#0436: I Am Elemental

BRAVERY, ENERGY, HONESTY, INDUSTRY, ENTHUSIASM, PERSISTENCE, & FEAR

I AM ELEMENTAL

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Advance warning, guys and gals: today’s review is something of a lengthy one. Buckle up.

It’s not often I get the chance to reflect on how this site has affected my toy buying habits, but it’s done its fair share. One of the things the site has done is cause me to be a bit more diverse and adventurous with my buying, just for the sake of keeping things interesting. It’s also led to me to take an interest in new venues for figure-making. One of the biggest new venues is Kickstarter, which has been freaking swarmed with new action figure pitches as of late. The one that pulled me in was I Am Elemental. The pitch for I Am Elemental is fairly simple: action figures for girls. Female action figures and female action figure buyers are both overlooked far too often when it comes to toymakers. Female figures usually end up being totally absent or badly shortpacked. What’s more, the proportions are always way off, and they are often not up to the quality of their male counterparts. I Am Elemental aimed to fix that, offering a line of all female figures, the primary audience of which is girls. I may not be in that particular audience, but I love good action figures, no matter who they’re aimed at, and I’m a huge fan of bringing in new action figure fans!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

IAE2These figures make up the first series of the I Am Elemental, which is all based around the emotions that add up to Courage. There were a few different options for getting the figures; the one I went for includes a full set of the 7 regular figures, as well as the Kickstarter Exclusive Courage Red Honesty. The figures all came blind bagged (though I was guaranteed a complete set) and they included an activity book, a bracelet to link all of the figures’ shields, and a metal lunchbox that’s meant to be used as a carrying case.

BRAVERY

IAE5“Bravery does not shrink from challenge or difficulty. She has the ability to create a protective force-field around herself and others.”  One of the noted inspirations for these figures is Joan of Arc. I think Bravery is the figure with the most Joan of Arc-like elements of the set. She’s 3 ¾ inches tall and she has 15 points of articulation. Waist, wrist, and ankle joints are the most noticeably absent joints on these figures, but I can understand why they aren’t there. Bravery shares her torso, upper arms, and upper legs with all of the figures in this set, her lower legs with Honesty, and her lower arms with Persistence. The basic pieces are all nicely done. One of the selling points of these figures was more realistic proportions, and they definitely succeeded there. There is still a bit of stylization to them, but it’s much more subtly handled. There are a few details on the body, showing etched lines in the armor and such, but overall the sculpt shows a more simplistic style. Bravery’s unique parts are her head and her shoulder armor piece, which slides down over her neck joint. Her head has braided hair, which is very distinctive and is very well detailed. The armor is nice and sharply sculpted, and it does a lot to differentiate her from the others. Bravery’s paint work isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty good. There’s a little bit of bleed over on the edges of the gloves, but everything else is pretty much where it should be. Bravery’s color scheme is pink. I’m not the biggest fan of pink, but it’s used pretty well here, and it’s not an obnoxious shade or anything. Bravery includes a shield with her elemental symbol on it, two character cards, and a small carrying bag with a draw string.

ENERGY

IAE6“Energy approaches life with excitement and does not do things half way. She has the ability to control electrical impulses.” Energy is decidedly more modern looking than Bravery. She has the same height and articulation. She also shares the same basic pieces with all of the figures, plus she shares her lower arms with Honesty and Fear and her lower legs are shared with Industry. The lower legs have some big stompy boots (technical term, that) and the arms sport some pointy wrist guards. They’re nicely done, and match up with the rest of the body well. Sadly, my Energy ended up with two left legs, which means she has a little trouble standing and looks a little odd from certain angles. Also a terrible dancer. That said, it’s not so bad that it ruins the figure. Just a bit of an annoyance. Energy has a unique head sculpt, with a really cool asymmetrical haircut, as well as an “energy” add-on piece which sits on her shoulders. Both of these are very nice. I particularly like the cool shapes of the energy. The figure’s paint is better than Bravery. Her color scheme is primarily orange, though she does have purple hair for variety’s sake. Everything is pretty clean, and the orange definitely stands out. She includes the same accessories as Bravery.

HONESTY

IAE7“Honesty tells the truth. She has the ability to make others tell the truth.” With Bravery taking a more classic look and Energy taking a more modern one, Honesty finds herself somewhere in between. She’s very definitely got an angelic theme to her, with the wings and the power described on her card. She has the same height and articulation as the others. Her body uses the common pieces shared by all the figures, plus the parts that she shares with Bravery and Energy. She also features a unique head and a set of clip-on wings. The head is nice, though probably one of the more “basic” heads in this assortment. The wings are really cool. Like the rest of the figure, they have an air of simplicity about them, which really works. They also help to make her one of the most distinctive figures in the set. Honesty has some of the best paint work in the set as well. Her primary color is turquoise, which contrasts really well with her red skin tone. All of the lines are clean, and there isn’t any slop, which is good. Honesty includes the same accessory selection as the others in the set.

INDUSTRY

IAE8“Industry works hard at all she does. She has the ability to control physical objects and repair anything that is broken.” Industry seems to be the quirky tech person of the set, which is something I can somewhat relate to. She’s the same height and has the same articulation as all the others. The figure is constructed from the base torso, arms, and legs, as well as the lower legs seen on Energy, and a set of lower arms which she shares with Enthusiasm. The lower arms feature fingerless gloves, which are totally the perfect accessory for any self-respecting tech genius. Industry has a unique head which features short hair and a headband, which fits with the practical nature of someone named Industry. Also befitting her practical nature is her backpack piece, which clips over her shoulders, and also gives her some pretty rad shoulder pads (Rob Liefeld would be proud!). The paint is nice and clean on Industry, with minimal slop and bleed over. Her primary color scheme is a pink that is deeper than the one on Bravery. She’s also got an orange skin tone, which makes her stand out a bit from the others. Industry includes the shield, character cards, and small carrying bag that are included with all of other figures.

ENTHUSIASM

IAE9“Enthusiasm cultivates and shares a positive mindset. She has the ability to change the negative emotions of others.” Enthusiasm seems to follow in the footsteps of Energy and Industry, sporting a design that is more modern feeling. If I’m honest, she almost feels like a modern upgrade to Bravery, with a similar color scheme, and shoulder armor (but with a newer twist). She uses the same torso, arms and legs as the rest of the figures, with the same lower arms used on Industry. They worked well with Industry’s personality, and they work well here, too. Enthusiasm also features a set of lower legs that she shares with both Persistence and Fear, which feature a set of shin guards (logical addition for someone who doesn’t have time for the negative). For unique pieces, she has her own head sculpt with long hair pulled back into a pony tail with her bangs in her face (also in line with the “no time for the negatives” thing), and a breastplate, which clips down over her shoulders. The head has the most personality of all those in the set; it stands out, in a good way. The ponytail is a separate piece, so it might be nice if it were articulated. Also, the head seems to sit just a touch too high on the neck, but those are minor issues that don’t hold the figure back. Enthusiasm’s color scheme is a mix of light purple and pink, which I actually like a lot more than I thought I would. The paint work is pretty good overall, but there is a little bit of bleed over on the armor’s change from purple to silver. It’s not terrible, but it’s pretty easy to spot if you know it’s there. Enthusiasm sports the same accessories load out as the rest of the set.

PERSISTENCE

IAE10“Persistence finishes what she starts and persists in spite of the obstacles. She has the ability to push through any obstacle with super strength.” I Am Elemental has a super hero theme running all throughout it, but Persistence is the one figure to wholeheartedly embrace the idea. There is no denying that she’s a super hero. She’s got the domino mask, the primary colors, the power set, and, above all, the cape. And when you think about it, Persistence is the perfect emotion for super hero-ing. Persistence is constructed with the basic parts used for all of the figures, along with the lower arms seen on Bravery, and the lower legs from Enthusiasm. She has a unique head, which has medium length hair (great for heroics), and the aforementioned cape. The cape has a slight windblown effect to it, which gives the figure a nice dynamic look that I really like. Persistence’s color scheme is predominantly a light blue, befitting her super hero look. All of the paint is applied nicely and cleanly, and the color is nice and bold. Persistence includes the same selection of accessories featured with the rest of the figures.

FEAR

IAE11“Fear spreads the impulse to pull away and hide. She has the ability to stop a moving object in its tracks.” Fear is probably the most unique of the figures in the set. She represents the only “negative” emotion in the bunch, and she has a much darker overall color scheme. However, the character’s description on her card indicates that she’s meant to be more of a “dark hero,” which is a pretty cool. Fear is important to Courage, so it makes sense. The figure makes use of the base body, with the lower arms seen on Energy and Honesty, and the lower legs from Enthusiasm and Persistence. She has a unique head sculpt, notable in that it’s the only one to have a helmet. The helmet has a neat serpentine style to it, which makes sense with the fear motif. She also has an armor piece, which sits on her shoulders. The piece is pointy and looks just right for Fear. Fear’s color scheme is much darker than the others. Her primary color is a very dark purple, and even the silver of the body is a much darker shade. The paint work is nice and cleanly done, with no issues with slop or bleed over. Fear has the same accessories as all the others, plus an additional fear spirit thingy, which continues the serpentine theme of the helmet.

COURAGE RED HONESTY

IAE12As an extra incentive to the Kickstarter supporters, the makers of I Am Elemental threw in an extra figure, done in “Courage Red,” signifying the overall theme of Series 1. They allowed fans to vote on which of the seven figures would receive the Courage treatment, and the vote went to Honesty. Structurally, the figure is identical to the regular Honesty. The difference between the two is that, instead of the silver body suit of the regular figure, this one has a red one. The red is a deep red, and it’s done in a nice metallic sheen. It’s a subtle change from the regular version, but it’s a nice one. I actually don’t know which one I prefer.

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THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I Am Elemental is my first venture into the world of Kickstarter, and they’ve done a tremendous job of getting me hooked. When I came across the idea, I was immediately drawn to it. I’m definitely a supporter of the idea behind the figures, for a plethora of reasons. And above all, I’m a sucker for cool action figures. In all honesty, these are some of the coolest figures I’ve seen in quite some time. Every single figure practically radiates with evidence of the care and enjoyment put into them. They call back to a time when toys really were designed with kids in mind, and I think they are a huge step towards making action figures a viable thing again. And they’re just so much fun!

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#0435: Data

DATA

STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION (PLAYMATES)

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Following its presence at Mego in the late 70s, the Star Trek license struggled to find a home. Most of the movies didn’t get a dedicated toyline (aside from a very strange offering of figures by Ertl, based on Star Trek III). Galoob held the license for two short series based on Next Generation, but a third never materialized. Then, with the release of Generations, Playmates, best known for their definitive work with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, picked up the license, and provided the largest selection of Trek characters that is ever likely to be offered. After having decent success with Generations, they moved on to figures based on the entirety of Next Generation.  Today, I’ll be looking at their second take on Data.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

DataS1bData was released in the first series of Star Trek: The Next Generation figures. Following the one offered in the Generations line, this is the second figure of the character that Playmates offered. Data is based on his appearance in the middle seasons of the show, after the uniform had evolved a bit. The figure is just shy of 5 inches tall and he features 14 points of articulation.  As far as I can tell, Data’s sculpt is unique to him. It’s possible that he may share one or two parts with some of the other crew members, but I don’t have any to compare. For the time, it’s a pretty good sculpt. It’s simple, but not in a bad way. The Brent Spiner likeness is good. The proportions are a bit off, though; he’s definitely got a case of the monkey arms. The sculpt of his right arm is also disrupted by the addition of the flip up panel to reveal his inner workings, but that’s a cool enough feature that it’s worth it. The figure also featured a bulky phaser holster on his leg, but that could easily be removed, leaving a mostly unnoticeable peg-hole on his leg. Data’s paint is pretty decent, and it’s certainly good by early 90s standards. Everything is clean and well applied. A slightly less shiny finish would have been nice, but that’s another “true to the time” thing. Most of my Data’s accessories have been lost, but I’m pretty sure he had a phaser, a tri-corder, and a stand. The phaser is rather laughable because it had a molded beam that wasn’t removable, meaning the holster was pretty much useless, and he was left with this lightsaber looking thing. To make matters worse, he can’t even hold it properly!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This figure was the third version of Data I ever got. It was a figure I had wanted for a while, mostly because I really liked that flip up panel on his arm (I’m easy to please). I ended up getting him from one of the toy dealers at Shoreleave, for $5, I believe. This figure actually got me into a little bit of trouble, because I went down to the Dealer’s Room without my parents’ permission (I was like 7, and they were very much in the right on being mad. Shoreleave’s Dealer’s Room is no place for a lone 7 year old). Some kid’s sneak out to go to parties, I snuck out to buy action figures. There was no way I was escaping this lifestyle…

#0434: Garrus

GARRUS

MASS EFFECT MINIMATES

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Part two of my short venture into the world of video games is today. Ha ha! Okay, so today, I’m looking at another Mass Effect character, Garrus. While I have a pretty decent understanding of Tali, I actually don’t know a whole lot about Garrus. I have been informed by both Tim and Super Awesome Girlfriend that he’s a pretty legit character, so I’m gonna trust them on that. Let’s see how the ‘mate turned out!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

GarrusJ2Garrus is part of the first series of Mass Effect Minimates, which are blind bagged and exclusive to GameStop. Those are not two of my favorite things, but I’m willing to do a lot for Minimates, my best friend and my girlfriend. The figures is roughly 2 ½ inches in height and he features 12 points of articulation. According to Tim and SAGF, Garrus is based on his appearance in the second and third Mass Effect games, which is apparently denoted by his scar. So there. It’s a pretty good design, and, like Tali, it translates nicely to the Minimate form. He makes use of the standard Minimate body, with non-standard pieces for his head and lower legs, as well as an add-on piece for his torso armor. All of the parts are new to Garrus. They’re well sculpted and look like they’re pretty accurate to the source material. The torso armor is just a tad soft on the details, but nothing too terrible. The head also has an extra little piece glued on for his eye-thingy, which is pretty neat, although it doesn’t quite make it to his eye. Garrus’s paint is somewhat mixed. The detail lines are nice and clean, and the paint for his face is downright fantastic. However, the base paint, especially on his torso armor, is really sloppy and frequently misses its mark, which is rather unfortunate. Garrus includes a sniper rifle (which appears to be a new piece) and a clear display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Hey, so remember how I bought ten Mass Effect Minimates and six of them ended up being Tali? Yeah, the next three ended up being ol’ Garrus here. So, that means I got a Garrus to keep for myself. Despite my lack of knowledge about the character, I must admit that Garrus sports a really cool design and he translated very nicely to the Minimate style. The paint could stand to be better, but I think Garrus makes for a really great addition to my Minimate legion. I hadn’t really intended to get my own Mass Effect Minimates, but if I was going to get two, I think Garrus and Tali are those two, so I’m actually pretty happy with how things ended up.

#0433: Tali

TALI

MASS EFFECT MINIMATES

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Okay, so I don’t generally get into the video game stuff much on this site. Sure, I play the occasional game here and there (though mostly just the LEGO stuff), but when it comes to video game action figures, I usually leave it to Tim and Christian to provide coverage. However, there’s one exception to that rule: Minimates. I will buy practically anything if it’s a Minimate. Heck, I watched the Kill Bill movies as an excuse to buy the Minimates. Recently, DST has picked up the license to do Minimates based on the Mass Effect series of games. I’ve never played the games, but I’ve watched other people play them, and I have to admit they have some pretty cool designs. I’ve gotten two of them so far. Let’s kick things off with Tali, one of the few characters I actually know a little bit about.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

TaliT2Tali was released in the first series of Mass Effect Minimates. They are blind bagged and exclusive to GameStop. If I didn’t have an irrational love of Minimates (and a few other driving forces I’ll get to later), I probably would have gone through the ordeal of getting them.  The figure is about 2 ½ inches tall and she sports 12 points of articulation. I’m not an expert on the changes to the characters from game to game, so I don’t know which of the three Tali was based on. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say she’s based on the third one. Tali makes use of the standard Minimate body, with a non-standard set of lower legs, plus add-ons for the belt/skirt, mask/hood, and wrist-energy-thingy (it’s a technical term). All of the pieces are brand new to Tali and they do a great job of translating her look to the Minimate form. They also exhibit some very nice detail work and just mesh very well with the base body in general. Tali’s paint, while not exceptional, is pretty decent. She has a little bit of slop with some of the base paint. However, the colors seem well suited to the character and the detail lines are not only plentiful, but also clean and sharp. Perhaps one of the coolest touches is the eyes that have been placed on the otherwise undetailed clear purple head. The visor of her mask is cast in the same purple plastic, which allows just the faintest hint of her eyes to show through. It’s a really cool effect. Tali includes a small blaster pistol-thingy and a clear display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, story time. Both my best friend Tim and my Super Awesome Girlfriend Jessica are pretty big fans of Mass Effect. So, when this line was announced, I knew I’d need to track down a few figures for both of them. GameStop is not a store I typically like to venture into, so I resorted to ordering as many blind bagged figures as I could online. That ended up being ten. There are eight figures in the set, so I figured I’d piece together one set for Jess and give the rest to Tim. When they arrived, I was hopeful that there would be two Talis in the bunch, since Tali is Tim’s favorite character, and I wanted to make sure he and Jess both got one. I opened the first bag and it was Tali. Good start. The second was also Tali. Great, now they both get one. Then the third was Tali. Well, I like Tali enough, so I don’t mind having one. Then, the fourth, fifth, and sixth bags were also Tali. Six of the ten I’d ordered were same character. What are the odds? Ah well, Tali’s a pretty good figure. I actually quite like the design and I think it translates well to Minimates. Plus, who doesn’t want an army of Talis?

Talis!

#0432: Time Traveler

TIME TRAVELER

MICRONAUTS (MEGO)

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It might seem odd that I, someone born 15 years after the line’s release, would be such a big fan of Micronauts. Like with so many things, I blame my dad. I used to stay at my grandparents’ house a lot when I was younger, and he pulled out some of his old toys for me to play with while I was there. My interest in superheroes, Star Wars, and Star Trek can pretty much be directly tied to that. However, there was one figure in particular that intrigued me. Only his top remained, but he was translucent yellow and he had this really cool chrome head. He was a Time Traveler, generally considered the signature figure of the Micronauts line. And thus, a monster was born.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

TimeTravelerBlue2The Time Traveler actually saw two separate releases in Mego’s Micronauts line. This is one of the ones released in the first series of figures. It’s easy to distinguish: the original releases were all translucent, while the later ones were opaque. The Time Traveler was initially released in four colors: Clear, Yellow, Orange, and Blue. This one is the blue one. The Time Traveler is roughly 3 ¾ inches in height and he features 18 points of articulation. Unlike his space-faring friend, the Time Traveler is all plastic. The Time Traveler was based on Microman’s Microman M10X, although he has shoes in place of the M10X’s bare feet. That’s just how we roll in America, I guess. Like the Space Glider, the sculpt shows its age, but it definitely has a certain charm about it. The Time Traveler is definitely the more simplistic of the two, but his sculpt is still pretty fun. His chrome chest plate is a removable piece, and there were four possible variations of it. This figure has what is commonly called the “radio dial” plate, due to its resemblance of an old-time radio. It’s not my favorite of the possible options, but it’s still pretty good. Plus, chrome, so…you know. The Time Traveler actually features no paint work. His head and chest plate are vac-metalized, and the rest of his parts are molded in the appropriate colors. The figure originally included an L-port which could hook into his back to allow him to be attached to vehicles, but mine doesn’t have this piece.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like the Space Glider, the Time Traveler was purchased from the Antique Depot during Ellicott City’s annual Midnight Madness event. The Space Glider’s my favorite, but the Time Traveler is old faithful when it comes to Micronauts. The figure has a definite style about him and he’s instantly distinctive.

#0431: Space Glider

SPACE GLIDER

MICRONAUTS (MEGO)

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So, yes, it’s the day after Christmas, and yes, I have tons of new toys to review.  However, I am away from my usual photo shooting set-up, so the Christmas stuff won’t actually be reviewed until the 31st.  Bear with me.  In the mean time, here’s our regularly scheduled programming!

One line that I am surprised I haven’t talked about more on this site is Micronauts. Before I was firmly on the Minimates train, there were few lines that filled me with as much joy as Micronauts. For those of you that don’t know, Micronauts began its life as a Japanese toyline called Henshin Cyborg, which were actually the Japanese equivalent of the original GI Joes. Toymaker Takara decided to make a line of smaller scale figures, called Microman. In 1976, US toymaker Mego decided to import the line under the title Micronauts. The figures are some of the earliest 3 ¾ inch figures, and they ended up having quite a few lasting contributions to toys in general, even if the Micronauts themselves may not be as widely remembered. Today, I’ll be taking a look at one of the line’s heroic characters, the Space Glider!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

SpaceGlider2The Space Glider was released in the first series of Mego’s Micronauts line. He was available in three different colors: Blue, Green, and Yellow. In case you couldn’t tell from the pictures, the one being reviewed is blue. The Space Glider is about 3 ¾ inches tall and he has 16 points of articulation. It’s also worth noting that, aside from the head and hands, the whole figure is made from die cast metal. It means the figure is pretty darn sturdy, and he has quite a bit of heft to him. Space Glider was an import of the Super Steel Microman M21X, from the Microman line. His sculpt is essentially the same. While the sculpt does show its age a bit, it’s certainly well done for the time. The torso and arms have lots of hard angles, which look really good. His head is a great, generic “70s space hero” look, although the vac-metalizing has made some of the details a little soft. This figure has some definite style to it, which really makes it stand out. The paint work on the Space Glider is fairly basic, but well done. All of the blue areas are done with a very nice metallic sheen, and the color is nice and evenly applied. Everything else is pretty much just molded in the proper color, but it looks good. The Space Glider included a helmet and a wingpack, both of which are sadly missing from mine.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got the Space Glider from the Antique Depot, an antique store not far from where I live. I saw him while walking through during Ellicott City’s annual Midnight Madness event. The Space Glider has long been my favorite of Micronauts figure, but I had never had one of the originals. With some light prodding from my friends Tim and Jill, I purchased the figure. The Space Glider really holds up. He’s a really strong figure, and he’s just a lot of fun!

#0430: Santa Claus

SANTA CLAUS

LEGO MINIFIGURES

Santa

Hey, it’s Christmas, which happens to be my winter holiday of choice. But, let’s be all inclusive with the holiday wishes: Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, Happy Yule, Happy Festivus, and in general Happy Holidays! Hopefully I didn’t leave anyone out, but feel free to leave snarky (or even non-snarky) comments if I did. So, how about something festive to review?

I’ll be digging into my LEGO Minifigures collection again, looking at another Christmas-themed minifigure. This time, it’s the big man himself, Santa Claus!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

SantaWilsonOld Saint Nick is the 10th figure in the 8th series of LEGO Minifigures. Santa is about 2 inches tall and he features 7 points of articulation. The figure is, of course, based on the classic Santa Claus look (which was actually created by Coca Cola, by the way). Santa’s built on the usual LEGO body, with additional pieces for the hat and beard. The LEGO body is a standard, so no problems there. The beard is piece that’s seen use a few times, and a couple of them have even been for previous Santas. The hat looks to be a new piece, and a well done one at that. It’s a pretty straight forward Santa hat, and it works really well. Santa is molded mostly in red, with white for the hands and yellow for the head. There is paint on the front of the head and the torso. Some of the more recent LEGO Minifigures have detailing that goes around the torso, but that’s not the case here. It’s worth noting that there is a full face under the beard, which is a nice touch. Santa has a big grin that pretty much no one’s gonna see, unless you’re one of those weird people that prefers him clean shaven, which is just a bit strange. Santa includes a bag of toys and a display stand. The bag is a new piece and it fits nicely in his hand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I honestly don’t remember where I got this one. Going by my records, it’s the only Minfigure I have from Series 8. I know I didn’t pick him up on purpose, so I must have just grabbed a single blind bag at random. He’s not a bad Minifigure, though he’s not the most thrilling figure the line has offered. Man, I can’t believe I don’t remember where I got this figure….

#0429: Infinity Minimates

SPACE SUIT CAPTAIN AMERICA, ARMORED HULK, INFINITY THANOS, & THANE

MARVEL MINIMATES

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Marvel Minimates is really just the line that keeps on giving. I have a pretty substantial back log of figures I already had before the site was started, so they were already going to show up a lot. However, they also provide new releases on a very regular basis. Which makes for even more frequent reviews. Yay.

Marvel Minimates is also one of the few Minimates lines to be fairly consistently supported by Toys R Us. TRU has carried 18 of their own exclusive series of the line. In addition, they’ve offered fans the opportunity to influence the line a bit with Fan’s Choice boxed sets based on certain events. Today, I’ll be looking at the most recent of those sets, based on last year’s Infinity cross-over. Full disclosure: I haven’t read any of Infinity, so I can’t really speak to any story specific stuff. I know the general gist of it, and I know who the one storyline specific figure in this set is.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These four were released as part of a Toys R Us exclusive four-pack. The line-up was chosen via a poll on Toys R Us’s website. There were two other figures, Ronan the Accuser and Space Suit Iron Man, who did not make the cut for this set, but will be appearing in the TRU Series 19.

SPACE SUIT CAPTAIN AMERICA

Infinity5There have been a fair number of Captain America ‘mates, especially recently, but this is the first time he’s been space worthy. It’s also the third ‘mate based on Cap’s Marvel Now! appearance. Cap’s clearly the “safe” figure in this set, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The figure is about 2 ½ inches tall and he sports 14 points of articulation. He’s based on Cap’s space-faring look from Infinity, which I understand is the look he had for most of the story. It’s basically just a tweak on his regular Now! design and it looks pretty good. The figure makes use of the standard Minimate body, with non-standard upper arms and hands, as well as add-ons for his helmet and space-y web gear. The hands and helmet hail from the previous two Now! Caps, which is a sensible re-use. They’re well-sculpted pieces that are accurate to the source material, so it’s a win-win. The upper arms originally appeared on the Series 49 Mark 42. They aren’t quite as warranted as the hands and helmet, but they’re reasonable enough as a generic set of tech-y arms. The web gear is the only really new piece present. It’s well enough sculpted, and it seems to be pretty accurate to the source material. It’s not the most exciting piece, but it does its job. Cap’s paint work is pretty decent. For the most part, everything is clean, and the details are sharp. However, the paint on the helmet/head is applied in such a way that is impossible for me to get the helmet off his head, which is rather annoying. Cap includes his mighty shield and a hand wield said shield (both reused from the previous Now! figures), as well as a hair piece (also from the Now! Cap), and a clear display stand. The shield is a bit sloppy paint-wise, and the hair is ultimately not very useful due to the issues with the helmet.

ARMORED HULK

Infinity6Hulk here is a bit less space-ready than the Cap figure. As the name implies, he’s just an armored version of the character. The figure is over 2 ½ inches tall, closer to the 3 inch mark, and he features 12 points of articulation. He’s based on the character’s Now! look. This is the second Minimate based on the look, but the first one was more armor-lite. This is what the character’s looked like for most of the Now! run. The figure is built on the basic Minimate body, with non-standard pieces for the hands and feet, as well as add-ons for the hair, torso, upper arms, waist, torso extender, and upper legs. The hair and upper arms first cropped up on the Series 41 Mega Rage Hulk, the feet first appeared on TRU’s Hulk as Nul, the hands are from the Hulk TTA Maestro, and the torso extender, waist cover, and upper legs are from the TRU 16 Now! Hulk. The chest piece is the only truly new part, however it’s nicely handled. The reused Infinity3pieces are used a such a way that it wasn’t immediately obvious that the torso was the only new part, which is a sign of good re-use. The shift from sculpted detail lines on the armor on the torso and upper legs to painted on the feet is a little bit jarring at first, but it’s not too bad. Hulk’s paint alright, but it could be better. There’s some bleed over on the transitions from armor to skin, and there’s some pretty bad slop on the back of the figure’s head and torso. The figure also suffers from the same stuck pieces that plagued Cap, something that is a common theme in this set. Hulk includes a clear display stand.

INFINITY THANOS

Infinity7Thanos here is probably the biggest draw of this set. This is the third version of Thanos in the Marvel Minimates line, but it’s been five years since his last figure. If you’re a faithful follower of my reviews, you’ll recall I didn’t think the last one was very good. Plus, he’s set to be a major player in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the next few years, so it’s really good timing. Thanos is the largest ‘mate in the set, coming in at just shy of 3 inches tall, and he has 12 points of articulation. He’s based on Thanos’s recent redesign from Infinity. It’s not far off from his original design, but there are a few differences in the execution of some of the details. Thanos uses the basic Minimate body as a starting point, with non-standard hands and feet, as well as add-ons for his helmet, torso, upper arms, waist, torso extender, and upper legs. The upper arms and legs are from the Series 41 Hulk, the extender is from the TRU 16 Hulk, and the waist cover is from a whole bunch of Minimates (I’m not sure who used it first). The helmet, torso cover, hands, and feet are new to Thanos, and they’re pretty good overall. The torso is probably the best piece. It has a lot of ornate detail work that looks really good. The hands and feet are decent, though they seem a little too rounded. The helmet is good in theory, but not quite in practice. It’s well sculpted, but it sits too low on the head, which obscures a lot of the details on the face. Thanos’s Infinity4paintwork is pretty clean overall. There are a few spots with some bleed over, but most of it’s pretty sharp. The face in particular looks really good, and it definitely improves on the last one. Unfortunately, Thanos was not exempt from the stuck paint issues. His helmet was practically glued on when I got him and took quite a bit of effort to remove. Thanos includes a clear display stand. It would have been nice to get an Infinity Gauntlet that matched this figure, but since it wasn’t in the story, I can understand its absence here.

THANE

Infinity8Hooo boy, Thane. This guy. So, Thane is the one new character in the set. He’s also new to the storyline, and he has a sort of important role, so I guess his inclusion makes sense. In case you were unaware, Thane is Thanos’s son and he’s half Inhuman, which sort of makes him a bit of a mess. The figure is about 2 ½ inches tall and has 14 points of articulation. Thane is based on the character’s appearance post-Terrigen Mist exposure, which is notably Thanos-inspired. It’s an okay design, though not particularly thrilling. The figure is mostly a “vanilla ‘mate” with his only unique piece being his left hand. This piece is re-used from the DC Minimates Series 6 Cheetah figure. It’s a pretty standard clawed-hand, so that’s good. The rest of Thane’s detail is done with paint. For better or worse, Thane exhibits the best paintwork of the lot. The base colors are clean and even, the colors are pretty bold, and the detail lines are nice and sharp. Thane didn’t have any issues with stuck pieced due to paint, although that’s likely due to his lack of add-ons. The figure includes a clear display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I found this set while killing some time during one of my brother’s rehearsals. Obviously, I got it from Toys R Us, it being an exclusive and all. I did participate in the vote on this one, and three of the four I voted for are in the final set, so I guess that’s cool. Unfortunately, Ronan, the one I wanted the most, lost out to Thane, which is a bummer. Guess I’ll have to wait for TRU 19. All in all it’s a pretty good set. Cap and Hulk are fun variants and Thanos offers some nice improvements to the last one. Thane is good on a technical level, but sadly neither the character nor his design is particularly exciting.  But hey, three out of four ain’t bad!

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#0428: Mr. Freeze

MR. FREEZE

BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES (DC COLLECTIBLES)

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DC Collectibles (formerly DC Direct) has made quite a splash in the collecting world with their new line of figures based on the much-loved Batman: The Animated Series. Toylines were something of a different beast at the time of the cartoon’s release. BTAS actually had one of the better lines of the time, but the figures were severely lacking in articulation and were often off model in order to facilitate action features and a smaller-scale toy budget. DC Collectibles’ line looks to be giving the characters the proper high quality treatment they deserve.

When it came to BTAS, there were few characters who benefited from the show’s new takes on the Bat-Rogues Gallery more than Mr. Freeze (formerly Mr. Zero). The show took the character from one-note villain to compelling and tragic anti-villain in the course of 22 minutes. So, it’s only fitting that Freeze would be one of the first four figures in DCC’s line.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

FreezeTNADCC6Mr. Freeze is part of DC Collectibles’ first series of Batman: The Animate Series line. The series ended up not really being a strict “series” as it were, as the four figures ended up being released separately. Freeze here was released along with Two-Face. He’s figure 03 in the line, following Batman’s 01 and Catwoman’s 02. The figure is just a hair over 6 inches tall (making him just a little taller than Batman, which is accurate) and he has 26 points of articulation. Freeze is based on his re-design from the New Adventures era of the show, which was actually one of the more radical re-designs. It’s a pretty sharp design, though it’s a little marred by the fact that it’s only cartoon appearance is the mediocre “Cold Comfort.” Still, the design is sharp, and starting with this one means they can hook people for the inevitable “Heart of Ice” version. Like Batman, Freeze sports an all-new sculpt. It’s a near perfect rendition of the design from the show. All of the details are smooth and symmetrical, and he really looks like the character would in three dimensions. They’ve done a great job working the articulation into the sculpt pretty seamlessly, allowing for a fair bit of movement without marring the design itself. The head dome is perfectly symmetrical and, it should be noted, removable. This allows this version of Freeze to be the first animated Mr. Freeze to sport neck articulation. How cool is that? For Batman, paint was the area where the figure really took a hit. While the paint on Freeze isn’t quite as good as it could be, it’s definitely an improvement. He still has a few spots of bleed over, and the flat black leads to some issues with scuffing. The blue used seems a bit off; I think there’s too much yellow in it. Of course it may just be that I’m used to the metallic blue from the Kenner figure. It’s hard to tell comparing this figure to the show. Freeze includes 6 hands (the pair of fists he comes wearing, a pair of relaxed hands, a gripping right hand, and a semi-gripping left hand), his trusty freeze gun, and a display stand with his character design sheet. They’ve already changed the nature of the clasp that holds the figure in place since the Batman figure, and I can’t say I’m a fan of the new design. It sticks out too far in the back. In addition to all that, Freeze also includes four mechanical spider-legs, which can be plugged into the bottom of his head, allowing for his…umm…head on spider-legs look. The legs are kind of a pain to get in, and the plastic is sort of soft, leading to some stress-marks (which you can see on mine). It’s a nice touch, and kind of essential to this version of the character (even if I don’t particularly care for the whole “he’s just a head now” thing).

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THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Mr. Freeze was another purchase from Cosmic Comix. Unlike Batman, I never needed any convincing on this guy. I’ve been on board for him since the day he was announced. Freeze was always my favorite of the animated rogues gallery, mostly due to “Heart of Ice” easily being my favorite episode of the show (getting to meet Michael Ansara when I was a kid may have contributed to that just a bit too). While I still want a BTAS Freeze, this one’s a really strong figure of a pretty great design. He looks fantastic next to Batman, and I can’t wait to get the rest of this series. It’s really fun!

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#0427: DOFP Wolverine & Colossus

DAYS OF FUTURE PAST WOLVERINE & COLOSSUS

MARVEL MINIMATES

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Marvel Minimates has pretty consistently been the flagship of the Minimates brand, but it hasn’t been without its dark periods. Every fan has their own personal preferences, which means that where exactly the low points of the line lie can vary from person to person, but pretty much everyone agrees that Series 12 and 13 are probably the worst the line ever got. It’s no coincidence that immediately after those two series, the line started taking quick strides in innovation. The line looked like it was on its last legs (Series 15, set to be released not long after, is the only specialty assortment in the history of the line to be cancelled), and something had to change. Fortunately, the line did change, and it has continued for almost another 50 series, but man, somewhere there’s an alternate universe where these were the last Minimates we ever saw.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These two were released as part of Series 13 of Marvel Minimates. The series was based around the then current Astonishing X-Men. This is the variant set, which swapped out a “Days of Future Past” styled Wolverine in place of the regular Astonishing one.

DAYS OF FUTURE PAST WOLVERINE

DOFPWolverine&Colossus2Or, as he’s known on the box “DOFP Wolverine.” I mean, I know what that stands for, but you’ve got to imagine that somebody stood there looking at the box wondering what the heck a “Dofp” was. I just recently looked at the new and improved take on this design from earlier this year, which I quite liked. This one is….different. The figure is about 2 ½ inches tall and he features 14 points of articulation. He made use of the standard Minimate body, with the then standard Wolverine claws in place of the normal hands, as well as an add-on piece for the hair. The piece, like every piece in this series, is a re-use, in this case from the Series 6 New Wolverine. What’s interesting is that the box actually shows the figure with the hair from the Series 3 Logan figure, which is a superior piece. Not sure why they made the change. Paint-wise, this is a pretty drab figure. I know the design isn’t the most vibrant to begin with, but there’s just no pop with this figure. The choice to make the jacket painted on robs the figure of a lot of dimension, and the jacket’s detailing is sub-par at best. I’m not exactly sure what the deal is with the face, either. He looks like he’s been… smooshed or something. And that’s not even starting on the whole double chin thing he’s got going. DOFP Wolverine had no accessories.

COLOSSUS

DOFPWolverine&Colossus3Colossus’s return to life was an important part of the early Astonishing X-Men, so his place in this series isn’t too surprising. Plus, his history with Wolverine and his decent sized role in the original “Days of Future Past” make this pairing a pretty great one too. Colossus is roughly 2 ½ inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation. He’s based on Colossus’s look in Astonishing, which is just a slight tweak on his classic design, so it’s a reasonable look. The figure uses the basic body, with an add-on for the hair. The hair is a re-use from the Giant-Size X-Men boxed Set Colossus. It’s a pretty cut and dry case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” so it works nicely for the character. The lack of any other add-ons means that he’s a rather scrawny looking version of the character, which other versions have avoided. Colossus’s paint is at least a bit better than Wolverine. His colors are pretty good, though the red might be a touch too bright for this look. The detail lines are pretty nice, though not as sharp as they could be in a few areas. The choice to put the belt on the torso makes the waist seem too long, but at least it’s nicely rendered. Colossus included no accessories.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up this set from a friend’s local comicbook store during a black Friday sale. I’m pretty sure I got it for slightly less than retail, which is probably a good thing. It was actually the first variant set I was able to track down, which is unfortunate to say the least. All in all, it’s not the worst set ever, but it’s one that’s seriously lacking. It’s fortunate that the line was able to move past this series and become better and more successful.