#2274: Strong Guy

STRONG GUY

MARVEL MINIMATES

On a team of oddballs and easily overlooked characters, Lila Cheney’s bodyguard Guido, under the alias of Strong Guy, is probably the most oddball and easily overlooked of the second X-Factor line-up.  Perhaps because of that, he became sort of the signature character for the team, a fixture for incarnations going forward.  The team’s line-up just really feel complete without him.  So, making a toy version of the team without him simply hasn’t happened.  The advent of Build-A-Figures for Minimates finally made it possible to make this five man team work in an assortment that could still sell to retailers, all while giving us the whole line-up in a single shot.  And, hey, it gives Strong Guy his second ever action figure.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Strong Guy is the Build-A-Figure for the 78th Series of Marvel Minimates.  He’s the fourth Minimate BaF, and the first one to really take advantage of the ability to get a slightly larger ‘mate out there by divvying up their pieces amongst four sets.  Unlike the rest of the assortment, Strong Guy is totally new to Minimates, which makes sense, what with him not really having other bankable looks to fall back on like the rest of the two teams.  The figure stands 2 1/2 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation, though like most bulked up ‘mates, there’s the caveat of the articulation all being rather limited.  Strong Guy starts with the basic ‘mate body, and then has add-ons for the torso cap, pelvis cap (with a torso extender), bulked up thighs, and straps for the wrists and ankles.  Somewhat amusingly, he doesn’t get the poofy upper arm sleeves like Havok and Polaris, which makes his arms seem slightly under-developed.  Why they didn’t opt to include those parts is anyone’s guess, but I suppose it’s possible they just didn’t cost out.  Strong Guy’s torso piece is all-new, and does a respectable job of recreating his distinctive proportions from the comics.  The design clips over the standard torso and replaces the arm pegs with another set mounted on the new torso piece.  For my money, they seem to sit out a little too far from the core of the body, and I definitely worry about their long-term integrity in terms of posing without breaking.  That said, they do the job alright.  The rest of the parts are re-used from elsewhere, and keep him inline with his teammates. His paintwork is respectable.  The best work is definitely on the face, which gets his design from the comics down.  The base color work on the body could be a little crisper, and the paint on some of the joints is a little thick, but he looks alright.  He’s got no accessories, but he’s technically an accessory himself, so I guess that pans out.  It would have been nice to at least get an extra stand for him, though.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Gee, I wonder where Ethan got this Build-A-Figure, built from the parts included in four sets that he just reviewed this week.  Yeah, this whole assortment was a gift from my Super Awesome Wife.  Havok was my primary focus, but I was also pretty invested in completing Strong Guy as well, which was the main push for rounding out the assortment.  He’s not perfect, but he’s a solid recreation of the character.  And now I’ve got this pretty nifty little X-Factor team.

#2273: Wolfsbane & Beast

WOLFSBANE & BEAST

MARVEL MINIMATES

Four days into these reviews, you should know what to expect here.  It’s time for one more of these Minimates reviews!  While yesterday’s pairing of characters was perhaps a little off-kilter, the assortment is finishing off with a pairing that’s actually a pretty natural one.  The feral but dignified Wolfsbane and Beast are both offered up in this final two-pack.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Wolfsbane and Beast are the final two-pack in Series 78 of Marvel Minimates.  Like the other sets in the assortment, they also include part of the Build-A-Mate Strong Guy, specifically the torso.

WOLFSBANE

“Rahne Sinclair was originally a member of the New Mutants before joining X-Factor. Her power is to shift into a wolflike form.”

Wolfsbane was a slight odd-man out for the New Mutants.  While most of their number were shunted from New Mutants into its direct replacement X-Force, Rahne was grabbed in the shuffle for a slight upgrade to X-Factor member.  It’s okay, her place in the X-Force roster had to be filled by the thinly-veiled knock off Feral.  They hardly missed her.  This figure marks Wolfsbane’s second time as a ‘mate, after getting released with her New Mutants team mates back in 2011.  This one stands 2 1/4 inches tall and she has 14 points of articulation.  She’s built on the modern ‘mate body, with add-ons for the hair and shoulder pads, and non-standard hands for her claws.  The hair piece is new, and is shared with her pack-mate.  Sensible, I suppose, as they typically had fairly similar hair, though perhaps a bit odd to see when looking at the pack in the box.  The claws and shoulder piece are both re-used parts, which is a sensible choice.  In general, they do a decent job of capturing Rahne’s team appearance.  The paintwork on her is solid work.  It translates the design and has all of the important details.  One of the knee joints was a little stuck from the paint, but at least it didn’t break like with Polaris.  Wolfsbane’s only accessory is a clear display stand.

BEAST

“Henry ‘Hank’ McCoy initially only had large hands and feet, and was a natural gymnast, until an experiment turned him furry and blue.”

There’s been something of a revolving seat for who gets left out of any ‘mate recreation of the various forms of the original five-man X-Men team.  The last time we got a boxed set of them all together, it was Hank who was left out, but this time he gets the nod over Bobby, who was the one member of X-Factor whose costume didn’t change with the others.  Beast actually had three different looks, with two “human” looks and the usual blue and furry.  This one is the usual blue and furry, which we haven’t gotten a ‘mate of since Series 34, prior to the move to the properly bulked up larger characters.  This figure uses those bulked up parts, alongside the feet from the Series 34 figure, the hair he shares with Wolfsbane, and a new set of bulked up hands.  It’s a good selection of parts, and easily the most accurate recreation of the bulked-up Beast we’ve gotten in the line.  The paintwork is about what you’d expect, and it’s worth noting it goes more heavily into that beastly look from the end of his stint in X-Factor, rather than a friendlier appearance.  The color of his fur is a close match to the Series 34 version, however, should you prefer the friendlier look.  Like Wolfsbane, his only accessory is a clear display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This would be the last of the four sets of Minimates I got this year for Christmas from Super Awesome Wife.  It’s an okay set, though it’s probably my least favorite of the four sets personally.  Neither of the two included is really that much of a stand out, but they’re both certainly serviceable.

#2272: Multiple Man & Archangel

MULTIPLE MAN & ARCHANGEL

MARVEL MINIMATES

The last two sets of Minimates I looked at each paired off one member of X-Factor’s first incarnation with one from the second.  The first was the team leaders, Scott and Alex Summers, the similarly powered leaders of their respective teams.  The second was Jean Grey and Lorna Dane, the again fairly similarly powered love-interests of the team leaders.  For the third set, the connective tissue appears to be choice in head gear…*

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Multiple Man and Archangel are another set in Series 78 of Marvel Minimates, a whole assortment based around X-Factor.  Multiple Man is also available in a Luke’s Toy Store-exclusive two-pack with a duplicate of himself, allowing for quicker army building.  Also included with this pair is the head of the assortment’s Build-A-Mate, Strong-Guy.

MULTIPLE MAN

“Jamie Madrox has possessed the mutant ability to form duplicates from birth. He has been a member and the leader of X-Factor.”

Multiple Man’s first minimate was based on his 2000s X-Factor Investigations appearance, and pretty much since then a more classic version of the character has been fairly heavily requested.  Like a lot of this assortment, Multiple Man treads down the same roads as his recent Legends release; at least they know there’s a market, right?  The figure stands 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  He’s built on the modern ‘mate body, with an add-on piece for his jacket.  The jacket’s actually a new piece, which is a little surprising, but nice to see nevertheless.  The rest of his design is conveyed via paint work, which is a pretty impressive affair.  The shading on the uniform works really well, and I dig the green trench coat that more closely replicates the comics art.  Multiple Man’s only accessory is a clear display stand, which is a slight let down.  It’s too bad we couldn’t get some alternate arms for a sans jacket look, or maybe an extra head with a different expression like the Legends release had.

ARCHANGEL

“Warren Worthington III lost his feathered wings in battle, but was given new, metal wings by the mutant Apocalypse.”

Archangel marks this assortment’s first straight remake of an earlier ‘mate.  His Death design was first released back in Series 19 of the line, and hasn’t been updated since.  This one is different, but I don’t know that it’s inherently better.  He gets an add-on for his wings, which are a different piece than the previous Archangels, another surprise.  While these seem to capture the earlier stylings of the wings a bit better, it’s at the cost of the cool ball joints of the old ones; these wings only have the one possible pose.  That’s a bit of a letdown.  His paint work is at least pretty good.  I like the general color scheme of this one a little more than the prior release, and I think the face is more Warren Worthington-esque than the earlier version.  Archangel gets a flight stand and a regular display stand.  Cutting the death mask from this release is another letdown.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got these two from the same source as the last two packs: Super Awesome Wife!  As I noted yesterday, I mostly wanted the first set, and the rest were along for the ride.  That said, this set’s probably number two for me.  Both figures are decent, but I can’t help but wish there were some more extras included, and there’s no denying that Archangel suffers a bit from change fro the sake of change.  Multiple Man’s pretty cool, though.

*Interestingly, as odd-ball as this pair may be, this is not the first time Madrox and Worthington have been paired up in this line; Madrox’s more modern appearance from Series 31 was packed with two different versions of Angel.

#2271: Polaris & Jean Grey

POLARIS & JEAN GREY

MARVEL MINIMATES

To round out the first week of my Post-Christmas reviews, I’m continuing yesterday’s theme, with another look at some Minimates.  Yesterday kicked off a pair of X-Factor teams with their respective team leaders, the brothers Cyclops and Havok.  Today, I’m following that up with their respective love interests from said teams, Jean Grey and Polaris!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Polaris and Jean are the second set in Series 78 of Marvel Minimates.  Like yesterday’s set, they also include part of the Build-A-Mate Strong Guy, specifically his arms.  I’ll be looking at those arms alongside the rest of him at the end of the week.

POLARIS

“The Mistress of Magnetism, Lorna Dane is the daughter of the mutant Magneto, and occasionally battled the X-Men before joining X-Factor.”

Though Havok has been a little more lucky, Polaris hasn’t actually gotten a single ‘mate since her very first one, all the way back in Series 20 of the line, a whopping 12 years ago.  In DST’s defense, that figure held up surprisingly well, and the only reason she really needed a follow up was to get her a second costume.  Like the Legends figure also released this year, Polaris is sporting her first X-Factor costume.  The figure stands 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation…or at least she would if mine hadn’t had the peg tear off of the right hand the first time I tried to move it, necessitating me gluing it back in place for this review.  Yay for tacky paint on joints!  She uses the basic ‘mate body, with the same poofy-sleeved upper arms as Havok, plus an all-new hair piece, and add-ons for the wrist and ankle straps.  The hair is a decent recreation of her wacky, crazy ’90s hair.  It doesn’t translate quite as well to this style as Havok’s look did, but for the most part they did a decent job of making it work.  The paint work on Polaris is fine, apart from it’s tacky, joint destroying nature in a few spots.  Aside from that little nit, it does actually look pretty solid.  Lorna included two effects pieces and a clear display stand.  Like the Legends figures, Polaris and Havok again share the same effects, just differentiated by color.  I’m still not sure how well it works.  Also, my figure has that whole torn joint thing, so she can only use one of the pieces.

JEAN GREY

“A powerful telepath, Jean Grey was a founding member of the X-Men. She later became a founding member of X-Factor.”

Jean’s the first figure so far from this assortment to not have been beaten to market by a Legends equivalent….probably due to this being a fairly low-profile look for her.  While her initial green and yellow number checks off the standard Jean Grey boxes and has therefore seen a little bit of toy love, and Scott’s second round costume was forever immortalized by having an action figure early on, Jean’s red and yellow number is often overlooked.  This is actually her first figure.  She is largely built from the same bank of parts as Cyclops, which I guess makes sense, what with the whole uniform thing.  The gloves are still technically incorrect, but at least they remained internally consistent.  The only differing piece between the two figures is Jean’s hair, which is the same one they’ve been using for Jean since the ’90s costume back in Series 34.  Again, props for consistency. Like Scott, Jean’s paintwork is rather straight-forward.  It’s clean, it’s eye-catching, and it’s definitely very red.  Jean looks weird in this much red.  Jean comes up light on the accessories front, with only a clear display stand.  Since her mask is painted onto the face, it would have been nice to at least get an unmasked head to swap out, or possibly some sort of telekinesis effect.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I touched on yesterday, I got this whole series of figures from my Super Awesome Wife.  Let’s all be real, the stars of the assortment are yesterday’s set; everyone else was really just along for the ride.  This set’s okay, not anything really amazing.  Neither figure has that wow factor, but neither one of them is bad either.  All in all, a decent set.

#2270: Havok & Cyclops

HAVOK & CYCLOPS

MARVEL MINIMATES

Okay, six days into this year’s Post-Christmas reviews, we’ve stumbled into our first theme: Minimates.  Yep, the next five days are going to be all about Minimates, which, somewhat like the Robin figure I reviewed on Saturday, feels a bit like getting back to my roots.  It’s been a while since I’ve just done a week of Minimates reviews.  For years, one of the more persistently demanded teams yet to grace Minimate form was the ’90s incarnation of X-Factor.  After giving us most of the characters in other, non-X-Factor forms, DST has finally given us the core team, each paired alongside one of their predecessors from the original X-Factor line-up.  I’m kicking things off with the two teams’ respective leaders, the brothers Havok and Cyclops!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Havok and Cyclops are part of Series 78 of Marvel Minimates, which is, as noted above, based on the first two incarnations of X-Factor.  In addition to the two main figures, this set also includes the legs and torso of this assortment’s Build-A-Figure, Strong Guy, who I’ll be reviewing on his own at the end of the week.

HAVOK

“Alex Summers, Scott’s brother, was a member of the X-Men before leading a new incarnation of X-Factor. He can create directional directional energy blasts.”

Okay, so the Legends release has stolen this guy’s thunder ever so slightly, but I am nevertheless still stoked to have yet another figure of Havok’s X-Factor duds.  They’re very sentimental to me, and while I’m glad we got the two versions of classic Havok we did before this guy, I am still so thrilled by this guy’s existence.  In contrast to the Legend, the old Toy Biz figure, and even the Kubrick, this Havok actually gives us the first incarnation of Havok’s ’90s costume, before he got the yellow straps to match the main X-team.  The only other instance of his first costume in toy form that I can think of is the X-Men Under Siege! board game from the ’90s, so it’s a pretty noteworthy thing.  The figure is 2 1/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  He’s constructed using the modern standard ‘mate body, with the poofy-sleeved upper arms, and add-ons for the hair, jacket, and glove cuffs.  The cuffs are the same Spirit pieces we’ve seen many times before, but the hair and jacket are all new pieces.  While I always envisioned this look with a full head-piece myself, I must admit that this layout works pretty well, and keeps him from being overly bulked up.  Havok’s paintwork is pretty impressive, given just how much detail is going on.  The face is really the first time I feel they’ve gotten comic Havok down; the previous two seemed just a bit too intense with the screaming.  The gritted teeth here look good.  The torso is fully detailed under the jacket, and I was pleased to see that they had even included some of the easier to miss details such as the pockets on the sides of his legs.  Havok is packed with two brand new effects pieces and a clear display stand.

CYCLOPS

“Scott ‘Slim’ Summers was the deputy leader of the X-Men before forming X-Factor. He possesses the power of optic blasts.”

And again Legends did a bit of thunder stealing here, what with giving us this exact costume in the Vintage wave this year.  Who would have guessed?  Certainly not me.  While I don’t have quite the same level of attachment to this costume that I do Havok’s, this Cyclops costume is still pretty sentimental to me, and I’m down for another version of it.  It should be noted that this is Cyclops’ second X-Factor costume.  The first was released as part of a boxed set in 2009, and remains the only time that the original costume has been done in toy form.  In that regard, Minimates are just catching up with everyone else and releasing the more popular white and blue.  The figure is constructed solely from re-used parts, with the cowl/visor piece from Series 68’s Giant Size X-Men Cyclops, plus standard cuffed boots and flared gloves.  If you want to get really technical, the gloves are supposed to have folded over cuffs like the boots, but otherwise the parts make for a good match to his comics appearance.  Cyclops’ paint is a bit more straight-forward than his brother’s, but still very nicely done, with clean application and a striking color scheme.  Cyclops is packed with an alternate hairpiece (borrowed from the Series 34 release) with his Jim Lee-style exposed hair, which he had towards the end of this costume’s run, as well as a clear display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This pair (and the rest of the series, for that matter) were a Christmas gift from my Super Awesome Wife.  Amusingly enough, the series was wrapped as two pairs, and these two weren’t in the first pair, but I knew they had to be in the selection of wrapped gifts.  It may have slightly undermined my excitement on the first pair, which may have slightly annoyed Super Awesome Wife.  Whatever the case, I was very glad to get them, and this pair in particular has extra sentimental value to me, being my first two figures of both characters packed in one set.

#2259: Spider-Man & Carnage

SPIDER-MAN & CARNAGE

MARVEL MINIMATES

The early assortments of Marvel Minimates were home to some quite distinctive ‘mates.  While they are by and large a simpler selection and design, that can’t be said for every release.  In fact, the two ‘mates I’m looking at today remained some of the line’s most detailed for a long period of time, to the point where replacing them with updates seemed quite a daunting task for quite a while.  Without further ado, let’s have a look at Spider-Man and Carnage.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Spider-Man and Carnage are the final pairing from Series 2 of the main Marvel Minimates line, hitting alongside Series 1 and 3 in the summer of 2003.  Both would see re-release in a TRU 4-pack the following year, and Spider-Man would also be released in a TRU 5-pack and as a single in ’03, as well as packed with Green Goblin at Walmart and Target in ’04, and with Gajin Wolverine at Target in ’06.  He got around is what I’m getting at.

SPIDER-MAN

Perhaps the definitive classic ‘mate was this Spider-Man.  He was easily the poster child of the line’s launch, and remained front and center until the arrival of a new “standard” classic Spidey in Series 24.  It’s not a huge shock, I suppose, given that he’s Marvel’s most recognizable hero and his design allows for the showcasing of a “pure” Minimate body.  He stands 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation, and is constructed on the old long-footed body.  As with any standard Spidey, he’s great for taking a step back and appreciating the basic body at its best.  The heavy lifting, of course, is done with paint, and this Spidey had some of the very best.  All of his weblines are properly defined, something that would disappear as the line moved on.  Additionally, the face of his mask is really a perfect boiling down of Spidey’s classic mask.  No ‘mate that followed ever quite got that same feel.  It’s not 100% perfect; the blue is probably a touch dark, and compared to later releases, the lack of any musculature can be a little glaring.  On his own, though, he’s very strong.  Like the other Spider-Men in this inaugural assortment, he was packed with a webline piece.

CARNAGE

Having just escaped the ’90s, we were all still very invested in Carnage at this point, making him a solid choice for the final villain in this initial line-up.  It would be his only Minimate for a resounding 11 years, in no small part due to how well this one was implemented.  He’s fairly similar to Venom in his constuction, being a base body with a new set of hands, but it’s important to note that the hands on this one aren’t the same as on Venom, which was honestly a little bit surprising, but not unappreciated.  The real star of the show is again the paint.  Carnage’s distinctive black and red swirls are present on every visible surface, no small feat given how often details on the sides and backs of limbs got cut as the line progressed, or even compared to how sparse the rest of the early ‘mates were.  Heck, he gets full detailing on his hands and feet, the one place even Spidey’s weblines don’t go.  That’s impressive, and is part of why it took them 11 years to top this one, with a ‘mate that was rolling in the sculpted add-ons.  This one did it without those.  Carnage was packed with an extra hand, shaped like an axe, to demonstrate his shape-shifting abilities.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t actually get this set new.  My brother had one, but I ended up getting just the Spidey from elsewhere, and never felt compelled to track down Carnage until he was far too expensive on the aftermarket.  Then I got the 2014 release, and just didn’t feel the need to go back.  When All Time got in a large ‘mate collection back a few months ago, I managed to add every figure from the first year of the line to my collection, minus one: Carnage.  There was but one Carnage in the lot, and that went to Max, who’s definitely the store’s resident symbiote fanatic, so I wouldn’t dream of fighting him on it.  However, I did send him a photo of my shelf containing all but that one missing ‘mate, and he decided to go and be one of them pesky nice and generous people and give me his Carnage so that I could complete the set-up.  Can you believe the nerve of this guy?

#2245: Damaged Spider-Man, Black Spider-Man & Venom

DAMAGED SPIDER-MAN, BLACK SPIDER-MAN, & VENOM

MARVEL MINIMATES

After a slightly more off-kilter theme for Series 1, Marvel Minimates went a little more straight-forward for their second assortment, centering it on Marvel’s #1 super hero, Spider-Man.  We got three prominent Spidey baddies, as well as a whole handful of Spidey variants.  In a world where Marvel Minimates wrapped with Series 3, this assortment would have made for a satisfying Spidey sub-set.  Today, I’ll be taking a look at a slightly worse for wear Spidey as he faces off against his dark reflection, Venom, as well as perhaps the most popular Spidey costume variant ever.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Damaged Spider-Man and Venom were released in Series 2 of Marvel Minimates as one of the standard sets, with the one-per-case Black Spider-Man swapping out for Damaged in each case.  Both Damaged Spidey and Venom would also see release as singles and in the TRU boxed sets as well, but this would remain the only way to get this specific Black Spidey.

DAMAGED SPIDER-MAN

A battle-damaged Spidey is a pretty long-standing tradition for toylines, and this particular figure would himself start the trend of battle-damaged figures within this particular line, particularly in the earlier days.  He’s just using the basic ‘mate body, albeit that wonky long-footed old style release.  Everything else is paint, and the paint was never really better than on these earliest Spider-Men.  This one uses the standard Spidey from this same assortment as a starting point, but adds in several tears to the costume, with a bit of exposed skin.  The coolest bit is definitely that little bit of Peter’s face we can see; that teeth-clenched expression really sells the severity of whatever situation he’s in.  His one accessory was a simple grey webline, which would be the go-to accessory for Spidey sets going forward.

BLACK SPIDER-MAN

Swapping out for Damaged Spidey is perhaps one of the most controversial choices for a limited variant release, Spidey in his black costume.  This figure, unlike his fellow Series 1 and Series 3 variants, showcases a “we’re not gonna get more than three series” mentality, because without that in place, it makes absolutely no sense to make the most popular costume variant for Spidey a supremely limited release.  It’s not a huge shock that DST would eventually release several additional versions of this costume, since he was going for mad money for a good long while.  This one uses the same layout as the Damaged, with just the standard body, no add-ons.  His painted details are sparser, befitting the costume’s simpler design, but it honestly ends up working seriously in the figure’s favor.  Straight black and white’s a very good look.

VENOM

After Peter ditched the alien symbiote, it moved onto Eddie Brock, and the two became Venom, one of Spidey’s definitive foes.  Venom has no shortage of ‘mates, but this is certainly the most basic.  The majority of it’s actually identical to the Black Spidey from above, but he does get a unique set of clawed hands, and a different head.  The head seen here is actually the one with the uniquely sculpted tongue, but there’s an important note on that.  Originally, Venom was meant to include two heads, one with tongue, and one without.  All of the standard US release Venoms from the first year were actually shipped out missing the second head with the tongue, so DST offered to send the piece out to customers who bought the earlier release.  LAter releases would add the missing piece back in.  In a turn of fate, my figure is actually missing the head without the tongue.  Of course, I see no situation where I would display that head, so I’m not worried about it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Unsurprisingly, given how popular the costume is, the Black Spidey was very hard to find when these hit.  I wanted that one, and didn’t really have much interest in the damaged version, so I ultimately ended up getting none of them when they were new.  When All Time got in a very large Minimate collection a few months ago, Black Spidey was at the top of my list of wants, and the other two just sort of came along with him.

#2231: Daredevil & Kingpin

DAREDEVIL & KINGPIN

MARVEL MINIMATES

Despite the general “lower tier” nature of the first series of Marvel Minimates‘ character selection, at least in terms of the corners of the universe they chose to focus on, there’s no denying that within the theme itself, they did go for a pretty heavy-hitter assortment.  We got both halves of the Hulk persona, plus Daredevil with perhaps his two best know supporting cast members.  Elektra was packed with DD’s first costume, but his standard reds were packed with long-time foe Wilson Fisk, aka the Kingpin!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Daredevil and Kingpin were the final two-pack in Series 1 of Marvel Minimates.  Kingpin would remain exclusive to the specialty pack-outs (at least for the first year of the line), while Daredevil was available in TRU’s Boxed Sets assortment, as well as by himself in the Shop-Ko-exclusive singles assortment.

DAREDEVIL

Daredevil’s all-red attire fairly quickly replaced his somewhat gawdy yellow number, and quickly became his go-to look for quite a few years.  By 2003, there had been an attempt to replace it, but it was back to being his main look once again.  The figure uses the original Marvel base-body (long feet and all), so he’s 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  From a construction standpoint, he and the Yellow Daredevil are identical, both using the same mask and belt add-on pieces.  They were definitely solid pieces, especially for the more simplified aesthetic of early ‘mates.  Red DD’s paint work is comparatively far less complex, since he’s mostly just molded in the appropriate red.  They do mix things up a little bit by giving him at least some cursory detailing on the boots and gloves, and he’s got the same full face under the mask.  He includes the same billy clubs as Yellow, but in red this time around.

KINGPIN

Beginning as a Spider-Man foe before being adopted as Daredevil’s arch-nemesis, Kingpin was a pretty natural inclusion here, and ended up as the only version of the character in the line for almost a decade.  Of all the ‘mates at launch, he’s probably the one that strays the furthest from the standard Minimate form, getting a rather large add-on piece for his torso, in order to properly capture his size.  This means that he ends up far more properly scaled than Hulk from the same assortment, and is probably one of the main things that kept him acceptable for mixing with later ‘mates for quite so long.  In addition to the torso, he also got a unique pair of hands.  The right holds a cigar, while the second is sporting an impressive gold ring.  The paintwork on Fisk is surprisingly involved, with by far the most detailed face of the first series, plus actual pin-stripes on his legs.  Kingpin was packed with a curved cane, which seems a little simpler than Fisk’s usual fare, but is a cool extra nonetheless.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Though I got the other two sets when they were brand new, it was another five or six years before I finally added this pair to my collection, courtesy of a friend who found them while she was doing some cleanout of her house.  I don’t really know why it took me as long as it did to get them, but I was happy to finally have them at the time.  Ultimately, there are improved versions of both figures in this set, so neither is truly essential.  That said, they do round out the collection nicely, and cap off the first series of the line very well.

#2217: Bruce Banner & Hulk

BRUCE BANNER & HULK

MARVEL MINIMATES

The very first assortment of Marvel Minimates is perhaps a bit odd-ball when looking back on things.  No Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, or even X-Men.  Nope, it’s two sets of Daredevil and one set of Hulk.  Why this particular line-up for the debut?  Well, the first series of Marvel Minimates hit in the summer of 2003.  Do you know what else hit in 2003?  Movies for both Daredevil and Hulk, and though those films may not be looked back on particularly fondly these days, they did make their title characters recognizable to a general audience, thereby making them a moderately reasonable starting point.  Today, I’m looking at the slight outlier of the line-up, the one Hulk pack in the lot, pairing off both the Hulk and his human alter-ego, Bruce Banner.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Bruce Banner and Hulk were, as noted above, part of the first series of Marvel Minimates.  It’s worth noting that the numbering was really little more than clerical on the first three series of the line, with all of them hitting pretty much at the same time, but nevertheless, these guys were technically among the first.

BRUCE BANNER

Alter-egos were popular fodder for the early ‘mates, with Hulk, Spider-Man, and Wolverine all getting their civilian counterparts right out of the gate.  Banner makes the most sense, I suppose, though, since he’s so visually different, and the internal struggle between the two halves is so important to the story.  While Bruce has had a lot of different appearances over the years, this one opts for something more in line with how he looked on the cover of his first appearance, with glasses and a lab coat.  It’s certainly a bit more visually interesting than just plain civilian clothes.  The figure uses the old-style ‘mate body, complete with long feet, so he stands roughly 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  He’s got two add-on pieces: one for his hair/glasses, and one for his jacket.  The hair/glasses combo is different from how things would be handled later, since glasses tend to just be printed on the faces now.  Additionally, the glasses are opaque, which gives him a very different, far more stylized appearance than later figures.  I myself have always been a pretty big fan of this look.  The jacket’s a little on the bulky side, but if you don’t like it, the shirt and the arms are both white, so you can remove it without it looking too weird.  Banner’s paintwork is rather simple, with some detailing for his face, his tie on his shirt (complete with tie clip), and a belt buckle on his pelvis.  Banner included no accessories.

HULK

Definitely the selling point of this set, and honestly the more dated of the two offerings.  Hulk represents the old style of doing things, back when ‘mates were still firmly planted on the philosophy of using the least amount of extra parts possible for each figure.  For larger characters, such as Hulk and Venom, this left them looking…kinda small.  Compared to Hulk, puny Banner wasn’t very puny.  Hulk’s only add-on was his hair piece, which is a decent enough part, although it does come off a lot, since the pegs weren’t implemented until Series 8 of the line.  It’s simple, but feels classically Hulk.  His paint is a little more involved than Banner, with detailing on the front and back of his torso, as well as remnants of his torn shirt running all along the sides of his pelvis, and torn legs to his pants running along the shins.  The feet and lower legs are painted green, rather than molded, which looks noticeably of a different shade.  Also, for some reason, the shade of purple on the pants is different between Hulk and Banner, something I never really understood.  Like Banner, Hulk had no accessories.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When my dad brought home the Yellow Daredevil and Elektra set for me back in 2003, he also brought with him a Hulk and Banner set for my younger brother, which gave me a taste of the set.  I would eventually get a pack of my own as a birthday present from some family friends that same year.  I still have those two, but they’re a little worse for wear these days, so I actually picked up a replacement set when All Time got in a Minimate collection a few months ago.  If I’m honest, the Hulk in this set never did a lot for me, but conversely the Banner has always been one of my favorites from the early line up.

#2203: Spectral Ghostbusters

PETER VENKMAN, EGON SPENGLER, WINSTON ZEDDEMORE, & RAY STANZ

GHOSTBUSTERS MINIMATES

“The Real Ghostbusters follows the continuing adventures of The Ghostbusters, secretary Janine, accountant Louis, and their mascot Slimer, as they chase and capture rogue spirits around New York and various other areas of the world.”

Happy Halloween dear readers!  For this year’s spooky-themed entry, I had intended to keep up with the running theme of looking back at DST’s ill-fated Universal Monsters Minimates, but they continued with the ill-fated bit, so I wasn’t able to get that particular set ready to go.  I guess there’s always next year.  So, I’ll be jumping over to one of DST’s other somewhat spooky lines of Minimates, the Ghostbusters, a far less ill-fated line.  After doing a rather successful run of movie-based ‘mates, DST picked up the license to the cartoon and rebranded the line under the Real Ghostbusters heading, producing another three boxed sets, plus a whole bunch more two-packs.  The first two sets covered the ‘busters and their supporting cast, but the third went the variant route, giving us all four ‘busters together, albeit in a slightly askew form.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Spectral Ghostbusters were released in December of 2011, as the third and final boxed set in the Real Ghostbusters off-shoot of Ghostbusters Minimates, based on their appearance in the cartoon episode “Citizen Ghost”, the 11th episode of the show, which sees the ‘busters’ uniforms from the night they fought Gozer reainimated by spectral approximations of themselves.

PETER VENKMAN

It’s Peter’s fault that the Spectral Ghostbusters come into existence in the first place, so I guess he’s the defacto leader of this particular bunch.  He was also, at the time of this figure’s release, the only Spectral Buster with a prior figure, courtesy of Mattel’s Retro Action line.  The figure stands 2 1/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  He’s built on the basic ‘mate body, with add-ons for the hair, shoulder pads, and torso piece.  The hair was re-used from the basic RGB Venkman figure, with the torso piece being a re-use of Wintson’s piece from set two, with a slight adjustment to the proton pack’s left side to allow for storage of the ghost trap.  The torso pieces were still rather bulky at this point, an issue that wouldn’t properly be addressed until the “I love this town” boxed set, but I do have to say that they looked better here, probably because they were molded plastic, rather than painted, which slimmed them down ever so slightly.  The paint on these was also somewhat notable for being the first ‘busters to be in the tan color that more closely resembles the color of the uniforms seen on-screen in the films.  Of course, Venkman was also notable for being green and translucent, which was something he usually wasn’t.  The spectral effect on the face works quite well, and like all of the RGB ‘mates, he has a fully detailed torso under the chest piece, which I was always happy to see crop up.  Peter is packed with a ghost trap and a proton wand effect in green.

EGON SPENGLER

Egon is pretty similar to Venkman, but obviously swaps out a few of the add-on parts to make things slightly more unique.  The hair is from the RGB Egon, and has that distinctive swirl, while the torso is from the Venkman/Egon figures of set one, meaning he gets that extra strap at the front.  It’s safer that way I guess?  It does mean that he’s got a plug on the right side of his belt, which is missing anything to plug into it (prior Egons had his PKE), but I guess it’s not terribly noticeable.  The paint work changes up a little bit to match the new pieces and to change up the face for the likeness.  Again, the spectral effect is pretty cool, and the glasses make it look even cooler.  Egon is packed with the same trap and effect piece as Peter; shame they couldn’t throw the PKE in there.

WINSTON ZEDDEMORE

Wintson is even less different from Peter than Egon was.  From the neck down, the two are completely identical figures.  It’s just that head that changes things up, with the proper Winston hair piece and an adjusted likeness on the face.  Beyond that, same figure, right down to the same pair of accessories.  Fortunately, that means he doesn’t look like he’s missing anything the way Egon did, so I guess it works out alright for him.

RAY STANZ

Last up, there’s Ray, and what a surprise, he’s really similar to the other three.  I know, what a shock.  He does mix things up ever so slightly, getting the animated Ray hair and the Box 2 Ray torso piece (interestingly, Ray is the only ‘buster who never had to share his torso piece with any one else), but like Egon that leaves him with a peg that goes unused for this particular release, where the trap would have gone on the original release.  At least he and Egon have each other?  Beyond that, it’s all pretty much business as usual.  The paint’s pretty much the same, with the expected adjustments, and the accessories are again the same.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Though I mostly skipped the RGB line, I nevertheless ended up with this set.  Why?  Do I have some sort of undying devotion to the Spectral Ghostbusters?  Nope, I bought them because they were cheap.  Cosmic Comix got the set in, and the glue on the backing card was faulty, so it fell off.  To save themselves some trouble, they marked it down to half price and boom, there I was, buying me some half-price Minimates.  While perhaps not the most unique or individually thrilling ‘mates, I actually do dig this group, especially as a set.  They aren’t perfect, but they’re goofy, and gimmicky, and actually rather fun.