Thursday, September 9, 2010

Spider-Man: Spider Force the Wasp

Ah, good old Toy-Biz action figures from the 90's. This is a good example of how far action figures have come in the last 10 years. Today we'll take a look at one of the many Spider-Man toys released over the years...but wait. You say this isn't the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man? Why yes, you are correct. This review is for the Avenger's very own Wasp!

I guess in the mid to late 90's Marvel and Toy-Biz were running out of ideas for new action figures based on the popular Marvel Comics franchises such as Spider-Man and the X-Men so they started making some really wild toys. I'm guessing most of them didn't go over very well w/ the kids or even collectors as you can still find a wide variety of this product unopened at places such as eBay. I scored this sample for $3.00 from eBay. I've always been somewhat curious about these Spider Force toys and since it was cheap and I needed some new content for my blog I thought why not. As you can see in the first photo above the Wasp isn't the regular human version of Janet Van Dyne that most of us recognize. This is the insect like version first seen in the Avengers comics around the time of the Timeslide story. The Wasp comes packaged with transforming insect armor. Basically it's a big hollow piece of plastic that looks like a mutated wasp and comes apart to snap onto the figure as armor. Excited yet?

The back of the packaging gives a short story if you will of the character.

"The strikingly beautiful Janey Van Dyne proves that good things do come in small packages. This member of the Avengers can shrink down to the size of a wasp, complete with wings and a powerful Bio-Sting to blast her enemies. Small and speedy, the Wasp can avoid most attacks with ease, but her insect armor can fend off any attack. Her armor can even transform into a hi-tech mechanical wasp that fights side by side with her."

The toy line description reads as follows:

"Spider-Man's arch-enemies, Beetle, Tarantula and Swarm are up to their old tricks again. This time, though, they have gained transforming "Insect Armor" from alien technology they acquired, making them even more dangerous than before! Teaming up with the Avenger known as the Wasp, Spidey aims to put an end to their crime spree. With "Insect Battle Armor" of their own, our heroes will prove that the good guys will always win!"

It appears a lot of thought when into the development of this line. Kinda surprising if you ask me. The aforementioned villians are also displayed across the bottom of the backing card. Of the 3 the figures of the Swarm and the Beetle look the best, but the armor for all of them looks very very goofy.

On the right side of the backing card is a drawing of the figure depicting how to assemble to armor on the figure. At first glance I didn't think much of it, but after looking at it closer it appears that Mike Deodato Jr. may have supplied the art!

I can see how gimmicks attract kids attention, but I guess kids just didn't buy into the whole insect armor.

Let's take a look at the actual Wasp figure now. The figure stands about 6 inches tall and shares a decent likeness with it's comic book counterpart. There is a limited articulation in the shoulders and elbows, but the joints on my figure were extremely tight and felt like the arm may snap off if I applied too much force. The legs rotate at the hips, but thanks to the pre-posed nature of the figure pulling off a standing pose was next to impossible. Overall it's not a bad figure, but when compared with Marvel Legends or even the new smaller Marvel Universe figures this figure of the Wasp shows it's age. If it had more articulation and lost the fixed poses in the arms and legs I would like it better. There are 4 holes on the back of the figure that allow the goofy insert battle armor to be attached. Other than that there isn't much else to say about this figure.

When the insect armor is assembled it makes a rather large bug. The wings have a pink glitter shimmer to them which makes them stand out from the dark blue and yellow colors. The antenna on the head are removable. I'm not sure if they are supposed to be though as one of mine had fallen off inside the package.  I got it to go back in, but it still falls out rather easily.

Assembling the armor on the figure is easy. The wing assembly is one piece and it simply plugs into one of the holes on the back of the figure. The stinger portion of the armor separates into two halves and attach to the arm / shoulder area. The bottom of the wasp armor attaches to the front of the figure making a breast plate of sorts. Lastly the large insect head slips over the figure's head giving you the final grotesque look.

Overall this is a pretty bad figure...and I'm not using bad in a good way. The armor not only looks incredibly goofy it falls off when the slightest touch. I just can't see how kids couldn't have played with this toy and enjoyed it. The figure itself is OK, but it's a far cry from a being a good figure. I'll probably end up displaying this figure with my Avengers Marvel Legends collection as it does somewhat blend in, but I can't recommend anyone buy this toy at all. I may be on the lookout at some point for the Swarm or the Beetle toys for the figures alone, but don't buy this toy expecting much or else you will be disappointed.

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