Spider-Man and His Amazingly Craptacular 70s Merchandise
One of the first outlets where I could express my burgeoning geekhood was in my toy collection. While I would inevitably stuff my room to capacity with all things Star Wars, that wasn't my first experience with toys from a major nerd franchise. My first obsession with collectible playthings in the mid- to late-70s was with none other than ol' Web Head himself, Spider-Man.
Looking back, my Spider-Man collection was a modest one. I had some Spider-Man t-shirts, some ViewMaster and Pocket Flix sets, a few comics and even the classic Mego action figure. Then again, most things related to Spider-Man were pretty modest back then. Don’t let the picture above fool you; back in the late 70s, it was hard to come by some top-notch, non-comic-book Spider-Man stuff.
During that time, there was only one Spider-Man cartoon on syndication, there were no video games, and the only live-action adventures could be seen on Electric Company and a short-lived TV series featuring Nicholas Hammond. That was as good as it got. No big-budget big-screen Spider-Man movie in the works (let alone a big-budget big-screen Spider-Man reboot after a trilogy of big-budget big-screen Spider-Man movies), no Spider-Man action figures with 20+ points of articulation and highly-detailed plastic sculpting and paint jobs, and certainly no high-end video games such as the recent Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions.
- Mount a clamp that came with the toy to the side of a table, chair, or whatever else to which you could mount the clamp.
- Pull some fishing line out of Spider-Man's hand and then attach the line's hook to the clamp.
- Flip the switch on the side of Spider-Man's waist to activate the winch, and Spider-Man ascends the fishing line--his "webbing"--until he makes it to the clamp.
This is me back in the 70s, before I learned
the valuable lesson that just because a toy
requires batteries doesn't make it a good toy.
For such an underwhelming toy, Remco didn't stop with Spider-Man. It also released other 12" figures of Superman, Batman, the Hulk and the Green Goblin. Each were equally joint-less, and had the internal winch and the plug jack for other accessories. Superman would "fly", Batman would ascend his Bat-Grappler line, and the Hulk would pull down a wall (I'm not sure what the winch did for the Green Goblin). After the initial 12" energized toy line, Remco released a smaller 9" "powerized" line of mostly the same heroes that did some of the same stuff but this time without requiring batteries. Also, the Green Goblin was dropped from the second line and was replaced by Captain America. What did Cap do? In addition to a grappling hook, his iconic shield would spin. Wheee!