This bend and flex Spider-Man is a a pretty good illustration of how the Disney family of licenses are treated as Hasbro toys now. Back in the 1980s and 1970s, we would get one - maybe two - of a core character and a lot of sidekicks, villains, and hangers-on. In the 1990s with the advent of the Kenner The Dark Knight Collection, Batman became the star and we saw other lines like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles also shift their focus to new flavors of the main heroes, but generally these were all in a single scale (with a couple of exceptions with the occasional enlarged figure.) In the early 2000s we saw lines like Star Wars find new ways to do scene-specific Spider-Man and Darth Vader to build out the collection. In the 2010s we saw a gradual shift again, with licenses thinning the secondary (and tertiary) characters in favor of just focusing on a few main figures but in every possible scale. Kids love it. Collectors, well, they've got their Spider-Man figures.
The Bend and Flex figures fill that kind of need - another way to get the main Marvel heroes and Avengers out to kids and young fans at a lower price point. The Titan Hero Series 12-inch figures are still popular (and an excellent value), so these Xevoz-meets-Gumby figures are carving off a slice of - or trying to replace - that business. While not widely stocked, the stores that do have these seem to be turning them over so they're moving at least a little bit. But do you need them?
The 6-inch figure is similar in size - but not proportions - when compared to Marvel Legends or the pretty awesome and cheap 6-inch kid figure lines Hasbro has been churning out for the likes of Black Panther and Infinity War. The bendy blue skeleton seems durable but stiff, allowing you to get some decent poses out of a figure that actually still has traditional plastic joints at the neck and the waist. The figure easily splits at the waist too! It reminded me a lot of Xevoz, and when I see the exaggerated proportions of these figures I was thinking just how much I would love to collect Marvel Xevoz.
Clearly, I am avoiding the issue at hand. The figure is sturdy and stable, with big feet and hands outfitted with 5mm-ish-hexagonal holes that work with various Transformers C.O.M.B.A.T. fire blasts and other accessories - and that's neat. The stylized sculpting has a charming, big-eyed head with deep web grooves that look fantastic, but it's still clearly a wire skeleton with 11 plastic body parts clamped over it. It's a neat experiment - it works. If you need to give your kids a couple of figures to slam together and fight with, these may be the best figures for that purpose. These are real toys you can play with and they don't seem as likely to crack or break, but they're also not as impressive as those $10 12-inch figures to my old eyes.
But - and this is key - they seem like they're going to hold up to rough play, to storage in the toy box, and to being flung off the roof. Titan Hero Series are partially hollow and could crack with abuse. The deco of the Bend and Flex Spider-Man is better than those 12-inch figures, and while the sculpted webbing is undecorated everything else looks good. The back of the figure is painted nicely, the head is good, and there's no element where I look at this and say "they could have spent another quarter on paint to make this better." The figure turned out very well, although I will say I wish the torso piece was bigger. The tiny chest and giant underpants region is truly memorable, and this is the kind of thing I kind of wish I had as a kid. I had a couple of the X-Men Bend Ems, and Hasbro's effort is a lot better. And more expensive. But that's what you probably want - the durability of a bendy figure, but with the stability of an action figure. Being able to stand up is a huge plus, and the hands are big enough to grip accessories or other figures. You can really play with this thing, and it's not going to pop apart or flop over like a mega-articulated action figure.
If I was buying a birthday present for a kid, I'd go this route. Those seeking realistic proportions and movie-accurate detailing wouldn't want a bendy figure anyway, and it's not like there's a shortage of Spider-Man toys in other styles. Or Iron Man, or Hulk, or Black Panther, or... I could go on. Kudos for Hasbro's ability to try something new, I hope the figure finds its audience.
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