NEW WOLVERINE & PHOENIX
In 2000, the X-Men hit the big screen in their first live action film, and found themselves a whole new audience that they hadn’t yet enthralled through comics, cartoons, toys, or video games. To try and bring this new audience back into the original source material, comics scribe Grant Morrison was given the reigns to the franchise, re-envisioning it into something a little more in-line with what people had seen on the screen. For the most part, the similarities translated to “putting the whole team in black leather.” It did garner a lot of attention, though, and set the stage for the next decade or so of the comics. So, I guess it kind of worked. Of course, on the flip side, it made the team slightly less toy-worthy, so there’s a lot less coverage from that angle. There were some Minimates, though! Let’s look at those, shall we?
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
New Wolverine and Phoenix were released in Series 6 of the Marvel Minimates line, which hit shelves in Jul 2004….just in time for New X-Men to wrap and for the characters to all get new, slightly more classically-inspired costumes on the pages of Astonishing X-Men. Isn’t it always the way? Both of these guys were also available in a TRU-exclusive four pack with Xavier and Magneto the following year, and Wolverine also showed up in the 10-Piece gift pack and then got a new (far more hideous) face and was re-packaged in the Dark Tide boxed set. Not bad for an abandoned look.
Our fifth Wolverine from the line, and honestly the first sign of how over-popped the character would become, this was our second Wolverine in as many series for 2004. At least this one had the whole team line-up thing going for him, and wasn’t just another civilian variant, although he certainly still skirts that line. He’s built on the standard long-footed body, so he’s 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation. Wolverine got three new add-on pieces, in addition to re-using the clawed hands from the last four variants of the character. The new pieces entailed his hair, jacket, and belt. All three of these parts would see a lot of use as the line progressed…and that’s honestly kind of sad. The jacket and belt aren’t too bad, I suppose. They’re rather basic pieces. Of course, they were also less used than the hair, which was really the prime offender. It’s the weakest of these early Wolverine hair sculpts, in terms of shaping and level of detail, and yet it still got used five times over the course of the line. This far removed from its use, I still don’t miss it, but I guess I’m not quite as actively against it as I was. The paint work on Wolverine’s not bad. His face is really the best Wolverine we’d gotten at this point, and there’s a lot of detailing going on throughout the body, especially on the torso. Also, rather than going for a stark black, the uniform is a very dark grey, which doesn’t look bad.
Dubbed Phoenix, presumably so as not to double up on “Jean Grey” so early in the line, this figure is jus kind of not what I wanted, largely because she’s, you know, not actually Phoenix. Made worse by the fact that we wouldn’t get an actual proper Phoenix for another five years. So, that was great, right? This marked Jean’s second time as a Minimate, and her second time with some very modern, ultimately not very Jean Grey-looking design. She uses the same core body as Logan, of course, as well as sharing his belt. Sensible, what with it being a uniform and all. She also got a new hair piece and jacket. The jacket suffers from the same issue as all of these early jackets, being boxy, and bulking up a figure that probably shouldn’t be quite so bulked up. The hair is a perfectly fine piece, but like Wolverine’s hair above, it’s one that’s seven subsequent uses kind of made us all tired of it, especially given how many supposedly unique characters it was used for. For Jean, it actually wasn’t too bad. Jean’s paint work is pretty decent again. It’s mostly basic stuff, but I do like that they actually got the pattern to her shirt under her jacket. Also, thanks to using the same color of grey throughout, you can remove the jacket piece and it actually doesn’t look too bad!
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
I’ve never been much for the New X-Men costumes overall, and I already had both of these characters, so I was in no rush to pick up this set when released. I really only got them because I got the four-pack release, and I wanted Magneto and Xavier. These two were along for the ride. They’re okay, but ultimately, the parts seen here are some of the parts that almost spelled the end of the line after getting re-used too much, so my opinion’s a little bit colored. They could definitely be worse, though.