#1573: Iron Man, Hawkeye, Thor, & Grim Reaper

IRON MAN, HAWKEYE, THOR, & GRIM REAPER

MARVEL MINIMATES

“Iron Man, Thor and Hawkeye are just three of the Heroes who make up the super-team known as the Avengers. Together, they can neutralize any threat, even the manipulations of the evil Grim Reaper!”

I just mentioned Minimates passingly in yesterday’s Palz review, so I suppose it’s fitting that today I give them a whole focus of their own.  Because, as we all know, Minimates neeeever show up in my review schedule, right?  …Anyway, getting back to the Minimates, Disney’s acquisition of Marvel in 2009 left a little bit of uncertainty about the future of Marvel Minimates and whether DST would be allowed to continue as a licensee.  Disney assuaged fears by turning around a couple of Disney Store exclusives, sort of out of nowhere one day.  I’m looking at one of those exclusives today.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This set was released in May of 2012 as one of two Disney Store-exclusive boxed sets meant to tie-in with the release of the first Avengers movie (I already took a look at the other one here).  Iron Man and Thor are both the same figures as their Marvel Minimates Series 44 counterparts, while Hawkeye and Grim Reaper were exclusive to this set.

IRON MAN

The mid ‘90s marked a bit of a resurgence for Tony Stark as Iron Man (albeit nowhere near as big as the one he got in ’08), with fan favorite Kurt Busiek handling the character both in his solo book and in the pages of the re-launched Avengers title.  This figure represents the design he was wearing at that time, and it’s a favorite of mine. The figure is 2 1/2 inches tall and he has the usual 14 points of articulation.  He has add-ons for his helmet, breast plate/shoulder pads, gloves, belt, and boots.  All of these were new to this figure, and they all are pretty fantastic.  There’s a ton of sculpted detail on each piece, but he maintains the ‘mate aesthetic very well.  As far as paint goes, this Iron Man is generally pretty solid, but is definitely an example of DST’s learning curve with metallic paints.  While the reds are really great looking, the gold is still that very dark, very dull shade they were using for a while, and it’s also worth noting that it’s a paint that doesn’t hold up to time.  It’s not as bad as the Avengers #1 set’s version of Tony, but it’s pretty frustrating.  Even more frustrating is DST’s decision to package Tony’s helmet on him.  For most Iron Man ‘mates (at least leading up to this), the helmet would be packed off to the side.  The reason for this is simple: if the paint hasn’t fully dried when the figure is packaged and you stick the helmet on there, it’s likely not coming off.  That’s what happened with my figure.  Seriously, six years I’ve owned this guy, and I’ve yet to get that helmet off him.  It’s a little sad.  Guess it’s a good thing I like the fully armored look.  Iron Man was packed with a rocket trail flying stand, done in a nice pale blue.

HAWKEYE

Before this figure, there had been only one other standard Clint Barton Hawkeye (reviewed here), four years prior.  That figure had some notable issues, and really looked out of place with all of the other advancements going on.  So, he was due for an update, and the extra notoriety given to him by the first Avengers movie granted him that chance.  Plus, as a pivotal player in Busiek’s Avengers re-launch, his inclusion alongside the otherwise very clearly Heroes Return-branded ‘mates in this set and Series 44 made a lot of sense.  I’ve actually looked at a lot of this figure before, via the Best Of Marvel Minimates Series 3 release, which took it’s add-ons from this guy.  I liked the pieces there, and I liked them here first.  The only real difference between the two is paint.  And paint’s kind of what breaks this figure for me.  It’s not terrible.  It’s actually pretty decent, even.  That being said, if the Series 20 Hawkeye was too subdued, this one went too far the other way, making him way too bright.  It’s the blue in particular that throws him off.  It should definitely be a deeper tone (which the later release definitely fixed).  Another thing I’ve never much liked about this figure is his facial expression. I’m glad they got the face to line up correctly (since the first Hawkeye did not), but the angry, gritted teeth look just doesn’t feel right for Barton.  Hawkeye included his bow, three pointed arrows, two sonic arrows, and a hairpiece for his unmasked look.  The arrows were nice, and can even be placed in his quiver.  The bow, which was a new sculpt, was okay at the time, but was definitely on the small side, and a little hard for him to hold properly.

THOR

Though he was the most glaring omission from the line for its first 15 series, by the time of this Thor’s release, we were kind of suffering from a glut of Thors, with this one being the ninth Thor in the space of a year.  Like Iron Man, this Thor was definitely patterned on the Heroes Return look, which is really just the classic design plus a beard.  Thor was built using add-ons for his helmet/hair, cape, wrist bands, belt, and boots.  The wrist bands were from the very first Thor in Series 16, the cape and boots came from the TRU-exclusive First Appearance Thor from 2011, and the belt was just a generic piece.  The helmet was new, though you’d be forgiven for not realizing.  Overall, a solid set of parts, though the cape does make it a little hard to keep him standing.  The rest of the look is achieved via paint.  I think it’s pretty good overall, though there’s some slight slop here and there, especially noticeable on the helmet and the cape.  He used the same gold paint as Iron Man, which isn’t super, but there’s less of it on Thor.  Thor included his hammer Mjonir, in both standard AND spinning configurations.  I quite like the spinning version.  He also had an extra head sans-beard, which, despite using the exact same facial features as the bearded head, ends up looking a bit too mean for Thor.  There’s also a spare hairpiece for a look without the helmet, I suppose to offer people who only knew the movie Thor a more familiar look.  Lastly, he included a clear display stand to help him stay standing with the spinning Mjolnir.  It’s important to note that these still weren’t a standard inclusion yet.

GRIM REAPER

Last up, the set’s one new character, Grim Reaper!  Reaper has been a long-recurring Avengers villain, and he was revived during the Busiek/Perez run, so he’s a perfect fit…well, apart from the total lack of Vision or Wonder Man in the set, but hey, I’ll take what I can get.  They went with the classic Reaper design (classic, not original, because no body really wants the technicolor dreamcoat monstrosity that was his first costume), which is sensible enough.  I’m still partial to his re-animated look from the ‘80s, but this works too.  The figure makes use of add-ons for his mask, cape, and scythe attachment.  The mask and scythe were new to this figure (and remain unique to this figure six years later), and were fantastic renditions of his look from the comics.  The cape is the standard cape from the DC Minimates Series 1 Superman.  It’s not a perfect fit (since Reaper’s really supposed to have the collar), but it’s close enough that it works.  In terms of paint, Reaper is certainly subdued, but very well-rendered.  The colors are suitably dark, but there’s still plenty of room for detailing.  I love the dynamic shading on the bodysuit and mask.  I also really love that crazed expression they gave him.  Reaper included no accessories, but I don’t really know what you’d give him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I grabbed this set at the same time as its companion set, ordering them both from Disney’s online store (since none of my local Disney Stores ever carried Minimates).  Reaper’s always been a favorite of mine, so his inclusion definitely excited me, but I was also pretty happy to get another Hawkeye.  While Hawkeye didn’t end up being quit what I wanted, I was still pretty happy with the other three in this set.  In fact, this was my preferred of the two Disney sets.

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#1566: Colonel James Rhodes & Air Assault Drone

COLONEL JAMES RHODES & AIR ASSAULT DRONE

MARVEL MINIMATES

Since Minimates do make up a rather sizable portion of my collection, they sort of are a regular fixture around these parts.  Some sets are awesome.  Some are less so.  Today, I look at one of the latter category.  That seems a bit harsh now that I’ve typed it out, but, well, you’ll see.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Colonel Rhodes and the Air Assault Drone were from the second TRU-exclusive series of Iron Man 2-based Marvel Minimates.  Rhodey is unique to this set, while the Air Assault Drone was re-packed from the single-packed army builder assortment.

COLONEL JAMES RHODES

“A dedicated Lt. Colonel and patriotic member of the US military, James Rhodes’s testimony before Senator Stern’s committee forces Tony Stark to call his friend’s true loyalties into question.”

Iron Man 2 was pretty good for our pal Rhodey here.  Prior to the movie, he’d made two appearances as a Minimate, but IM2 gave us four new ones.  This one’s…probably the least exciting when you get right down to it.  Still, Rhodey spends a decent enough chunk of the movie in this uniform, so it’s not the worst inclusion, I suppose.  The figure stands 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  He’s built on the usual body, with an add-on for his jacket, borrowed from Series 22’s General Ross.  It’s a reasonable piece.  It’s not a perfect match for Rhodey’s uniform from the movie, but it’s close enough to warrant the re-use.  The paint work on Rhodey is respectable.  It’s all pretty cleanly applied, and the blue is fairly bright. The head is a match for the one that was under the War Machine ‘mate’s helmet.  While it’s not particularly strong Cheadle likeness, at least they went for some consistency.  Rhodey included no accessories, which is a bit of a bummer.  Not even a file folder or a clipboard or something?

AIR ASSAULT DRONE

“Specifically designed for aerial maneuvering and atmospheric combat conditions, a handful of these advanced Black Drones are capable of destroying entire squadrons of traditional fighter jets.”

After the slight mis-lead of the Series 35 Hammer Drone, we finally get one of the proper ones.  Woo!  This one’s dubbed the “Air Assault Drone” on all of the merchandising, because due to licensing things, it couldn’t be called the Air Force Drone.  This particular ‘mate makes use of a lot of the same pieces from the first Hammer Drone, but with a new head, hands, and a backpack glued onto the chest piece.  The ew pieces fit in well with the previously existing ones, and he makes for a pretty faithful recreation of the Drones from the movie.  The paint’s not super thrilling or anything, being mostly dark grey with just a small bit of white accenting.  But, I suppose it matches the movie.  Once again, no accessories for the Drone, but it’s slightly more forgivable given all of the sculpted add-ons.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked this set up new from Toys R Us.  I didn’t go out searching for them or anything, I just came across them one day and I guess I had a moment of weakness.  If I recall correctly, I even put of opening them for a good several months, just due to a general lack of excitement.  Neither ‘mate in this set is bad.  They both check all of the boxes, and there are no glaring issues (well, except perhaps for the lack of any extras), but neither is really anything to write home about.  This pair really feels like DST just needed two fill two slots as easily as possible.  I suppose it’s fitting that a set of mediocre Minimates were based on Iron Man 2.

#1559: Transforming Thing & Herald Silver Surfer

TRANSFORMING THING & HERALD SILVER SURFER

MARVEL MINIMATES

After quite a bit of time of having to start every Fantastic Four-based review with a woeful intro about how the team has fallen out of focus, it’s kind of nice to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  In case you aren’t up to date on the comics world, the Fantastic Four, or half of them anyway, are finally making their grand resurgence at Marvel, thanks to the recently launched revival of Marvel Two-In-One.  The book served as a showcase for FF member Ben Grimm in the ‘70s and ‘80s, pairing him off with other heroes from Marvel’s rather impressive stable of characters.  The re-launch once again focuses on Ben, but also brings in fellow FFer Johnny Storm, and is hopefully serving as a prelude to a full-fledged Fantastic Four relaunch.  Anyway, in honor of Ben’s return to comic-star-dom, how about looking at one of his figures?

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This pair was released in the 15th Toys R Us-exclusive series of Marvel Minimates.  The set was pulling double duty, with Ben meant to go with Series 48 of the main line (which was an all FF-themed assortment), and the Surfer augmenting the TRU-exclusive “Heralds of Galactus” set.

TRANSFORMING THING

“Pilot Ben Grimm first turned into the Thing after being bathed in cosmic radiation, and his skin was transformed into orange rock. He has since reverted to human form several times, but rarely for very long.”

This was the Thing’s twelfth (and, to date, last) time as a Minimate.  This one’s based on his John Byrne designed Negative Zone costume.  Ben actually had a few different costume variants under Byrne, and I think Minimates have covered them all.  This is the one that sticks the closest to the classic design, just being the usual shorts.  The figure stands about 2 1/2 inches tall and has either 14 or 12 points of articulation, depending on which way you have him configured.  Just how to handled Ben’s bulky build on the Minimate frame has been the source of much experimenting on DST’s part.  This one is a lot like the recent Hulks and such, being a standard ‘mate body, with a rather extensive selection of add-on pieces.  He’s got a head piece, chest cap, upper arm and leg covers, a pelvis cap, and unique hands and feet.  The head piece goes all the way back to the very first Thing ‘mate from Series 5, and most of the other pieces come from the first really bulked up Thing from Series 37.  The only new pieces here are the hands.  The last two Thing hands hadn’t really fit well with the new bulked up pieces, so these newer parts looked much better.  The bulked up look for Thing has always seemed maybe a touch too large for me, but I don’t think it looks horrible, and there’s no denying that there’s some really great detail work going on.  In terms of paint, Ben’s rather on the simple side…at first glance.  The detailing on the face is really good, of course, and I particularly like that they went with a calm expression.  One can only have so many screaming Ben Grimms.  The shade of orange used is one of my favorites, but it’s bright enough that he looks a little weird without any other sort of detailing on the rocks.  Some sort of black outline would have been cool.  As it stands, he still looks fine, but his face stands out quite a bit.  Under all of the add-on pieces, there’s actually a fully detailed second figure!  Yes, with the help of a spare head/hair, pelvis, hands, and feet, you can transform Ben back into his old human self.  The detailing on this underlying figure is pretty great, and it’s awesome that we got this option.

HERALD SILVER SURFER

The Surfer hasn’t been quite so lucky with ‘mates as Ben, with this one only being his third (and, again, his last to date).  I suppose it’s hard to do too much new with a guy whose design has remained essentially identical for 50 years.  From a sculpting standpoint, there’s not much to say about this guy.  He’s just the standard body, as he should be.  Painted details are really where it’s at, and Diamond has done a pretty awesome job of conveying the Surfer’s cosmic shininess.  The first Surfer was more abstract, and the second perhaps a bit too heavy on the details.  This one went for a Goldilocks approach to detailing and gave us a Surfer whose detail paint was just right.  I also appreciate the slightly more intense expression on this guy, since the last two went more stoic.  The Surfer was packed with his signature surfboard, as well as two energy effects for his hands, a portal effect to plug onto the back of his board, and a flight stand.  It all adds up to easily the most exciting looking of the three Silver Surfer ‘mates.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got Series 48 before these guys showed up, and that was one of my favorite assortments of Marvel Minimates pretty much ever.  So, I knew I was tracking this set down to complete my team.  At the time, I wasn’t particularly keen about getting another variant of the Surfer, but he was sort of along for the ride.  When I finally tracked this set down, I ended up loving it just as much as the Series 48 guys, and both figures included are hands down my definitive versions of the characters.

#1545: Shanna the She-Devil & Savage Land Reaper

SHANNA THE SHE-DEVIL & SAVAGE LAND REAPER

MARVEL MINIMATES

One the cooler, yet sadly under-used, aspects of the X-Men universe is the Savage Land, a secret tropical area located within Antartica.  It’s a fairly standard hidden land sort of idea, and the X-Men have a tendency to find themselves stranded there every 20 years or so.  Because, honestly, what’s cooler than watching your favorite heroes duking it out with actual dinosaurs?  Very little.  While the typical “lead” in any given Savage Land story is Ka-Zar (Marvel’s answer to Tarzan), in recent years, the breakaway character has actually been his frequent co-star (and eventual wife) Shanna the She-Devil, who, interestingly enough, was actually imported to the Savage Land after she and the location had both been established.  She and her pack-mate the Savage Land Reaper became the first residents of the Savage Land to make it into DST’s Marvel Minimates line back in 2013.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Shanna and the Reaper were released in Series 51 of Marvel Minimates.  The whole series was themed around Marvel’s then-current “Marvel Now!” relaunch.  Shanna was serving as a major player in the Savage Wolverine title, so she found herself in this assortment, with the Wolverine that went with her being packed into the 15th TRU-exclusive assortment released at the same time.  Both figures were packed with a Savage Land Reaper, which served somewhat as an army builder.

SHANNA THE SHE-DEVIL

“Shanna O’Hara is a former Olympic athlete and a licensed veterinarian, and she has made the Savage Land her adopted home. Her fierce hatred of firearms arose from the accidental shooting death of her mother.”

Shanna gained some additional notoriety in the early 00s when Frank Cho helmed a heavily cheesecake-driven solo series featuring the character.  It was actually an alternate universe Shanna, with very little connection to the real character, but it served to elevate her somewhat in the public eye, and it was successful enough for Cho to be able to work her main universe counterpart in when he launched Savage Wolverine.  This figure draws her look from that series, meaning she’s kind of an amalgam of the two Shannas.  She’s built on the standard ‘mate body, meaning she stands about 2 1/4 inches tall and she has 14 points of articulation (though the hair restricts a lot of the neck movement).  She has add-ons for her hair and her belt/loincloth, both of which were new to this particular figure.  The hair’s a little bulky for my taste, but it’s not terrible.  The belt piece is actually pretty nice, and I particularly like the the sheath for her knife.  In terms of paintwork, Shanna’s okay, but she certainly leans far heavier on the Frank Cho alternate universe side of things.  Her hair’s straight blond, rather than the starwberry blond the 616 version’s supposed to have.  She’s also wearing a far more revealing bikini, which is perhaps not the most flattering thing on a block figure.  Ultimately, she looks okay, but I can’t say it’s my ideal take on the character.  She’s packed with a knife (to go in that cool sheath on the belt), a spear, and a clear display stand.

SAVAGE LAND REAPER

“In the Savage Land, the skies are owned by the Reapers, giant pterodactyls who resemble X-Men villain Sauron. When the attack Wolverine and Shanna, they quickly learn that the pair are not easy prey.”

Originally, this ‘mate didn’t just resemble Sauron, it actually was him.  When 51 was originally solicited, the Reaper was just called Sauron, despite being based on the more generic group of pterodactyl men from Savage Wolverine.  A number of people brought up the various design differences between them, and ultimately this figure was re-labeled.  24 Series later, the real Sauron still hasn’t made an appearance.  Poor guy.  This figure starts with the same basic body as Shanna, but gets a unique head, hands, and lower legs, as well as add-ons for his wings and tail.  The new pieces help to sell him as one of the Reapers, without removing him too much from the usual Minimate aesthetic.  His paint is mostly just a lot of the same shade of green, but it’s appropriate for the character, and the detail lines are all pretty decent.  The Reaper is packed with a clear display stand, specially molded to fit his slightly smaller than average feet.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When Series 51 was released, I was in the habit of ordering full cases of the latest series, so that’s what I did here.  While this wasn’t a set I was dying to have, I like both characters (or at least the characters that inspired both characters) enough to want them on my shelf. Both ‘mates are decent additions to the line, but neither is particularly thrilling.

#1521: Ego & Ayesha

EGO & AYESHA

MARVEL MINIMATES

Every good movie needs a good villain.  Sometimes a bad movie tries to compensate for its badness by adding extra villains in the hopes of that making the badness less noticeable, like in the Joel Schumacher Batman movies.  Fortunately, that wasn’t at all the case with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which deftly handled having two antagonists by having one be the primary (Ego), and the other just a secondary (Ayesha).  It allowed both to have their own moments to shine, without the film feeling too cluttered.  As luck would have it, those two are the two figures I’m looking at today!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Ego and Ayesha, like yesterday’s set, are exclusive to Marvel Minimates Series 71.  Also like yesterday’s set, the pairing is a little bit off.  I mean, it’s not quite as bad, since these two at least share one scene (not that they actually interact during it), but I can’t help but feel the pairings would have made more sense if it had been Ego/Mantis and Ayesha/Taserface.  But I bought the whole assortment anyway, so I guess it doesn’t ultimately matter.

EGO

As noted in my last Ego review, the film changed a few things about the character in order to translate him to film, but I thought it worked out pretty well.  Like that figure, he’s based on Ego’s modern-day “human” appearance.  The figure stands about 2 1/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  He’s based on the standard ‘mate body, with add-ons for his hair and his shirt/cape/belt.  Both of these pieces are new for Ego, and they’re both fairly decent.  I wouldn’t mind if the details of the sculpt were a little bit sharper, but they could be worse.  I’m not 100% sure why they’ve gone with a sculpted torso rather than just painting the details on, but it looks alright in the end.  Ego’s paintwork is decent enough, though like his movie counterpart, he’s a tad on the bland side.  Still, that’s accurate, so one can hardly hold that against him.  The face is a passable rendition of Kurt Russel as Ego, though it’s not quite as spot-on as some ‘mate likenesses.  Ego’s only accessory is a clear display stand.  What, no extra head with only the most minor cosmetic changes?  For shame!

AYESHA

Like Ego, Ayesha got some changes in her journey from the page to the screen.  In the comics, she’s an artificial human like Adam Warlock (who she looks to be the creator of in the movie-verse), and only actually an antagonist in the loosest sense of the word.  Neither version of her is super prominent.  She has a number of different designs over the course of the film, but this ‘mate goes for her more active pilot’s gear from when she’s flying the remote ship at the end of the movie.  I personally liked this design the best, so no complaints there.  She’s also constructed on the standard body, with a new hairpiece.  It’s an okay piece, but it’s very restrictive of the head movement (a common issue with the females in this series), and it looks a bit more inorganic than I’d expected.  Ayesha’s paint is clean and bold, and does a reasonable job of recreating the on-screen design.  All of the gold stands out really well against the darker blue, and gives her a lot of pop.  Like Ego, her only extra is a clear display stand.  I guess a piloting console was a bit much to ask for…

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t know much what to expect from this set.  I liked both of the characters in the movie, so I’m certainly glad to have them in figure form, and they do a nice job of rounding out my overall set.  Neither one of them stands out quite as much as any of the others in the set, but they’re still solid additions.

#1520: Mantis & Taserface

MANTIS & TASERFACE

MARVEL MINIMATES

So, beyond Drax and Nebula, who are part of the Toys R Us-exclusive set which I didn’t pick up, there’s only one main Guardian from Vol. 2 I haven’t yet looked at in Minimate form.  As chance would have it, it’s a personal favorite of mine, Mantis, the newest addition to the team.  I’ll be looking at her, as well as her pack-mate Taserface!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Mantis and Taserface are one of the two sets exclusive to Marvel Minimates Series 71.  They’re sort of an odd pairing, seeing as these two characters never once meet during the film, being a part of two divergent storylines and all.  In DST’s defense, they aren’t the only licensee to do this; Lego also packed these two together.  Perhaps it was an early story idea?  Who knows.

MANTIS

This marks Mantis’s very first Minimate, and is in fact her very first action figure in general, since it hit a couple of months before the Legends release.  The figure stands about 2 1/2 inches tall and has the usual 14 points of articulation.  She’s built on the standard body with add-ons for her hair and skirt.  Both of these pieces are new to this ‘mate, and they’re both decent enough.  With that said, I do feel Mantis is the sort of character that would benefit from a unique head, since the antenna being on the hair doesn’t quite look right.  It’s far from horrible or anything, but it’s a little off.  Still, both pieces are nice overall.  The paintwork on Mantis is largely pretty solid.  The detailing and color with on the body is top-notch, and I really dig the metallic green.  The hair is a little sloppier, as are the antennae, but they’re respectable.  Her face is decent, but feels like it has too many lines for Mantis.  She ends up looking way to angular and defined.  I think just losing the cheekbones improves things.  Mantis’s only accessory is a clear display stand, but I can’t think of much else you could give her, so that seems reasonable enough.

TASERFACE

TASERFACE!  It’s metaphorical!  Man, did I love Taserface.  I mean, I didn’t actually like him, but I sure loved everything that went on around him.  And I’m very happy he found his way into this line-up.  Like Mantis, he’s built on the usual body, bit with a unique head, as well as add-ons for his chest cap and wrist bands.  The head adds his top-not, beard, and ears, while still keeping the overall ‘mate thing going on, so that’s  cool.  The rest of the pieces do a decent job translating his film design into ‘mate form as well, though I feel the torso piece is maybe a bit soft on the details.  His paintwork isn’t as clean as Mantis’s, but then it’s not really supposed to be.  It works well enough for what it’s supposed to be doing, but it’s certainly not quite as interesting to look at.  Taserface is packed with a large blaster rifle and  clear display stand, which is a pretty nice assortment, I guess.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

It’s really this set’s fault that I took so long to actually get this whole assortment.  I came out of the theatre knowing I wanted a Mantis figure, and since the Legend was a little ways off, I stopped off at my comic book store to get this set.  Sadly, they were out of stock, and I just never got around to ordering them.  While Mantis isn’t perfect, she’s still pretty great overall, and I’m happy to have another version of her in my collection.  Taserface is pretty solid, and holds some extra value, being the only Taserface figure out there and all.

#1519: Gamora & Rocket (w/ Groot)

GAMORA & ROCKET (W/ GROOT)

MARVEL MINIMATES

Who would think that a raccoon and a giant radioactive turtle would make such a great pairing?  What what?  Not the turtle?  Oh, with the “o.”  That makes more sense.  You can understand my confusion.  Man, how cool would it be if Rocket just came packed with Gamera?  I mean, Gamora’s still, cool, I guess, but now I’ve got Gamera on my mind.  I’ve set myself up for disappointment now, haven’t I?  Well, better just review these figures, then.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Gamora and Rocket are the second of the two shared sets between Marvel Minimates Series 71 and the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 TRU-themed assortment.  Unlike the first film, TRU actually had the whole team in their assortment this time around, which I’m certain was done in part due to DST wanting to avoid any ill-informed parent anger like what happened for the first movie.  It seems to have paid off in that regard.

GAMORA

Gamora inadvertently ended up in the hardest to procure of the two-packs from the original Guardians assortments, so it wasn’t a huge surprise to see her included in a shared pack.  She’s sporting her slightly fancier Vol. 2 design, which I’m quite a fan of.  The figure is about 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  She’s got add-ons for her hair and the bottom section of her jacket.  Both are re-used, with the hair being the same piece as the Series 57 Gamora, and the jacket being from the Civil War Scarlet Witch.  Both pieces work well here, and recreate her onscreen design pretty nicely.  I even find the jacket’s crossing across the waist far less distracting here than I did on Scarlet Witch, which is certainly a plus.  The paintwork on Gamora is overall pretty solid.  The detail work in particular, especially on the face, is really strong, and as a whole she just looks really clean and well put together.  My only real complaint is the way the hair has been handled; the change from brown to purple is a bit too jarring for my taste.  Gamora’s packed with her sword (the same one seen with the Series 57 version) and a clear display stand.

ROCKET

There have been two “minimate” Rockets in the past, but they were both completely static pack-in figures.  This one switches things up, and gives us an actual ‘mate, with articulation and everything.  Less articulation than the average ‘mate, of course, since he’s using the shortened limbs to keep him smaller.  He’s still got 8 points, which is a definite step up from “none at all.”  Construction-wise, Rocket gets a new head, the shorted arms, new shortened legs, and a belt featuring his tail.  The head’s definitely my favorite piece, and it looks pretty awesome, but the rest of the pieces make for a decent enough take on Rocket, albeit a slightly large one.  The paint on Rocket is decent enough.  Some of the base work is a little sloppy, but not unreasonably so, and the detail work on the torso is nice and sharp.  In addition to a clear display stand, Rocket includes his companion Groot, now in his baby form.  Like the prior Rockets, Groot is unarticulated, but given his smaller size, that’s pretty reasonable.  Rocket also includes a larger gun, the origin of which I’m not entirely certain.  Initially, I thought it was actually supposed to be the huge gun Gamora used to attack Nebula, but that looked different, and it would leave Rocket with no guns, which would just be odd.  

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Gamora was one of my favorites of the Series 57 ‘mates, so this one had a pretty high bar to clear.  I’m happy to say she’s certainly stepped things up.  Rocket’s no contest, of course, since this one’s an actual figure, rather than just a statue.  I wasn’t sure how well it would work, but it really did.  Sure, he could use some guns, but Baby Groot is a fun extra, too!

#1518: Star-Lord & Yondu

STAR-LORD & YONDU

MARVEL MINIMATES

“Set to the all-new sonic backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continues the team’s adventures as they traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos! The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite characters from the classic comics will come to our heroes’ aid as the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand.”

Alright, enough of all this Star Wars stuff.  Let’s be different!  And by that, I mean let’s look at something from the other sequel to a wildly successful space opera franchise!  Yes, let’s have a look at something from one of my top movies of the year, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.  I’ll be spending the next four days looking at the Minimates from the film, kicking things off with the film’s lead Star-Lord, alongside his pseudo father figure Yondu!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Star-Lord and Yondu were one of the two shared two-packs between Marvel Minimates Series 71 and the TRU-exclusive Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 assortment.  As you can probably gather, they’re based on the characters appearances in the second Guardians movie.

STAR-LORD

This marks Star-Lord’s third time as a Minimate.  His ‘mate from the first film was by far the most disappointing of the original bunch, and while the Animated version was certainly a marked improvement, he was still an Animated design, so he didn’t quite fit.  This ‘mate gives us Peter in his short-jacketed look, which is definitely his most prominent.  The figure stands about 2 1/4 inches tall and he has the standard 14 points of articulation.  He’s build on the basic ‘mate body, with add-ons for his hair and jacket.  Both pieces are new to this figure, and they do a solid job of translating Star-Lord’s on-screen appearance into ‘mate form.  His paintwork also does a pretty respectable job of conveying his film design. The face still isn’t a spot-on Pratt likeness, but it’s certainly better than the last two Star-Lords.  I do have to say, I sort of miss the t-shirt’s logo like we saw on all of the Legends figures, but at least his torso isn’t a completely blank block.  Star-Lord’s packed with his twin element guns, his helmet, and a clear display stand, all of which are repacked from the first Star-Lord.  The mask seems a little tighter than it was before, and I actually ended up injuring myself getting it back off of him for the photos, so be careful.

YONDU

Yondu’s only prior ‘mate is his TRU-exclusive one for the first film.  But, of course, that one had Yondu’s old, stubby little head-fin.  This one has his new pointy awesome one!  That’s an important distinction!  Like Star-Lord, he’s built on the usual body, with add-ons for his head-fin, jacket, and belt.  The jacket is re-used from the last Yondu (sensible, since it’s the same jacket and all), and remains a pretty solid piece.  The fin is obviously changed to reflect the new design, but is also just a lot sharper on the sculpting.  That’s a definite plus.  The belt’s just a belt, but it does what it’s supposed to, so that’s good.  Like his predecessor, this Yondu’s sporting some awesome paint work.  The details are very sharp, and they’ve gotten all of the little bits and bobs of his costume.  I liked the last Yondu’s Rooker likeness just fine, but I think this one’s even better, if you can believe it.  While the last Yondu lacked any sort of extras beyond his display stand, this one gets perhaps his most important extra: his arrow!  Now he can be Mary Poppins y’all!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I don’t know why it took me so long to finally pick this series up.  I was in a bit of a money crunch when they first hit, but I’ve had the whole summer to track them down, and just never got around to it.  I finally ended up grabbing the whole series from Luke’s Toy Store during their Black Friday sale, allowing me to get them for a pretty solid deal, too.  I have both Star-Lord and Yondu as Minimates already, but there’s no denying that these are both the superior versions, and I’m glad I finally got around to grabbing them.

#1503: WW2 Captain America & S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent

WW2 CAPTAIN AMERICA & S.H.I.E.L.D. AGENT

MARVEL MINIMATES

Despite the heavy Ultimate Universe bend of some of the early Marvel Minimates offerings, the slightly lowered profile of the Avengers characters meant they were largely pushed back until later assortments, by which point there was more of a move to classic stylings.  So, it would take quite a bit of time before we’d see any ‘mates based on the Ultimate-verse’s Avengers-equivalent, the Ultimates.  When we did get them, it was all at once, and in a themed Series no less.  Today, I’m looking at one of those sets, featuring Captain America and a SHIELD Agent!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

WW2 Captain America and the SHIELD Agent were released in Series 27 of Marvel Minimates, which was a whole Ultimates-themed set.  This was actually the variant set, swapping out the WW2-styled Cap for the normal Ultimate Cap.

WW2 CAPTAIN AMERICA

“The only known success in the government’s super-soldier program, Captain America and his sidekick Bucky fought against the Axis and Chitauri forces for years before Captain America sacrificed himself to save Washington DC from annihilation.”

Ultimate Cap is actually one of my biggest sticking points with the whole Ultimates vs Avengers thing.  I pretty actively despise the Ultimate Universe’s take on Steve Rogers, since it kind of takes away all the good things about the character, and effectively just turns him into US Agent.  If I want US Agent, I’ll read a story with US Agent.  Sorry, I’m getting distracted.  Anyway, I don’t hate the Ultimate Universe’s updated take on his WW2-era costume, which is what led to me picking this guy up.  The figure stands about 2 1/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  He uses the standard ‘mate body, with add-ons for his helmet and jacket.  Both pieces were new to this figure.  The helmet’s seen some subsequent re-use, but the jacket was a one-off.  Both pieces do a nice job of translating Bryan Hitch’s design to the ‘mate form, and I quite like the sharp detailing on the mask and helmet.  His paintwork is pretty straightforward, mostly basic color work.  I do like the slightly lower-key colors on this one, and the detail work, especially on the face is pretty great.  The face is a little bit misaligned with the mask, but it’s minor, and you can get it seated a bit better with minor repositioning.  Cap’s packed with his original shield, which he can wear either on his wrist or on the back of his jacket, as well as a Thompson machine gun, and an extra hairpiece for an unmasked look.

S.H.I.E.L.D. AGENT

“Run by General Ross and later General Nick Fury, S.H.I.E.L.D. is a clandestine military organization dedicated to creating or controlling the most powerful super-humans in the world, including the X-Men, Spider-Man and the Ultimates.”

Believe it or not, this was only the second ever army-builder in the Marvel Minimates line, and it was the only SHIELD Agent until Series 42 gave us a more classic design.  This one’s more a generic soldier type thing, as was the case in the Ultimate-verse. Like Cap, he’s built on the standard body, and he’s also got a helmet and a coat.  Both pieces are quite well sculpted, and I rather like the helmet.  His paintwork is a bit more involved than Cap’s, with the camo and the fully detailed buzzcut under the helmet.  It’s quite a nice attention to detail there.  He’s even got a cool SHIELD insignia on his shoulder, and detailing for the pockets on his pants.  I appreciate the level of work that went into this guy.  It makes what could be a boring ‘mate a good deal more interesting.  This figure’s packed with an assault rifle, which is a little large for his hands, but a cool piece nonetheless.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up this set new from Cosmic Comix back when they were first released.  I remember pretty excited for the SHIELD Agent and the army builder concept in general.  Cap was sort of just along for the ride, but in the end, I was pretty happy to have gotten him.  This is definitely a case of ‘mates helping me to appreciate a property I wouldn’t have otherwise.  Not a bad set at all!

#1495: Simon & Ellen

SIMON & ELLEN

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA MINIMATES

When Minimates first really branched beyond Marvel Minimates (well, in the smaller style, at least) there were some interesting choices in terms of licenses.  Namely, there were a lot of choices that didn’t necessarily make for the most exciting toys.  Case in point?  Battlestar Galactica Minimates.  The BSG relaunch was an undeniable success for the Sci Fi Network, and they were looking for merchandise.  DST picked up the license and offered some 7 inch figures, but presumably wanted the ability to offer a greater range of characters than that style would allow.  Enter the Minimates.  Today, I’ll be looking at Cylons Simon and (very old spoiler) Ellen.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Simon and Ellen were released in the second TRU-exclusive series of Battlestar Galactica Minimates, a series comprised entirely of Cyclons

SIMON

“Pragmatic and unemotional, the Number Four model was also known as Simon and spent many hours researching the possibility of biological Cylon reproduction. His cold and calculating human experiments were stopped with Starbuck’s destruction of his main facility on Caprica.”

Simon was originally slated for the fifth series of the line when it was at specialty, but like all of the figures in Series 5 and 6, he had his original assortment cancelled.  It was really in Simon’s favor in this case, since he was originally meant to be the short-packed figure.  He’s seen here in his fancy suit that he wore from time to time.  The figure stands about 2 1/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  He’s built on the standard body, with an add-on piece for his jacket/shirt.  Said piece was re-used from 24’s Tony Almeida, and it’s a well sculpted piece that matches up pretty decently with the sorts of things Simon was known to wear on the show.  The paint on Simon is passable.  The likeness on the face is a good match for actor Rick Worthy, and the details are pretty sharp.  The rest of it’s…well, it’s rather bland.  Lotta grey.  Woooooo.  Simon had no accessories, lest they make him more exciting.

ELLEN

“The rumors of her death greatly exaggerated, Ellen Tigh rejoined her husband Saul aboard the Battlestar Galactica and played a crucial role in the war against Cavil’s forces by revealing her knowledge of the Final Five’s true history.”

Ellen’s original slot marked a bit of genius from DST.  Series 5 and 6 were slated to hit after the mid-Season 4 premiere which revealed her as the final Cylon.  Since they had to be solicited about six months out and Ellen would have been dead for over a season at this point, her presence in the main line-up would have been rather a large spoiler.  So, instead, they came up with “New Caprica” boxed set, which would have included her, her husband Saul, Starbuck, and Leoben.  Then the set was cancelled, and the show was over by the time TRU picked them back up, so she could be safely added to a main assortment.  Given the original figure’s planned release, Ellen is seen here in her garb from her time on New Caprica.  Like Simon, she’s on the standard base body, with a new hair piece and a skirt re-used from Spider-Man 3’s Gwen Stacy.  It adds up to her look quite nicely.  The rest is all paint.  The likeness of Kate Vernon is pretty solid, and the details on her blouse look decent.  Unfortunately, like Simon, her palette is quite drab, being mostly greys.  She also includes no accessories, though I can’t say I know what you could give her.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I grabbed this set at the same time as the rest of TRU, back when they were new.  I then grabbed at least one more later down the line on clearance, because they were hardly fast sellers.  It was nice to get them to complete the 12 Cylons, but this is a set that’s hardly exciting, especially without the show’s finale propelling them.