’m concerned… but adding in these parts with Ben Reilly makes for a fun Easter Egg.
Marvel comic fans are getting a lot of love from Hasbro in 2016’s Marvel Legends, and this latest Spider-Man series feels like a very smart group of characters to release. The fast turnaround of Spider-Gwen leaves me hopeful we might see more cool, current characters join the Legends line sooner instead of later, Ben Reilly offers a logical and cool-looking variant of our anchor hero, and the impressive spread of villains range from classic, to modern, to Ultimate.
We know as of Toy Fair that we’ll be seeing more Spider-Man Legends this year, and I can only hope the next wave is cultivated with the same thoughtfulness and love of every iteration of the character that is on display throughout the entire Absorbing Man Series.