#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.

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#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.

#1822: Black Panther & Ebony Maw

BLACK PANTHER & EBONY MAW

MARVEL MINIMATES

“Hear me, and rejoice. You are about to die at the hand of the children of Thanos. Be thankful, that your meaningless lives are now contributed to the balance…”

It’s black on black in today’s set, as Black Panther faces off against Ebony Maw!  Prepare to imagine a world where these two characters actually met…

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Black Panther and Ebony Maw are part of the second assortment of the Infinity War-themed Marvel Minimates.  These two were supposed to be the Toys R Us exclusive set for this round but…well, we all know how that one went, right?  The set actually still has its TRU-exclusive sticker, presumably because it was too late in the process to get it removed before it started shipping to specialty stores.

BLACK PANTHER

Black Panther has been no stranger to Minimates.  Heck, this is his fourth just this year alone. Since Panther’s IW design was the same as his suit from his solo outing, this figure uses that same design, and is quite similar to the basic Panther from those tie-ins.  He’s built on the usual body, so he’s 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  Like his solo counterpart,  he’s got an add-on for his mask, as well as Cheetah’s clawed hands.  The paint on Panther is pretty solid work, and again, virtually identical to the last one.  The biggest difference between the two is what’s under the mask.  We’ve gotten yet another Chadwick Boseman likeness, this time with a much angrier expression than we saw even on the more energetic powered-up Panther.  I guess he’s taking things more seriously with it being the end of the world and all.  For accessories, Panther is packed with an extra hair piece to display his unmasked look, as well as the standard clear display stand.

EBONY MAW

As the member of the Black Order with by far the most dialogue and the most focus, Ebony Maw certainly stood out.  However, for whatever reason, it was Proxima Midnight who got all of the initial focus in the toy realm.  Fortunately, at least in the case of the Minimates, Maw wasn’t too far behind.  Ebony Maw is almost a completely vanilla ‘mate.  The only thing that mixes him up a bit is his skirt piece, which is a new offering.  It works well enough, adding the extra tails to his torso, while avoiding bulking him up too much.  I’m not for overly building up a ‘mate if you don’t have to, but I do feel Maw is missing…something.  Maybe a sculpted collar?  Certainly a hair piece of some sort.  His hair may have been thinning in the film, but it certainly wasn’t close-cropped, and it doesn’t look right being relegated purely to painted detailing.  I think something along the lines of Morgue’s hair piece would have really helped this figure out.  Maw’s paintwork is certainly his strongest suit.  The face is definitely the best part; it’s a pretty perfect recreation of his features from the movie.  The fact that he already lacked a nose probably helped.  The details on his uniform seem perhaps a touch bright for my eyes, but they are at least cleanly applied, and quite extensive.  Ebony Maw’s only accessory is a clear display stand.  It might have been nice to get some of those funky glass daggers or an energy effect of some kind, especially since he’s already light on the sculpted pieces as it is.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

There’s no denying that this Black Panther feels more than a little bit redundant. There were two costumed versions of T’Challa in his own line, both of which are still quite readily available.  This one does attempt to be a little bit different, but not by much.  If you didn’t get any of the Black Panther movie Minimates, then I suppose this one’s a nice addition.  If you did?  Well, you’re really just here for the other half of the set.  As I noted with Corvus, the Black Order are really the only “new” part of the Infinity War assortments, which places some extra weight on them.  Unfortunately, I think Maw is another design that doesn’t translate all that well to the aesthetic, making this ‘mate somewhat middle of the road in terms of quality, and unlike Corvus, he doesn’t have a stronger pack ‘mate to carry him.

#1811: Spider-Man & Green Goblin

SPIDER-MAN & GREEN GOBLIN

MARVEL MINIMATES

Any long running line encounters the risk of making latecomers feel like they have an interminable game of catch-up to play to grab classic versions of major characters.  Sure, someone collecting from day 1 might have all the classic Iron Men they’ll ever need, but little Johnny who just got in at Wave 75 isn’t so lucky.  Fortunately, DST had a great way of handling this:  Best Of Marvel Minimates.  The idea behind this sub set was keeping the definitive versions of the main Marvel Heroes and villains on the market, while trying to produce the best possible Minimates of those looks.  And, really, can you possibly get more “Best Of” than definitive takes on Marvel’s best known hero and is greatest foe?  I would say you can’t, sir.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Spider-Man and Green Goblin were released in the first series of Best of Marvel Minimates.

SPIDER-MAN

Whooo boy have there been a lot of Spider-Man Minimates.  This one here was the 44th of them.  He’s a return to the classic red and blue, as you’d expect from something intended as the definitive take on Spidey.  If you want to get really technical, he’s a late ’60s/early ’70s Spidey, as denoted by the shape of his eyes and the presence of web wings under his arms.  When it comes to construction, Spider-Man has classically been a vanilla ‘mate, but that’s not the case with this guy.  He has a unique set of upper arms, which incorporate the previously mentioned web wings.  These were a recurring feature of his costume for quite some time before quietly disappearing, but for the most part they’ve been absent from toy versions of the webhead.  The reason is fairly simple: they’re hard to translate.  That’s as true here as it is on any web-winged Spidey.  They’re decently sculpted, and look fine from a basic standing pose, but you try to pose the arms, and they’re going to start looking a little goofy.  They’re a nice idea, and they aren’t awful to look at, but perhaps they would have worked better as a set of spare arms?  Spider-Man’s paintwork is, as always, doing the heavy lifting.  The detailing on the mask and the torso in particular is very strong, and his color scheme is bright and quite striking.  Sadly, he’s a little marred by some missing weblines on his gloves and the sides and backs of other sections of his costume, which is a little bit of a let-down.  This was a trend that had been going on for a little while at the time of this figure’s release, though, so it’s not as if he was the first example; just an unfortunate victim of changing styles and budgets, I suppose.  Spider-Man was quite well accessorized, including a the usual webline accessory, as well as an extra head and hair piece for an unmasked Peter Parker, and a clear display stand.  The head and hair are the best extra of the bunch, as it finally signified a move away from trying to use removable masks to give us the Peter Parker look.

GREEN GOBLIN

Compared to his wall-crawling foe, Green Goblin is a far lest frequent inclusion in the Minimates line.  This marked only his fifth time as a Minimate, and six years later, it’s the last standard Goblin we’ve gotten.  Goblin represents his classic look, but is a more amalgamated, less era-specific look than Spidey (we had just a few months prior gotten a pretty fantastic Silver Age Goblin, so it was an acceptable choice). The figure uses mostly the same selection of parts as his Series 41 counterpart, who in turn was using a lot of re-used parts from other figures.  The hat/ears is the same piece that’s been used since the old Series 2 version; it’s the epitome of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  It works.  He gets the improved flared gloves introduced in the Cap Through the Ages set, as well as the cuffed boots from the Invaders set.  The really notable change for this figure is the satchel.  After using the same Series 2 piece for a decade, they finally upgraded Goblin’s bag this time around, and gave him Kim Bauer’s purse, which actually works quite well. Goblin’s paintwork is pretty standard stuff.  The colors are definitely the best palette of any of the Goblins we’ve gotten, and his detail line work is solid.  The mad grinning face looks suitably intimidating and is reliably different from his previous ‘mates, allowing for some variety. Like Peter, Goblin is pretty well accessorized.  He too gets an extra head and hair for an unmasked look, as well as a spare hand with an attached pumpkin bomb, a goblin glider, and a flying stand for it to plug into.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Though I wasn’t initially planning to get in on this line, having followed Marvel Minimates since its very beginning.  But, upon seeing this pair in person at Cosmic Comix back when they were new, they just really spoke to me.  Best Of Spider-Man is a solid ‘mate.  A really, really good stab at a major character, and undoubtedly one of the best takes on the character housed within this line.  He is, however, held back slightly by one or two iffy design and cost choices, that perhaps keep him from being the best that he can.  Coming so close to the Series 41 version, there was a good chance for this release of Green Goblin to be redundant, but he takes what was improved on that figure and adds even more to it, and truly creates the best Green Goblin to date.

#1804: Hulkbuster & Corvus Glaive

 

HULKBUSTER & CORVUS GLAIVE

MARVEL MINIMATES

Hulkbuster and Corvus Glaive would both make for pretty sick band names, wouldn’t they?  Sorry, no pithy intro here; that’s really all I got…

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Hulkbuster and Corvus Glaive are part of the second assortment of Infinity War-themed Marvel Minimates.  They’re the second of the two sets shared between specialty and Walgreens (and were originally supposed to be offered at Toys R Us).  It’s kind of an odd pairing, since I don’t know that these two ever interacted, but they were at least both part of the big final battle, so there’s that.

HULKBUSTER

What is a Hulkbuster with no Hulk to bust?  Well, if we’re going by Infinity War rules, it’s a pretty decent Hulk stand-in, actually.  Who’d have guessed?  Yes, after the slight misdirect all of the merchandise gave us by including the almost entirely absent Hulk in the early assortments of just about every tie-in, we finally got some follow-up with the Hulkbuster, Banner’s far more prominent look.  This is our seventh time getting some variation of the Hulkbuster in Minimate form, and in fact our second time seeing Banner in the suit.  The Hulkbuster armor uses 11 add-on pieces.  Since the ‘buster’s design has had an overhaul since we last saw it in Age of Ultron, it gets a number of new parts.  In fact the only parts shared between this figure and that one are the hands and the torso extender (well, and the basic Minimate body, but that’s kind of a given).  The torso and feet are brand new parts, and he also uses standard power-house pieces for his upper arms and legs, as well as a blank slip cover mask for the helmet.  The new pieces are great; they really add some bulk to the figure, and are filled with tons of great little details from the screen.  The power-house pieces work well in conjunction with these new parts, adding some decent bulk to largely unseen areas that don’t need quite as much extra detail.  The mask…I’m not sure about the mask.  It’s hardly the first time we’ve seen an Iron Man helmet handled this way (in fact, Infinity War‘s own Mark 50 uses the same basic style), but it does make the figure look a little off when placed next to the AoU variant.  Of course, this one also loses that one’s neck seam, and actually has a posable head, so you win some and you lose some.  The Hulkbuster’s paint is pretty decent.  The red and gold are a little brighter than prior Iron Men, and therefore a little more eye-catching.  The last Hulkbuster was far more reliant on sculpted elements to carry things, but this one is more willing to fall back on painted detail lines, which I do think helps him look a little sharper, and more defined.  Under the mask is a Bruce Banner face; It doesn’t dethrone the Ragnarok version as the definitive likeness, but at least it’s actually the right person in the armor.  Unlike prior ‘bustersthis one doesn’t feature any sort of detailing on the torso, but since Bruce isn’t wearing another suit of armor like Tony, I guess there wouldn’t be much to detail.  A dirty t-shirt maybe?  Yeah, I think DST can be forgiven for leaving it blank. The figure includes two accessories.  The first is a spare hair piece, allowing for an unhelmeted Banner to be displayed.  The piece looks familiar, so I think it might be a re-use, but it’s curiously not the same piece from the Ragnarok set.  The Hulkbuster also includes a standard clear display stand, for all your clear displaying needs.

CORVUS GLAIVE

Perhaps the least developed of the Black Order, Glaive’s main character trait seems to be “gets knocked down a lot.”  Nevertheless, the guy’s still got a really cool name, and a pretty solid design, so I like him.  Plus, it’s not like you can only make part of the Black Order and not the rest.  Right, Hasbro? Corvus is built using three add-on pieces on the standard body.  He’s got his headgear/ears, shoulder decoration, and loincloth/belt.  All three of these pieces are new to this figure, and they’re pretty decently sculpted, if perhaps a bit soft in some spots.  The torso piece seems to get the worst of the softness, and I’d say it at least partly is due to lack of reference material. The rest of the detailing is handled via paint, and it’s overall pretty decent work.  It’s perhaps not the most thrilling color palette, but the detail lines are all pretty sharp.  I think his face is the weakest part of the figure.  Corvus’s face is thin, angular, and very pointy, which are all the things a Minimate’s head is *not*, so his face ends up looking a bit nondescript.  He just looks like a fairly average guy who’d generally prefer not to hear about his co-worker’s vacation.  Doesn’t exactly ooze intimidation. Corvus is, unsurprisingly, packed with his glaive. It’s a solid recreation of the design from the movie, and he can hold it well enough, for a Minimate weapon, anyway.  He also includes a clear display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Since Walgreens was kind of slow getting this assortment out, I grabbed these from Cosmic Comix when they came in.  The AoU Hulkbuster was kind of the star of those tie-in waves, so this one has some big shoes to fill.  While the differences in design and approach make it difficult to outright compare the two, I feel that this one is still a pretty admirable addition to the collection. The Black Order are actually the only “new” offerings from the Infinity War assortments, so in that way Corvus is sort of this set’s draw.  However, his design isn’t particularly minimate-friendly, and the end result is a kind of bland offering.  Not terrible, but just sort of “meh.”

#1790: Thor: Ragnarok Minimates

GLADIATOR THOR, HELA, BRUCE BANNER, & LOKI

MARVEL MINIMATES

Three Norse Gods and….Mark Ruffalo?  What could possibly go wrong?

The Thor movies have some slight trouble with getting proper toy representation.  The Minimates have done a fair bit of good, but in the case of both of the first two films, last minute cancellations of planned store exclusives resulted in incomplete cast lineups.  Fortunately, Ragnarok was a bit more fortunate.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These four were released in a specialty-exclusive four-pack, released at the same time as the Walgreens and TRU-exclusive two-pack assortments.  Thor and Hela were included in two-pack form in both of those assortments, but Loki and Banner are both exclusive to this particular set.

GLADIATOR THOR

Ragnarok delivered a rather changed-up look for our hero Thor, who had something of an evolving appearance as the film progressed.  This figure represents him from around the film’s mid-point, after he’s arrived on Sakaar and been thrown into the arena as a gladiator.  It’s definitely his most distinctive look from the film, so it’s a sensible inclusion.  Thor has three sculpted add-on pieces to aid in his look.  The first is his helmet.  Thor’s helmet has been frequently overlooked by the film’s and while he doesn’t wear it for long in Ragnarok, it does at least get some focus that it hadn’t previously.  It’s an all-new piece here, and a pretty decent one at that.  The general design of it’s very close to the one seen in the film, and the detail work is pretty solid.  It perhaps sits a little high on his head, but only ever so slightly.  He’s also got a brand new shoulder piece, featuring his shoulderpads and the remaining half of his cape.  It sits well on the body, and doesn’t bulk up the neck too much, so that’s a definite plus.  Finally, he’s got a generic skirt piece, standing in for the bottom portion of his tunic.  Thor’s paintwork is a good recreation of his film design.  The detail lines are nice and sharp, and while the face isn’t the spitting image of Hemsworth, it’s as close as any of the prior attempts have been, and at least this one’s got a good fighting expression.  The tunic features some rather ornate detailing, as do his wrist guards, but I think the little bit of Sakaaran armor on his right leg is my favorite bit.  It’s just so vibrant and genuine.  Since it depicts Thor following Mjolnir’s destruction, this figure doesn’t include that piece.  It does, however, include the two swords he tries to replace his hammer with during his time as a gladiator, as well as a spare hairpiece for a sans-helmet look and a clear display stand.

HELA

After sparring off with one of the franchise’s most forgettable villains for his second installment, Thor was granted a far more intriguing foe in the form of Hela, goddess of death.  She’s still not the Enchantress, but I guess I’ll take it.  Hela is built using two sculpted add-on pieces, for her cape and her distinctive headdress.  Both pieces are unique to this particular figure, though I’m sure they could easily work for a comic book Hela, should DST be so inclined.  They’re both very well crafted additions, capturing the designs from the movie very nicely.  The headdress is sufficiently ornate, and the slight swoop at the bottom of the cape is definitely a nice touch.  Hela’s paint work is suitably bold and striking, even a bit moreso than her onscreen design.  The slightly metallic nature of the green adds even more to the appearance, and I appreciate that the green detailing goes all the way around the legs and pelvis piece.  For accesroes, Hela’s packed with an extra head and hair, depicting her unmasked appearance from her more vulnerable portions of the movie, as well as the usual clear display stand.

BRUCE BANNER

While the two-packs were host to his jade goliath alter-ego, this set gives us a completely un-transformed Bruce Banner.  This is the second such figure we’ve gotten of the Mark Ruffalo version of the character, following his TRU-exclusive release from Age of Ultron.  Banner uses two add-on pieces, for his hair and his jacket.  Both of them are re-used.  The hair is, appropriately, the old Zombie Hulk piece that was used for quite a few Hulks.  It’s a pretty decent match for Ruffalo’s look, especially his slightly shorter hair from Ragnarok.  His jacket is the Ghostbusters World of the Psychic Peter Venkman piece, which has similarly seen a number of uses.  It’s just a basic blazer, so it works well for the look they’re going for.  Bruce’s paint work is perhaps not the most thrilling work in the whole set, but it’s reasonable work never the less.  The face capture’s Ruffalo’s likeness pretty well, and while the shirt lacks the Duran Duran cover from the movie (which I’m certain is a licensing thing), it does at the very least include some wrinkles and folds, so that it’s not just a blank grey block.  Bruce includes a second head, with an angry expression and green pupils.  It’s not the first such piece we’ve seen with a Banner figure, but it’s a welcome addition all the same.  He also includes the usual clear display stand.

LOKI

Loki, particularly Tom Hiddleston’s version of the character, is no stranger to the world of Minimates.  He’s managed to get at least one ‘mate for each of the movies he’s been featured in (well, barring Infinity War).  Ragnarok proved even more generous in this regarding, giving us not one, not two, but three versions of the character.  The one seen here is based on his look from the movie’s final climactic battle.  It’s a look patterned somewhat after his “Agent of Asgard” look from the comics, which is certainly one of his cooler looks.  Loki makes use of three sculpted add-on pieces, for his hair/crown, his cape, and his belt piece.  The hairpiece is unique to this figure, and does a respectable job of capturing the design from the movie.  The crown in particular is quite sharply detailed.  The cape, which is shared with one of the other two Lokis from the movie, is one of my favorite capes, in part because of its rather straight forward nature.  His paint is perhaps the figure’s one real flaw.  For the most part, it’s not bad.  Like Hela, the color scheme is rather striking, and the details on the costume are quite sharp.  In addition, the face is my favorite of the Hiddleston Lokis we’ve gotten to date; that smile is fantastic.  The real trouble is with the hairpiece, where the application is rather sloppy, and in what appears to be an across the board error, his ears have been painted the same gold as his headpiece, rather than the proper peach-tone.  Loki is the lightest packed in this set, featuring only a clear display stand.  I wouldn’t have minded his knives or an extra hair piece or something, but the other three help keep the sting down a little bit.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I grabbed this set from the best Minimate retailer around, Luke’s Toy Store, a few months back.  I actually had fallen behind a bit on releases, so this was part of a catch-up I was doing at the time.  It’s a pretty strong set. Gladiator Thor is one of the coolest versions of the character we’ve gotten in the MCU, and this ‘mate does a great job of translating that.  Hela’s an important character in the context of the movie, and a brand-new character in the context of the line as a whole, plus she’s got a pretty killer look.  Though he’s just a basic civilian, Banner’s a very well-executed ‘mate, and another winning figure in this already quite strong set.  This Loki is really the star Loki figure from the movie, and issues with the paint aside, he’s a pretty darn solid addition to the line-up.

#1773: Captain America & Falcon

CAPTAIN AMERICA & FALCON

MARVEL MINIMATES

Infinity War saw a lot of familiar faces returning, and by extension so have the accompanying toys.  The Minimates have been split into two main assortments, and by far the most noticeable absence from the first one was the Star-Spangled Man himself, Captain America.  Fortunately, he’s headlining the second assortment, alongside his frequent partner in crime, the Falcon!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Cap and Falcon are part of the second assortment of Infinity War-themed Marvel Minimates.  They’re one of the two sets shared between specialty and Walgreens (and were originally supposed to be offered at Toys R Us).

CAPTAIN AMERICA

Captain America’s got quite a different look this time around, owing a lot to his appearance during his days as Nomad in the comics.  Given the similar thematic elements between the storylines, it’s a well-chosen look, and it aids in filling us in on how things have gone for him since he abandoned the shield at the end of Civil War. Cap’s construction is very similar to his Civil War figures, which is sensible, since it’s the same costume and all.  He uses the shield harness, gloves, and belt from that set-up, and swaps out Ego’s hair for the usual close-cropped fare.  The end result makes for a pretty solid approximation of his design from the movie. Sure, the shape of the buckles on the harness isn’t movie accurate (they should be circular), but that’s an exceedingly minor change that DST is forgiven for overlooking.  In terms of paint, Cap is pretty well-off.  The face is sporting a pretty decent likeness of the bearded Chris Evans, and the rest of the details on the uniform and such are very crisp, and all of the important details are there.  The intent from his missing star insignia is clearly defined, as are all of his pockets and such on his uniform.  It’s a shame his uniform isn’t showing the small rips and tears like in the movie, but that’s another small detail. Cap is packed with an extra set of hands, featuring his replacement Wakandan shields.  They’re a bit on the small side, and it’s kind of difficult to tell the difference between them and the standard hands.  That said, they’re new pieces, and they’re certainly better than nothing.  He also includes the usual clear display stand.

FALCON

Unlike Cap, Falcon’s look for Infinity War is largely unchanged from his prior appearance in Civil War.  However, the Civil War release was exclusive to Toys R Us, so it’s sensible that DST would want to give buyers another chance at the character.  Falcon is built from the same collection of pieces as his Civil War figure (reviewed here).  They worked very well the first time around, and they continue to work here.  As it’s the same costume in-movie, it would be silly for DST to try and recreate these pieces wholesale.  Falcon’s paintwork is also rather similar to his last figure, but there are a few minor differences.  His facial expression has changed slightly, closing his mouth, but still keeping his angrier appearance.  The colors of the costume have also been subdued a bit, which actually brings him a bit more inline with how he appears onscreen, since the Civil War release was using an earlier color scheme.  Sadly, Falcon takes a little bit of hit in the accessories department.  He’s got his flight stand and gets both of his twin guns (as opposed to the single one from last time), but loses the Redwing drone.  It doesn’t get any play in Infinity War, but it’s still a little sad to see him with less extras than before.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Cap’s the undeniable selling point of this set, and he’s a very strong entry.  After getting a lot of very similar looks in the first round of Infinity War ‘mates, this distinctly different looking Cap is definitely a breath of fresh air, and a fun figure in general.  How much you like this FALCON figure is going to be very connected to whether you got the last one.  He’s still a solid release, no doubt, but he doesn’t have much new to offer.