Sam & Twitch
6 Inch Scale
By: McFarlane

In the mid to late 1990’s, action figures started to change. Ninja Turtles which had dominated the last decade or so were coming to an end and more traditional superheroes had began to become popular again. Batman the Animated Series had laid down the ground work for a popular Batman line from Kenner/Hasbro and ToyBiz was just starting to take their X-Men line to new places, giving birth to a variety of animated toylines from Marvel. Along came Todd McFarlane both with his Spawn character to shake up the comic book industry, but also the Spawn toys to revolutionize the toy industry as well.

Straight from the pages of America’s most popular comic book comes detective Sam Burke and Twitch Williams. Since Spawn arrived in New York these two sleuths have tried to track down the man and the origin behind him. An experienced detective Sam can navigate his way around a crime scene, while Twitch, a sharpshooter points out Sam’s occasional oversights. Together they are a force to be reckoned with.

Spawn was taking over in 1996, with comics on top of the world, toys and that rocking HBO cartoon it seemed like nothing could stop them. McFarlane also implemented a lot of “collector” mentality into the toys and for the first time ever, it was common place to see kids and grown men going after the same figures. I was on my way out of action figure collecting, but I still dabbled in many franchises and Spawn was one of the most prominent. The figures were just so bad ass in comparison to so much stuff I had, I collected the better part of a first few series. Then the line expanded quickly and I sat my sights on Sam & Twitch. I wanted those two figures bad.

Whether it was being shortpacked, the relatively different designs or the fact that these figures came TWO to a package (a completely new idea then and still a rare idea today) I could never find them. They had a couple of variants to this duo as well. When Ebay first came around, despite not collecting toys in a few years, this was one of the first things I tried to purchase. $30-$50 was the normal price for these two detectives. For whatever reason, Twitch and Sam commanded a high pricetag for many years. In a lot of ways, McFarlane started the toy scalping phenomena that we have today… In some ways Twitch and Sam are also a bit of a referendum on that practice.

Despite the fact that I never saw these guys on the shelves at my local Toys R Us, I have seen the packaging or similar packages for years. The McFarlane crew did everything slightly different, including this two pack. Packing two figures for the price of one, was practically unheard of, but it made a lot of sense that these two “normal” guys would come together in a line otherwise filled with monsters, aliens, robots and zombies.

It’s a standard card with a bubble, but it’s not very visually appealing. The front does have a great Spawn logo, but the rest of the package is a bit dull. There’s just something about these early McFarlane cards, they seem to use the same color or something… I dunno, they just don’t seem as exciting. Maybe that’s why they were more targeted to collectors. Don’t get me wrong, it’s bright and colorful, but it just doesn’t feel very personalized.

If the front was bad, the back is an abomination. The card incredibly hits all the key points: It shows off the other figures in the series, has a bio card and explains the features and also shows off the figures in other series past. In that respect, it’s great… But it’s just cluttered and ugly.

For what it’s worth though, I used to stare at the backs of these cards and wish I could buy and/or find a bunch of these figures. So it worked in that respect. It’s just not very aesthetically pleasing.

If you notice on the back of the package, it actually shows a variant of these two figures. Or maybe these guys are technically the variant? Either way, there was quite a lot of that going on in the days of Spawn. Including those hideous “gold” variants.

Sam Burke was a big draw to this set as a kid because he’s Harvey Bullock. Okay, maybe he’s not Harvey Bullock, but pretty much, yeah he is. After years of BTAS, kids wanted a Bullock. Plus a fat tough, gruff police detective is a perfect toy for kids. I’m serious, I grew up in the 80’s man! My idols were Chuck Norris before he was an internet meme and Charles Bronson. We loved tough guys. Sam has lots of cool little details like a pen in his pocket.

Twitch was great too. A nervous, pencil thin nerd type with the body of a tax collector and the eagle eye of a marksman. You might not think of him as the first guy to have as backup in a fight, but you wanted Twitch on your side. He was smart, quick to the draw and a loyal dude. Twitch has some neat details too, like the slight hump on his back.

Both of the sculpts are excellent. They are just two normal detectives. No bright colors, no fancy attachments, no robotic battle gear… Just two guys in suits. I can practically count the number of “guys in suits” that came out between 1980 and 2000 on my left hand. It was few. If you collected a line like say, Gargoyles, and they released the human characters who were equally as important… You better believe they were gonna be strapped into some kinda super suit that they never wore.

It was refreshing and practically unheard of to get two dudes in suits and nothing else. The details are here, with nice little wrinkles and folds throughout. Sam has the better sculpting, but Twitch isn’t a slouch either. They both have that McFarlane paint which is just different… I don’t really know how else to explain it. McFarlane figures look like they’ve been painted with paint you bought at the store or something… It’s just different than the other mass market figures out there.

The one area I don’t care for is that Sam is sculpted to be eating his donut. We get it, he’s fat. I think this might have been one concession by McFarlane to make him more kid friendly… Because apparently kids love fat slobs. Or so toy companies keep telling us.

In the early days of McFarlane they really started to up the articulation. In the later days their figures basically became statues. These guys are earlier but their articulation is about the norm for the time period, actually.

Sam has cut arms, a cut neck, cut wrists and swivel waist. To protect his fat legs without ruining the sculpt, they don’t move. Twitch has cut arms, cut legs and a cut neck. No swivel on his waist. Both guys have pretty ample articulation.

Being that this is a two pack for the price of one, you’d think McFarlane would have cheaped out on the accessories. It would make perfect sense if he did too. You couldn’t really blame him for it, yet these guys pack just as many accessories as they likely would have if they’d came single carded.

They come with two walkie-talkies that fit in their hands. They do have sort of oversized mitts and the communication devices fit right in. Sam also comes with donut that’s half eaten…. You know, cause he’s a fat slob.

Twitch comes with a big ridiculous looking gun and Sam’s gun is smaller but also pretty big and ridiculous. That’s the only real drawback to these weapons, they seem unrealistic and slightly out of scale. Also note that Twitch has a hole in his ear for a headset that comes with the variant. That’s kind of cheap, since it’s not included here.

If you look closely on the back of the package on my packaging shot above, you’ll see two pricetags. One reads $29.95, which these guys are not worth. The other reads $22.95 which these guys are also not worth. What am I getting to? Well basically at $8-10 these guys were a great value. Unfortunately in 1996, scalpers, comic shops and resellers picked up every Sam & Twitch they could get their hands on. They promptly marked them up to $30-$50 and sat on them. For over a decade. See, nobody wanted these guys at $30. They wanted them at $10. I got these guys off of Ebay for $6 shipped last year. Sure, it was twelve years later, but it was a sweet victory none the less. You’ll find lots of Sam & Twitch figures coming up for sale (along with lots of other old Spawn figures) for dirt cheap on Ebay. Because it’s scalpers and resellers coming to the realization that 10-15 years later, nobody is going to pay those high prices. It’s amazing.

Score Recap:
Packaging – 6
Sculpting – 9
Articulation – 6
Accessories – Two guns, Two Walkie Talkies, Donut
Value – 9
Overall – 8 out of 10

These figures aren’t perfect, but they are pretty darn good. If you can look at them through 1996 eyes, they are excellent. Especially if you think of them as their original value. They could use some improvement, here or there, but overall they’re nice. If you paid more than $10 for them, you probably feel like you were hosed pretty bad though. I love Sam & Twitch, both because they’re cool plain figures and neat characters, but also because they’re toys that ended up sticking it to scalper scum who bought these guys by the truckload to mark up and then couldn’t get rid of them.

Leave a Reply