#1493: Iron Giant Minimates

IRON GIANT & HOGARTH HUGHES

THE IRON GIANT MINIMATES

“Arriving on Earth from an unknown point of origin, the Iron Giant explores his new environment and befriends a young Hogarth Hughes But as aggressive actions are taken against him by the military, he must battle his violent programming to be who he chooses to be.”

Back in the day, before you could have just about any movie you wanted instantly streamed to the nearest screen, it was a pretty big deal getting to see a movie you cared about aired on TV.  Networks would pay for the right to air the movie, and then they’d air the crap out of it, because they darn well paid money for it, and they were going to take advantage of that.  While big successful movies used to be a big ticket item for networks, some movies actually end up finding an audience they never had in theaters via successful TV runs.  Movies that were flops in their original run are a cheap way for networks to fill time, especially on holidays when they know that people will only be tuning in sparsely.  It’s A Wonderful Life is perhaps the most successful example of this, a Christmas classic that’s really only a Christmas classic because some network needed to fill two hours and it’s set at the holidays.  A less well-known but still prominent example of this is The Iron Giant, which became inexplicably linked to the Thanksgiving holiday for an entire generation thanks to someone at Cartoon Network deciding for several years straight that the best way to fill their holiday schedule was to air 24 straight hours of the Iron Giant, over and over again.  And, in the spirit of that insane decision, I’m going to review some Iron Giant toys today.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Giant and Hogarth Hughes were released as a stand-alone two pack of Iron Giant Minimates last month.  It would appear these two are the only ‘mates we’re getting.  While I would never say no to ‘mates of Manning, Dean, or Annie Hughes, I can hardly fault DST for going one-and-done on these.

IRON GIANT

Obviously, it’d be weird to release this set without the title character, so here he is.  What’s still weird?  The size.  Minimates have long dealt with size restrictions, so it’s nothing new, but it’s still a little goofy to have a character with “Giant” in his name be so small, even if his ‘mate marks the fifth time such an occurrence has happened with a Minimate. Fear not, if you’re looking for a more properly scaled Giant, there are other options available.  This guy stands about 2 1/2 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  His starting point is the basic ‘mate body, but he gets his own unique head, hands, and feet, plus an add-on for his torso and an extender at the waist for extra height.  In lieu of the usual legs, the giant actually uses a set of arms. It’s a really good idea in theory, since the Giant’s arms and legs in the film are clearly of similar sizes.  However, in practice, it just feels a bit off to me.  I think a lot of it’s got to do with the Vinimate being modeled with the standard legs, and perhaps throwing off my expectations.  Still, it’s not like the legs ruin the figure.  The new head matches pretty well with the larger Vinimate piece, which was itself a very nice translation of the film’s design.  It’s still missing his small dent in his forehead, but that’s minor.  The details on the torso piece are notably sharper than you tend to see on such pieces, which was a pleasant surprise, and makes for a good looking figure.  Similarly, the hands, feet, and torso extender all fit well and do a nice job of translating the Giant into this smaller form.  His paintwork is okay.  Compared to the Vinimate, I found it a little bit lacking.  My biggest complaint is the consistency of the application.  The lighter grey is very thick and lumpy in a few spots and it makes him look a little bit unfinished.  He’s packed with a clear display stand, which is his only accessory.

HOGARTH HUGHES

Interestingly, though he’s the focal point of the movie, Hogarth Hughes is actually quite a minor player in the original book.  For me, ol’ Hogarth here is this set’s real star.  He makes much more sense as a regularly scaled ‘mate, and even makes for a good accent to the previously mentioned Vinimate.  Like the Giant, Hogarth is built on the base body, at least in theory.  He uses the standard head, upper arms, pelvis, and upper legs, but gets the shortened forearms and shins, as well as the smaller torso piece introduced in the NBX line.  He also gets a unique hair piece, which does an awesome job of capturing Hogarth’s distinctive hair style from the film.  As far as paint goes, Hogarth’s is really clean.  The head has a really amazing rendition of his face, grinning and excited.  The body features a bunch of bold and clean color work, and he just really pops.  As with the Giant, Hogarth’s only accessory is his display stand, which is a slight letdown.  It’d have been nice to get his camera or the chunk of metal he uses to lure the Giant, but even an extra head with a different expression would have been appreciated.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked this set up from the House of Fun last weekend, while at Philcon.  I’d been meaning to pick it up the set for a while, and they had it there, and it was the last one, so I figured it was meant to be.  The Giant is okay, but sort of in a weird area of scaling and quality.  Had I not gotten the Vinimate first, perhaps I’d be happier with him.  Hogarth’s super awesome, though, and the set’s more than worth it just for him.  He looks fantastic with the Vinimate Giant!

#1465: Iron Giant

IRON GIANT

VINIMATES (DST)

“Arriving on Earth from an unknown point of origin, a colossal robot explores his new environment and befriends a young boy. But as aggressive actions are taken against him by the military, he must battle his violent programming to be who he chooses to be.”

I love robots, I love period pieces, and I love Brad Bird, so it’s probably not a huge shock to find out that I also love The Iron Giant.  In fact, it’s safe to say that Iron Giant is one of my favorite films (I had the film’s poster hanging in my room for many years).  Since the film was never a huge commercial success, it only had a very modest selection of toys at the time of its release, followed by a whole lot of nothing.  Those few toys all carry a substantial after market value, so anyone nowadays looking for an Iron Giant fix is going to be a little let-down.  Or at least they would have been up until very recently.  Diamond Select Toys picked up Iron Giant as one of the slew of licenses they’ve added to their ever-expanding Vinimates line.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Iron Giant was released in May of this year as part of DST’s over-arching Vinimates line, alongside Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet, Nite-Owl, Comedian, and Rorschach from Watchmen, and Lydia from Beetlejuice.  This is the standard version of the Giant, but there was also an SDCC-exclusive version sporting his “super hero” logo from the film.  This figure stands almost 5 inches tall and has a single point of articulation at his neck.  On the plus side, the neck joint is a ball-joint, which sure does offer a lot of possible posing options to mix things up a bit.  After looking at the B-9 Robot, which strayed quite a ways from the Minimate aesthetic which spawned this line, Iron Giant is a bit more of a return to form.  He’s still very specialized in his sculpt, of course, but it’s more conceivably built on the standard body…even if it actually isn’t.  The Giant makes the transition to this style very well; he was already very geometric to begin with, so it doesn’t take too much to get him to the end point.  My favorite part of the sculpt is definitely the head, which just really gets down the character of the Giant.  My only very, very minor issue with the head is the lack of the small dent near the top.  It’s sort of important to the plot, so its absence is more noticeable.  Still, very minor.  The Giant’s been given a hands-on-his-hips hero pose, which is certainly in keeping with the character, and allows for an easy translation to the “super hero” variant.  In terms of paint, the Giant is mostly a lot of greys, which are accurate to the source, but perhaps not the most exciting.  Some of the transitions between the shades of grey are a little sloppy, but the overall look is decent enough.  I do really like how well they’ve handled the eyes, giving them that sort of glowing feel.  It looks really cool!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was super excited when this figure was unveiled, and I was fully intending to pick him up as soon as he was released.  And then life got in the way and I got distracted for a while.  Bad on me.  So, I ended up waiting several months to pick him up, which turned out to be in my favor, since I was able to score him for $5, courtesy of a grand opening sale at Lost in Time Toys!  I really, really like this guy.  The B-9 was cool and all, but he didn’t really sell me on this line as a whole.  This guy’s a different story, because he shows what this line can be at its best: an augment for Minimates.  Sure, he’s not quite in scale with the little guys, but he’s large enough that you can comfortably put him with the Hogarth from the two-pack (which I still really need to grab) and have it look pretty darn respectable.  I’m all for more stuff like this!