This is the difference it can make which toy company handles a license.
If I were to be told that Hasbro just announced a Samurai Spider-Man action figure, my gut instinct would be to complain about another useless variant taking a slot in an assortment away from a better figure, and imagine that the concept of “samurai” probably means a Japanese-style headpiece, some kind of inappropriately neon color scheme, and an awkwardly spring-loaded cannon of some sort with a bright red projectile.
Now, if you tell me Bandai, through its collector imprint Tamashii Nations, has created a Samurai Spider-Man, designed by actual Japanese people who’ve studied the historical styles, well…I’d expect precisely what you see here. Possibly the coolest 7-inch Spider-Man action figure of all time (and at a suggested retail price of $91, he had better be). He’s the first in a new samurai superhero line, with Iron Man having been revealed as the next one at New York Comic Con.
He comes in a nicely designed box…
Which opens up to reveal super collector-friendly packaging–as with many collectible figures from Asia, there’s a plastic tray over top of the figure that keeps all the accessories in place, but is easy to take off. The figure itself, unbound by the same restrictions as American action figures, comes right out without any kind of resistance from the tray it’s in, nor anything as fingertip-tormenting as twist ties.
About the only thing here that you might want to remove, unless you’re super-sensitive about keeping the figure in perfect purchasing condition, is the small sheet of plastic underneath his skirt pieces. It comes off easily, as the figure is designed to pop apart at the waist for easy skirt removal if you want to do that, and that baggie-like piece is just there to prevent friction/paint rub. Most folks will toss it, but if you’re planning on reselling someday, its presence will make probably mean the difference between a C-10 and a C-9, or whatever. Seriously, you guys, this is a column about playing with your toys. Take that baggie and throw it out.
Popping the figure apart at the torso also gives you a good look at the joint inside, which is emblematic of Bandai’s often-unique engineering. It’s a ball on a hinge, and allows Spidey to do an ab crunch or toe touch despite his bulky outfit.
For want of a better word, the “web-shooters” on his wrists look at first like part of the arm sculpt, but they’re not. They just fit super-snugly. He comes in package with the non-active ones, but you can pop off his hands and replace them with “web” ones that feature long metal chains with grappling hooks. Yes, the chains are metal, and the hooks are a bit sharp, so be careful.
But they can support his weight if you do it right. (That’s him hanging from a doorknob.)
Tamashii Nations figures aren’t inherently to scale with other popular Marvel lines–but really, who’s to say? This probably isn’t Peter Parker, and he might not even be human, so you can imagine he’s a big guy if you like. If you want Peter Parker scale, he works better alongside other collector lines.
His articulation, however, outstrips them all. With most of his joints clicky and a ball/hinge format, you can get some amazing poses, and balance.
No tricks here – he is indeed standing on one foot.
Now let’s take a moment to admire the little details. Like the tiny spider symbol on his (non-removable) dagger.
Also, the one on his (removable from its sheath, which attaches to his back via ball-joint) sword.
Here’s one of the most innovative things about the design. Spidey’s headdress is made of a flexible material, to allow his head to move. But you might imagine it’d still inhibit some poses, right? Wrong. It features slits in the back that allows the back of the headdress to bunch up into layers if you want to angle his head back or to the side.
This is why you pay the big bucks, folks. So companies can try new ideas in articulation like this, prove they’re workable, and then be imitated on a mass scale years later by the more cautious bigger businesses.
Samurai Spider-Man is certainly not cheap, but he is sturdy. I once got a Japanese figure for Christmas that shall remain nameless, and his leg snapped off right out of the box, unreplaceable. In the case of this figure, you are actually getting the quality and detail you pay for.
(Yes, I do miss the quality and detail level of Toy Biz’s Spider-Man movie figures, that the mass market here can no longer sustain. Why do you ask?)
Somehow I expect to see this guy get turned into a tattoo design at least once.
Luke Y. Thompson is Nerdist’s weekend editor and a toyaholic. Figure him out on Twitter.