#1977: Rogue & Colossus

ROGUE & COLOSSUS

MARVEL MINIMATES

The X-Men are a team with distinctive eras.  The late ’80s, just preceding the Jim Lee-designed re-launch of the ’90s, was known as the Outback-era, when the team find themselves in the Australian Outback.  It was during this era that Rogue really came into her own on the team, and Colossus found himself a more prominent figure than before.  How fitting that the pair would make their way into Marvel Minimates‘ Outback-inspired Series 47.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This pairing was part of the aforementioned Series 47 of Marvel Minimates, which arrived at retail in late October of 2012.

ROGUE

“Unable to touch others, Anna Marie saw her mutant ability to absorb memories, powers and life energy as a curse. But after fighting the X-Men as part of the evil Brotherhood, she later sought them out to ask for help and eventually joined the team.”

Rogue has been a prominent member of the team since Marvel Minimates‘ launch, so she had found her way into the line-up four times before this figure’s release.  This one stands out as distinctly different than the others, calling back to before yellow became a prominent color in her palette.  The figure makes use of one add-on piece for her hair, which was new to this figure.  It’s a nice piece, definitely capturing her ’80s ‘do well.  The squared-off nature of the style actually lends itself quite naturally to the blocky stylings of the Minimate base body.  Beyond that, she’s just a basic ‘mate body, which suits the design.  The figure’s paintwork is clean, and eye-catching.  The metallic green pairs well with the black, and the detail line-work is all sharp and captures her look from the comics well.  Rogue is packed with a flight stand, simulating the powers she got after accidentally drained Ms. Marvel.  We’re still one assortment out from the display stands becoming a standard inclusion.

COLOSSUS

“Piotr Rasputin’s ability to turn his body into organic steel makes him super-strong, nearly indestructible, and able to throw objects a great distance at great speed. When the object is his teammate Wolverine, this maneuver is known as a “fastball special.””

This release marked Colossus’s fourth time as a Minimate, though his first in 33 series, making his re-release quite warranted.  This figure also pulls double-duty, filling a Colossus-shaped hole in both the Outback line-up of this wave, and the Jim Lee looks of Series 34.  He comes packaged in his Lee-designed look, which is really just a minor rework of his original design. Colossus uses add-ons for his hair, torso cap, torso extender, hands, and boots.  All of these were new to this particular figure, and for the most part, they’re pretty decent offerings.  The new hair isn’t that far removed from the prior piece, but is sharper in its detailing and shaping.  The new gauntlets and boots match up well with the design, and fit nicely to the body.  The only slightly troublesome piece is the torso.  In an effort to bulk him up, they’ve made it a whole cap, rather than just focussing on his tunic like prior figures.  The end result makes him look a little bit pudgy, though it’s far from terrible. Colossus’s paint is solid work.  It’s bright and eye-catching, and the detail lines, especially for his metal skin, looks really sharp.  There’s some slop on his torso piece, but otherwise its pretty cleanly done. To facilitate the double-duty being pulled by this figure, he includes a plethora of swap-out add-ons, including a new torso cap, gauntlets, boot cuffs, and standard hands and feet.  It all swaps out to create Colossus’s less covering ’80s look.  He also includes two extra right hands, designed to allow either version of Colossus to perform his signature “Fastball Special” with this wave’s Wolverine, as well as a clear display stand to help keep the two balanced.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was pretty excited for this whole line-up at the time of its release, though this particular set was a little lower on the totem pole than its compatriots.  This Rogue is somewhat removed from the version that most people would consider definitive, but the figure is still a well-put-together ‘mate.  Colossus’s main look may be slightly flawed, but the ability to get a second look out of the figure makes him a strong, and necessary figure.

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#1942: Alpha Flight Boxed Set #2

SASQUATCH, SNOWBIRD, AURORA, & SHAMAN

MARVEL MINIMATES

The United States doesn’t hold a total monopoly on North American super hero teams!  No, no, Canada also gets in on the fun, with their own psuedo-Avengers-equivalent, Alpha Flight!  First appearing in the pages of Uncanny X-Men in 1979, the team eventually moved to their own series, and they’ve maintained something of a cult following ever since.  In 2012, that following was prominent enough to warrant a pair of boxed sets, which gave us a rather sizable line-up for the team.  The second, NYCC-exclusive pack is the focus of today’s review!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These four made up the second of the two Alpha Flight boxed sets, released in 2012.  The first was at SDCC, and this one followed up at NYCC as mentioned above.  Though, neither set was a gangbuster, so they were available from a number of retailers after the fact.

SASQUATCH

More than just an urban legend, Sasquatch is Walter Langowski, who has the ability, via either magical or radioactive means depending on your preference, to transform into this hulking creature.  He’s definitely up there in terms of recognition, falling behind Guardian and maybe Puck for best known team member.  Sasquatch takes quite a departure from the standard ‘mate body, getting add-ons for his head/chestcap, hands, upper legs, and feet.  Apart from the upper legs, which are standard bulk-up pieces, everything was new to this figure.  While the pieces work reasonably well, the design of them definitely proves rather on the limiting side in terms of playablity.  The head can’t turn, the arms only barely move, and he falls apart at the waist a lot.  So, really, anything beyond a basic standing pose isn’t happening.  He looks decent enough, though.  The paintwork on Sasquatch is fairly scarce.  He’s mostly just the same orange all around, which is accurate, but maybe not super exciting.  The face is definitely nice, and is a solid recreation of Byrne’s artwork.  Sasquatch has no accessories, since the clear display stands hadn’t *quite* become standard issue.

SNOWBIRD

An Inuit goddess, initially limited to the Canadian borders, Snowbird is one of Byrne’s earliest Alpha Flight creations, predating his professional work in comics.  She makes use of two add-on pieces, one for her hair/head-piece, and the other for her cape.  Both pieces were new to this figure, and they work reasonably well.  The cape lacks the grandeur with which Snowbird’s design was usually shown, but that does mean she’s a less restricted and top-heavy figure, so I can totally understand DST’s call on that one.  Snowbird’s paintwork is pretty decent.  The application is clean, and the colors match up well with her comics design. She’s slightly washed out looking, but that’s true to the character.  The face is accurate to her design, but seems…off.  It’s just not particularly appealing to look at, truth be told.  I guess she just doesn’t look quite right on a cylinder.  For accessories, Snowbird just gets a flight stand.  One of her alternate forms would have been cool, but given the two new add-ons she got, not necessary.

AURORA

Though she’s a little lesser known than her brother Northstar, Aurora is still pretty well known, even if it’s largely in connection to her brother.  Splitting the two up between these sets was actually pretty clever. Aurora uses one add-on piece for her hair.  It’s borrowed from Thor‘s Jane foster.  It’s not the most luxurious piece, but it gets the job done, and is a respectable choice. The majority of Aurora’s design is done with paint.  Her white and black combo is quite eye-catching, and really works well in this style.  Due to the very stylized fashion of coloring Northstar and Aurora’s hair, there’s some confusion over what’s the proper coloring.  To ease this issue, Aurora includes the same hairpiece painted both white and black.  She comes wearing the white, but the overall appearance is more or less the same either way.  In addition to the extra hair piece, Aurora also includes a flight stand, as well as an alternate hand, which allows her to hold hands with the Northstar figure from the other set.

SHAMAN

Shaman is exactly what it says on the tin…more or less.  He’s also the least fortunate of the founding members when it comes to toys, as this figure was his very first, and to date, only.  The figure uses add-ons for his hair, belt, and boots.  The boots are the DCD Flash boots (rather than the Invaders Cap boots we tend to see in the Marvel line), and the other two pieces are brand new.  The hair and the belt are quite nicely rendered pieces, with the small detail work on the belt in particular being quite impressive.  The paintwork on Shaman is the nicest in the set.  His face is a good fit for the stalwart Shaman, and the details on his costume are crisp, clean and quite bold.  While I might have liked to see some fringe detailing on the boots, I can’t really fault DST for not attempting it. Shaman included two energy effects pieces, both molded in the same translucent blue.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I grabbed this set from my favorite minimate retailer, Luke’s Toy Store.  The set’s a bit more of a mixed bag than the first one.  Sasquatch is passable at best.  Nothing really stands out as exemplary, and he’s certainly got his flaws.  But, this is kind of the same assortment of problems that every larger character runs into.  Snowbird represents a solid attempt from DST, but is sadly another miss, I think largely due to the design not really translating all that well to the style.  Aurora may be a fair standard-issue offering, but she really works in this style, and pairs nicely with her brother.  By far the star of the set, Shaman is a surprisingly good figure, from start to finish.

#1938: War Machine & Cull Obsidian

WAR MACHINE & CULL OBSIDIAN

MARVEL MINIMATES

“As the Avengers and their allies have continued to protect the world from threats too large for any one hero to handle, a new danger has emerged from the cosmic shadows: Thanos. A despot of intergalactic infamy, his goal is to collect all six Infinity Stones, artifacts of unimaginable power, and use them to inflict his twisted will on all of reality. Everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment – the fate of Earth and existence itself has never been more uncertain.”

Man, three Marvel movies in one year sure does have a way of burning out and making it easy for some of the merch to slip through the cracks for way longer than you’d expect.  Good thing I made it through last year unscathed and I don’t have to do it again…crap, I have to do it again, don’t I?  Well, I’d best get through the last of *last* year’s stuff, then, shouldn’t I?  So, without further ado, War Machine & Cull Obsidian!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

War Machine and Cull Obsidian were one of the two Walgreens-exclusives pairings in the second Infinity War-based assortment of Marvel Minimates.  Compared to the more retread-heavy Drax and Gamora, they had a tendency of being the first set to vanish a lot of the time.

WAR MACHINE

After peddling the same War Machine ‘mate three times, DST finally gave us an honest to god update for his Infinity War appearance.  Though not amazingly different from his armor in Civil War, Rhodey’s suit had still been slightly tinkered with for its somewhat brief appearance in IW, so that’s what we’re seeing here.  The figure is based on the standard ‘mate body, with a generic slip-on mask piece, a new torso cap, upper arms, and belt, and the gauntlets from the last five versions of the character.  It does a respectable job of estimating Rhodey’s appearance from the movie.  I don’t mind the move back to printed faces for the helmets, and it’s at the very least consistent with how they handled Tony’s Mark 50 armor.  The more specific parts are as well-sculpted as ever, matching up with the re-used gauntlets in terms of design aesthetic and level of detailing.  The paint work on this figure is better than the last few War Machine’s; the mix of gunmetal grey and silver looks nice, and I’m happy that they kept the camo patterning the armor had in the movie.  It helps to make this armor seem a bit more unique compared to the others.  Under the helmet is another stab at a Don Cheadle likeness.  I think this one’s not as good as the IM2 version, but at least it doesn’t look as goofy as the AoU variant.  War Machine is packed with a flight stand and a standard clear display stand.

CULL OBSIDIAN

Poor Cull Obsidian.  He just can’t catch a break for accuracy.  His Legends release, though an awesomely fun figure, was based on an early design that wasn’t all that close to the final.  The ‘mate clearly was put into production later in the process, as he ends up a lot closer, but there are still some slight inaccuracies.  He gets a unique head, torso cap, upper left arm, and skirt piece, as well as re-using the standard “big guy” parts for his right arm, left hand, legs, and feet.  The detail work on some of the character-specific parts, the head in particular, is a little soft, but the important details are all there, and he’s got more sculpted elements than not.  The design, at least from a sculpting standpoint, isn’t that noticeably different from his final look in the movie.  The paint is is decent, though he’s again a little light on the detailing.  I think it’s the skin that bugs me the most, especially after the Legends figure.  The colors on the costume were ever so slightly tweaked by the time the movie came out as well, but they aren’t terribly far off.  The biggest change from this figure to the screen comes in the form of accessories.  In the movie, Cull has a sort of hammer/axe/chain sort of thing.  Here?  He’s essentially got some space-brass-knuckles.  The Pop! and one of the statues also had these, indicating the weapon he had in the final movie was a very late game adjustment.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked these up…gosh…back in September, if you can believe it.  The second set took forever to hit Walgreens, but I managed to find this particular pair without too much trouble once they actually started showing up.  And then they sat and waited for me to open them for a good four months, because I got distracted and kind of forgot I had them…whoops.  It’s nice to finally get a new War Machine after all this time, and a more accurate Cull Obsidian is pretty cool too.  Definitely not a bad pack.

#1935: Spider-Man & Jean DeWolff

SPIDER-MAN & JEAN DEWOLFF

MARVEL MINIMATES


In 1985, then up-and-coming writer Peter David penned “The Death of Jean DeWolff.”  Published in Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #107-110, the four part story began with the discovery of the titular death of Police Captain Jean DeWolff, a once quite prominent Spider-Man supporting cast-member.  It was rather ground breaking at the time of its publication, shifting the overall tone of the book, and helping to pave the way not only for longer form storytelling, but also darker stories, all within the confines of the mainstream Marvel universe.  In 2012, the story was used as the basis for the 43rd Series of Marvel Minimates.  The first of those sets includes Jean DeWolff herself, alongside Spider-Man.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These two are a pair from the aforementioned Series 43 of Marvel Minimates, dubbed the “Jean DeWolff Saga” by a label on the upper right side of the box.

SPIDER-MAN

Though he had at this point ditched the actual symbiote, Peter Parker was still wearing his cloth replica of his black costume at the time of this story.  It’s fairly fortunate, really, as it better fit the more film noir stylings of the story.  In a meta sense, it gave Minimate collectors another chance at the black costumed look; this was the fourth time we’d seen it show up in Minimate form.  Unlike the prior release of this costume, which made use of a removable mask, this one returned back to the straight vanilla body, with no add-ons at all.  Given the general sleekness of this particular design, it was a definite improvement.  The important details are all handled via paint.  This figure takes a page out of the Big Time costume’s book, and augment’s Spidey’s two-toned look with a bit of accent work, detailing not only the musculature of his torso and legs, but also granting a slightly more human shape to his head and face.  In contrast to the Big Time release, whose accenting seemed a bit too subtle, this figure’s seems perhaps a touch too noticeable; that bright blue really stands out, and perhaps robs the design of some of its more striking elements.  Still, it’s far from bad work.  Spider-Man was packed with a webline, a fairly standard inclusion.  Given that he hit retail shelves at the same time as the Best Of version of the character, it’s a little bit of a shame that he doesn’t also get an unmasked head.  Of course, he hit retail shelves at the same time as that figure, so it’s not like an unmasked Peter Parker head was difficult to find.

JEAN DEWOLFF

Before becoming the unfortunate victim of the murder that kicks off this story, Jean DeWolff had been a fairly prominent Spider-Man supporting player for about a decade or so.  Jean was introduced by Bill Mantlo while working on Marvel Team-Up in the ’70s, as he wanted a supporting cast member to serve as connective tissue from story to story.  I suppose in that respect, Jean was something of a prototype for the live-action versions of Phil Coulson and Claire Temple.  Jean was always known for her retro sense of fashion, with berets and fishnets and the like; this figure follows that, giving us a look that is a good summation of DeWolff’s classic look.  Jean makes use of two sculpted add-on pieces, one new, one old.  The new was her hair/beret.  It’s a very nicely detailed piece, and manages to make her hat not look totally ridiculous, which is always good with this style of thing.  She also uses the knee-length standard skirt piece, first introduced on the Series 17 Gwen Stacy.  It’s a fairly basic piece and perhaps a little limiting to the articulation, but it gets the job done.  Despite getting more sculpted extras than her pack-mate, Jean doesn’t skimp on the painted details either.  The colorscheme is bright and eye-catching, and the detail lines, especially the stitching on her jacket, is some of the best we’ve seen on a Minimate.  She’s even got the proper cross-hatching on her legs for her fishnets.  That’s definitely a nice touch!  Jean is packed with two accessories: a revolver, and an alternate hand holding her badge.  The revolver comes from the Dollars sets, and is still a great piece.  The badge was originally set to be included in the Beverly Hills Cop set, but with that set’s cancellation, it saw its debut here.  It’s always cool to see such pieces find a new home, and given how Jean’s badge factored into the Death of Jean DeWolff, it’s a smart inclusion here.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This was an assortment I was quite excited for, so I quite eagerly picked them up from Cosmic Comix when they first showed up at retail.  Topping the original Black Costume Spidey is a very steep task indeed, and this one doesn’t quite get there.  He’s very close, and definitely the best of the follow-up black costume releases, but that bright blue detailing holds him back ever so slightly.  Still, a very strong offering.  Jean could have just been a rather forgettable civilian figure, but instead, DST put in the effort to make her one of the best figures in this wave, and certainly the star of this set.

#1930: Ghost Rider & The Fallen

GHOST RIDER & THE FALLEN

MARVEL MINIMATES

Toys and gimmicks go together like…two things that go together really well.  Sorry, I’m not much of a wordsmith.  (Pay no attention to the fact that I’ve written 1929 prior daily entries for this site).  Toys and comics also go together pretty well, as do comics and gimmicks.  So, sometimes, you hit this perfect trifecta of toys based on gimmicky comics.  Take, for instance, today’s focus, the Avengers of 1,000,000 BC, a very gimmicky concept running in the current Avengers comic from Jason Aaron, which has, in turn, led to some matching gimmicky toys.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Ghost Rider and The Fallen are one of the four two-packs in the standalone “Avengers of 1,000,000 BC” series of Marvel Minimates, available exclusively at Walgreens, starting in the fall of last year.

GHOST RIDER

“Bonded to a Spirit of Vengence, the Ghost Rider sits atop a giant wooly mammoth, who later falls victim to the Fallen.

I feel I should at this juncture clarify something I needed clarified for me: it’s the mammoth that is a victim of The Fallen, not Ghost Rider.  The phrasing on the bio’s slightly off, so I got confused, especially since I haven’t actually read the whole “Avengers of 1,000,000 BC story.  With that bit of confusion aside, let’s look at the actual figure!  He stands 2 1/4 inches tall and he has the usual 14 points of articulation.  He’s constructed on the basic ‘mate body, with add-ons for his “hair,” necklace, loincloth, and arm wrappings.  The hair is re-used from the Series 50 Ghost Rider; a sensible choice, since it’s not like flame hair’s gonna really change all that much.  The arm bands are similarly re-used; they’re the same ones that cropped up on the Best Of Iron Fist, among others.  The necklace is new, and it’s a pretty impressive piece.  It certainly sells the 1,000,000 BC aesthetic.  I *think* the loincloth is new, which is honestly a little surprising, since there’s not really anything all that unique about it.  That said, the same piece was also used for the Phoenix from this line-up, so maybe DST just thought it was time for a new standard piece.  Whatever the case, it gets the job done.  The paintwork on Ghost Rider is solid work.  The colors are a bit monochromatic, but that’s true of a number of the designs from this set.  The line work is quite sharp, and I do really like the skull face on this one.  I may be swapping that onto a more standard issue GR.  Ghost Rider is packed with a pair of flame effects to slide over his fists, as well as the standard clear display stand.

THE FALLEN

“The Fallen is one of a race of Celestials, highly powerful beings who pass judgement on all planetary bodies and the creatures who live on them.”

Despite their recurrent presence in the Marvel Universe, the Celestials have never been a particularly toyetic bunch.  Also known as Zgreb the Aspriant, The Fallen is the first of them to actually been made as an action figure, largely thanks to his presence as the main antagonist to the Avengers of 1,000,000 BC’s first story arc.  He’s by far the most divergent of the bunch design-wise, being all futuristic and robot-y.  He’s also largely re-used parts, if you can believe it.  His torso/head is an all new piece (and a quite nicely sculpted one at that), but the other eight add-on parts are borrowed from the Series 63 Hulkbuster. While not perfect matches for the source material, I’m willing to call the appendages close enough, and there’s no denying he looks pretty darn cool.  Also pretty darn cool is the paint; unlike the rest of the assortment, he’s actually pretty colorful and dynamic, going back the classic Marvel color scheme of green and purple.  The application is nice and clean, and the metallic finish really looks top notch.  His only accessory is a clear display stand, but honestly, I don’t know what else you would give him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m not overly enamored by the whole Avengers of 1,000,000 BC thing, so for the most part the ‘mates didn’t do much to excite me.  However, I came across them after last year’s incredibly lengthy minimate drought, so I was just excited to find *anything* new.  While the other three sets still didn’t grab me, I liked The Fallen a fair bit, and if nothing else Ghost Rider had a decent Ghost Rider head.  Of course, then they sat on my desk waiting to be reviewed for five months.  Yikes.

#1886: Mr. Fantastic & Dr. Doom

MR. FANTASTIC & DR. DOOM

MARVEL MINIMATES

The Marvel Minimates Best Of assortments frequently paired off classic Marvel characters and their greatest foes, but what happens when the foe is actually the foe to a whole team?  You compromise, I guess.  At least in the case of the Fantastic Four, Reed Richards does have the slightly more personal connection to long-time foe (and greatest villain of all time) Dr. Doom, so he was the one who got the slot.  Good for him!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Mr. Fantastic and Dr. Doom were part of the second Best of Marvel Minimates series, which hit stores in early 2013.

MR. FANTASTIC

Second only to The Thing in terms of number of Minimates, this particular Mr. Fantastic was his sixth time in this particular style.  He’s sporting his classic black and blue gear, based on his look from earlier in his career. Curiously, there are, to date, no other members of the team with uniforms to match this one.  Not even the Ben from Series 1 of the Best Of line. This is something of an odd development.  In his most standard configuration, Reed is built on the basic Minimate body and uses just one add-on piece, for his hair.  It’s the Frank Wemple piece, which saw a lot of use right around this time.  It’s definitely well-chosen for Reed. Of course, since Reed’s powers make for a pretty versatile look, the figure has multiple other configurations.  DST experimented a bit with TRU Series 6’s Stretch-Attack Mr. Fantastic, which gave us a stretched out base piece to swap out for the lower legs.  This figure includes that extra, along with several new ones to match.  There’s an extended neck and stretched out arms, which can be mixed and matched into all sorts of different configurations.  Perhaps my favorite part is that the open hand on the right arm is perfectly sized to grip a standard Minimate torso.  Reed’s paintwork is fairly clean, and the color choices are bold.  He’s more colorful than his TRU Series 8 counterpart, but the blue isn’t quite as deep as the original Reed figure.  He’s somewhere between them.  I already chronicled the extra stretchy parts, but Reed also includes a standard display stand, if you want to be silly and not display him with that sweet stretched out base piece.

DR. DOOM

Victor Von Doom actually has his nemesis beaten in number of Minimates available, with eight releases under his belt.  This one was the seventh, and actually came out in rather close proximity to the Marvel vs. Capcom version, which it is quite similar to.  Most of the similarity between the two Dooms is in their sculpted parts.  Doom uses add-ons for his cloak, belt/skirt, gloves, and boots, as well as non-standard upper-arm pieces.  All of these were used on the prior figure.  They work decently, though the cloak runs into the same problem that prior Dooms have run into, with limitations being placed on his mobility.  It also makes him quite top heavy. And, in conjunction with all of the other sculpted parts, it generally creates a figure that’s not great for much other than standing.  The main change-up between the two Dooms is paint.  While the MvC release was in more game accurate colors and featured metallic armor, this one goes for a more print-styled flat color scheme.  It works well enough, and it’s definitely a more unique take on the character, compared to what we tend to see.  I think it helps the detailing on his faceplate stand out better, but leaves the arms and legs looking slightly bland.  Doom is packed with three accessories: a pistol, and alternate head with Doombot detailing, and a clear display stand.  I really like the Doombot head.  It’s a quite fun touch, and seems to especially work well without the cloak over top, thereby making the figure a good deal more playable.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I grabbed these two back when they were new, from my regular Minimate haunt, Cosmic Comix.  Reed is a solid figure, marred not by anything about this figure himself, but rather by the lack of any other members to match him.  Ben’s an easy enough fix if you just want to swap out the pelvis, and Johnny’s just really a head swap, but there’s no matching Sue, and that’s a little sad.  So soon after the MvC version, this Dr. Doom felt a little redundant, and ultimately inherits all of that figure’s flaws without any time to have fixed them.  That said, the Doombot head does quite a bit to salvage this guy.  Overall, he’s a decent offering.

#1865: Ghostbusters Boxed Set

DR. PETER VENKMAN, DR. EGON SPENGLER, DANA BARRET, & LOUIS TULLY

GHOSTBUSTERS MINIMATES

“Are you troubled by strange noises in the middle of the night? Do you experience feelings of dread in your basement or attic? Have you or your family ever seen a spook, spectre or ghost?”

The nature of Minimates, pretty much since the Marvel ones got on the scene in 2003, has been to have one flagship line, and a secondary line that’s still doing a lot of the business.  For 99% of the brand’s run, Marvel’s been the flagship (apart from a brief dark period for the line, which resulted in DC having the upper hand for about a year), but that secondary slot has filtered its way through a few other properties.  From 2009 to 2011, that secondary property was Ghostbusters.  Today, I’m looking at the set that introduced the property!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Venkman, Spengler, Dana, and Louis were the first boxed set, and the first official entry in DST’s Ghostbuster Minimates (TRU’s exclusive two-packs hit just days later, though).  All four figures are, of course, based on the first film, and the set is designed to pair off with the second boxed set, which rounded out the main team, and gave us the two remaining villains.

DR. PETER VENKMAN

Venkman is arguably the lead character of Ghostbusters, and is the face of the group, so his placement in the first set is definitely sensible.  Plus, it gave DST an extra leg-up when comparing their assortment to Mattel’s own figures, where Venkman wound up as the fifth figure in the line, causing a degree of controversy about whether he’d actually show up at all.  No worries about that in this line-up.  The figure uses the usual ‘mate body as a starting point, so he’s about 2 1/4 inches tall and has the usual 14 points of articulation.  Venkman was built using add-ons for his hair, torso/proton pack, and elbow pads.  All of them were new pieces to this set, but they’ve been subsequently re-used a number of times, notably on the “I Love This City” version of Venkman, who used everything but the torso piece.  The torso piece is kind of noteworthy, as it’s really the one thing that held these releases back, and it’s definitely the one thing that signifies them as out of date amongst newer offerings.  The bulked up nature just looks off, since the ‘busters were just average joes.  Still, the piece does exhibit a nice selection of details, especially on the proton pack.  The paintwork on Peter is fairly decent.  The earlier ‘busters used a prop-accurate grey for their jumpsuits, which doesn’t quite match the on-screen appearance but is *technically* more accurate.  His face has a passable Murray likeness.  It’s not as spot-on as some of the later offerings, but it’s not bad.  Venkman is packed with his radio (which can be mounted on his belt) as well as an energy stream effect for his neutrino wand.

DR. EGON SPENGLER

My personal favorite ‘buster, Egon is the second member of the team represented in this set.  Harold Ramis had been doing a lot of rounds talking about the production of the movie right around this time, so he, and by extension, Egon, were quite in the spotlight.  Egon is very similar to Venkman in construction, just with a different hair piece.  It’s the weakest of the new parts for this set; it’s just too reserved for Egon’s distinctive pompadour from the movies.  That’s probably why it was replaced fairly quickly as the line progressed.  Egon’s paintwork is once again fairly similar to Venkman’s, though with the obvious change-up for the face, as well as extra detailing for his boots.  Egon is packed with his PKE meter (again, belt mountable), and another energy stream  effect piece.

DANA BARRET

The central plot of the first film (and the second film, for that matter) is driven by Sigourney Weaver’s Dana Barret, who made her toy debut here.  She’s seen here decked out in her garb from after she’s possessed by Zuul, which is really the most distinctive of her looks from the film.  She uses add-ons for her hair and skirt.  Both were new to this figure, and, apart from a single re-use on the hair for the second Dana, they’re remained unique to her.  They do a good job of replicating her film design, and are nicely sculpted.  The paintwork is fairly decently handled.  The Weaver likeness is actually better than the Aliens line gave us, and the metallic coloring on the dress is sharp looking.  That said, there’s a slight misprint on the chest, so the coloring doesn’t quite match up with the printed lines.  It was a  problem going back to the prototype and is present on the whole production of Danas.

LOUIS TULLY

Dana’s neighbor Louis Tully was a part originally written for John Candy, who envisioned him as husky Russian man.  For the final film, the part actually went to fellow SCTV alum Rick Moranis, whose nerdy, eccentric doormat was one of the film’s most distinctive characters.  The Minimate is an early instance of a figure pulling double duty, and getting us two distinct looks.  He’s packaged as a Terror Dog, and makes use of seven sculpted add-on pieces, for his head, torso, pelvis, and each of his feet.  It’s actually a pretty faithful recreation of the design from the movie.  Take off the head, torso and pelvis, and swap out the front legs for the included arms, and you can turn him into a rather disheveled Luis Tully.  And, if you have a spare head, torso, and legs laying around, you can even display both of them at the same time.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I grabbed this set new from Cosmic Comix back when it was released.  I’ve been a fan of Ghostbusters for a long time, and I’d even been contemplating picking up Kubrick’s announced line before DST showed off theirs.  Subsequent releases of Peter and Egon have supplanted these two, but Louis and Dana can’t be beat, and this a pretty fun set all around.

#1862: Daredevil

DAREDEVIL

MARVEL SELECT (DST)

Did I mention that I liked Daredevil Season 3?  <checks back to my last Daredevil-related review> Yes, yes, I did.  Well, it bears repeating: I really liked Daredevil Season 3.  After being somewhat let-down by all of the post Luke Cage Season 1 offerings from Netflix, I was very happy to see a return to what I’d loved so much about Daredevil‘s first (and the majority of its second) season.  It’s not a huge change for Daredevil to come along and surprise us all with its quality, though, since Season 1 did the same thing back in 2015.  It was such a surprise, that none of Marvel’s usual licensees had actually gotten the licenses for any proper merchandise.  In the case of both Hasbro and DST, their first DD product wouldn’t come until a fair bit after the show’s second season had hit.  I looked at Hasbro’s version of old-horn-head back when he was new and was of mixed opinions, so I decided to finally get around to giving his main competition, the Marvel Select release, a try.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Daredevil was released as a standalone offering as part of Marvel Select‘s 2017 line-up of figures, hitting in the fall of last year.  Matt’s sporting his proper Daredevil gear from Season 2 of the show, which is, admittedly, the more distinctive look.  That said, I’m personally still holding out that someone (other than Minimates, that is) will give us Matt’s all-black number.  This figure was originally solicited with his damaged Season 1-style helmet from after his run-in with Punisher, but by the time he hit shelves, he was actually sporting his proper Season 2 mask, thereby making him distinct from his Legends counterpart.  That was actually a pretty smart move on DST’s part.  The figure is on the shorter side of the Select scale, standing 6 1/2 inches tall, and he sports 30 points of articulation.  The height’s sort of a curious thing, because it means he’s not really in-scale with anything else from his own line, but he *is* kind of in-scale with Legends.  It’s not a perfect match, but he’s less than a quarter-inch off from the proper Legends release, so it’s very fudgable.  The sculpt is unique to this figure, and it’s reasonable.  It feels a little bit like the antithesis of the Hasbro figure.  The build is certainly less wonky, and the overall appearance is more balanced and appealing, but he loses the really nice texture and small detail work of that figure, and while the articulation is certainly usable, it’s not very well worked into the sculpt.  The prototype shots and even early test shots with the new head sported a pretty solid likeness of Charlie Cox, but something was lost in the production process, leaving the figure to look a good deal more generic.  He still looks reasonable from the right angle, but head-on’s a real killer.  His paintwork is mostly rather straightforward.  The blacks and reds aren’t the most eye-catching, but they’re a fairly decent match for his show appearance.  The face suffers the same trouble that most figures with that sort of stubbly, “I haven’t shaved in a day or two” look suffer, where the quality varies widely from figure to figure, and it always looks kind of sloppy. My figure looks reasonable enough, but after what Hasbro’s been doing with such things on their recent face-printed figures, he’s a little out there.  Matt is packed with his billy club, which can separate into two (surprisingly differently-sized) pieces, as well as a spare set of gripping hands to hold them.  There’s also a display stand modeled after a warehouse or something, and an articulated stand to assist in more dynamic poses.  The articulated stand is great in theory, but less so in practice, as the joints are too weak to hold Matt up, meaning he’s still got to be more or less balanced to begin with.  Still, it’s better than nothing.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

DST’s Daredevil hit at a bad time for me to pick him up, so I didn’t, and I just never had the chance to double back around and get him.  I finally grabbed him a couple of weeks ago during Cosmic Comix’s “Biggest Sale of the Year!”, because I’m still coming down from that Season 3 high, I guess.  I was hoping for a figure to replace the Legends release, but I’ll be honest, I knew getting into this that that likely wouldn’t be the case.  This figure addresses some of the Legends figure’s flaws, but trades them in for some of his own, resulting in another figure that’s shy of being perfect.  Oh well, maybe Mezco’s got the answer…

#1858: Gabe Jones & Hydra Flame Trooper

GABE JONES & HYDRA FLAME TROOPER

MARVEL MINIMATES

When it came time to do the Minimates for The First Avenger, the film’s titular character was featured in most of the sets, but he did get to take a break for a few packs.  This includes today’s focus pack, which is perhaps the most obscure pairing of the bunch, Howling Commando Gabe Jones and the Hydra Flame Trooper.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Gabe and the Hydra Flame Trooper were one of the two Toys R Us-exclusive pairings for The First Avenger, alongside Golden Age Cap & Dum Dum Dugan.

GABE JONES

Gabe is perhaps a less distinctive member of the Howling Commandos than Dum Dum, but he’s an important one nonetheless, and one that’s stuck around for quite a while.  He also has the notoriety of being Marvel’s first African American hero, albeit not quite one of the “super” variety.  The figure is built on the standard Minimate body, so he’s about 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  Gabe is constructed using two add-on pieces.  The first is his helmet, which is shared with Frontline Captain America.  It’s a decent, standard-issue piece, so it works well enough.  His second add-on piece is his vest, a unique piece to this particular figure.  It’s definitely another solid piece, and it has some pretty excellent detail work, especially on the bandolier.  Like others in this particular set, there’s a holster attached; I still like them better as separate pieces, but it doesn’t look terrible.  The paintwork on Gabe is pretty standard stuff.  The application is all pretty cleanly handled.  He’s a little bit drab, but that’s just his design.  His face is sporting a pretty decent likeness of Derek Luke, but, as with Dugan, the likeness isn’t that far removed from Gabe’s comic incarnation, should you want to swap this head onto one of the comic book agent bodies.  Gabe is packed with a rather large machine gun, just like the one he was carrying around in the film.  He can hold it surprisingly well, given that it’s a two-hander.  He also includes a standard issue side-arm, which is the same as the one included with Cap and Bucky.

HYDRA FLAME TROOPER

The Hydra Flame Trooper, like the basic Hydra Agents packed with Peggy and Howard, was first offered up as part of the single-packed army builders case, before being offered up a second time here.  It’s actually a pretty sensible way of filling in the line-up, since I doubt anyone’s really going to complain about a duplicate here.  The figure uses four add-on pieces for the mask/goggles, chest cap, and flamethrowers.  The mask is the same one used on the basic Agents, which is good for consistency’s sake.  The chest cap and flamethrowers are big and bulky, and a little bit restricting, but that was the case in the movie as well, so it’s not really a complaint here.  Lastly, the figure swaps out the upper legs for a pair of more detailed ones, used from the Hammerdrones.  The Flame Trooper’s paintwork is pretty straightforward stuff, really.  It’s black, with thin white detialing.  It actually looks quite good, and makes for rather a striking figure. The Flame Trooper included no accessories, but given all of the sculpted extras, I suppose that’s excusable.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I grabbed these two from a TRU on a road trip with my my family back in 2011.  Gabe isn’t the star figure in this assortment, but he’s exactly the sort of figure you like to see come out of movie assortments.  A fun second-tier character who wouldn’t otherwise get a figure.  The Hydra Flame trooper is another fun addition to the Hydra army, based on one of the cooler designs from the movie.

#1840: Creature From the Black Lagoon & The Wolf Man

BLACK AND WHITE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON & THE WOLF MAN

UNIVERSAL MONSTERS MINIMATES

It’s Halloween, and I’m desperately trying to avoid opening yet another Halloween review with “Ooooo!  Aaaaah!  Scary!” lest I become some sort of cartoonish caricature of myself.  I have to hold to what little remains of my dignity, right?

On three of the five Halloweens for which I’ve written a review, I’ve focused on Diamond Select Toys’ ill-fated Universal Monsters Minimates.  It was a bold line, certainly well-received by the Minimates fanbase, but unfortunately hurdled by DST’s attempt to keep it a seasonal offering, thereby sentencing it to disappear from the public radar for about eight months out of every year.  Today, I’m setting my sights back on the first of the line’s three-year run, with a double offering of both The Wolf Man and The Creature From The Black Lagoon.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Each year of Universal Monsters Minimates focused on two entries in the Universal Monsters catalogue.  2010, the debut year, chose Universal’s two most prominent in-house properties.  Specialty stores got two boxed sets, one based on each movie, while Toys R Us got an assortment of four two-packs.  Three of the packs were just re-packs of the boxed sets, with the fourth set being the TRU-exclusive re-colors of the main monsters in black and white.  That’s the set I’m looking at today.

CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON

The Creature from the Black Lagoon was originally released by Universal pictures in 3D in 1954. Before the days of high definition color movies, the cinematographer and lighting crew had to work much harder to convey emotion and detail in their subjects. This paint variation attempts to pay homage to those past masters.”

I have a confession to make: I’ve never made it all the way through the original Creature movie.  I’ve tried, but it just never grabbed me the same way as the others.  I did, however, love Del Toro’s throw-back to it in The Shape of Water, so maybe I just needed a take with a little bit romancing?  The Gill-Man’s rather distinctive design made him one of the more complicated translations to Minimate form.  He’s built on the usual body, but gets new hands and feet, as well as a head piece and a chest cap.  Its success in capturing the design from the film is kind of mixed.  There’s no denying that a lot of effort was put into these parts, and the detail work is definitely top-notch.  In fact, I’d say the hands, feet, and even the torso cap, do their job pretty well.  The biggest failing, really, is the head piece.  If they were willing to do fully molded pieces, I think the Creature was definitely a design that should have gotten one.  In the movie, its all one slick piece; here it looks like he’s wearing some really goofy headgear.  The paintwork is respectable.  Obviously, it’s monochromatic, but that’s kinda the point.  The subtle detailing of his scales on his arms and legs works surprisingly well, and his face is as decent a rendition as we could have hoped fore.  The one slight drag is how dull the black detail lines are; these sets were produced during one of the worst periods of time for QC on Minimates, and while this pairing mostly escapes unscathed, this is the one lingering sign.

THE WOLF MAN

The Wolf Man was originally released by Universal pictures in 1941 and was actually the second Wolfman picture they released. Before the days of high definition color movies, the cinematographer and lighting crew had to work much harder to convey emotion and detail in their subjects. This paint variation attempts to pay homage to those past masters.”

Man, there was some serious copy-pasting going on for those bios, wasn’t there?  I guess after writing three bios each for these guys, even DST was at a bit of a loss for words.  I’m more familiar with The Wolf Man than I am Creature.  It’s still not my favorite of the Universal stable, but I can at least appreciate it for what it is, and I do like the main Wolf Man design.  His slightly more humanoid appearance does lend itself slightly better to the Minimate style.  He still gets a unique set of hands and feet, as well as a full-mask cover for his head.  The hands and feet are respectable pieces, and have seen plenty of subsequent re-use. The head-piece…less so.  While they didn’t give Gill-Man his own head, Larry Talbot apparently warranted one, despite the fact that a hair-piece seems it would be far more appropriate here, since there’s a clear distinction between hair and face.  What’s more, the choice of a slip-cover mask instead of a fully-sculpted head is another baffling one, as none of the three versions of the Wolf Man available has anything but a blank head beneath it.  So many questions, and no real answers.  The paintwork on Larry is okay for the most part.  The details on the body look fine enough, though that shirt seems a fair bit on the light side for what we see on-screen.  The face/hair also doesn’t feel quite right; a number of people have commented that he gives off more of a Teen Wolf-vibe than a Wolf Man one.  He’s packed with Larry’s wolf-headed cane, and while I’m hardly one to complain about extra pieces, I’m not certain what he’s supposed to do with it without any sort of alternate Larry pieces.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was excited by the prospect of Universal Monsters Minimates when they were first shown off, but I’ll admit that after waiting the better part of a year for the actual product, and then finding out that the first two offerings were both films lower on my list of wants, my general interest cooled a bit.  It didn’t help that both boxed sets included unnecessary variants of the main monsters, and the civilians weren’t much to write home about.  So, I ultimately only picked up this one set, as it allowed me the opportunity to get the main monsters without any of the excess.  Neither of these two is really winning material.  The sets that followed definitely out-paced these greatly, but I think the line as a whole was always kind of stunted by the soft opening assortment and the long wait to see if anything better came of it.