BRUCE BANNER & HULK
The very first assortment of Marvel Minimates is perhaps a bit odd-ball when looking back on things. No Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, or even X-Men. Nope, it’s two sets of Daredevil and one set of Hulk. Why this particular line-up for the debut? Well, the first series of Marvel Minimates hit in the summer of 2003. Do you know what else hit in 2003? Movies for both Daredevil and Hulk, and though those films may not be looked back on particularly fondly these days, they did make their title characters recognizable to a general audience, thereby making them a moderately reasonable starting point. Today, I’m looking at the slight outlier of the line-up, the one Hulk pack in the lot, pairing off both the Hulk and his human alter-ego, Bruce Banner.
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
Bruce Banner and Hulk were, as noted above, part of the first series of Marvel Minimates. It’s worth noting that the numbering was really little more than clerical on the first three series of the line, with all of them hitting pretty much at the same time, but nevertheless, these guys were technically among the first.
Alter-egos were popular fodder for the early ‘mates, with Hulk, Spider-Man, and Wolverine all getting their civilian counterparts right out of the gate. Banner makes the most sense, I suppose, though, since he’s so visually different, and the internal struggle between the two halves is so important to the story. While Bruce has had a lot of different appearances over the years, this one opts for something more in line with how he looked on the cover of his first appearance, with glasses and a lab coat. It’s certainly a bit more visually interesting than just plain civilian clothes. The figure uses the old-style ‘mate body, complete with long feet, so he stands roughly 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation. He’s got two add-on pieces: one for his hair/glasses, and one for his jacket. The hair/glasses combo is different from how things would be handled later, since glasses tend to just be printed on the faces now. Additionally, the glasses are opaque, which gives him a very different, far more stylized appearance than later figures. I myself have always been a pretty big fan of this look. The jacket’s a little on the bulky side, but if you don’t like it, the shirt and the arms are both white, so you can remove it without it looking too weird. Banner’s paintwork is rather simple, with some detailing for his face, his tie on his shirt (complete with tie clip), and a belt buckle on his pelvis. Banner included no accessories.
Definitely the selling point of this set, and honestly the more dated of the two offerings. Hulk represents the old style of doing things, back when ‘mates were still firmly planted on the philosophy of using the least amount of extra parts possible for each figure. For larger characters, such as Hulk and Venom, this left them looking…kinda small. Compared to Hulk, puny Banner wasn’t very puny. Hulk’s only add-on was his hair piece, which is a decent enough part, although it does come off a lot, since the pegs weren’t implemented until Series 8 of the line. It’s simple, but feels classically Hulk. His paint is a little more involved than Banner, with detailing on the front and back of his torso, as well as remnants of his torn shirt running all along the sides of his pelvis, and torn legs to his pants running along the shins. The feet and lower legs are painted green, rather than molded, which looks noticeably of a different shade. Also, for some reason, the shade of purple on the pants is different between Hulk and Banner, something I never really understood. Like Banner, Hulk had no accessories.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
When my dad brought home the Yellow Daredevil and Elektra set for me back in 2003, he also brought with him a Hulk and Banner set for my younger brother, which gave me a taste of the set. I would eventually get a pack of my own as a birthday present from some family friends that same year. I still have those two, but they’re a little worse for wear these days, so I actually picked up a replacement set when All Time got in a Minimate collection a few months ago. If I’m honest, the Hulk in this set never did a lot for me, but conversely the Banner has always been one of my favorites from the early line up.