#2525: New Wolverine & Phoenix

NEW WOLVERINE & PHOENIX

MARVEL MINIMATES

In 2000, the X-Men hit the big screen in their first live action film, and found themselves a whole new audience that they hadn’t yet enthralled through comics, cartoons, toys, or video games.  To try and bring this new audience back into the original source material, comics scribe Grant Morrison was given the reigns to the franchise, re-envisioning it into something a little more in-line with what people had seen on the screen.  For the most part, the similarities translated to “putting the whole team in black leather.”  It did garner a lot of attention, though, and set the stage for the next decade or so of the comics.  So, I guess it kind of worked.  Of course, on the flip side, it made the team slightly less toy-worthy, so there’s a lot less coverage from that angle.  There were some Minimates, though!  Let’s look at those, shall we?

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

New Wolverine and Phoenix were released in Series 6 of the Marvel Minimates line, which hit shelves in Jul 2004….just in time for New X-Men to wrap and for the characters to all get new, slightly more classically-inspired costumes on the pages of Astonishing X-Men.  Isn’t it always the way?  Both of these guys were also available in a TRU-exclusive four pack with Xavier and Magneto the following year, and Wolverine also showed up in the 10-Piece gift pack and then got a new (far more hideous) face and was re-packaged in the Dark Tide boxed set.  Not bad for an abandoned look.

NEW WOLVERINE

Our fifth Wolverine from the line, and honestly the first sign of how over-popped the character would become, this was our second Wolverine in as many series for 2004.  At least this one had the whole team line-up thing going for him, and wasn’t just another civilian variant, although he certainly still skirts that line.  He’s built on the standard long-footed body, so he’s 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  Wolverine got three new add-on pieces, in addition to re-using the clawed hands from the last four variants of the character.  The new pieces entailed his hair, jacket, and belt.  All three of these parts would see a lot of use as the line progressed…and that’s honestly kind of sad.  The jacket and belt aren’t too bad, I suppose.  They’re rather basic pieces.  Of course, they were also less used than the hair, which was really the prime offender.  It’s the weakest of these early Wolverine hair sculpts, in terms of shaping and level of detail, and yet it still got used five times over the course of the line.  This far removed from its use, I still don’t miss it, but I guess I’m not quite as actively against it as I was.  The paint work on Wolverine’s not bad.  His face is really the best Wolverine we’d gotten at this point, and there’s a lot of detailing going on throughout the body, especially on the torso.  Also, rather than going for a stark black, the uniform is a very dark grey, which doesn’t look bad.

PHOENIX

Dubbed Phoenix, presumably so as not to double up on “Jean Grey” so early in the line, this figure is jus kind of not what I wanted, largely because she’s, you know, not actually Phoenix.  Made worse by the fact that we wouldn’t get an actual proper Phoenix for another five years.  So, that was great, right?  This marked Jean’s second time as a Minimate, and her second time with some very modern, ultimately not very Jean Grey-looking design.  She uses the same core body as Logan, of course, as well as sharing his belt.  Sensible, what with it being a uniform and all.  She also got a new hair piece and jacket.  The jacket suffers from the same issue as all of these early jackets, being boxy, and bulking up a figure that probably shouldn’t be quite so bulked up.  The hair is a perfectly fine piece, but like Wolverine’s hair above, it’s one that’s seven subsequent uses kind of made us all tired of it, especially given how many supposedly unique characters it was used for.  For Jean, it actually wasn’t too bad.  Jean’s paint work is pretty decent again.  It’s mostly basic stuff, but I do like that they actually got the pattern to her shirt under her jacket.  Also, thanks to using the same color of grey throughout, you can remove the jacket piece and it actually doesn’t look too bad!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve never been much for the New X-Men costumes overall, and I already had both of these characters, so I was in no rush to pick up this set when released.  I really only got them because I got the four-pack release, and I wanted Magneto and Xavier.  These two were along for the ride.  They’re okay, but ultimately, the parts seen here are some of the parts that almost spelled the end of the line after getting re-used too much, so my opinion’s a little bit colored.  They could definitely be worse, though.

#2518: Professor X & Magneto

PROFESSOR X & MAGNETO

MARVEL MINIMATES

After their first year had wrapped, there was a bit of a gap in Marvel Minimates releases, as DST mapped out the direction the line would take.  When they returned, there was a pretty heavy lean into the classic X-Men set-up, with the previously reviewed Giant Size X-Men set and one other exclusive, which is today’s focus, Professor X and Magneto!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Professor X and Magneto hit in January of 2004, and are notable for being the first Marvel Minimates exclusive to come out of Action Figure Xpress, who would serve as a major supporter of the line for the next decade of the line.  The two would then subsequently see re-issue in one of TRU’s four-packs the following year, alongside the Nex X-Men Wolverine and Jean.  Both would also get slight paint tweaks for one more additional release each in 2006.  Xavier’s suit was made blue and released at Target alongside Dark Phoenix.  Magneto got a new face and was released in the infamous Dark Tide boxed set that clogged up retailers everywhere for quite a bit.

PROFESSOR X

Before we had our fancy hover chairs and what not, this was the Xavier that had to hang around in everyone’s collection for a good long stretch of time.  Patterned on the character’s earliest appearances, Xavier is a ‘mate that could have been pretty basic, but actually has more going on than you might realize at first glance.  The core ‘mate is totally vanilla, albeit long-footed vanilla.  He gets the basic amount of detailing you’d expect from this era of ‘mate.  If I have one complaint, it’s that his ears are printed a little too close to his face.  That’s a problem that would be with most of the line’s bald characters, even to current day. It’s the accessories that really spice this guy up, since he’s got Cerebro, his wheelchair, and a blanket to cover his legs…or he would if that last piece wasn’t missing from mine.  I don’t know when it went missing, but it sure did.  Drat.  Well, the other two pieces are still cool, and the wheelchair in particular is a really solid, really fun piece.

MAGNETO

Charles Xavier’s sometimes nemesis/sometimes friend made for a pretty logical pairing, and makes for this set’s more outwardly exciting release.  He’s constructed on the standard long-footed body, with add-ons for his helmet and cape.  Both sculpted pieces are somewhat on the basic side, but they both do a really nice job of summing up the character’s classic design.  The paint work helps in that effort as well, as there’s actually a surprising level of detail going into this guy.  The torso not only got the costume details, but also some underlying musculature as well, making him look less flabby than the X-Men he was fighting.  Under the helmet, there’s a nice evil grin, which works perfectly for the character.  Sadly, extra hairpieces weren’t quite a thing, so it’s stuck hiding somewhat beneath the helmet.  In fact, Magneto doesn’t get any accessories at all, which feels light these days, but wasn’t really much of a surprise when he was new.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

These guys hit before I was really making many online purchases for myself, so I missed out on the initial release.  I actually ended up snagging the TRU 4-Pack versions a few years later, courtesy of All Time Toys, way back before I had any sort of official partnership with them.  See, even when I try to review something from before I was getting everything from All Time, I still review stuff from All Time!  Both of these guys were pretty solid offerings of the characters, especially for this early in the line.  It’s not terribly surprising that they remained the primary versions for as long as they did.

#2469: Thing & Dr. Doom(s)

THING & DR. DOOM

MARVEL MINIMATES

While the first year of Marvel Minimates certainly gave us an impressive spread of Marvel characters, there were some very notable areas of the universe left completely untouched.  This included Marvel’s own first family, the Fantastic Four, who, like Captain America signaling the first of the the Avengers, were first inducted into the line via Series 5, with the group’s most marketable single member The Thing facing off against their greatest foe Dr. Doom!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Thing and Dr. Doom marked wrapped up the line-up for Marvel Minimates Series 5, also taking the variant slot for this particular assortment.  The standard pack had Thing vs a fully-armored Doom, while the variant swapped out Doom for an unmasked version.

THING

For his debut ‘mate, Ben gets a fairly classic Thing design.  He’s orange, he’s rocky, and he’s wearing blue shorts.  Sure, the shorts aren’t quite standard FF-issue, but they’re close enough for a single release.  He’s built on the standard long-footed body, of course, so he’s 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  Like Venom, Hulk, and Juggernaut, Ben’s a large character who’s not very large.  That said, with the head piece and the sculpted “Thing Fists”, he actually makes out the best of the bunch in terms of relative scaling.  He’s got cartoonish proportions, of course, but he doesn’t feel quite as scrawny as the others.  It helps that the sculpting is really good on the new parts.  It also helps that the paint does an incredibly impressive job of conveying Ben’s rocky skin, and the painted features end up matching pretty darn well to the sculpted rocks on the head and hands.  The only slight nit I have with the paint is that the face is just a touch too high on the head, which means that it doesn’t *quite* interact correctly with the head piece.

DR. DOOM

Marvel’s greatest villain was a pretty natural choice for inclusion here, but his variant ultimately falls into the same level of “this wouldn’t be a separate figure”-ness that Unmasked Daredevil had.  Whichever version you look at, he’s got the same two sculpted add-ons, one for his cloak, and the other for his belt/skirt.  The cloak is actually kind of nice, and concise.  It’s maybe not the greatest for posing, but I find it less obtrusive than the versions that followed.  The skirt piece doesn’t work quite as well, being really flat and without flow.  Even with the much more streamlined philosophy of the earlier ‘mates, it seems a bit lacking.  The paint on everything but the head is identical between the two releases.  It does okay for the most part.  The armored detailing on the arms and legs is definitely the best work.  Comparatively, the tunic feels kind of devoid of detail, but again, that’s owing a lot to the early style.  The standard Doom gets his mask, which is nicely detailed, and matches up with the rest of the armor’s details.  It’s limited to just having details where the hood reveals it, which isn’t surprising, but does mean displaying him without the cape doesn’t really work.  For the variant, we get to see Victor Von Doom’s scarred face.  It’s a more minor scarring than some depictions, but it’s still there.  Unlike the masked head, this one has detail that goes all around, even under the hood, which is actually pretty darn cool.  It just would have made much more sense to include the extra head with the standard release, is all.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This is another one of those sets that I had as a kid, but I lost most of the parts to over the years.  I was pretty rough on these early guys.  Of course, I only had the standard Doom, so I was able to go back and get both versions when I tracked them back down again.  Thing’s not a bad little version of the character, especially within the confines of the early line.  Doom isn’t quite as cleanly interpreted here, but I think he works well-enough, and while he has some trade-offs, so would all of his eventual follow-ups.  They wrap up Marvel Minimates‘ first oddball assortment pretty nicely.

#2462: Civilian Logan & Juggernaut

CIVILIAN LOGAN & JUGGERNAUT

MARVEL MINIMATES

The first year of Marvel Minimates had assortments that were all themed, but when they entered their second year, most of the assortments got a little more mixed.  For Series 5, we really saw that kick in, with each two-pack representing a different facet of the Marvel Universe.  We got our first taste of the Avengers with the previously reviewed Captain America & Absorbing Man, as well as a return to the X-Men with today’s focus, Civilian Logan and Juggernaut.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Logan and Juggernaut were released in Series 5 of Marvel Minimates.  Both would also be included in a TRU 4-pack, alongside Battle-Damaged Daredevil and Masked Spider-Man, and Logan also hit Walmarts and Targets in a two-pack with Masked Spider-Man again.  A slightly tweaked version of Juggernaut was also included in the very easily found Darktide boxed set, meaning these two are definitely numerous.

CIVILIAN LOGAN

We got a civilian version of Wolverine in Series 3, but I guess we needed one more, because, you know, Wolverine.  This time, he doesn’t have the jacket, though, so I guess there’s that.  The figure uses the older basic body (with the long feet), so he’s 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  He gets a new hair piece, which is a little wilder than the previous ones (it would be re-used a few times), and also re-uses the clawed hands from the prior three Wolverines.  It’s a fairly basic set-up, but it works well enough.  I myself am not the biggest fan of the larger Wolverine hair, however there’s certainly precedent.  The paint work is pretty strong on this guy.  He gets a far more detailed facial expression, which is really angry, and the torso block gets quite a bit of detailing, making it stand out a fair bit from these earlier ‘mates it was released alongside.  It’s a little weird that his feet are the same grey as the rest of the leg, but it doesn’t look terrible or anything.

JUGGERNAUT

Nothing stops the Juggernaut…is a surprising phrase to attach to this particular iteration of the character, because, quite frankly, he looks like he could be stopped by a stiff breeze.  The larger characters were still a ways away from getting any bulked up parts, so Juggernaut just gets his helmet and bracers.  It’s definitely a different look, and makes him look a lot punier than he should.  At least he has the slightly larger hands to give him something more.  That’s better than either Hulk or Venom got.  Juggernaut’s paint work isn’t quite as impressive as Logan’s, but there’s still quite a bit of detailing going on, especially on that face.  Speaking of his face, since Cain’s visage is pretty much entirely covered by his helmet, Juggernaut was the very first ‘mate to get an alternate hair piece to allow for a sans helmet display.  It’s not really the best piece ever, but it’s certainly better than nothing.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I had this set when it was new, but I can’t say it was ever really a favorite of mine or anything.  I mean, it was serviceable, but it was the first of the kind of unnecessary Wolverine variants that would come to plague the line, and Juggernaut feels somewhat underwhelming.  I ended up losing most of the parts to my originals, and got a replacement pair when All Time got their big Minimates collection in last year.  I still don’t really have much connection to them, but I can admit that they were both better than I recalled.

#2454: Captain America & Peggy Carter

CAPTAIN AMERICA & PEGGY CARTER

MARVEL MINIMATES

Even in these times of uncertainty for the line, Marvel Minimates has a fairly steady stream of new product always coming from at least one retailer…provided you can actually find any of that new product.  Walgreens has been great for getting lots of new ‘mates on the books, but in 2018, they started kind of having a bit of a back-up in their distribution process, and two years later we’re still kind of feeling it.  Officially hitting at the end of last year, Series 11 has a decent mix of things going for it, including today’s set, Captain America and Peggy Carter!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These two were part of the 11 Walgreens-exclusive set of Marvel Minimates, and are animation-based, specifically hailing from the Avengers Assemble show, though in the case of both ‘mates featured here, the movie-inspiration is also pretty strong.

1940s CAPTAIN AMERICA

“Given enhanced strength, speed and durability in a top-secret experiment, Steve Rogers became a symbol of hope for Americans in World War II.”

We’ve had a couple of these MCU-esque ’40s Caps in the line, and this one’s just another.  This marks the first time he’s been animated, though!  Structurally, Cap’s just got the one add-on piece for his helmet.  It’s a re-use from the ’40s Cap in the Series 55 assortment, which is fair enough.  That piece has always looked a bit better than the one we got from TFA‘s line, and its slightly streamlined appearance works a bit better with the more vanilla nature of this figure.  Everything else here is paint.  This is the animated recreation of the film design, so it dispenses with a number of the details for something a bit cleaner.  I rather like it, honestly.  There’s a definite simplicity to it, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad in the slightest.  Cap is packed with his shield, a spare hand with a connection for it, an alternate hair piece for an unmasked look, and a clear display stand.

AGENT PEGGY CARTER

“Peggy Carter, a British agent who knew Captain America during World War II, was briefly brought from 1949 to the present day by Kang the Conqueror.”

Since Minimates had claim to the only Peggy Carter action figure on the market for a good eight years,  I guess it’s only fitting that when Legends got in on the game, they would double their efforts…literally.  This is our second Peggy ‘mate, and our third Peggy figure, ever, so that’s all pretty cool.  What’s more, it takes my complaints about wanting the Hydra base-storming gear from the end of TFA into account!  More looks for Peggy!  Yay! Peggy is a pretty basic ‘mate in terms of construction.  She’s got the hair piece, and that’s really it.  It’s a new piece, and definitely goes with that animated style, but it certainly fits the character.  In fact, I like this piece a bit more than the one used on the movie Peggy.  It just really feels like it gets the character down.  Again, the heavy emphasis here is on the paint.  As with Cap, she’s definitely got a very simplified look about her, but that said, the face still looks remarkably close to Haley Atwell in terms of likeness.  It also seems a little less void of expression than the last ‘mate.  The detailing on the jacket is all pretty sharp looking as well, and this has got to be one of the few times that the somewhat washed out nature of the animated ‘mates didn’t feel totally out of place. What really makes Peggy shine are her accessories.  She gets a hat-wearing hairpiece, a spare torso and arms, and a skirt piece, which effectively allow you to build a second figure, of Peggy in her trench-coated appearance.  It’s another quite distinctive look, and another really strong design for the character.  It also really adds some serious value to a figure that was already really cool, and distracts from the always present issue of the Walgreens sets not getting guns by giving Peggy a much preferred replacement.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve kind of been falling out of Minimates (which is only fair, since so has DST, if I’m honest), but Max has been keeping me at least a little bit invested, and he was nice enough to hook me up with this set earlier in the year.  Cap is kind of a nifty figure, presenting something of a what-if scenario where the line hadn’t evolved so much by the time the MCU films rolled around.  He’s kind of a movie Cap via Minimates Year One, and I think that really works for him.  I’m getting real Series 5 Cap vibes off of this guy.  The prior Peggy was good for the time, and had the novelty of being the only one for a while, but this Peggy is pretty much the ultimate version of the character, with two really great looks and a pretty spot-on likeness.  This set is pretty much all win.

#2420: Daredevil & Bullseye

BATTLE DAMAGED DAREDEVIL, BULLSEYE, & UNMASKED DAREDEVIL

MARVEL MINIMATES

Though Daredevil and his supporting cast of players were removed and set out on their own for the purposes of Marvel Minimates very first assortment, when it came time to launch into their second year, old horn-head found himself once again grouped with the Spider-Man cast, accenting two straight Spidey-themed sets.  This time, he paired off with pretty much his last major foe not to be covered in the first series, Bullseye, and got two additional variants of himself, all of which I’ll be taking a look at today.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Battle Damaged Daredevil and Bullseye were the final standard set in the specialty line-up for Series 4 of Marvel Minimates, with the variant DD swapping out for the standard in the one-per-case variant set.  As is the case with most of these earlier ‘mates, Battle Damaged DD and Bullseye were also available through the Target/Walmart packs, and were each available (albeit separately from each other) through Toys R Us’ larger boxed sets as well.  Unmasked Daredevil was only available in the Series 4 line-up, which is just really the best for everybody, I think.

BATTLE DAMAGED DD

Well, Spidey got in on this whole “Battle Damage” trend, so I guess DD wanted to be a part of it.  Given how much of beating Matt’s prone to taking on his usual exploits, it’s honestly not the worst choice for him.  The approach to creating this figure is much the same as the Spidey, starting with the standard version of the character and dropping some additional damaged details on top of it.  In that regard, this guy uses the same construction as the Series 1 release, with add-ons for his mask and belt.  As with that release, I feel these pieces still hold up, and they were definitely great at the time.  The paint’s where the changes occur.  Under it all, the very basic core details from the Red DD are all still there, but now there’s been a lot of scuffs and scratches added throughout, and a couple of exposed bits of skin are showing through.  Under his mask, we get a similar face to the other two DDs, but his expression has now changed, into something a bit more severe.  It’s a nice little change-up from the norm.  He may be a little battered, but Matt’s still rocking his two billy clubs, once again in all-red.

BULLSEYE

Bullseye was shown off a few times along the year one ‘mates, but didn’t quite make the cut, so we knew he was coming in some fashion.  This guy was also definitely a little swept up in the whole 2003 movie craze, but it’s not like Bullseye’s a really oddball character or anything like that.  His construction is pretty similar to his opponent, with add-ons for his mask and belt.  Both of these were new to Bullseye, and both would remain unique to him.  The mask was the first time we got visible eyes beneath a separate mask piece, and it handles them quite well.  The belt’s a pretty solid and pretty standard piece, so I’m a little surprised it wasn’t re-used, and honestly I might be wrong on that.  The paint on this guy is again pretty basic, but shows some of their trend towards higher levels of detailing.  When first shown, Bullseye was in a color scheme much closer to his modern comics appearance, but by time of release, the bulk of him is a much friendlier blue.  Not sure why the change, but it matches his classic appearances, so I guess that’s fine.  Bullseye is the master of turning anything into a weapon, so there are a lot of accessory options there, but this guy just goes for a single small knife.  Honestly, it’s not the end of the world, considering that the Legend didn’t even get that much.

UNMASKED DD

Man, did you think that Unmasked Spider-Man was a lazy excuse for a whole figure?  Well, feast your eyes on Unmasked Daredevil.  Literally, he’s the Series 1 Daredevil with Peter Parker’s hair/glasses.  You had to buy a second Bullseye in order to get a thing you stood a good chance of just doing on your own with parts you already had on hand.  What’s more, it’s not even all that great an unmasked figure, because, with the glasses and all, about the same amount of the face is visible.  Boy was this a weak, weak variant.  In a world where people pointed to the sanctity of preserving the rarity of the variants, I point to this guy and say “how do you preserve that?”, considering that an unmasked option literally became a standard for DDs after this.  I’m not a fan of this guy.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I had Damaged DD and Bullseye when they were new, but over the years lost most of their pieces.  I recall liking them well enough at the time, and I can confirm I still think they’re pretty worthwhile.  Damaged DD in particular is a unique offering and does actually try to do something new and interesting.  Unmasked DD I didn’t have when he was new, in part because I wasn’t getting the variants, but also because even when they were still new, I felt he was a waste of space.  And now I have one and I still kinda feel like he’s a waste of space.  But I own him, so I guess he won in the end, now didn’t he?

All three of these specific ‘mates are new to me, and were purchased from my friends at All Time Toys.  They’ve still got a lot of that Minimate collection, and other cool toys both old and new, so please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2409: Masked Spider-Man & Gwen Stacy

MASKED SPIDER-MAN & GWEN STACY

MARVEL MINIMATES

In its second year, Marvel Minimates worked to fill in some of the gaps left by its first year, but also looked to find its footing and how to successfully carry on a brand when you’ve already put out a lot of the heavy hitters.  For their first series in the second year, they had a theme of “retread and new” to their pairings.  This was already visible with the Doc Ock and Unmasked Spidey set from last week, and it becomes even more obvious with today’s set, Masked Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Masked Spidey and Gwen were released in Series 4 of the Marvel Minimates specialty line-up.  Gwen would remain exclusive to this particular assortment, but this version of Spidey wound up paired off with Series 5’s Wolverine variant for the Walmart/Target assortment.  Oh good, he was more places.

MASKED SPIDER-MAN

So, yeah, I’m wondering the same thing you’re wondering: isn’t “Masked Spider-Man” just a regular Spider-Man?  I mean, that would be my guess, but this figure seems to think otherwise.  I believe the figure was originally solicited as “Half-Masked Spider-Man”, and perhaps they realized this was too many words to fit on the packaging.  They were still committed to giving each figure a unique name, though, so “Masked Spider-Man” he became.  From the neck down, he’s the same as the other two non-battle damaged Spider-Men, which I guess is good for consistency.  It means that the majority of this guy is the same as a really good ‘mate.  But now he’s got his masked pulled up to reveal his mouth.  It’s not an uncommon look for the character, and was of course prominently featured in the first Spider-Man movie, so I guess it makes sense?  It would make more sense packed with an MJ, but I digress.  To further mix things up, this guy’s also got a new web-line piece.  Its attached to a hand, and the end of it is shaped to a Minimate torso, allowing him to grab them.  It’s probably the best thing about this figure.

GWEN STACY

After butchering poor MJ’s debut ‘mate, I guess DST felt the need to prove that not every woman in Peter’s life was a horrible monster mash.  So, we got a Gwen Stacy.  How about that.  Gwen didn’t have a costume, but DST opted to put her in the outfit that most people remember: the one she died in.  It’s got a distinctive flair to it, to be sure, and it’s certainly iconic.  Gwen is constructed from the usual base body, with add-ons for her hair, jacket, and skirt.  All of the add-ons were new for this release, and they look decent.  The jacket does really bulk her up, though, especially when compared to other supposedly larger characters, who were still just on the basic body.  Hey, that’s the difficulty of using the same base for everyone, I suppose.  Gwen’s paintwork is cleanly done, and pretty basic, but that’s honestly a good thing, because it’s really that too many details approach that messed up poor MJ.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t have this set when it was new, but my brother did.  I myself was never majorly impressed by either figure included.  However, I found them from Luke’s Toy Store for really cheap, and I’ve been slowly filling out my early Minimates collection, so now I have them.  I still don’t find it to be a terribly exciting set.  Gwen’s okay, and honestly better than I expected, but Spidey’s just kind of pointless, even moreso than the unmasked figure from the same set.  Fortunately, they would learn how to make better Spidey variants as the line progressed.

#2402: Unmasked Spider-Man & Dr. Octopus

UNMASKED SPIDER-MAN & DR. OCTOPUS

MARVEL MINIMATES

Marvel Minimates hit shelves again their second year in early March, kicking off their sophomore efforts with a return to the world of everyone’s favorite wall-crawler.  The second series of the line had given us Spidey and three of his best known foes, but there was definitely a major one missing, and that was Dr. Octopus (who was, probably not coincidentally, the main foe in Spider-Man 2, which hit theaters two months after this assortment was released), who made his Minimate debut here, alongside unmasked Spider-Man, the sort of Spider-Man variant that wouldn’t really be a proper variant in this day and age.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Unmasked Spider-Man and Dr. Octopus were first released in Series 4 of the specialty line of Marvel Minimates, but the set was one of the ones that was carried over unchanged into the Walmart/Target assortments of the time, as well as both figures being released in one of TRU’s 4-packs, alongside Captain America and Absorbing Man.  I actually already reviewed the Spidey on his own a while back, and that review is here.  I don’t talk about packaging much on this site, but it’s notable that these guys were to first to be in the much smaller, windowless box packaging, which would be the line’s main jam for two years or so.  I myself am quite nostalgic for this particular style of packaging, although it did limit the ability to include extra parts with the figures.  Still, it was quite a good look for the line.

Doc Ock was a slight departure for the line, with one of the most extensive add-ons at the time.  Though characters like Hulk and Venom would go without any bulk-up, Ock got his requisite fat piece, which was rolled into his tentacle arms as well.  The arms are rather on the small side, but they did have articulation at each connection, making Ock the most articulated Minimate at the time and for a fair bit.  His hair piece is very similar to Bruce Banner and Peter Parker’s, with the glasses being permanently attached.  At least it makes more sense for Ock’s eyes to not be seen beneath the glasses.  In terms of paint, Ock’s pretty darn basic.  There’s the detailing for the gloves, boots, and belt, which was rather inconsistent in coverage.  I do quite like the face beneath the glasses, though.  Something about those eyebrows is giving me serious Alfred Molina vibes.  Ock didn’t include any accessories, but with the extra arms, that’s not really a big issue.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got an Ock with my original Unmasked Spider-Man, but I was never as impressed with him, and ended up losing most of his parts over the years.  I ended up replacing him outright a couple of years ago when I found the set for a really low price on Luke’s Toy Store.  Rather amusingly, I only opened them up when it came time to write this review, and I found out they’d been slid into their box upside down, all this time.  Ock’s still not amazingly impressive, but I must admit I have more of an appreciation for him now than I did as a kid.

#2395: Giant-Size X-Men

CYCLOPS, WOLVERINE, COLOSSUS, STORM, NIGHTCRAWLER, & THUNDERBIRD

MARVEL MINIMATES

The first year of Marvel Minimates was all kind of consolidated around the summer of 2003, so it was a little while before we well and truly got a follow-up, but they kickstarted their second year off with a bang.  After focussing purely on the Ultimate incarnation of the X-Men, for their first two entries in year two, DST decided to circle back around and give us classic X-Men in spades.  When it comes to classic X-Men, it’s hard to get more classic than the cover of Giant-Size X-Men #1, which is what the line’s first dedicated boxed set was based around.  So, without further ado, let’s jump right in!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Giant-Size X-Men boxed set hit in January of 2004, and was the first boxed set to be available through specialty shops.  It (and the AFX-exclusive Professor X and Magneto) introduced the totally windowless packaging that would become the norm for the line for the next four years.  In the case of this particular set, it was probably the nicest box the line produced, replicating the cover to the original issue quite nicely.  I’ve included a shot of it here, courtesy of minimatedatabase.com.  Of the six figures contained in this set, five would eventually be made available as part of a set of Target exclusive two-packs (Thunderbird wound up as the odd man out), with the major difference between the two releases being C3-style feet on the later figures.

CYCLOPS

Already two ‘mates in by this point, this set finally gave us Cyclops with his classic cowled appearance.  It wouldn’t be the last time we’d see it, even just for a short while, but it sure was important at the time.  He’s built on the standard old-style body, so he’s 2 1/4 inches tall and he’s got 14 points of articulation.  He’s got one add-on piece for his mask/visor, which is a pretty nicely sculpted piece.  I always appreciated how the visor on it was so instantly unique from the one on the Series 3 Cyclops.  It was also a nice enough piece that it lasted through to 2010 before being retired.  The rest of things are handled through paint, and admittedly not a lot of it.  Of the six figures included here, Scott was by far the least detailed, with not even chest detailing to make him stand out.  Given how he was always so creatively shaded in the comics, it’s a shame they didn’t go for that here.  They’d end up fixing that on later figures.

WOLVERINE

Already two ‘mates in by this point, this set finally gave us Wolverine with his classic…cowled appearance…wait, I just did this.  Sorry!  I mean, yeah, it’s the same deal as Cyclops, though.  Woverine’s two prior releases lacked his distinctive mask, so this was our first shot at it.  He got a new add-on piece for it, as well as new boots, and the same clawed hands from the two Series 3 releases.  It’s not a bad selection of parts, but it definitely didn’t hold up as well as the Cyclops mask did.  These parts would see only one more use before being retired.  Everything else is paint, and that includes the shoulder pads, which was an…interesting choice.  Clearly, they’re a three dimensional item, but they were just painted on here.  The separate pieces that came later were a better fit.  The rest of the paintwork is pretty decent.  Like Scott, he doesn’t have any sort of musculature on his chest, but he does at least get his tiger stripes, so it’s not a total blank void.

COLOSSUS

Notably missing from the Series 3 X-Men line-up (despite Ultimate Colossus being a prominent member at the time), Colossus made his debut here.  He was one of the most involved ‘mates in the set in terms of parts count, with add-ons for his hair, tunic/belt, and boots.  All of the parts were new at the time, and they’re honestly the best of the parts introduced here.  They just do a really great job of replicating the feel of the character, and I always liked how they bulked him up a bit when compared to the others in the set.  In addition to having the most extra parts, Colossus also had by far the most involved paint work of the whole set, and honestly of most of the line at this point.  The banding on his metal skin wraps all the way around on his arms and legs, and he’s got a fully detailed front and back to the torso block under his tunic.  His face also is just so full of character.  It’s honestly a little shocking that this guy and Cyclops are from the same set.

STORM

Storm had gotten one ‘mate prior to this, but that was a modern design, so the classic was kind of needed, I guess.  Her original costume is pretty darn distinctive, and I think more properly captured that regal side of the character.  She had add-ons for her hair and cape.  The hair is huge, to comical standards, honestly, and makes her quite tricky to keep standing.  The cape, on the other hand, is small and very understated, and rather easily missed, I feel.  That was kind of the nature of the capes, at this point, though, so I can’t really say it was out of the ordinary or weird.  The paint is alright on her, but not the same level as Colossus.  She has the basics, and she does at least get torso detailing of some sort, so she’s a bit ahead of Cyclops and Wolverine.  That said, it’s also a lot messier in application than the others in this set.

NIGHTCRAWLER

Nightcrawler has been pretty sparse when it comes to Minimates.  This was his first, and remained his only until 2011.  So, this guy had to keep us content for 7 whole years.  Certainly, he must have been really good, right?  …Ehhh.  He did get a lot of new parts, with add-ons for the hair, chest cap, and tail, as well as unique hands and feet.  The hair seems a little too demonic, if I’m honest, but the hands, feet, and tail all are pretty dope.  The biggest problem I’ve got with this guy is that chest cap, which bulks him way up, despite the fact that Nightcrawler should actually be the smallest of the six figures included here. Why would they do this?  And then not fix it for soooooo long?  The paint was okay on this guy, at least.  The face again leans more into the demonic thing, but at least that fits okay with the GSXM-stylings.

THUNDERBIRD

The one truly exclusive figure in the set, this Thunderbird wouldn’t see a re-issue at all, and the character wouldn’t appear again until 2016, when we got another GSXM-set.  He’s the one that seems to diverge the most from the comics appearance, falling back more into a general ‘mate aesthetic.  He had a new hair piece and shoulder pads, both of which would remain unique.  They’re…well, they’re there.  Neither’s all that impressive, but I guess they aren’t bad either. The bit of his forehead that’s visible on the hairpiece looks really odd, and he’s missing the feathers from the back of his headband.  The paintwork brings in a few more inaccuracies.  He’s got visible pupils, which he shouldn’t, and his feet are the wrong color (they should be red).  Also, his face just doesn’t feel at all like Thunderbird.  I could see it passing for Warpath, but definitely not Thunderbird.  At least he got torso detailing?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like a fool, an absolute fool, I passed on this set when it came out.  I saw it at Cosmic Comix, I had the money to spend, and I dropped on the DC Direct import of the Batman Kubricks instead.  Why?  WHY!?!  I was young and stupid, that’s why.  This set’s never been super plentiful, and was going for a bit on the aftermarket for a while, so I just never got one.  I finally ended up getting the Series 68 set, and figured that was good enough, but I still had this little nagging need for this set too.  Fortunately, it came into All Time as part of a big Minimates collection they bought last fall, so, hey, I finally got it.  Honestly, this set hasn’t aged so well, but it’s really worth the price of admission just for that Colossus.  That’s still the best version of him the line produced!

As I mentioned above,  I got this set from my friends at All Time Toys.  They’ve still got a lot of that Minimate collection, and other cool toys both old and new, so please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2388: Peter Parker & Mary Jane

PETER PARKER & MARY JANE

MARVEL MINIMATES

During the first year of Marvel Minimates, DST put together a few exclusives to bulk up the line a little further than just the core three series.  In the nature of repurposing all over the place in those early days, one of those exclusives, Grey Hulk and Ultimate Spider-Man, was a pairing of figures that would be literally everywhere by the end of the line.  The other notable exclusive is today’s pack, Peter Parker and Mary Jane, a pair of figures that were never directly re-released in any fashion.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Peter and Mary Jane were available at San Diego Comic-Con in 2003, alongside the previously mentioned Hulk and Spider-Man.  More than the other set, they feel like a direct continuation of Series 2’s Spider-Man theme, and pretty much slot right in with that set.

PETER PARKER

We got a half-Spidey/half-Peter ‘mate in the main line, so this figure creates the counter part to the full Spidey, giving us a full Peter.  Yay, I guess.  He’s built on the standard old-style ‘mate body, so he’s 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  He got a new hair piece and book bag.  Both would see re-use later, but they were new here.  Like Bruce Banner, the glasses are opaque, something I don’t like as much here as I did on Banner.  Beyond that, he’s just paint, which pretty much just replicates the Peter half of the Series 2 figure directly.  It’s definitely a ’60s Peter, that much is certain.  It fits in alright with the style of the early ‘mates, so I can’t really knock it.  Peter was packed with a book accessory, to go with that book bag, I guess.

MARY JANE

Peter’s main love interest and a long time fixture of the comics, Mary Jane didn’t really get her proper due as a Minimate until 15 years into the run.  She did get this…thing, however.  Mary Jane was the standard ‘mate body, but with a new hair piece.  A hair piece that was clearly aiming for some kind of recreation of John Romita’s look for MJ, but…well, it missed the mark a bit, and ends up looking more like a crappy mullet.  With the one piece of new sculpting dressed down, let’s talk about the paint.  Oh, it’s not good.  There’s way too many lines on that face.  That would be too many lines for a modern-style ‘mate.  For a year one release?  She looks like she’s a million.  The eyes are okay; it’s really he lower half of the face that ruins it.  Moving past the face we can stop and ask “what is she supposed to be wearng?”  MJ was pretty well defined as always having pretty flattering wardrobe, but this ain’t that.  She’s got a sleeveless shirt that may as well be a pillow case, plus capris, and…dress shoes?  I don’t know.  I don’t think this replicates a specific look.  Wouldn’t it have made sense to, I don’t know, go for that distinctive design that she has on that distinctive panel that everybody remembers that introduced her?  No, that would be too on the nose.  Let’s go with this ugly thing.  Making things uglier, the plastics on the various parts of her pants don’t match at all in coloring, which looks awful.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got this set from All Time when they got that large collection of ‘mates back last fall.  At this point, I was really just working on filling in my “year one” set, which these guys are a part of, and that’s about the only reason I bought them.  Peter is kind of meh, and not exactly enough to sell the set on his own.  MJ, on the other hand, is quite possibly the worst Minimate in existence, and is certainly the worst the first year had to offer.  Clearly, the reason neither of these two saw re-release is because they just really didn’t warrant it.