Toy Biz released their line of Marvel action figures in 1990 under the banner “Marvel Super Heroes”. Honestly at the time I was largely unaware of the Marvel universe; the heroes, their stories or really their existence in general. Fresh off of the heels of the 1989 Batman flick I was a bonafide Batman fan but only because the Keaton/Nicholson movie introduced me to him. Until that point I’d only heard of Batman in passing. The same can be said of the Marvel universe. I’d heard of Spider-Man but didn’t know anything about him.
That’s why it was surprising that for Christmas of 1990 completely out of nowhere I received The Amazing Spider-Man with Web Suction Hands. It was an action figure and a popular license at that so I couldn’t be upset. This was theoretically a popular license. I simply didn’t know how to feel though. A few years later I would be introduced to Spider-Man properly and ended up becoming a pretty big fan, but at the time all I had to go on was this figure and a six year old brain filled with uncertainty. So how did it stack up?
Well as a likeness of Spidey it’s fairly accurate. The paint is where its supposed to be although his chest and back seemed a bit bulky. Spider-Man, especially in the early days, was a lot smaller and more wiry. Here he looks like a body builder and comes across as very top heavy. Toy Biz probably recycled some of the torsos from their previous DC Super Heroes line although I don’t know that as a certainty. The good thing about super heroes is that it’s tough to truly sabotage the likeness of a masked person. I don’t know how many Star Wars figures I’ve had over the years where Luke Skywalker looks more like a taller version of Andy Griffith’s son Opie so by comparison masks are simple.
As far as articulation it’s basic with joints at the knees, hips, shoulders, and neck. Now ordinarily I wouldn’t complain about such articulation because typically it’s enough to be playable. With Spider-Man it’s a real issue however as the web slinger is known for being able to contort his body into all sorts of extremely dramatic and gymnastic-like positions. All of the renditions I’ve ever seen of Spidey have him swinging majestically from his artificial web or scaling a wall with his appendages flared out, or wound like a big soft pretzel showing off some insane flexibility. Never have I seen him just standing there but that’s about all this figure is capable of.
What’s more, I’ve never seen him just standing there with two large obtrusive suction cups affixed to his palms. I despised “action features” as a kid as I always felt they hampered the playability and imagination of the toy. Although I get the gimmick here I don’t think it makes for a particularly good toy. You have a statuesque Spider-Man with big ugly suction cups on his hands. Even as a six year old I felt the appearance was gaudy and would eventually beg my dad to pry the suction cups off of his hands leaving two big circular impressions in his palms. It was still better than those hideous suction cups.
The only accessory included was a big rubber web with a spider in the middle. I guess when you take into account that Spider-Man doesn’t really use any gadgets the options here are limited. Aside from his camera he used to sell “pix” of the action to the Daily Bugle he pretty much just went at his enemies bare fisted. Since a camera wouldn’t make a particularly interesting super hero accessory Toy Biz made the best logical choice here with the inclusion of a web. I didn’t really use it in my adventures, but I never lost it or accidentally ingested it either so I guess that’s a plus.
I played with the figure for years so I suppose that means it was a good toy, but it certainly wasn’t among the highest echelon of my petroleum based possessions either. I also don’t consider it exciting enough to really track down on the secondary market, even as a Spider-Man fan as many better and more interesting figural representations have been produced since 1990. On the secondary market you can pick up a complete loose one for a couple of bucks and even a carded one for less than $10 so it was either produced in large quantities or it’s not very sought after.