This one is all about the nostalgia, folks. The moment I laid eyes on this set of figures some part of me was taken back 25 years. Even though I couldn’t remember many details of the cartoon Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, I knew it must have had an impact on my younger self – such was the strong feeling I got when seeing this trio of figures. Whether I ended up collecting the Marvel Universe line or not I would be getting this set.
WHO: Spider-Man, Iceman, Firestar
WHAT: Marvel Universe Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends | Hasbro
WHERE: Toys R Us (exclusive)
WHY: It hit me that I have more recollections of watching this show as a youngster than I do of watching Super Friends. I’m not sure why that is. After all Super Friends in all its incarnations weighed in at roughly 90 full episodes and 100 shorts. By comparison Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends only rang up around 24 episodes. However, starting with season 2 (1982) the show was paired with an Incredible Hulk cartoon which itself had 13 episodes. Still, not a heck’uv a lot, all told. But I guess I’ve always gravitated to the Marvel Universe, even back in the early 80s when I was just barely starting to know the difference.
The intro to this cartoon is pretty memorable. Peter Parker, Bobby Drake, and Angelica Jones hanging out in their apartment with a poster of the Hulk on the wall. Peter pulls the trophy lever on the mantle and all the furniture and walls spin around to reveal a high tech computerized headquarters! Then there is the split screen showing Firestar and Iceman’s transformations. Starting at his feet Bobby encases himself in a big ice cube and then explodes out of it himself converted into ice.
Honestly, the Marvel Universe figures aren’t really my cup of tea. I’ve gotten a handful and some are better than others. These three just seem a bit cheap and flimsy, in my opinion. Hasbro is capable of knocking out some outstanding 3 3/4" scale figures. I fight the urge to compare these to current Star Wars figures or last years Indiana Jones line, which I believe are very well crafted. But that’s not really fair. Hiding 16 odd points of articulation on a 3 3/4" super hero dressed in spandex from head to toe is a challenge. However, I can’t help but think every time I look at Firestar that she is wearing old lady panties.
For Marvel fans the cartoon had a lot going for it. When it says "and his Amazing Friends" its not just talking about Bobby and Angelica. A myriad of Marvel’s greatest characters guest star in the show’s short episode list. Since Iceman and Firestar’s cartoon backstories have them originally as members of the X-Men its no surprise to see that team of mutants on a couple occasions. It should be noted that Firestar is an original to the cartoon. The story goes that the team was supposed to include Spidey, Iceman and the Human Torch. But there were some legal rights issues with Torch and he was replaced with Firestar.
In doing some research for this blog I came upon the Web site spider-friends.com. It is a fantastic resource for fans of the old cartoon. Jon, its creator, was kind enough to let me use some of the screen captures he has collected for his episode guide. One important bit of content on the site is news regarding the disappointing absence of a collected DVD edition for the U.S. audience. Recently, you lucky stiffs in the U.K. got just such a thing. If, like me, you are bummed that there’s no state-side version Jon has put together a thoughtful petition you can sign to show your support. What are you waiting for?