Thursday, 26 May 2016

Spawn Spree II*

Welcome to the 2nd edition of Spawn Spree, where I show you six old McFarlane Toys action figures because I don’t think they get enough love and because I’m currently a bit obsessed with them. Today’s half-dozen are the next few to arrive from eBay and I feel neatly show off the peculiarities of myself, Spawn and toy enthusiasts in general. So are you sitting comfortably? then I’ll begin:

Vandalizer (2nd edition)
Spawn FAO Schwartz Exclusive (1997)
I sometimes like to kid myself that I don’t fall into the various pitfalls collectors and fans do and don’t match up to various stereotypes associated with both of those groups, lying to yourself is fun. Vandalizer here represents my version of this habit fans and collectors alike get where they zero in on one very specific thing and focus on it, usually with what shit they buy. In this case it’s Spawn figures repainted red and my quest to acquire all the red variants of Spawn figures from 1994 to 1998. Why would I want to do such a seemingly random thing? Oh it’s all about nostalgia, as things often are, and also about the interior decorator that hides in us all: Back when I was intensely into comics and all related things Red Violator was a bit of a big deal, he’s just a repaint of the Spawn Series 1 figure Violator (he’s usually grey) but he was really sought after (I actually got mine at a bootsale for about a tenner) and he’s still one of my favourite toys, I have this mental image of a little display of all the red variants standing around Red Violator, brainspace I’m sure most men my age, sexuality and upbringing devote to lesbian porn (I have other brainspace for that). Sometimes the Red variants were intentionally homages to Red Violator, sometimes they weren’t, this one is and He is certainly the reddest red variant, yet somehow cheap tomato sauce really works as a colour when it’s applied to an armoured hell demon dressed like a Lord of the Rings character. Incidentally this figure was first released with grey skin, and his 2nd edition has him mustard skinned (with bronze armour) he makes both of those colour schemes work too, either meaning he’s a versatile design, or he’s just the biggest fashionista in The Malbolge. Vandy’s one of Violator’s little brothers, the Phlebiac Brothers, created by Alan Moore and he’s a total thug, I like him. As a nice tough though the bio card elaborates on his concept, explaining that he was assigned to Viking Spawn just as Violator is assigned to Al Simmons, which also explains away the new armour his toy’s sporting AND Viking Spawn was in the same wave as him (Spawn Series 5), clever fuckers.

Spawn Target Exclusive (1996)
This was another big exclusive back in my day (I’m so ooooold), ‘White Cy-Gor’ for a time seemed to rank just below the ‘big two’ of Red Violator and Party Time Angela on the list of things Spawn fans will kill their mother to acquire but I s’pose that could just be Wizard warping my not-quite teenage mind and that warping effecting my memory, sorry, what? “What was Party Time Angela?” well sadly it wasn’t Angela in a party hat like that Leonardo Playmates once released (I totally own that); Spawn figures – especially early on – had a lot of what I believe fans have dubbed ‘unintentional variants’ but what normal people would call ‘production errors’; colours not quite right, different colour plastic used for weapons, dodgy plastic occasionally - and sometimes missing paint applications, in the case of the Spawn Series 2 figure of Angela she was missing a very particular paint application – her thong. In a double pronged attempt to prove that both comic book and toy enthusiasts really are just horny immature heterosexual males the fans dubbed her Party Time Angela and clambered over themselves to get her, it’s not like she had a vag sculpted in and pubic hair painted on, she just didn’t have the underwear painted in. It being genuinely scarce (because it was a factory error) and heavily sought after it did become a legitimate collector’s item and has held some of its value – unlike most of those variants we were told were collector’s items….by the packaging. Proving deliciously that you can release as few of an item as you like and put whatever stickers on it you want but if no one wants it then it doesn’t mean fuck all.
Sorry, tangent.Or is it? White Cy-Gor kind of proves my point both ways – by becoming sought after by collectors at the time purely on its own merits and by not holding its value at all (this cost me a tenner with postage). Why was it so sought after (if indeed it was)? Well it’s a store exclusive variant of an already popular figure so it’s popular but with a noticeably smaller production run and limited availability but honestly I think it just came down to the ABSOLUTELY CORRECT thought process of “what’s cooler than big cyborg gorilla cooler? A big cyborg snow gorilla”. It was a figure I totally coveted, I now own it, it’s still cool because a big cyborg snow gorilla doesn’t stop being cool, and didn’t cost me or any of my family a fortune, so it is almost like the a physical embodiment of satisfaction, toy-wise.

Medieval Spawn (2nd edition)
Spawn Series 1 (1995)   
Another variant, do I actually buy any regular versions of the characters? That’s mostly due to damage from being into comics and toys in the 1990s causing me to instantly see variants at regular or cheap prices as being a better deal but in this case I just think Spawns look better if they’re black, white and red, they’re an army and the Spawn symbiotes are uniforms so I can’t see why Medieval Spawn would be blue and She-Spawn would be red, I can understand the suit looking different to reflect the wearer because the suit morphs to fit the host’s needs but somehow I can’t see it changing colour – I’m a ball of contradictions. And yes Todd McFarlane did get sued over this character (and Angela and Cogliostro) and yes he is a massive hypocrite and no there was no way you were getting out of this paragraph without that being mentioned.

Manga She-Spawn
Spawn Reborn Series 2 (2003)
So for years McFarlane Toys released their 2nd Editions of any wave of action figures that sold remotely well enough to justify the practice, and they were mostly just the same toys but in different colours, so it’s not a surprise that they just finally said ‘fuck it’ and created a whole separate toyline just for the practice of releasing figures in new paint jobs, that line was Spawn Reborn. Manga She-Spawn though was something a little different, she was something new created with a repaint, my favourite kind of repaint and something completely fitting with the toy she’s a repaint of, “huh?” you say, hold on I’ll go into it: originally she’d been The Goddess in Spawn Series 9 which was themed as ‘Manga Spawn,’ she was a kind of Manga Angela but was the only character in the wave who wasn’t a Manga version of a pre-exiting character (Manga Spawn, Manga Clown, Manga Violator…), repainted as Manga She-Spawn she becomes the only character in her wave who is a new version of a pre-existing character rather than a pre-existing character in a new colour scheme. I think technically she’s still the same person, The Goddess has simply died and become a Spawn or switched sides and become a Spawn (I’m not too sure of the aliveness of the angels in Spawn if I’m being honest) but now she’s the Manga She-Spawn we never got and in both cases she’s something unique and ‘new’ (Manga Spawn isn’t Al Simmons etc etc - I know this). I have a thing for creative and/or just plain bizarre repaints, this is the former and it’s the shit; The original Goddess design was, by complete accident I’m guessing, a perfect fit for a ‘Mecha Spawn’ look and standard Hellspawn attire like the big white M and the red gauntlets and boots can be applied easily (She-Spawn didn’t have a big red cape cape, though I’d’ve coloured her wings red to emulate the Spawn cape anyway), all that tech on her back resembles the original’s huge shoulder armour and they even managed to colour some of her thigh armouring to recall the original She-Spawn figure’s completely superfluous garters! This is what a good repaint is – using something cleverly, or optionally just painting it red.

The Mangler (2nd Edition)
Spawn Series 7 (1997)
Speaking of which, meet The Mangler, possibly the pinnacle of my Red Variant Peculiarity (someone name your prog rock band that please) – my mind went ‘he’s grey originally, he’s kind of Violator-ish shape, I must have the red version’. Away from my questionable concept of the value of money but sticking with my madness - I’m sure I remember this as being originally advertised/solicited/previewed under the name Wolf-Spawn, was this real? Cos if it is it might also validate my shoddy memory that Crutch was originally going to be called Weed Whacker (and was presumably changed because Weed Whacker is a brand name)? Anyway he is actually a literal wolf Spawn, according to his bio card Malebolgia also recruits animals into his army of Spawns, presumably after they die and presumably transforming them into twisted monsters with bones sticking out of them unless in the world of Spawn there’s a species of Nightmare Fuel Wolf, in fact animals make great Spawns because they’re obedient and vicious (though I guess they lack the intelligence of humans, which is why Bolgey doesn’t just use them exclusively), I think this is all exclusive to the toyline but I can’t say it doesn’t make sense. I know that Mangler is a success as a werewolf because a friend of mine – who’s a werewolf nut but not a toy fan really at all – saw it and declared it awesome, also because he comes with his own personal Madball.

Spawn Series 6 (1996)
This one’s not a variant! Sansker should have been White Cy-Gor, like WCG (his DJ name) Sansker’s actually appeared in the comics (he was in Spawn: Blood Feud, he’s basically a snake vampire which is just awesome) and like WCG he was a figure I wanted during the whole of THE DARK TIMES™ but now I have him in hand, he’s a bit of a let-down. He looks cheaper than he did in photographs, his paint work’s kind of…tea bag run-off-y and he’s just not lived up to the expectations of 11 year old me. I mean in concept he’s still a snake-man-vampire with a big ass stake and he’s still a nice sculpt and everything but I dunno, maybe I built him up too much as a kid when he was seemingly impossible to find (I don’t think this is a reflection on the toy’s popularity or even its distribution  per case I think it’s just a case of when you’re looking for something you can never find it) his construction though is pretty sweet – and yes I know that saying that makes you judge me and you’re right to – his lower half is just one giant bendy toy but the vertical part of his tail isn’t really bendy so as to keep him sturdy while his horizontal tail is really poseable, in a line that seemed to treat articulation points like most people treat registered sex offenders it’s really refreshing, he can be a bit hard to stand up though. 

And there you are, you’ve spent your time reading about six more Spawn figures and I feel like I’ve accomplished something even if you feel the complete opposite about yourselves, anyway here’s the bio cards for Vandalizer and Sansker, I bought Cy-Gor and Mangler loose so sadly I don’t have cards for those. Cy-Gor was an ex-US Government experiment that ended up locked up in a castle though if you were wondering:  

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