Ever since the "Spider-Man Classics" line relaunched as "Spider-Man Classic" (notice the lack of a plural), it has had one major chronic flaw: every line seems to be three Spideys and one villain, and the villain is always shortpacked. The newest series, #10, isn't doing anything to change that, despite having one of the best baddies yet.
When Dr. Curt Conners' funding was cut, he performed one final test on himself. He had been trying to find a way to regenerate lost limbs, but the mutagenic effects of his experimental serum did not end at his missing arm. Instead it caused a complete transformation to a reptilian-humanoid form!
This is technically the Ultimate Lizard, since he's not decked out in a tattered lab coat. Why make Ultimate Lizard instead of the regular version? I guess because ToyBiz thinks they can still recycle that crappy old Lizard sculpt that they've been pulling out of storage since it debuted in 1998.
In the regular comics, the Lizard was a green, scaly human with a big lizard head - sort of a giant gecko. In the Ultimate universe, he's more iguana: mostly tan with a few big fins on him, but not actually much of a humanoid. Still, this version looks better than the MTV cartoon's Godzilla-lite.
The sculpt on Ultimate Lizard is remarkably good - lots of tiny, intricate scales cover him all over, and the flaps of his skin look positively biological. He has a few ragged remains of the clothes he was wearing before his transformation, his claws (on both hands and feet) look vicious and his little lizard-y face is menacing and inhuman.
Lizard's articulation is as complex and all-encompassing as we expect from ToyBiz: he moves at the toes, ankles, shins, knees, upper thighs, hips, waist, shoulders, upper biceps, elbows, forearms, wrists, thumbs, fingers, neck and jaw. One problem area on my figure is at the hips - both left and right were incredibly difficult to move, even after a few hours in the freezer. One is still stuck firm, while the other only moves with great loud snaps. Rather than risk breaking the figure (since it's not like there are plentiful replacements for it), I've had to resign myself to only semi-mobile hips.
The paint job is very good. Not "good for a ToyBiz figure," but just plain good. The colors shift and fade subtly as they move over his body, and a slight wash helps the scales stand out clearly. If all ToyBiz figures were painted this professionally, well, the fanboys would have to find some other flimsy excuse to hate them.
Ultimate Lizard does have an action feature, like most of his Spider-Man linemates. Press a button on his hip and his tail whips around to whallop whatever's in its path. The feature works as it's supposed to, and doesn't get in the way of anything the way that Ultimate Rhino's did, so it's not that bad overall.
To go along with the tail-whipping, Ultimizard's got a break-apart lab table, complete with beakers, vials, test tubes and books. It splits down the center, and all four legs fall away. The pieces are remarkably well balanced - each half of the table can stand securely on its own. The figure is so good that this accessory is really superfluous, but it's nice that they included it anyway.
Ultimate Lizard really is a great figure, and goes to show why the fans picked ToyBiz as their favorite company. Paint, sculpt and articulation are all there. The only real problem, the only continuing problem, is that he's shortpacked and so damn hard to find.
There have been several hints - think the Lizard will be in Spider-Man 3? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.