#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.

#2306: Human Torch

HUMAN TORCH

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Johnny Storm can transform his body into incredibly hot plasma, control fire, and fly.”

Since there have been figures of the Fantastic Four, there have been some concerns about how best to adapt some of their power sets.  The most common source of difficulty for toy makers is with the team’s resident hot-head Johnny, whose flame-on abilities mean that he has two distinct appearances: flamed on and flamed off.  Unlike other members of the family, his on/off can’t quite as easily be replicated with a selection of extra parts; he kind of warrants two separate figures.  It’s rare that a line gets a chance to do both, so most just stick will fully flamed-on (though we do get the occasional mid-way design).  His last Legends figure was fully powered-on, but Hasbro decided to be kind this time and give us a full powered-down Johnny, something we’ve never actually gotten in Legends form.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Human Torch is figure four in the Super Skrull Series of Marvel Legends.  Like the other members of the core team, he’s sporting his newest costume, something that the flamed-off nature of the figure allows to be fully displayed.  It does mean he’s not going to match the Walgreens set, of course, but that does kind of go without saying doesn’t it?  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  In contrast to the rest of this assortment, Johnny is *not* primarily a parts re-use of his prior figure.  While that figure was build on the Bucky Cap body (something I was never terribly happy with), this guy instead moves over to the 2099 body.  While my preferred choice is still the body they’re using for Reed (since he and Johnny have been typically depicted as about the same build), I do think that this one is a slightly better choice for Johnny, and I can understand Hasbro wanting the two characters two be on different bodies.  Johnny gets a new head and feet to complete his slightly more unique look.  The head I wasn’t so sure about when it was shown off, but I actually like it a lot more than I’d expected to in person.  It still looks a little off from some angles, but posed correctly, it looks pretty solid.  The new feet are similar to Reed’s, but the style works a bit better for this particular base body, making them look a lot less goofy.  The paint work on Johnny is fairly similar to that of Reed, which is sensible, what with the uniformed bit and all.  It’s well-applied and the color work is pretty bold and striking.  Johnny is packed with a spare set of hands, re-used from the previous Human Torch, which along with the effects pieces from the Infinity War Scarlet Witch, makes for a nice smaller demonstration of Johnny’s flame abilities.  He also includes both left arms for Super Skrull.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Human Torch was my least favorite piece of the last FF set, partially because of his fully flamed-on nature, and partially because of his choice of body.  This figure addressing both of those issues was certainly a point in his favor.  That said, the prototype didn’t really wow me, so I wasn’t sure.  In hand, I like him a lot more than I’d expected to, and I think he turned out quite nicely.

Johnny was purchased from my friends at All Time Toys. If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#1485: Human Torch

HUMAN TORCH

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Flame on!  Johnny Storm suits ip to command the head as the scorching hot hero, The Human Torch.”

I noted the miracle that is new Fantastic Four Marvel Legends when I reviewed the Invisible Woman earlier this year.  She was the inaugural figure in what is set to be an under-running theme in the upcoming Walgreensexclusive Legends releases, which is set to give us a complete FF by the end of next year.  For the second figure in this them, Hasbro’s gone with Sue’s younger brother Johnny, better known as the Human Torch!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Human Torch is the newest Walgreens-exclusive Marvel Legends figure.  He started hitting most Walgreens’ shelves in the last month (though people have reported finding him for a few months now).  Johnny is a character that’s proved to be somewhat difficult to translate to plastic over the years.  The most successful figures have tended to be the ones that went for some sort of half-flamed-on variation.  This figure doesn’t do that, and instead takes a stab at the every so tricky fully flamed-on variation.  The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  He’s built on the Bucky Cap body, and, if I’m honest, I’m not 100% behind this choice.  Johnny’s typically be depicted as more on the slight side, so I was sort of expecting he’d be on the Pizza Spidey base.  At the very least, I was hoping that he’d use the Bucky Cap base with the less muscular Dr. Strange torso.  No such luck.  Admittedly, it’s not the worst choice of body.  It hardly ruins to figure.  He gets a new head, forearms, hands, shins, and feet, all sporting flame effects sculpted right onto them.  They’re obviously of a more stylized nature, but I think they look pretty decent.  They certainly look better than prior attempts.  The head is actually a fairly well rendered piece.  He’s got a sly grin, which is perfect for Johnny, and is a much better fit than the angry, teeth-gritted expressions we’ve gotten on prior figures.  They’ve foregone his hair, opting for a “bald” Johnny with unrelated flames at the top of his head, rather than some bizarre flame-hair-combo thing.  The paint on Johnny is pretty decent.  He’s molded all in translucent plastic, which adds quite a bit of life to the figure.  There’s some more opaque work on the actual flames, as well as some variation in the coloring, indicating his uniform beneath it all.  He’s clearly wearing his classic costume, which means he matches his sister.  I like that the head is a lighter yellow shade, making it clear that it’s his exposed flesh, and not the same color as his uniform.  Johnny is packed with two flame effect pieces (re-used from Iron Fist), as well as two standard fists, molded to match the figure.  Not quire as impressive as the whole extra figure included with his sister, but not terrible.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I grabbed Human Torch from a slightly out of the way Walgreens, where I was actually looking from Black Widow from the new Vintage series of Legends.  No luck there, but they had Johnny and he looked pretty cool, so I grabbed him.  Personally, I’m still a fan of the mid-flame-on style of figure, but this is definitely the best take on a fully-flamed-on Johnny that we’ve gotten!