THE PUNISHER & BATTLE-DAMAGED CAPTAIN AMERICA
Following the lead of the line’s first year, the second year of Marvel Minimates augmented its main assortments with a handful of retailer and convention-exclusive packs. While the first year’s exclusives were quite focussed in on the themes of the main assortments that year, 2004’s offerings were just as all over the place as the line itself was in its sophomore year. This extended even within the packs, as today’s offering showcases, pairing a Captain America variant off with the Punisher of all characters. You know, from all the times those two have hung out.
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
The Punisher and Battle-Damaged Captain America were one of two exclusive Marvel Minimates two-packs at SDCC in 2004. Interestingly, while the other pack, Wolverine and Mariko, used just the standard packaging, these guys came in a rather unique box, the same dimensions as the normal, but being mostly black, with just two small illustrations of the characters gracing the front of the box. It was certainly different.
Frank Castle made his debut into the line with this release. In retrospect, it’s a little weird that such a prominent character (especially in 2004 terms) wound up only as an exclusive, but he got a second ‘mate at regular retail within the next year, so it wasn’t too crazy. This figure was notable for being based on Frank’s classic spandex attire, rather than something more modern like most other releases would go for. He’s additionally notable for being amongst the very first Marvel Minimates releases to get the C3-style feet that would become the norm. They wouldn’t actually make it into the main line until 2005, but these exclusives got us started. Beyond those new feet, Frank also got a hair piece that he shared with the C3 Superman, who hit the same month as this release. It’s not awful for a more classic Punisher, so it works out alright. His paint work is quite impressively handled, with one hell of a grizzled and angry face, plus some really cool looking artistic shading going on with the torso, hinting at his musculature, and preventing him from having too many stretches of single colors. Unfortunately, the major drawback of this release is the accessories: there aren’t any. Yep, the guy whose whole deal is his crazy arsenal of weapons didn’t get a single one of them. There weren’t any tooled up at the time, I suppose, but it felt like a really major oversight on an otherwise really solid figure.
We’d just gotten the standard version of Cap three months prior to this release, but early in the line DST was definitely gung-ho on these battle-damaged variants. It was admittedly surprising that such a seemingly retail-driven concept found its way into a con-exclusive pack. One has to wonder if he might have been repurposed from a more standard assortment, perhaps even a Series 5 release alongside the standard variant? Who knows. While this was our first Battle-Damaged Cap, he wouldn’t be our last; there was also one in the Civil War boxed set in 2008, as another exclusive offering. Structurally, this guy was the same as his Series 5 counterpart, apart from the change to the smaller feet, of course. All of those parts were really good the first time, and they were still good here. The paint is obviously changed up a bit, adding in a number of cuts and damaged spots. His face has also been tweaked to show he’s taken a bit of a beating. It works pretty well at conveying the damage. He gets his shield, but it’s been slightly changed up, so that it’s now the holographic replacement shield he carried for a little while. It was nice of them to give us that extra little piece, just to keep things different. He also got a standard hand to swap out for the gloved one, thereby allowing for a more proper attachment of the shield, and ultimately fixing the one real issue with the original release.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
Con exclusives weren’t quite as easily snagged earlier in the line, so I didn’t end up getting this one anywhere close to its original release. Admittedly, neither figure included was really essential for me, so I wasn’t all that worried about it at the time. However, when All Time got in their large collection of Minimates last fall, and I was filling in more and more of the gaps in my early Minimates collection, this one got really hard to pass on, so I went ahead and grabbed it. It’s a rather fun little set, and I’m glad to finally have it.