#2532: Ultimate Spider-Man & Chameleon

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN & CHAMELEON

MARVEL MINIMATES

As they arrived at the end of their second year, Marvel Minimates found their first true moment of weakness.  Throughout the first two years of the line, DST was experimenting with having multiple release venues for most figures, with a select few maintaining a more exclusive status.  Nevertheless, they managed to keep the main line pretty pure, allowing for collectors to more or less stick to the specialty two-packs as the main attraction.  Then came Series 7, an assortment referred to in the collecting community as the “retread wave,” due to it having not one, not two, not three, but four re-packaged figures, as well as one of the lamest standard/variant split ideas DST ever put out in the line (and that’s bearing in mind that the second year started things off with unmasked Daredevil!).  It was…not ideal.  But, we all managed to suffer through it, and 78 main series later, I guess it’s not all that bad.  Today, I’m diving in with Ultimate Spider-Man and Chameleon!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Ultimate Spider-Man and Chameleon officially make up two of the sets from Marvel Minimates Series 7.  Why two?  Remember that lame standard/variant split I mentioned?  Here’s where it comes into play.  The standard release of this set was Spidey and Chameleon.  The variant was Spidey and Chameleon…with a J Jonah Jameson mask.  Yes, they hid the disguise mask for the character whose whole gimmick was disguises behind the variant wall, but also made it completely pointless to actually purchase both versions of this set, because who in their right mind would want the exact same Chameleon, just without the mask, as well as a second copy of the Ultimate Spider-Man that most of the fanbase already had at least one of before going into this series?  No one.  Not even me.  And I’m insane.

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN

Ultimate Spider-Man holds the distinction of being perhaps the least exclusive Minimate of all time, which is impressive, given that he began his life in an SDCC-exclusive two-pack in 2003, alongside Grey Hulk (who is, I suppose rather fittingly, the runner up for least exclusive Minimate).  Following the two-pack release, he was packaged with Kingpin for the Target/Walmart assortments, and with Bullseye, Kingpin, and Peter Parker/Spider-Man for the TRU four-packs.  And then, after this release, he cropped up one more time in the 10-piece Gift Pack, forcing faithful fans to buy him yet again.  That marks six separate releases of this exclusive Minimate, for those of you playing at home.  Ultimately, he’s the same construction set-up as most Spider-Men, meaning he’s on the standard ‘mate body (or the long-footed variant, anyway) and has no add-on pieces.  The main thing here is the paint, which is like the main Series 2 Spider-Man, but less so.  Since in the Ultimate line, Spidey’s costume wasn’t actually different from his main line counterpart, DST instead differentiated them by basing this figure on the costume right after Peter first gets it, before he adds the webs to it.  Honestly, it’s not a particularly exciting or needed variant, but, umm, here it is.  And aren’t we all so glad it was released so many times?

CHAMELEON

One of only two new figures in Series 7, Chameleon made up for that by taking up two of the slots.  Yay.  At least he stayed contained to this assortment.  Like Spidey, he’s just a vanilla ‘mate, built on the standard long foot body.  I suppose it’s not the worst thing in the world, since he’s usually a pretty svelte guy, and it fits the sort of spy/espionage thing he’s got going on.  In terms of paint, he actually re-uses the tampography from Professor X for his suit, albeit in a different set of colors.  He did get a new set of details for his head, which sports his distinctive mask that he wears under other masks…as you do.  It actually looks pretty cool, and is by far the best part of the core figure.  The standard figure had no accessories, but the variant that should not have been the variant and should have definitely just been the main release and that I’m definitely not still mad about added a J Jonah Jameson mask, which is a pretty nifty touch, and remained the only way to get Jonah for another 35 Series of the line.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Series 7 is a definite rough patch for the line, and this set pretty well exemplifies it.  This Spider-Man was a stretch for his first release, and the subsequent five really pushed it too far.  He’s not bad, but he’s really not very exciting.  Why did this one get so much love?  Chameleon is the worst use of variant for the line, but to DST’s credit, he did seem to mark a turning point, as they never were quite this bad again.  So, I guess that’s good?  I don’t know.

I honestly didn’t pick up these two when they were new, mostly out of frustration.  Fortunately, my sponsors at All Time Toys were able to finally help me get the Chameleon I actually wanted, allowing me to write this review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2518: Professor X & Magneto

PROFESSOR X & MAGNETO

MARVEL MINIMATES

After their first year had wrapped, there was a bit of a gap in Marvel Minimates releases, as DST mapped out the direction the line would take.  When they returned, there was a pretty heavy lean into the classic X-Men set-up, with the previously reviewed Giant Size X-Men set and one other exclusive, which is today’s focus, Professor X and Magneto!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Professor X and Magneto hit in January of 2004, and are notable for being the first Marvel Minimates exclusive to come out of Action Figure Xpress, who would serve as a major supporter of the line for the next decade of the line.  The two would then subsequently see re-issue in one of TRU’s four-packs the following year, alongside the Nex X-Men Wolverine and Jean.  Both would also get slight paint tweaks for one more additional release each in 2006.  Xavier’s suit was made blue and released at Target alongside Dark Phoenix.  Magneto got a new face and was released in the infamous Dark Tide boxed set that clogged up retailers everywhere for quite a bit.

PROFESSOR X

Before we had our fancy hover chairs and what not, this was the Xavier that had to hang around in everyone’s collection for a good long stretch of time.  Patterned on the character’s earliest appearances, Xavier is a ‘mate that could have been pretty basic, but actually has more going on than you might realize at first glance.  The core ‘mate is totally vanilla, albeit long-footed vanilla.  He gets the basic amount of detailing you’d expect from this era of ‘mate.  If I have one complaint, it’s that his ears are printed a little too close to his face.  That’s a problem that would be with most of the line’s bald characters, even to current day. It’s the accessories that really spice this guy up, since he’s got Cerebro, his wheelchair, and a blanket to cover his legs…or he would if that last piece wasn’t missing from mine.  I don’t know when it went missing, but it sure did.  Drat.  Well, the other two pieces are still cool, and the wheelchair in particular is a really solid, really fun piece.

MAGNETO

Charles Xavier’s sometimes nemesis/sometimes friend made for a pretty logical pairing, and makes for this set’s more outwardly exciting release.  He’s constructed on the standard long-footed body, with add-ons for his helmet and cape.  Both sculpted pieces are somewhat on the basic side, but they both do a really nice job of summing up the character’s classic design.  The paint work helps in that effort as well, as there’s actually a surprising level of detail going into this guy.  The torso not only got the costume details, but also some underlying musculature as well, making him look less flabby than the X-Men he was fighting.  Under the helmet, there’s a nice evil grin, which works perfectly for the character.  Sadly, extra hairpieces weren’t quite a thing, so it’s stuck hiding somewhat beneath the helmet.  In fact, Magneto doesn’t get any accessories at all, which feels light these days, but wasn’t really much of a surprise when he was new.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

These guys hit before I was really making many online purchases for myself, so I missed out on the initial release.  I actually ended up snagging the TRU 4-Pack versions a few years later, courtesy of All Time Toys, way back before I had any sort of official partnership with them.  See, even when I try to review something from before I was getting everything from All Time, I still review stuff from All Time!  Both of these guys were pretty solid offerings of the characters, especially for this early in the line.  It’s not terribly surprising that they remained the primary versions for as long as they did.

#2420: Daredevil & Bullseye

BATTLE DAMAGED DAREDEVIL, BULLSEYE, & UNMASKED DAREDEVIL

MARVEL MINIMATES

Though Daredevil and his supporting cast of players were removed and set out on their own for the purposes of Marvel Minimates very first assortment, when it came time to launch into their second year, old horn-head found himself once again grouped with the Spider-Man cast, accenting two straight Spidey-themed sets.  This time, he paired off with pretty much his last major foe not to be covered in the first series, Bullseye, and got two additional variants of himself, all of which I’ll be taking a look at today.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Battle Damaged Daredevil and Bullseye were the final standard set in the specialty line-up for Series 4 of Marvel Minimates, with the variant DD swapping out for the standard in the one-per-case variant set.  As is the case with most of these earlier ‘mates, Battle Damaged DD and Bullseye were also available through the Target/Walmart packs, and were each available (albeit separately from each other) through Toys R Us’ larger boxed sets as well.  Unmasked Daredevil was only available in the Series 4 line-up, which is just really the best for everybody, I think.

BATTLE DAMAGED DD

Well, Spidey got in on this whole “Battle Damage” trend, so I guess DD wanted to be a part of it.  Given how much of beating Matt’s prone to taking on his usual exploits, it’s honestly not the worst choice for him.  The approach to creating this figure is much the same as the Spidey, starting with the standard version of the character and dropping some additional damaged details on top of it.  In that regard, this guy uses the same construction as the Series 1 release, with add-ons for his mask and belt.  As with that release, I feel these pieces still hold up, and they were definitely great at the time.  The paint’s where the changes occur.  Under it all, the very basic core details from the Red DD are all still there, but now there’s been a lot of scuffs and scratches added throughout, and a couple of exposed bits of skin are showing through.  Under his mask, we get a similar face to the other two DDs, but his expression has now changed, into something a bit more severe.  It’s a nice little change-up from the norm.  He may be a little battered, but Matt’s still rocking his two billy clubs, once again in all-red.

BULLSEYE

Bullseye was shown off a few times along the year one ‘mates, but didn’t quite make the cut, so we knew he was coming in some fashion.  This guy was also definitely a little swept up in the whole 2003 movie craze, but it’s not like Bullseye’s a really oddball character or anything like that.  His construction is pretty similar to his opponent, with add-ons for his mask and belt.  Both of these were new to Bullseye, and both would remain unique to him.  The mask was the first time we got visible eyes beneath a separate mask piece, and it handles them quite well.  The belt’s a pretty solid and pretty standard piece, so I’m a little surprised it wasn’t re-used, and honestly I might be wrong on that.  The paint on this guy is again pretty basic, but shows some of their trend towards higher levels of detailing.  When first shown, Bullseye was in a color scheme much closer to his modern comics appearance, but by time of release, the bulk of him is a much friendlier blue.  Not sure why the change, but it matches his classic appearances, so I guess that’s fine.  Bullseye is the master of turning anything into a weapon, so there are a lot of accessory options there, but this guy just goes for a single small knife.  Honestly, it’s not the end of the world, considering that the Legend didn’t even get that much.

UNMASKED DD

Man, did you think that Unmasked Spider-Man was a lazy excuse for a whole figure?  Well, feast your eyes on Unmasked Daredevil.  Literally, he’s the Series 1 Daredevil with Peter Parker’s hair/glasses.  You had to buy a second Bullseye in order to get a thing you stood a good chance of just doing on your own with parts you already had on hand.  What’s more, it’s not even all that great an unmasked figure, because, with the glasses and all, about the same amount of the face is visible.  Boy was this a weak, weak variant.  In a world where people pointed to the sanctity of preserving the rarity of the variants, I point to this guy and say “how do you preserve that?”, considering that an unmasked option literally became a standard for DDs after this.  I’m not a fan of this guy.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I had Damaged DD and Bullseye when they were new, but over the years lost most of their pieces.  I recall liking them well enough at the time, and I can confirm I still think they’re pretty worthwhile.  Damaged DD in particular is a unique offering and does actually try to do something new and interesting.  Unmasked DD I didn’t have when he was new, in part because I wasn’t getting the variants, but also because even when they were still new, I felt he was a waste of space.  And now I have one and I still kinda feel like he’s a waste of space.  But I own him, so I guess he won in the end, now didn’t he?

All three of these specific ‘mates are new to me, and were purchased from my friends at All Time Toys.  They’ve still got a lot of that Minimate collection, and other cool toys both old and new, so please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2418: Wolverines (and friends)

WOLVERINE — MODERN AGE/BATTLE RAVAGED/POWER SLAMMER, LADY DEATHSTRIKE, & SABRETOOTH

X-MEN/MODERN AGE (TOY BIZ)

Alright, let’s wrap this bad boy up, bub! When I was divvying up the figures for these reviews, I was doing it by the year of release, and in the process, I actually erroneously listed one of today’s offerings as being from ’99, rather than ’97, as it should be.  With the ’97 review as crowded as it already was, I’m just going to give myself a slight break on that, and group it in here.  It fits better here anyway, since none of today’s figures are truly from the X-Men line proper.  It’s gonna get a little bit complicated, so I might as well jump right in, I suppose.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

“His past shrouded in mystery, the man known simply as Logan was once a Canadian secret agent.  As Wolverine, Logan is a deadly, living weapon.  Besides being a master of a myriad of both armed and unarmed combat, Wolverine’s senses are superhumanly acute and rival many animals, making him a superior tracker and hunter.  Wolverine’s skeleton is laced with an unbreakable metal known as adamantium.  Wolverine is also equipped with foot-long adamantium claws that retract into his hand and can slice through nearly anything.  Coupled with a mutant healing factor that automatically regenerates any damaged or destroyed cells in his body, Wolverine’s ferocity in combat makes him a virtually unstoppable opponent.” 

I’ve delved once before (and rather recently) into Toy Biz’s Modern Age line, which was a direct market line of figures dropped in ’99.  Obviously, Wolverine is a far less obscure entry than Captain Britain, and far less in need of yet another figure, but he was very likely the figure that actually got retailers to support such a venture in the first place.  In that regard, he’s actually a valid comics variant, being a new take on the Brown Costume, which hadn’t actually seen an update since the very first series of X-Men back in 1991.  An update was probably a good idea, though whether this update was an improvement is perhaps more up for debate.  The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  Structurally, there’s not anything new to this guy.  He’s the Ninja Wolverine with the forearms and lower legs of the Water Wars Wolverine.  It all meshes together well enough, I suppose, but it means the figure is as much a caricature of Wolverine as the Ninja figure was.  With the unmasked appearance, they’re clearly aiming to capture his appearance from the cover of his first solo series, but these parts are pretty far from that look stylistically.  I’m also just not a huge fan of this particular head.  He’s got some major underbite going on there.  Wolverine’s packed with a sword and dagger…and, well, I mean, I think they’re meant to tie into his being based on the miniseries, wherein Logan travels to Japan and makes use of such things.  Trouble is, they’re re-used from the Hercules and Xena lines respectively, so they don’t look even vaguely Japanese in origin.  On the plus side, this guy does bring the trading card back.  Nifty!

“Flying at each other with berserker rage and vengeance are Lady Deathstrike and Wolverine.  Each possessing claws infused with the super-strong metal adamantium, Wolverine and Lady Deathstrike are sworn archenemies.  Believing Wolverine to be the key to unlocking the secrets of her father’s research, Lady Deathstrike will stop at nothing until she has defeated the mutant X-Man.  With a rivalry sure to explode when they next meet, Wolverine and Lady Deathstrike are headed for trouble.”

We now enter into the realm that makes up the rest of this review: two-packs.  Toy Biz was rather fond of them, especially later in the 5-inch run, as they were a pretty quick and easy way to turn around some “new” product with a small, concise theme.  It was also a way to get slightly harder to find figures back out in a way that assured a sale of two figures instead of just one.  The “Greatest __” set-up was a popular one for the two-packs, and this particular set, made up of Wolverine and Lady Deathstrike, was dubbed “Greatest Archenemies,” and hit shelves in 1997 (yes, this is the offending item that broke my whole yearly break down).  I’m a little skeptical about Deathstrike being Logan’s greatest archenemy, but whatever.  The Wolverine included in this pack was a re-deco of the Invasion Series’ Battle-Ravaged Wolverine, which is honestly a pretty solid figure.  He stands 5 1/4 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  Again, he’s quite tall for Wolverine.  And just kind of large in general, really.  This sculpt is one I’m fairly nostalgic about, the original release being my first Wolverine figure, and I do think it overall holds up pretty well.  The paint for this guy is rather drastically different, with it being a metallic paint scheme in contrast to the flat colors of the original.  This one also dials up the battle damage throughout, in contrast to the nature of the sculpt.  It’s not terrible, but I feel the coloring on the original is far superior to this release.  He was also given the weird armor from Patch, which isn’t a good fit for the body, or particularly great just as an accessory, but it sure is here.

Pairing off with this Wolverine was another go at Lady Deathstrike, previously seen in the Battle Brigade assortment.  She had two different decos there, but gets yet another here.  She stands 5 1/4 inches tall and has 7 points of articulation.  Her sculpt’s, uh, well, her sculpt’s not great.  I mean, I guess it’s not terrible, but it’s definitely not great.  I mean, all the important details are there, but the proportions are kinda wonky, and it’s really stiff.  It’s got those v-hips, and that’s pretty much never any fun for anyone.  For some reason, her forearms and hands are really soft and rubbery as well, and I’ve got no clue as to why.  Perhaps they were a safety hazard if cast in hard plastic?  She’s also got a radically changed color scheme, and I’m not really sure what it’s going for.  She’s pretty much only had the one color scheme in the comics, so this is an odd choice.  It’s also not very cleanly applied, and still feels kind of tacky in a number of places.  She gets the infrared headset and forearm cannon from the original Deathstrike release, but loses out on the big gross claw.  Also included in this set is a metal X-Men ring, if that’s the sort of thing you’re into.

In 2000, things began winding down for the 5-inch line.  To somewhat tie-in with the X-Men movie and the subsequent re-runs of the cartoon on Fox, Toy Biz put together a brief line of repaints and re-issues for the 5-inch figures.  There were three series of single-packed figures, and three different two-packs as well.  Wolverine and Sabretooth, whose rivalry was highlighted in the film, paired off for one of the sets.  The Wolverine figure in this set is essentially just a straight re-issue of the Wolverine included in the Power Slammers Series, one of the two Wolvies released in 1998 (a year I’ve pretty much skipped today). The figure stands just shy of 5 inches tall and he has 10 points of articulation.  While the Rogue and Gambit figures that accompanied this Wolverine figure in his original series were based on the Shi’ar attire they were wearing in the comics at the time, Wolverine had no such attire, so Toy Biz just sort of made up something to loosely match them, I suppose.  It’s not one of my favorite designs, and looks more like a snowboarding suit than something Wolverine would wear.  The sculpt is at least a relatively decent one, with a fair bit of detailing mixed in and a reasonable set of prioportions.  They even kept the pre-posing to a minimum.  It’s really just the costume design that’s whacky.  The original release came with a power slammer contraption, but this one instead gets the splitting door accessory from the Battle Ravaged Wolverine figure.

Packed in with Wolvie was a variant of Sabretooth.  Like Wolverine, the core figure is essentially the same as a prior figure, specifically the Sabretooth from 1997’s Ninja Series.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 9 points of articulation.  His sculpt is suitably large and imposing, something prior Sabretooths hadn’t quite gotten down.  He’s also fairly well articulated, and generally looked as being the best general Sabretooth sculpt of the 5-inch days, despite being such a non-standard design.  He gets him some Wolverine hair (making it a little surprising that this figure was never repainted into Logan), and sort of a onesie.  It’s perhaps not as intimidating a look as his sheer size would tend to hint at, but then again, Sabretooth has never really had much of a sense of fashion.  This figure’s paint is largely unchanged from his single-pack, but he did get white boots in place of the original silver ones.  He gets the two pieces of clip-on armor from the Ninja release, but lacks that figure’s mask and tunic.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Honestly, this last round of figures is pretty much all made up of figures that were on the chopping block when I was briefly considering *not* getting every figure I didn’t have from the collection at All Time.  I of course then came to my senses and realized how silly I was being not just filling in the set outright.  That said, this is definitely the weakest selection, with some kind of uninspired repaints, some really goofy toy-original designs that just don’t quite land, and a strangely not artist-specific take on an artist-specific concept.  Nothing here’s as terrible as, say Battle Blasters Wolverine, but none of its as fun as Unleashed or Missile Flyers.

Thanks to All Time Toys for setting me up with these guys to review.  If you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2390: Ultron

ULTRON

MARVEL UNIVERSE (HASBRO)

“Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the greatest crossover event of all time. As Galactus assembles the vast machine that will eventually consume Battleworld and all that exist on its surface, Mr. Fantastic and the other heroes lay their plans. The leader of the Fantastic Four knows more about Galactus than any man alive, and his advice on the coming battle is priceless. Back in Doombase, Ultron stands guard over his master’s interests while the other villains go about their assigned tasks.”

2009 was the 25th Anniversary of Marvel’s Secret Wars crossover.  Given that the whole purpose of that god-forsaken thing was to move some toys, I guess it was only appropriate that its anniversary would also be used to move some toys.  Hasbro got in on the action with a whole sub-set of two-packs from their then running Marvel Universe line, and really took advantage of the event to bulk up the classic characters roster for the line.  The villains in particular made out quite well, since a good number of the packs paired the off one on one with the heroes.  It also managed to get us our first ever proper classic Ultron figure, after Toy Biz batted around it so many times.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ultron was released in the third series of Secret Wars two-packs for the Marvel Universe line, in a pack that also included Mr. Fantastic and a reprint of Secret Wars #6.  Ultron’s role in the mini-series is pretty darn laughable, but I’ll take any excuse to get a good Ultron figure.  The figure stands 4 inches tall and has 23 points of articulation.  I actually looked at this sculpt in its entirety already, when I looked at the later single-carded Ultron.  It’s a really good sculpt, and a pretty fantastic recreation of the classic Ultron design.  There are a few quirks to it, but that doesn’t stop me from loving it (my figure here is actually missing the shoulder pads he’s supposed to have; both versions of the mold included them, but this guy came to me without one of them, and I wanted him to be symmetrical).  The big change-up is the paintwork.  The single release had a slightly out of character color scheme, making him more of a gunmetal grey and bright green combo.  It was interesting, but not quite a “classic” Ultron.  This figure stuck with the classics, with a brighter shade of silver, and the proper red for the eyes and mouth.  Unlike the later figure, the energy also doesn’t bleed out over the rest of the figure; the red stays confined to the head.  The spots that were green on the body on the other figure are instead a dark blue here, which quite well replicates the comics design, accents the sculpt quite well.  I also really dig the crackling energy effect they’ve done in his mouth, which again is straight comics in nature.  Ultron included no accessories, unless you want to count the dead weight that was the Mr. Fantastic figure that made up the other-half of this two-pack.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I discussed in my review of the single release, I missed out on this guy when he was new, largely because I just didn’t want that Mr. Fantastic.  I made due with the later figure, but I definitely still wanted this one, since he’s the true classic look and all.  Fortunately, one got traded into All Time right before everything shut down, and I was able to grab him.  Sure, he’s missing the shoulderpads, but that’s a small thing.  I still like the green one for his uniqueness, but this guy’s the real deal.  He can be the Ultron-11 to that guy’s Ultron-12.

#2388: Peter Parker & Mary Jane

PETER PARKER & MARY JANE

MARVEL MINIMATES

During the first year of Marvel Minimates, DST put together a few exclusives to bulk up the line a little further than just the core three series.  In the nature of repurposing all over the place in those early days, one of those exclusives, Grey Hulk and Ultimate Spider-Man, was a pairing of figures that would be literally everywhere by the end of the line.  The other notable exclusive is today’s pack, Peter Parker and Mary Jane, a pair of figures that were never directly re-released in any fashion.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Peter and Mary Jane were available at San Diego Comic-Con in 2003, alongside the previously mentioned Hulk and Spider-Man.  More than the other set, they feel like a direct continuation of Series 2’s Spider-Man theme, and pretty much slot right in with that set.

PETER PARKER

We got a half-Spidey/half-Peter ‘mate in the main line, so this figure creates the counter part to the full Spidey, giving us a full Peter.  Yay, I guess.  He’s built on the standard old-style ‘mate body, so he’s 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  He got a new hair piece and book bag.  Both would see re-use later, but they were new here.  Like Bruce Banner, the glasses are opaque, something I don’t like as much here as I did on Banner.  Beyond that, he’s just paint, which pretty much just replicates the Peter half of the Series 2 figure directly.  It’s definitely a ’60s Peter, that much is certain.  It fits in alright with the style of the early ‘mates, so I can’t really knock it.  Peter was packed with a book accessory, to go with that book bag, I guess.

MARY JANE

Peter’s main love interest and a long time fixture of the comics, Mary Jane didn’t really get her proper due as a Minimate until 15 years into the run.  She did get this…thing, however.  Mary Jane was the standard ‘mate body, but with a new hair piece.  A hair piece that was clearly aiming for some kind of recreation of John Romita’s look for MJ, but…well, it missed the mark a bit, and ends up looking more like a crappy mullet.  With the one piece of new sculpting dressed down, let’s talk about the paint.  Oh, it’s not good.  There’s way too many lines on that face.  That would be too many lines for a modern-style ‘mate.  For a year one release?  She looks like she’s a million.  The eyes are okay; it’s really he lower half of the face that ruins it.  Moving past the face we can stop and ask “what is she supposed to be wearng?”  MJ was pretty well defined as always having pretty flattering wardrobe, but this ain’t that.  She’s got a sleeveless shirt that may as well be a pillow case, plus capris, and…dress shoes?  I don’t know.  I don’t think this replicates a specific look.  Wouldn’t it have made sense to, I don’t know, go for that distinctive design that she has on that distinctive panel that everybody remembers that introduced her?  No, that would be too on the nose.  Let’s go with this ugly thing.  Making things uglier, the plastics on the various parts of her pants don’t match at all in coloring, which looks awful.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got this set from All Time when they got that large collection of ‘mates back last fall.  At this point, I was really just working on filling in my “year one” set, which these guys are a part of, and that’s about the only reason I bought them.  Peter is kind of meh, and not exactly enough to sell the set on his own.  MJ, on the other hand, is quite possibly the worst Minimate in existence, and is certainly the worst the first year had to offer.  Clearly, the reason neither of these two saw re-release is because they just really didn’t warrant it.

#2381: Silver Surfer

SILVER SURFER

MARVEL MINIMATES

The initial Marvel Minimates stuff was all really compartmentalized.  Two of the three assortments were tight-nit themes, and the other assortment stuck to at least themes within each pairing.  There was, however, one figure shown off with initial product who didn’t have a natural pairing or theme: Norin Radd, the Silver Surfer.  See, his lack of connection to anyone else was supposed to cement him as the key exclusive piece in the planned single-packed assortments.  The plan was he’d be packed in a case of singles, with the rest being made up of repacked figures from the two packs, in sort of a flip of the TRU five packs.  The singles did show up eventually, but only as an exclusive to a Canadian chain, and they didn’t include poor Surfer.  Fortunately, as with most of the early ‘mates, there ended up being several ways to get him.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Silver Surfer was initially released in the Marvel Minimates line on his own as a Tower Records-exclusive, then surfaced in one of the TRU four-packs, then the TRU ten-pack, then in series 7 of the main line alongside Spider-Man 2099, and then finally in an Action Figure Xpress-exclusive two-pack with Thanos.  Apart from the AFX version getting C3-style feet, the figures were all the same, making him a relatively easy to acquire ‘mate, at least for a good while.  Surfer was, and continues to be with more recent offerings, a vanilla ‘mate, relying only on the basic ‘mate body to make him work.  As such he stands 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  The heavy lifting here was done via the paint, and while you could go *really* basic on a character like this, DST actually put some care into his detailing, attempting to capture the comics’ style of making him look extra shiny.  There’s more of a minimalist bend to this one, going more for a “suggest but don’t explicitly outline” approach to most of his features.  Contrasted against the far more line-work heavy designs of the later Surfers, I can’t help but just really dig this one for the simplicity of it all, even if the paint on mine has taken quite a beating over the years.  Surfer’s one accessory is his board, which for this version is just a board, with no pegs or anything on it.  It’s a little limiting in regards to what you can do with it, but it also means it’s not marred by the connection points that were all over the later versions.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I wanted Surfer as soon as I could get one, but being much younger and not having the action figure-acquiring means I have now, I ended up having to wait until his proper main line release in Series 7.  Over the years, I lost most of my Spider-Man 2099, but I’ve still got Surfer.  He’s still pretty dope.

#2360: Flint

FLINT

G.I. JOE: SIGMA 6 (HASBRO)

“Flint worked with many stealth forces before joining the GIJoe team. He leads espionage operations, while Duke commands tactical missions. Like a cat hunting the night, he is silent and unseen, until he attacks with the full force of his impressive combat skills. He and Snake-Eyes make a perfect team: the knife that cuts the night, and the arrow that pierces the dark. His multi-weapon system can be configured in different ways, and the custom-made sword is this stealthy hunter’s formidable ‘claw.'”

With a new relaunch of G.I. Joe almost upon us (provided the world doesn’t end first, of course), I’m in a mood to delve back into some of their previous re-launches.  Let’s take another look at poor old Sigma 6.  Initially, Sigma 6 placed its focus on a core team of arguably the most memorable (or at least marketable and distinctly different) Joes, upgrading them to a more multipurpose task force, in order to fill some of the spots classically taken up by the ’80s line’s more specialized forces.  However, by the time of the line’s third and final year, they decided to expand things ever so slightly, and reintroduce a few more of the ’80s characters into the fold.  Some of those figures were fairly faithful updates of the old toys, while some of them went a little more for the reinventing side of the line.  Today’s focus, 1985’s Warrant Officer Flint, fell into the latter category, with a pretty hefty rework.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Flint was released in the third Commando wave of the 2007 line-up of G.I. Joe: Sigma 6…well, okay, technically it wasn’t “Sigma 6” anymore, as Hasbro had dropped the branding from the toys after the show stopped airing.  But they were still in the same style and are a continuation of the same line…and otherwise it’s just a line simply titled “G.I. Joe” with no further modifiers.  I’m getting kind of off topic and distracted.  Sorry.  So, Flint was in the penultimate Commando wave of the line, and definitely sticks with the end of the line’s slight move away from some of the stricter team-building they’d been doing previously.  Interestingly, Flint’s bio describes him as a character that’s really, really different from his more “mainstream” counterpart, suggesting that perhaps he had already been planned for an appearance of some sort on the show before it wrapped up?  I know other figures from late in the line were based around un-used cartoon concepts, so maybe Flint was too.  The figure stands a little over 8 inches tall and he has 25 points of articulation.  He’s also got the Kung-Fu grip feature on his right hand, which allows for some slight movement on the fingers, but is designed to snap back into place for a tighter fit on the grip (which is actually a totally different design than the original kung-fu grip; his left hand is actually far closer to the original design).  Flint was an all-new sculpt, and one of the most unique sculpts from the line.  He doesn’t go for the sigma-uniform variant that the other Joes in the line did, making him feel like more of an outsider.  It also gives him a slightly more generic, and slightly more real-world appearance, at least in terms of what he’s wearing.  He still maintains the line’s signature style, of course, but he’s not wearing anything that looks particularly sci-fi-y.  He’s also not wearing anything that looks particularly Flint-y.  About the closest you get to a traditional Flint item is that his cloth vest piece has some straps of pouches that look somewhat like the original figure’s “suspenders.”  The head represents possibly the most radical departure of all.  Not only does he not get Flint’s signature beret, he’s got long hair, possibly the longest hair of any of the main Joes in the line.  It even covers part of his face!  What kind of a warrant officer would stand for that?  The kind that’s not actually a warrant officer, I suppose.  He’s also got a pretty sizable scar running down the left side of his face, but scars are hardly a new development when it comes to the Joes.  Flint was packed some climbing gear, which included his vest and a harness for his pelvis.  He also included a gun which could be broken down into much smaller components, but like a lot of my Sigma 6 collection, my figure is missing a good number of his parts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Sigma 6 was difficult enough to find at retail when retailers were supporting it, so when they stopped supporting it late in the line, the figures became practically non-existent.  By the time of Flint’s introduction, I’d pretty much given up any hope of really getting any of these at retail.  Thanks to some hunting over the years on my part, I’ve managed to actually find a few of the ones I wanted, Flint included.  Flint is an interesting inclusion in the line, especially since the only thing that connects him to the original character is the name Hasbro stuck on the box.  That doesn’t stop him from being a really cool figure, though, and I’m glad I was finally able to add one to my collection.

#2350: Storm & Logan

STORM & LOGAN

MARVEL MINIMATES

Back in January, I delved into the time capsule of the earliest assortments of Marvel Minimates, and their choice to use the Ultimate universe’s versions of Marvel’s merry mutants over their mainstream counterparts.  Some of the characters weren’t too heavily changed, while some of them were.  Today’s set pairs both sides of that coin, with Storm (a character whose backstory and characterization were both fairly divergent from 616) and Wolverine (a character so unchanged from his mainstream counterpart that no one really noticed that the one included in this particular set *isn’t* actually the Ultimate incarnation).

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These two were paired up for the specialty Series 3 assortment of Marvel Minimates, and they would both also be included in the TRU 5-pack and 4-pack that corresponded to the assortment.  They were split up and matched with their opposite numbers in the Wolverine/Sabretooth set for the Canadian release, and then Logan found his way into one more stray two-pack for Walmart and Target.

STORM

Storm’s Ultimate incarnation may have been different in terms of character, but in terms of design, she really wasn’t that far removed.  I could see regular Storm wearing this at some point in the ’90s.  The figure is built on the pre-c3 ‘mate body, with long feet and all.  She had four add-on pieces for her hair, necklace, and boots.  The necklace is shared with her assortment-mate Jean Grey, and the hairpiece was re-used twice more (for Emma Frost and She-Hulk).  The boots remained unique to this release, though, and use the older style slipping over the standard feet style of design.  Like the others in these early assortments, the general style on these parts is rather basic, though she’s certainly one of the most built-up ‘mates of the earliest releases.  It’s a little odd for Storm to be one of the largest characters, but that’s really just how the trappings of the early line work out.  Storm’s paintwork is actually pretty good for the early figures.  It’s still more on the basic line, but there’s a fair bit going on, with the coolest bit by far being the wraps on her arms.  That said, she does miss out on actually getting the sculpted earrings painted; at least they got her ears, though.

LOGAN

The standard Ultimate version of Wolverine was packed with Sabretooth (and Cyclops), but you can’t have just one lone Wolverine, can you?  Of course not.  As I touched on in the intro, he’s actually the one figure in this assortment who wasn’t from the Ultimate universe, instead being just a regular civilian version of the original Logan, as denoted by the hair’s distinctive shaping and his lack of goatee.  He too uses the standard old body, but with a set of the old-style claw hands as well as an add-on for the hair.  This is probably my favorite Wolverine hair piece the line produced, which makes it rather a shame that this was the only time it was used (though it was shown on prototype shots for the DOFP Wolverine, before being replaced with the New X-Men Wolverine piece). The rest of the figure is handled via paint, and it ends up working out alright.  The face is a rather unique expression for Logan, but one that works in the context of the earlier ‘mates, and the detailing on the jacket is actually pretty impressive.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I mentioned in my Wolverine and Sabretooth review, the only Series 3 set I picked up when these were new was Cyclops and Jean.  I got this one along with a handful of other older sets from Luke’s Toy Store back during one of their sales.  I’ve always wanted this pair, so I was glad to finally get them.  Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much from them, but they’re both pretty solid ‘mates, even by more modern standards.

#2238: Trapjaw

TRAPJAW

MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE (MATTEL)

Evil & armed for combat”

It’s been a stretch since I’ve looked at anything Masters of the Universe.  With it being pretty much the only major property Mattel’s got going for them (on the action figure front, at least; they’ve still got Mega Construx, Hot Wheels, and Barbie, I guess), and they’re supposedly trying to relaunch the brand again this year.  Until that line launches, I’ve got my love the 200x line to keep me warm.  I’ve got a pretty decent little collection of that line, so I’m dusting one of those off for review today.  Let’s have a look at Trapjaw!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Trapjaw was released in the second assortment of Evil Warriors as part of the 2002 Masters of the Universe relaunch (though, as part of said second assortment, he didn’t actually hit until 2003).  He was released alongside a Skeletor Variant and the previously reviewed Tri-Klops.  The figure stands a little under 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 13 workable points of articulation.  Technically, there’s a joint on his jaw as well, but it’s spring loaded, so it doesn’t really hold a pose (though I was able to keep it open long enough for the photo at the top of this review).  Like most of the 200x line, Trapjaw was sporting a unique sculpt, in contrast to his original figure, which used the same torso as everyone else and shared his legs with Roboto and Man-E-Faces.  Nope, this guy was all new.  Like a number of the figures I’ve looked at, Trapjaw was well-served by the divergent sculpts, as he was able to lean more heavily into the “mutilated cyborg” elements of the character.  The end result is far more imposing design than the one from the ’80s, making another member of Skeletor’s band seem like a genuine threat, rather than just another pea-brained buffoon.  Of course, then the cartoon went and made him a buffoon anyway…guess you can’t win them all.  There are a lot of really fun little details worked into this figure, including the stitching on his torso, which adds to that general “Frankenstiened” feeling of this upgraded design.  Trapjaw’s paintwork is pretty decent, being a little more detailed than some of his compatriots.  He takes the general basics of the classic design, but tones them down ever so slightly to make them fit better with the sculpt.  The application’s all pretty sharp, and he doesn’t leave as many details unpainted as some of the other figures in the line.  Trapjaw included three different robot arm attachments.  The main one is a claw, with some extra articulation worked in.  He’s also got a hook, as well as a gun attachment.  They swap out pretty easily and all fit well with the rest of the arm, and can even be stowed on his belt or his back.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Last year, when All Time got in a rather large 200x Masters collection, I was already invested in getting Buzz-Off and Man-At-Arms, but hadn’t quite jumped on the Trapjaw figure.  Jason told me that if I was getting any 200x Masters, I really needed at Trapjaw, because he’s one of the best.  After finally getting this guy for myslef, I can’t disagree with that assessment.  Definitely one of the line’s best, even if Trapjaw isn’t one of my personal favorite characters.