In spite of appearing first, Spider-Man Classics is often overshadowed by Marvel Legends. It’s not hard to see why. Legends was a line that spanned the entirety of Marvel history, while Classics was a single-character driven line forced to include two or more versions of the titular character in every wave. That said, SMC provided collectors with an impressive selection of villains to choose from.
“Mad Jack” appeared in wave 18 of Spider-Man Classics. I know, I though he was Jack O’Lantern too, until I did a little research. Like many promising Spider-Man villains, Mad Jack started off strong but was ruined by a goofy and convoluted back-story. It’s enough to say (s)he’s a C-list Spidey villain with a neat gimmick and leave it at that. The figure has a dual action feature: the arms “hurl” oversized pumpkins and the head contains a small light to simulate fire. The light is triggered by raising the arms or pressing a button on the figure’s back.
Mad Jack was sculpted by Sam Greenwell. Stylistically, the design is a bit of a mish-mash, being an “upgrade” of the previously-existing Jack O’Lantern suit. Greenwell makes the contrasting design elements work nicely together; the body armor is given a pitted and dented texture to represent wear, while the fabric leggings feature some subtle bunching and folds. The armored areas are visually unified by raised piping, with Jack’s “chain-mail” arms providing a charmingly anachronistic contrast to the suit’s high-tech edge.
Above is the promotional image of Mad Jack. Between the time it was taken and the time the figure was produced, the torso hinge was removed. Even worse, the head ended up looking like this:
It’s not bad on it’s own merits, but next to the above image, it’s weaknesses become clear. For a start, instead of the graduated “flame” colors of the prototype, the production figure was cast almost entirely in orange, with only the outermost edges showing any variation. The rubber used in manufacturing the head lacks the transparency of the original, which hinders the light-up feature; furthermore, it simply cannot hold paint. If you own this figure, use caution when turning the head, as the raised collar can easily result in paint loss.
Little details like Jack’s “personalized” knee pads deserve notice, the bad mold lines notwithstanding. The figure features an impressive amount of unique tooling for such an obscure character arriving at the tail-end of a line. I’d be smiling too.
Unfortunately, Jack’s paint is pretty sloppy. ToyBiz was nearing the end of its run here and may have just decided to phone it in on this guy. The sculpt really cries out for a top-notch paint job, but that never happens. Large sections of the figure are simply colored plastic, making it look slightly dull. There’s a bit of airbrushing to help create depth, but the plastic is already so dark it doesn’t really work.
The scale patterns on the arms and groin received some drybrushing, but it’s hasty and heavy-handed, negating the intended effect. The belt gets a black wash, which gives the pouches a realistic quality; even the odd little buckle receives a metallic-orange paint app.
Jack has 32 points of articulation: a swivel neck, ball-jointed shoulders, rotation at the bicep, double-hinged elbows, swivel wrists, and hinged fingers on his left hand. There’s a swivel waist and calves, ball-jointed legs, double knees, swivel at the boot tops, pin-and-rocker ankles, and hinged toes.
As noted above, Mad Jack lacks an ab-crunch. This is understandable considering the internal electronics, but it’s absence was felt while posing the figure for pictures. Jack’s waist swivels beneath the belt, leaving the torso fairly static. The movement of the arms is limited by the shoulder pads, and the hard plastic of the belt-pouches can restrict some deeper stances. The head can only rotate, which is disappointing; characters that “fly” need some tilt in the neck for expression’s sake.
The figure comes equipped with his flying platform. It’s as kooky-looking as he is, with what appear to be Jack Skellington base-reliefs on the front and a large grimacing “pumpkin” face on the underside. Say what you will about Jack, he understands the importance of branding.
Jack came with two oversized pumpkin accessories that were tossed straight into the trashcan. Here’s a pic of the figure in package to give you and ideal of scale and why I threw them out.
“Try me for light up!”
Mad Jack was one of the last villains released in Spider-Man Classics, his inclusion fulfilling the promise the line had made to collectors long ago: if we could tolerate the dozens of nearly-identical web-slingers the market demanded, we could have a chance to own uniquely-tooled versions of some of Spidey’s most memorable foes. Then or now, that’s one hell of a deal.
Jason R Mink/TMitAH