Page not found | Raving Toy Maniac

Page not found

The requested page could not be found.

John's Action Figure Column 8/29/96


     It's time to talk about the newest Spawn figures.  Yes,
Spawn VI (or Spawn 6 if you *really* hate the Romans). They 
won't hit TRU or Kaybee for another month out here, I'm certain
("Spawn 6, TRU 0"), but in my already-weakened condition from
having received a *Super* Super-Patriot as a gift from Super-
Jeff Lester, I found myself thereafter racing down to the scalp
shop (obligatory sigh) and snagging the other two "must-have"
Spawn 6 figures.

     Now, when I say "must-have," I hope it's clear that this is
*extraordinarily* subjective.  Heck, given the reported trends in
"best figure" evaluations, I am rapidly finding myself engaged in
starting a cottage industry of "cherchez les losers," or maybe "I
Love Longpacks."  ("Luuuucy-fer, I'm hooooooome...")  I mean, who
else is lusting for a *Chewie* from the new SOTE assortment?
     No matter -- as Peter Gabriel once wrote, "I know what I
like..." (wardrobes, action figures -- same difference).  So you
can keep your tired Freaks, your poor Sanskers, even your weary
Tiffanys, yearning to be free (well, we can talk about
Tiffany...) -- "I'm in love with an Alien Spawn, an Alien Spawn
loves me...."
     Yes, it's true.  It's big, it's ugly, it's not even based on
an existing character, but it stole my heart (the one I left here
in the city for safekeeping -- that'll teach me) and refuses to
give it back.  What a magnificent figure!
     First of all, it's big.  I mean BIG.  Towers head and
shoulders over my Thing III (with whom it's currently engaged in
a battle for primo shelf space), and even if it's no taller than
the other Spawn figures, its sheer breadth is, well, breadth-
taking.  Heck, its upraised arm and hyper-bulked shoulders nearly
scrape the top of my display shelf.  If you like "big lug"
figures, then this thyroid case is a definite *must*.
     And *heavy*, did I mention how incredibly solid it is?  No
other figure I have even comes close -- what, is the figure lined
with iron?  If I ever get motivated on my feverishly-fantasized
anti-Playmates terrorism campaign, Alien Spawn will make the
perfect window-smashing hurled statement.  I'm even debating
buying a second one to take to work -- although at the moment I
can't afford the industrial-strength U-Haul I'd need to cart the
(literally) damned thing there.
     And the joints!  Super-tight, wonderfully machined, suitable
for holding fast numerous threatening and evocative poses --
extremely satisfying.
     And the balance!  Why, this thing stands better than *I* do!
Watch out, Cy-Gor; back off, Blob; take a hike, Dozer -- there's
a new gargantuan bruiser on the block, and his name's Alien
Spawn.  (Hmmm, actually, that's more of a description than a
name....oh well).  Simply an A-plus figure.  'Nuff said.

     And then I got Battleclad Spawn.  Maybe at first it doesn't
strike the eye as boldly as some other figures, but boy, you
get this baby out of the package, and it's tree-mendous fun! 
Talk about easy clip-on armor -- Iron Man, maybe that retirement
was a good idea after all.  Not only does the Battleclad's armor
*look* great, all *eight* pieces snapped on without any problem
whatsoever, and stick like they were *part* of the guy
(well...they are, after all).
     And in terms of fitting the character, hey, I totally accept
a Spawn whose costume has mutated to a thick, horny protective
shell (a la some notable armor-plated saurians of prehistoric
times).  A great combination of form and function.  Against the
dark, rich red of his body, the armor pieces make a perfect
contrast, and leave you with a figure that isn't about to be
cowed by anyone, or anything.  Man, this guy can back me up on a
toy run *anytime*.

     Did I save the best for last?  It's really difficult to say.
What the Super-Patriot lacks in sheer size or clip-on bits, he
more than makes up for in utterly magnificent detail.  I mean,
aside from the beautifully painted wires, lights and circuits of
his artificial limbs, the guy's got fifteen or so tiny stars on
the left side of his mask!  It would take me all *day* to paint
     And that t-shirt has nips and tucks that make it look more
real than some of the ones *I* wear (we won't get into the odd
lack of bulges in SP's shirt -- doesn't look like me at all....).
Simply terrific.  Those red/white/blue shoulder pads look totally
cool, as do the wonderful (if bizarre) high/low tech cowboy boot-
type shoes on the ends of his robotic metallic legs.  The head is
a great sculpt, too -- those lips, those eyes...well, those eyes,
anyway.  Totally cool, creepy, formidable, enthralling.

     I'm a big "credit where it's due" kinda guy.  And for all my
griping about McTodd's marketing practices (shortpacks, hyper-
hyped advertising of "limited" stuff, repaints, etc.), I have to
say I'm remarkably satisfied by some of the changes the Spawn VI
figures reflect.
     ***Tight joints -- we've been pretty loud in our criticism
of McFigures that wobble and *do* fall down (well, I certainly
have), and lo! -- my Spawn VI figures so far not only stand quite
well, thank you, they have extremely tight joints (in fact, when
I bought them and briefly considered the Sansker, the dealer
warned me that its limbs would be so tight as to require
"cracking" before they'd move, and that I shouldn't worry about
breaking it in doing so).  (And yes, I read recently of one
collector whose Sansker was so tight it actually cracked right in
half when he tried to turn it -- oh well, at least McF is
     ***Weight -- there have been lots of complaints that the
larger figures of late just didn't have the appropriate heaviness
and solidity (Maxx, Cy-Gor, for example).  Well, as noted, if
Alien Spawn were any heavier, they'd have to reinforce the
shipping boxes with steel.  Even the "slimmer" figures carry a
more solid massiveness.  Bravo, McTodd!
     ***Accessories that fit, stick, are appropriate to the
character, etc. -- I've noted this above.  So what if my Alien
Spawn's tentacle attachments don't quite stick in their holes. 
They look *perfect* even draped over the big chap, and I can
always clip the ends and superglue them on.  As for the others,
all their accoutrements fit beautifully, and match the characters
beautifully.  Another excellent development!
     ***And even the budding practice of sending non-shortpack
cases to some retailers -- this sounds like a tremendous step
forward.  Coupled with the burgeoning web site sales (though I'll
still reserve judgment on that until I see it in full operation,
replete with shortpacks), adjustments like this should really
help to stem the scalping tide.  Bravo indeed.
     Now, don't get me wrong.  While I am getting perilously
close to the "fanboy" deep end, I *don't* like _everything_ about
these figures.  The paint job on the Alien Spawns I saw was very
rushed looking, generally sloppy (not to mention smeared
liberally onto the packing bubbles).  The Super Patriot's gun-
arms do nothing for me (though what other feature could you give
him?).  And old B-Clad has no shoulder or head armor.  But in
terms of stand-out design, quality and appeal, these figures just
blew me away.  You can say what you like (or don't like) about
McToys and all, but this assortment is the cat's pajamas as far
as I'm concerned -- in no small part because the figures I wanted
were *not* shorted (heh heh).
     And don't worry -- no cats were harmed in the pajama test. 
Though a couple of bananas got a little mushed....

     Finally, I don't even care that out of the six figures, only
three appealed to me.  I've never felt a compulsion to buy every
figure in every Spawn line -- there are just some characters too
silly, or gruesome in aspect, for me to ever want to display,
whether carded or loose.  (And if you're not ever going to
display your figures, if not now, someday, then you're just
investing, and oddly enough, stock certificates are *much* easier
to store in the basement....).  I'm sure there are people out
there who wouldn't care at all for the three figures I fell for,
and would instead kill to get the Freak, Sansker and Tiffany. 
(Well, I'll probably end up snagging a Tiffany -- I'm a sucker
for candy-striped bandeau tops, amazon or no amazon).  More power
to 'em -- I *want* the line to sell-through; I want McFarlane
making more gorgeous figures.
     A last note on Spawn VI:  I don't know if anyone else gets
this crazy about their figures, but frequently I catch myself
staring at the collection and asking, gee, if I could *be* any
figure, which one would I choose?  Well, in the wake of getting
these three new McFigs, the answer to that question has shifted
mightily -- to all three.  I *love* to imagine myself battling
neanderthals in my neural-parasite armor, skulking as the Alien
undead through brackish swamps as my spaceship cools in the
waters behind me, or fighting latter-day Nazis with both arms a-
     High praise indeed.  Watch out, War Machine -- there's a new
favorite on the shelf.
     Or is that favorites?  How to choose just one?  Oy, all my
troubles should be so tasty....

     The last time I went to a toy con I had a mixed experience. 
Sure, it was gratifying to see lots of toys I hadn't seen "in-
person" before, both old and new, but the prices for most of
those toys were truly disheartening -- if not downright
sickening.  And the contemptuous attitudes most of the dealers
evinced with little if any concealment toward their intended
"victims" just made everything seem even more tawdry and
     But sitting around "talkin' toys" with the Bay Area Toy Gang
the other night, I had an idea.  A terrible, wicked, marvelously
captivating idea.  Jack mentioned an upcoming toys, comics, cards
and collectibles show and said it might be fun if we all went
together.  I thought about that for a second, and it did indeed
seem fun.
     Until the much more fun -- and evil, and delicious, idea
struck me.  At which point it started to sound a lot *better*
than just "fun."
     Y'see, there's unquestionably power in numbers.  As my dear,
departed Nana used to say, "if three people tell you you're
drunk, it's time to fall down."  Well, Nana was right.  What
seems like utter balderdash upon first hearing can start to seem
like a better and better idea as ratification follows
sequentially.  Well, Nana, I've got a new wrinkle on your old
     "Hey, guys," I said, "what about this.  We go to the
convention together, but we *don't* go together."  (Shades of
"Barney, we're goin' bowlin', but we're *not* goin' bowlin'...." 
Yes, from the collected works of Fred Flintstone, a truly
underrated master strategist).

     What I proposed was this.  We enter the convention
separately and do a little quick scouting.  Find a razzin'
frazzin' coprophilic mark-up-mania dealer with a bunch of
Princess Leia figures on his table for $50.  We gather, agree on
our target, and split up again.
     Then the first of us toyguys walks over to the hapless
dealer.  "Hey, howdy.  Uh, nice stuff.  Any chance of getting you
to lower the price on that Leia?"
     "Nope, she's been recalled, caused Carrey Fishler to have a
heart attack, has no panties, killed three kids by choking, and
has Uranium-235 in the white paint."
     "Oh.  Huh.  You don't say."  Feigns slightly confused look. 
"Well, uh, did you get that one out of the new all-Leia cases
Kenner just started shipping?"
     "What the hell are you talking about, pal?"
     "The new point-one-three cases.  You haven't seen those?"
     "Take a hike, jerk.  I don't need to hear your bullcrap
wiseguy talk."
     And Bay Area Toyguy #1 shrugs, smiles benevolently, says
"thanks anyway," and saunters away.
     About five minutes later, Bay Area Toyguy #2 walks up to our
buddy the not-so-friendly dealer.  "Hey, hi there.  Is that Leia
there one of the reissues from that 16-Leia one-three case?"
     Now, at this point, the dealer will likely maintain the same
bold, aggressive front, but you *know* he's gotta be starting to
sweat inside.  "Gowan, geddoudahere pal!"  And BAToyguy #2 smiles
politely and walks on.
     Ten minutes later, Toyguy #3 walks up to the dealer's table
with Toyguy #4, taking care to be in the middle of an ongoing
conversation at a somewhat elevated volume.
     "I'm telling you, I saw them opening the box.  The point
one-threes, sixteen Leias and not another figure inside.  I
bought *three* of 'em, 'cause until people catch on I know I can
make a *killing.*"  Then, looking up as if noticing the dealer
for the first time, Toyguy #3 smiles and says "hi, mister.  Are
you interested in buying some Princess Leia figures for ten

     At this point the feckless dealer should have visible
rivulets of cholesterol-heavy sweat making their way from his
matted thinning hair down to the fake-smile creases on his
cheeks.  He will likely stare intently at Toyguy #3's handful of
Leia figures.  "Uh, um, where did you get those?"  Still not sure
of himself, he will narrow his eyes as he mats his brow with a
TRU receipt.
     "Uh, um, what do you mean?"  Toyguy #3 needs to have some
skill at *seeming* to be caught in a panic.  At which point
Toyguy #4 steps in.
     "Oh, tell him, Tim."  Frowning, as if any deceit is anathema,
Toyguy #4 turns to the dealer and continues.  "He got all of them
from a store this morning.  They had *tons* of the darned
     Toyguy #3 reacts violently.  "Jeeze, Kevin, I can't believe
you *told* him!  What's wrong with you?!?"
     "What wrong with *me*?  What's wrong with you, fan-boy?" 
And gives a little dramatic shove against #3's shoulder.
     As the dealer frantically tries to interject his plaintive
"where" question, the toyguys escalate their contention to a
somewhat restrained shoving match, from which point they agree to
take it outside.  The dealer is left in a daze, switching his
glance back and forth from the stock of Leias he has under the
table to the receding forms of the two bickering collectors.
     That's when Toyguy #5 strikes.  Toyguy #5 should be the most
innocent seeming fella in the bunch.
     "Hi, mister!  Howzitgoin?  Hey, I see you got some of those
point-one-three Leias from the Target over on 101...."
     *POOF*  Cloud of dust -- disappearing dealer!  Good finally
triumphs over greed....
     Toyguy #5 should also be a good storyteller, so he can
convey to the others with what alacrity and desperation the
dealer gathers up his stock, clears his tables and races off for
the bountiful shelves of "the Target on 101," where, if we really
want to put icing on this "dupe-the-dealer" pattycake, we should
leave a note pasted to the shelves reading "GET A REAL JOB,
     Hey, it's gotta be good for at least a few laughs around
four-dollar hot dogs at the concession stand....
Copyright (c) 1996 by John Gersten. All rights reserved.

Comments? Drop me a line....
Return to John Gersten's Action Figure Column Home Page