#2771: Ryu & Akuma

RYU & AKUMA

STREET FIGHTER II MINIMATES

2005 into 2006 marked a rather turbulent time for the Minimates brand.  DST and Art Asylum were definitely trying to expand it, but there was some trouble with that.  Attempts to add DC and Lord of the Rings kind of fell through, so a desire for other licenses to replace them was building.  Marvel, still the flagship line, went on hiatus for over a year, while they tried to regroup on other licenses.  In early 2006, they attempted to get into the video game character market with Minimates based on the classic fighting game Street Fighter II, hoping that might be the thing that took off and saved the line.  Spoilers: it wasn’t.  In the line’s one and only assortment, we got some of the game’s heavy hitters, which included today’s figures, Ryu and Akuma!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Ryu and Akuma were released in the standard retail assortment of Street Fighter II Minimates.  The two of them were based on their standard Player 1 colors, but there was also an AFX-exclusive variant pack that put them in their P2 colors, as well as changing up their expressions.  The standard versions also surfaced overseas as part of a blind-box assortment, which also featured the P2 colors, but this time without the changed expressions.

RYU

Ryu, one of two character’s carried over from the first game, is arguably the star of the Street Fighter series, so he’s certainly a sensible choice for the line-up.  He’s seen here in his standard white gi with red accents set-up.  The figure was built on the standard base body, so he’s about 2 1/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  He has four add-on pieces, for his hair, the bottom of his robe, and his hand bracers.  It’s honestly a pretty nice selection of parts, and matches up pretty well with his in-game sprite, while still helping him remain consistent with the overall ‘mate aesthetic.  There’s still some flow and expression to the parts, but they aren’t overly detailed like some later parts would be.  His details are handled largely through paint work, of course, and it’s pretty nicely done.  The face has just enough detail to really capture the character, and his body is well defined.  I appreciate that they’ve gone to the trouble of actually outline the edges of his sleeves and pants, so that they’re a little more defined.  Interestingly, like Spider-Woman from last week, Ryu is totally painted.  It looks nice, so I can’t really complain.  Ryu is packed with a blue effects piece, presumably meant to replicate his Haduken attack, which makes for some fun posing options.

AKUMA

Facing off against Ryu is the game’s hidden final boss, Akuma, a pretty solid opponent for Ryu.  He’s built rather similarly to Ryu, which is honestly appropriate.   The only part that’s actually shared between the two is the arm bracer piece, which works well for both of them.  His hair is obviously a new piece, as is the skirt piece, which they could have probably gotten away with re-using, but they didn’t, so good for them.  He also gets a new piece for the necklace as well, which is something that could have been painted on, but wasn’t, and is honestly the better for it.  The hair’s a little bit devoid of detail, which makes it look a little wonky, but for the most part it looks okay.  The detail work on this guy is a good match for Ryu, and he is likewise totally painted.  I appreciate that they actually changed up the tampo for the torso detailing, as that’s another area where they didn’t *have* to change it.  Akuma is packed with the same effects piece as Ryu, but in purple instead of blue.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The SFII Minimates line was one I really wanted to support, but it was one that I unfortunately didn’t really see in person.  The only ones I ever found were the P2 colors for these two, which got clearance out at KB toys of all places.  Interestingly, my Ryu from that set was erroneously the single pack version, so I never had the changed up expression for him.  I eventually got the chance to get the proper P1 versions when All Time got in that big Minimates collection back in 2019, which I was pretty happy about.  These two are well made to be sure, and it’s a shame the line didn’t take off the way DST hoped they would.

#2764: Spider-Carnage & Spider-Woman I

SPIDER-CARNAGE & SPIDER-WOMAN I

MARVEL MINIMATES

As I discussed last week, the 10th series of Marvel Minimates would be the first of a number of re-use assortments, which were entirely built from previously existing parts.  This certainly had an impact on character choices as well, since they needed to be characters that would require no new parts in the first place.  The end result was something of a hodgepodge, but they did hold to a vague Spider-Man theme, I suppose?  Today, we’re looking at the totally sensible, and not at all strange pairing of Spider-Carnage and Spider-Woman!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Spider-Carnage and Spider-Woman I were released in the 10th specialty assortment of Marvel Minimates, which hit in the summer of 2005.  This set was the non-variant set, with the  Spider-Woman II variant swapping out for this one in one pack out of every case, while Spider-Carnage remained.  They’re an odd pairing, since Spider-Woman wasn’t actually a Spider-Man character, and was in fact retired during Spider-Carnage’s brief run, but here we are.

SPIDER-CARNAGE

Spider-Carnage, being a combination of Ben Reilly and the Carnage symbiote, and even being in the same assortment as a Ben Reilly Spider-Man, honestly feels like he would have made more sense as the variant for this particular line up, but DST clearly felt differently.  He’s built on the post-C3 body (with a pre-C3 head, of course), so he’s about 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  Spider-Carnage’s construction makes use of the same bands as Ben Reilly, plus the hands from the Series 1 Carnage.  It’s a pretty straight-forward combo of the two, so I guess that makes sense.  Otherwise, he’s just handled with paint.  The application on the torso is 100% identical to the Ben Reilly, which makes sense from a consistency stand point.  He swaps out the blue for black, which isn’t strictly accurate, but Spider-Carnage was typically shaded a little darker, so I guess it’s not terrible.  He gets some additional red detailing on the arms and legs, which is true to the comics design.  The face is new, of course, but, rather strangely, the head loses the web-lines on the back that should be there.  Also, rather oddly, he drops the extra detailing on the wrist bands for a straight silver.  It’s an odd detail to drop, and feels like it would be more hassle than not, but I’m not in toy production, so what do I know?

SPIDER-WOMAN I

Jessica Drew had actually just returned to active duty in the comics, as part of the New Avengers line-up, early in 2005, making this figure a very well-timed and relevant choice, which was really a first for the line.  She too was built on the basic post-C3 body, but with the pre-peg-hole head.  As far as construction goes, do you remember Black Cat?  Because she’s exactly the same, as was her variant, the Julia Carpenter, and also Silver Sable, who was in this same assortment, too.  Not a ton of diversity there.  It’s not an inaccurate look for Jessica, so I guess it works.  Otherwise, she’s all paint.  Curiously, Jessica is entirely painted, from head to toe, with none of her parts being molded in the appropriate colors, a real rarity for Minimates.  It’s not terrible looking, though, and does help keep any weird bleed through from happening, so that’s good.  The one downside to the figure is that she’s got flesh tone painted on the top of her head, ruining an easy conversion to her fully cowled look from her earliest appearances.  It’s kind of an odd choice.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I snagged this set at the same time as last weeks pair, back when they were still new.  I actually don’t really know why, as neither of them really spoke to me.  I mean, I guess I like Jessica Drew well enough.  But it’s still not a set I really get excited about.  Ultimately, they’re both well put together figures, but neither of them really jumps out as all that inspired or anything.

#2757: Black Cat & Ben Reilly

BLACK CAT & BEN REILLY

MARVEL MINIMATES

The third year of Marvel Minimates had a very focused beginning, bringing in the FF for the first time, but after getting them out of the way, the rest of the year wound up being a pretty major mixed bag.  The 9th, 10th, and 11th assortments were all sort of mixed bags in terms of characters, and the 10th and 11th in particular would introduce something new to the brand: total parts re-use assortments.  In order to stretch things as far as they could go, DST would do as many characters as possible with no new pieces.  Included amongst these heavily re-used figures were today’s offerings, Spidey characters Black Cat & Ben Reilly!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Black Cat and Ben Reilly were released in Series 10 of Marvel Minimates, which hit in the summer of 2005.  Black Cat would remain exclusive to this pairing, but Ben found his way into a re-pack, alongside fellow Series 10 figure Sandman, for Target later that same year.

BLACK CAT

Black Cat made her Minimates debut here, sporting a fairly classic design for the character.  She was built on the basic body, post C3 feet, so she stands about 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  She doesn’t get the new head with peg hole, due to the re-used hair piece, which comes from the Series 6 Phoenix.  While not a terrible piece on its own, it was about to get a bunch of uses all right on top of each other, which earned it the nickname “The Rachel”, in reference to when lots of women got the same haircut as Jennifer Aniston, during Friends‘ hey-day.  And now you know that completely useless bit of trivia.  Aren’t you glad?  Apart from the hair, Felicia was a totally vanilla ‘mate, which honestly isn’t all that out of place for the character.  The rest of her design is handled through paint.  It’s actually pretty decently handled.  The face is really my favorite of the Black Cats that DST did, and they even did a respectable job of recreating a more feminine shape for her body, by use of shading.  It’s actually pretty cool.

BEN REILLY

Spider-Man had plenty of Minimates by this point, but this marked the first one for his clone, Ben Reilly.  Interestingly, it’s not in his Scarlet Spider gear, but instead his take on the Spider-Man costume.  Exactly why is anyone’s guess, especially since it’s usual thing of “being a more credible standard Spidey variant” is kinda lost given he didn’t get Spider-Man in his name at all.  I’m probably over thinking things.  DST didn’t overthink this guy, that’s for sure.  He’s got two add-ons, for his web-shooters on his wrists.  They’re re-used from Power Man, and, while they should technically be segmented, they do work pretty well in a pinch.  Beyond that, he’s another heavy on the paint sort of figure.  It’s pretty good paint, and I do like how they actually painted the red entirely, rather than the mix of paint and plastic like the standard Spidey.  Honestly, this is probably my favorite Spidey paint scheme.  He’s got no accessories, not even the generic webline piece, which is kind of a shame in one way, but a bit of a relief in another, because one man can really own so many of that one piece.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This is a set I actually snagged new.  This whole period of time marked me starting to fall out of things a touch (though, to be fair, it’s not like even DST felt all that invested at the time), but I liked this pair enough to buy them.  I’ve always had a soft spot for the Ben Reilly Spider-Man costume, and it remains perhaps my favorite Spider-Man minimate.  Black Cat’s not too shabby either.  Overall, a pretty solid set, even if they were just re-use.

#2722: Thanos

THANOS

MARVEL MINIMATES

Back before he was a major movie star headlining two of the biggest movies of all time, Thanos was sort of an odd-ball who was rather hard to place when it came to toy lines.  Like, he was around, and some people knew him, but you had to sort of sneak him in there, lest someone notice his presence.  Such was the case with his original Minimate release, which was one of the early line’s sort of odd floater figures for a bit, much in a similar fashion to last week’s Dark Phoenix.  He finally made it out, of course, and there have been a bunch of subsequent releases at this point, but it did take a bit of doing.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Thanos was released as a San Diego Comic Con-exclusive Marvel Minimates release in 2005, packed alongside yet another reissue of the original Silver Surfer (albeit this one with C3 feet, rather than the long ones).  He had been shown off a few times prior over the preceding years, and before 2099’s inclusion was cemented in Series 7 of the main line, it was assumed he’d be in that slot.  Then he…wasn’t, and everyone was confused for a bit, until this exclusive surfaced the following year.  Hey, at least he got released, I guess.  The figure is built on the C3 base body, and he stands 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  Thanos has four add-on pieces for his helmet, chest cap, and gloves, all of them new to him.  These pieces are pretty nicely handled; they get the character’s usual design elements down, while also keeping him in line with this earlier line aesthetic.  They all sit pretty well, and he looks generally uncluttered.  I quite enjoy the simplicity of the Infinity Gauntlet here; later releases would go for the separate fingers, and it always wound up looking weird.  Thanos’ paint work falls into a similar boat as the Dark Phoenix and Cyclops; there’s a lot of detail and creative shading, but it doesn’t feel like it goes too overboard.  Thanos included no accessories of his own, unless you want to be rather demeaning to that Silver Surfer figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I still wasn’t really in on the exclusive game yet with this one, and I already had the standard Silver Surfer, who was my preferred figure out of this set, so I didn’t really try that hard to get this Thanos.  However, when the rather large Minimate collection came into All Time in 2019, and this guy was there, I opted to go for it, because, hey, why not.  I like the simplicity of this Thanos compared to others.  I think he’s one of those characters that they really got right the first time.

#2715: Cyclops & Dark Phoenix

CYCLOPS & DARK PHOENIX

MARVEL MINIMATES

The Giant-Size X-Men-themed boxed set which hit in Marvel Minimates’ second year was our first taste of that era of the team in Minimate form, and one we’d have to stick for a little bit.  We were notably two main members short of that team’s starting line-up, to say nothing of the various other players from that era.  Our first follow-up came not in the main line, but as one of 2005’s non-exclusive sets.  While it didn’t round out the team (it would be another 11 years before we’d get to that), it did give us a little treatment from the biggest X-Men story of that period, if not the biggest X-Men story in general, the “Dark Phoenix Saga.”  We got that story’s two major players, Jean Grey in her Dark Phoenix persona and Cyclops, both of whom I’m taking a look at today!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Dark Phoenix and Cyclops were, as noted above, a con-exclusive Marvel Minimates two-pack, who officially dropped in March of 2005, and sort of toured the cons that year, rather than really being tied to one of them in particular, eventually even making their way to more regular release channels as well.  Both ‘mates here would remain exclusive to this particular pack, but this wasn’t the last time we got either of the characters.

DARK PHOENIX

Jean’s third Minimate finally put her in something with a little bit more staying power than the prior two, who were both outdated by the time they hit shelves.  And, depending how you classify things, this even kind of qualifies as a new character as well, so that’s doubly cool.  Jean was built on the C3 Minimate body, so she’s 2 1/4 inches tall and she has 14 points of articulation.  She’s still without the peg hole in the head, which wasn’t a huge shock, since she’d been rattling around for a bit before getting an actual release slot.  She gets two add-on pieces, one for her hair, and the other for her sash.  Both were new to this figure, neither would remain unique.  They’re not bad pieces.  Not a ton of detailing or anything, but they certainly look the part.  I suppose the hair’s a bit too tame by later standards for the line and the character’s original design, but it looks okay.  Her paint work is actually pretty involved, seeing as they’ve put some definite effort into recreating some of the more dynamic lighting of the comics.  As such, the red sections of her costume all have black shadowing, her face is slightly darker in the center, and her yellow parts have lines suggesting reflectiveness.  Her face is also a far more intense expression than we tended to see at this point, especially for a female figure.  The lines on the yellow have a tendency to rub off a bit over time, but otherwise the paint’s really solid.  Dark Phoenix is packed with two flame effect pieces.  They’re nice in theory, but kind of clumsy in practice, since they require taking off the hands to put on and remove, and in their most natural configuration, they block the use of the elbow joints.  It’s weird, because they’re sculpted with one side sharply lower than the other, but it’s the wrong side, so it doesn’t end up helping.

CYCLOPS

Cyclops had already gotten the basics of this design covered in the GSXM set, but that particular release was lackluster to say the least, so a second go wasn’t the worst idea.  Structurally, this guy’s the same as the prior variant, apart from subbing in the C3 feet, of course.  He uses the cowl/visor piece from the last one, which was good the first time around, and was still good here.  The only issue I ran into was something limited to my copy of the figure, who wound up with two left arms, one of which doesn’t sit quite right on either shoulder, making it susceptible to falling off frequently.  Aside from that, he’s cool.  The big change-up to this guy is the paint work.  The basics remain the same, but he gains extra shading on the torso piece, simulating how he looked in the comics, and also gets a much more detailed face under the mask.  It’s a very definite improvement.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I snagged this set relatively shortly after its release.  It was probably a year or so after.  Cosmic Comix happened to get one in, and I was happy to pick it up.  This set did a lot to move Minimates forward in terms of how detailing was handled, with its actual attention to things like comics-inspired shading, and marks an interesting turn for the line.  It’s a good way of handling the extra detailing, really, and I think this was the real sweet spot for where the level of detail should have more or less stuck.

#2708: Emma Frost & New Cyclops

EMMA FROST & NEW CYCLOPS

MARVEL MINIMATES

Marvel Minimates‘ third year was headlined by the proper arrival of the Fantastic Four, but coupled with the assortment centered on them was a slightly more mixed bag assortment, combining the X-Men with some Marvel Knights branded characters.  The X-Men were of course no strangers to the line by this point, but they’re proper mainstream counterparts were just starting to dip their toes in the water, especially for the main two-packs.  Heading off the assortment were two X-Men mainstays, one new to the line, and one not, Emma Frost and Cyclops, who I’m taking a look at today!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Emma Frost and New Cyclops were released in Series 9 of Marvel Minimates, which hit specialty stores the week after Series 8, in January of 2005.  This particular set was the variant, which featured Emma in her diamond form, as introduced in New X-Men.  Cyclops was shared between the two versions of the set, and would later be slightly tweaked for inclusion in the Darktide set in 2006.

EMMA FROST

Emma made her debut in the line with this release, but got two whole figures right off the bat, which I suppose is good for her.  There were both diamond form and regular form releases, denoted by the diamond form being called “Emma Frost”, and the regular being called “White Queen”…which is kinda backwards feeling, really, especially compared to how they handled the naming on the Sue Richards/Invisible Woman split.  Whatever, it’s just the name on the box, I suppose.  Emma is constructed from the new and improved C3 parts, with a peg hole on her head and everything.  She also gets new add-on pieces for her hair and cape, both of which were shared with her standard counterpart.  They’re basic, but get the job done.  Emma’s main thing is her paint work.  It’s nice from the technical side; the white sections are largely painted on, and look pretty crisp and clean.  Her face is also painted on, and is a respectable translation of smug classic Emma.  All of her exposed skin is clear plastic, showcasing her diamond form.  It looks pretty cool, but does lead to the somewhat lingering issue of this being Emma’s classic costume, which was before she had the diamond powers.  I get wanting to do her most distinctive look first (though it didn’t stop them from having weird starting looks for other characters), and also wanting a solid variant, but the two don’t quite reconcile here.  At least she looks pretty nice.

NEW CYCLOPS

Ah, yes, New Cyclops.  So much better than Old Cyclops.  This one’s New, you see.  Yes, this Cyclops is based on his leather uniformed design from New X-Men, joining the two other NXM figures, Jean and Logan, from the prior year.  And also joining no others, because they literally only did three members of this incarnation of the team.  As I mentioned in the Jean/Logan review, it was somewhat bad timing, since the looks had been abandoned in early 2004, with the launch of Astonishing X-Men, which put Scott back in a classic-inspired costume.  But, I guess it would have been weird to leave him out?  Scott notably gets the C3 feet, but *not* the head with the peg-hole.  Correspondingly, his new hairpiece/visor combo was also missing a peg, making it seem like this guy may have been designed at the same time as the other two, and just held back a bit.  He also gets a new jacket piece, as well as the belt piece from the other two.  It’s not a bad look overall, and the pieces hit that nice middle-ground of detail vs simplicity.  The paint work also treads this middle-ground, though perhaps not quite as well.  The face on this guy is really, really detailed.  Too detailed, if I’m honest; Scott ends up looking like he’s 80.  On the costume, rather than match Cyclops to the other two’s dark grey attire, Scott’s got black.  Not sure why they changed, and it means he doesn’t match anyone else.  I generally like this look a little more personally, but I’d probably still prefer consistency over anything else.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Back when these were new, I picked up the standard release of this set, mostly due to just wanting the Cyclops, because I like Cyclops.  I know, you’re all really shocked by this development.  I managed to hang onto all of his parts over the years, but lost most of the standard White Queen pieces, so I snagged the variant version when All Time got that big collection in 2019.  They’re not bad, but do sort of feel like an odd middle ground for the line.

#2701: Silver Centurion

SILVER CENTURION

MARVEL MINIMATES

Con exclusives and Minimates have been pretty heavily linked since the line’s inception.  In the first year of Marvel Minimates, Diamond used these exclusives to fill out the line-up of characters a touch further, and this would continue into the line’s second year.  Though absent from the line entirely in its first year, Iron Man was the recipient not only of a main line release, and a variant, but also his own exclusive two-pack, which I’m taking a look at half of today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Silver Centurion (as he’s dubbed on the box; he’s not actually named Iron Man there) was part of the Marvel Minimates exclusive pack from Wizard World Chicago in 2004.  That meant that he hit roughly a month after the first Iron Man arrived in Series 6 of the line.  The figure was built on the standard C3 mate body, pre-peg hole on the head, so he stands about 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  He has add-on pieces for his helmet, shoulder armor, belt, and gloves.  All of these parts would remain unique to this particular figure, which was actually pretty rare for these earlier figures.  They’re not a bad assortment of pieces, although the helmet was plagued by an issue of being slightly too short for the head.  Interestingly, the updated Silver Centurion from Series 36 had a similar issue, despite the two parts being different tooling.  Ultimately, it’s not the worst thing in the world, and in most poses, the shortness isn’t too noticeable.  The paint work on this guy is pretty involved; it follows the trend they’d started with the standard Iron Man, who likewise was a step-up from other ‘mates at the time.  It kind of informed how they’d go about a lot of ‘mates in the coming years, with a lot more individual details.  The only part that could stand to be changed is the mouth, which doesn’t get the black detailing like the eyes, which makes it look slightly off.  Still, it looks pretty solid.  Under his helmet, there’s a fully detailed Tony Stark head.  It’s screaming, which is a different sort of expression, but not a bad change up given that it was our fourth Stark head that year.  Silver Centurion was without any accessories.  Flight stands weren’t a thing yet, but the lack of an alternate hair piece for display without the helmet’s a bit of a bummer.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I wasn’t really on the up-and-up with convention exclusives at this point in the line, so I didn’t get either Silver Centurion or his pack-mate Classic Iron Man when they were new.  I always wanted them, but just never got around to getting them.  Classic got redecoed into gold for the Avengers boxed set, and there was the updated Silver Centurion, so I felt less of need to get them after that.  However, when that big Minimates collection came through All Time in 2019, this guy was in there, so I went ahead and grabbed him.  He’s not a bad little figure all things considered.

#2603: Battle Damaged Thing & Gajin Wolverine II

BATTLE-SCARRED THING & GAJIN WOLVERINE II

MARVEL MINIMATES

The trouble with a four member team, at least when it came to Minimates and their early three two-pack per assortment structure, is that you end up with extra slots.  In the case of the Fantastic Four, there have been a number of different approaches to filling those extra slots.  In the case of their first entry into the line, the approach was hard-lining the heavy hitter mash-ups.  More Thing!  More Wolverine!  Yes!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Battle-Scarred Thing and Gajin Wolverine II are the last set from the Fantastic Four-themed eighth series of Marvel Minimates.  Battle-Scarred Thing remained exclusive to this assortment (for his own good, really), while Wolverine was re-packed with a standard Spider-Man for Target.

THING

Battle-Scarred Thing is actually interesting, in that he’s Minimates’ first real stab at a figure based on a specific comics appearance.  He was patterned on the Thing’s torn up appearance following a run-in with Wolverine in Fantastic Four #374, which I guess is meant to really give Wolverine an excuse to be in this set.  It doesn’t really work out quite so well.  This was the fourth version of Thing we’d gotten, and he follows the “Clobberin’ Time” model of putting Ben in one of his actual uniforms.  He’s built on the standard C3 body, so he’s 2 1/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  Structurally, he’s the same as the more basic Thing from this assortment, with the same head piece, chest block, and bulked up hands.  The powerhouse piece is still fine, but I really don’t like that head piece.  Fortunately, this would mark its last use.  The paint work changes things up here, obviously to give Ben his costume change.  I do find it interesting how he has a standard looking musculature on the uniform, despite the standard one from this set not getting any musculature at all.  Also, thanks to this costume being a post-Byrne one, it’s got white boots, so it doesn’t really match the rest of the team from this same assortment.  And that’s not even getting started on the blue sections being actually blue, rather than the black they should properly be.  Thing’s face gets adjusted detailing to include the scarring he got from Wolverine.  It doesn’t help the already less than stellar Thing head from the regular version in this set.  What does help that face, however, is the full helmet that this guy includes as an accessory, replicating the one he wore in the comics after getting injured.  It’s actually a pretty cool piece, and it’s nice that they gave him an accessory, and even a unique one at that.

WOLVERINE

This Wolverine’s official name is “Gajin Wolverine II”, which is quite the monicker.  “What happened to Gajin Wolverine I?” you might ask?  He was a summer con exclusive in 2004, and he’s honestly only very minorly different from this guy.  “Why Gajin?” you may follow up?  I guess it’s in reference to his first solo series, where he was in Japan, and referred to as “Gajin” fairly regularly.  It’s a very specific reference for something that would far more simply be summed up with the name “Brown Costume Wolverine”, but here we are.  Also, it’s worth noting that, while the Thing in this set is very specifically patterned on an issue where he has a run-in with Wolverine, in said issue, Wolverine was sporting his tiger stripe costume, not the brown one presented here.  Oh well.  Structurally, this guy’s *mostly* the same as the GSXM Wolvie.  The only change up is that instead of having the long feet under his boot pieces, he’s got the C3 feet, which means there’s a gap between the two of them at the front.  He doesn’t have the peg hole in his head, because they weren’t quite standard yet, and the older mask piece meant it wasn’t required.   The paint work on this guy’s overall not bad.  There’s one small gaffe with the secondary color on his mask being brown instead of orange, but beyond that the colors work well, and the detailing on both the face and the torso is pretty much straight out of Miller’s illustrations from the miniseries.  He was certainly one of the most detailed ‘mates at the time, and rather starkly contrasts with his assortment mates.  Wolverine had no accessories, as neither extra hands nor hair pieces had become standard quite yet.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This whole series got passed on by me, but even before that, this one wasn’t really high on my radar.  The appeal of such an extraneous re-pops of heavy hitters was kind of low for me.  When I finally got around to picking up this series from All Time last year, I still hesitated on these two, but they were there, and I figured “why not?”  Wolverine’s actually pretty solid, even by later standards.  The Thing, on the other hand, was iffy when he was new, and has not been helped by time.

#2596: Susan Richards, Invisible Woman, & Powerhouse Thing

SUSAN RICHARDS, INVISIBLE WOMAN & POWERHOUSE THING

MARVEL MINIMATES

You can’t just do *half* of the Fantastic Four…well, I mean, if you’re Toy Biz, I guess you can.  In fact, you can do it way more times than you ever fairly should be able to.  Just constantly stringing people along forever…Sorry, I was having flashbacks.  Look, we’re not talking about Toy Biz here, we’re talking about Diamond Select.  And they would never leave us high and dry like that, with an incomplete team, just two members shy of completion…apart from that one time that they did exactly that with their Aliens line…look, this isn’t about Aliens, it’s about the Fantastic Four, and finishing up that line-up, which we’re totally doing right here, right now, with no further distractions!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Susan Richards and Powerhouse Thing were released in Series 8 of the main Marvel Minimates line, and then again at Target in 2005 and 2006.  Standard Sue was the heavy packed version, with a full Invisible Woman swapping in for her in the variant set.

SUSAN RICHARDS/INVISIBLE WOMAN

Sue made her Minimates debut in style.  While her brother Johnny was stuck being flamed on all the time, she gets to be regular most of the time.  Lucky her.  Like her assortment-mates, Sue is built on the standard C3-style ‘mate body, peg hole on the head and all, so she’s 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  She uses the same glove pieces as Reed, as well as a new hair piece, clearly based on a ’60s Sue ‘do.  It’s a rather basic piece, but it gets the job done, and thanks to the peg it stays in place better than Reed’s.  I’m still iffy on the bulked up glove pieces, and exactly what their purpose is, but I’ll try to move on.  In terms of paint, the standard version fairs a bit better than Reed, thanks to having consistent coloring for the all of the costume details, as well as getting some actual torso detailing.  The variant is molded in all clear plastic, keeping the detail lines, and going for a slightly translucent blue for the black sections of the costume.  It’s a cool look, and you can easily mix and match the two for a powering up effect.  Both versions are packed with a shield piece, similar to Captain America’s.  And, thanks to those bulked up gloves, the shield has to sit over her elbow joint, which is a bit annoying.

THING

Thing gets his third go at a Minimate here, thanks to being the only team member available for a while, and yet still kind of needing to be included in the assortment proper.  So, here he is.  2005 marked a notable change-up for the line’s construction, adding in a few more bulked up parts for slightly larger characters, hence the “powerhouse” title for this version of Thing.  He uses the same bulked up hands as before, as well as making the first use of the original powerhouse chest piece, and an all-new head piece.  The powerhouse piece is pretty basic, and not nearly as involved as later bulk up parts.  This kind of helps to keep him more on the basic side, in keeping with the rest of the assortment.  The only part I don’t really care for his the head piece.  It’s really just different from the prior piece for the sake of being different, and that’s not really a good reason to change it.  It’s just not as good as the older piece, and even DST knew it, since this piece didn’t get used beyond this series.  In terms of paint, he’s not terribly far removed from the Series 5 version.  He’s got the proper team shorts this time, which is good, but I don’t like the the new face. It just doesn’t match that classic Thing feel.  Fortunately, the oranges match, so a re-work is possible.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I noted in the last set of these I looked at, despite being very excited for this set of ‘mates, I didn’t buy them new, and I didn’t really jump too quickly into tracking them down after the fact either.  I blame the Thing; he’s just so ugly.  I snagged these guys at the same time as Reed and Johnny, just to round out the team.  They’re not bad, but they’re definitely dated, and kind of from a weird middle spot for the line.

#2589: Torch & Mr. Fantastic

TORCH & MR. FANTASTIC

MARVEL MINIMATES

First previewed in the line in 2004, in 2005 the Fantastic Four proper made their way into Marvel Minimates.  Marvel’s first family was on the rise that year, with a movie hitting theaters that summer, and all sorts of cool toy product to go along with everything.  Of course, then the movie actually came out and we all collectively went “meh” and the FF kind of got back-burnered, but hey, they were still full of all this cool potential at the beginning of the year, right?  Minimates got in on the pre-movie hype by devoting an entire assortment of figures (well, almost…more on that later) to the team, which was certainly a leg up from prior coverage.  Today, I’m kicking things off with a look at Reed and Johnny!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Torch and Mr. Fantastic were part of Series 8 of Marvel Minimates, which hit retail shelves in January of 2005.  The same pairing was also released through Target in both 2005 and 2006.  They’re kind of an odd pairing, thematically, since it would seem to me that Reed/Sue or Reed/Ben and Johnny/Ben or Johnny/Sue would have made way more thematic sense.  But, I guess they had good money on everyone going for the whole set anyway.

TORCH

Apparently, Johnny is no longer human, he’s purely torch, because that’s what he is on every instance of his name on the package.  No clue at all as to why they ditched the “Human” portion of his name for the Series 8 release, but it did fortunately reappear when the packs made their way to Target.  My guess is it was a mistake that no one caught until it was too late.  For his first ‘mate, Johnny went fully flamed-on.  It’s always an iffy prospect in three dimensions, but it’s certainly distinctive.  He’s on the standard ‘mate body (which now comes with the C3 feet standard in the main line, a first with this Series), so he’s 2 1/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  Johnny has add-ons for his hair and the flames on his shoulders, both of which are new.  It’s interesting that the hair was new, rather than being a re-use of the Ghost Rider piece from the prior year, but it does look a bit better.  It’s also notable for introducing the pegged hair pieces to the line.  Up to this point, all of the heads had been without peg holes, and all of the hair pieces had purely been held in place via friction.  It worked for some designs, but not others, and the pegs really helped to keep the figures held together a bit better (though they would have other drawbacks that would surface later).  All in all, it’s a good set of parts, and works decently for the character, albeit a more modern take on his flamed-on appearance.  The paint work on this guy’s quite nice, with a very comics-esque and very dynamic facial expression, as well as musculature and the classic Torch heat lines on the torso, pelvis, and legs.  It works very well.  Johnny was packed with a fire blast effect piece and a small flight stand, both of which were new, and which helped to further sell his flame abilities.

MR. FANTASTIC

Reed actually got a preview release in the line in late 2004, as part of a TRU-exclusive 10-pack, where he and Ultimate Green Goblin were the exclusive pieces.  But, for those of us who didn’t want to buy 8 duplicate figures just to get two, there was this two-pack.  Yay!  This guy’s built on the standard C3-footed body, in contrast to the early release, which was long-footed.  He’s got add-ons for his hair and gloves.  Both were new.  The hair’s a little blocky and minimalistic for where the line was going by this point, and it’s worth noting that, due to being produced the year before, it doesn’t have the peg like Johnny’s.  This also means it has some trouble staying in place.  The gloves are decent enough pieces, though I do really have to wonder why they were included at all, since it’s not like the FF’s gloves have ever been depicted as anything other than just as skin tight as the rest of the suit.  They just end up looking oddly bulked up, especially with the lack of any corresponding parts for the boots.  Reed’s paint work is far more basic than Johnny’s, but also a lot more imbalanced.  There’s a lot of detailing on the face (which is actually a pretty solid Jack Kirby-style recreation of Reed), but the body gets only very simple detailing.  He doesn’t even have any musculature on his torso.  Additionally, for some odd reason his boots, belt, and collar are a dark blue, while his gloves are a straight black.  Why aren’t they just all black?  Isn’t that weird?  Reed gets a pair of extended arms, which swap out at the hands, and are actually pretty darn cool.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was really excited for this assortment when it was shown off and really wanted the whole set, and then inexplicably bought exactly none of them when they were actually released.  Couldn’t tell you why.  Just wasn’t feeling them right at that moment, I guess.  I waited on getting them for quite a while, actually, and only actually got around to picking them up when a whole slew of Minimates came through at All Time last year.  Johnny’s okay.  There have been better versions, but he’s not a bad offering on his own.  Reed was weak even when he was new, and just feels really imbalanced, like parts of him were designed way earlier than the rest.