#3196: Spider-Man & Shocker

SPIDER-MAN & SHOCKER

MARVEL MINIMATES

After making his MCU debut in Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man was granted a solo-outing in short fashion with 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming.  As a Spider-Man movie, it was, predictably, pretty well covered on the merchandising front.  That included an assortment of Marvel Minimates which had, up to that point, not missed an MCU showing (they lost that run when Far From Home was the first MCU film they skipped two years later).  Today, I’m looking at one of those sets in the form of Spider-Man and Shocker!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Spider-Man and Shocker were one of the two shared sets between specialty Series 73 and the TRU-exclusive Homecoming tie-in series of Marvel Minimates.  Seeing as it was the set that included the standard version of Spidey, it made a lot of sense for it to be a heavier packed one, so that tracked.

SPIDER-MAN

The first of the four Spidey variants for the movie tie-ins was the standard Stark-tech Spidey suit.  It’s a solid updating of the classic Spidey costume, with just a little bit of MCU-flair, and I’ve always found it to be a strong design.  The figure is built on the standard post-C3 Minimates body, so he’s about 2 1/4 inches tall and he’s got 14 points of articulation.  While most standard Spider-Men are just vanilla ‘mates, this one gets two add-ons for each of his wrist-mounted web shooters.  They were new pieces, which are fairly nicely handled.  The paint work is where this figure really shines….well mostly.  The entire figure is painted, which gives him a nice consistent finish.  The line work is nice and sharp, and captures all of the important details of the costume, adapting them quite nicely into ‘mate form.  The one notable downside on the paint is the upper arms, which get all of the proper line-work, but don’t have any blue detailing on the inner side of the arm.  It just abruptly changes color at the elbow, which looks super weird.  Kind of glaring, given the quality of the rest of the detailing.  Spider-Man is packed with a webline and a clear display stand, which is pretty standard fare for a Minimate Spider-Man.

SHOCKER

Though not the primary antagonist of the film, Herman Schultz’s Shocker makes his live-action debut as one of the Vulture’s crew in Homecoming.  He also got his second, and more than likely final given the shape of things at the moment, Minimate out of it, after a 9 year gap between releases.  Shocker gets three add-on pieces on the main base body.  He’s got a jacket piece with a sculpted hoodie hood beneath it, re-used from the Big Bang Theory Leonard, as well as a gauntlet piece, re-used from Crossbones.  Given that the gauntlet used by Herman in the movie is actually re-purposed tech, presumably from the same source as Crossbones, it’s a sensible choice of re-use.  Finishing up on the sculpted add-ons, he also gets the basic torso cap piece to extend the hoodie a bit.  The paint work on Shocker is generally pretty solid.  The likeness on the face is an okay match for Bokeem Woodbine, but perhaps not as strong as others from the same time period.  I do really like the quilting pattern on the arms, though; it’s very Shocker-y.  Shocker is packed with a clear display stand.  Not thrilling, but it’s at least something.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

2017 was not a year for me to be buying excessively, so I wound up passing on all of the Homecoming ‘mates at the time of their release.  Instead, I wound up getting this particular set during TRU’s shut down, when they were clearing everything out.  I was pretty glad to get the second chance on them.  Spidey’s largely pretty good, apart from the weirdness with the arms.  Shocker’s a little blander than Spidey, but he’s better than average.

#3171: Savage Wolverine & Reaper

SAVAGE WOLVERINE & SAVAGE LAND REAPER

MARVEL MINIMATES

In 2013, Marvel decided to a soft re-branding of their comics, under the banner “Marvel Now!” which would do new and and innovative things with the line.  Like giving Wolverine another book!  Nobody had done that before!  Okay, so Savage Wolverine may not have been the most unique thing, but it did get some decent buzz, thanks to Frank Cho’s name being attached to it. When DST put together some complimentary assortments of Minimates, Savage Wolverine got not one, but two packs dedicated to it.  I looked at the first, which featured Shanna the She-Devil (Wolverine’s co-star in the book) and a Savage Land Reaper, back in January of 2018.  Today, I’m looking at Wolverine proper…and the Reaper again…

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Savage Wolverine and the Savage Land Reaper were released in the 16th TRU-exclusive series of Marvel Minimates, which was TRU’s equivalent to the 51st specialty assortment.  The Reaper was the only cross-over between the two assortments, and is the same figure between both of its pack-outs.

SAVAGE WOLVERINE

Wolverine has had a lot of Minimates.  This particular one was his 48th.  It’s a derivation of the John Cassady Astonishing X-Men design, which had gotten a number of tweaks from several artists at this point.  This one marked his most current at the time, and it remained his most current until his padded number from the “Payback” story.  The figure is based on the standard ‘mate body, so he’s 2 1/2 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation .  Wolverine uses add-ons for his mask and belt, as well as “unique” pieces for the clawed hands.  The mask was the first actual, proper update to the mask we’d gotten since the Series 26 version, and I quite like it.  It’s got a unique shaping to it, and I dig the sculpted seams running along the head.  The belt, which I believe was new to this figure, but it can be hard to tell, is another nice piece, full of lots of fun details.  The hands are the same hands used initially on the Series 47 Wolverine, and they’re my favorite of the clawed hands we’ve gotten.  The paint is my favorite aspect of this figure, because at the surface, it’s just a basic Wolverine paint job, but there’s so much else going on.  The yellow with black in place of blue makes for a figure that’s quite striking, and while there are still some spots of slop on some of the edges, the small detail work is crisp, and very plentiful.  The face gives us a great, intense, Wolverine-style snarl, the hair on the arms is sharp and well defined, the muscles are subtly handled in a fashion that mimics Cho’s artwork pretty well, and they’ve even included all of the laces on his boots.  There’s a ton of attention to detail, and a lot of details that could have easily been overlooked.  Logan is packed with an extra hair piece and a clear display stand.  It’s a shame they stopped giving Wolverines extra, non-clawed hands, but at least in this one’s case, it won’t be hard to find a pair that matches.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I wasn’t really intending to get this figure when he was shown off, since who really needs the 48th version of Wolverine?  Well, me, apparently.  Once packaged shots surfaced, I found myself really liking the look, and at the time, it was easiest to just order a whole assortment from TRU.com, to make sure you didn’t randomly get the wrong pack in place of what you actually wanted.  Wolverine pairs off well with this same assortment’s version of Captain America.  He’s a variant of an A-lister that no one was necessarily asking for, but DST put in some of their best work here, and the end result is a figure that really rocks.

#3166: Cowboy Tony Stark & Aldrich Killian

COWBOY TONY STARK & ALDRICH KILLIAN

MARVEL MINIMATES

Now listen up, here’s the story, about a little guy who started both of his Iron Man 3-themed Minimates reviews the same way, and all day and all night, everything he sees is reviews, inside and outside.  Okay, I think the Eiffel 65 thing as far as it can possibly go.  Look, you get the gist, right?  Minimates?  Iron Man 3?  Great.  Here’s Cowboy Disguise Tony Stark and Aldrich Killian!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Cowboy Disguise Tony Stark and Aldrich Killian were released as part of Series 49 of Marvel Minimates, the specialty component of the Iron Man 3-tie-in ‘mates.  It’s one of the two sets contained there in which was completely exclusive, the other being the previously reviewed War Machine and Maya.

COWBOY DISGUISE TONY STARK

Over the course of his three films (and Age of Ultron), we’ve gotten all manner of Tony Starks, but I think Cowboy Tony may very well be the most out-there variant. Well, at least he seems that way on the surface.  In practice, he’s actually just a fairly standard Tony, who also includes a cowboy hat.  The figure is built on the standard post-C3 body, so he’s about 2 1/2 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  He uses two add-on pieces, one for his hat, and one for his sweater.  Both parts are re-used; the hat is from Mad Dog Tannen and the sweater comes from Agent Zero.  The sweater is fine, but the hat ends up being rather off the mark for the one he was wearing in the movie.  Obviously, DST wanted Tony to be a re-use figure, and I guess this hat was just the closest thing they had on hand? I don’t know, but it makes him look more like a mountie than a cowboy.  The paint work on Tony is the strongest aspect of the figure, to be sure.  His likeness to RDJ is a decent one, and the replication of Tony’s injuries from the move on his face make for a more distinctive look for the character.  The detailing on his vest and what we can see of his plaid shirt is also pretty impressive.  Tony is packed with an extra hair piece, for those of you that want the non-cowboy/mountie look for him, as well as a set of extra arms for a look sans-sweater, and a now standard clear display stand.

ALDRICH KILLIAN

Man, Killian really through marketers for a loop, didn’t he?  His role was super down-played going into the film, with all the focus going to Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin, but toy companies were still informed he’d be important, but in a sort of a vague way.  The character in the comics is very, very minor, but then, boom, there he was, main villain of the piece, unquestionably.  Well, at least the Minimates included him, right?  Killian uses three add-on pieces for his hair, jacket, and tie.  All three are re-used; the hair’s from Larry Talbot, the jacket from World of the Psychic Peter Venkman, and the tie from The Spirit.  It’s a reasonable enough collection of parts, though I personally find the hair to be a touch to close cropped for Killian.  We’ve seen worse, though.  Killian’s paint is pretty straight-forward color work.  He’s not terribly thrilling or anything, but he’s accurate to his (present day) introductory scene in the film, and the face has a decent Guy Pierce likeness.  Aldrich’s only accessory is a clear display stand, which is rather light.  Some extra Extremis-powered parts would have been cool, though it’s possible they weren’t a viable option, due to spoilers.  He still feels like he should have *something* else, though.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked these up, alongside the rest of the assortment, the day they were released from my local comic book store, Cosmic Comix, on a special trip to the store in the middle of my day of college classes, meaning I got to carry them around in my bag.  You know, like I was in elementary school.  No, I mean, like an adult.  Yeah, an adult.  Sure.  Tony is a figure I had little interest in when he was initially shown off, but the ability to remove that hat actually opens the figure up quite a bit, and makes him a fairly intriguing variant of the character.  Overall, Killian is a passable figure of the character, but there’s not a whole lot that really sells him.

#3156: Street Fight Wolverine & Shingen

STREET FIGHT WOLVERINE & SHINGEN YASHIDA

MARVEL MINIMATES

In a line-up that was actually pretty focused and on-point, there was one pack from the tie-in assortment for 2013’s The Wolverine that just seemed…non-essential?  Redundant?  I don’t know exactly.  Though a far cry from the over saturation of the Wolverine: Origins days, today’s pairing of Street Fight Wolverine and Shingen Yashida is a reminder that not every set needs the title character and not every character in the film was strong enough to warrant their own ‘mate.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These two were part of Marvel Minimates Series 52’s The Wolverine tie-in, as well as being the carried over set in the TRU assortment…for…reasons?  I don’t know why this set was carried over, but, well, I think I might be getting ahead of myself.

STREET FIGHT WOLVERINE

Here’s a design that is a definite “points for effort” on the part of the costume designers.  In the original miniseries on which The Wolverine was based, Logan spent most of his time in his then-current brown costume.  The film’s never put Wolverine in anything remotely close to any of his proper costumes, preferring to more often stick him in his civilian gear.  For the climactic battle of The Wolverine, they actually tried to put him into something that recalled his distinctive brown costume, without actually being a “costume.”  So, we get a jacket that kind of mimics the patterns of his uniform.  Not a terrible choice, though perhaps a little too subtle if you ask me.  Wolverine uses add-ons for his hair and jacket, as well as having a set of clawed hands.  The hair and hands are shared with his fellow Wolverines from the movie, but the jacket was actually an all-new piece to this particular figure.  In an assortment with a lot of re-used parts, this one being new was a little bit surprising.  Regardless, it’s a pretty nice piece, and its understandably seen some subsequent re-use since its introduction here.  Wolverine’s paintwork is okay, but not super eye-catching, since it’s just a lot of brown.  We get a more intense facial expression here, which is actually pretty nice, albeit more limited in application than the suited version.  There’s a lot of nice detail work under the jacket, which is always good to see.  He’s also got some detailing on the knees, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what it’s meant to be.  Wolverine is packed with a set of normal hands, alternate bare arms for a look sans-jacket, and a clear display stand.

SHINGEN YASHIDA

Ah, yes, Shingen Yashida.  Who could forget Shingen Yashida?  Me.  I could.  Because I totally had to look this guy up to figure out which guy he was.  For clarification, Shingen is Mariko’s father, played by veteran actor Hiroyuki Sanada in perhaps one of the least forgiving roles in the movie.  The most distinctive thing the character does is suit up in Samurai armor and try to kill Logan.  So, naturally, DST decided to release him in a business suit.  Yeah… Anyway, Shingen has three add-on pieces for his hair, jacket, and tie.  All three pieces are re-used.  The hair is from Civilian Thor, the jacket from “World of the Psychic” Peter Venkman, and the tie from The Spirit.  The suit and tie are perfectly fine generic pieces, but the hair is just flat out wrong for Shingen, whose hair is nowhere near this length or style in the movie.  I understand the need to re-use parts, but certainly there was a more accurate piece available.  The paint on Shingen is alright, but far from thrilling, since he’s mostly shades of grey.  The face has an okay likeness of Hiroyuki Sanada, but not so much of Sanada *as* Shingen, since he’s got facial hair, which Shingen very definitely doesn’t have in the movie.  This only further adds to the confusion of who the heck this guy is supposed to be.  Shingen is packed with a katana and a clear display stand.  The sword, it should be noted, is only used by Shingen during his battle with Wolverine, when he’s wearing the armor, and therefore makes little sense with this version of the character.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Wolverine’s an okay figure, but there’s not much that sets him apart from the plethora of other Wolverine variants we’ve gotten.  Shingen is at best a minor character in The Wolverine, and is really only notable because of the scene where he armors up.  This figure’s choice not to use that design robs him of pretty much all play value and recognizability, and makes the figure a real wasted slot in this assortment.  And, to add insult to injury, he was the only non-Wolverine character to be shared between specialty and TRU, so he was freaking everywhere, just rubbing in how pointless he really was.  I do not like this figure.

#3151: Wolverine & Mariko

WOLVERINE  & MARIKO

MARVEL MINIMATES

The Wolverine’s adaptation of the character’s original solo miniseries brought with it that story’s cast of characters.  Chief among them was Marikio Yashida, who paired off with Logan as one of the film’s chief protagonists.  Naturally, she was paired off with Logan’s main look from the film when it came time for the Minimates.  I’ll be looking at those two today.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This pair was part of the Marvel Minimates specialty Series 52 assortment.  Mariko was only available this way, but Logan was also available as part of the TRU assortment alongside the ninja.

WOLVERINE

The previous Wolverine movie didn’t exactly have a lot of variety to Logan’s looks, but The Wolverine tried to mix things up a little bit by going for a cleaner, more formal appearance for most of the movie.  What begins as his funeral attire turns into his main look for about an hour of the film’s runtime, due to its “on the run” plot.  While the all-black appearance itself isn’t new for super hero films, it still ended up being a pretty unique look for Logan himself.  Logan features sculpted add-ons for his hair, jacket, and tie, as well as a set of clawed hands.  The hair and claws are shared with the other Wolverines in the assortment, the tie comes from The Spiritand the jacket is Doc Brown’s.  No new pieces for this figure, and yet he’s still pretty much a pitch-perfect match for the movie design.  As far as paint goes, there’s not a ton going on with this guy, since he’s predominantly one color.  There are a few accent likes on his pelvis, indicating the detailing of his waist band.  He’s also got a pretty serviceable Hugh Jackman likeness on his face.  Of the many attempts at Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, I think this one has my favorite face.  Wolverine is packed with an extra set of standard hands for a non-clawed appearance, as well as a clear display stand.  Not super accessory heavy or anything, but it covers the basics.

MARIKO YASHIDA

Unlike a lot of movie-based civilian figures, this is actually not the first Minimate we’ve gotten of Mariko.  A comic version of the character was offered alongside a brown-costumed Wolverine in an SDCC-exclusive pack in 2004. That one was…not great.  This one’s a bit better.  Like Wolverine, Mariko is also wearing her attire from the funeral, meaning she matches up with a large subset of the ‘mates based on the movie.  Mariko is built using add-ons for her hair and skirt, as well as a unique set of forearms.  The hair and skirt were unique to this figure (though the skirt has seen its fair share of subsequent re-use), while the sleeve pieces were shared with Ninja Yukio from the accompanying TRU assortment. All of the parts mesh well together, and the two-pieced nature of her kimono is certainly an improvement on the bulky one-piece thing of the prior Mariko.  The paintwork on Mariko is a little more involved than Logan’s.  She has a decent likeness of actress Tao Okamoto, and I quite like the subtle line-work denoting the details of her torso, as well as the fully detailed feet that you can only just barely see.  Mariko’s only accessory is a clear display stand.  Not terribly exciting, but I’m not sure what else could have been given to her.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This set was actually one of the ones I most wanted from this assortment, since I really dug that main look for Logan.  I ended up grabbing a full assortment from Luke’s Toy Store back when they were new to make sure I got this one.  As the standard Wolverine of the film, this one was the most sensible variant in the set.  He’s actually a pretty solid little figure, and a different enough take on the character that he won’t feel any where near as redundant as some Wolverines do.  Mariko is a decent civilian addition, and an important enough character in the mythos that I’m glad we got a second go at her.  She may not be the most exciting ‘mate, but she’s still not as bland as some others we’ve seen.

#3121: Venom & Doppleganger

VENOM & DOPPLEGANGER

MARVEL MINIMATES

In the ’90s, Marvel was big into anti-heroes, and in a lot of cases, that meant refitting older villains into a newer role.  The popularity of Venom outside of even his main hero pushed Marvel to take that slightly more heroic angle with him, with a prominent anti-heroic role during “Maximum Carnage,” where he and Spidey are forced to team up to face down a common foe.  Over on Carnage’s side, he was building his own team of villains, which included a remnant of a prior crossover, the Doppelganger, who’d been brought into existence during “Infinity War” and had a hole in his schedule, I guess.  Those two are the subject of today’s review!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Venom and Doppleganger were released as part of the 76th specialty series of Marvel Minimates, which was based on the “Maximum Carnage” cross-over.  They and the rest of the assortment hit shelves in October of 2018.

Also included in this set is a piece to the Build-A-Mate Shriek.  For this particular set, it’s the torso, belt, and pelvis.  Not quite as distinctive as the head and hair, but it’s something.

VENOM

“One of Spider-Man’s greatest foes, Venom must help his enemy stop Carnage, whose powers stem from Venom’s symbiotic costume.”

No stranger to Minimates, DST sometimes seems to struggle with how to make each subsequent Eddie Brock Venom feel unique from the last.  We gotten all manner of different mixes of bulking him up, and, well, here’s another one, I guess.  Structurally, this Venom is really a mix of prior ones.  He’s got a bulked up torso, upper arms, pelvis, and upper legs, and then a pair of clawed hands.  The end result is…well, it’s different.  DST was clearly looking to capture the artistic take in Venom at the time, which had his upper torso being rather large in comparison to his arms and legs, making him look like a bit V…you know, for Venom, I guess.  Using just some of the power-house pieces is actually an idea that was suggested on the boards a few times, so there was certainly some demand to see it done.  I’m not super sure how well it worked out ultimately, but this is far from the worst take on Venom.  The paint on this guy does a decent job of capturing the art from the story, as well as selling him as distinctive from his prior figures.  That said, it’s a shame that the highlights on the upper legs don’t continue to the lower, as this only further emphasizes the jump between the parts, making it look like he’s missing something.  I do really like the print on that head, though.  Venom’s only accessory is a clear display stand, which is kind of a shame.  It would have been nice to get another unmasked Eddie, or possibly another of the sonic gun they included with Spidey.  As it its, he’s very light, especially without all of the usual bulk-up parts.

DOPPLEGANGER

“A twisted copy of Spider-Man created during the Infinity War, Doppelganger is adopted by Carnage and Shriek during their deadly rampage.”

The Doppelganger is an interesting enough concept, though he admittedly gets a little lost in a story with so many dark reflections of Spider-Man.  It was at least nice that they didn’t totally forget about him.  This is his first time as a ‘mate, which isn’t a huge surprise for a character that hasn’t been relevant since the ’90s.  Of course, with the 6-arm tooling ready to go since Series 36, it’s perhaps a bit of a shock it took quite as long as it did.  Like the standard Spidey, Doppelganger starts with the core body, but adds in the harness from 6-Arm Spidey, as well as a new set of hands and feet for more of a clawed appearance.  I felt the harness bulked up Spidey a bit too much, but it ends up working out okay for the Doppelganger, who was typically depicted as a little larger anyway.  I also appreciate that this guy got new hands and feet, rather than just re-using similar pieces from the likes of Nightcrawler.  It makes him even more unique.  His paint is generally pretty close to Sonic Attack Spidey, though the application’s not quite as good on my Doppelganger, with the eyes not really matching up quite right with the lines on the mask and a bit of slop on the base level of the work.  It’s not terrible, but it’s definitely a slight step down.  Like Venom, Doppelganger’s only accessory is a clear display stand, but with the new hands and feet, it feels a little less frustrating here.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like I mentioned in my Spidey and Black Cat review, I’ve got no notable attachment to this storyline, and I was starting to fall out of Minimates by this point.  I was grabbing the one set, and I felt compelled to get this one too.  None of the others, though.  As I said above, it’s hard to do a lot new and different with a Venom at this point.  This guy gets points for trying something new, I suppose, and he’s ultimately not a bad effort.  I’m even hard-pressed to say what DST could have done differently, but he still feels ever so slightly off.  Doppelganger’s a decent new addition to the line, held back ever so slightly by some wonky QC, which has been afflicting Spidey for a while now.  I guess it’s only fair it might hit his duplicate.

#3111: Sonic Attack Spider-Man & Black Cat

SONIC ATTACK SPIDER-MAN & BLACK CAT

MARVEL MINIMATES

Marvel sure does like their cross overs, and they have for quite a while.  As perhaps the company’s biggest name hero, Spider-Man’s found himself at the center of a good number of them.  In 1993, it was actually one of his villains that was center stage, for “Maximum Carnage”, an event spinning around, you guessed it, Carnage.  Spidey himself was still rather involved, it running through his books and all, and so were a good number of his supporting cast members.  The whole event was a fairly big multi-media success, and in 2018, DST put together a set of Minimates to mark its 25th Anniversary.  I’m taking a look at Spider-Man and Black Cat today!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Sonic Attack Spider-Man and Black Cat were released as part of the 76th specialty series of Marvel Minimates, which was entirely themed around the “Maximum Carnage” cross-over.  They and the rest of the assortment hit shelves in October of 2018.

Also included in this set is a piece to the Build-A-Mate Shriek.  This time around it’s the head and hair, which are definitely her most distinctive features!

SONIC ATTACK SPIDER-MAN

Every so often, we get an update on the classic Spidey, and since he had his standard look during the story, this is as good a time as any to get one.  This one specifically goes for that ’90s aesthetic, as a sort of a post McFarlane version of the character, which does have a distinctly different flair to it than previous figures.  Structurally, he’s pretty much like any basic Spidey, meaning he’s just that core ‘mate body.  It’s a good core body, so it’s hard to go wrong with a straight re-use.  Correspondingly, he stands about 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  The paint does the heavy lifting here.  He’s got all the usual hallmarks of a late-line Spidey, so he doesn’t have quite as expansive a selection of weblines as some of the earlier versions.  He does get a lot of detailing on the not-red parts, though, with a very creative use of shading on the arms, legs, and torso, which help to capture the artistic feel of Spidey as seen in the story.  The paint work is all fairly clean on this guy, and the coverage for both colors is pretty consistent.  This Spidey’s accessory selection is where things really get more unique.  He gets the usual webline and display stand, as well as the sonic gun from which the figure’s name is derived, and, for the first time ever, a pair of thwip hands.  They’ve been on the request list for quite a number of years now, but it’s pretty cool to finally get them.

BLACK CAT

Black Cat certainly hasn’t had as many ‘mates as Spider-Man, but she’s gotten a respectable amount, with four separate releases under her belt.  What’s most impressive is that there hasn’t been any overlap in terms of costume choices.  This one uses her mid-90s appearance, which isn’t terribly different from her first ‘mate, but lacks the fur collar and has a deeper neckline…so deep that it becomes more of a waist line, really.  In terms of parts, Felicia gets five separate add-ons for her hair, glove, and boot cuffs.  The hair is from the MvC Phoenix, and is suitably large and flowing for a Black Cat piece.  It also follows her original ‘mates precedent of re-using a Jean Grey piece, so I guess that’s fitting.  The cuffs were last used on TRU Series 24’s more modern Black Cat, and work just as well here as they did there.  Black Cat’s paintwork is overall pretty decent.  It keeps the usual striking nature of her design, and the line work is mostly pretty sharp.  The skin tone is a bit uneven in terms of coloring, which is a little distracting, but for the most part she looks pretty decent.  They managed to convey a feminine figure alright here, though she does at times feel a little top-heavy to me.  Spidey may have done very well on the accessories, but Black Cat’s not quite so lucky.  All she gets is a display stand, which really doesn’t feel like much, does it?  Certainly there was something else to throw in?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve got no real attachment to this cross-over, and I was already starting to dwindle on my Minimates purchasing when these hit.  But, I kinda liked the look of the set, so I grabbed it.  Honestly, I wasn’t expecting a ton from yet another standard Spider-Man, but this guy turned out really well, and the accessories in particular really make him.  Definitely a worthy update to a core character.  Black Cat’s a solid ‘mate, but I don’t know that she’s terribly exciting.  Despite being technically something new, I can’t help but feel like she’s a little redundant.  Maybe I’m just not that huge a Black Cat fan.

#3081: Spider-Man & Hobgoblin

SPIDER-MAN & HOBGOBLIN

MARVEL MINIMATES

It’s another Monday, and I’m doing that Minimate thing again.  So, here we are, looking at more Minimatrs.  2018 marked the year that Walgreens’ supply chains got a little gummed up, at least as far as Minimates were concerned.  Technically, four series hit that year, but for a good portion of collectors, those figures didn’t actually arrive for the better part of a year after their first sightings.  While the most infamous case of this was certainly Series 10, the two series prior also were rather afflicted.  Things did eventually level out, though, making things easier to find.  So ,let’s have a look at some of those ‘mates, specifically Symbiote Spider-Man and Hobgoblin!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Spider-Man and Hobgoblin were released in Series 9 of Walgreens’ Marvel Minimates line-up.  These two were part of the assortment based on Disney’s then-running Spider-Man cartoon, with marketing to match.

SYMBIOTE SPIDER-MAN

“Recovered on a space mission, the substance known as V-252 is actually a sybmiotic creature, which bonds to Peter Parker and increases his aggression.”

We’ve had no shortage of Symbiote Spider-Men (well, not in recent years, anyway), but this does mark the design’s first inclusion at Walgreens.  It also sports the somewhat up-dated design of the cartoon.  It’s not a bad look, truth be told.  It manages to keep the sleekness and simplicity of the original design, while still doing something a little different.  I can get behind it.  The figure is built on the standard post-C3 ‘mate body, so he’s about 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  Structurally, this, like most Spidey ‘mates, is just a standard vanilla ‘mate.  It’s the right course of action for such a design, and it’s never a bad thing to get a good focus on the core body.  It’s the paint work that really sells this guy, of course.  It’s not perfect; there are a few spots where I definitely feel the application could stand to be a little sharper, and those fuzzy edges do hinder the sleek design a little bit.  Overall, though, it’s a solid look, and has the benefit of being one that can integrate with non-animated ‘mates without too much trouble.  Symbiote Spidey includes a webline and a dynamic posing base, both of which have become fairly standard for Spideys.  Unfortunately, on my copy, the stand’s peg for connecting to the figure twisted off.  I’ve not encountered such an issue with one of these stands before, so perhaps it’s limited to my copy.

HOBGOBLIN

“Hiding his true face behind a hood and metallic mask, the mysterious Hobgoblin will stop at nothing to destroy Spider-Man.”

Despite what the bio might suggest, the 2017 Spider-Man‘s take on Hobgoblin is actually something of a departure from how the character is usually handled, being a more heroic identity held by Peter’s best friend Harry.  While the two are initially opposed, and the identity later gets co-opted by Harry’s father Norman, Harry as Hobgoblin serves as an ally for Spidey within the confines of the show.  We’ve gotten only three Hobgoblin Minimates over the years, each somewhat reflecting a different incarnation of the character.  In addition to being the show version of Hobgoblin, it’s worth noting that this design also draws fairly heavy influence from Humberto Ramos’ design for the Phil Urich version of the character.  Hobgoblin’s construction makes use of a single add-on piece for his hood/shoulder pads/backpack.  It’s a little restricting in terms of articulation, and the details do seem a little soft, but it looks fairly decent overall.  It matches well with the character’s design from the show, to be sure.  The paintwork on Hobgoblin is passable overall.  The line-work is pretty sharply handled, and instances of slop are fairly minimal.  The add-on piece is again a little more softly defined, but it’s not too bad.  Hobgoblin’s only accessory is a clear display stand.  This feels rather light, and it’s a shame we couldn’t get any of Harry’s goblin gear.  The glider might have been too big, but his sword, or even an alternate head with an unmasked Harry would have been cool.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked these two up back when they were still relatively new, with a bit of an assist from Max, who was also scoping out Walgreenses for ‘mates at the time.  I was slowing down by this point, but this pack appealed to me.  It got to the point where it was a little bit difficult to make a new Symbiote Spider-Man distinct, but this one did a decent job, and turned in a pretty fun, somewhat unique figure.  Issues with the breaking stand aside, he’s pretty alright.  This Hobgoblin figure represents a fairly unique take on the character, and is well-removed from previous releases of the character.  While he lacks in the accessories department, he’s still a pretty nifty figure overall.

#3076: Iron Spider & Spot

IRON SPIDER & THE SPOT

MARVEL MINIMATES

I guess Mondays are for Minimates, huh?  Well, this month at least.  I guess we should just jump right into that, there.  Back in 2018, Toys R Us closing brought their exclusive Marvel Minimates assortments to an end…a little quicker than DST anticipated, in fact.  While TRU’s last official exclusive assortment was Series 25, there was one more assortment produced and ready to go when the chain went under.  Fortunately for us Minimate fans, Walgreens stepped up to the plate and took the assortment on.  It does, however leave us in the precarious position of just how to refer to the assortment.  Today, I’m taking a look at the series’ Spidey-themed set, Iron Spider & The Spot!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Sinister Six Iron Spider and The Spot are one of the three two-packs of Marvel Minimates originally intended for TRU, before becoming an online-exclusive for Walgreens after TRU’s closure.  Of note with this particular assortment’s packaging was an extra large Walgreens sticker, which was actually just covering the TRU sticker that was already in place.  The figures actually had to be taken back to have that sticker applied.

SINISTER SIX IRON SPIDER

“A mysterious figure has stolen Spider-Man’s Iron Spider armor and now wears it as the leader of the all-new Sinister Six.”

Well, maybe he’s not quite so mysterious, given he was rather quickly revealed to be *SPOILERS(?)* Miles Morales’ uncle Aaron.  Kudos to DST for not spoiling that, I guess, but now I’ve just done it for them.  The Iron Spider armor has been featured three times prior in Minimate form, but this time it’s got a new hat differently colored!  The figure is built on the standard ‘mate body, so its about 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  Structurally, this version of Iron Spider is the same as both the Walgreens Series 2 and the TRU Series 21 Iron Spider-Men, meaning he’s a vanilla ‘mate with a harness that has the three mechanical arms attached to it.  It helps keep things sleek, and it also keeps things consistent with the other figures.  On the paint front, Iron Spider is again quite similar to the TRU Iron Spider, effectively having the exact same paint apps (with a couple of minor changes on the eyes), but swapping out the red base of the prior figure for a black one here.  It looks pretty decent, and the contrast’s a little better, so I think it works.  Iron Spider is packed with a dynamic posing base and a standard clear display stand.  Not a bad combo for a Spidey-variant.

SINISTER SIX THE SPOT

“With his ability to create portals to anywhere, of varying sizes, the Spot is the ultimate getaway driver, as well as an unpredictable opponent.”

The Spot is one of those quirky lower tier Spidey foes that’s just absolutely fun every time he shows up.  He’s not been very lucky when it comes to toys, however, as his only prior figure was one of Toy Biz’s 10 inch figures.  Given how easily he can be assembled from re-used parts, that’s a little surprising.  Fortunately, “assembled from re-used parts” is Minimates’ jam, so he finally made his way in here.  Spot’s a vanilla ‘mate, but that’s okay, because that’s exactly what the character should be.  He’s a guy in a form-fitting spandex suit with no add-ons.  That’s just how he do.  The Spot’s paint isn’t super complex or anything, but it does a really sharp job of applying all of the dots all over him, as well as giving him a few lines to represent the man in the suit beneath.  It’s a stark-looking design, and its harsh black/white nature helps it pop out against more colorful characters on the shelf.  Of note, the face on the standard head is another black whole, in keeping with more modern appearances for the character.  The Spot’s accessory selection is a rather impressive selection of common place items repurposed for some fun times.  There’s an alternate head with Spot’s classic design on it, plus two repainted Tron Discs, two smaller display stands, and two larger display stands, all in black.  It’s great because they work perfectly as Spot’s “spots”, and the modular nature of Minimates means you can toy around with disassembling him to make it look like he’s popping out of various portals.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I snagged this whole assortment from Walgreens’ website, back when that was an easier thing to do.  I don’t have much attachment to this version of the Iron Spider design, but I can certainly support a new character being added to the line, and the design’s not a bad one.  He’s a decent way of putting a Spider-Man into the line, while still doing something new.  Spot’s the main reason I got the set, because he’s one of my favorite Spidey foes.  He’s a great example of how clever execution can make a second-string character made from re-used parts the real star of an assortment.  He’s absolutely fantastic, and I can’t imagine him being better if they’d tried.

#3071: Thor, Thunderstrike, & Kronan Stone Men

ERIC MASTERSON AS THOR, THUNDERSTRIKE, & KRONAN STONE MAN

MARVEL MINIMATES

Remember when Thor actually had a secret identity?  And then he didn’t?  And then he did again, but it was a different guy?  And then he didn’t again, but that guy from before had a *different* secret identity?  Man, Thor comics is weird…

Today, we’re jumping back into the world of Minimates for just a bit, specifically looking over at the Thor side of things, with a Thor variant, a variant of that Thor variant, and a stone guy, but not that stone guy that every one knows.  Confused?  Yeah, me too.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Eric Masterson as Thunderstrike and the Kronan Stone Man were released in the 42nd Series of Marvel Minimates, with Eric as Thor swapping out for Thunderstrike in the one-per-case variant set.  The whole assortment was a split between Captain America and Thor, serving as a loose tie-in to the two characters getting their live-action films in 2011.

ERIC MASTERSON AS THOR

Introduced as a supporting player in the book, Eric Masterson took over as Thor’s human host, after Thor had been without one since he and Don Blake had split a few years prior.  Eric was a different sort of Thor, a more working class sort of character.  Also, he had a beard, which was a departure at the time…not so much any more.  This is not the first time we received an Eric Masterson as Thor ‘mate; the first one was also a variant set, released alongside the main version of Thor waaaaaaay back in Series 16.  The figure is built on the standard post-C3 base body, which stands about 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  Thor has seven add-on pieces, for his helmet/hair, cape/shoulderpads, arm bands, belt, and boots.  With the exception of the armbands, which, like the original Thor ‘mate, are re-used from DC’s Stargirl, and the belt, which is also from the original Thor, the pieces were new to this figure, or at the very least the wave, since there were a few shared parts going around.  Due one would assume to budgetary reasons, the original Masterson Thor used the same helmet as the standard, with only paint to replicate his signature armored mask.  This figure, however gets his own uniquely sculpted helm, with hair designed to work in conjunction with the high sitting cape.  It’s a very impressively detailed piece.  The cape itself is a somewhat impressive piece.  Prior Thor capes seemed to lack some of the grandeur of how his comics incarnations tended to look, but this one does its very best to live up to it, swooping up and out from his shoulders in quite a dynamic fashion.  It can at times make him a tiny bit top-heavy, but for this look, I think it’s worth it.   The prior Thor used a very bulky set of boots, which made posing his legs very awkward.  This figure uses the streamlined style of boot introduced with the Secret Invasion set’s Wolverine, which results in an accurate, detailed depiction of Thor’s footwear that isn’t too restricting.  Thor’s paintwork is quite nicely handled.  The basic colors are all a good match, and I quite like the way they’ve made his…torso circles (?) reflective.  By far the best part is the face that’s under that mask.  Not only is it perfectly aligned to the mask, but it also gives us a very expressive, very angry looking Masterson.  Thor is packed with one accessory: his hammer Mjolnir.  It’s the more sizable model introduced a few years prior with the Reborn Thor, but this time it has “Whosever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of THOR” written on its side.  A small, but fun change.

ERIC MASTERSON AS THUNDERSTRIKE

When it was decided that the original Thor was going to return, Marvel didn’t want to just shunt Eric off to the land of forgotten comic book characters, so a new weapon, Thunderstrike, was created for him, and he took on the name to match.  As Eric’s main identity, Thunderstrike served as the non-variant set’s anchor.  Thunderstrike, like Thor, uses seven add-on pieces.  The armbands and belt are the same ones used for Thor, and he gets a new hair piece, vest, and boots.  These new pieces are all excellently sculpted, featuring quite a bit of detailing, not always seen on prior figures.  The vest’s collar is popped up, as was Thunderstrike’s style, and his pony tail has been smartly sculpted to match.  It does make posing the head a little bit tricky, but not impossible.  The boots are designed in a fashion similar to the Thor figure, but since Thunderstrike’s boots are intentionally bulkier, they wrap a bit around the sides of the leg as well.  Thunderstrike’s paintwork is a good match for Thor’s.  It’s similarly clean, and crisp, and the differing way of handling his chest detailing reflects how things were handled in the comics.  The face is slightly different from the one under Thor’s mask, but the details make it clear that this is the same guy, just with a slightly different expression.  The cool thing is that you can swap the heads between the two, resulting in a calmer Thor and an angrier Thunderstrike, which is definitely a nice little bonus.  Thunderstrike is, unsurprisingly, packed with his mace Thunderstrike, a unique sculpt for this set.  It’s a reasonable match for the weapon from the comics, though doesn’t quite have the imposing power of Mjolnir.

KRONAN STONE MAN

The Kronan Stone Men, or as they were then known, the Stone Men of Saturn, were Thor’s very first antagonists, appearing alongside him in Journey into Mystery #83.  Though never incredibly prominent, they’ve been hanging around the Marvel Universe ever since, and, most recently, gained a little bit of notoriety via Korg, the goofy, inept stone man from Planet Hulk and Thor: Ragnarok.  Though I’ve no doubt their presence in Thor’s debut certainly played a part in getting them this slot, I’d say the biggest push to include them in this series was parts re-use. Apart from the head, which is a unique piece depicting the Stone Man’s pointier noggin, these pieces were all sculpted for prior figures.  The bulk of the pieces come from the re-worked Thing minimate from Series 37.  Technically, the hands are new, since they didn’t make it onto the production version of that figure, but they were certainly sculpted for him.  Given the similarities between the Thing and the Stone Men, the re-use is certainly sensible.  The skirt piece is from waaaay back in wave 1 of the line, borrowed from Elektra.  It’s a somewhat archaic piece, and certainly more geometric and flat than more recent offerings, but for the Stone Men it works.  The Kronans’ paintwork is decent enough.  Not particularly thrilling or anything, but that’s the Stone Men.  They’ve gone with their brown/tan coloring from JiM #83’s interiors, rather than the green from the cover.  This also allows for an easy enough conversion to a comics version of Korg, which is a nice bonus.  The Stone Man is packed with two different styles of blaster, in both large and small sizes.  Both were new to this particular figure, and the pairing allows for some different options for army building.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked these sets up, along with the rest of the assortment, from Luke’s Toy Store, back when they were new.  Though not a new figure, Eric Masterson Thor was certainly a very welcome redo, and trumps the original release in just about every way.  He may be an off-shoot variant, but he’s one of the best Thors available.  It’s always nice to get a new character, and Thunderstrike was definitely a very welcome addition to this line-up.  He perhaps lacks some of Thor’s flair, but that’s a bit by design.  A few series after introduction of the army builder idea to the line, DST seemed to hit a bit of a low point, running out of exciting choices.  The Kronan Stone Man, while not an *awful* choice was kind of a little bit that way.  Technically, it’s a fine figure, and it’s a credible character choice, but it’s really just hard to get excited.  They can’t all be winners.