CYCLOPS, WOLVERINE, COLOSSUS, STORM, NIGHTCRAWLER, & THUNDERBIRD
The first year of Marvel Minimates was all kind of consolidated around the summer of 2003, so it was a little while before we well and truly got a follow-up, but they kickstarted their second year off with a bang. After focussing purely on the Ultimate incarnation of the X-Men, for their first two entries in year two, DST decided to circle back around and give us classic X-Men in spades. When it comes to classic X-Men, it’s hard to get more classic than the cover of Giant-Size X-Men #1, which is what the line’s first dedicated boxed set was based around. So, without further ado, let’s jump right in!
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
The Giant-Size X-Men boxed set hit in January of 2004, and was the first boxed set to be available through specialty shops. It (and the AFX-exclusive Professor X and Magneto) introduced the totally windowless packaging that would become the norm for the line for the next four years. In the case of this particular set, it was probably the nicest box the line produced, replicating the cover to the original issue quite nicely. I’ve included a shot of it here, courtesy of minimatedatabase.com. Of the six figures contained in this set, five would eventually be made available as part of a set of Target exclusive two-packs (Thunderbird wound up as the odd man out), with the major difference between the two releases being C3-style feet on the later figures.
Already two ‘mates in by this point, this set finally gave us Cyclops with his classic cowled appearance. It wouldn’t be the last time we’d see it, even just for a short while, but it sure was important at the time. He’s built on the standard old-style body, so he’s 2 1/4 inches tall and he’s got 14 points of articulation. He’s got one add-on piece for his mask/visor, which is a pretty nicely sculpted piece. I always appreciated how the visor on it was so instantly unique from the one on the Series 3 Cyclops. It was also a nice enough piece that it lasted through to 2010 before being retired. The rest of things are handled through paint, and admittedly not a lot of it. Of the six figures included here, Scott was by far the least detailed, with not even chest detailing to make him stand out. Given how he was always so creatively shaded in the comics, it’s a shame they didn’t go for that here. They’d end up fixing that on later figures.
Already two ‘mates in by this point, this set finally gave us Wolverine with his classic…cowled appearance…wait, I just did this. Sorry! I mean, yeah, it’s the same deal as Cyclops, though. Woverine’s two prior releases lacked his distinctive mask, so this was our first shot at it. He got a new add-on piece for it, as well as new boots, and the same clawed hands from the two Series 3 releases. It’s not a bad selection of parts, but it definitely didn’t hold up as well as the Cyclops mask did. These parts would see only one more use before being retired. Everything else is paint, and that includes the shoulder pads, which was an…interesting choice. Clearly, they’re a three dimensional item, but they were just painted on here. The separate pieces that came later were a better fit. The rest of the paintwork is pretty decent. Like Scott, he doesn’t have any sort of musculature on his chest, but he does at least get his tiger stripes, so it’s not a total blank void.
Notably missing from the Series 3 X-Men line-up (despite Ultimate Colossus being a prominent member at the time), Colossus made his debut here. He was one of the most involved ‘mates in the set in terms of parts count, with add-ons for his hair, tunic/belt, and boots. All of the parts were new at the time, and they’re honestly the best of the parts introduced here. They just do a really great job of replicating the feel of the character, and I always liked how they bulked him up a bit when compared to the others in the set. In addition to having the most extra parts, Colossus also had by far the most involved paint work of the whole set, and honestly of most of the line at this point. The banding on his metal skin wraps all the way around on his arms and legs, and he’s got a fully detailed front and back to the torso block under his tunic. His face also is just so full of character. It’s honestly a little shocking that this guy and Cyclops are from the same set.
Storm had gotten one ‘mate prior to this, but that was a modern design, so the classic was kind of needed, I guess. Her original costume is pretty darn distinctive, and I think more properly captured that regal side of the character. She had add-ons for her hair and cape. The hair is huge, to comical standards, honestly, and makes her quite tricky to keep standing. The cape, on the other hand, is small and very understated, and rather easily missed, I feel. That was kind of the nature of the capes, at this point, though, so I can’t really say it was out of the ordinary or weird. The paint is alright on her, but not the same level as Colossus. She has the basics, and she does at least get torso detailing of some sort, so she’s a bit ahead of Cyclops and Wolverine. That said, it’s also a lot messier in application than the others in this set.
Nightcrawler has been pretty sparse when it comes to Minimates. This was his first, and remained his only until 2011. So, this guy had to keep us content for 7 whole years. Certainly, he must have been really good, right? …Ehhh. He did get a lot of new parts, with add-ons for the hair, chest cap, and tail, as well as unique hands and feet. The hair seems a little too demonic, if I’m honest, but the hands, feet, and tail all are pretty dope. The biggest problem I’ve got with this guy is that chest cap, which bulks him way up, despite the fact that Nightcrawler should actually be the smallest of the six figures included here. Why would they do this? And then not fix it for soooooo long? The paint was okay on this guy, at least. The face again leans more into the demonic thing, but at least that fits okay with the GSXM-stylings.
The one truly exclusive figure in the set, this Thunderbird wouldn’t see a re-issue at all, and the character wouldn’t appear again until 2016, when we got another GSXM-set. He’s the one that seems to diverge the most from the comics appearance, falling back more into a general ‘mate aesthetic. He had a new hair piece and shoulder pads, both of which would remain unique. They’re…well, they’re there. Neither’s all that impressive, but I guess they aren’t bad either. The bit of his forehead that’s visible on the hairpiece looks really odd, and he’s missing the feathers from the back of his headband. The paintwork brings in a few more inaccuracies. He’s got visible pupils, which he shouldn’t, and his feet are the wrong color (they should be red). Also, his face just doesn’t feel at all like Thunderbird. I could see it passing for Warpath, but definitely not Thunderbird. At least he got torso detailing?
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
Like a fool, an absolute fool, I passed on this set when it came out. I saw it at Cosmic Comix, I had the money to spend, and I dropped on the DC Direct import of the Batman Kubricks instead. Why? WHY!?! I was young and stupid, that’s why. This set’s never been super plentiful, and was going for a bit on the aftermarket for a while, so I just never got one. I finally ended up getting the Series 68 set, and figured that was good enough, but I still had this little nagging need for this set too. Fortunately, it came into All Time as part of a big Minimates collection they bought last fall, so, hey, I finally got it. Honestly, this set hasn’t aged so well, but it’s really worth the price of admission just for that Colossus. That’s still the best version of him the line produced!
As I mentioned above, I got this set 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.