Whenever a new Spider-Man figure comes out, this is the toy it's measured against.
A comicbook icon worldwide, Spider-Man's message is clear: With great power comes great responsibility. For over 30
years Peter Parker - an ordinary boy transformed into an extraordinary hero from the bite of a radioactive spider - has thrilled fans of all ages. Through all of Spider-Man's exciting adventures and sensational battles with sinister supervillains, young Peter Parker still relates to his many fans as he tries to maintain some semblance of a normal life.
For years, fans referred to this figure coloquially as "McFarlane Spidey," for what should be obvious reasons. Everything about it looks like a McFarlane drawing, from the shape of the eyes to the shape of the toes. But according to Jesse Falcon, it's actually based on the art of J. Scott Campbell. And sure, you could kind of see that - Campbell's art is kind of halfway between Jim Lee and Toddy Mac, so sure, why not? You'll have to decide: is ToyBiz telling the truth when they say it's not based on McFarlane's art, or did they just not want one of their toys associated with the competition? Let's see if examining the figure can reveal anything.
The shape of the eyes is no help - if this was an Erik Larsen Spidey, we'd be able to tell because he always drew the eyes with a round white lens inside a pointed black border, while Todd and J. Scott both made the lenses pointed, as well. While the face isn't quite as angular as JSC drew it, the eyes also don't come down as far onto the cheeks as McF made them.
The figure was sculpted by Dave Cortes,
and in addition to the fine work on the wiry muscles (another feature that could go either way between our two artistic suspects), he's sculpted in all the webs on the costume. Seriously, any Spidey that has dreams of being "the best" needs sculpted webs to even be in contention. No, they wouldn't be sunken elements on a real-world costume, but they make a toy look much better, just like having a raised symbol on his chest, or etched lines around the one on his back. The fact that the webs are sculpted might be part of why this toy gets identified as McFarlane Spidey: the first Spider-Man toy to have sculpted webs was 1997's "Web Net Trap" Spider-Man, which was also based on McFarlane's art (and is where Carnage's stupid accessory came from).
Even more important than sculpted webs is super articulation. If you ever release a Spider-Man toy that doesn't have the
most articulation of any toy in its scale, you've made a horrible decision. This was ToyBiz at the peak of its powers, so we get a swivel head, hinged neck, lateral swivel pecs, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, double-hinged elbows, swivel forearms, hinged wrists, individually hinged fingers, a hinged chest, swivel waist, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, swivel shins, swivel/hinged rocker ankles, and hinged toes. Add all that up, and it's 46 points of articulation on a figure that stands a bit over 6¼" tall. That's how it's done, son! Some of the joints are stiff, but none have broken in the decade plus since he came out, and none of them are floppy in the slightest.
This figure is officially known as Superposeable Spider-Man (with Wall Crawling Action), so naturally he needs to be able to do said wall-crawling. Without any internal action features, that means he's going
to come with a wall. It comes in two pieces, and stands 12" tall (not counting the grey gargoyle on top). Two vertical slots run the entire length of the piece, an a pair of clips poke through from the back. Spidey's wrists fit in the clips, and a bar in the back that joins them allows you to move him up the wall. It works surprisingly well! The slots in the top half are slightly wider than the ones at the bottom, because the bar clearly moves much easier up high than down low. The bricks get several different colors of paint, to keep them from looking boring. The gargoyle at the top fires a web missle (the set incldudes three, in case you lose two), with the button to work it triggered by the bar coming all the way up. This is a nice enough piece, but come on: ToyBiz could have put anything in the package with this figure and it would have sold.
So, is "McFarlane Spidey" really based on the art of J. Scott Campbell? ToyBiz said it was, so we're willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. But there a few stylistic differences from his art that could certainly belong to Todd instead. For our money, if you really want a definitively JSC Spidey, get Series 2's Web-Climbing Spider-Man; but if you want the best Spider-Man toy there is, get this one.