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Spider-Man & Friends
by yo go re

With all the attantion focused on the transfer of Marvel Legends from ToyBiz to Hasbro, there's something that's getting overlooked. A great line will be going away with no replacement, and with no fanfare. Where are the voices lamenting the loss of Spider-Man & Friends?

Gifted with super-human physical agility, Beast it's tough to catch the Beast sitting in one place for too long! However, when the blue-furred boy isn't busy bouncing a basketball or batting clean-up in baseball, chances are you'll find him exercising his mental agility as well! He spends countless hours with his favorite subjects like chemistry, literature and math but even those topics aren't enough to tame this Beast. After all, he goes through books like he goes through the defense in football - quickly!

I never cease to be amazed by the depth of the SMF line. Here's a series of toys that is specifically and explicity intended for children, for preschoolers, and yet the production is as good or better than most mass-market lines from other companies. Sure, the Li'l Spidey variations might be silly, but ToyBiz has given us plenty of villains and even other heroes, as well. Compare this line to, say, Mattel's old, failed Batman line - the difference is clear.

Beast (as well as his fellow X-Man, Colossus) is part of the final series of SMF figures, and he's great. The sculpt is excellent, with his blue fur fading from thick to thin very nicely. This is the old-style beast, with the Wolverine-knockoff haircut. His big smile reveals a pair of fangs poking up from his lower jaw, and his pointy ears stick out just far enough to be seen. Though he doesn't have a backpack or a ride or anything, he still has the bracket sculpted on his back, in case you want to hook anyone else's accessories on.

little boy blue The paint is excellent, with two shades of blue, a big yellow belt and light gray nails on all ten fingers and toes. Articulation is just a little bit below average for this line: he moves at the shoulders, elbows and neck. He looks like he has wrists, but they're not joints. Most of the figures move at the hips, at least, but not Beast - he's got an action feature.

We normally complain about action features that ruin articulation, but Beast gets a pass because he's got what may be the second-best action feature in this entire line. Pull Beast down to the side, let go, and he flips onto his hands. The very first Beast ToyBiz ever made (back in 1992) had a similar feature. The difference? This time it works.

Rather than just a spring-loaded feature, a flip-flopper anyone can love! Beast's waist/hip thing is ratcheted - the easier for clumsy, awkward children to work it. His torso clicks into place, then slowly rises up until hitting the release point and flipping him 180° in place. The back of the card shows him flipping about a foot horizontally, but that's just for illustrative purposes - the real thing will see him spinning and landing in the same spot. It's really impressive. The left shoulder joint seems to be reinforced, since that's where the figure will land when he flips. He's designed for a handstand, so his fingers are spread out flat and it looks like he's showing off his jazz hands. Jazz hands!

Spider-Man & Friends is, sadly, going away - and the "Galactic Heroes"-style PVCs are just no comparison. Killer sculpt, reliable paint, and a truly fun play feature? How can you not like this little version of Beast? Get 'em before they're gone.

How many SMF figures do you have? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.


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