#2078: Gladiator Hulk

GLADIATOR HULK

MARVEL SELECT (DST)

After exiting stage right at the end of Age of Ultron, and thereby skipping the pseudo-Avengers outing in Civil War, Hulk’s return to the big screen came not in his own film (because the two lukewarm performances from before showed that audiences just aren’t there for a solo outing), but in the third film of fellow Avenger and fellow Civil War abstainer Thor, which served to (at least loosely) adapt Planet Hulk, specifically Hulk’s turn as a space gladiator.  It’s a distinctive visual to say the least, and one that pretty much every toy company jumped on, including Diamond Select Toys.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Gladiator Hulk was released a few months after Thor: Ragnarok hit theaters in November of 2017.  Though slightly delayed, he wasn’t nearly as bad as some of the Infinity War figures.  The figure stands over 8 inches tall and he has 28 points of articulation.  Hulk was a brand-new sculpt, and a pretty darn solid one at that.  DST had already done some solid work on the Avengers and Age of Ultron Hulks, but this one really takes things the the next level, but in terms of detailing and in terms of how the sculpt and the articulation work together.  Mobility on this figure pretty much the same as you’d get from the equivalent Legends release, and it’s all very well-worked-in on top of it.  The design is quite close to Hulk’s renders from the movie, with only one notable inaccuracy, and that’s even limited to the alternate head.  The detailing on the figure is definitely top-notch.  It’s sharp, and there’s plenty of texturing all throughout, even on the heads, which is an area where DST can sometimes have a little trouble.  His main head is sporting his gladiator helmet from the movie, which is quite well-defined, and by virtue of being a permanent fixture escapes some of the issues that Hasbro’s BaF ran into.  The alternate head removes the helmet, revealing a head of hair that’s…not quite right for the movie.  He’s got a pretty distinctive cut there, but in DST’s defense, pretty much none of the promotional material had his helmet off, and they really aren’t *that* far off.  Perhaps my biggest complaint about the figure, still has to do with those heads, namely how difficult it is to swap between them.  The intense detailing is really awesome, but it, coupled with a tight neck joint, meant I tore up my hands a fair bit trying to get them off and on.  He also comes wearing the un-helmeted head, meaning you encounter this issue right out of the box, which can be a little off-putting.  The paintwork is some of the best I’ve seen on a Select figure, with a clean base application and a ton of accent work on pretty much every piece of the sculpt.  While he may not have the fancy face printing of a Hasbro release, he’s still quite lifelike in that regard, and just generally looks like an occupant of the lived-in world of Ragnarok, as he should.  In addition to the previously mentioned extra head, Hulk is also packed with two sets of hands in both fists and gripping poses, as well as his hammer and axe from the movie, which, like the figure, are superbly detailed.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When the Legends figures for Ragnarok were released, I wasn’t in the financial position to collect every Legends BaF as they hit, and Gladiator Hulk was one I ended up skipping.  Several months later, when I was looking to fill in some holes in my collection, this figure was released, and I felt like he was the much easier alternative to trying to find all those BaF pieces.  He’s probably the happiest I’ve been with a Select purchase, though I do have to admit he’s one of those figures I kept forgetting I had (which is why it took me over a year to finally get around to reviewing this freaking thing).  He integrates amazingly well with my Legends, and is just one of the better Hulk figures out there.

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#2074: Hostile Takeover

PLAYBOY TONY STARK, RAZA, BATTLE-DAMAGED IRON MAN MARK III, & IRON MONGER

MARVEL MINIMATES

There was a bit of hoopla going down when it was announced that DST had not acquired the license for Spider-Man: Far From Home and Marvel Minimates would subsequently be skipping the film.  It caused some drama amongst the fanbase, largely because for the first time, after a whopping 22 films and 11 years, an MCU film would not be getting any Minimates.  That’s kind of a big deal, since Minimates got in on the ground floor, with by far the most expansive product offering for 2008’s Iron Man.  It played a definite part in getting them back out to a more mainstream audience, and even had a role in getting them back into Toys R Us.  There was a main assortment of four two-packs, plus a TRU-exclusive two-pack, and then finally a boxed set to fill in the only real remaining holes in the line-up.  I’m looking at the boxed set today.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The “Hostile Takeover” set was officially the final item in DST’s coverage for Iron Man, available exclusively through Action Figure Xpress, DST’s go-to retailer for exclusives at the time.  The set featured a pair of slight redecos (Battle-Damaged Mark III and Iron Monger), plus one new look (playboy Tony), and one all-new character (Raza).

PLAYBOY TONY STARK

After the lead-in which established the cause of his abduction and injury, the movie flashed back, and reintroduced us to Tony Stark, who we meet in a Vegas casino, wearing the number we see here.  It’s a pretty distinctive look, so the main line’s decision to go with a more standard suit-ed look for civilian Tony was seen as a slight missed opportunity (but only slight).  Its presence here is probably one of the few civilian Tony looks that was actively campaigned for.  The figure is built on the usual body, so he’s 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  Tony made use of re-used parts, with the hair from Admiral Kirk and the jacket/shirt from 1984 Biff Tannen.  The hair’s not quite a perfect match for Downey’s hair in the movie, but it gets the job done and is easily swapped out if you don’t like it quite so much.  The jacket piece, though, is a pretty brilliant re-use, and I imagine that this piece’s very existence probably paid a large role in getting this figure made.  The paintwork is more involved than you might think.  Rather than just being straight black, his pants are a dark brown, and even have some detailing on the bottoms, which is a cool touch.  He didn’t originally have the detail lines on his torso, though; I added those after the fact. He included no accessories, but I’m not sure what he would have been given.

RAZA

Raza was the set’s one unique character.  As the leader of the “Ten Rings,” there was a lot of speculation at the time of the that he was going to be the movie franchise’s Madarin.  Ah, simpler times.  Prior to this set’s release, he was the only notable character from the film who hadn’t been released, so there was a lot of excitement about him being included.  Raza got the only new parts in this set, with a brand-new jacket/skirt combo.  It’s kind of bulky, and a little restricting, but otherwise a solid recreation of his garb from the film.  His paintwork is actually rather involved.  The stubble on the face is very nicely rendered, as is the camo on his jacket.  That goes beyond the level of detail we tend to see.  Raza was packed with an assault rifle, which was actually unique to this set, which is a little bit surprising, but cool nonetheless.

BATTLE-DAMAGED IRON MAN MARK III

Tony’s main armor, the Mark III, takes quite a beating over the course of Iron Man, so it’s probably one of the most sensible battle-damaged variants ever.  It also gave DST another chance to re-use the new armor tooling, which I’m sure was their primary rationale.  The figure makes use of all re-used parts, as you might expect.  That includes the helmet, chest piece, gauntlets, and armored-up legs of the standard Mark III (and Mark II and Stealth Armor too).  They were an amazing addition to the line at the time, and they’ve actually held up alright.  They merged the armored suit with the ‘mate style better than later offerings would, at least from my view.  The removable faceplate is also still really cool.  The paint work for this figure took the standard Mark III paint and messed it up, adding cracks, scuffs, and even a few bullet holes.  It’s a very convincing assortment of damage, and actually stands out very well from the standard detailing.  Like all of the armored figures from this movie, this guy has a complete alternate look, allowing the armor to be stripped down.  There’s an extra set of legs and hands, as well as an alternate hair piece, which showcase a seriously pissed off Tony Stark.  This figure also adds in the repuslor gauntlets, break fins, and blast base from the Stealth Armor, this time done up in the standard Iron Man colors.

BATTLE-DAMAGED IRON MONGER

Last up is the figure that’s possibly the least essential in this set.  While Obidiah Stane’s Iron Monger suit takes a little bit of damage over the course of the film’s final battle, it’s nowhere near the level of what happens to the Mark III, nor is it particularly notable when compared to the standard figure.  He’s using all the same parts as that release, which certainly plays to his favor, since the original Iron Monger was the star of the original Iron Man line-up.  It’s a good sculpt, and a wonderful miniaturization of the film design.  The thing is, this is the second time we got it, so it did feel a bit redundant, especially so close to the original release.  Pretty much, they added some slightly darker patches, and that was it. Under the armor, things are slightly different.  There’s still a fully detailed Obidiah Stane, but this one’s a little angrier, and has a few rips on his jumpsuit.  But, the most important addition?  The standard flesh-toned hands, which were missing from the original release.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Iron Man Minimates were some of my favorites, so I was determined to put together a full set.  This one ended up being a Christmas present from my parents.  I can’t say I had much investment in this set beyond just getting everyone.  Raza was unique, and the Tony was certainly an improvement over the first one, but for me the real star was actually the Battle-Damaged Mark III, who does a very good job of justifying his own existence.

#2053: J Jonah Jameson, Aunt May, & S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent

J JONAH JAMESON, AUNT MAY & S.H.I.E.L.D. AGENT

MARVEL MINIMATES

Civilians and Army Builders!  What a combo!  Though absolutely pivotal to the Spider-Man mythos, J Jonah Jameson and May Parker are not the most toyetic characters.  But, as usual, Minimates prove to have an easier time at making such characters into figures, as evidenced by today’s focus, where the two are each paired off with one of the most requested Marvel army builders, the S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These guys were released in the “Death of Jean DeWolff”-centered Series 43 of Marvel Minimates.  Jameson was the regular release, with Aunt May as his one-per-case variant, and the S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent filling in as the second release in both sets.

J. JONAH JAMESON

Perhaps Spider-Man’s most persistent antagonist, J. Jonah Jameson’s actually not part of the “Death of Jean DeWolff.”  In fact, his absence from New York at the time is a fairly prominent plot point.  But, I guess that sort of makes him important to the story in his own way.  JJ has actually been a Minimate before…kind of.  A Jameson mask was included with the variant version of Chameleon way back when, but this figure rightfully gives Jameson his own due.  Jameson makes use of five add-on pieces, for his hair, vest, tie, and sleeves.  The hair is a new piece, depicting Jameson’s distinctive flat top.  It’s a nice piece, and a noted improvement over the much less detailed offerings of the past.  The rest of his parts are re-used, with his vest coming from the Ghostbusters Mayor, and the sleeves and tie coming from The Spirit.  It’s a nice combo of pieces, and it gives him a very unique, character specific feel, all without actually needing many new pieces.  JJ’s paintwork is fairly standard stuff.  The blue certainly looks nice, and the detail work on his face in particular is really sharp, and really expressive.  In general, the faces in this assortment were really strong, and JJ is a great example.  One rather minor touch I quite like as well is the two-toned nature of his vest, which is blue at the front and black at the back, showing that the two sections are actually made of two different fabrics.  JJ includes a nice selection of extras.  He has a second set of arms, in blue to match the legs, as well as a corresponding suit jacket/tie/vest piece, allowing for a slightly more formal appearance for the character.  He also has two copies of the Daily Bugle; one rolled up and one folded flat.  The flat one gives us a couple of news stories, including a shot of Spider-Man and of Tony Stark (who is inexplicably the RDJ version).  This offers a ton of variety for the figure, and makes him quite versatile.

AUNT MAY

Peter Parker’s elderly aunt is even less toyetic than Jameson, and it shows in the difference of figure representation.  This was May’s introduction into the Minimates form (though her second figure would be only three series later), and only her second action figure ever.  The important thing is that our Minimate Spider-Men will no longer have to go without their wheatcakes!  Aunt May uses two sculpted add-on pieces; one for her hair, and the other for her skirt.  The hair was a new piece for this figure. It’s a nice offering, and matches up pretty decently with the sorts of hair styles we tend to see May sporting.  It’s also generic enough for some pretty swell re-use, which we’ve already seen at least once.  The skirt piece is Gwen Stacy’s, just like the Jean DeWolff figure also in this series.  It’s serviceable for the job it’s got to do.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?  Aunt May’s paintwork is decent enough.  Not incredibly eye-catching, and in fact she seems maybe a touch washed out, but maybe that’s sort of the point, with her spending most of her time in the comics as glorified scenery.  The detail work is pretty solid stuff, and the face is, once again, pretty solid looking.  The very slight smile works quite well for the character.  May is packed with no accessories.  Scratch what I said about the Spider-Men getting their wheatcakes.  Looks like they’re going to have to wait a little longer on those.

S.H.I.E.L.D. AGENT

The S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent is the army builder that fans have been wanting since before army builders were really even a thing for Minimates.  Back when the first Nick Fury hit, there were a lot of people stocking up on his pack purely to build up a whole flank of these guys.  We got a slight tease at them with the Ultimates-based S.H.I.E.L.D. Soldier, but that wasn’t quite the same.  It’s the blue spandex-clad guys that we were all clamoring for!  The S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent uses six add-on pieces, for the hair, shoulder holster, gloves, belt, and ankle sheath.  It’s a mix of old and new.  The hair is re-used from the Shocker, and is a nice, generic buzz cut.  The belt, like Sin-Eater’s, is borrowed from Batman, because who doesn’t like a good utility belt?  The gloves are from the Cap TTA boxed set, and while S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents aren’t always seen with flared gloves, I myself quite like them, and certainly won’t shoot down extra parts.  The holster and sheath are both new pieces.  It’s the holster that’s really the star here, as it gives the Agents their distinctive look, and it’s a huge improvement over the slightly disappointing painted version from Fury.  The sheath is a little bulky for my taste, but it’s also the easiest piece to remove and leave off if you don’t like it.  The Agent’s paintwork is definitely solid work.  The darker blue provides a nice contrast to the white, and there’s some fantastic detail work.  The face is suitably generic, if you’re looking to army build, the logo on the shoulder is sharp and crisp, and the inclusion of the white piping on the seam down the middle of the chest, even under the harness where it will mostly be obscured, is a fantastic touch.  The S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent is armed with a pistol and a knife.  Both were new, and designed to fit in the corresponding holsters on the figure.  For the sake of easier army building, the Agent also includes a second hair piece, borrowed from Ultimate Iron Man.  It frames the face differently, thereby creating a credibly different looking “character.”  And, since the piece is blond, in a pinch it works pretty well for my personal favorite agent, Clay Quartermain!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

J. Jonah James is a pivotal character for Spidey, and this figure goes above and beyond to make him not just a good on the character, but a great take on the character.  Like Jonah, May is an important character, but unfortunately, this figure just doesn’t have quite the same hook as that one.  She’s not particularly exciting on the basis of design, and without any fun accessories to sweeten the pot, she ends up falling a little flat.  Still not bad, but not very standout either.  Undoubtedly, the S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent is the shining star of this already very strong series, and perhaps DST’s best army builder.  With a few spare heads from other figures, it’s very easy to get carried away with these little guys.

#2026: Captain America & Dum Dum Dugan

GOLDEN AGE CAPTAIN AMERICA & DUM DUM DUGAN

MARVEL MINIMATES

Even the Cap gets by with a little help from his friends… though he does occasionally have to borrow those friends from some outside sources.  Such was the case with the Howling Commandos, Nick Fury’s WW2-era unit from the comics, who found themselves merged with Captain America’s WW2-era super team The Invaders for the purposes of The First Avenger, and in turn, found themselves treated to some action figures in the process.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Golden Age Captain America and Dum Dum were one of the two TRU-exclusive sets for the Captain America: The First Avenger assortment of Marvel Minimates.

GOLDEN AGE CAPTAIN AMERICA

On the path to getting his proper Captain America uniform, Cap goes through a few trial stages.  The first of these is Cap’s USO show costume, which is the spitting image of Cap’s classic costume from the comics.  Golden Age Cap is made up of six add-on pieces, all of them re-used.  The gloves and boots are the standard Cap pieces, and the belt was taken from the DC Minimates Series 4 Golden Age Flash (fitting, I suppose).  The mask comes from the First Appearance X-Men set, and while it’s not a terrible piece, it’s not strictly speaking accurate to the source material, where he actually had 3D head wings.  Of course, there was no ready-made piece that would quite match, and it would have certainly been a one-off, so the slight deviation is excusable.  Cap’s paint matches the somewhat sephia-toned coloring of the other Caps in this assortment.  It’s pretty cleanly applied overall, and I like the goony facial expression under the mask.  It’s a different look for Cap, and it helps him stand out a bit more from the other variants.  The blue’s perhaps a touch too light (as it stands, it matches with his standard costume, when it really should be a bit deeper), but that’s a minor change, and he’s at least consistent with the Frontline Captain America in that regard.  Golden Age Cap is packed with his shield (the same one included with Frontline Cap), and a spare hairpiece for a proper unmasked look.  A pointing hand might have been cool, or even some of his accessories from his movie serials he was filming, but he makes out alright.

DUM DUM DUGAN

Dum Dum is possibly the most distinctive of the Howling Commandos, in both the movie and the comics.  His presence here was definitely a sensible one, allowing collectors not only one of Cap’s supporting players, but also a very memorable agent of SHIELD who has had far too few action figures over the years.  Dum Dum is built using two unique add-on pieces; one for his hat/hair, and one for his vest.  The hat is a very distinctive and very important piece for Dugan, and this piece is mostly pretty good, but there’s one slightly annoying flaw to it: it’s lopsided!  It should be symmetrical, but it’s very clearly leaning to the right.  The other details are well-rendered and match the movie, but it’s hard to miss that one issue.  The vest is a decent piece in its own right.  I like that it bulks him up a bit, and the options for storing his shotgun and sidearm are much appreciated.  The paintwork on Dum Dum is respectable.  He’s got a lot of brown going on, but that’s accurate to the movie, so no complaints there.  The face doesn’t have much of a Neal McDonoug likeness, but it’s a pitch-perfect Dugan, so it works well enough for me, especially since it can double as the comics version of the character.  Dum Dum is packed with his shotgun and revolver.  Basic pieces we’ve seen many times before, but still solid pieces nonetheless, and perfect choices for the character.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like the previously reviewed Gabe Jones and Hydra Flame Trooper, I grabbed these two from a TRU on a road trip with my my family back in 2011.  Golden Age Cap is perhaps the least essential of the three versions of Cap we got for the movie, but he’s a decent enough variant, and certainly more entertaining than all the variants of Wolverine we’ve gotten from his movies.  Dum Dum is a minor but still very important character, who was definitely in need of a figure.  This one, despite one notable flaw, definitely does the character justice, and helps to fill out the SHIELD ranks.

#2008: Carrion & Scarlet Spider

CARRION & SCARLET SPIDER

MARVEL MINIMATES

Something new and something old.  Not an uncommon theme when it comes to Minimates, especially Marvel, where there’s a definite need to refresh some looks every so often, so as to both make them available for a newer audience and update some things to fit in a little better with more recent releases.  And hey, if a new character comes along for the ride, that’s not so bad either, is it?  So, with that in mind, let’s look at Carrion (the new) and Scarlet Spider (the old).

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Carrion and Scarlet Spider were part of the second to last TRU assortment of Marvel Minimates, Series 24.  The assortment was a sort of a mixed bag, with each set being a somewhat contained theme.

CARRION

He’s not the most well-known of Spider-Man’s foes, but Malcolm McBride, the second incarnation of Carrion, is a sensible choice for a Minimate, especially given his pack-mate.  The original Carrion (who had more or less the same appearance as this figure) was a defective clone of Miles Warren, better known as the Jackal, the mastermind behind the infamous “Clone Saga.”  Malcolm was also a prominent player in “Maximum Carnage,” meaning this figure fits right in with the Maximum Carnage-themed Series 76, so he’s just all around a pretty sensible choice.  Carrion is built using seven sculpted add-on pieces for his hood, pouch, loincloth, and two pieces each for the wraps on his arms.  The upper and lower arm wraps are re-used from Heihachi and and Jack Skellington, respectively, and the pouch is Kim Bauer’s purse from 24, because Carrion is super down for taking fashion advice from the similarly accessorized Green Goblin.  The hood and loincloth both appear to be new pieces, and they work well enough, though the hood is a little restricting to the head movement.  Carrion’s paintwork is clean and sharp, though perhaps not the most eye-catching look.  Pale yellow and purple isn’t a particularly appealing palette, but it’s accurate to the character’s comic appearance, so one can hardly fault DST for that.  The linework is actually quite nice on this figure, and does a solid job of capturing that early ’90s style of illustration.  For accessories, Carrion is somewhat on the light side, with only a flight stand and a basic display stand.

SCARLET SPIDER

Carrion’s great and all, but the main reason for most people to buy this set is Ben Reilly, aka the Scarlet Spider.  He wasn’t a stranger to Minimates, with his Spider-Man costume cropping up first back in Series 10.  A proper Scarlet Spider followed in 2007, as an FYE exclusive of all things.  A decade later, he finally got an update.  Despite his predecessor making use of no add-ons, this Ben Reilly has six of them, for his hood, belt, webshooters, and ankle pouches.  All of the pieces are re-used from elsewhere, and they for the most part do their job pretty much perfectly.  The only slightly off parts are the ankle pouches, which are actually knife sheaths with nothing in them.  There exist non-sheath ankle straps, so why these parts were used is anyone’s guess.  Ultimately, though, they sell the look well enough, so I can’t complain too much about their use.  Scarlet Spider’s paintwork is actually quite impressive.  In the comics, he was frequently shaded in a very dynamic fashion, and that’s the look this particular figure tries to capture, at least on the figure’s mask.  It’s a cool looking effect, and the sort of thing that really only works on a Minimate.  Scarlet Spider is packed with an alternate head and hair for an unmasked Ben Reilly (the first proper Ben Reilly head we’ve ever gotten), a webline, and a clear display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After a bit of a hiatus from Minimates, I picked this set up last year, at the very beginning of Toys R Us’s shut-down process.  It was actually a set I was looking for, which I was only able to find once TRU started pushing things out from their warehouses.  Carrion wasn’t really going to be at the top of anyone’s list, but it’s always nice to get a new character, and DST did a respectable job of translating him to ‘mate form.  Scarlet Spider was in desperate need of an update, and this figure really delivered well on that.  He takes every aspect of the old figure and makes it better, and results in a generally far more enjoyable figure.

#1999: Tron

TRON

KINGDOM HEARTS (DST)

Today we’re gonna party like it’s 1999!…or 1982, perhaps.

Despite a pretty solid fanbase who seem ripe for buying cool collectibles, neither Tron nor its sequel Tron Legacy have ever had much luck in the world of toys.  The original film had a small line of figures from TOMY at the time of its release (with some re-releases many years later from NECA), but not much else.  Fortunately, Tron made its way into the Kingdom Hearts franchise, which itself has been getting a lot of toy coverage recently.  Among that toy coverage was Tron’s title character, who I’ll be taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Tron was part of Series 3 of DST’s Kingdom Hearts toyline, available two differing ways.  The specialty release included a Space Paranoids Goofy as well, but there was also a streamlined release at mass retail set-ups (like GameStop), which is the one I picked up.  The figure is technically based on Tron’s game design, which is, of course, just a slightly stylized version of his design from the original film.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall and has 26 points of articulation.  The sculpt is unique to this figure, and is a reasonable offering.  If you’re experienced with DSTs Select style figures, then Tron’s pretty standard faire.  His articulation is somewhat on the restricted side, but not terrible.  The stylization really shows up in the arms and the feet, where the proportions are a little bit on the exaggerated side.  The arms are kind of skinny and the feet kind of large.  The rest of things are pretty well matched to the film design, and he’s even got a halfway decent likeness of Bruce Boxleitner on the face.  What details the sculpt doesn’t cover, the paint does.  True to the film, he’s rather monochromatic, being grey with blue accents.  The tech-y details outlined in blue look pretty sweet, and their nice and crisp.  There’s a little slop on some of the lighter blue accents, but for the most part it works out okay.  Tron is packed with one extra: a Heartless Soldier minifigure.  It’s distinctive from prior Soldiers in coloring, but ultimately of little interest to me, since I was just in it for the Tron figure (which is why the Soldier is already in someone else’s collection).  Tron doesn’t include his disk, which is a bit of a shame, but not a huge shock coming from a line that doesn’t always give Sora his keyblade.  I suppose making one of your own wouldn’t be too hard.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I have no real attachment to anything Kingdom Hearts, but I knew I wanted this guy as soon as he was shown off.  I initially thought I was going to have to pony up for the larger set, but I found this guy at a GameStop a few weeks ago, which made me pretty happy.  He’s not without his flaws.  The articulation could be a little better, and the lack of disk is annoying, but he’s pretty decent for what he is, and honestly he’s the best Tron figure you can get.

#1997: Xavier & Shaw

XAVIER & SHAW

MARVEL MINIMATES

After the critical failures of X-Men 3 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the X-Men franchise was looking for a fresh start.  They found it in X-Men: First Class, which returned the X-Men to their original decade of the ’60s.  It was something of an unexpected hit, truth be told, so it’s merchandising was almost non-existent.  Fortunately, Minimates were there to save the day, with an assortment of TRU-exclusive two-packs.  Today, I’ll be looking at one of the film’s two leading men, Charles Xavier, alongside the film’s main antagonist, Sebastian Shaw.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Xavier and Shaw were part of the TRU-exclusive X-Men: First Class assortment of Marvel Minimates, released to coincide with the movie’s release in 2011.

XAVIER

James McAvoy had some serious shoes to fill when he took over the part of Xavier from Patrick Stewart, but he did it quite masterfully, creating a different, but still very much the same person, take on the character.  This figure opts for his flightsuit look, which is a solid choice since it a) is by far his most exciting look from the movie, and b) matches the rest of the team released in this assortment.  Xavier uses the basic body, with add-ons for his hair and his belt.  The hair is borrowed from DC Series 7’s Nightwing.  It’s not quite an exact match for the look Xavier’s sporting in the movie, but it’s close enough, and it’s a good enough piece that I’m really not going to complain about seeing it re-used.  The belt’s just a basic piece, with no detailing, used dozens of other times.  Nothing to write home about, but it gets the job down.  Xavier’s paintwork is definitely top-notch.  The likeness on the face is a very good match for McAvoy, and the detailing on the jumpsuit is just tremendous.  All of the small details and stitching are included, just s they should be.  The back of the figure is slightly less detailed than the rest, but he’s at least not totally void of detail like some less fortunate ‘mates have been.  They’ve even painted his neck yellow, differentiating his uniform from Magneto’s, just as it was in the movie.  Xavier included no accessories. A Cerebro helmet would have been nice, but this assortment’s completely re-used nature ruled that out.

SHAW

Kevin Bacon’s Sebastian Shaw was a slightly different take on the character, combining elements of Shaw’s comics counterpart with later X-foe Mr. Sinister.  The end result is a more calculating, far less hand-to-hand combat sort of a character, who was quite entertaining to watch.  Shaw uses add-ons for his hair and jacket/shirt piece.  The hair is re-used from Back to the Future Part II‘s Biff Tannen.  It’s not a perfect match for Shaw, and definitely not as close as the piece chosen for Xavier.  That said, it’s the best piece they had on hand at the time, and it’s serviceable.  The jacket is from 24‘s Tony Almeida, and is a well sculpted piece that fits the style Shaw was sporting throughout the movie.  Shaw’s paint work is not quite as complex as Xavier’s.  For the most part, it’s just the face that matters, and I gotta say, this guy doesn’t look all that much like Kevin Bacon.  I think he’s one of those people whose likeness is very dependent on his nose.  Without it, he’s very hard to convey.  Shaw also includes no accessories.  The helmet’s about the only thing I could think of to give him, and that got (rather sensibly) packed in with Magneto.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Though lacking in accessories, Xavier is an otherwise very fun figure, and once again goes to show just how far you can get without needing any new parts.  Shaw’s an important part of the movie.  That said, he’s never quite as “battle-ready” as some of the others, which translates to another “guy in a suit” Minimate, and not a particularly notable one at that.

#1994: Captain America

CAPTAIN AMERICA

MARVEL SELECT (DST)

The retail product for the fourth Avengers film, Avengers: Endgame has officially started hitting shelves in preparation for the film’s April 26th release date.  However, with Endgame coming out just one year after its predecessor Infinity War, there’s just a touch of overlap, as the last of the IW product is still making its way to shelves.  I’m doing my best to keep up with it all (I ended up having to do a lot of picking and choosing during the onslaught of IW stuff) and to that end, I’m looking at Diamond Select Toys’ take on Captain America’s Infinity War appearance.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Captain America is one of the four Infinity War-based figures from the 2018 lineup of Marvel Select.  He ended up taking a little while to make it to shelves, and just started showing up in full force a few weeks ago.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and has 32 points of articulation.  As far as scaling goes, he’s definitely nearer the taller end of Selects.  I had ever so slightly been hoping he might follow Daredevil’s lead, and potentially be closer to Legends scaling.  Of course one can’t really blame them for sizing him this way; he’s in proper scale with most of their other offerings, which wasn’t really true if DD.  This figure has a sculpt, handled by Gentle Giant Studios (who handle most of the MCU Legends as well), which appears to have at least some parts in common with the Civil War figure. It’s really for the best that this figure arrived so long after the movie; Cap’s “Nomad” design went through quite a few changes right up to production of the film, resulting in a lot of inaccuracies on his other figures.  This one is far more accurate to the final product.  He’s got his proper hair length (which neither Hasbro figure had), as well as both gloves, properly styled, and all of the appropriate wear and tear to his uniform.  The details of the uniform are also nice and sharp, and I really dig that texture work.  The head sculpt is probably the weakest aspect of the figure.  Its detailing is on the softer side, and it doesn’t quite have a spot-on Evans likeness.  That said, the likeness is still closer than all of the Hasbro attempts barring the unmasked Civil War head and certainly an immense improvement over prior unmasked Cap heads from DST, and the softer detailing may be more linked to the paint.  Speaking of the paint, slight thickness on the head application aside, it’s not a terrible offering.  The general appearance is accurate to the film, and there’s quite a bit of accent work going on.  In addition to the accuracy of the man figure, something else that really sets this guy apart is his accessory compliment.  In addition to a selection of eight different hands, as well as a display stand, he includes his Wakandan replacement shields in both collapsed and deployed configurations.  Prior Cap figures have been lucky to get a single shield, but this one can appropriately dual weild, and the deployed versions even have a sliding segment in the front like we saw in the movie.  By far, these are the most accurate versions of the shields we got on a small scale figure, and I would count them as a major selling point.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Legends version of this Cap was definitely the biggest disappointment of that set for me. I really liked the Nomad look, and such an inaccurate figure wasn’t cutting it.  I considered the Figuarts release, but he just traded in some inaccuracies for another set of them, and lacked the shields entirely, so I passed.  Once I saw the prototype for this guy, I was definitely on-board, making him an easy buy when he showed up at Cosmic Comix when he showed up a few weeks ago.  While I’m a little bummed that the best version of this guy out there doesn’t quite fit with the rest of my IW figures, there’s no denying this is a solid figure, and he’s nice enough that I’m probably just going to fudge the scale a bit on my shelf.

 

#1988: Yon-Rogg & Phil Coulson

YON-ROGG & PHIL COULSON

MARVEL MINIMATES

Hey, do you guys remember yesterday’s whacky pairing of two guys from Captain Marvel that never meet?  Well then you’ll love today’s pairing of two other guys from Captain Marvel that also never meet.  Though, I guess in a slight uptick of connectivity, at least these two do occupy the same planet at the same time, which is more than yesterday’s pair.  Maybe they formed a budding relationship off-screen!  Well, let’s look at best buds Yon-Rogg and Phil Coulson.  Nope, that feels wrong.  I don’t think these guys are friends.  Let’s look at mortal enemies Yon-Rogg and Phil Coulson.  There, that feels better.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Yon-Rogg and Coulson are the last of the Walgreens-exclusive Marvel Minimates for the Captain Marvel assortment.  There’s also going to be a specialty-exclusive boxed set, but these are it for now.

YON-ROGG

Man, we were really itching to find out what Yon-Rogg’s big secret was before the movie came out.  Turns out the big secret was that there was really no big secret, aside perhaps from this version of Yon-Rogg somehow ending up as less villainous than his comics counterpart.  Honestly, though, it feels like they came up with the role for Law without knowing exactly which Kree officer he’d be playing, and eventually decided to tag him with Yon-Rogg’s name (the fact that said name is only spoken once in the film, said in a scene where his character isn’t even present kind of lends credence to this).  Whatever the case, he’s a pretty prominent character, and obviously he was going to show up somewhere in this line.  He makes use of add-on pieces for his hair, backpack, gloves, belt, and holster.  The hair is reused from Venkman, but otherwise these pieces are new.  At first glance, the holster looks the same as Korath’s, but it’s actually its mirror piece, correctly representing their placement in the film.  Like Carol, Yon-Rogg also includes an alternate helmet piece, should you want him fully armed up.  But, given how briefly he wears it in the movie, I don’t see it getting much use from me.  Yon-Rogg’s paint is pretty involved, and matches up with Carol and Bron-Charr (but not with Korath and Ronan). The face has a pretty solid likeness of Jude Law, which is certainly refreshing after the Legends figure.  Yon-Rogg is packed with a pistol, an effect piece for his weird gauntlet thing, and a clear display stand.

PHIL COULSON

Though relatively minor in the film, Coulson’s return to the MCU proper was still a delightful one, and Clark Gregg was clearly having a blast playing the rookie field agent version of the character.  His presence in this assortment is no doubt due to the large fanbase for the character.  He’s not new to Minimates, with an MCU release back in Series 39 for the first Thor film (reviewed here), plus animated and comics versions of the character.  That said, it’s nice to get another go at him, if for nothing else than to pair off with Fury.  Coulson is pretty much the same as Fury in terms of construction, just swapping out the hairpiece for a new one, representing Coulson’s ’90s hair.  Of course, it’s nondescript enough to work for a modern Coulson as well, if that’s what you’re looking for.  Coulson’s paintwork is respectable.  I think the facial likeness is better than prior attempts, and I especially like the different pattern on the tie.  Like Fury, Coulson is packed with a spare set of white arms, a handgun, a shoulder holster, and a clear display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Though they don’t offer much new after looking at all of the other figures in this line-up, I do find myself quite liking this pair.  It’s nice to get a Yon-Rogg figure that isn’t horribly disappointing, and I’ve been hoping for a Coulson update since The Avengers came out.  All in all, a nice pair to round out a pretty fun little assortment.  I look forward to the boxed set.

#1987: Nick Fury & Ronan

NICK FURY & RONAN

MARVEL MINIMATES

When it comes to Minimates, specifically the two-pack driven lines, there are bound to be some slightly oddball pairings.  The prior two sets for Captain Marvel made a lot of sense.  Today’s set?  Well, the two characters contained within it not only never meet, there never even on the same planet at the same time.  And yet, here we are.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Nick Fury and Ronan are the third set in the Walgreens-exclusive assortment of Captain Marvel-themed Marvel Minimates.  It’s worth noting that both characters in this set have had MCU-based ‘mates before, for what it’s worth.

NICK FURY

Though his name may not be in the title, Nick Fury is still an undisputed star in Captain Marvel, with his largest MCU role to date.  We get to see quite a different side of the character, and start to see where the Fury we met back in Iron Man came from.  Like the Legends release, this figure goes for his men-in-black style suit, which, while not his main look for the movie, is a fairly distinctive one.  The figure makes use of three add-on pieces for the hair, jacket, and tie.  All three are re-used from many prior figures.  They’re pretty basic, but then, so was his look.  The rest of the work is handled via paint.  My figure has one major flaw; a splotch of missing paint on his cheek.  Apart from that, I guess things are pretty decent.  The face doesn’t have much of a likeness of SLJ, but it doesn’t look unlike him.  I do particularly like the pattern on the tie.  That’s a fun touch.  Fury is packed with a handgun, a spare set of white arms, a shoulder holster, and a clear display stand.

RONAN

Unlike Fury, the movie doesn’t really give us any more backstory on Ronan prior to our introduction to him Guardians.  Pretty much, Ronan’s still just kind of Ronan, for better or for worse.  On the plus side, the film uses Ronan’s affiliation with the Kree Empire to give him his more traditional color scheme from the comics.  The figure uses two add-on pieces: one for his head piece, and one for his skirt.  They’re the same pieces used for the prior MCU Ronan figure, which is sensible enough, since, design wise, they’re pretty much the same.  The new paint job is a lot greener, as expected of this variation of the design.  Like yesterday’s Korath figure, Ronan’s green isn’t metallic like the first two Kree uniforms were.  Of course, since Ronan’s from a different group, I guess it’s not quite as odd for him.  Beyond that, there’s a lot of nice detailing going on.  Ronan is packed with his signature hammer (with it’s head on the proper way this time) and a clear display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got this pair at the same time as the rest of the assortment.  Nick’s an important player, and the two distinct looks help him.  Ronan may be a much more minor character in the film, but he’s a nice, distinctive design, with a lot more pop than his prior Guardians release.