BEAST & AZAZEL
Since no other licensors were really looking to dive their hands into the X-franchise after the financial failures of X3 and Wolverine: Origins, X-Men: First Class‘s entire tie-in output was in the form of Minimates, who had previously been rather light on coverage of the X-films. But here they were, doing Minimates from the movie, I guess. And good for them, really. So, today, I’m taking a look at Beast and Azazel! What do the two figures in this set have in common? Well, if we’re going by the comics, nothing. If we’re going by the movies…still nothing. But, if you view them through the strange nexus of both of those things, both of them are romantically linked to Mystique. How about that?
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
Beast and Azazel were, like the rest of the First Class ‘mates, released in the Toys R Us-exclusive FC-tie-in assortment of Marvel Minimates, which hit in early summer 2011.
Hank McCoy had the good fortune of being the only founding X-Man from the comics who was also allowed to be a founding member in the movies, as well as the good fortune to be part of both of the first two X-Men-movie-related Minimate assortments. What a lucky guy! This figure details him after his transformation into a blue furry monster guy, which I guess is sensible. Certainly more exciting than “guy in glasses and a sweater vest.” The figure is on a standard ‘mate body, so he’s about 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation. Beast makes use of the most sculpted parts of any figure in this assortment. He has add-ons for his hair, torso cap, and belt, as well as non-standard hands and feet. As with everyone else, all of these pieces are re-used. The hair was previously Weapon X’s from the Wolverine Through the Ages Boxed Set. It’s a reasonably well-sculpted piece, but it’s not at all close to Beast’s design from the movie. Certainly there were other pieces that would have worked better? The torso cap is the bulked up Hulk piece introduced in Series 22. It’s not the best powerhouse piece, and it’s especially restrictive to the arms, but it was the standard at the time, so not an unreasonable choice. His hands and feet are borrowed from the Universal Monsters line’s Wolf Man, and are definitely the best chosen re-use pieces here. They’re very nicely sculpted parts, and they actually match up pretty decently with Beast’s look in the movie. The paintwork on Beast is decent enough. His uniform details more or less match up with the rest of the team, which is certainly a plus, given how great those all were. There are some slight fur details on the wrists and ankles that help to differentiate him a bit. If there’s one major flaw, it’s this: he has a nose. Minimates aren’t supposed to have noses, but Beast does. It really over-crowds his face, and makes him just look…strange. Beast included no accessories. Not a change for this assortment, of course, and Beast is another instance where I’m not sure what you *could* give him anyway.
I don’t think anybody was particularly happy when Azazel was announced for First Class. The arc that introduced him in the comics is rather infamously bad, and he’s more than a little convoluted. Then the movie came along and just used him as “Red Nightcrawler”, and that actually worked a fair bit better. Azazel is constructed with two add-ons and a pair of non-standard hands. All of these are re-used from the GSXM-version of his son Nightcrawler, which is at the very least a nice touch. That being said, it doesn’t necessarily lend itself to the most accurate figure. The least accurate piece is definitely the hair, which is just flat-out wrong for the character. I get that they wanted to keep his pointy ears, but couldn’t they have at least used the updated piece from the Excalibur boxed set? It still wouldn’t be 100% accurate, but it’s a little closer, and it’s at least got some smaller detail work going on. This one, being from very early in the line’s run, is a lot simpler than more recent offerings, and it looks out of place. The hands are another point of inaccuracy, though slightly less frustrating. Azazel’s more or less got normal hands in the movie, rather than Nightcrawler’s three-fingered hands. That said, they don’t distract too much, and it’s the sort of detail you can more easily overlook. Plus, it’s not that hard to come by normal ‘mate hands. His tail is the piece that works best, because how do you screw up something like that? Azazel’s paintwork is actually pretty decent. There’s some really great contrast going on between the red and black. The red in particular is really bright, and very eye catching. The likeness on the face bears a very strong resemblance to actor Jason Flemyng, and is generally just very sharp looking. They even included Azazel’s scar over his left eye! Azazel brakes from the norm for this assortment, and actually gets an accessory. It’s the “bamf” cloud from the Excalibur set, but done up in red, so as to match Azazel’s effect from the movie.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
I picked up my set of these figures while on a family road trip in 2011. It was before I’d seen the movie, and therefore knew how much I’d liked it, but after it had become clear that the film stood a chance of not totally sucking. This set’s not the assortment’s strongest. Beast is definitely the weakest of the main team in this assortment. While the others were all perfectly do-able using stock parts, it’s ultimately robbed Beast of any real screen accuracy. He’s fine for rounding out the set, but that’s about it. Like Beast, Azazel is rather inaccurate, and a bit hampered by the lack of new parts. However, in his case, he still ends up as a rather entertaining figure despite that, and really carries this set.