#0015: Dracula Minimates

DRACULA BOXED SET

UNIVERSAL MONSTERS MINIMATES

Happy Halloween everybody!  The Fantastic Four reviews will continue tomorrow, but I thought I’d do something a bit more festive today.  So, I’ll be looking at the Dracula boxed set from Daimond Select Toys’s expansive Minimates line.  This is the first of many, many, many, many, many Minimates reviews, because I have quite a few of these little guys.

For those of you that don’t know Minimates:  What is wrong with you?  Get on that!  In all seriousness, Minimates are a line of two and a half inch block figures produced by Diamond Select Toys.  This set comes from their Universal Monsters line.  Marvel is their flagship license (Waves 50 & 51 were just released last month!), but they’ve also done Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Both Modern and Classic Battlestar Galactica, DC Comics,  Playstation, Street Fighter, Tekken, Marvel vs Capcom, Tomb Rader, Terminator 2, Lost in Space, the Walking Dead, the Expendables,  The Dollars Trillogy, Back to the Future, Knight Rider, Rocky, Platoon, Silence of the Lambs, Clerks, and even Ace of Cakes and Desperately Seeking Susan.  It’s a pretty big line!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The set is based on the 1931 Dracula starring Bela Lugosi.  The set was released in the second wave of Universal Monsters Minimates, along with an accompanying Frankenstein set.

DRACULA

First up is the movie’s title character, Count Dracula himself.  Drac is based on his look from the film.  He’s built on the standard minimate body, which means he stands about 2-2.5 inches tall and has the standard minimate articulation of 14 points.  Most of the detailing on a minimate is conveyed via painted detail, but Drac has a few sculpted pieces as well.  Drac features a sculpted hair-piece and a cape/vest/jacket slip over piece for the torso.  They’re done well, with some nice small details.  As I said above, minimates rely mostly on paint, and Drac is no exception.  His primary paint is the details depicting his face.  They’re nice and sharp, though I’m not sure how much Lugosi I see in the face.  Still, it’s a very nice Dracula face, which is what counts.  Unfortunately, the paint is not as sharp everywhere, especially on Drac’s vest, which has some pretty bad bleed over.  Drac is obviously the draw of the set, and slight paint issues aside, he lives up to that.

DR VAN HELSING

Next is Dracula’s old foe, Dr. Van Helsing!  Van Helsing is also built on the basic minimate body, so he stands the same height and has the same articulation.  Van Helsing features two sculpted pieces:  his hair, and a jacket/vest torso cover.  They do the job suitably, and look pretty good.  His only real paint work is his face detailing.  The face is nice and sharp, and there’s some well-done silver detailing for his glasses.  He’s well-constructed, if a bit boring.

MINA HARKER

Next is the heroine of the piece, Mina Harker.  Like the other two, Mina is built on the basic body.  Mina technically has the same 14 points of articulation, but her leg articulation is rendered virtually non-existent by her sculpted dress piece.  In addition to the dress, Mina also features sculpted hair and a sculpted collar.  The detail work is done well, though she is noticeably more simplistic than the other figures in the set.  Like Van Helsing, Mina is a solid figure, but a bit on the boring side.

RENFIELD

Last up is Dracula’s faithful servant, Renfield!  Like the rest of the set, Ren is built on the same minimate body and has the typical articulation.  Ren only features one sculpted piece, his hair.  It looks appropriate, and represents the character’s look fairly well.  The paint detailing on the figure is really where it shines.  He’s got a great set of suspenders, and his shirt has lots of folds and wrinkles, which give him a lot of dimension.  His face detailing is nice and sharp, and depicts actor Dwight Frye very well, giving him a crazed grin as though he’s about to let out that distinctive cackle.  Renfield is a great example of a figure that could have been quite drab, but was saved by the small details.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I really like this set.  I’m a big fan of the universal monsters movies, and this one covers one of the most memorable.  Mina and Van Helsing are kind of boring, but the set is made worth it by the inclusion of a really solid Dracula and an awesomely handled Renfield!

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#0014: Mole Man

MOLE MAN

FANTASTIC FOUR (TOYBIZ)

I’m looking at a fourth (hey that’s neat!) figure from Toybiz’s 90s Fantastic Four line.  This time it’s a figure of their first foe (Other than those wacky cosmic rays):  Mole Man.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The figure is Mole Man, released in the first wave of Fantastic Four figures.  He’s got 7 points of articulation and he stands about 5 inches tall.  And that’s an issue.  Mole Man is a character typically depicted as being a short, fat guy in the comics, and while Toybiz got the girth right, the scale of this figure is WAY off.  He’s the same height as just about everyone in the line, but he’s obviously meant to be smaller.  Quite frankly, he looks like he belongs with a marvel Legends set up, were it not for the more simplistic styling of the figure.  He’s also got this weird spinning right hand action feature.  When you press the button at the top of his right arm, his hand quickly spins 360 degrees.  I’m not really sure what it’s purpose is, but there you have it.  Somebody thought that was a good hook for the figure.  This figure is fairly disappointing, because the sculpt isn’t bad, but the scale totally kills it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Mole Man, while disappointing, actually represents a pretty neat story.  He was purchased in 2003 from a KB Toys liquidation center.  It was pretty much this giant KB, that was full of deeply discounted toys from about 5-10 years earlier.  Mole Man was purchased along with a large selection of other 90s Marvel figures for an insanely low price, which excited me greatly.

#0013: Black Bolt

BLACK BOLT

FANTASTIC FOUR (TOYBIZ)

Today’s figure is yet another figure from the 90s Fantastic Four toy line.  So far we’ve looked at Mr. Fantastic and his nemesis Dr. Doom, now we’re going to look at another corner of the FF Universe: The Inhumans!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The figure in question is Black Bolt, king of the Inhumans.  Black Bolt was released in the first wave of the Fantastic Four line.  He stands about 5 inches tall, and he has 9 points of articulation.  The figure’s sculpt is pretty decent, though his shoulders are a bit slender for a character like Black Bolt.  The facial expression is okay, but it might be a bit too sly for such a serious character.  Like Dr. Doom, Black Bolt has an action feature, and also like Doom, it’s a bit useless.  When you press the button on his belt, his arms spring up, extending his wings.  While I suppose it makes more sense than Dr. Doom’s, it still mucks up the figure’s articulation for a feature with fairly minor results.  Unlike Dr. Doom, I don’t feel Black Bolt’s action feature ruins the aesthetic of the figure, it just hiders his articulation slightly.  Also, while subsequent figures of this character depict him clad in black with silver highlights, this one went with a dark blue/light blue color scheme.  It actually looks fairly striking, but it is odd that a character named BLACK Bolt doesn’t have any black on him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

By the time I started collecting, Black Bolt was pretty much gone from stores.  But I really wanted one, so my dad tracked one down for me on ebay.  It marks the first time I ever sat eagerly awaiting the end of an ebay auction, which was a thrilling experience!  I’ve gotten other Black Bolts since then, but this one is still my favorite by far.

#0012: Dr. Doom

DR DOOM

FANTASTIC FOUR (TOYBIZ)

Today, we look at another figure from Toybiz’s Fantastic Four line from the 90s.  Yesterday, we looked at Reed Richards, today we look at his arch nemesis Dr. Victor Von Doom

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The patriarch of Latveria was released in the first wave of figures.  He’s based on the character’s look on the cartoon, which was obviously based the comic book look.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 8 points of articulation.  He has a removable cape and a spring loaded right hand.  The hand is launched by pushing the extremely obvious lever on the shoulder.  It’s kind of an odd feature, as I don’t recall Doom ever doing anything that resembled what this figure seems to emulate.  I guess maybe if he were a Doombot, but it just seems like an odd choice for a figure that would have probably been better without it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Dr. Doom was a great figure.  I remember being pretty content with this figure, and as a kid he was one of my go to bad guys for whatever hero I was playing with that week.  I think he still holds up pretty well for the time, aside from the odd action feature.

#0011: Mr Fantastic

MR FANTASTIC

FANTASTIC FOUR (TOYBIZ)

Today’s post is from Toybiz’s Fantastic Four line from the 90s.  The line was released to coincide with the cartoon from the same time.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The figure in question is the leader of the FF, Dr Reed Richards, aka Mr Fantastic (Mr. F!).  He’s from the first wave of the line.  Reed is depicted in his costume from the cartoon, which was based on the John Byrne design.  He stands 5 inches tall, with 5 points of articulation.  He features stretchy arms and a neat Negative Zone harness, for all that negative Zone exploring he’s prone to do.  The harness fits well, and goes on and off pretty easily.  The stretchy arms were an inspired choice, but I feel they may have been the wrong way to go.  As you can see from the photo, the rubber is very prone to yellowing, kind of ruining the figure.  Plus, there’s no way to pose his arms any other way than straight down at his sides.  Overall, a decent depiction of Mr Fantastic, but there’s some room for improvement.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Reed was my second figure of the character, bought to replace my fragile Marvel Super heroes figure.  He’s definitely an improvement in sturdiness and in overall quality, though I’m not sure it’s a spot on Mr Fantastic.

#0010: Keyop

KEYOP

BATTLE OF THE PLANETS

Today, I look at the final figure from Wave 1 of Diamond’s Battle of the Planets line, Keyop.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The figure is the regular release version of Keyop.   As with the other two, there was also an un-helmeted one which I never acquired.  Keyop is about 5 ½ inches tall and has 7 points of articulation.  His articulation is about the same ad Mark’s.  Like Princess, my figure broke fairly easily.  In his case, his arm fell off coming out of the package.  A quick dot of super glue later, he was good to go, but of course, the joint was frozen in place.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like the other two, I bought Keyop after reading Dynamite’s Battle of the Planets comic, and because I found a set of the first wave for about $20.  Like with Princess, the breakage makes it difficult to fully enjoy the figure.

#0009: Princess

PRINCESS

BATTLE OF THE PLANETS

Today, I’m looking at another of Diamond’s Battle of the Planets figures.  This time it’s the token female of the team Princess

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The figure is the regular release version of Princess.   Like Mark, there was also an un-helmeted one which I never acquired.  She stands just under 7 inches and has roughly 7 points of articulation.  Her articulation works better than Mark’s, especially her hips, which use a hinge style of joint, which creates a better state of movement.  However, my figure suffers from an issue that seems to have plagued the line: brittle joints.  My figure’s left hip joint snapped on its own, sitting on the shelf, which is not a pleasant thing.  My opinion of the figure would be higher, were it not for this issue.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like Mark, I got Princess after reading Dynamite’s Battle of the Planets, and because I found a set of the first series for about $20.  Its issues make it difficult to fully enjoy the figure.

#0008: Mark

MARK

BATTLE OF THE PLANETS

So, I’m jumping forward a bit with the next few reviews.  Today, I’ll be looking at Mark from Diamond Select Toys’ Battle of the Planets line, based on the sixties anime of the same name.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The figure is the regular release version of Mark, the leader of G-Force.  This version is the helmeted one.   There was also an un-helmeted one, but I never got that one.  Mark stands about 7 inches tall and has 7 points of articulation.  Two of these points are virtually useless, however, as the v-cults at his hips do no good without any articulation below them.  The helmet is done well, especially the visor, which is really cool.  The sculpt and paint are pretty solid, though I do think that some of the airbushing on the white parts might be too heavy.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I bought this figure mostly because I had just finished the first volume of Dynamite’s Battle of the Planets, and because I found a set of the first series for about $20.  It’s a decent figure, but I don’t have any large lasting attachment to it.

#0007: X-Men Original Members Boxed Set

CYCLOPS, MARVEL GIRL, BEAST, ICEMAN, & ANGEL

X-MEN ORIGINAL MEMBERS BOXED SET

Today we look at another of Toybiz’s First Appearance boxed sets.  This one’s not quite as colorful as the Avengers set, but it’s still pretty fun.  The set is of course based on the founding members of the X-Men in their original uniforms, straight from X-Men #1.

CYCLOPS

THE FIGURE ITSELF

What better place to start than leader-man himself: Scott Summers, aka Cyclops!  He, like all the others in the set is depicted here in his black and yellow uniform from the early issues of X-Men.  He’s got 12 points of articulation.  The sculpt is pretty good, especially the head, which does a good job of capturing a nice determined look.  The facial expression is very Kirby, which is appropriate.  The body is another story.  It’s not terrible mind you, but it could be a little better.  His shoulders are a bit on the broad side, and his waist is too thin.  The torso is also a rather flat in general, which is a bit odd.  The best part of the figure, I think, is the hinged visor.  It showcases the very nice sculpt below, and highlights the light-piped eyes, simulating his optic blasts.  I also love that his right hand is specially molded to allow you to pose him holding his visor.

MARVEL GIRL

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Next up is Scott’s girlfriend,  the marvelous Jean Grey, aka Marvel Girl.  She shown in her early costume, before they tweaked her design to set her apart more from the boys.  And that’s unfortunate, because it makes for a somewhat ugly figure.  Her proportions are really off.  She’s got long arms, huge hands and feet, and what looks like no ears.  Not to mention that her torso looks way to short.  Throw in the odd choice of rooted hair for the pony tail, and you’ve got yourself quite the funky looking figure.  She’s not the most hideous figure that Toybiz ever put out (That honor goes to the Marvel Legends Scarlet Witch.  Euggghh…), but she‘s far from the best.  She looks okay with the team, but not really anywhere else.

BEAST

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Next up is the resident brains AND brawn, Hank McCoy, aka The Beast.  This is a pre-blue and furry beast, which is quite the rarity in the toy world.  It’s a pretty good representation of that too, though the face sculpt focuses a bit too much on the “brawn” side of things in my opinion.  The huge hands and feet are well done, and make him really easy to balance, which is quite nice.  He’s a solid addition to the set.

ICEMAN

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Next is the hot-headed but cool Bobby Drake, aka Iceman.  He’s probably the figure in the set that stands out the most, because he’s the only one not in the standard black and yellow uniform.  They’ve chosen to show him in is snowy form, from before he learned to actually turn into ice.  The figure’s  molded in clear plastic, with very light blue accents painted generously to make him more opaque.  It’s a great effect, and really makes him look nice and icy.  The sculpt is pretty strong.  He suffers from some of the same wonky proportions as Cyclops, but once again the face sculpt is spot on, depicting an nice cocky grin beneath his snowy exterior.  One minor complaint I have is that the ice blasts are permanently affixed to his hands, which does ruin his play factor a bit.

ANGEL

THE FIGURE ITSELF

And, saving the best for last, it’s everybody’s favorite angelic millionaire, Warren Worthington, aka Angel.  Angel is, in my opinion, the best this set has to offer.  He doesn’t suffer from the wonky proportions that seem to plague this set.  He’s got a perfect expression for that “I’ve got so much more money than you” millionaire look.  Plus those wings!  Those awesome articulated wings!  The figure also is somewhat of a rarity in that it depicts a pre-archangel Warren, which is always a nice change.  If I had one complaint, it would be that the figure is a bit difficult to keep standing, mostly due to the wings, but it’s nothing that I can’t deal with.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This is another set I remember being quite excited about, though not as excited as I was for the Avengers set.  I think it was probably because I had most of these characters already from Toybiz’s extensive X-Men line.  I believe that this set was a Christmas gift, though I don’t remember who it was from (probably my parents).

I also have spare set of this one, thanks to my Angel figure going missing not long after I got the set.  Having gone without him for so long probably just makes me appreciate him more now (That sounded weird…).

#0006: Avengers First Appearance Boxed Set

ANT-MAN, WASP, HULK, IRON MAN, THOR, & GIANT-MAN

TOY BIZ AVENGERS FIRST APPEARANCE BOXED SET

Now a days, pretty much every one knows who the avengers are, but back in the mid 90s, they were  kind of obscure outside of the comic collecting community.  So, sets like the one I’m reviewing today were kind of a big deal.  I’ll be taking a different approach to these, and reviewing the whole set all in one shot.

ANT-MAN

THE FIGURE ITSELF

First up is Ant-Man, the first of the two Hank Pym figures included in this set.  He’s a good deal smaller than all of the other figures in the set, but that’s to be expected.  He’s got 7 points of articulation, which is good for the scale.  The most impressive part, I feel is the removable helmet, which is astounding on a figure this size.  And it looks great to boot!

WASP

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Next is Hank’s girlfriend, then wife, then ex-wife, then it got really complicated, Janet Van Dyne, aka The Wasp!  The Wasp is depicted in her original uniform, as is appropriate for an Avengers #1 set.  It’s not my favorite look of hers, but it’s not bad.  The figure shows the look off pretty well.  Wasp is about the same height as Ant-Man and has pretty much the same articulation, though his works better.  It would have been nice to get a regular sized Jan as well, but this one worked fine.

HULK

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Next is the jade giant, the Incredible Hulk.  Hulk is in his shown here wearing his Avenging shorts (I mean, that has to be their purpose, right?  Because we only ever see him wearing them with the Avengers).  Hulk is well sculpted, but the paint leaves a little bit to be desired.  Or more specifically the choice of plastic color.  They went with this sickly looking pale green, which doesn’t befit Dr Banner at all.  He looks like he needs a little sun.  Overall, a fine figure.

IRON MAN

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Onto the armored Avenger, Iron Man.  He’s depicted in his second suit of armor, the same as his original, but gold plated.  To emulate the coloring properly, Toybiz offered two versions of the set.  One came with a Vac Metalized shiny, gold chromey paint job, and the other came with a dull, brozish style of coloring.  My original was the dull version, but when his helmet got stepped on and crushed, I upgraded to the shiny one, found loose at a toy show.  Oh, and that helmet I mentioned?  Yeah, it was removable, which was definitely this figure’s coolest feature! Just look at Tony’s handsome mug!

THOR

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Oh boy.  This Thor.  Man this Thor.  This was not a good Thor.  Though, amazingly, it was the only Thor figure I owned until late into the Marvel Legends line.  But it’s not a very good figure.  The Chrome helmet and chest-circle-thingies (technical term!) are cool, and the basic body’s okay.  But then you look at that face.  Oh, man that face.  It’s bad.  And to top it all off, he has this weird poofy cloth cape, which pretty much never looked right.  I’m fairly certain this figure is the reason why I didn’t like Thor until the movie came out in 2011.

GIANT MAN

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Lastly, we have what I consider to be the best figure in the set:  Giant Man!  He’s the second version of Hank Pym we’re looking at in this set, and he’s actually not quite accurate, what with Hank not being Giant Man until Avengers # 2, but man this is a cool figure, so I’m willing to overlook it.  The coolest thing about this figure, I feel, is the size.  He had some serious scale on his side.  Plus he’s just about a picture perfect representation of Hank in this costume.  The paint is sharp, the sculpt is good.  This figure’s got some serious win on his side!  He once had a set of antenna, but they fell of after a few months of play.  But at least they both fell off, preserving the symmetry.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

These figures are pretty important to me, because they represent a first for me:  waiting for a figure to be released.  In the early days of the internet, I remember seeing the control art for these guys on Raving Toy Maniac.  I was absolutely thrilled.  I printed it out, and made paper figures to hold me over.

I finally saw these figures on an end-of-the-school-year shopping trip with my Nanna.  They were on an end cap and I eagerly picked them up and informed her that I didn’t need to look at anything else.  I was done.  She didn’t really get it.  Who were these characters?  Didn’t I want a Spider-Man, or a Batman instead?  Nope.  I wanted my Avengers and that’s what I got.  And man was it a great day!