Review: Marvel Super Hero Squad Arachno Roadster with Spider-Man & the Thing

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People collect Super Hero Squad figures for several different reasons, some like the style, some like the scale. I just like being able to have a bunch of them but also being able to hide them when needed. That’s becoming harder and harder to do but I’m a completist and buy all the figures.

My most recent acquisition, as a birthday present to myself, were waves 1 & 2 of the Super Hero Squad vehicle sets from Hasbro Toy Shop since I had never seen them in stores. After they arrived, I immediately understood why.

When I’m not playing Magic, trying out a new recipe or reading, I pay a lot of attention to marketing. And with that, packaging. I love well designed packaging. It’s the reason I started collecting these figures – the Toys R Us Danger Room 5-pack was so well designed I had to own it. Where the 5-packs, and in turn the Collectors Packs, had excellent packaging design in terms of athestics and usability, these sets lack that. In a big way.

The boxes for all four of the packs are huge, with a lot of wasted space. Any retailer would be hesitant to carry an item at the $17 price point that takes up as much space as a $30 item. But the side isn’t the worst part: it’s the shape.

The boxes are an unven trapezoid. It looks like someone just lopped off a corner. Sure, when two boxes are placed opposite of each other, they make a nice rectangle – that’s two feet long and half a foot deep. But that layout wouldn’t work for stores, for one reason. It means constantly having to reorganize the shelves. No store wants product backwards on their shelves so the only option would be to place them one behind another and loose even more shelf space. What is Hasbro thinking?

But enough ranting about poor package design and wasted space. Let’s review the first set: Arachno Roadster with Spider-Man & the Thing!

Wall-crawling super hero!

Any set that involves a vehicle needs to come with a driver, even if it doesn’t make any sense. That’s what Spider-Man is for! A hero with no need for a vehicle, Spider-Man makes a very ironic choice (he doesn’t have his driver’s license!)

Spider-Man is a repaint of the figure that came with the Lizard in the Spider-Man 3 Movie Line. Spider-Man’s eyes look to be McFarlane influenced, but that’s where any similarities end. He’s bulky and has a huge chest and just feels too superhero-y for Spider-Man. By making the figure bigger, he looks out of scale. Spider-Man is supposed to be on the small side, not Wolverine short but he shouldn’t be able to stand eye to eye with Captain America.

The paint on the figure is a little odd. The glossy blue contrasts with the not-quite-glossy red plastic the figure is cast in. What doesn’t quite work is the webbing that’s been painted on. The movie versions of Spider-Man have raised webbing, so the webbing lines have to match up. This makes the figure look bumpy and awkward.

Articulation is sub-par, even for this line. Spidey only moves at his shoulders but his right arm only looks good in one pose. The left arm doesn’t do too much either. There are far worse Spider-Man figures in this line but only barely.

Rocky strong man!

The other figure in the pack is Benjamin Grimm, the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing of the Fantastic Four! He’s another repaint. The last time we saw this figure was way back in Wave 4 – the one that was all X-Men but for some reason included The Thing versus Moleman.

The figure is what you’d expect from The Thing: bright orange, rocky skin, blue shorts and a belt with the number 4 on it. Nothing too wild, but the Thing never was one for crazy costumes but why does his skin look smooth under the unstable molecule spandex? He’s a good deal wider than most other figures, and slightly taller too giving him some bulk. Huge fists and feet work well without looking comically exaggerated too.

He’s only sporting two points of articulation, the waist and the left arm. Surprisingly, this allows for a decent range of expression. But where this figure really shines is his paint.

The blue of his shorts and eyes is absolutely perfect. The Thing is one of those characters whose eyes are really important, since they’re the only human looking part left on him. But I absolutely love the orange color used on his skin. There’s an every so slight orange wash that really works for the figure and makes the cracks that much more visible. This is a vast improvement over the macaroni & cheese colored one back in wave 3 or the speckled one in wave 11. While I prefer the pants and boots look, this is probably the best Thing figure released to date.

But there is an oddity about this figure in terms of this set: he can’t ride in the car. His over sized feet make it so he physically cannot fit in the Arachno Roadster. He can fit on the side, but as for the car proper, no such luck. This makes it seem even odder because the Thing uses vehicles regularly, sure they’re usually flying bathtubs but he uses them to get around.

Spidey’s crime-fighting cruiser!

The Arachno Roadster has a big problem going for it right from the get-go: it shouldn’t exist. Vehicles often get labeled with Spider-Man’s logo for a simple reason, he’s a really popular character. Unlike Batman though, there’s no reason for Spider-Man to have all these things! He’s poor and has actual superpowers! Plus the one time Spider-Man actually had a vehicle, the Spider Mobile, it was hijacked by the Tinkerer and became evil.

I’m not kidding.

But reviewing a vehicle like this is kind of difficult. It’s got four wheels and is pretty much a toy covertible, colored like Spider-Man. Speaking of Spidey, at least he fits in the car while the Thing has to hold onto the side for his dear life (and that car must have amazing suspension to support that weight).

There’s no action feature really, besides a trunk that opens up. Which would be great if this line had more than two accessories total. As it is, it’s too big for any figure but besides a single Captain America Shield or Iron Man helmet, there isn’t much to do with it.

What’s most interesting is that on the hood of the car there’s an indent that looks like there was supposed to a rocket launcher on it. The packaging shows the actual hole, and it looks just like the ones used in the Mobile Command Center for the spring-loaded rocket launchers.

While I think the design of the packaging is absurd to the point of being self-destructive, I must admit they put a lot of effort into it. The backdrop is designed to be Spider-Man’s horribly not secret all garage. There’s a Mary Jane calendar, Doc Ock looking through the window and his tentacles coming up the garage door. I love the tools on the wall held up by webbing (even though it would dissolve an hour later) and the lab bench with his web shooters. A decent backdrop – if we had a civilian Peter Parker!

I know I’m not the target demographic for this set and I’m sure younger kids will love having a vehicle or two to play with. If you know any young boys between the ages of 3 and 6, you could go a lot worse then this. And when it’s wrapped, they’ll have absolutely no idea what it is. As a collector, I’d say pass unless you feel like you need this version of the Thing (you don’t) or really love Spider-Man themed cars (which you shouldn’t). I’d love to see some comic-accurate vehicles, like the Quinjet, Fantasi-car or Spider-Mobile but just making up random Spider-Man themed vehicles is absurd. We currently have a monster truck and four different convertibles for Spidey. He doesn’t need them!

Super Hero Squad Vehicle Wave 1
Arachno Roadster with Spider-Man & the Thing
Off-Road Avenger with Wolverine & Captain America

Written by jestergoblin

October 22nd, 2009 at 8:24 am

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