Sunday 21 August 2016

Spawn Spree III*

Welcome to the third instalment of Spawn Spree, where I type some meaningless bullshit about six old McFarlane Toys action figures in a desperate and futile attempt to stave off the boredom and loneliness that nip at my heels most of my waking hours, and a couple of my sleeping hours too. Clearly I am in a good mood today and this will go absolutely fine. Today’s six gives us a closer look at an alien, two women in completely impractical outfits and a giant ape, why wouldn’t you keep reading? So are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin:

Alien Spawn
Spawn Series 6 (1996)
The beauty of the Spawn concept is that you can make a Spawn Anything and it’ll make total sense (unlike say, Farmer Turtles) making it an absolutely perfect concept for a toy line, every wave could have multiple figures called Spawn in them without constantly releasing Al Simmons in different outfits and avoiding being repetitive and alienating customers (like, say, the Masters of the Universe 200X toyline did). Alien Spawn here is awesome on paper; they even went the extra mile and switched out chains for alien tentacle-like things though I have no idea why he fires a sea mine at people.
In practice the design isn’t done justice, this is from the same series as Sansker where the factory decided the best way to achieve the complex paint jobs McFarlane’s prototypes asked for was to smear the toys with baby food and Alien Spawn is the worst victim of this, looking less like an alien and more like a panda made out of doughnuts. Also his tentacles just don’t work, they come packaged separately (not unusual) with plugs on the end - but don’t fucking stay in their fucking holes, I resorted to super gluing them all in (forever ruining the value of the figure, oh dear how will I live with myself) because they would pop out without any external force applied to them, he’d just be sitting there and WHAP one would shoot out and knock over whatever was next to it (one time it was Vince McMahon, I enjoyed that time) which made it completely unsuitable for display without resorting to Gorilla Glue. So I don’t recommend buying this toy, I’m glad I have it, my Spawn Shelf wouldn’t have been right without it, but don’t bother.

Tiffany – The Amazon
McFarlane Collector’s Club Exclusive (1998)
This was a nice idea, for the Collector’s Club they re-released with the Series 6 Tiffany but with a new head sculpted to look closer to Tony Daniel and/or Greg Capullo’s art (including that weird fountain hairdo they gave her) with a new and more accurate colour scheme to match the more accurate heard, they'd releas a really super accurate figure of her later on but that was well into the line’s ‘plastic statue’ era and I don't like that era. As you should have figured out from all that Tiffany is straight from the Spawn comics, though she only appeared twice (in issues 44 & 45) where she (well her physical form) was killed by bears…
Let’s move on

Viking Spawn
Spawn Series 5 (1996)
Asymmetrical designs, the 90’s bloody loved ‘em. I am so desensitized to this baffling design choice that I didn’t notice until I looked at the picture for this figure: Viking Spawn has such an asymmetrical design and now it just bugs me, I cannot unsee it, as it were. I actually really like Viking Spawn, he made the jump from toy to comic (one of very few) via the Spawn Fan Edition comics, he has a really cool helmet (stop that sniggering) and well, he’s a Viking Spawn but god damn does he have the most McFarlaney of McFarlane designs. I figure it was a reaction to ‘classic’ superhero designs (ala Superman, Batman, The Flame etc) which were very balanced and had become very ‘traditional’, maybe even ‘boring’ by the time McFarlane, Silvestri and Liefeld came to prominence and I’m guessing the idea was that Viking Spawn kind of made his armour out of bits that he found/took from the dead bodies of his enemies but it’s so…so…asymmetrical dammit! On another note, his fur cape feels amazing, like melted toffee.

Widowmaker (2nd Edition)
Spawn Series 5 (1996)
Widowmaker is the poster child for the merits of the 2nd Edition waves McFarlane Toys used to do, my feeling is that these repaint waves aren’t very well regarded outside of one of two (Manga Spawn for instance) and the concept isn’t either but I love it, I’m sure it came about out of necessity (the figures sold out fast early on) and it’s a nice idea about how to handle second runs but I just love the ballsiness of it, to be able to go ‘fuck it, we’ll release the toys repainted in…whatever the hell colours we think looks nice’. It didn’t always work but sometimes the 2nd editions just looked so much better, an opinion you will have no doubt picked up on me having if you’ve read the previous two of these. Widowmaker is the ultimate example of this, her first release gave her grey skin with a hot pink outfit with black highlights, not unpleasing to the eye but nothing that really says ‘widow maker’; for her 2nd edition they, and there’s no better term for it, Gothed her up completely, giving her very pale skin, huge black spider’s legs and a black and red attire that I would be quite happy to allow my bride to wear on our wedding day (seriously I know several women who would wear that outfit out around town in this colour scheme) and everything about her now screams ‘widow maker’, I can’t believe it took until the repaint to give her black spider’s legs.

The Heap
Spawn Reborn Series 2 Online Exclusive Figure
Never mind Spawn, The Heap is older than Todd McFarlane. Created for Hillman Periodicals (by Bill Woolfolk & Carmine Infantino, the latter being the man who co-created Barry Allen, amongst others) The Heap first stumbled into the world in Air Fighters issue 3 in 1943. The Heap was introduced into Spawn in 1998, as far as I’m aware it was due to McFarlane buying Eclipse Comics, a purchase that turned out to be mostly worthless because despite having been home to a slew of great comics most Eclipse publications were owned by their creators. I guess Eclipse must have kept ownership of their revival of Airboy which starred the Heap and was awesome and this lead to The Heap appearing in Spawn, the sad fact here is that Airboy and The Heap are public domain and have been for years. Anyway Spawn’s heap wasn’t a fighter pilot with a burning desire to live but a bum with a connection to nature and The Green, the main difference in practice  wasthat Spawn’s Heap was made of rubbish and the original Heap was made of reeds.
This ‘monster made of trash’ element probably made The Heap the best, objectively speaking, regular figure McFarlane ever released – he is covered with detail both painted in or tooled separately and glued on, including a ton of transparent plastic to represent glass. This also makes him a bastard to get complete, this one here has the thumb broken off of his skeletal hand – I know this because I fell off the second I took it out of the box and swore at it for what some might say was an overly long time, I tried to stick it back on but a comedy of errors involving a biscuit tin and a tub of super glue tubes – ALL OF WHICH WERE DRIED UP - saw the thumb lost completely. 

Cy-Gor II
Spawn Series 13 (1998)
The original Cy-Gor was good but Cy-Gor II may well be the greatest Spawn figure released, it’s certainly one of the few figures that have retained any respect in the toy collecting world – as far as I can see at least. Huge even by the standards of the outsized Spawn toy line and so detailed my camera couldn’t autofocus on all of it – that’s seriously why there’s blurry bits on this photo, there was so much to take a picture of the camera couldn’t handle it - and there is a literal fuck-ton of additional glued in pipes and chains, I’m not fond of little chains like this on…well…anything, they make me feel sick but these manage to be just long enough to avoid that. He comes with a robot chimp mini-figure that’s nearly the size of a G.I. Joe and you can remove his stomach have cyber chimp sit in there and control Cy-Gor like Voltron and you can swap out his mechanical arm for a fleshier one though why on earth you’d want to do eludes me, sure a Frankenstein gorilla is cool but surely it only gets cooler with a cybernetic arm? Hmm I think I’ve just encapsulated the thinking of American comic book creators from around 1990 to 1996.  But best of all he’s a really good Gorilla, nowadays Mattel and DC Direct have brought us many a good gorilla – the JUSTICE Gorilla Grodd and Masters of the Universe Classics Gygor (whose name is suspiciously similar to Cy-Gor…) are particularly good – but Cy-Gor II is as good as any of them, he is one cool looking Gorilla head sculpt. So in conclusion we have chains, cyborg parts and a 9 year old’s idea of what’s badass all rolled up into one expensive collector’s figure (though I got mine for just £20 thanks to a lucky eBay auction), yep this is the ultimate Spawn figure.

And I’m done for today, if you’re wondering why it took so long for another Spawn Spree to pop up on here (and you’re not, but if you were) it’s not because I slowed down buying them (though I now have for the moment due to needing money for other things) or my enthusiasm has waned, it’s just because I'm writing other things and Spawn Spree III just kept getting put back. Anyway, thanks for reading again about old tie-in toys, I leave you with the bio cards for all but The Heap and Widow Maker, the Heap didn't have one and Widow Maker I bought loose but she's a renegade angel who hunts Spawns unsanctioned, those legs are supposed to be skeletal wings:   

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