TORCH & MR. FANTASTIC
First previewed in the line in 2004, in 2005 the Fantastic Four proper made their way into Marvel Minimates. Marvel’s first family was on the rise that year, with a movie hitting theaters that summer, and all sorts of cool toy product to go along with everything. Of course, then the movie actually came out and we all collectively went “meh” and the FF kind of got back-burnered, but hey, they were still full of all this cool potential at the beginning of the year, right? Minimates got in on the pre-movie hype by devoting an entire assortment of figures (well, almost…more on that later) to the team, which was certainly a leg up from prior coverage. Today, I’m kicking things off with a look at Reed and Johnny!
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
Torch and Mr. Fantastic were part of Series 8 of Marvel Minimates, which hit retail shelves in January of 2005. The same pairing was also released through Target in both 2005 and 2006. They’re kind of an odd pairing, thematically, since it would seem to me that Reed/Sue or Reed/Ben and Johnny/Ben or Johnny/Sue would have made way more thematic sense. But, I guess they had good money on everyone going for the whole set anyway.
Apparently, Johnny is no longer human, he’s purely torch, because that’s what he is on every instance of his name on the package. No clue at all as to why they ditched the “Human” portion of his name for the Series 8 release, but it did fortunately reappear when the packs made their way to Target. My guess is it was a mistake that no one caught until it was too late. For his first ‘mate, Johnny went fully flamed-on. It’s always an iffy prospect in three dimensions, but it’s certainly distinctive. He’s on the standard ‘mate body (which now comes with the C3 feet standard in the main line, a first with this Series), so he’s 2 1/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation. Johnny has add-ons for his hair and the flames on his shoulders, both of which are new. It’s interesting that the hair was new, rather than being a re-use of the Ghost Rider piece from the prior year, but it does look a bit better. It’s also notable for introducing the pegged hair pieces to the line. Up to this point, all of the heads had been without peg holes, and all of the hair pieces had purely been held in place via friction. It worked for some designs, but not others, and the pegs really helped to keep the figures held together a bit better (though they would have other drawbacks that would surface later). All in all, it’s a good set of parts, and works decently for the character, albeit a more modern take on his flamed-on appearance. The paint work on this guy’s quite nice, with a very comics-esque and very dynamic facial expression, as well as musculature and the classic Torch heat lines on the torso, pelvis, and legs. It works very well. Johnny was packed with a fire blast effect piece and a small flight stand, both of which were new, and which helped to further sell his flame abilities.
Reed actually got a preview release in the line in late 2004, as part of a TRU-exclusive 10-pack, where he and Ultimate Green Goblin were the exclusive pieces. But, for those of us who didn’t want to buy 8 duplicate figures just to get two, there was this two-pack. Yay! This guy’s built on the standard C3-footed body, in contrast to the early release, which was long-footed. He’s got add-ons for his hair and gloves. Both were new. The hair’s a little blocky and minimalistic for where the line was going by this point, and it’s worth noting that, due to being produced the year before, it doesn’t have the peg like Johnny’s. This also means it has some trouble staying in place. The gloves are decent enough pieces, though I do really have to wonder why they were included at all, since it’s not like the FF’s gloves have ever been depicted as anything other than just as skin tight as the rest of the suit. They just end up looking oddly bulked up, especially with the lack of any corresponding parts for the boots. Reed’s paint work is far more basic than Johnny’s, but also a lot more imbalanced. There’s a lot of detailing on the face (which is actually a pretty solid Jack Kirby-style recreation of Reed), but the body gets only very simple detailing. He doesn’t even have any musculature on his torso. Additionally, for some odd reason his boots, belt, and collar are a dark blue, while his gloves are a straight black. Why aren’t they just all black? Isn’t that weird? Reed gets a pair of extended arms, which swap out at the hands, and are actually pretty darn cool.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
I was really excited for this assortment when it was shown off and really wanted the whole set, and then inexplicably bought exactly none of them when they were actually released. Couldn’t tell you why. Just wasn’t feeling them right at that moment, I guess. I waited on getting them for quite a while, actually, and only actually got around to picking them up when a whole slew of Minimates came through at All Time last year. Johnny’s okay. There have been better versions, but he’s not a bad offering on his own. Reed was weak even when he was new, and just feels really imbalanced, like parts of him were designed way earlier than the rest.