#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.

#2288: Spirit Iron-Knife

SPIRIT IRON-KNIFE

G.I. JOE: SIGMA 6 (HASBRO)

“Spirit Iron-Knife started in field operations and was selected for the most difficult missions because of his outstanding ability to spot overlooked clues.  He became a lead investigator at special ops and solved complex cases with his ability to track suspects using shreds of information.  He was soon promoted to covert ops and used his tracking skills to to uncover criminals skilled at concealing their existence.  He is also an expert at creating small, precisely targeted explosions that disable mechanical or electronic systems without destroying the entire structure.  He is a highly skilled marksman with his bow, using technologically advanced arrows that deliver powerful explosions.”

In the last several months, I’ve taken some time to really look at the G.I. Joe franchise, with a real focus on its ’80s A Real American Hero incarnation, which was by far the franchises most popular and successful incarnation.  Now I’m taking a jump ahead to the incarnation that followed, Sigma 6.  Launched in the mid-00s, it tried to modernize things and tap into what was popular at the time, and it was honestly a pretty decent success. Well, purely commercially, anyway.  With the pre-existing fans?  Let’s just say they don’t deal well with change.  So, after a solid three year run, it was put to bed and replaced with a return to the old.  But, let’s not focus on the end, let’s focus on the beginning, with one of the line’s launch figures, a re-imagined Spirit Iron-Knife.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Spirit Iron-Knife was one of the five figures released in the first Commando assortment of the Sigma 6 line, which launched the line in 2005.  Compared to the others in the assortment, Spirit was something of an oddball choice, not being amongst what people would typically consider the “core” Joes.  The figure stands 8 inches tall and he has 25 points of articulation.  His sculpt was all-new at launch (and would later be re-used for a second version of Spirit), though it certainly had some similarities to his team-mates, given the line’s general style and the uniformed nature of the Joes.  Spirit’s design is shared with his cartoon counterpart, and marked something of a departure from his original ’84 design (which was a little bit stereotypical for a Native American tracker).  He had received quite a redesign in the comics that accompanied the 2002 relaunch of ARAH, and his S6 design seemed to take a few elements from that, as well as being the first version of the character to tap into Billy from Predator as a design inspiration.  The final result is honestly the most unique of the five initial figures, not just when compared to the other four in the same set, but also compared to prior versions of Spirit himself.  The figure’s sculpt is definitely the coolest of the initial assortment, showing some neat deviations from the standard uniform, and giving us a head with a lot of character behind it.  As one of the more deluxe “Commando” releases, he also got to be a slightly mixed media affair.  Not only is his head band cloth, but he’s also got a pair of actual pants to wear over his Sigma suit, as well as the usual set of dogtags.  The figure was then armed with a bow, four arrows, a quiver, a knife, a sheath, a pair of axes, and his pet eagle.  As is the nature of the Sigma 6 beast, mine is incomplete, with only the bow and the knife sheath.  I know, for shame.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I’ve discussed before, Sigma 6 was a concept I very much enjoyed, but unfortunately not a line I was able to get much of when it was new.  Spirit was a figure I always wanted, but was just never able to get.  I was eventually able to track one down back in November of 2018.  It took a while to get him and he’s not complete, but it’s still very nice to have even just the core figure, because he’s quite a cool offering.

#2287: Wolverine & Sabretooth

WOLVERINE & SABRETOOTH

MARVEL MINIMATES

In a lot of ways, the earliest assortments of Marvel Minimates are an interesting time capsule of Mavel’s media presence in the early ’00s.  That’s why the first series is based on the two properties that were getting movies in 2003, and why our first set of X-Men weren’t based on anything from the mainstream universe, but rather the Ultimate line, which was getting Marvel’s big push at the time.  Though not the resounding success of Ultimate Spider-ManUltimate X-Men was still pretty big deal.  We got four sets dedicated to the team, plus a bunch of repacks made up of those sets.  Today, I’m looking at Wolverine and Sabretooth.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Wolverine and Sabretooth were released in Series 3 of Marvel Minimates, specifically the specialty assortment.  Both were available at TRU in a five-pack, and Wolverine was also packed with Cyclops at Target and Walmart (and I’ve already reviewed him here). Both characters are, as noted above, based on their ultimate universe incarnations.

Sabretooth’s Ultimate incarnation started out fairly close to his mainstream counterpart, with some of his first movie counterpart injected in.  Also four adamantium claws, because four is more than three, so he’s better than Wolverine.  Take that Wolverine.  The figure is built on the original long-footed ‘mate body, meaning he stands 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  The articulation is a bit restricted by the add-on pieces, so it’s mostly just the arms that move.  He’s got add-ons for his hair, hands, belt, and jacket.  They fit that older, much more simple aesthetic of the line, but are still pretty nicely sculpted pieces.  Honestly, the only part that looks really dated is the hair, and that’s amusingly the one piece of this figure that was re-used later in the line.  His paint work is again in line with the rest of the older stuff, but there’s a fair bit of detail going on, especially on the face and torso, showing some shades of where the line would go with such details.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The only Series 3 set I picked up new was Cyclops and Jean Grey.  Everyone else I passed on, I guess probably because they were the Ultimate versions…of course, then I also passed on the GSXM boxed set, so I have no idea.  This set is one I picked up from Luke’s Toy Store during one of their many sales for a ridiculously low price.  I already had the Wolverine, but it’s worth it just for Sabretooth.  He may not be my preferred version of the character, but he was quite an under-appreciated ‘mate.

#2283: Man-At-Arms

MAN-AT-ARMS

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE (MATTEL)

Heroic Master of Weapons”

My introduction to Masters of the Universe was not via the franchise’s original ’80s incarnation, but was instead through the attempted 2002 revival series.  Though ultimately not as much of a success as the original line, I myself have always much preferred this incarnation, in part for my own sentimental reasons, and in part because I have no reason to be sentimental about the original.  Whatever the case, I’m always game for a look back at the line that got me into things, and that’s just what I’ll be doing today, with a look at the updated series’ take on Prince Adam’s own wise, sagely mentor, Man-At-Arms!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Man-At-Arms was released as part of the Heroic Warriors half of the first assortment of Mattel’s 2002 Masters of the Universe line, alongside the basic He-Man and Stratos.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  While the vintage Man-At-Arms was built from the same bank of parts as He-Man and a good chunk of the rest of the line, for the purposes of the 200x update, he was given a major overhaul and, consequently, a totally new sculpt (albeit one that would be used for a handful of Man-At-Arms variants as the line progressed), just like pretty much every one else in the line.  Earlier in the line, Mattel was still trying to hang onto some of the build aspects of the old line, so unlike later figures, Man-At-Arms still has a removable chest piece, much like his vintage counter part.  While there’s not a ton of reason to remove it, it does allow for a continuation of the interchangeability that the old figures had, which would more or less be removed from the line from Series 2 onward.  The arm and leg pieces are not removable this time around, but it’s honestly a bit of an improvement, since now they won’t constantly fall off or be at risk for breaking.  Man-At-Arms’ sculpt is certainly an impressive one, and definitely the strongest of the debut Heroic Warriors.  They’ve gone really crazy with all of the various tech details, which help to really differentiate him from his prior figure, as well as further remove him from his genesis as largely a repaint of the basic barbarian.  That barbarian aspect is much more removed.  What’s not removed this time around is Duncan’s mustache, always curiously absent from his original figure.  This one has it in all of its Selleck-esque glory.  He’s also got a far more intimidating facial expression than his predecessor, making this one guy I would not want to mess with.  The paint work on this figure is fairly decent.  Like the sculpt, the paint exhibits far more detail than the ’80s version, though it still doesn’t quite do the sculpt justice.  Plenty of details go unpainted, and are therefore very easily missed by the casual eye.  Befitting his name, this Man-At-Arms came with two styles of armament.  He has the classic figure’s mace (albeit at a slightly more imposing scale) and adds an arm cannon which slips over his left hand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Man-At-Arms was, admittedly, never a character that was high on my list.  As such, I never had one growing up, and I hadn’t come across one since starting to go back and fill in the holes in the collection.  When All Time got in a whole bunch of 200x Masters figures a couple of months ago, Man-At-Arms was included.  Since I was already picking up a few others, he was a pretty easy purchase.  Now my collection feels a bit more complete.

As touched on above, I picked this guy up from my friends All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2259: Spider-Man & Carnage

SPIDER-MAN & CARNAGE

MARVEL MINIMATES

The early assortments of Marvel Minimates were home to some quite distinctive ‘mates.  While they are by and large a simpler selection and design, that can’t be said for every release.  In fact, the two ‘mates I’m looking at today remained some of the line’s most detailed for a long period of time, to the point where replacing them with updates seemed quite a daunting task for quite a while.  Without further ado, let’s have a look at Spider-Man and Carnage.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Spider-Man and Carnage are the final pairing from Series 2 of the main Marvel Minimates line, hitting alongside Series 1 and 3 in the summer of 2003.  Both would see re-release in a TRU 4-pack the following year, and Spider-Man would also be released in a TRU 5-pack and as a single in ’03, as well as packed with Green Goblin at Walmart and Target in ’04, and with Gajin Wolverine at Target in ’06.  He got around is what I’m getting at.

SPIDER-MAN

Perhaps the definitive classic ‘mate was this Spider-Man.  He was easily the poster child of the line’s launch, and remained front and center until the arrival of a new “standard” classic Spidey in Series 24.  It’s not a huge shock, I suppose, given that he’s Marvel’s most recognizable hero and his design allows for the showcasing of a “pure” Minimate body.  He stands 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation, and is constructed on the old long-footed body.  As with any standard Spidey, he’s great for taking a step back and appreciating the basic body at its best.  The heavy lifting, of course, is done with paint, and this Spidey had some of the very best.  All of his weblines are properly defined, something that would disappear as the line moved on.  Additionally, the face of his mask is really a perfect boiling down of Spidey’s classic mask.  No ‘mate that followed ever quite got that same feel.  It’s not 100% perfect; the blue is probably a touch dark, and compared to later releases, the lack of any musculature can be a little glaring.  On his own, though, he’s very strong.  Like the other Spider-Men in this inaugural assortment, he was packed with a webline piece.

CARNAGE

Having just escaped the ’90s, we were all still very invested in Carnage at this point, making him a solid choice for the final villain in this initial line-up.  It would be his only Minimate for a resounding 11 years, in no small part due to how well this one was implemented.  He’s fairly similar to Venom in his constuction, being a base body with a new set of hands, but it’s important to note that the hands on this one aren’t the same as on Venom, which was honestly a little bit surprising, but not unappreciated.  The real star of the show is again the paint.  Carnage’s distinctive black and red swirls are present on every visible surface, no small feat given how often details on the sides and backs of limbs got cut as the line progressed, or even compared to how sparse the rest of the early ‘mates were.  Heck, he gets full detailing on his hands and feet, the one place even Spidey’s weblines don’t go.  That’s impressive, and is part of why it took them 11 years to top this one, with a ‘mate that was rolling in the sculpted add-ons.  This one did it without those.  Carnage was packed with an extra hand, shaped like an axe, to demonstrate his shape-shifting abilities.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t actually get this set new.  My brother had one, but I ended up getting just the Spidey from elsewhere, and never felt compelled to track down Carnage until he was far too expensive on the aftermarket.  Then I got the 2014 release, and just didn’t feel the need to go back.  When All Time got in a large ‘mate collection back a few months ago, I managed to add every figure from the first year of the line to my collection, minus one: Carnage.  There was but one Carnage in the lot, and that went to Max, who’s definitely the store’s resident symbiote fanatic, so I wouldn’t dream of fighting him on it.  However, I did send him a photo of my shelf containing all but that one missing ‘mate, and he decided to go and be one of them pesky nice and generous people and give me his Carnage so that I could complete the set-up.  Can you believe the nerve of this guy?