#2409: Masked Spider-Man & Gwen Stacy

MASKED SPIDER-MAN & GWEN STACY

MARVEL MINIMATES

In its second year, Marvel Minimates worked to fill in some of the gaps left by its first year, but also looked to find its footing and how to successfully carry on a brand when you’ve already put out a lot of the heavy hitters.  For their first series in the second year, they had a theme of “retread and new” to their pairings.  This was already visible with the Doc Ock and Unmasked Spidey set from last week, and it becomes even more obvious with today’s set, Masked Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Masked Spidey and Gwen were released in Series 4 of the Marvel Minimates specialty line-up.  Gwen would remain exclusive to this particular assortment, but this version of Spidey wound up paired off with Series 5’s Wolverine variant for the Walmart/Target assortment.  Oh good, he was more places.

MASKED SPIDER-MAN

So, yeah, I’m wondering the same thing you’re wondering: isn’t “Masked Spider-Man” just a regular Spider-Man?  I mean, that would be my guess, but this figure seems to think otherwise.  I believe the figure was originally solicited as “Half-Masked Spider-Man”, and perhaps they realized this was too many words to fit on the packaging.  They were still committed to giving each figure a unique name, though, so “Masked Spider-Man” he became.  From the neck down, he’s the same as the other two non-battle damaged Spider-Men, which I guess is good for consistency.  It means that the majority of this guy is the same as a really good ‘mate.  But now he’s got his masked pulled up to reveal his mouth.  It’s not an uncommon look for the character, and was of course prominently featured in the first Spider-Man movie, so I guess it makes sense?  It would make more sense packed with an MJ, but I digress.  To further mix things up, this guy’s also got a new web-line piece.  Its attached to a hand, and the end of it is shaped to a Minimate torso, allowing him to grab them.  It’s probably the best thing about this figure.

GWEN STACY

After butchering poor MJ’s debut ‘mate, I guess DST felt the need to prove that not every woman in Peter’s life was a horrible monster mash.  So, we got a Gwen Stacy.  How about that.  Gwen didn’t have a costume, but DST opted to put her in the outfit that most people remember: the one she died in.  It’s got a distinctive flair to it, to be sure, and it’s certainly iconic.  Gwen is constructed from the usual base body, with add-ons for her hair, jacket, and skirt.  All of the add-ons were new for this release, and they look decent.  The jacket does really bulk her up, though, especially when compared to other supposedly larger characters, who were still just on the basic body.  Hey, that’s the difficulty of using the same base for everyone, I suppose.  Gwen’s paintwork is cleanly done, and pretty basic, but that’s honestly a good thing, because it’s really that too many details approach that messed up poor MJ.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t have this set when it was new, but my brother did.  I myself was never majorly impressed by either figure included.  However, I found them from Luke’s Toy Store for really cheap, and I’ve been slowly filling out my early Minimates collection, so now I have them.  I still don’t find it to be a terribly exciting set.  Gwen’s okay, and honestly better than I expected, but Spidey’s just kind of pointless, even moreso than the unmasked figure from the same set.  Fortunately, they would learn how to make better Spidey variants as the line progressed.

#2402: Unmasked Spider-Man & Dr. Octopus

UNMASKED SPIDER-MAN & DR. OCTOPUS

MARVEL MINIMATES

Marvel Minimates hit shelves again their second year in early March, kicking off their sophomore efforts with a return to the world of everyone’s favorite wall-crawler.  The second series of the line had given us Spidey and three of his best known foes, but there was definitely a major one missing, and that was Dr. Octopus (who was, probably not coincidentally, the main foe in Spider-Man 2, which hit theaters two months after this assortment was released), who made his Minimate debut here, alongside unmasked Spider-Man, the sort of Spider-Man variant that wouldn’t really be a proper variant in this day and age.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Unmasked Spider-Man and Dr. Octopus were first released in Series 4 of the specialty line of Marvel Minimates, but the set was one of the ones that was carried over unchanged into the Walmart/Target assortments of the time, as well as both figures being released in one of TRU’s 4-packs, alongside Captain America and Absorbing Man.  I actually already reviewed the Spidey on his own a while back, and that review is here.  I don’t talk about packaging much on this site, but it’s notable that these guys were to first to be in the much smaller, windowless box packaging, which would be the line’s main jam for two years or so.  I myself am quite nostalgic for this particular style of packaging, although it did limit the ability to include extra parts with the figures.  Still, it was quite a good look for the line.

Doc Ock was a slight departure for the line, with one of the most extensive add-ons at the time.  Though characters like Hulk and Venom would go without any bulk-up, Ock got his requisite fat piece, which was rolled into his tentacle arms as well.  The arms are rather on the small side, but they did have articulation at each connection, making Ock the most articulated Minimate at the time and for a fair bit.  His hair piece is very similar to Bruce Banner and Peter Parker’s, with the glasses being permanently attached.  At least it makes more sense for Ock’s eyes to not be seen beneath the glasses.  In terms of paint, Ock’s pretty darn basic.  There’s the detailing for the gloves, boots, and belt, which was rather inconsistent in coverage.  I do quite like the face beneath the glasses, though.  Something about those eyebrows is giving me serious Alfred Molina vibes.  Ock didn’t include any accessories, but with the extra arms, that’s not really a big issue.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got an Ock with my original Unmasked Spider-Man, but I was never as impressed with him, and ended up losing most of his parts over the years.  I ended up replacing him outright a couple of years ago when I found the set for a really low price on Luke’s Toy Store.  Rather amusingly, I only opened them up when it came time to write this review, and I found out they’d been slid into their box upside down, all this time.  Ock’s still not amazingly impressive, but I must admit I have more of an appreciation for him now than I did as a kid.

#2395: Giant-Size X-Men

CYCLOPS, WOLVERINE, COLOSSUS, STORM, NIGHTCRAWLER, & THUNDERBIRD

MARVEL MINIMATES

The first year of Marvel Minimates was all kind of consolidated around the summer of 2003, so it was a little while before we well and truly got a follow-up, but they kickstarted their second year off with a bang.  After focussing purely on the Ultimate incarnation of the X-Men, for their first two entries in year two, DST decided to circle back around and give us classic X-Men in spades.  When it comes to classic X-Men, it’s hard to get more classic than the cover of Giant-Size X-Men #1, which is what the line’s first dedicated boxed set was based around.  So, without further ado, let’s jump right in!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Giant-Size X-Men boxed set hit in January of 2004, and was the first boxed set to be available through specialty shops.  It (and the AFX-exclusive Professor X and Magneto) introduced the totally windowless packaging that would become the norm for the line for the next four years.  In the case of this particular set, it was probably the nicest box the line produced, replicating the cover to the original issue quite nicely.  I’ve included a shot of it here, courtesy of minimatedatabase.com.  Of the six figures contained in this set, five would eventually be made available as part of a set of Target exclusive two-packs (Thunderbird wound up as the odd man out), with the major difference between the two releases being C3-style feet on the later figures.

CYCLOPS

Already two ‘mates in by this point, this set finally gave us Cyclops with his classic cowled appearance.  It wouldn’t be the last time we’d see it, even just for a short while, but it sure was important at the time.  He’s built on the standard old-style body, so he’s 2 1/4 inches tall and he’s got 14 points of articulation.  He’s got one add-on piece for his mask/visor, which is a pretty nicely sculpted piece.  I always appreciated how the visor on it was so instantly unique from the one on the Series 3 Cyclops.  It was also a nice enough piece that it lasted through to 2010 before being retired.  The rest of things are handled through paint, and admittedly not a lot of it.  Of the six figures included here, Scott was by far the least detailed, with not even chest detailing to make him stand out.  Given how he was always so creatively shaded in the comics, it’s a shame they didn’t go for that here.  They’d end up fixing that on later figures.

WOLVERINE

Already two ‘mates in by this point, this set finally gave us Wolverine with his classic…cowled appearance…wait, I just did this.  Sorry!  I mean, yeah, it’s the same deal as Cyclops, though.  Woverine’s two prior releases lacked his distinctive mask, so this was our first shot at it.  He got a new add-on piece for it, as well as new boots, and the same clawed hands from the two Series 3 releases.  It’s not a bad selection of parts, but it definitely didn’t hold up as well as the Cyclops mask did.  These parts would see only one more use before being retired.  Everything else is paint, and that includes the shoulder pads, which was an…interesting choice.  Clearly, they’re a three dimensional item, but they were just painted on here.  The separate pieces that came later were a better fit.  The rest of the paintwork is pretty decent.  Like Scott, he doesn’t have any sort of musculature on his chest, but he does at least get his tiger stripes, so it’s not a total blank void.

COLOSSUS

Notably missing from the Series 3 X-Men line-up (despite Ultimate Colossus being a prominent member at the time), Colossus made his debut here.  He was one of the most involved ‘mates in the set in terms of parts count, with add-ons for his hair, tunic/belt, and boots.  All of the parts were new at the time, and they’re honestly the best of the parts introduced here.  They just do a really great job of replicating the feel of the character, and I always liked how they bulked him up a bit when compared to the others in the set.  In addition to having the most extra parts, Colossus also had by far the most involved paint work of the whole set, and honestly of most of the line at this point.  The banding on his metal skin wraps all the way around on his arms and legs, and he’s got a fully detailed front and back to the torso block under his tunic.  His face also is just so full of character.  It’s honestly a little shocking that this guy and Cyclops are from the same set.

STORM

Storm had gotten one ‘mate prior to this, but that was a modern design, so the classic was kind of needed, I guess.  Her original costume is pretty darn distinctive, and I think more properly captured that regal side of the character.  She had add-ons for her hair and cape.  The hair is huge, to comical standards, honestly, and makes her quite tricky to keep standing.  The cape, on the other hand, is small and very understated, and rather easily missed, I feel.  That was kind of the nature of the capes, at this point, though, so I can’t really say it was out of the ordinary or weird.  The paint is alright on her, but not the same level as Colossus.  She has the basics, and she does at least get torso detailing of some sort, so she’s a bit ahead of Cyclops and Wolverine.  That said, it’s also a lot messier in application than the others in this set.

NIGHTCRAWLER

Nightcrawler has been pretty sparse when it comes to Minimates.  This was his first, and remained his only until 2011.  So, this guy had to keep us content for 7 whole years.  Certainly, he must have been really good, right?  …Ehhh.  He did get a lot of new parts, with add-ons for the hair, chest cap, and tail, as well as unique hands and feet.  The hair seems a little too demonic, if I’m honest, but the hands, feet, and tail all are pretty dope.  The biggest problem I’ve got with this guy is that chest cap, which bulks him way up, despite the fact that Nightcrawler should actually be the smallest of the six figures included here. Why would they do this?  And then not fix it for soooooo long?  The paint was okay on this guy, at least.  The face again leans more into the demonic thing, but at least that fits okay with the GSXM-stylings.

THUNDERBIRD

The one truly exclusive figure in the set, this Thunderbird wouldn’t see a re-issue at all, and the character wouldn’t appear again until 2016, when we got another GSXM-set.  He’s the one that seems to diverge the most from the comics appearance, falling back more into a general ‘mate aesthetic.  He had a new hair piece and shoulder pads, both of which would remain unique.  They’re…well, they’re there.  Neither’s all that impressive, but I guess they aren’t bad either. The bit of his forehead that’s visible on the hairpiece looks really odd, and he’s missing the feathers from the back of his headband.  The paintwork brings in a few more inaccuracies.  He’s got visible pupils, which he shouldn’t, and his feet are the wrong color (they should be red).  Also, his face just doesn’t feel at all like Thunderbird.  I could see it passing for Warpath, but definitely not Thunderbird.  At least he got torso detailing?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like a fool, an absolute fool, I passed on this set when it came out.  I saw it at Cosmic Comix, I had the money to spend, and I dropped on the DC Direct import of the Batman Kubricks instead.  Why?  WHY!?!  I was young and stupid, that’s why.  This set’s never been super plentiful, and was going for a bit on the aftermarket for a while, so I just never got one.  I finally ended up getting the Series 68 set, and figured that was good enough, but I still had this little nagging need for this set too.  Fortunately, it came into All Time as part of a big Minimates collection they bought last fall, so, hey, I finally got it.  Honestly, this set hasn’t aged so well, but it’s really worth the price of admission just for that Colossus.  That’s still the best version of him the line produced!

As I mentioned above,  I got this set from my friends at All Time Toys.  They’ve still got a lot of that Minimate collection, and other cool toys both old and new, so please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2388: Peter Parker & Mary Jane

PETER PARKER & MARY JANE

MARVEL MINIMATES

During the first year of Marvel Minimates, DST put together a few exclusives to bulk up the line a little further than just the core three series.  In the nature of repurposing all over the place in those early days, one of those exclusives, Grey Hulk and Ultimate Spider-Man, was a pairing of figures that would be literally everywhere by the end of the line.  The other notable exclusive is today’s pack, Peter Parker and Mary Jane, a pair of figures that were never directly re-released in any fashion.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Peter and Mary Jane were available at San Diego Comic-Con in 2003, alongside the previously mentioned Hulk and Spider-Man.  More than the other set, they feel like a direct continuation of Series 2’s Spider-Man theme, and pretty much slot right in with that set.

PETER PARKER

We got a half-Spidey/half-Peter ‘mate in the main line, so this figure creates the counter part to the full Spidey, giving us a full Peter.  Yay, I guess.  He’s built on the standard old-style ‘mate body, so he’s 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  He got a new hair piece and book bag.  Both would see re-use later, but they were new here.  Like Bruce Banner, the glasses are opaque, something I don’t like as much here as I did on Banner.  Beyond that, he’s just paint, which pretty much just replicates the Peter half of the Series 2 figure directly.  It’s definitely a ’60s Peter, that much is certain.  It fits in alright with the style of the early ‘mates, so I can’t really knock it.  Peter was packed with a book accessory, to go with that book bag, I guess.

MARY JANE

Peter’s main love interest and a long time fixture of the comics, Mary Jane didn’t really get her proper due as a Minimate until 15 years into the run.  She did get this…thing, however.  Mary Jane was the standard ‘mate body, but with a new hair piece.  A hair piece that was clearly aiming for some kind of recreation of John Romita’s look for MJ, but…well, it missed the mark a bit, and ends up looking more like a crappy mullet.  With the one piece of new sculpting dressed down, let’s talk about the paint.  Oh, it’s not good.  There’s way too many lines on that face.  That would be too many lines for a modern-style ‘mate.  For a year one release?  She looks like she’s a million.  The eyes are okay; it’s really he lower half of the face that ruins it.  Moving past the face we can stop and ask “what is she supposed to be wearng?”  MJ was pretty well defined as always having pretty flattering wardrobe, but this ain’t that.  She’s got a sleeveless shirt that may as well be a pillow case, plus capris, and…dress shoes?  I don’t know.  I don’t think this replicates a specific look.  Wouldn’t it have made sense to, I don’t know, go for that distinctive design that she has on that distinctive panel that everybody remembers that introduced her?  No, that would be too on the nose.  Let’s go with this ugly thing.  Making things uglier, the plastics on the various parts of her pants don’t match at all in coloring, which looks awful.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got this set from All Time when they got that large collection of ‘mates back last fall.  At this point, I was really just working on filling in my “year one” set, which these guys are a part of, and that’s about the only reason I bought them.  Peter is kind of meh, and not exactly enough to sell the set on his own.  MJ, on the other hand, is quite possibly the worst Minimate in existence, and is certainly the worst the first year had to offer.  Clearly, the reason neither of these two saw re-release is because they just really didn’t warrant it.

#2381: Silver Surfer

SILVER SURFER

MARVEL MINIMATES

The initial Marvel Minimates stuff was all really compartmentalized.  Two of the three assortments were tight-nit themes, and the other assortment stuck to at least themes within each pairing.  There was, however, one figure shown off with initial product who didn’t have a natural pairing or theme: Norin Radd, the Silver Surfer.  See, his lack of connection to anyone else was supposed to cement him as the key exclusive piece in the planned single-packed assortments.  The plan was he’d be packed in a case of singles, with the rest being made up of repacked figures from the two packs, in sort of a flip of the TRU five packs.  The singles did show up eventually, but only as an exclusive to a Canadian chain, and they didn’t include poor Surfer.  Fortunately, as with most of the early ‘mates, there ended up being several ways to get him.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Silver Surfer was initially released in the Marvel Minimates line on his own as a Tower Records-exclusive, then surfaced in one of the TRU four-packs, then the TRU ten-pack, then in series 7 of the main line alongside Spider-Man 2099, and then finally in an Action Figure Xpress-exclusive two-pack with Thanos.  Apart from the AFX version getting C3-style feet, the figures were all the same, making him a relatively easy to acquire ‘mate, at least for a good while.  Surfer was, and continues to be with more recent offerings, a vanilla ‘mate, relying only on the basic ‘mate body to make him work.  As such he stands 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  The heavy lifting here was done via the paint, and while you could go *really* basic on a character like this, DST actually put some care into his detailing, attempting to capture the comics’ style of making him look extra shiny.  There’s more of a minimalist bend to this one, going more for a “suggest but don’t explicitly outline” approach to most of his features.  Contrasted against the far more line-work heavy designs of the later Surfers, I can’t help but just really dig this one for the simplicity of it all, even if the paint on mine has taken quite a beating over the years.  Surfer’s one accessory is his board, which for this version is just a board, with no pegs or anything on it.  It’s a little limiting in regards to what you can do with it, but it also means it’s not marred by the connection points that were all over the later versions.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I wanted Surfer as soon as I could get one, but being much younger and not having the action figure-acquiring means I have now, I ended up having to wait until his proper main line release in Series 7.  Over the years, I lost most of my Spider-Man 2099, but I’ve still got Surfer.  He’s still pretty dope.

#2364: Jean Grey & Cyclops

JEAN GREY & CYCLOPS

MARVEL MINIMATES

I’ve been slowly making my way through the earliest assortments of the Marvel Minimates line.  The X-Men-themed third assortment’s been on the docket for a good long while in particular, since I officially started reviewing it back in December of 2016, with Cyclops and Wolverine.  Today, I’m finally gonna finish it, taking a look at the other Cyclops, as well as the one unreviewed team member, Jean Grey!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This set rounds out Series 3 of the specialty assortments of Marvel Minimates, and like the other sets in the line-up, it’s themed around Ultimate X-Men.  The two figures included here are notable for being the only ones to remain wholly exclusive to the specialty line-up, since Jean was paired up with either of the two Cyclopses and the Cyclops seen here is the one-per-case variant.

JEAN GREY

I’ve only briefly touched on my opinions of the Ultimate designs, especially as they pertain to this set of ‘mates.  Jean got saddled with one of the absolute worst redesigns of the bunch.  For a character whose personality didn’t really change too much from her mainstream counterpart, they managed to stick her with a costume that was divergent in just about every way and held onto pretty much nothing that was signature of the character.  Without a name attached to it, there’s any number of female X-Men that I would guess for this design before arriving on Jean.  But I digress…what of the figure?  Well, she’s on the old style body, with add-ons for the hair and necklace.  The hair is an okay recreation of the style she had in the early Ultimate X-Men issues, and the necklace is the same kinda bulky piece used on Storm.  It gets the job done on recreating the look she’s got in the comics, so I guess that’s good.  The paintwork follows suit, and she gets all of the important details, while going a bit more lax on the smaller details than later entries would.  She’s got the wrapped arms like Storm, which is still a pretty cool detail.

CYCLOPS

I’ve already reviewed the standard Cyclops, so why not take a look at his slightly different variant.  The variants in the early days of the line were a mixed bag.  While the Symbiote Spidey was honestly too big a design for the one-per-case thing, and Elektra was a whole lot of “meh”, the variant No Visor Cyclops falls into a subset of variants that actually wouldn’t even count as separate figures as the line progressed.  Seriously, the thing that distinguished him from the standard release was merely the fact that he wasn’t wearing his visor; nowadays it’s standard for a Cyclops to just include an extra hair piece.  You were originally meant to pay the price of a two-pack for one single extra part.  It’s a fairly nice extra part, I guess; it’s the same basic hair piece as the regular, but with no visor and actual proper ears.  I also dig that they gave him a slightly different expression, and also added the facial hair that he grew later on in the books, but it’s hard to say there’s all that much exciting about this guy.  He’s an accessory, not a complete figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Cyclops and Jean were my second set of Marvel Minimates…just not this actual set.  I got the standard set with the regular Cyclops and Jean.  While I held onto most of the regular Cyclops, I lost most of Jean’s parts over the years.  When All Time got their big collection of Minimates in last year, I took advantage of it to fill in the gaps of my early ‘mates, and picked up a replacement Jean, and finally got that variant Cyclops I’d never had.  Reviewing these two without the standard Cyclops, I’ve kinda realized he was the real lynchpin of the set.  Jean’s got the worst of the team designs, and the variant Cyclops honestly feels a little bit pointless.  All that said, I’m happy to have at least finished out the assortment, even if I’ve realized that the best one of them is the one I’ve had for 17 years.

#2350: Storm & Logan

STORM & LOGAN

MARVEL MINIMATES

Back in January, I delved into the time capsule of the earliest assortments of Marvel Minimates, and their choice to use the Ultimate universe’s versions of Marvel’s merry mutants over their mainstream counterparts.  Some of the characters weren’t too heavily changed, while some of them were.  Today’s set pairs both sides of that coin, with Storm (a character whose backstory and characterization were both fairly divergent from 616) and Wolverine (a character so unchanged from his mainstream counterpart that no one really noticed that the one included in this particular set *isn’t* actually the Ultimate incarnation).

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These two were paired up for the specialty Series 3 assortment of Marvel Minimates, and they would both also be included in the TRU 5-pack and 4-pack that corresponded to the assortment.  They were split up and matched with their opposite numbers in the Wolverine/Sabretooth set for the Canadian release, and then Logan found his way into one more stray two-pack for Walmart and Target.

STORM

Storm’s Ultimate incarnation may have been different in terms of character, but in terms of design, she really wasn’t that far removed.  I could see regular Storm wearing this at some point in the ’90s.  The figure is built on the pre-c3 ‘mate body, with long feet and all.  She had four add-on pieces for her hair, necklace, and boots.  The necklace is shared with her assortment-mate Jean Grey, and the hairpiece was re-used twice more (for Emma Frost and She-Hulk).  The boots remained unique to this release, though, and use the older style slipping over the standard feet style of design.  Like the others in these early assortments, the general style on these parts is rather basic, though she’s certainly one of the most built-up ‘mates of the earliest releases.  It’s a little odd for Storm to be one of the largest characters, but that’s really just how the trappings of the early line work out.  Storm’s paintwork is actually pretty good for the early figures.  It’s still more on the basic line, but there’s a fair bit going on, with the coolest bit by far being the wraps on her arms.  That said, she does miss out on actually getting the sculpted earrings painted; at least they got her ears, though.

LOGAN

The standard Ultimate version of Wolverine was packed with Sabretooth (and Cyclops), but you can’t have just one lone Wolverine, can you?  Of course not.  As I touched on in the intro, he’s actually the one figure in this assortment who wasn’t from the Ultimate universe, instead being just a regular civilian version of the original Logan, as denoted by the hair’s distinctive shaping and his lack of goatee.  He too uses the standard old body, but with a set of the old-style claw hands as well as an add-on for the hair.  This is probably my favorite Wolverine hair piece the line produced, which makes it rather a shame that this was the only time it was used (though it was shown on prototype shots for the DOFP Wolverine, before being replaced with the New X-Men Wolverine piece). The rest of the figure is handled via paint, and it ends up working out alright.  The face is a rather unique expression for Logan, but one that works in the context of the earlier ‘mates, and the detailing on the jacket is actually pretty impressive.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I mentioned in my Wolverine and Sabretooth review, the only Series 3 set I picked up when these were new was Cyclops and Jean.  I got this one along with a handful of other older sets from Luke’s Toy Store back during one of their sales.  I’ve always wanted this pair, so I was glad to finally get them.  Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much from them, but they’re both pretty solid ‘mates, even by more modern standards.

#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.