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Remembering Toy Biz’s Spider-Man: The Animated Series action figures

By Alex Wiggan

A couple weeks back on the Honcho-SFX blog we took a look at the extremely popular (and extremely awesome) X-Men action figures by Toy Biz. Two weeks on and we feel we now need to give a big shout-out to Toy Biz’s equally brilliant line of action figures, based on Spider-Man: The Animated Series.

So, that’s what this post is all about.

Released in 1994, to coincide with the debut of Spider-Man: The Animated Series, Toy Biz’s Spider-Man toys were an instant hit with fans. The line – which eventually outlasted the show that spawned them – followed the same level of detail that Toy Biz’s X-Men line offered, but were arguably better.

The first wave was pretty simple and included just seven figures, two of which were Spider-Man. The remaining five were all villains (a common theme amongst the collection) and included Dr. Octopus, Smythe, Carnage, Venom and Hobgoblin.

This initial assortment demonstrated just how good the figures could be and each figure boasted a unique action feature, such as whipping tentacles (Doc Ock) or chomping jaws (Venom). Thankfully, these features never restricted the playability of the toys or the cool action poses that could be created with each figure.

Yeah, we created cool action poses – we’re not ashamed of that fact.

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As the line continued, more and more characters were introduced, many of which also appeared on the animated show. Characters such as Kingpin (a pretty hefty figure), Kraven, the Lizard, Vulture and Peter Parker rounded out the second wave, while the third wave brought the likes of Shocker, Scorpion and Green Goblin.

The collection was heavily influenced by the animated series, so the more characters that appeared on screen, the more chance they had of appearing amongst the line. This also meant that every time Spidey switched costumes or demonstrated a new trick with his webbing, it was quickly incorporated into the line as a new way to release variations on the wall-crawler. It worked and we lapped them up – especially the black suit Spider-Man.

As the line moved into its fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh waves, a number of Marvel heroes began to appear within the collection, including the Punisher, Nick Fury, the Prowler, Black Cat and Doctor Strange. The villains also continued to come thick and fast and soon Spidey collectors the world over were treated to what seemed like an endless supply of Spider-Man rogues.

Of course, not every character who appeared in Toy Biz’s line of Spider-Man figures actually appeared in the show; a number of characters simply snuck in as additional extras. Characters who cropped up on toy shelves but not in the cartoon included Spider-Man 2099, Spider-Woman, the Vault Guardsman and the rather bizarre, yet frankly quite awesome, Alien Spider Slayer, who appeared way back in wave two.

One of our favourite figures in the entire line was the Chameleon, who popped up in the fourth wave. Not only did he look pretty cool, he also came with three different heads to create the illusion of transformation. The heads included: Spider-Man, Venom and The Daily Bugle’s editor-in-chief, J. Jonah Jameson.

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Outside of the core line of action figures a range of playsets, vehicles and 10” toys were also available. These ranged from the Daily Bugle playset and the Tri-Spider Slayer to projector toys and more.

In addition, a number of boxsets and twin-packs arrived in stores, usually as exclusives to Kaybee or Walmart. These included the Maximum Clonage 8-pack and the Spider-Man and Mary Jane Holiday Special twin-pack.

Yes, there really was a Spider-Man and Mary Jane festive twin-pack.

As mentioned above, the toy line outlasted the TV show and this was both a good and bad thing. On the plus side, it meant the line didn’t stop dead in its tracks the moment the show ended. On the downside, the quality of the line began to drop off towards the end and figures such as the kid-friendly water-shooting, Web Splashers range seeped into the collection.

Like the X-Men collection before it, Toy Biz’s Spider-Man toys burned bright for a long time, but eventually they flickered out as the kids who initially bought them, grew up and moved on. No matter, when they were hot they were smoking!

If you picked up any of the action figures in the Spider-Man collection, then you know just how much fun they were and how great it was to amass such a huge assortment of heroes and villains. We’d say they don’t make toys like these anymore, but that’s because we’re old and that’s pretty much all we ever say nowadays – but it’s true.

Toy Biz really do deserve a big round of applause for making the ‘90s Marvel experience something else. Once again, we thank you.

And for those who want to see the Web Splashers assortment, just click on the YouTube video below.

 

 

 

About the author: Alex Wiggan has written blog posts for Honcho-SFX blog since October 2014. He likes writing, eating pizza and watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Sometimes in that order.

 

Love cool  stuff? Us too! Then check out the great range of cool TV, comic book and movie memorabilia available from Honcho-SFX, including this Baywatch baseball shirt, this Terminator shirt and this Blues Brothers raglan shirt.

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Posted in Film & TV, Marvel, Pop Culture
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