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Daredevil (Armored)

Spider-Man Retro Collection
by yo go re

Who would win in a fight: Daredevil or John Cena?

Although he is blind, Matt Murdock possesses superhuman senses and courage as the superhero Daredevil!

Most of the Spider-Man Retro Collection releases at least attempt to act like they're a reference to a vintage ToyBiz figure. Daredevil definitely can't do that, because his only release in the Spider-Man line was in the 1997 "Web Force" series, and that was just his red costume. There was only a single figure released wearing his '90s armor, and that wasn't even in the Spider-Man line at all - it came from 1994's Marvel Superheroes Series 5, which means DD here should have been on one of the gray cards with a blue border at the top, not the purple Spidey pack. Oh well!

In the '90s, giving comic characters armor was all the rage. Daredevil got in on this trend after having his butt handed to him by one of Silver Sable's mercenaries. Why this time and not one of the other several dozen times he's been grievously wounded by an enemy? Good question. The only other thing of note about the storyline is that it brings the formerly non-canon Elektra Lives Again graphic novel into Marvel continuity, thus undoing her death.

The 1994 ToyBiz figure was just a repaint of the Daredevil fom 1990's Series 1, which means that all that armor was just painted on. Surely Hasbro wouldn't try to do the same, would they? Thankfully, no. With the possible exception of the feet, hands, and biceps, every bit of this figure is new. Yes, all that armor is sculpted - more than that, the red panels are reaised elements, not just shapes painted on a black body. We would have been fine with paint, but they went beyond. The silver panels on the legs don't stick out as far as they did in the art, not like the shoulder pads do, but they have the layered look and that's what matters. His mask is the same basic shape as before, but now there's a strap covering his chin, suggesting it's more like a helmet than simple cloth.

One of the smarter changes was moving the storage of Daredevil's billy clubs from a pouch on his leg to rings around his wrists - it keeps them right in reach when he needs them, but allows them to act as further protection even when they're stowed: imagine a Hand ninja swinging a sword at Matt, and he just barely has time to get his arm up, using the stick to block the strike like a tonfa. The 4" figure messed that up, by making the club non-removable; the 6" figure has the clubs and bracelets molded as one, but also includes separate sticks and alternate rings you can swap onto the wrists when it's time for action.

The body may be new, but the articulation is standard: 30 points at the head, neck, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists, chest, waist, hips, thighs, knees, and ankles. The shoulder armor does block the arms slightly, and the thigh swivels cut straight through the armor there - the line is hidden by the shape of the armor, but if you turn the leg, you'll definitely see a blatant break. I know writer DG Chichester always called this suit "biomimetic armor," rather than metal plates, but I still don't think it would twist like that.

In addition to the alternate weapons and the hands to hold them, DD gets a second head - one that's unmasked, to show us Matt Murdock's face. At first, I thought it was just a repaint of Cyclops' '70s head, similar to the way Walgreens Daredevil had a Hawkeye head. But nope, this is a new piece. The haircut is different, the glasses are different, the frown is different... this isn't redheaded Cyclops, this is Matt Murdock. Of course, DD's secret identity at the time was street hustler "Jack Batlin," who didn't wear glasses, but who'd want that on a DD toy?

Daredevil's armored look didn't last very long - when you've been wearing the same costume for 314 issues, it tends to resist changes - but it makes for an unquestionably cool action figure.

-- 11/22/20


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