By Mark Patraw
Posted on 11/18/13
Let's dive into the fifteenth installment of Toy Talk! Today, starting on the far left, and moving right, we'll be looking at a 2012 Hasbro Amazing Spider-man: Web Battlers Whip Attack Spider-man, a Kooshkin-style Tiger of unknown origin, a Disney/Pixar Toy Story 2 (or 3) bendy Jesse, a 2013 Universal Studios Despicable Me 2 Evil Minion Noisemaker (McDonald's), and a 2003 Mattel Justice League Unlimited Superman. The Tiger, Jesse, and Evil Minion figures were all in a $2.44 bag of toys I bought from the Marquette St. Vincent de Paul Society thrift store on 10/25/13. While Spider-man (fifty cents) and Superman (twenty-five cents) were both purchased individually at the Ishpeming branch of the same thrift store chain on 11/9/13. If anyone reading this knows more information about any of these items, that I haven't already discussed below, and would like to share, or just chat about toys, feel free to e-mail me and let me know!
Sticky palms aren't exactly the most endearing trait to have, unless, of course, you're a radioactive arachnid. This is a 6.3" (15.9 cm) tall 2012 Hasbro Amazing Spider-man: Web Battlers Whip Attack Spider-man, which was a tie-in with the recent live action film. Mr. Parker's sculpt is impressive--the entire surface of his costume is covered with a micro-texture pattern, and all the webs and seams are raised or recessed elements. Amusingly, Spidey has a screw hole in each of his superhuman butt cheeks, which is something you don't see everyday. The paintwork is fairly good too, although there are several small errors that pull him back from perfection (splotches of color where they don't belong, etc.) In order to make him live up to his namesake, press the wall-crawler's left leg inward and his waist will pivot while his arms flail up-and-down, whipping about his web strands. I think it would have helped if the web lines had internal bendy wire armatures, because, on mine, the left one is curled in towards his face, so he ends up beating himself in the head! The toy's articulation is fairly limited (cut joints at the neck, shoulders, elbows, waist, and hips), so, you don't have a lot of options for altering his pose. Ultimately, he ends up being one of those toys whose entire design revolves around its' action gimmick, so, outside of that, ol' webhead doesn't have a lot to offer. I would have much preferred that he was a "normal" action figure, with removable web strand accessories, than a one-trick pony. Even so, Whip Attack Spider-man is still an attractive looking figure that you can have some fun lashing baddies, or your friends, with.
Here's another thrift store toy shopping tip for you: even if you're not interested in the other merchandise that the establishment is selling, you should do a quick walk around the premises. Why? Because children will often pick up and carry toys and then later deposit them in other aisles, usually when their parent/guardian tells them that they can't have whatever it is that they're holding (alas, life is cruel). Case in point: I found this Spider-man figure lying on a shelf amidst the knick-knacks and candles, which is on a different side of the store than the toys, so, if I hadn't been looking around, I never would have discovered him there.
I haven't seen one of these rubbery Kooshkin-style animals in years! The tiger's sculpt, which stands 2.4" (6 cm) tall, is simple, but adorable, and I always like cats.
There aren't any markings molded on its body, other than "CHINA 7", so your guess is as good as mine regarding what company produced it and when. I'm impressed that the figure still has all of its little nubs, as I know, from experience, that those things tend to get ripped or pulled off by kids over time. The paintwork on our feline friend was pretty spotty when I first got the toy. There wasn't enough black on some of the stripes and too much on others, so, I pulled out the trusty black Sharpie marker and fixed what I could, but Tigger's never going to be purr-fect. In the original painter's defense, it is hard to get around all those projections, even though they bend. I imagine it'd be tricky to do, but it would have been cool if this toy's body spines could have been cast half in orange and half in black--I think that would have looked grrrr-eat! Sorry, I just had to stick that Tony the Tiger joke in there, I'll shut up now.
It may come as a surprise, considering the number of toys that I own, but I'm not a fan of the Disney/Pixar Toy Story film franchise. I don't find the movies terrible, they just don't do much for me. I think if playthings came to life, especially "boys" toys, they'd be a bunch of murderous little monsters like Chucky from Child's Play, not happy-go-lucky fellows like Buzz Lightyear and Woody. Anyway, this is a 4.3" (11 cm) tall bendy Jesse figure from either the second or third film (she wasn't in the first). Jesse doesn't look too shabby in the photos, but her paint has rubbed off in quite a few spots, probably most noticeably on her boot bottoms and the back of her hat. As far as bendy toys go, she gets the job done. The sculpt is good and all her limbs flex okay--the underlying wire armature isn't broken or poking through her rubbery flesh anywhere. If you're a fan of the character, you'd probably get more enjoyment out of this toy than I did, but, as for me, she's probably getting tossed into a bag or box until the day that I need her for either a Toy Story or cowgirl group photo. Of course, in the movies, being forgotten and put into storage are her greatest fears, so, she's probably not going to be too happy with that treatment . . .
I saw the first Despicable Me movie, which I enjoyed, but I have yet to watch the sequel, which is what this 3.5" (9.0 cm) tall Universal Studios 2013 Evil Minion Noisemaker McDonald's toy is based upon. While I don't know the particulars, I guess making sinister purple versions of Grue's little yellow buddies was a logical thing to introduce into the franchise. I love the expression on this fellow, it really captures his complete and utter lack of enthusiasm for whatever it is that he's supposed to be celebrating, and his Don King hairstyle is pretty cool too (the figure's shape also reminds me of a chubby stalk of celery . . . if celery was purple). This guy's action feature is simple, just blow into the tube protruding from his back to extend his noisemaker and emit the expected sound. I'm a germaphobe, so, when it came time to test this toy out, I went to the trouble of inserting a clean drinking straw into his back and blew through that instead--I'm not sticking my lips on something when I don't know where it's been! Apparently whomever owned this before me bit down a little too hard, because the tube's rim has a bit of damage on it. He doesn't have any articulation, so, this Evil Minion is pretty much just a fancy party favor. If you want some of these, you should have no problem finding them. I've seen multiples of the Despicable Me 2 Minion fast food toys (both the good and evil varieties) at virtually every thrift store I frequent--people can't seem to get rid of them fast enough for some reason (okay, I can see how this particular one would drive parents nuts if their child was blowing on it all the time).
As I've mentioned before, I don't really care that much for DC's Man of Steel, yet, I keep buying toys of him, what's up with that? This one is a 4.5" (11.4 cm) tall Mattel 2003 Justice League Unlimited (JLU) Superman, or at least, that's the year that they molded on him. This figure was released numerous times over the course of the JLU toy line's existence, and I doubt that they bothered to retool the date on the back of his thigh each time, so, it's difficult for me to say with any degree of certainty what year it was actually produced. By the way, JLU was a great cartoon; if you like DC's stable of super heroes and villains, I highly recommend it. Befitting the animated source material, the Last Son of Krypton's sculpt and paintwork are minimalist, but there's no mistaking who he's supposed to be. Mine has got little bits of paint rubbed off here and there, but he's in decent condition. Getting Superman to stand is pretty tricky. The body is top heavy to begin with, but when you factor in the weight of the cape on his back, and the small size of his feet (which are slightly warped and don't quite lay flat on the ground), you have a recipe for frustration. Kal-el's articulation is very basic, he's got rotating cut joints at the neck, shoulders, and hips. It's too bad that he can't look up, because flying doesn't really work that well when you're busy staring at the ground instead of where you're going, which might explain why several of Metropolis' skyscrapers have superhero-sized holes in them . . .
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