#0908: Bruce Wayne & Pilot Batman




After the rousing success of the Marvel characters in the Minimates format, other comicbook companies wanted in on the action, including their main competition DC Comics. However, thanks to all sorts of licensing mumbo jumbo, Diamond Select and Art Asylum couldn’t directly produce DC products. Fortunately, Play Along, who also worked with Art Asylum on the Lord of the Rings Minimates line, had the rights to produce DC-based construction sets, which they were able to leverage into a way to produce Minimate versions of DC characters as part of the sets. The line was only moderately successful, but it did manage to produce a nice handful of prominent DC mainstays. Today, I’ll be looking at two of the figures the line offered, Bruce Wayne and Pilot Batman.


Bruce and Pilot Batman were included with the SDCC 2004 Stealth Batwing set. The set was a re-deco of the main line’s regular Batwing set. Batman was similarly a re-deco of that set’s Pilot Batman, but Bruce Wayne is wholly exclusive to this set.


Bruce&PilotBat3This was one of the two Bruce Wayne Minimates offered by the C3 line. The figure is a little under 2 ½ inches tall and has 14 points of articulation. While the more widely released version (included with the Batcave set) opted for a more traditional Bruce, this figure is based on Bruce’s more modernized design from 2004’s The Batman. Bruce has add-on pieces for his hair and jacket, both re-used from prior ‘mates. The jacket is the same piece used on the Batcave Bruce and the hair comes from Marvel Minimates Series 1’s Hulk. The pieces are pretty close matches (if you want to get really picky, Bruce’s jacket was always buttoned on the show, but that’s pretty minor). They’re far less detailed than most modern pieces, and have a much more squared-off appearance, but that actually works well in the context of his cartoon-based design. Paint is used fairly sparsely on Bruce, but what’s there is both clean and sharp, and he makes for a good translation of the animated design. I like the decision to give him a grin, as it gives us a Bruce that truly sells the whole millionaire playboy charade. Bruce included a cowl, cape/torso cover, and gloves, which allow him to be quick-changed into a pretty decent Batman Minimate (though he’s smiling, which is slightly odd).


Bruce&PilotBat2The C3 line ended up doing what most Batman-based lines do, and included a bunch of non-canon Bat-variants. On the plus side, Pilot Batman is actually a pretty sensible idea, especially when the Batwing is in question. Pilot Batman has add-ons for his helmet (with hinged visor), torso, and gloves, and at one point there was also a cape attachment for the back of the torso, but mine’s gone missing. All of these pieces (aside from the cape) were shared with the normal release version of Pilot Batman, but aside from that they were all-new. They aren’t based on anything in particular, but they fit pretty well with the line, and they look pretty cool. They also feature a lot more sculpted detail than most Minimate pieces of the time, meaning that this figure doesn’t look too out of place, even with current ‘mates. The difference between this figure and the regular release version is the paintwork. Mostly it’s just swapping out yellow accents for the blue ones, but there are also some slightly different details on the legs. Under the helmet, there’s a pretty Bruce Wayne face, clearly meant to be comics based, and under the torso piece, there’s a bat symbol, which could have easily been left out. Pilot Batman included no accessories, though I suppose an argument could be made that the normal Batman parts are for him, since they were also included with the regular Batwing.


Well after the C3 line had ended, Cosmic Comix, who had not carried any of the sets up to that point, received a case of this set, and was selling them for well under their original price. I bought one, mostly for these two figures. Over the years, I lost most of the parts to the actual Batwing portion of the set, but I still have these guys. They’re both pretty solid ‘mates, though neither of them is exactly a necessity for anyone’s collection.

#0191: Charles Tucker



So, I believe I’ve mentioned my controversial opinion of Star Trek: Enterprise on the site before, but for those who didn’t know: yes, I am a fan of it. It’s actually my favorite series after The Original Series and Next Generation. Sure, it wasn’t the greatest show, and there are some downright horrible episodes, but I do kinda like it. I think part of what I liked may have been the show’s action figures, produced by then up-and-coming company Art Asylum.  They did two waves of figures, the first based on the show’s pilot episode, and the second based on some of the crew’s away team looks. Today, I’ll be doing a review of the show’s chief of engineering, Charles “Trip” Tucker.


Trip is from the second series of the line, and is presented here in his EV, or Environmental, suit. The figure stands about 7 inches tall and has 22 points of articulation. The sculpted work on the figure is really quite nice. There’s lots of great details on the figure, and he features separate helmet and torso pieces that can be removed, which adds some very nice depth to the EV suit. The head sculpt looks pretty much spot on to actor Connor Trinneer, who played Trip on the show.  The paint work is not quite as good as the sculpt, but it’s not terrible.  The worst of it seems to be on the head, which has some pretty bad bleed over from the skin into the hair. Said skin is also very yellow, which gives Trip an unhealthy look. The paint on the EV suit is a lot better, and actually has some pretty cool details, especially on the chest piece. Trip includes a removable helmet and chest piece, and one of the weird coins that Art Asylum was including with all their figures at the time. So, yeah…


So, there’s actually a story to how I got this one. I was in the dealer’s room at ShoreLeave, a local sci-fi convention, and I found this figure from the resident action figure dealer. This guy was at a lot of the conventions, and had seen me lots of times before, what with me buying lots and lots of action figures. I really wanted the figure, but I didn’t have any money with me. So, one of the guys working the table walked the figure down with me so I could find my dad. When we found him, the guy walked up to my dad, who was definitely in the middle of something else at the time, and told him he needed to buy the figure for me. They offered to knock several dollars off the price as a “frequent-buyer’s discount.” My dad actually bought the figure for me, in spite of what most normal, sane, and rational people would do. Because he’s just that cool.

#0022: Lord of the Rings Minimates Part 1



The figures in question today are another set from the Minimates masses.  This time they come from Lord of the Rings, one of the first licenses to be attempted after the booming success that was Marvel Minimates.  They were released initially as to 4-packs: 1 containing Frodo, Gandalf, Gollum and an Ork; the other Aragorn, Legolas, Saruman and Twilight Frodo.  Today, I’ll be looking at the former set.



First up is the story’s lead character, the hobbit Frodo Baggins.  Frodo is built on the basic Minimate body, so he stands a little over two inches tall, and has 14 points of articulation.  His sculpted pieces include:  Hair, elven cloak, belt, and his trusty sword Sting and a scabbard.  These minimates are from an earlier time in the line, when the figures were more simplistic, so Frodo is sculpted to match this style.  As such, he’s a good deal less detailed than a modern ‘mate.    All in all, Frodo’s a pretty solid Minimate, but he represents one of the recurring issues with minimates as time has passed, and the line has evolved:  the older offerings don’t fit in with a lot of the new figures.


Next is Gollum, or is it Smeagol.  I guess he’s technically both.  Gollum/Smeagol is also built on the basic Minimate body.  His only sculpted piece is his loincloth-thingy.  All of his other details are painted.  Admittedly, the figure captures the character’s look rather well, but I can’t help but feel that this guy’s a little bit on the boring side.


Next is one of the more straight forward villains of the films, the Uruk-hai Berserker.  For brevity’s sake, I’ll just refer to him as Uruk.  Now, Uruk here is technically an army builder*.  His purpose as an army builder is a bit defeated a bit by packing him in a boxed set with 3 other “non-army builders,” but that hardly impacts the quality of the figure.  Uruk has two sculpted add-ons:  his loincloth and his helmet.  Both are well done, especially the loincloth, which has a very nice sculpted texture.  Uruk’s paintjob is probably the most complex of the set, with detailing on practically every surface.  Of particular note is the full face detailing under the helmet, allowing Uruk to be displayed sans helmet.  Though he’s the only non-named character in the set, Uruk is, in my opinion, the most standout ‘mate in the set.


Last up is another of the main characters from the films, as well as a major character in the current Hobbit films, Gandalf.  In particular, this is Gandalf the White, depicting the wizard in the garb he wore after his assumed death at the hands of the Balrog in the first film (umm…spoilers?).  Unsurprisingly, Gandalf is predominately white.  Well, off-white, but that’s splitting hairs.  Gandalf is built on the larger (But not largest!) minimate body, but still features all the same articulation as his smaller counterparts, although his hair and skirt pieces do restrict the neck and legs respectively.  Gandalf features the most sculpted pieces of the set: Hair and beard, cape, skirt-piece, and two pieces that slide over the wrists to simulate Gandalf’s longer sleeves.  As far as painted details, Gandalf is fairly basic, with his only real detailing being on his torso and face.  The torso is fine, but the face is nothing short of amazing.  The designers managed to capture Sir Ian McKellen’s likeness perfectly in just a few simple lines.  Wrapping things up, Gandalf also features his wizard’s staff.  It’s decently sculpted, although it does have a tendency to bend in the middle over time.


So, all in all this is an okay set.  It’s definitely a product of its time, when Minimates were much more simplistic.  While that worked well for characters such as the Marvel super heroes, who thrive on simplicity, I don’t feel that it works quite as well with characters like these, who don’t have particularly dynamic designs.  The strongest figure in this set by far is Uruk, who is the one figure that I feel comes closest to the modern standards of minimates.

The other big issue this line has is that it doesn’t really fit in with any of the other Minimates lines.  In order to accommodate the smaller size of the hobbits, they made the human characters larger, putting this line in a scale completely its own.

I got this set for my birthday the year it was released.  I remember enjoying it, but not quite as much as my other minimates.  In this set’s defense , I am a lot more of a Marvel fan than a LOTR fan.

*For those not in the know, an army-builder is a figure, typically of a nameless character, that can serve as a generic member of an army of similar characters.  Army builders are meant to help you build an army at a greater speed, by letting the collector have a figure they can buy a large quantity of at once.  It is also beneficial to the toy company, as they get greater sales without having to tool new figures.  A good example of an army builder is the Stormtroopers from Star Wars.