- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 31, 2007

Each week the Browser features some pop-culture places on the World Wide Web offering the coolest in free interactive sounds and action.

Spidey’s toy Web

Hasbro offers an early celebration of the return of Spider-Man to movie screens on May 4 with a slick Web site (www.hasbro. com/spiderman) to highlight its toy product line devoted to the comic-book legend.

Although not as dynamic as Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man 3 site (www.sonypictures.com/movies/ spiderman3/site/ — I will review the cyber-stop closer to the film’s release), it does manage to avoid just being a giant marketing gimmick loaded with buy messages.

Developers accomplish this feat through a slim but promised-to-be-growing selection of multimedia possibilities that merge film with toy line.

After a look at the opening screen, which shows action-figure versions of Spider-Man and his black costumed equivalent swinging around and staring at each other’s reflection (just like the current movie posters), a great starting point is the Action Toy Arena.

Within a rotating line of glowing circular pods, visitors can click on a selection of action figures and ancillary products that come to stop-motion, animated life with the click of the mouse.

For example, of the 18 choices, a click on the Hammer Attack Sandman versus Spider-Man Ooze figure set reveals multiarticulated versions of the hero and villain in battle and their toy attributes.

Spider-Man flicks his wrist to shoot web missiles; Sandman twists his torso around to spin his massive fists. The presentation also reveals a tech trick to the item — an included container of sandy molding compound that children can cram into the villain’s chest cavity for Spider-Man to shoot out.

Next, the Arcade section offers a selection of wallpaper images, AOL Buddy Icons and a few challenges starring the Spider-Man action-figure lines definitely worth a look.

Visitors can start with Sandman’s Tower, which requires that a player help the heroic arachnid climb a large, dangerous building to defuse a bomb at the top. He can crawl over icons in his ascent to gain points, shoot webs to grab power-ups and must avoid open windows with classic enemies sticking out.

Any encounter with the likes of Venom, Sandman and the Green Goblin leads to a quick animation of the villain punching the hero in the nose and slowing his progress.

A more complicated choice is the Nightmare of the Web Slinger, a fast-paced, timed shooter that has the player act as Spider-Man and, through a first-person perspective, wield one of Hasbro’s Web Blaster products to knock out bad guys.

As the player swings and free-falls through New York City, he must shoot targets of archvillains such as the Scorpion, Lizard, Venom, Green Goblin, Rhino and Kraven the Hunter while reloading his arsenal.

Additional codes, won from playing a Spider-Man 3 matching game, found at the Cartoon Network site (www.cartoon network.com/ promos/200703_spiderman/index. html), can be typed in to unlock power-ups such as unlimited webbing and a temporary stopping of time.

While on the topic of codes, clues found on some of the toy packages (and on the Web site) can be entered into the Secret of the Symbiote area to put together a six-word phrase and win prizes. The first 100 fans to crack the code get an exclusive “Spider-Man 3” T-Shirt, and all other entrants receive an exclusive screen saver.

Finally, a crawl over to the Videos section presents the toy commercials, trailers for the movie, a Web chat with Spider-Man creator Stan Lee, video clues to a Nickelodeon-sponsored contest (www.nick.com/ ads/hasbro/spiderman_kca07/index.jhtml) and the entries to the Spin Your Own Webisode contest sponsored by Target (https://spiderman3. target.com/site/en/spot/page.jsp? title=spiderman3 #home).

Hasbro’s developers for the ever-growing cross-promotional beast of a Web site promise to update it regularly throughout the year with new games, videos and contests. They want to make it the No. 1 destination for Spider-Man 3 toys for the child and older collector — and, I bet, sell a ton of action figures.

Have a cool site for the online multimedia masses? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at the Browser, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send e-mail to [email protected]). Mr. Szadkowski also writes a Web-exclusive column for The Washington Times Web site, where he reviews educational software and family-friendly video games. Check it out at www.washington times.com/family times/romper room.htm.

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