This is part 1 of a 2-part review. Originally I had planned to review my new Marvel Legends Jack-O-Lantern figure today but since I was hauling out my 90s figure for a comparison shot I decided I might as well review him too.
I know I say lots of characters are favourites of mine but Jack-O-Lantern truly is one of my favourite comic book characters. I started collecting comics at 8 years old. The very first comic I bought was Amazing Spider-Man 281. It featured Spidey and Silver Sable facing off against the Sinister Syndicate; a group comprised of Beetle, Hydro-Man, Boomerang, Rhino, and Speed Demon. You’d think that would be enough to make for an action packed issue but the B-story was even better…
So Flash was awaiting trial while the real Goblin was at large and scheming with the Kingpin. Jack-O-Lantern was a bad guy on the rise trying to establish himself in New York’s underworld. After first appearing in Machine Man’s book in ’81, Jack tangled with Spider-Man a couple of times but he had never been a major player in Spidey’s rogues gallery. In this issue he determined that breaking the Hobgoblin out of prison was a way to make a name for himself and get into the Goblin’s good graces. He liberates Flash not realizing that he’s actually screwing up the real Hobgoblin’s plan. Gobby goes after him and the two villains end up in a glider dog fight over the streets of New York. Jack takes a beating but actually gets the better of Hobgoblin and makes his escape. I was hooked.
I absolutely loved Jack-O-Lantern’s design. He had dark green tights with a lime green chainmail leotard over top, buccaneer boots, a flaming pumpkin on his head and he bounced around on a hovering yellow disc. I know it sounds ridiculous but it looked super cool I swear. Just glance over at the cover to issue 284 when a gang war erupted stemming from Jack-O-Lantern’s criminal ambitions. How can you not love this guy?
Jack-O-Lantern, whose real name was Jason Macendale, cemented his place as one of Spidey’s main villains when he had the Hobgoblin assassinated in issue 289 and then took over his identity. It was a total baller move pulled off by what was considered a low level villain. I hated to see Jack’s flaming pumpkin disappear from the comic pages mere months after discovering him but I loved seeing the character grow into a real threat as the new Hobgoblin.
This figure was released by Toy Biz in 1998 as part of it’s Spider-Man toy line based on the 90s cartoon. Macendale never actually appeared in the show as Jack-O-Lantern so I was surprised, but delighted, that this figure was even made. I’d wanted a Jack-O-Lantern figure desperately as a kid so it was cool to finally be getting one even if it was a couple of years after I graduated high school.
This figure is still pretty cool looking even 18 years after its release. There’s some really nice sculpting in the face and plenty of detail in the chainmail torso yet the figure manages to retain a look inline with the other animation-based toys. The colors are vibrant and the translucent flame on the back of the head effectively captures the comic-book look. It’s fair to say that I was happy with this figure. However it wasn’t without it’s problems…
This figure has really over-sized weirdly sculpted arms and I can’t for the life of me figure out why. They either hang at his side like a couple of salamis or you have to pose him like he’s constantly scratching at his crotch. A swivel joint at the wrists or forearms would have helped this figure dramatically.
Why doesn’t the paint on his boots and gloves match the chainmail bathing suit? They’re supposed to. I appreciate that Toy Biz put a brown paint wash on the torso to show off the sculpted detail but it makes for a dark and weathered chest piece that looks odd with the clean and neon-bright limbs.
Jack came packaged with a big pink bug that spit pumpkins. Lots of Toy Biz figures came with big useless accessories that I immediately tossed into a spare parts bin never to be seen again. If you want to pack big useless missile-launching bugs with characters like Spider-Man, Swarm, and Tarantula in order to appeal to little kids I’m fine with that; those characters wouldn’t need accessories anyway. But don’t give a bug to Jack-O-Lantern if it means robbing him of his trademark pogo ball. Stupid decision.
Lastly, as nice as this face sculpt is, it does not look like Jack-O-Lantern…at least not the original version. Macendale usually had two triangle eyes and a smile with 4-pointy teeth. It was a very simple design which I have replicated on plenty of real pumpkins over the years. This face is too detailed. It’s got too many teeth, too many wrinkles, its eyes are too emotive, and worst of all it has a nose. This is not the Macendale Jack that I love. This is the face of the imposter who ripped off his gimmick many years later and went by the name Mad Jack. I’d be fine with getting a Mad jack figure but not at the expense of an original Jack-O-Lantern figure.
As you can see, I have mixed feelings about this figure but at the time I was sure it was the only Jack-O-Lantern figure I’d ever get so I made peace with its problems and rejoiced that I had it at all. 7 out of 10.