Building My Spider-verse Squad (Literally) by Making My Own MU Spider-Gwen!
So last weekend, my kiddo and I were fortunate enough to attend a sneak preview of Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse. I’ll save the long-term review for the podcast that will be out any time now, but long story short (see Andy, I say it too, sometimes!): We loved it. The kiddo said it was the best movie he’s ever seen. As a long-time Spidey fan, I can’t say enough about how well it embraces the spirit and the fun and craziness of the last few decades of Spider-man comics. Immediately upon leaving the theater, the next step was clear: we had to assemble our own toy version of the Spider-verse squad to keep the adventures coming.
Sure, we could just go out and buy the toys that Hasbro’s offering branded specifically for Into the Spider-verse, but that would be too easy. Plus….they’re not that good. They’ve got 7 points of articulation, they don’t bend at the knees, and worse yet: they’re in the 5 inch scale.
I could go for the far more articulated and far pricier 6 inch scale, which honestly isn’t a bad choice; it’s just cost-prohibitive. Most figures start around $20 a toy if you can find them, and that’s not including Sp//er, who is a build-a-figure spread out over a six-toy wave. The other big problem is that I turned my back on 6 inch toys in the big Hasbro switchover of 2008ish. Since then, I’ve been all-in on the 4 inch scale. The majority of my heroes, villains, monsters, aliens, star wars guys, G.I. Joes, and Married with Children toys are all 4 inchers. So the 4 inch scale it is!
To build the main squad, we’ll need a traditional Spider-man. Check. There’s about fifty different options to pick from here. Miles Morales Spider-man has two versions, one with and one without the detailing on his back. Hasbro gets cheap sometimes. Regardless, check! Then, Spider-man Noir. Check. If we want the trench coat, fedora look, we can swipe the coat from an Avengers Assemble Nick Fury and a hat from an Indiana Jones from a few years back. I had to put the hat in a cup of hot water for a minute to stretch out the plastic so it would fit Noir’s dome before I made like The Rolling Stones and painted it black. I also might have to build him a rubic’s cube at some point. Slight spoiler there, sorry. Sp//der, we’ll have to crib from the Spider-verse line where Peni and the robot are affordably packed together. Peni is close enough to the scale (although not articulated) to fudge for now. Plus, the Sp//er robot shoots a spring loaded projectile, and my kiddo is all over that. At $15 instead of $120+ for the six inch guy, this is the route I’m going. Don’t shoot your eyes out, kids.
Spider-Ham is a bit of a challenge. I’m willing to stick with a small rubber version from Hasbro’s Fighter Pods line that came out with the Ultimate Spider-man cartoon a few years back, only because I already have him and I’m not going to shell out $25 on the barely articulated 6 inch version. This guy will be a placeholder until we can get a proper Ham. The six inch scale is too big; the Spider-verse toyline only has a giant electronic talking version–the other good options I’m seeing are either a non-articulated domez blind bagged figure or a funko mini mystery bobblehead. If the Spider-verse line doesn’t come out with a good Ham, I’m sure I’ll cave eventually for one of those two previously mentioned options. For now, it’s mini-ham.
Finally, on the main squad, we have Spider-Gwen, a.k.a. Spider-Woman, a.k.a. Ghost Spider. She goes by many names, but one thing remains the same: that kick-butt costume design by Robbi Rodriguez (@RobbiRodriguez). We’re going to have to make this one, as Hasbro hasn’t seen fit to mass-produce one yet at this scale . Don’t worry, big H; I can show you how it’s easily done!
There have been some slight changes to the costume over time, but I’m going to stick with initial design just because it’s so cool looking!
I’ll be honest, the light blue web designs on the arms and hood are above my skill level. They are slight enough that I felt if we get close enough, we’ll be fine. I’m all about keeping it simple. Primarily because my skill level demands simple, but also because my kiddo isn’t going to be too mad if he’s missing a few subtle nuances. He’s sweet and forgiving that way. He’ll be happy to have a Spider-Gwen.
For the figure construction, I’ve got 3 main ingredients before the painting begins.
1) A Marvel Universe Alpha Flight Aurora body
2) A Marvel Universe Black Spider-man head
3) A hood from a Snow Job G.I. Joe figure with the fur trim cut off
Then, I plotted out the paint scheme and got my colors in order. Because the Aurora figure is primarily black and white, the base figure works really well and is already pretty close to the final costume design. The less of the toy depending on my paint skills, the better. I’m using affordable acrylic paints from the local craft store for my black and whites. The blue and purple colors have a bit of shine to them, but fortunately the wife picked up a set of metallic paint markers a while back, so I just snagged the blue and purple. I sketch out what I want the figure to look like on paper ahead of time, just to keep a loose guide handy once I get into the paint.
Finally, I scrubbed the figure parts with dish detergent and got to work on the nitty gritty. I used scissors and an exacto knife on the hood to carve off the fur trim. I’m still on the fence as to how good this looks, and might revisit the hood portion later on down the line, but this is a fine stop-gap for now. A little too much purple paint on the inside and a coat or two of white on top, and the hood was set. The painting of the figure took longer than I would like, simply because white paint requires multiple layers, and I kept screwing up the finer points of the costume design. I must have painted and re-painted the purple outline on the eyes literally fifteen times. I kept mucking with the eyes when trying to touch up the white part of the mask, or messing up the mask while reapplying the purple.
The body was a bit easier because the black covered up the white quickly and crisply–when I was patient enough to let the white paint dry first. Finally, after painting, I stuffed some poster-putty into the Spidey head so that it will sit securely on the body and still have a range of motion. I popped on the hood, which rested comfortably on the base figure.
When it was all said and done, we ended up with a pretty serviceable Spider-Gwen. The camera reveals more of the paint imperfections than a real life observation, and the figure will have a full-range of motion with minimal paint-wear thanks to the fact the base figure had a similar color scheme for the most part. Now, we’re ready to add Spider-Gwen to the squad and go adventure into the Spider-verse!
This is also where the 4 inch scale comes into play, as the main squad can take the lead of a squad of tons and tons of other 4 inch Spidey figures! I’m going to have so much fun with this! Probably my kid will, too! He was actually really happy with his Spider-Gwen. He took her and immediately ran off to play. He’s a sweet kid. I had to sneak the squad away while he was sleeping to snap the after pictures.
That’ll do it for this week. Feel free to spread your Spider-verse love. If you make your own Spider-Gwens, let me know by posting a pic on the twitterverse @chachacha1 or @gotstratoshpere.
Until next time, I’ll be working on my power to levitate and fly when I smell a delicious pie!