For comicbook-based toy lines, the real test of greatness isn't the sculpt, or the articulation, or the paint - that stuff's easy to do. No, at the end of the day, there's one major area that fans will remember above all else: how many of the hero's villains did we get? With their release of sometime Spidey foe Man-Wolf, you can hear the faint sounds of ToyBiz scraping the bottom of the bad guy barrel.
Col. John Jameson was already a famous astronaut when the goverment tapped him for a secret mission on the moon, where he discovered a stange, ruby-like gemstone. Facinated by the gem, he stole the rock from quarantine and fashioned it into a pendant, which he was still wearing during the night of the next full moon. The gem transformed Jameson into the mindless, bestial Man-Wolf.
Yes, Man-Wolf: son of Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson. That's how far into Spider-Man's Rogues Gallery we've gotten. Pretty impressive. And despite the fact that this is such a fifth-rate character, ToyBiz didn't cheap out on him at all. The figure is 7" tall, continuing the trend of giving Spidey huge villains to face.
Though he's basically just a superhero version of your typical werewolf, Man-Wolf isn't just a big pile of hair. Yes, he is covered with fur and yes, it's all sculpted very well (even inside the joints), but he's got some clothes on, as well. In an effort to control his transformation, Jameson put on a special suit to block the moon's rays (what?) but, as evidenced by the tattered remains, it didn't work.
The suit is a green and yellow fiasco,
and looks appropriately superheroic, with its offset piping and unexplained pouches and capsules on the belt. There are shadows painted on the suit in a light green, but they're not so overpowering that they look out of place. Man-Wolf's fur should probably be a little bit lighter than it is here, since he was nearly white in the comics; the figure is still a light gray with some shadows on top, but he's a little too dark, especially around the muzzle. He's got his moon rock in his throat, and it's cast in translucent red plastic.
Articulation is nearly standard: toes, ankles, knees, hips, waist, torso, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists and fingers. Yes, he's missing a neck joint due to his action feature. Man-Wolf includes a large backpack of some sort that plugs, unsurprisingly, into his back. Press the well-concealed button on the pack, and Man-Wolf opens his jaws to howl as the Moonstone at his throat flashes red. The howling sound is fairly loud, but it does have a slight echo. It's good that this action feature is in an outside accessory, rather than built into the figure itself: you can easily ignore or remove it if you want.
The top of the head raises as the jaw drops, so in his relaxed state Man-Wolf does seem to be looking down - which makes sense, since he's so much bigger than anyone he'd conceivably be fighting. However, if his hunched pose bothers you, just jam something in behind his lower jaw to hold it open, and it should take care of your problem.
At the end of their first encounter, Spider-Man ripped the gemstone (along with a big furry chunk of meat, I'd wager) out of Man-Wolf's throat, supposedly ending John Jameson's curse forever. However, he's often reverted to his more lupine personality, and once even discovered that, as the Man-Wolf, he was heir to an extra-dimensional deity known to his followers as the Star-God. Yeah. In any case, he's never been a major villain, and he's never had an action figure before; ToyBiz did a really good job for his first time.
What Spider-Villains are you still waiting for? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.