Happy Halloween, friends. To celebrate the season of Samhain, we take a look at one of Spider-Man’s most terrifying (and badass) enemies, Venom. Venom is a fan favorite and marked the edgier times of comics during the 80s and 90’s. His popularity has lead to multiple iterations in games, comics, and a disappointing movie. But there is hope! The long-rumored solo Venom movie is FINALLY in production and if anyone can pull off the strength and intensity of Eddie Brock, it’s Tom Hardy. Marvel Legends has their own Venom figure, but how does the Marvel Select line hold up compared to it? Let’s swing into the spooky review.
Round One – Packaging & Accessories
Packaging – Marvel Select figures’ packaging is impressive but not practical. The packaging is larger than average figures and in doing so they can display more of the actual figure and artwork. In the case of Venom, you get a great view of Venom, both alternate head-sculpts, alternate hands, and Venom is wearing the “madness” backpack. On the side, we get a great picture of Venom with his signature tongue lashing out. On the back, we get a few more shots of the figure, a read up on Venom and two more images of other figures in the Marvel Select line. The biggest downside to this style of packaging is that it’s not collector friendly. Once you open it, you cannot put the packaging back together. So it does become a choice of either opening the figure to pose, take pictures or set up with other figures in your collection OR keep it in packaging and display it as is. For me, this figure was FAR too detailed with too many accessories to not try different poses and stances. 6/10
Accessories – Venom has had many different forms in the comics and even a greater number of storylines. The accessories included with this figure help to capture the many iconic looks and specific comic covers. This is one of the areas where Marvel Select figures do shine. They offer multiple and varied accessories. Included are two more head sculpts aside from the straightforward “grinning face” head. There is a head sculpt with the infamous tongue with slime along his jaw and a head-sculpt with half of Eddie Brock’s face being exposed. Also included are multiple hands which are always greatly appreciated for almost any figure. We get closed fist hands, relaxed hands, and clawed extra large hands. This directly brings us to the “madness backpack.” The Madness storyline was an arc from the 90’s where Venom went crazy for a bit and had multiple personalities. This resulted in his psychosis manifesting in the symbiote through multiple heads. This backpack latches onto the back of the figure securely and features 6 tiny heads, 4 of which are articulated. The backpack also features two additional arms with hands that can be swapped with the main hands of the figure. Finally, the figure also includes two slightly smaller arms which attach to the forearms of the main figure to complete the “madness” look. 9/10
Round Two – Paint, Sculpt, and Articulation
Paint – At first glance, most people assume that Venom’s costume is all black. However, over the years, the symbiote has taken one the classic slightly blue hues given to black costumes and colors (think Clark Kent’s hair is most scenes). This style of art has been brought to life with the paint job on the figure. While it is primarily black, there is a blue wash present throughout. The white of his eyes, spider symbol and the white squares on the back of his hands are clean and stand out against the darker figure. There is very little bleeding on the figure from the white to the black and it shows much more care compared to the paint job of some Marvel Legends figures. The detail of paint across body also extends to the backpack and the tiny heads. Finally, the alternate heads all get the great paint job treatment. Whether it’s the teeth with the dirty wash, the bright green of the slime, the dark red to the tongue, or the perfect skin color tone to Eddie’s face, each one has clean lines which are done very well. 8/10
Sculpt – Another main selling point for the Marvel Select line over Marvel Legends is the detail in their sculpt. The Marvel Legends Venom is a very straight-forward figure with little to no sculpt through the figure. This is definitely not the case in the Marvel Select Venom. There is an insane amount of detail in the sculpt which is puts Marvel Legends to shame. We are given individually sculpted teeth in each head, as opposed to simply being painted on. The muscles all over Venom have veins running through his entire body as if he just came back from the gym. Additionally, there are muscles sculpted, which are often overlooked in other figures. Though, this may be because all of Venom’s muscles are obviously over-exaggerated simply due to being THAT diesel. All sets of hands are also sculpted to include veins and to make sure each is very distinct in terms of the claws associated with each one. The detail in the sculpt covers the spider symbol itself as it is sculpted into the figure, which gives it more depth. Finally, the full body sculpt is in the average 7-inch ration for Marvel Select. This means that it won’t be in scale with most Marvel Legends figures. Ultimately, that is up to the collector. For me, I like Venom towering over Spider-Man, so it works fine with my Marvel Legends Spider-Man figure. 9/10
Articulation – After hitting one of the biggest highlights, we go to the most disappointing aspect of Marvel Select. The articulation on this figure reminds me of having a luxury sports car, but you can’t leave the driveway. Despite amazing accessories, incredibly detailed sculpt, and a very impressive paint job, the articulation is not worthy of such a figure. The head is on a single ball joint, the shoulders are ball and socket joints with a slight swivel, bicep swivel, single jointed elbows, and a swivel at the wrist. There is the suggestion of an ab crunch, but very little freedom of movement. There is a waist swivel, single peg swivel at the hip, upper thigh, lower thigh, single jointed knee, and a single jointed peg at the ankle which allows for back and forth movement. There’s so much articulation which was not included and keeps the figure from being perfect. While this kind of articulation is not usually seen with Marvel Select, it could have been added to get the most of such an amazing figure. Ideally, it would have been better to have double jointed elbows, a wrist swivel with a ball and socket, double jointed knees, better ball and sockets at the hips, and definitely better ankle rockers to get better poses. However, while this is asking a lot of a Marvel Select figure, it does not mean that we as collectors should not request it. 4/10
All figures have their strengths and weaknesses. Marvel Select and Marvel Legends are very different when it comes to their approach. Marvel Legends sacrifices details in the sculpt and paint for great articulation. Marvel Select disregards modern articulation for keeping figures ridiculously comic accurate when it comes to paint and details in the sculpt. In the case of Venom, while we get a paint job that brings you back to the 90’s, details that encourage you to work out and a ton of accessories which are perfect for almost any scenario, it’s difficult to enjoy these options when you can’t get Venom into his many swinging and fighting poses that he’s most known for. It will ultimately come down to what your personal preference is. In my case, I’m a punk and couldn’t decide. I love the clean sculpt and articulation of Marvel Legends Venom but also enjoyed the accessories and details of the Marvel Select. The Marvel Select wins out only slightly because of the many accessories included and because the difference in size scale is acceptable when compared to my Spider-Man figure. No matter which Venom you get, either one is a great addition to your collection. But if you’re looking for the creepier and much more intimidating version, I would highly recommend the Marvel Select version. He’s currently available at most online retailers and eBay.
So, until next time, and there will be a next time, enjoy the hunt!