#1594: Boromir & Merry

BOROMIR & MERRY

LORD OF THE RINGS MINIMATES

“One does not simply review a Boromir Minimate without referencing a Boromir meme”

Boromir (probably)

After the success of Marvel Minimates, the brand had big dreams.  In conjunction with Play Along Toys, they were able to snag the rights to Marvel’s distinguished competition (well, in a loop-hole-y sort of a way), as well as the rights to one of the hugest hits of the early ’00s, the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Unfortunately, the line didn’t launch until after Return of the King‘s exit from theatres, meaning we only got two series of two packs before the line ultimately failed.  A lot of this had to do with the somewhat baffling decision to double release one half of each series two-pack.  Fortunately, by the second series, we were finally starting to get all-new packs, including today’s focus, Boromir and Merry!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Boromir and Merry were one of the five two-packs in Series 2 of the Lord of the Rings Minimates line.

BOROMIR

You know Sean Bean had to have a good laugh when he got cast as Boromir, the only member of the Fellowship that dies over the course of the story.  I mean, Bean’s sort of the quintessential dead guy of Hollywood, so it’s really perfect casting.  Boromir and Faramir were two of my favorite characters from Lord of the Rings, and since Faramir never got a Minimate, I guess Boromir’s my guy.  As with all of the human sized characters, Boromir was built on LotR‘s new medium-sized base body, meaning he’s closer to the 3-inch mark than the standard ‘mate.  He’s still got the usual 14 points of articulation, albeit somewhat restricted by some of his add-ons.  Speaking of add-ons, Boromir has five of them for his hair, cloak, wrist bracers, and the bottom of his tunic.  All of these were unique to this particular ‘mate.  They display a simpler era of ‘mates, being without the texture work and dynamicism that newer ‘mates tend to have.  It certainly gets all of the important details, though, and Boromir is well-captured.  The paint follows the sculpt’s trend, erring on the side of simplicity.  I don’t know that his face looks all that much like Sean Bean, but it’s not as if it looks unlike him, either.  Boromir is quite well accessorized, including his sword (with scabbard), shield, horn, and a display stand.

MERRY

Its a little weird to be looking at only one half of a duo, especially since it’s a two-pack based line and all, but here we are.  At least they were good enough to put Merry and Pippin both in the same series.  As a Hobbit, Merry was built just on the standard Marvel-style body.  He had add-one for his hair, cloak, and jacket.  His pieces are obviously more in line with Boromir, but the lessened detailing isn’t quite as noticeable at the smaller scale. I quite like how they’ve gotten the proper shaping to his hair; Frodo didn’t really look like the real person, but Merry is definitely closer, albeit in a cartoonish fashion.  The paint on Merry is pretty solid stuff, and I like the likeness on the face a lot, as well as the very slight way they’ve livened up his color scheme.  He definitely pops.  Merry is packed with his own sword (technically a dagger) and a sheath for it, as well as a clear display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Series 2 of this line was pretty scarce, so I didn’t get any of them new.  I was able to finally secure this set just this past November, via Luke’s Toy Store’s special buy collection.  I’ve really picked up an appreciation for Boromir, and Merry was my favorite hobbit, so this set was a pretty cool find.  It’s reminded me of how much I loved those earlier ‘mates, as well.  Now, I just need to find myself a Pippin!

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#1124: Throne Room Battle (w/ Superman & Darkseid)

THRONE ROOM BATTLE (W/ SUPERMAN & DARKSEID)

DC C3 CONSTRUCTION

supermanvsdarkseid1

DC Minimates are kind of a tale of woe and misfortune.  Despite the best efforts of a good number of people, the concept has never really taken off the way other Minimates properties have.  There have been some strong attempts, but there always seems to be something a little off with the execution.  Back in 2004, thanks to some tricky legal mumbo-jumbo, DC Minimates couldn’t be released in a straight forward fashion.  The only way to get them made was to make them the included figures in a line of Lego-style construction sets, dubbed “C3” (for “Create, Construct, Customize”).  I’ve looked at a couple of the ‘mates from those sets, but haven’t looked at a whole set as of yet.  That changes today, with this here review of the Throne Room Battle and included ‘mates Superman & Darkseid.

THE SET ITSELF

The Throne Room Battle set was one of the first seven sets in the DC C3 Construction line.  It’s noteworthy for being the only of those seven sets not to be Batman-themed, and also for being one of the two sets in the first assortment to be based on the then running Justice League cartoon, albeit somewhat loosely.

THRONE ROOM

The main bulk of the box is taken up by the Throne Room for which this set is named.  While the Batman sets were themed around a number of his distinctive vehicles and the always popular Batcave, the Throne Room seems a little bit out of left field, since it’s hardly something that most people would consider a signature Superman locale.  I guess it’s a good way to give us Superman and Darkseid, and it’s certainly a better use of the building set theme than some of the later entries in this line, but this is probably the furthest stretch in the first series.  The Throne room is constructed from 41 pieces (the box lists 67, but that’s counting the parts used for Superman and Darkseid), and the final product is based on Darkseid’s throne room as seen in the Justice League episode “Twilight”.  It’s not an overly complicated set to build, nor is it anything particularly astonishing supermanvsdarkseid2once completed.  The bulk of the work goes into the actual throne, which is decent enough.  It’s designed to be removed from the base (on purpose, not just in the “well, they’re all Legos” sort of fashion), which makes for an interesting feature, I suppose.  The base is made from four smaller flats, and doesn’t really offer much in the way of sturdiness.  This isn’t something you can really pick up and carry around.  One of the cooler parts of the set is the tower behind the throne.  While the tower itself is just a simple two piece construction, on the other side of it there’s a little cell, with Kryptonite chains on the wall for holding Superman.  It’s a cool little touch, and it adds a lot to the set.  There’s also a flight stand for Superman included, which is certainly a welcome addition, even if it can be a little difficult to find a good spot for it on the base platform.

SUPERMAN

supermanvsdarkseid3Okay, let’s be honest, no one was really buying this set for the building blocks.  The main draw was this guy right here.  This was Superman’s first ‘mate, but he would later get a few more courtesy of DC Direct’s DC Minimates line.  This one’s more clearly based on his animated design, with an all-around sleeker style to the detail work and such, which was admittedly a good fit for the slightly less detailed Minimates of the time.  He’s built on the basic Minimate body (of note, he’s one of the first ‘mates to sport the C3 feet, but also one of the last to have a hair piece without a peg), so he’s about 2 1/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  He has add-ons for his hair and cape.  Both pieces would later be used in the Marvel line.  They aren’t super detailed, but the work well enough, and are about standard for the time.  The cape is actually one of my favorite Minimate capes, just for its simplicity and the way it sits.  Superman’s paintwork may not be super detailed, but it is pretty solid work nonetheless.  The lines are all nice and sharp, and he looks very well put together as a whole.  I wouldn’t have minded the colors being a touch brighter, but late Supermen fixed that, so I can’t complain much.

DARKSEID

supermanvsdarkseid4In contrast to his pack mate Superman, this is the only Darkseid Minimate we ever got.  Like Superman, he’s patterned on his animated design, which is admittedly less noticeable on him, since Bruce Timm and Jack Kirby’s styles are pretty similar.  The figure is also built on the basic ‘mate body, so he has the same basic height.  He does get one extra point of articulation courtesy of his sculpted chestpiece, which has an articulated skirt so that he can sit a bit better.  He also gets sculpted add-ons for his headpiece and gloves.  In general, the pieces show their age a lot more than those seen on Superman, which is something of a shame.  Also, the use of the smaller body, without any real attempt to bulk him up (apart from the chest piece) robs him of a lot of the character’s presence, and ends up making him look rather goofy.  The paintwork on Darkseid is decent enough.  The line work is all pretty sharp, and makes use of the space well, and I quite like the slight metallic finish of the purple bits.  It doesn’t really line up with his animated design, of course, but whatever.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Back in the day, this was the second C3 set I grabbed.  I’ve always liked Superman, so I certainly wasn’t going to miss out on a Minimate version of him.  Over the years, I managed to lose most of the pieces to this set (including the two ‘mates included with it).  This past summer, I found a replacement at Gidget’s Gadgets in Rehoboth Beach.  It’s a fun set, if a little out there.  It’s certainly not going to beat something like a true Lego set or anything, but it was a decent enough attempt, and I do really like the Superman included here.

#0908: Bruce Wayne & Pilot Batman

BRUCE WAYNE & PILOT BATMAN

DC C3 CONSTRUCTION

Bruce&PilotBat1

After the rousing success of the Marvel characters in the Minimates format, other comicbook companies wanted in on the action, including their main competition DC Comics. However, thanks to all sorts of licensing mumbo jumbo, Diamond Select and Art Asylum couldn’t directly produce DC products. Fortunately, Play Along, who also worked with Art Asylum on the Lord of the Rings Minimates line, had the rights to produce DC-based construction sets, which they were able to leverage into a way to produce Minimate versions of DC characters as part of the sets. The line was only moderately successful, but it did manage to produce a nice handful of prominent DC mainstays. Today, I’ll be looking at two of the figures the line offered, Bruce Wayne and Pilot Batman.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Bruce and Pilot Batman were included with the SDCC 2004 Stealth Batwing set. The set was a re-deco of the main line’s regular Batwing set. Batman was similarly a re-deco of that set’s Pilot Batman, but Bruce Wayne is wholly exclusive to this set.

BRUCE WAYNE

Bruce&PilotBat3This was one of the two Bruce Wayne Minimates offered by the C3 line. The figure is a little under 2 ½ inches tall and has 14 points of articulation. While the more widely released version (included with the Batcave set) opted for a more traditional Bruce, this figure is based on Bruce’s more modernized design from 2004’s The Batman. Bruce has add-on pieces for his hair and jacket, both re-used from prior ‘mates. The jacket is the same piece used on the Batcave Bruce and the hair comes from Marvel Minimates Series 1’s Hulk. The pieces are pretty close matches (if you want to get really picky, Bruce’s jacket was always buttoned on the show, but that’s pretty minor). They’re far less detailed than most modern pieces, and have a much more squared-off appearance, but that actually works well in the context of his cartoon-based design. Paint is used fairly sparsely on Bruce, but what’s there is both clean and sharp, and he makes for a good translation of the animated design. I like the decision to give him a grin, as it gives us a Bruce that truly sells the whole millionaire playboy charade. Bruce included a cowl, cape/torso cover, and gloves, which allow him to be quick-changed into a pretty decent Batman Minimate (though he’s smiling, which is slightly odd).

PILOT BATMAN

Bruce&PilotBat2The C3 line ended up doing what most Batman-based lines do, and included a bunch of non-canon Bat-variants. On the plus side, Pilot Batman is actually a pretty sensible idea, especially when the Batwing is in question. Pilot Batman has add-ons for his helmet (with hinged visor), torso, and gloves, and at one point there was also a cape attachment for the back of the torso, but mine’s gone missing. All of these pieces (aside from the cape) were shared with the normal release version of Pilot Batman, but aside from that they were all-new. They aren’t based on anything in particular, but they fit pretty well with the line, and they look pretty cool. They also feature a lot more sculpted detail than most Minimate pieces of the time, meaning that this figure doesn’t look too out of place, even with current ‘mates. The difference between this figure and the regular release version is the paintwork. Mostly it’s just swapping out yellow accents for the blue ones, but there are also some slightly different details on the legs. Under the helmet, there’s a pretty Bruce Wayne face, clearly meant to be comics based, and under the torso piece, there’s a bat symbol, which could have easily been left out. Pilot Batman included no accessories, though I suppose an argument could be made that the normal Batman parts are for him, since they were also included with the regular Batwing.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Well after the C3 line had ended, Cosmic Comix, who had not carried any of the sets up to that point, received a case of this set, and was selling them for well under their original price. I bought one, mostly for these two figures. Over the years, I lost most of the parts to the actual Batwing portion of the set, but I still have these guys. They’re both pretty solid ‘mates, though neither of them is exactly a necessity for anyone’s collection.

#0874: Gimli

GIMLI

LORD OF THE RINGS MINIMATES

Gimli1

Over the years, Minimates have covered a whole ton of different properties, of all sorts of differing genres. The Marvel line has been DST’s flagship for quite some time, but they’ve experimented with other potential “seconds” at various points. One such experiment was Lord of the Rings, which they launched right after the release of Return of the King, in hopes of striking while the iron was still hot. At the time of the Lord of the Rings Minimates, DST/Art Asylum were still figuring out exactly what was the best way to distribute ‘mates, so they were available a few different ways. Initially, they were released as boxed sets of four, but the line eventually re-configured into the more standard two packs to which we’ve all become accustomed. Unfortunately, the characters from the boxed sets ended up getting re-packed, resulting in extras of those figures for the more faithful fans who still wanted the new characters in the packs. Today, I’ll be looking at one of the unique figures from the two-pack assortments, Gimli.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Gimli2Gimli was released in the first series of Lord of the Rings Minimates two-packs. His original pack-mate was Legolas (a logical choice), who was a repack from one of the larger boxed sets. The LOTR line is an oddity amongst Minimates, in that it isn’t in scale with the Marvel Minimates body that would go on to become the standard body for the brand, or even the earlier Star Trek/Music/Bruce Lee ‘mates. They were a scale all their own. However, being a dwarf, Gimli is actually an exception to this, and makes use of the body we’re all so familiar with. As such, he stands roughly 2 ½ inches tall and has 14 points of articulation (though the movement is restricted a bit by some of the sculpted parts). Gimli has sculpted add-ons for his helmet/beard, cape, skirt, and boots. Given how early on in the life of Minimates these figures came, the sculpts on the add-ons are a fair bit simpler than more recent stuff. That said, they capture the general look of Gimli pretty well, if perhaps in a more cartoonish style. Whether or not that particular style works for Gimli is another story entirely, but he certainly fit well with the rest of the line. He does seem a bit on the lean side for Gimli, especially at the arms and torso. Gimli’s paint is also pretty simple; it’s pretty clean and sharp, which is good. The colors are a bit brighter than you might expect, but it does the simplistic style some favors. The detailing on the helmet is pretty cool, and is definitely one of the stand out parts of the figure. Under the helmet/beard, there’s a full face, complete with…another beard. Hey, dwarves are supposed to be hairy. He doesn’t have the most striking resemblance of John Rhys-Davis, but he doesn’t not look like him either. Gimli included an small axe, which could be stowed on either side of his belt.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

While I had both of the boxed sets from the LotR line, I never actually got any of the two-packs. It was in part due to not wanting to double up on the characters I already had, but also due to the two-packs being a bit harder to find. So, I never had Gimli, which was a darn shame. Fortunately, I found him on his own at a flea market last month, allowing me to get one more member of the Fellowship for my collection. Sure, he’s not quite as exciting as some more recent ‘mates, but he’s certainly not bad either.

#0022: Lord of the Rings Minimates Part 1

GOLLUM, GANDALF THE WHITE, URUK-HAI BERSERKER & FRODO BAGGINS

LORD OF THE RINGS MINIMATES

The figures in question today are another set from the Minimates masses.  This time they come from Lord of the Rings, one of the first licenses to be attempted after the booming success that was Marvel Minimates.  They were released initially as to 4-packs: 1 containing Frodo, Gandalf, Gollum and an Ork; the other Aragorn, Legolas, Saruman and Twilight Frodo.  Today, I’ll be looking at the former set.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

FRODO

First up is the story’s lead character, the hobbit Frodo Baggins.  Frodo is built on the basic Minimate body, so he stands a little over two inches tall, and has 14 points of articulation.  His sculpted pieces include:  Hair, elven cloak, belt, and his trusty sword Sting and a scabbard.  These minimates are from an earlier time in the line, when the figures were more simplistic, so Frodo is sculpted to match this style.  As such, he’s a good deal less detailed than a modern ‘mate.    All in all, Frodo’s a pretty solid Minimate, but he represents one of the recurring issues with minimates as time has passed, and the line has evolved:  the older offerings don’t fit in with a lot of the new figures.

GOLLUM

Next is Gollum, or is it Smeagol.  I guess he’s technically both.  Gollum/Smeagol is also built on the basic Minimate body.  His only sculpted piece is his loincloth-thingy.  All of his other details are painted.  Admittedly, the figure captures the character’s look rather well, but I can’t help but feel that this guy’s a little bit on the boring side.

URUK-HAI BERSERKER

Next is one of the more straight forward villains of the films, the Uruk-hai Berserker.  For brevity’s sake, I’ll just refer to him as Uruk.  Now, Uruk here is technically an army builder*.  His purpose as an army builder is a bit defeated a bit by packing him in a boxed set with 3 other “non-army builders,” but that hardly impacts the quality of the figure.  Uruk has two sculpted add-ons:  his loincloth and his helmet.  Both are well done, especially the loincloth, which has a very nice sculpted texture.  Uruk’s paintjob is probably the most complex of the set, with detailing on practically every surface.  Of particular note is the full face detailing under the helmet, allowing Uruk to be displayed sans helmet.  Though he’s the only non-named character in the set, Uruk is, in my opinion, the most standout ‘mate in the set.

GANDALF THE WHITE

Last up is another of the main characters from the films, as well as a major character in the current Hobbit films, Gandalf.  In particular, this is Gandalf the White, depicting the wizard in the garb he wore after his assumed death at the hands of the Balrog in the first film (umm…spoilers?).  Unsurprisingly, Gandalf is predominately white.  Well, off-white, but that’s splitting hairs.  Gandalf is built on the larger (But not largest!) minimate body, but still features all the same articulation as his smaller counterparts, although his hair and skirt pieces do restrict the neck and legs respectively.  Gandalf features the most sculpted pieces of the set: Hair and beard, cape, skirt-piece, and two pieces that slide over the wrists to simulate Gandalf’s longer sleeves.  As far as painted details, Gandalf is fairly basic, with his only real detailing being on his torso and face.  The torso is fine, but the face is nothing short of amazing.  The designers managed to capture Sir Ian McKellen’s likeness perfectly in just a few simple lines.  Wrapping things up, Gandalf also features his wizard’s staff.  It’s decently sculpted, although it does have a tendency to bend in the middle over time.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, all in all this is an okay set.  It’s definitely a product of its time, when Minimates were much more simplistic.  While that worked well for characters such as the Marvel super heroes, who thrive on simplicity, I don’t feel that it works quite as well with characters like these, who don’t have particularly dynamic designs.  The strongest figure in this set by far is Uruk, who is the one figure that I feel comes closest to the modern standards of minimates.

The other big issue this line has is that it doesn’t really fit in with any of the other Minimates lines.  In order to accommodate the smaller size of the hobbits, they made the human characters larger, putting this line in a scale completely its own.

I got this set for my birthday the year it was released.  I remember enjoying it, but not quite as much as my other minimates.  In this set’s defense , I am a lot more of a Marvel fan than a LOTR fan.

*For those not in the know, an army-builder is a figure, typically of a nameless character, that can serve as a generic member of an army of similar characters.  Army builders are meant to help you build an army at a greater speed, by letting the collector have a figure they can buy a large quantity of at once.  It is also beneficial to the toy company, as they get greater sales without having to tool new figures.  A good example of an army builder is the Stormtroopers from Star Wars.