It was in 2021 that Hasbro released a PulseCon exclusive Venom figure on a Spider-Man retro card. The retro card series is meant to stir-up nostalgia for all of the adults who were buying toys and watching cartoons in the 90s as the retro card is a facsimile of the old cards Toy Biz used to utilize. The cards were for the Spider-Man tie-in series of toys that went along with the cartoon series of the same name. Airing on Fox Kids, Spider-Man was a natural follow-up to X-Men as it featured arguably Marvel’s most popular and recognizable hero in a starring role. The X-Men animated series did wonders to help boost the profile of Marvel’s mutants, and the Spider-Man cartoon essentially did the same. The retro card series that Hasbro launched just a few years ago often had some overlap with that cartoon, but they weren’t necessarily cartoon-specific sculpts. The exclusive Venom was different in that it contained two, new, headsculpts clearly modeled after Venom from the show. Plus, it featured his unusual shading from the show of light blue on one side and red on the other.
2022 saw Hasbro double-down on the retro releases as it launched the X-Men Animated Series subline of Marvel Legends. While we can certainly debate how hard the company actually went in to trying to recreate the characters as they appeared in the show, the line did try to showcase those characters with some animation specific shading and (in some cases) sculpts. The line must have been successful because Hasbro is doing the same in 2023 only with Spider-Man as the featured series. Why now? I don’t know. The X-Men line coincided with the show’s 30th anniversary and it would have made sense to do the same for Spider-Man in 2024, but Hasbro is apparently far too eager to wait another year. The show is getting the same treatment in that it’s likely to be reused sculpts with some shading added and it’s all packaged in a box designed to mimic a VHS release. The first set, as they’re apparently going with two-packs for now, won’t be out for a few more months, but we essentially got a preview to close-out 2022 in the form of an exclusive Spider-Man sent to Walmart. This Spider-Man is sold on a retro card designed to resemble the old Web Racer Spider-Man toy from the 90s. The image is essentially the same, but since there wasn’t much in the way of preservation for those old cards it had to be redone and has been lovingly recreated by artist Harry Moore. This time, Spidey is fully posable and doesn’t have a string running through him. It’s a new sculpt, though not a unique sculpt, and most importantly it features a cel-shaded paint job to fit-in with the previously released Venom.
Let’s get it out of the way upfront: Walmart sucks. This guy went up for preorder in July, but before a single figure was shipped it started showing up in stores in early December or late November. It showed up in tiny quantities though, apparently just 2 per store, and it was a bastard of a release to track down as a result. It also never showed up in Walmart’s app or website as in-stock, so it was a total shot in the dark to go looking for one during the busy, holiday, rush. As for those preorders, that’s how I got mine, but several are still waiting and with the listing being dropped from Walmart’s website it sure looks like a lot of folks are heading for a cancellation. It’s great that they made sure to send product to stores first, rather than take care of the orders they already took-in months ago. And if you are lucky and like me and manage to get one shipped from Walmart, expect it to come packed in a foil envelope likely beat to hell once it arrives. The cardback on mine is dinged-up pretty well, plus the plastic bubble was cracked and broken. I’m not a mint-on-card collector, but I know a lot of people are with these retro cards and plenty more like to double-dip to keep one carded and one opened. To those folks, best of luck. You’re going to need it.
Once opened Spidey stands at a tick over 6″. This sculpt is apparently the same as the first appearance Spider-Man also released in 2022 in the new style of packaging. It’s a pinless body and it’s notable because it’s a smaller Spider-Man. He’s well-defined, but not as bulky as the other new Spider-Man body from this year released in the Renew Your Vows two-pack. This is probably Hasbro’s best Spider-Man body to date. I’m certainly not an expert as I only dabble in Marvel Legends, but it’s much better than the Web-Man and Symbiote figures I do have. It still has its problems, which we’ll go over, but just overall has a nice shape. The smallish Legends shoulders aren’t laughably small here and most of all I just like this shade of blue that’s in use. It’s a light blue, shaded with a darker blue, and it just captures the look of the character from the era. I get more of an 80s vibe if anything from the color combo, but it’s fine as an animated version too, though I’d argue his blue was actually darker in the show. The only thing about the sculpt I don’t like is the head. It’s a little big, plus it feels pinched in the front. I don’t know why it’s not more round as it doesn’t even look like a human face could make this shape. It’s a shame, because the eye shape is nice and it’s pretty well-painted. Many have complained that web lines on their figure are off-center. Mine is, but it’s small. You can see it by looking at the hexagonal shape in the middle as one side touches the tip of the eye lens while the other does not.
The overall paint job strikes me as pretty much par for the course with Hasbro. There’s a lot of colored plastic in use which leads to issues of color-matching. The red on the chest is noticeably darker than the red on the arms and feet. That’s because one is painted, and one is red plastic. The edges are also not crisp and clean as my figure has a blemish on its right pectoral which is a rather lousy place for such an imperfection to exist. There are little instances of that throughout the figure, though not in a large number at least. The web lines mostly look good though with a defined curve to them rather than a boxy look which tends to happen. Both spider logos are nice and clean, and the pinless body is a welcomed addition as there’s no unsightly red dot on the inner arm any longer. There is one eyesore on the back of the figure where Hasbro didn’t continue the red paint of his belt area far enough so when he crunches forward you end up with a section of blue instead. Normally, not a big deal, but Spider-Man is a character who is known for deep crunches so here it’s not acceptable. The cel-shading is what it is. For Hasbro, this is one of their better applications of it. There’s some linework on the torso in black to highlight the musculature and the shading goes under the pecs. The rest of the shading is reserved for the inner arms, as they apparently wanted to avoid shading red areas as much as possible, and inner right thigh and outer left. There’s also a hit on both boots and the inner arm shading continues onto the gloves a tiny bit. Does it make a ton of sense? No, they’re clearly going in a haphazard manner. I think it looks fine on the torso while the inner arms are kind of “meh.” The thighs and boots don’t bother me. It is what it is and you know if you like it or not at this point. And if you want to remove it, good luck. It’s paint on top of paint where the arms are concerned so it won’t be easy to just wipe away. And where it goes over the web-lines you’re basically screwed. You would be better off just repainting the whole thing. At least for Hasbro, this one is probably better than all of the X-Men releases with only Sinister perhaps being better. Venom was pretty good too for what he is so maybe these Spider-Man releases will just plain be better than what we saw with the X-Men?
Articulation for a Spider-Man figure is rather important, and I was a little let down by the other Spideys I have. This one is better. Is it perfect? Of course not, but it’s a step in the right direction. The head is still on a ball and hinge so it looks up and down rather well and can rotate, but lacks much in the way of nuance posing. The shoulders are ball-hinged and they raise out to the side just fine, though it does expose the red hinge underneath which is set against the blue of the armpit which is one eyesore not solved by pinless tech. The butterfly joint provides more range back than it does forward, but it’s not a tremendous eyesore so I consider that a win for a Hasbro butterfly joint (and if you want more range, there’s a popular mod for doing so that may apply to this figure as well, just search for it on YouTube). There’s a biceps swivel which does what it needs to do and double-jointed elbows. I cannot get the top hinge on either arm to budge though so I am presently only getting a 90 degree bend (after the review, I did resort to the hot water trick and got it going, though it’s still pretty tight). Hopefully this isn’t a widespread issue. The wrists rotate and hinge horizontally on all hands. In the torso, we have a diaphragm joint which allows for some forward and back, but is mostly good for rotation and tilt which it does rather well. There’s a lot of painted stuff here though, so do be careful. At the waist is the ab crunch which goes forward and back plenty far. Missing is a waist twist which makes me wonder if a ball-peg would have worked better in place of the ab crunch. At the hips, we have ball and socket joints which still can’t quite hit a split. This is Spider-Man, Hasbro! Why can’t he do splits? He can at least kick forward a reasonable amount, but not back. There’s a thigh cut there, double-jointed knees which work better than the elbows, a boot cut, and a hinge and ankle rocker combo at the ankle. All of that stuff works well with no gummy-ness to the joints. I know some would like a toe-hinge, but I don’t really care if it’s here or not. He can hit some good Spidey poses though with the only real disappointment being those hips and my stuck elbows.
That’s where the good stuff ends as when it comes to accessories Hasbro loves to disappoint. Spider-Man comes with three sets of hands: fists, wall-crawling, and thwip hands. That’s basically the standard, Spidey, assortment, but some gripping hands would be nice. I suppose they’re not needed though since he doesn’t come with a web-line to grip. Instead, he has two web splat effects, one bigger than the other. They’re all white and made of a pliable plastic, but they don’t really do anything. I guess you can toss one onto a villain’s face? They’re more like window-dressing parts and what I would prefer to have is an actual webline or something from the show like his web backpack. These things are just useless.
If you want to get your hands on this guy, I guess all you can do for now is monitor Walmart to see if the listing returns. Their exclusive Black Series Holiday Scout Trooper recently showed up at Big Bad Toy Store so maybe this Spider-Man will too? Otherwise, it’s the secondary market at this point where this thing will cost a lot more than the $27 Walmart was charging. As is the case with virtually all Marvel Legends these days, this one isn’t exactly worth it, but if you have that Venom or really loved watching this show as a kid then you may feel a strong pull towards this guy. And in that case, it’s a price that can be accepted. At 50 or 60 bucks? Ehh, I wouldn’t do it. With Hasbro launching a dedicated Spider-Man line in 2023 it seems highly unlikely that this will remain a Walmart exclusive forever. After all, how can you do a Spider-Man line that doesn’t feature Spider-Man in red and blue? Hasbro does some stupid things, like not finishing the 92 X-Men team, but I don’t think they’re dumb enough to let this figure remain a Walmart exclusive. My assumption is there will be a VHS re-release with different accessories. It’s possible it will be on a different mold, but I don’t think they’ll go through that trouble. It’s a good Spidey though, probably Hasbro’s best, so when that re-release does happen (or this mold gets a comic release in this shade of blue) I would suggest jumping on it unless you absolutely hate the cel-shading. And if that’s the case, there’s the Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends three-pack that has a Spidey from that show on this body with no cel-shading. It’s probably every bit as good as this one, perhaps better if you prefer your Spidey with a darker blue, but it costs $75 and comes with a decent Firestar and an absolute dumpster fire of an Iceman. That set would have been right in my nostalgia wheelhouse if they didn’t blow it so hard on Iceman, my favorite member of the X-Men when I was a kid. Hasbro just can’t make things easy for Spider-Man fans.
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