HANK PYM, GOLDEN ARMOR IRON MAN, INCREDIBLE HULK, & WASP
The Avengers may be a hot commodity now, but about ten years ago, they were mostly unknown to the public at large. This meant that they were somewhat absent from the whole merchandising thing. When Marvel Minimates was launched, the Avengers were few and far between, with only a few of the mainstays showing up here and there. Fortunately, things started turning around, right around the release of the first Iron Man. With the announcement of the Avengers Initiative in that film’s stinger, people seemed to be on board for merchandise based around Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. DST met demand by offering a boxed set based on the team’s first appearance in Avengers #1.
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
Hank Pym, Iron Man, Hulk, and Wasp were released as a boxed set in the fall of 2008, based around the first appearance of the team. Thor, the other founding member, was noticeably absent from the pack. He wouldn’t see another Minimate for another year, and his classic design wouldn’t be seen again for another year after that, which proved a bit frustrating for fans just getting into things with this set. This set also has the notoriety of being the final boxed set to be packed in a window-less box.
Henry Pym, man of many names, made his Minimate debut with this set. He had the option of being displayed as Ant-Man or Giant-Man, giving fans two of his identities in one fell swoop. Since this was an Avengers #1 boxed set, let’s consider Ant-Man the main look. The figure stands about 2 ½ inches tall and has the usual 14 points of articulation. He used the basic Minimate body, with an add-on for his helmet. The helmet was new to this figure, and was also used on the recent Best of Series 3 Ant-Man. It’s a very well sculpted piece, and it manages to capture the comic design of the helmet without looking too goofy. The paint on Hank is nice and bold; the colors are bright, and the line work is pretty clean. The face under the helmet looks maybe a bit too chiseled for Hank, but it’s not bad. Hank included a separate mask, torso cover, and waist cover to transform him into Giant-Man, as well as a spare hairpiece to allow him to be unmasked. The Giant-Man parts are alright, but not great. They bulk him up a lot, but don’t add any height, so he looks rather off. It’s clear they were trying their best, but he just doesn’t quite work right. The hair is perfectly fine; it’s a re-use from the classic Battlestar Galactica Starbuck, which seems odd for Hank stylistically, but it doesn’t look too bad once it’s in place.
GOLDEN ARMOR IRON MAN
Iron Man was at the top of his game in 2008, so seeing him turn up in this set was pretty much a guarantee. This was his eighth Minimate that year alone! He presented here in his second armor, which was really just a repainted version of the Mark 1. It’s the armor he was wearing for the first two issues of Avengers, and it’s also a pretty memorable look for the guy. He was built on the usual body, with 5 add-ons: helmet, torso, skirt, and bracelets. The helmet and bracelets were both generic pieces, used on numerous figures around the same time. The torso and skirt pieces were re-used from the AFX exclusive First Appearance IM, released a few years before. That’s a pretty sensible re-use, since they were supposed to be the same armor in-universe. The IM-specific parts are nicely crafted. They don’t have tons of sculpted detail, but the look from the comics is captured well. Paint on this figure is kind of a mixed bag, mostly due to the fact that, in its current state, it really doesn’t represent how it looked out of the box. The gold paint seems to have not adhered very well to the plastic, resulting in a rather chipped and tarnished looking figure, which is a bit of a disappointment. Subsequent gold-based figures have remedied the issue, but this one is left looking somewhat lackluster. On the plus side, the detail lines are all very well handled, especially on the underlying torso and face, which you don’t even see in the main set-up. Iron Man is packed with a spare hairpiece, for unmasked display, a hammer attachment for his hand, and a spare set of flesh-toned arms so that you can display Tony in re-charge mode.
He may not have been quite as successful as Iron Man, but Hulk was pretty big in 2008 as well, making him another heavy hitter in this particular set. Hulk is presented here in his purple shorted look, which was rather short(heh!)-lived in the comics, but was the look Hulk had in the two issues this set is based upon. So, it’s an interesting enough variant of the character. The figure has a unique head sculpt, as well as add-ons for the torso, waist, and the infamous “duck feet.” The torso and waist pieces were both re-used from Series 20’s Abomination, and are both rather basic pieces. The head was only ever used on this figure, most likely due to the negative reaction it garnered from fans. It seems to try to capture the more Frankenstein’s Monster-inspired head of the early Kirby Hulk, but it comes out looking a bit lumpy. And then there’s the “duck feet.” They were one of Diamond’s first attempts at adding extra height to figures, and they built up a rather infamous reputation in the Minimate community, due to their general goofiness and lack of adherence to the usual Minimate style. Fortunately, Hulk included a spare set of regular feet, so no one was stuck with the weird ones. Hulk’s paint is decent enough. I think this might actually be my favorite shade of green for Hulk, and I do really like the Kirby inspired line work.
Wasp was another character that debuted in this set, though, unlike Hank Pym, she’s yet to actually get a follow up. Which is kind of a shame, since she’s had a boat-load of different costumes over the years. She’s presented here in her original costume, which has gotten a fair number of figures over the years. The figure makes use of 7 add-on pieces, used for her headgear, vest, gloves, skirt, and wings. The parts are a little on the bulky side, especially for Wasp, but they balance each other out pretty well, I guess. The skirt is a lot boxier than later pieces would be, which makes the whole figure look rather stiff. The wings are probably the best part of the sculpt, and they actually do a decent job of replicating the comic look. The paint on Wasp was pretty decent from a design standpoint. The line work is all pretty well laid out, and everything. The real issue is in assembly. The figure was clearly assembled before fully drying, so several pieces, the wings in particular, were stuck, almost to the point of breaking. Wasp made out pretty well on the accessories front, including a spare hairpiece, a set of normal hands, an alternate mask, and an extra wing mount so that she can be displayed without the bulky vest piece.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
So, I actually ended getting a couple of this set when it was released, without even trying. I got one from my friend Lance, and then won another in a contest, and then eventually picked up a few more from Record and Tape Traders at super marked down prices. The set itself is pretty decent, if maybe a bit out of date when compared to more current stuff. Ant-Man and Wasp were definitely the stars here, and they both still hold up pretty decently.