TRANSFORMING THING & HERALD SILVER SURFER
After quite a bit of time of having to start every Fantastic Four-based review with a woeful intro about how the team has fallen out of focus, it’s kind of nice to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. In case you aren’t up to date on the comics world, the Fantastic Four, or half of them anyway, are finally making their grand resurgence at Marvel, thanks to the recently launched revival of Marvel Two-In-One. The book served as a showcase for FF member Ben Grimm in the ‘70s and ‘80s, pairing him off with other heroes from Marvel’s rather impressive stable of characters. The re-launch once again focuses on Ben, but also brings in fellow FFer Johnny Storm, and is hopefully serving as a prelude to a full-fledged Fantastic Four relaunch. Anyway, in honor of Ben’s return to comic-star-dom, how about looking at one of his figures?
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
This pair was released in the 15th Toys R Us-exclusive series of Marvel Minimates. The set was pulling double duty, with Ben meant to go with Series 48 of the main line (which was an all FF-themed assortment), and the Surfer augmenting the TRU-exclusive “Heralds of Galactus” set.
“Pilot Ben Grimm first turned into the Thing after being bathed in cosmic radiation, and his skin was transformed into orange rock. He has since reverted to human form several times, but rarely for very long.”
This was the Thing’s twelfth (and, to date, last) time as a Minimate. This one’s based on his John Byrne designed Negative Zone costume. Ben actually had a few different costume variants under Byrne, and I think Minimates have covered them all. This is the one that sticks the closest to the classic design, just being the usual shorts. The figure stands about 2 1/2 inches tall and has either 14 or 12 points of articulation, depending on which way you have him configured. Just how to handled Ben’s bulky build on the Minimate frame has been the source of much experimenting on DST’s part. This one is a lot like the recent Hulks and such, being a standard ‘mate body, with a rather extensive selection of add-on pieces. He’s got a head piece, chest cap, upper arm and leg covers, a pelvis cap, and unique hands and feet. The head piece goes all the way back to the very first Thing ‘mate from Series 5, and most of the other pieces come from the first really bulked up Thing from Series 37. The only new pieces here are the hands. The last two Thing hands hadn’t really fit well with the new bulked up pieces, so these newer parts looked much better. The bulked up look for Thing has always seemed maybe a touch too large for me, but I don’t think it looks horrible, and there’s no denying that there’s some really great detail work going on. In terms of paint, Ben’s rather on the simple side…at first glance. The detailing on the face is really good, of course, and I particularly like that they went with a calm expression. One can only have so many screaming Ben Grimms. The shade of orange used is one of my favorites, but it’s bright enough that he looks a little weird without any other sort of detailing on the rocks. Some sort of black outline would have been cool. As it stands, he still looks fine, but his face stands out quite a bit. Under all of the add-on pieces, there’s actually a fully detailed second figure! Yes, with the help of a spare head/hair, pelvis, hands, and feet, you can transform Ben back into his old human self. The detailing on this underlying figure is pretty great, and it’s awesome that we got this option.
HERALD SILVER SURFER
The Surfer hasn’t been quite so lucky with ‘mates as Ben, with this one only being his third (and, again, his last to date). I suppose it’s hard to do too much new with a guy whose design has remained essentially identical for 50 years. From a sculpting standpoint, there’s not much to say about this guy. He’s just the standard body, as he should be. Painted details are really where it’s at, and Diamond has done a pretty awesome job of conveying the Surfer’s cosmic shininess. The first Surfer was more abstract, and the second perhaps a bit too heavy on the details. This one went for a Goldilocks approach to detailing and gave us a Surfer whose detail paint was just right. I also appreciate the slightly more intense expression on this guy, since the last two went more stoic. The Surfer was packed with his signature surfboard, as well as two energy effects for his hands, a portal effect to plug onto the back of his board, and a flight stand. It all adds up to easily the most exciting looking of the three Silver Surfer ‘mates.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
I got Series 48 before these guys showed up, and that was one of my favorite assortments of Marvel Minimates pretty much ever. So, I knew I was tracking this set down to complete my team. At the time, I wasn’t particularly keen about getting another variant of the Surfer, but he was sort of along for the ride. When I finally tracked this set down, I ended up loving it just as much as the Series 48 guys, and both figures included are hands down my definitive versions of the characters.