SPIDER-MAN (TOY BIZ)
You know what the absolute best reason to create a new character is? To replace another character you can’t use at the moment. Seriously, that always results in a fully formed, exciting character, who’s just as exciting as the previous character. That’s why everyone’s favorite Red Ranger is Rocky, Heavy Duty is hands down the best heavy gunner G.I. Joe’s ever had, Chachi was the coolest guy on Happy Days, and Coy and Vance Duke were universally loved by all. What’s that? I’m wrong on every single count? Oh, my bad. Apparently, substitute characters aren’t a good thing.
So, speaking of substitute characters, let’s talk about Hydro-Man. Strictly speaking, he didn’t start out as a substitute, though he’s always been rather similar in concept to Sandman. When James Cameron was working on putting together a Spider-Man movie in the ‘90s (yeah, it was a weird time), he wanted to use Sandman as one of the main villains, and an embargo was placed that prevented using Sandman in any media outside of the comics. So, when Spider-Man: The Animated Series wanted to use him, they had to settle for Hydro-Man (the same thing happened when the Fantastic Four cartoon did the Frightful Four, but Hydro-Man had been a part of that team before). This meant that Hydro-Man also got his first shot at an action figure, courtesy of the Spider-Man tie-in line. I’ll be looking at that figure today.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Hydro-Man was released in the “Spider-Wars” series of Toy Biz’s 5-inch Spider-Man line. The figure stands just over 5 inches tall and he has 9 points of articulation. Though he lacks any sort of elbow movement, he makes up for it with a disc-and-pin style joint for his hips. This makes him a bit imbalanced in terms of posability, but I’ve certainly dealt with worse. Hydro-Man is based on his look from Spider-Man: The Animated Series, which was a fairly faithful recreation of Hydro-Man’s look from the comics. The figure does an…interesting job translating his look to three-dimensions. Hydro-Man has always been depicted as being a pretty beefy guy, and this figure tries to convey that. He’s certainly big, but perhaps a bit too big. Well, in some areas, anyway. In other areas (such as the head), he’s too small. Hydro-Man’s been saddled with some pretty serious man-boobs. I think there was an attempt to make him muscular, but they missed the mark and he just ended up lumpy instead. Also, check out the mom jeans. Not exactly the sort of thing that makes for an imposing villain, there. On the positive side, the head sculpt, while a bit weird-looking, certainly has quite a bit of expressiveness. The arms are also pretty good. While I might like a pose other than straight-armed, the water effect is pretty believable and the overall sculpt is pretty cool. Hydro-Man’s paintwork is fairly straightforward, but also pretty solid. The application is nice and clean, and the translucent arms even have a few flecks of white paint to emulate the impurities in the water. Hydro-Man originally included a base to make it look like his lower half was also water, as well as a “water gun” for his left hand to hold. He also came with a small pump, which was used for his right arm’s water shooting feature. The pump could be filled with water and plugged into his back, and when squeezed, the water would shoot out of his right middle finger. It’s a rather gimmicky feature, and the removal of the pump results in a rather large, gaping hole in his back, which is slightly annoying.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
Hydro-Man is the ninth figure of the 15 figures I picked up at this past Balticon. I never had Hydro-Man growing up, but I did have the Sandman that was a repaint of this guy. This figure is super, super goofy, and probably not one of the better figures from Toy Biz’s run. But, you know what? I kinda love this guy. I can’t really say why, but I do.