#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.

#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.

#2126: Storm

STORM

MARVEL LEGENDS VINTAGE (HASBRO)

“Storm has the amazing mutant power to control weather! With a quick mental command, Storm can create anything from a simple summer shower to a raging hurricane. By raising her arms she can command the winds to carry her anywhere.”

Last year, when I looked at the last Marvel Legends Storm, I noted that she had been surprisingly scarce in the line for a character of her stature.  Her one figure during the Toy Biz days was decent enough for the time, but since then she’s only had two more figures, both of them sporting her mohawk-ed look.  Things are picking up for her, though, since she’s gotten yet another figure, just a year after the last one!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Storm is another figure from the third series of Marvel Legends Vintage figures.  The whole assortment is heavy on the 90s X-Men, and as such Storm is sporting her classic ’90s togs, which have never actually gotten proper Legends treatment.  Interestingly, this costume choice means that she’s not 100% a recreation of a Toy Biz release, since while the original Storm figure was later re-decoed into white, the carded release being simulated here was only available in black or silver.  It’s still closer than Dazzler, though, so I guess she gets a pass.  Also, after all this waiting, I think people might have gotten slightly annoyed if the ’90s Storm Hasbro produced wasn’t the proper white costume.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  Storm’s loose starting point is the mid-sized female body introduced appropriately enough with the TRU exclusive Storm from 2014, from which this figure borrows her legs and feet.  She also uses the same open gesture hands we saw on the Dazzler figure.  On top of that, she gets a new head, torso, pelvis, and arms.  The pieces are nice and clean, and I really appreciate the moving away from the straight skin-tight spandex look of the other figures in the line.  The head goes for the calm serenity take on the character, which fits the ’90s version especially well, and is a nice contrast to the grin on the mohawk-ed version.  The hair has a slight dynamism to it which is great for weather-controlling poses, but still works with more basic standing poses.  If I have one complaint about the figure, it’s the cape.  It’s just a thin piece of cloth, and it comes out of the package with some noticeable creases, which aren’t really going to come out, nor does it really hang very realistically.  The paintwork on the figure is pretty solid, with clean work on the uniform, and even a nice wash on her hair to keep it from being too flat.  Storm is packed with a pair of lightning effects, the same ones included with the last release.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The mohawk-ed Storm was a nice place holder, but she was never really going to be my standard Storm, so this figure’s announcement was certainly nice news for me.  She’s one of the more difficult figures to acquire in the set, due largely to the whole “completing the 90s X-Men” thing, but she’s honestly pretty darn worth it.  Sure, the cape’s not great, but everything else about the figure is really nice.  Now, about that ’70s Storm…

I picked up Storm from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for Marvel Legends, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#1766: Storm

STORM

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“An affinity for the magical elements make Ororo Munroe the mistress of weather manipulation Storm.”

….”affinity for the magical elements”?  That…that doesn’t seem quite right for Storm.  Her powers aren’t “magical.”  Darn it, Ethan, there you go critiquing bios again.  Knock it off!

Though one of the most prominent X-Men by far, Storm’s had rather a storied history when it comes to action figures, especially Marvel Legends.  In the whole run of the line, she’s only had two prior figures, one during Toy Biz’s tenure, and one during Hasbro’s.  Hasbro’s pulling a head of the game, though, and bringing their number up to a whopping two!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Storm is figure 5 in the Apocalypse Series of Marvel Legends.  Her last Hasbro release was based on her then-current Marvel Now appearance.  This one goes more classic (though exactly how classic the design is has been slightly up for debate), giving us Storm’s punk look from the late ’80s.  The Now figure also had a mohawk, giving us a slight taste of this design, but this one goes full-on.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall to from her feet to the top of her head (the mohawk adds another half an inch) and she has 27 points of articulation.  Storm’s starting point is the casual-wear jeans and a t-shirt body introduced last year for Mary Jane and Jessica Jones.  On top of that, she gets the jacket and glove cuffs from Rogue, as well as a new head, upper torso, boots, and belt.  The base body is a fairly decent starting point for this particular Storm design.  I suppose an argument could be made that Storm should have a slightly larger stature, but I don’t think she’s too far off.  Certainly not as bad as prior Storm offerings.  The borrowed Rogue pieces, though not perfect matches for Storm’s garb from the comics, are close enough to warrant the re-use.  That just leaves the newly sculpted pieces, which are quite nicely rendered.  I was actually a little surprised that the head was an all-new piece, as I’d somewhat expected it to be a re-use from the prior Storm figure.  I was glad to find it was a new piece, as this one takes the decent starting point of the prior sculpt, and adds an additional layer of character, to both the facial expression and the slight tussled nature of the hair.  It’s a good match for her rye personality from the comics at the time she was sporting this look.  To be completely accurate to the comics, she should really have gotten a band on her arm, but that’s a relatively minor detail.  Storm’s paintwork is on par with the usual work we’ve been seeing lately.  The application is all clean, and the all-black costume is quite slick looking.  Oddly, she’s actually gotten a painted detail she didn’t need.  They’ve painted an exposed midriff on her torso, when it should technically be a full shirt, and thereby just be black like the rest of the shirt.  I can’t say I mind the change, though, and it doesn’t seem all that out of place with this particular look.  Storm is packed with a pair of lightning effects (the same ones included with Magneto and Thor; now we’ve got them in a whole array of colors), which technically she wouldn’t have with this costume, what with having lost her powers and all, but it would seem odd to get a Storm figure without them.  She also includes the torso of the Build-A-Figure Apocalypse.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Neither of the last two Storm Legends were particularly easy to get.  I fully intended to grab the last Hasbro figure but, well, that didn’t happen.  I’ve been hoping for another shot at Storm since then.  Storm was another birthday gift from my Super Awesome Fiancee (I guess there was a mohawk theme going on).  While this look isn’t my first choice (I’m still hoping for that First Appearance figure we were teased with back in 2007), I’m happy to have gotten any look at all, really.  She’s a solid figure to be sure.

#1623: Black Panther & 90s Storm

BLACK PANTHER & 90s STORM

MARVEL MINIMATES

The subjects of today’s review, Black Panther and Storm, have actually been on my review docket since February, believe it or not.  For one reason or another, they’ve been on the chopping block no less than five times since they went on the schedule.  Fortunately for them, the original item I planned to review today has itself been bumped.  Gotta love that, right?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Black Panther and 90s Storm were released in the 29th Series of Marvel Minimates.  At the time of their release, Panther and Storm were still married, so I guess this pairing made some sense, though the choice of costumes was sort of incompatible.

BLACK PANTHER

“The leader and defender of his native Wakanda, T’Challa became the Black Panther afther his father’s demise at the hands of the villainous Klaw. His blend of physical prowess, mental discipline and scientific study makes him a truly formidable opponent in any setting.”

This wasn’t Black Panther’s first Minimate, but it was the first complete one, since the Marvel Zombies variant that preceded it was missing an arm and a leg.  He’s based on his at the time current design from the comics, which was certainly a sensible choice.  The figure uses the standard ‘mate body, with the standard 14 points of articulation and an approximate height of 2 1/4 inches tall.  Panther came from a time in the line when the necks had gotten kind of short and the feet had become shallower, which isn’t 100% ideal, but not the end of the world.  He has add-on pieces for his mask, cape, belt, and wrist bands.  The mask was re-used from the Zombies variant, and it’s an okay piece, but in conjunction with the shorter neck, and shallow feet, it kind of makes him look a little bobble-headed.  Fortunately, it’s masked (heh) a bit by the cape piece, which was new to this particular figure, and is a pretty decent piece.  The only problem it has is how top-heavy it made the figure, so it can be a little difficult to keep him standing.    As far as paint work goes, Panther was ambitious in idea, but ultimately rather flawed in execution.  There’s a lot of detail work on the mask and torso, which would look really great if it were actually visible, but the shades are just too close together.  Similarly, there is detailing on the shins and wrists, which is meant to capture the striped gloves of Panther’s classic costume, if you take off all of the add-ons.  But, as with the other details,  these are essentially lost on the final figure.  T’Challa included a hairpiece, allowing for an unmasked look.

90s STORM

“The leader of the X-Men’s Gold Team, Ororo Munroe’s weather-altering abilities are powered by an innate control over nearly all forms of energy – limited only by her emotions and fears.”

This marked Storm’s fourth time as a Minimate, and also the fourth ‘mate in the ‘90s X-Men sub-set that ran for a few years.  This depicts her white Jim Lee-styled costume, which has a fair bit of notoriety, being on the cartoon and everything.  She has add-ons for her hair and cape/shoulder pads, and she was the fist ‘mate to have the unique puffy sleeved upper arms.  All of the pieces were pretty well sculpted, airing heavier on the detailed side of things.  She’s a bit on the bulky side, and a little hard to pose (those upper arms don’t stay in place quite as well as the standard ones), but a decent recreation of the design from the comics.  The paint work on Storm is a bit better than T’Challa’s, by virtue of not having all those issues with contrast.  The pearlescent white is pretty great looking, and the details are pretty sharp.  The shading on the torso was an interesting experiment.  It was a style they were trying in this series, but it was pretty quickly abandoned.  Also, like the rest of the ‘mates in this assortment, the color palette is a little washed out.  I’d have at least liked a more yellow-y gold.  Storm was packed with a pair of electricity effect pieces, which are a little tricky to get in place, but pretty neat nonetheless.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As with most ‘mates of this era, this pair was picked up brand-new, on the day of release from Cosmic Comix.  I was excited for them when they were announced, given how much I like Black Panther, and my at the time lack of a Storm Minimate.  With that said, I’ve never been as happy with these two as I’d hoped to be.  In retrospect, they’re better than I remember, but they both have some notable flaws.

#1580: Storm

STORM

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Super-villains have learned that this co-leader of the X-Men is perhaps the most dangerous X-Man of all because Storm has the amazing mutant power to control weather! With a quick mental command, Storm can create anything from a simple summer shower to a raging hurricane. By raising her arms she can command the winds to carry her anywhere. She is a master of unarmed combat, though she prefers to use lightning bolts and wind to stun and disarm super-villains.”

When launching their X-Men line in the ‘90s, Toy Biz jumped right into the thick of it, covering some of the most popular team members right off the bat.  Naturally, Storm, one of the very best known X-Men for quite some time now, found her way into that initial set, for better or for worse.  I’ll be looking at that figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

This particular Storm figure had a handful of releases.  She was originally released in Series 1 of Toy Biz’s X-Men line, wearing the black costume from the top of this review.   She was then part of the 1993 re-paint assortment, where she was done up in silver.  Then, in 95, she got another release, this time in white, as part of the X-Men: Classics assortment designed to tie-in with the Animated Series.  Regardless of color scheme, all three versions of Storm stand just shy of 5 inches tall and have 8 points of articulation.  Storm’s not really all that posable, thanks to the slightly wonky layout of the articulation.  Not only does she have the dreaded v-hips, she’s also got a rather similar scheme to her shoulders, plus her neck is rendered motionless by her light-up feature.  The actual quality of the sculpt is rather on the rudimentary side, as was the case with all of the Series 1 X-Men figures.  She’s wearing her Jim Lee-designed leather outfit, which was current for the time, and has the benefit of being rather stiff and squared off by its very nature.  This masks some of the stiffness of the sculpt, I suppose.  Still, it’s hardly the best Storm that Toy Biz put out.  As this figure was re-released, she slowly acquired more and more cape.  The original release has no cape (which would make Edna happy).  The silver gets a more wispy sort of a thing, and the last release finally gets a proper cape, much more true to her comics design.  There were three different paint schemes for this figure, with pretty much the same application across the board, apart from the main base color of the plastic.  The application is generally pretty simplistic on all three of them, but it works.  The white and silver ones both have an extra bit of yellow detailing, which offers some more pop, I suppose.  All three figures include the same light-up feature, which illuminates the lighting bolt on her chest.  They also all three include a lightning bolt piece that can be held in her hand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got these three at various different times, none of them during my childhood.  The white one was the first one, picked up during my 5-inch renaissance back in 2011.  As the latest, I think that’s the best of the three.  The other two were both picked up in the last year, as I set out on my quest to complete my 5-inch X-Men collection.  They’re not terribly different, and unless you’re crazy like me, I don’t suppose there’s much reason to own all three.

#1299: Bloodstorm

BLOODSTORM

MUTANT X (TOY BIZ)

“Ororo Munroe was once the X-Man code-named Storm for her ability to control the weather.  After a horrific encounter with Dracula, she died and returned as a vampire.  Soon thereafter, she left the X-Men, seeking answers about her self and her new state-of-being.  She later returned to join Havok’s mutant superteazm, The Six, calling herself Bloodstorm.  Ororo retained her mutant power of weather control but now has the preternatural gifts of the living dead at her disposal making her an even more formidable opponent.  Bloodstorm can transform her body into mist, summon and control the myriad of creatures of the night and on occasion use a “hypnotic stare” to hold humans in her thrall.  Her vampiric nature amplifies her control of the forces of nature but makes her unpredictable in battle.”

Well, I don’t think I can get any more in-depth than that there bio, now can I?  So, this particular variant of Storm hails from Mutant X, an alternate reality-based X-Men series from the ‘90s.  I only have a handful of issues from the series, but I always enjoyed it (having Havok as the main character probably helped a lot).  There were a handful of action figures released, and I had to whole set.  Today, I’ll be looking at the alternate version of Storm, dubbed “Bloodstorm” because it was the ‘90s.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Bloodstorm is one of the four figures in the Previews-exclusive Mutant X series, put out by Toy Biz in 1998.  You’d think that with the main team being called “The Six” and all, they might try to, you know, release *six* figures and finish out the whole team, but this was the same company that on more than one occasion neglected to release all four of the Fantastic Four in a given style, so I guess it wasn’t a huge shock.  Storm stands about 5 inches tall and has 10 points of articulation.  While much of Storm’s mold was technically new to her, she was largely built on top of the Alpha Flight Guardian body, with the extra details sculpted on where needed.  In the end, only the arms are truly identical between the two figures.  The body is decent enough for how Bloodstorm tended to be drawn in the comics, and I like the extra details, but I did always feel she was a little on the short side for Storm (this was a common issue with the Toy Biz Storm figures).  She got an all-new head sculpt, which is really good, almost too good for the body it’s been placed on.  There’s a ton of detail work, and it’s really sharply handled.  I really love the intensity of the facial expression.  About the only issue I have with it is the pony tail, which is made from a soft rubber material and can be rather easily torn off if you aren’t careful.  Her coat is a soft goods piece, which looks alright, I guess.  It was supposed to be actually sculpted on, going by the prototype, but I guess it didn’t cost out.  At least this way you get the extra look.  The paintwork on this figure is generally pretty good, apart from a few oddities here and there.  I’m really not sure what’s going on with her abdomen; it looks like they tried to airbrush it or something, but it just didn’t work out right.  On the flip side, the work on the head is fantastic, and does a wonderful job of showing off the already great head sculpt.  Her one accessory is a metallic green “X” stand, which is the same stand included with all of the Generation X figure, just in a different color.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like the previously reviewed The Fallen figure (sorry about that review in advance; it’s not one of my better ones), Bloodstorm was Christmas gift from my parents.  I recall not having much of an opinion one way or the other about her when I got her (Bloodstorm wasn’t really one of my favorite characters from the series), but I have to say, after taking her back out to review her, I was pleasantly surprised by this figure.

#1222: Havok & Storm

HAVOK & STORM

MARVEL MINIMATES

havokstormmm1

Hey, it’s been a month since I reviewed any Minimates.  That’s statistically too long a period given the make-up of my collection.  Guess I better review some more.  Today, I once again turn the Marvel license, looking at some comic-themed ‘mates (a bit of a rarity these days), based on more classic designs no-less!  So, let’s dive head-in and take a look at Havok and Storm!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Havok and Storm were released in the 14th series of TRU-exclusive Marvel Minimates.  This pair in particular was designed to complete the Outback X-Men line-up released in Series 47 of the main line, which hit right around the same time.  Why they chose to pack these two together is anyone’s guess, since it’s not like Havok and Storm have a lot of history, but I’m not really going to complain.

HAVOK

havokstormmm2This marked Havok’s third entry as a Minimate, and his second comic-based ‘mate.  He’s more or less wearing the same costume as his first comic ‘mate, though if you want to get *really* technical, that ‘mate was in his ‘60s costume and this one is in his ‘80s one.  Not a lot of differences, but they’re there.  Also, it had been almost a decade at this point since his first ‘mate’s release, which would have made completing the team a bit difficult for newer collectors.  The figure is built on the usual ‘mate body, so he’s about 2 1/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  He’s got one add-on piece for his mask, which is a separate piece this time, as opposed to being just painted on.  I like the sculpted design a bit better, and I also appreciate that they’ve gone for the slightly more splayed design of the antenna he was sporting in the ‘80s, thereby making him more specific to this team line-up.  In terms of paint, he’s a step-up from his predecessor in some ways, but a step down in some others.  The mask is rather on the sloppy side, which is frustrating.  Also, he’s saddled with a screaming expression again, although at least this time you can swap out the head under the mask for a calmer one for another ‘mate if you want (I find that the Series 38 Iron Fist works pretty well).  The added muscle detailing on the torso and legs is definitely nice, as is the clean detailing his energy tracker on his torso.  I do somewhat miss the printed energy detailing of the last figure, but the accessories make up for that.  He included a brand-new effect piece to simulate his powers, which is the same piece that would be modded to be Banshee’s scream effect.  He also includes a spare hair piece for an unmasked look.  He does NOT include the pictured display stand; I just forgot that wasn’t always a standard piece when I was taking this picture.

STORM

havokstormmm3As much as I love Havok, there’s no denying that this set’s heavy hitter is Storm.  This marked Storm’s seventh time as a ‘mate.  Unlike Havok, this isn’t a repeat of an earlier design, although it shares a few design elements with a few prior ‘mates.  This is her post mohawk look, but her pre-90s-shoulder pads look.  It doesn’t quite have the staying power of a lot her designs, but it’s decent enough, and shown up in a few toy lines over the years.  The figure uses add-ons for her hair, glove cuffs, and cape.  The cuffs are re-used from Battle-Damaged Spirit, but the rest of the pieces were new.  Both pieces are decent enough.  The hair doesn’t have the ears sculpted like most ‘mate hair pieces, which is a little odd, but it’s otherwise pretty solid.  The cape is okay, but seems a little on the stiff side.  In terms of paint, she’s not bad.  The glossy sheen on the black is a nice touch, and I like the bright grey detail lines.  The gold could probably stand out a bit more, and the skin tone could do with a more organic hue, but the application’s all pretty great.  Storm includes a pair of electricity effect pieces (the same ones included with six of her other ‘mates), as well as a flight stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Okay, so Havok’s one of my favorite X-Men, so as soon as these figures hit, I made it a point to get this set.  I ordered them from TRU’s online store, which, as with most of the times I’ve done so, was quite an ordeal.  Of note, neither they, nor the other set I ordered (Heather Hudson & Box, for those who are curious) was actually listed under their name, instead being given the generic title of “Marvel Minimates 14: Figure.”  Fortunately, a kind soul over at the Minimate Multiverse provided the group with the SKUs, so I was able to determine which set I was ordering that way.  Havok is awesome.  A definite improvement over the prior release.  Storm is alright; hardly my go-to version of the character, but a solid ‘mate nonetheless.

#1127: Storm & Sunfire

STORM & SUNFIRE

MARVEL MINIMATES

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One of the more intriguing aspects of the “All New, All Different X-Men” presented in Giant Size X-Men #1 was the diversity of the team.  This was especially poignant in comparison to the original team.  While the X-Men (and Mutants in general) were supposed to represent groups who were oppressed, shunned, and otherwise mistreated, the actual original team was made up entirely of upperclass, good-looking, and generally well-off whites, which ever so slightly hindered the message the creators were trying to put forth.  When the new team appeared with members representing cultures from all over the world, it really helped to sell the inclusiveness of the whole idea, and redefined how the team was portrayed moving forward.  Many of these new characters became some of the most memorable characters in the franchise’s history, including Storm, who I’m looking at today.  Then there’s Sunfire, who is…less memorable….

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Storm and Sunfire are part of the 68th series of Marvel Minimates, which is GSXM-themed.  Both characters are based on Dave Cockrum’s renditions of the characters from Giant Size X-Men #1, though, like with Banshee yesterday, Sunfire’s design was just a slight tweak on his design from earlier in the original run.

STORM

stormsunfire3Aside from Wolverine, Storm is easily the most memorable of the characters brought onto the team in GSXM #1 (and she’s definitely the most memorable of the characters *introduced* in GSXM #1).  To date, she’s held a prominent role in every cartoon adaptation, and had a role in five of the six movies (and she even cameoed in the sixth).  That’s important!  She’s also had 9 prior Minimates, covering most of her prominent looks, which is better than can be said for quite a few Marvel characters.  Being built on the standard Minimate base body, Storm stands about 2 1/2 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  Storm gets add-on pieces for her hair and cape.  Both of these pieces are new to this figure, and they look quite good.  Some figures of this storm design downplay the length of her hair, which is always a little frustrating, so I was grad to see this one doesn’t.  The basic cape included here is decent enough, if perhaps a little rigid.  Fortunately, for those who want Storm’s cape to be a little more flowy, there’s also a much larger, flying cape included.  It’s definitely my preferred piece of the two, and it really sets this Storm apart from the others we’ve gotten.  Storm’s paintwork is pretty solid all around.  All the colors are great matches for what’s seen on the printed page, and I really like the glossy sheen on the black parts of her costume.  This figure probably has some of the best paintwork in the series.  In addition to the extra cape, Storm also includes an extra head (w/ pupils), two electricity pieces, a flight stand, and a clear display stand.

SUNFIRE

stormsunfire2Sunfire here pairs up with Banshee on the whole “left off of the cover” business, meaning he was also left out of the original GSXM boxed set.  Unlike Banshee, this is actually his very first Minimate (and only his fifth action figure in general).  Sunfire’s never been all that prominent, since he quit the team after only an issue, and never really came back, so no real action figure coverage for him.  He’s probably not helped by his costume have the rising sun motif, but there it is.  The figure gets an all-new add-on piece for his weird looking mask.  It does a decent job of trying to make sense of that goofy thing.  Could this be the first time that a Minima’s lack of nose actually makes his costume make more sense?  The rest of the details are rendered via paint, which is all pretty solidly handled.  The white parts could be a little cleaner, and the orange could maybe stand out a bit more, but the line work is really great.  Under his mask is an appropriately angry Shiro Yoshida.  That guy was alway pissed.  For accessories, Sunfire gets an extra hairpiece for an unmasked look, two flame effect pieces for his hands, an orange-tinted flight stand, and a clear display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Ever since missing out on the GSXM set, I’ve been waiting on a good classic Storm, and when this one was announced, I was pretty psyched.  I can’t say I’m disappointed with the final product.  Definitely the best version of the character yet.  And, getting Sunfire after so long is also pretty darn cool.  He’s no one’s favorite character, but he’s an important piece of the team’s history nonetheless, and it’s great to finally have him!

#0819: Giant-Size X-Men #1 Boxed Set

STORM, COLOSSUS, NIGHTCRAWLER, SUNFIRE, BANSHEE, & THUNDERBIRD

MARVEL COLLECTOR EDITIONS (TOY BIZ)

ANADXMenPack1

In the 1960s, when Marvel Comics was on fire with all sorts of new ideas, the X-Men were created. The team was Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, Beast, and Angel. While the series was a moderate success, it wasn’t as big as other titles of the time, and so the book eventually became solely a reprint series, before ending entirely. But, as anyone who has so much as thought about a Marvel comic in the last 30 years can tell you, that was far from the end of the X-Men. In 1975, the series was relaunched with Giant-Size X-Men #1, which featured an all-new, all-different cast of characters. This new cast proved far more successful than their predecessors, and the series went on to become one of Marvel’s most popular. In the 1990s, the X-Men were no strangers to toys, but most were based on the contemporary designs. To appease older fans, Toy Biz launched a line of special boxed sets, based on more classic incarnations of teams, including the All-New, All-Different X-Men, which I’ll be looking at today!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

ANADXMen1

These six figures were released as one of the three sets in the Marvel Collector Editions line. All six are based on their appearances in Giant-Size X-Men #1.

STORM

ANADXMen2Though she’s by far the most well-known of the figures in this set, this was the first time Storm’s original costume had seen plastic form, and only the second sculpt the figure had gotten in the expansive 5-inch scale. The figure stands 5 ¼ inches tall and has 13 points of articulation. Her sculpt is generally pretty good, and certainly much better than the Marvel Girl sculpt from this set’s X-Men #1 companion piece. The head is definitely the nicest piece here, as it captures Cockrum’s take on Storm quite well. The body is decently sculpted, but suffers from a few issues. First off, she seems to lack Storm’s usual imposing stature, which is sadly common with her figures. She’s also got these odd, claw-like hands, which are definitely too big for the rest of her body. To top it all off, she’s nearly impossible to keep standing for very long. I do like the way they’ve handled the cape, though; it’s cloth, but it’s multiple layers, which give it enough weight to keep it from hanging oddly, and it avoids cutting off articulation as well. Her paintwork is pretty much on par with the rest of what Toy Biz was doing at the time. The colors are nice and vibrant, and everything is pretty clean, if perhaps lacking in subtlety. The edge of her collar is missing some yellow in a couple of spots, but other than that, everything looks pretty good.

COLOSSUS

ANADXMen4This marked the third time Toy Biz made a Colossus figure. They had a bit of a Goldilocks thing going on with them, though. The first one was too small, the second one was too big, but this one was juuuuust right. The figure stands 6 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation. The decision not to give him any wrist movement is a little baffling, especially since he’s got a built-in way to mask the joints, but the rest of the movement is all pretty good. Colossus is probably my favorite sculpt in the set. He’s not saddled with any real pre-posing, and his proportions don’t get too wonky, apart from his hands being maybe a touch on the large side. The details here, especially on the exposed metal parts of his body are really stand-out, and he just looks really sharp. His head has an expression that’s intense, but not so intense as to make him look villainous. The paint on Colossus is pretty sharp too. He’s got no noticeable slop, and the details on his costume really look great. The red and yellow really just pop on this guy.

NIGHTCRAWER

ANADXMen3Nightcrawler received probably the best of the initial figures from Toy Biz’s X-Men line, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t room for improvement, especially since the original had sported odd suction cups on his hand and leg. It was also hard to get him into any of Nightcrawler’s distinctive crouching poses, which was the main thing this figure set to fix. The figure is 5 ¼ inches tall and has 16 points of articulation, as well as a bendable tail. If there’s one major issue with this figure, it’s that he’s just too tall. Nightcrawler should really be noticeably shorter than the rest of the team, but were the figure not crouching, he’d be taller than half the figures in the set. That’s kind of off. Aside from that glaring issue, the sculpt is generally pretty passable, though he’s more of an Excalibur-era Alan Davis-styled Nightcrawler than a GSXM Cockrum-styled one. The general quality of the sculpt is definitely nice, and he has some pretty sharp detailing. The shoulder pads are rather obviously separate pieces, which is frustrating, but not the worst thing. Paint is definitely this figure’s strongest suit, and he’s definitely got the strongest paint in the set. The colors of his costume are nice and bold, and everything is very sharp. What’s really cool is that his costume is all matte finish, while his skin/hair is much glossier, making an instant distinction between the two.

SUNFIRE

ANADXMen5The shortest-lasting (but not shortest-lived) member of the ANAD team was definitely Sunfire, who quit after just one issue. In addition, as he was not new to X-Men the series at the time of Giant-Size X-Men #1, having previously appeared as a “foe,” so he wasn’t even on the cover of that issue. This all ends up making him one of the least-remembered members of this team. Amazingly enough, it wasn’t his first 5-inch figure from Toy Biz (though it was his second of two, so he didn’t get anymore), but it is, to date, the only figure of his classic costume ever made. The figure stands 5 ¼ inches tall and has 16 points of articulation. Sunfire’s sculpt is kind of complicated. There are some really great parts, such as the brilliant texture work on the scaled part of his costume, and a very nice translation of his somewhat goofy-looking mask, but it’s all placed on an almost comically skinny body. Sunfire certainly wasn’t a body-builder, but he wasn’t scrawny either. Then there are his feet, which look to have been sized for the body he should have had, which creates this sort of clown shoe effect. The sculpt isn’t terrible, but it’s also not great either. The paint is good in theory, and decent in practice. The application is pretty solid, and aside from one tiny inaccuracy (having his neckline go all the way up to the mask when it should end just north of the collar bone) it looks pretty good. The only issue is the black wash they’ve used to bring out the details of the scaled parts. It works overall, and is especially good on the arms, but the coverage is inconsistent, and the top of the right leg on my figure is totally missing any painted detail, which sticks out quite a bit.

BANSHEE

ANADXMen7Banshee was the other “not new to the series” character, though he had shown up more than once before. He also stuck with the team a bit longer than Sunfire, and hung around as a supporting character even after leaving the team, which resulted in him being a fair bit more memorable than Sunfire (of course, one of them spent the last decade dead, and it wasn’t Sunfire, so maybe popularity isn’t always a great thing). This was his third figure from Toy Biz, but his first to sport his classic green and yellow, which is definitely my favorite of his looks. The figure stands 5 ¼ inches tall and has 16 points of articulation, just like the last two figures. Like Sunfire, his sculpt is a mix of good and bad. The general build isn’t bad, and he isn’t quite as scrawny as Sunfire. However, he’s fairly pre-posed, and the “wings” limit his posability a bit. Also, I get that his main thing is screaming, but I’m not sure how well it turned out on this head sculpt, where he looks like he’s just sort of opening his mouth kind of wide. I feel like an extra, non-screaming head should kind of be a requirement for all Banshee figures, but none of them have ever done such a thing. Banshee’s paint is pretty decently handled; the costume definitely fairs best, with some nice, subtle airbrushing to help highlight some of the sculpted musculature. The head has a passable paintjob, though I feel the colors end up looking a bit too muted.

THUNDERBIRD

ANADXMen6Now, here’s a short-lived X-Man. See, cuz he died. Get it? Yeah, you get it. Yes, Thunderbird was officially the first X-Man to die in action, just to prove a point. According to writer Chris Claremont, it was actually a toss-up as to whether it would be him or Wolverine who died during the X-Men’s second mission. Thunderbird got the axe because his powers were more non-descript than the others, and also because he was just a tiny bit on the stereotype side of things, but could you imagine how different X-Men would be without Wolverine? Seeing as he was dead for most of the team’s run, this was actually the first Thunderbird figure ever made, though it wouldn’t be the last. The figure is 5 ½ inches tall and has 14 points of articulation. His sculpt is actually pretty good, overall. The head has some very nice detail work, and is probably the most realistic looking of all those in the set. The body is less realistic, with some slightly out-there proportions, but it’s not too bad, overall. The right hand is sculpt to hold something; I don’t know what it was supposed to be, since he included no accessories, and I can’t really think of anything Thunderbird would need to hold, but whatever. The paintwork on this figure is quite nicely done. Everything is nice an clean, and I love the slight accenting on the various parts of the costume.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After getting the other two sets in this line as a kid, I bet you think I got this alongside them, don’t you. Well, you’d be wrong. My dad did have this set, and he even offered to buy me one of my own, at a discounted price, when the now defunct Ageless Heroes Comics was going out of business. I was feeling particularly silly that day and turned the set down, a decision I proceeded to regret for the next 18 years, after the set’s price jumped on the aftermarket. This past November, while attending Philcon, I stopped by the House of Fun, and pulled this set out from underneath several boxes. It was actually less than I would have paid for it back in the day, which made me doubly happy. This is by no means a perfect set, but there are some definite gems within, and I’m happy to have it at last.