MING THE MERCILESS
FLASH GORDON (PLAYMATES)
If Dale Arden is the prototypical heroine/love interest, then Ming the Merciless is most definitely the prototypical arch villain. I mean, c’mon, “Merciless” is part of his name. Over the years, Ming has run the gamut between alien and human; he’s always just different enough to be clearly of another world, and always human enough to hit close to home with his evil ways, but the exact balance can be anywhere between those points. In the case of the ‘90s cartoon, he was definitely in the more alien camp.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Ming was released as part of the basic assortment of Playmates’ Flash Gordon line, which is sensible seeing as he’s, you know, the primary villain (though being a major character was hardly a guarantee of a figure for this line. Just ask poor Dr. Zarkov…). The figure stands about 5 1/4 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation. Of particular note on the articulation is the presence of knee joints, something no other figure in this line possessed. Why did Ming get the extra articulation? Simple. Playmates also released his throne, and he had to be able to sit on it. So, rather than give all of the figures this quite useful articulation scheme, they just made Ming that way, which means he doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the line stylistically. On the plus side, he has one of the nicest sculpts the line produced. He takes the show design and tweaks it to make it just a bit more realistic, both in level of detail and in overall proportions. It still makes him seem very different from the others, but that’s kind of okay. The cape is a separate piece, which is alright, but it has a bit of trouble staying on, and it makes hime slightly difficult to keep balanced. The paintwork on Ming is pretty decent. The colors are a fair bit less vibrant than the last two figures, but that’s show accurate, and it makes him seem a bit more villainous. The details are all pretty clean and sharp. He’s also got a nifty light-piping feature on his eyes, which gives him sort of an eery kind of a gaze. Ming was packed with an extending staff thingy, and an Airsled, this time in purple.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
Ming was my second figure from this particular line. He was one of the many figures I picked up from Ageless Heroes’ going out of business sale back in ’99. Ming was then my fourth figure in the line, when I got another as a gift from someone a year or two later. Another Ming was later acquired as part of the full set of figures I bought last summer, bringing the total Ming number up to three. That’s a lot of Mings, but I can’t say I totally mind. The biggest problem this figure faces is being very different from the rest of the line, but that’s less a problem with him and more a problem with the other seven figures.