#3175: The Thing

THE THING

FANTASTIC FOUR (TOY BIZ)

“The powerhouse of the fabulous Fantastic Four, Benjamin J. Grimm may look like a ‘Thing’, but he’s a rock-solid Super Hero through and through! Fiercely loyal, unflinching in the face of danger, The Thing brings his ‘Clobberin’ Time’ strength to bear against the likes of the wicked Wizard and the sinister Psycho-Man.”

Okay, hear me out: what if The Thing got actual clothes?  Would that be a crazy, novel idea?  Maybe.  Just maybe.  But a man can dream.  Or, you know, just look into the years and years of Fantastic Four history, where there’s plenty of instances of just that thing happening.  I mean, there’s just, like, Ben Grimm, running around in an almost full FF uniform, instead of just an overly large speedo.  Usually, it has something to do with him getting depowered, and then starting to wear a different uniform, and then inevitably being repowered, and, book, the Thing’s in a tank top.  Oh yeah.  Dig it.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Thing was released in Series 4 of Toy Biz’s Fantastic Four line, which wound up as the line’s final assortment.  He was the third version of Ben within the line, and was clearly designed to tie-in with Ben’s stretch of episodes in the cartoon’s second season where he had the tank top look.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 8 points of articulation.  For whatever reason, he lost the elbow and knee joints for this release, despite the other two figures getting them.  He does get a waist joint, though.  Additionally, he’s the largest of the cartoon-inspired Thing figures, making him feel more true to the character as he appears in the show, and having him look a little more cohesive with the rest of his team.  The figure’s sculpt was all-new, and followed the character’s season 2 design pretty closely.  It’s especially evident in the face, which really feels spot-on, but even the general shaping of the body seems to line-up pretty well.  The only real deviation is the torso, especially around the waist, where he winds up with far more toning and definition than he ever had on the show.  The figure is also sculpted with just a touch of pre-posing; he appears to be in mid-stride.  It’s nothing too crazy, and it winds up making him very stable on his feet, which makes it really feel like a win.  The figure’s color work is pretty basic; the majority of it is molded.  What paint is there is generally pretty clean, though there is a touch of fuzziness on the edges of the white parts of the outfit.  To their credit, the portions of the exposed skin that are on the torso, and are therefore painted, actually match pretty closely with the molded tones on the arms and head, which is quite an accomplishment.  Series 4 of the line was all about platforms with action features.  For Ben, that translates to a vaguely rock-looking thing, which he can “break” apart.  It’s not a terrible gimmick, but it’s also not a great one.  Just sort of there.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve always really liked this particular design for Ben, largely due to its presence in the cartoon’s second season.  That said, I already had the trench coat version of Ben from the prior assortment when this one hit, so I didn’t really *need* this one, and I wasn’t really into doubling up at that point.  So, this one remained absent from my collection for a surprisingly long time, finally making its way into the set back in 2017, when I wound up snagging it out of a case at an antique mall.  He’s actually a pretty solid version of the character, and has the notoriety of being a version that doesn’t get covered much, so that’s pretty cool.

#3066: Human Torch & The Thing

HUMAN TORCH & THE THING

MARVEL MINIMATES


Fun Fact: In both the Specialty and TRU line-ups, Series 8 was devoted to the Fantastic Four.  No idea why, probably just crazy random happenstance, but there it is.  There were four sets in Series 8, and Reed and Sue were both packed with a villain, so you might have thought that was how the whole assortment went: FF/Villain.  Not the case. Since Namor and the Atlantean Soldier got their own pack, FF-members Human Torch and the Thing got packed together. Of course, as antagonistic as these two are known to get, there’s no reason this can’t still be a “versus” pack.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

As noted above, Human Torch and The Thing make up one of four two-packs in the eighth TRU-exclusive series of Marvel Minimates, which was released in the fall of 2010.

HUMAN TORCH

With only two ‘mates prior to this one, poor Johnny was sort of the runt of the family in terms of Minimate coverage.  Well, at least this line didn’t replace him with Herbie, right?  This particular Johnny opted for a fully “Flamed On” look, following the trend of his first ‘mate.  He’s based on the standard post-C3 body, so he’s about 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  Sculpturally, this Johnny was actually completely identical to his original release (and the Jim Hammond Torch from the Invaders set, for that matter).  He’s got the same hair and fiery shoulder piece.  Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?  After the completely opaque first figure, this Human Torch followed the example set by the Invaders Torch, going for a fully translucent look.  Apart from being molded in an orangish hue and featuring sculpted flame bits, Johnny is otherwise without flame-related details, instead just depicting Johnny’s FF costume. It’s a more modern way of handling Johnny’s flamed on state, similar to the way artists like Mike Wieringo depicted him in the ‘00s, which generally follows with the general overall aesthetic of this particular set of FF. The detail work is all nice and sharp, and I quite like Johnny’s sly grinning expression; very true to the character.  Johnny was packed with a pair of flame effects for his hands, as well as a blast-off stand.

THE THING

Benjamin J Grimm is by far Minimates’ favorite member of the FF. At the time of this release, he already had twice the number of ‘mates that Johnny had, and he had another two right around the corner in Series 37.  The Thing has had the most looks of all the FF members, so there are options to choose from.  This one continues the Weiringo trend of the other team members, giving us a Thing with pants. Woo.  I feel for the sake of full disclosure, I should begin this section by noting that my figure has been slightly modified (see the unmodified version here). The at-retail version of the figure made use of Ultimate Hulk’s bulked up torso piece and toros extender. From a build perspective, it was fine, but it left Ben with an abnormally long torso that just didn’t seem right for the character. Removing the extender piece alleviates some of the issue, but then his torso cap hangs over his belt. On my figure, I took an x-acto blade to the chest piece and trimmed about 1/8 of an inch off the bottom, thus keeping his torso from being so bafflingly tall.  In addition to the torso extender and chest cap pieces, Ben also features add-ons for his brow, hands, boots, and pelvis. The brow and hands are just the standard pieces that have been in use since the first version of the character; they still work reasonably well here. The boots are re-used from the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, and I’d be lying if I said they didn’t look super goofy. Points for effort, though.  In terms of paint, Ben was decent enough, but not without some issues. The big problem is that the orange of his brow and hands really doesn’t match the rest of him, which looks kind of odd.
Beyond that, he’s reasonable. The blue matches with the rest of the Four, so he’ll fit in well with this set.  Fortunately for those of us who didn’t like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man feet, Ben has the tops of his boots painted on his legs, as well as a pair of standard feet in black. Sure, his feet will be a little bit tiny, but he’ll look better overall. He also includes a pair of standard hands in orange, should you wish to remove the big Thing hands, but I don’t know who would.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up this set brand new when it first hit, alongside the rest of the assortment.  Having missed out on the original FF run, these were my first go at the team in ‘mate form.  Though perhaps not my preferred take on the character, this Human Torch was a definite improvement on his original release, and fit in very well with his wave-mates.  For a multitude of reasons, this version of the Thing very much feels like an afterthought. Though all of the figures in the wave are made with parts re-use, Thing is the one most negatively affected by it. With the Series 37 version released only a few months after this one, it really felt like this one was only included here as a place holder for that one. The modification helps the figure a little bit, but he hardly feels worth the trouble. Ultimately, this ended up being one of the weakest variants of the character in the line, and a slight slip-up in an otherwise very strong wave of figures.

#2991: The Thing

THE THING

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“With his nearly indestructible body and incredible strength and stamina, the Thing possesses the ability to crush evil.”

Benjamin J Grimm tends to get simplified down to just dumb muscle, but he’s actually quite a nuanced character, perhaps the most nuanced of the core team.  He’s quite literally the rock that grounds the team, as well as the most practically-minded member of the team, making him the perfect counterpoint to Reed’s lofty theoretical concepts.  And, in case you couldn’t tell, he’s also my favorite member of the team.  So, I’m always happy to see him get more proper appreciation.  I’m also happy to see him get solid toy coverage, which is, admittedly, rather frequent.  That works out, I guess!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Thing is part of the FF-themed assortment of the Retro Collection sub-line of Hasbro’s Marvel Legends.  As with the rest of the team, he’s patterned on his old ’90s Toy Biz figure, in terms of both the packaging and the figure packed within it.  That means that, like the others, he’s wearing his Byrne-era costume, specifically the more classic speedo-wearing look.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 28 points of articulation.  He’s largely the same as the last two Thing figures, which is understandable.  It’s a really good starting point, and I’m sure Hasbro would like to get as much traction out of it as possible.  Three years later, it still remains a very strong sculpt, and it’s still the best version of the Thing out there, so you’ll hear no notable complaints from me.  This time around, he gets two new head sculpts, as well as a new set of hips to actually give him the short-shorts look.  I didn’t hate the briefs look for the last two figures, but it would have definitely been out of place for this design in particular.  The two new heads cover two different expressions, one angry and teeth gritting, and one more calm.  Both sculpts take some rather clear inspiration from the character’s second season animation model from the ’90s cartoon, which I am totally on board with.  It’s a little sharper on the edges to fit with the pre-existing body sculpt, but it really works.  The angry expression is really great from every angle.  The calm one is a little dopey looking in some angles, but even so I kind of find myself a little more drawn to it, just do to my own want to always have a not as angry option for any given Ben Grimm figure.  Ben’s paint on this release more follows how the Super Skrull Series version did things, providing some highlights to a few areas of the sculpt.  I don’t know that it works out quite as well on this particular release.  In some spots, especially the feet, it feels a little bit slap dash.  It’s ultimately not terribly noticeable in person, but it stands out a bit more in the photos than I’d prefer.  It could certainly be worse, but I find myself almost wishing they’d foregone the accenting entirely, to really capture that ’90s figure feel a bit more.  In addition to the previously mentioned extra head, Ben gets two sets of hands, one in fists and the other in open gesture.  In contrast to the other figures, Ben and his accessories literally take up every available spot in the blister, so he definitely doesn’t feel like he’s lacking anything.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Any good FF set needs a good Ben Grimm for me, and I’m especially attached to that ’90s animated look.  The fact that this guy is not only in the Byrne costume, but also leans more heavily into the actual animation style is pretty much exactly what I need.  The accent paint’s a bit wonky, but certainly not enough to ruin the figure at all, and the sculpt still really shines.  I’d love to see a variant in the tank top gear, but I can wait on that.  This one is more than enough to hold me over until then.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website.

#2603: Battle Damaged Thing & Gajin Wolverine II

BATTLE-SCARRED THING & GAJIN WOLVERINE II

MARVEL MINIMATES

The trouble with a four member team, at least when it came to Minimates and their early three two-pack per assortment structure, is that you end up with extra slots.  In the case of the Fantastic Four, there have been a number of different approaches to filling those extra slots.  In the case of their first entry into the line, the approach was hard-lining the heavy hitter mash-ups.  More Thing!  More Wolverine!  Yes!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Battle-Scarred Thing and Gajin Wolverine II are the last set from the Fantastic Four-themed eighth series of Marvel Minimates.  Battle-Scarred Thing remained exclusive to this assortment (for his own good, really), while Wolverine was re-packed with a standard Spider-Man for Target.

THING

Battle-Scarred Thing is actually interesting, in that he’s Minimates’ first real stab at a figure based on a specific comics appearance.  He was patterned on the Thing’s torn up appearance following a run-in with Wolverine in Fantastic Four #374, which I guess is meant to really give Wolverine an excuse to be in this set.  It doesn’t really work out quite so well.  This was the fourth version of Thing we’d gotten, and he follows the “Clobberin’ Time” model of putting Ben in one of his actual uniforms.  He’s built on the standard C3 body, so he’s 2 1/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  Structurally, he’s the same as the more basic Thing from this assortment, with the same head piece, chest block, and bulked up hands.  The powerhouse piece is still fine, but I really don’t like that head piece.  Fortunately, this would mark its last use.  The paint work changes things up here, obviously to give Ben his costume change.  I do find it interesting how he has a standard looking musculature on the uniform, despite the standard one from this set not getting any musculature at all.  Also, thanks to this costume being a post-Byrne one, it’s got white boots, so it doesn’t really match the rest of the team from this same assortment.  And that’s not even getting started on the blue sections being actually blue, rather than the black they should properly be.  Thing’s face gets adjusted detailing to include the scarring he got from Wolverine.  It doesn’t help the already less than stellar Thing head from the regular version in this set.  What does help that face, however, is the full helmet that this guy includes as an accessory, replicating the one he wore in the comics after getting injured.  It’s actually a pretty cool piece, and it’s nice that they gave him an accessory, and even a unique one at that.

WOLVERINE

This Wolverine’s official name is “Gajin Wolverine II”, which is quite the monicker.  “What happened to Gajin Wolverine I?” you might ask?  He was a summer con exclusive in 2004, and he’s honestly only very minorly different from this guy.  “Why Gajin?” you may follow up?  I guess it’s in reference to his first solo series, where he was in Japan, and referred to as “Gajin” fairly regularly.  It’s a very specific reference for something that would far more simply be summed up with the name “Brown Costume Wolverine”, but here we are.  Also, it’s worth noting that, while the Thing in this set is very specifically patterned on an issue where he has a run-in with Wolverine, in said issue, Wolverine was sporting his tiger stripe costume, not the brown one presented here.  Oh well.  Structurally, this guy’s *mostly* the same as the GSXM Wolvie.  The only change up is that instead of having the long feet under his boot pieces, he’s got the C3 feet, which means there’s a gap between the two of them at the front.  He doesn’t have the peg hole in his head, because they weren’t quite standard yet, and the older mask piece meant it wasn’t required.   The paint work on this guy’s overall not bad.  There’s one small gaffe with the secondary color on his mask being brown instead of orange, but beyond that the colors work well, and the detailing on both the face and the torso is pretty much straight out of Miller’s illustrations from the miniseries.  He was certainly one of the most detailed ‘mates at the time, and rather starkly contrasts with his assortment mates.  Wolverine had no accessories, as neither extra hands nor hair pieces had become standard quite yet.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This whole series got passed on by me, but even before that, this one wasn’t really high on my radar.  The appeal of such an extraneous re-pops of heavy hitters was kind of low for me.  When I finally got around to picking up this series from All Time last year, I still hesitated on these two, but they were there, and I figured “why not?”  Wolverine’s actually pretty solid, even by later standards.  The Thing, on the other hand, was iffy when he was new, and has not been helped by time.

#2596: Susan Richards, Invisible Woman, & Powerhouse Thing

SUSAN RICHARDS, INVISIBLE WOMAN & POWERHOUSE THING

MARVEL MINIMATES

You can’t just do *half* of the Fantastic Four…well, I mean, if you’re Toy Biz, I guess you can.  In fact, you can do it way more times than you ever fairly should be able to.  Just constantly stringing people along forever…Sorry, I was having flashbacks.  Look, we’re not talking about Toy Biz here, we’re talking about Diamond Select.  And they would never leave us high and dry like that, with an incomplete team, just two members shy of completion…apart from that one time that they did exactly that with their Aliens line…look, this isn’t about Aliens, it’s about the Fantastic Four, and finishing up that line-up, which we’re totally doing right here, right now, with no further distractions!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Susan Richards and Powerhouse Thing were released in Series 8 of the main Marvel Minimates line, and then again at Target in 2005 and 2006.  Standard Sue was the heavy packed version, with a full Invisible Woman swapping in for her in the variant set.

SUSAN RICHARDS/INVISIBLE WOMAN

Sue made her Minimates debut in style.  While her brother Johnny was stuck being flamed on all the time, she gets to be regular most of the time.  Lucky her.  Like her assortment-mates, Sue is built on the standard C3-style ‘mate body, peg hole on the head and all, so she’s 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  She uses the same glove pieces as Reed, as well as a new hair piece, clearly based on a ’60s Sue ‘do.  It’s a rather basic piece, but it gets the job done, and thanks to the peg it stays in place better than Reed’s.  I’m still iffy on the bulked up glove pieces, and exactly what their purpose is, but I’ll try to move on.  In terms of paint, the standard version fairs a bit better than Reed, thanks to having consistent coloring for the all of the costume details, as well as getting some actual torso detailing.  The variant is molded in all clear plastic, keeping the detail lines, and going for a slightly translucent blue for the black sections of the costume.  It’s a cool look, and you can easily mix and match the two for a powering up effect.  Both versions are packed with a shield piece, similar to Captain America’s.  And, thanks to those bulked up gloves, the shield has to sit over her elbow joint, which is a bit annoying.

THING

Thing gets his third go at a Minimate here, thanks to being the only team member available for a while, and yet still kind of needing to be included in the assortment proper.  So, here he is.  2005 marked a notable change-up for the line’s construction, adding in a few more bulked up parts for slightly larger characters, hence the “powerhouse” title for this version of Thing.  He uses the same bulked up hands as before, as well as making the first use of the original powerhouse chest piece, and an all-new head piece.  The powerhouse piece is pretty basic, and not nearly as involved as later bulk up parts.  This kind of helps to keep him more on the basic side, in keeping with the rest of the assortment.  The only part I don’t really care for his the head piece.  It’s really just different from the prior piece for the sake of being different, and that’s not really a good reason to change it.  It’s just not as good as the older piece, and even DST knew it, since this piece didn’t get used beyond this series.  In terms of paint, he’s not terribly far removed from the Series 5 version.  He’s got the proper team shorts this time, which is good, but I don’t like the the new face. It just doesn’t match that classic Thing feel.  Fortunately, the oranges match, so a re-work is possible.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I noted in the last set of these I looked at, despite being very excited for this set of ‘mates, I didn’t buy them new, and I didn’t really jump too quickly into tracking them down after the fact either.  I blame the Thing; he’s just so ugly.  I snagged these guys at the same time as Reed and Johnny, just to round out the team.  They’re not bad, but they’re definitely dated, and kind of from a weird middle spot for the line.

#2582: Clobberin’ Time Thing & Super Skrull

CLOBBERIN’ TIME THING & SUPER SKRULL

MARVEL MINIMATES

After being introduced into the line in early 2004 with a single team member, the Fantastic Four got another Marvel Minimates release in fairly short order.  It was great, another team member to–what’s that?  Oh, it wasn’t another team member at all?  It was just the same team member a second time?  Yeah, that sounds more appropriate.  Well, at least we got another FF foe out of the deal.  Also, full disclosure: this set’s not as bad as it seems on the outside.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Clobberin’ Time Thing and Super Skrull were a Tower Records-exclusive pack, added to the Marvel Minimates line in October of 2004.  They were Tower’s second exclusive for the line, following 2003’s single-release of Silver Surfer. Rather surprisingly for figures from this early in the line, these two remained wholly exclusive to this pack, though the pack itself was never incredibly hard to get a hold of or anything like that.

THING

Yes, for the second FF set, we got yet another version of The Thing.  This time around, he’s wearing one of his more extensive FF uniforms, with the tank top and boots that Byrne outfitted him with during his run on the book.  Honestly, I’ve always loved this look myself, so I can’t really complain that much.  The figure stands 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  Ben’s built on the standard ‘mate body, but wait, what’s that I spy?  Would those be C3-style feet?  Indeed they would.  Though they wouldn’t make it into the main line until the beginning of the next year, 2004’s summer/fall exclusive packs were all given the C3 treatment, a first for the Marvel line.  He’s got add-ons for his head piece and fists, which, like the prior release, help to bulk him up just a touch, while still keeping him more true to the core body than later versions.  While the head piece remains the same as the prior release, the hands are actually new, and actually do the reverse posing of the prior release: right is gripping, left is closed.  It’s a small touch, but still a cool one.  The paint work is a fair bit changed up for this release, adding the necessary details for his uniform, as well as some actual musculature for his torso, which works very well.  Additionally, his facial expression is changed to a close mouthed one, which really appeals to me and my desire to have more close mouthed Thing figures.  The face is seated slightly better on the face this time as well, so it works even better with the head piece this time.  Thing included a small cigar accessory originally, but mine hasn’t had one as long as it’s been in my possession.

SUPER SKRULL

Facing off against this new version of the Thing was an old FF foe whose whole gimmick is mimicking all four team members’ powers.  Maybe not the best choice when you still haven’t put out the whole team, but hey, new is new.  Like Ben, Kl’rt uses the new and improved C3-footed body.  He also gets new add-ons for his cowl, shoulder pads, flame effect, and extended rocky fist.  All of these pieces were re-used as the line progressed, and they’re all pretty solid additions.  They go more for the basic detailing of the earlier offerings, of course, but there’s plenty of sculpted detailing on that rocky fist, matching closely to what we saw on Thing’s hands.  It’s definitely cool.  Super Skrull’s paint work does a solid job of merging the typical Skrull with the effects of the FF’s powers.  He’s got the appropriate flamed-on effect for the right hand and forearm, and transparent lower legs.  It’s a good look, and it’s a lot of fun.  Super Skrull didn’t get any accessories, but given the number of new parts included, that’s hardly the end of the world.  I suppose some standard Skrull parts might have been cool, but that extensive level of alt parts wasn’t really a thing yet at this point.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Though these two are a two pack, I got the respective ‘mates about 8 years apart from each other, and neither one of them was new.  I fished Thing out of a small loose figure bin at a teeny tiny comic con I was attending back in 2011, and only had him for the longest time.  When All Time got in their huge Minimates collection last fall, Super Skrull was in there with no accompanying Thing, and so it just kind of felt meant to be.  Though the set’s doubling down on Ben seems like a bad move on the outside, he’s actually a really fun ‘mate, and remains my personal favorite version of the character in the line.  Super Skrull is likewise a really fun ‘mate, and he was new and different at the time.  Honestly, this is one of the coolest sets from ’04, and is a real pick-me-up after suffering through Series 7.

#2469: Thing & Dr. Doom(s)

THING & DR. DOOM

MARVEL MINIMATES

While the first year of Marvel Minimates certainly gave us an impressive spread of Marvel characters, there were some very notable areas of the universe left completely untouched.  This included Marvel’s own first family, the Fantastic Four, who, like Captain America signaling the first of the the Avengers, were first inducted into the line via Series 5, with the group’s most marketable single member The Thing facing off against their greatest foe Dr. Doom!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Thing and Dr. Doom marked wrapped up the line-up for Marvel Minimates Series 5, also taking the variant slot for this particular assortment.  The standard pack had Thing vs a fully-armored Doom, while the variant swapped out Doom for an unmasked version.

THING

For his debut ‘mate, Ben gets a fairly classic Thing design.  He’s orange, he’s rocky, and he’s wearing blue shorts.  Sure, the shorts aren’t quite standard FF-issue, but they’re close enough for a single release.  He’s built on the standard long-footed body, of course, so he’s 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  Like Venom, Hulk, and Juggernaut, Ben’s a large character who’s not very large.  That said, with the head piece and the sculpted “Thing Fists”, he actually makes out the best of the bunch in terms of relative scaling.  He’s got cartoonish proportions, of course, but he doesn’t feel quite as scrawny as the others.  It helps that the sculpting is really good on the new parts.  It also helps that the paint does an incredibly impressive job of conveying Ben’s rocky skin, and the painted features end up matching pretty darn well to the sculpted rocks on the head and hands.  The only slight nit I have with the paint is that the face is just a touch too high on the head, which means that it doesn’t *quite* interact correctly with the head piece.

DR. DOOM

Marvel’s greatest villain was a pretty natural choice for inclusion here, but his variant ultimately falls into the same level of “this wouldn’t be a separate figure”-ness that Unmasked Daredevil had.  Whichever version you look at, he’s got the same two sculpted add-ons, one for his cloak, and the other for his belt/skirt.  The cloak is actually kind of nice, and concise.  It’s maybe not the greatest for posing, but I find it less obtrusive than the versions that followed.  The skirt piece doesn’t work quite as well, being really flat and without flow.  Even with the much more streamlined philosophy of the earlier ‘mates, it seems a bit lacking.  The paint on everything but the head is identical between the two releases.  It does okay for the most part.  The armored detailing on the arms and legs is definitely the best work.  Comparatively, the tunic feels kind of devoid of detail, but again, that’s owing a lot to the early style.  The standard Doom gets his mask, which is nicely detailed, and matches up with the rest of the armor’s details.  It’s limited to just having details where the hood reveals it, which isn’t surprising, but does mean displaying him without the cape doesn’t really work.  For the variant, we get to see Victor Von Doom’s scarred face.  It’s a more minor scarring than some depictions, but it’s still there.  Unlike the masked head, this one has detail that goes all around, even under the hood, which is actually pretty darn cool.  It just would have made much more sense to include the extra head with the standard release, is all.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This is another one of those sets that I had as a kid, but I lost most of the parts to over the years.  I was pretty rough on these early guys.  Of course, I only had the standard Doom, so I was able to go back and get both versions when I tracked them back down again.  Thing’s not a bad little version of the character, especially within the confines of the early line.  Doom isn’t quite as cleanly interpreted here, but I think he works well-enough, and while he has some trade-offs, so would all of his eventual follow-ups.  They wrap up Marvel Minimates‘ first oddball assortment pretty nicely.

#2304: The Thing

THE THING

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Bombarded by cosmic rays, Ben Grimm develops thick, orange skin and superhuman strength.”

In 2017 and 2018, the Walgreens-exclusive Marvel Legends component gave us our first Fantastic Four Legends in a long time.  It was a slow build, one member at a time way of building the team, but it was nevertheless quite a rewarding experience for the FF fans who were able to play the waiting game.  However, the downside of the whole thing was that by the time they released the final member of the team, it was kinda hard to track down the preceding three, and I know that put some people off of the whole venture.  Still, it was a very well received set of figures, and proved that there was still a market for some FF figure love, so one of our first assortments right out of the gate for 2020 is a proper Legends assortment devoted to the FF.  I’m kicking things off with the last of the four to be added to the Walgreens set, the ever-lovin’, blue-eyed Thing!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Thing is figure 5 in the Super Skrull Series of Marvel Legends, which is our first FF-themed series of Legends since Hasbro’s own Ronan Series back in 2008.  To say they’ve improved their process since then is something of an understatement.  All of the FF members in this assortment are based on their current costume designs from Slott and Pichelli’s recent relaunch of the book.  For Ben, it’s not as drastic a change; mostly he’s just got that more prominent belt.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and has 28 points of articulation.  For the most part, he’s re-using parts from the last Thing, which was a brand-new sculpt at the time.  They *are* the same guy, and it makes sense that Hasbro wants to get another use out of the mold.  I’m certain this won’t be the last time we’ll see it either.  It was a great sculpt the first time around, and it remains a great sculpt now.  He gets an all-new head sculpt, and I actually think I might prefer this one to the two from last time.  It’s got that extra prominent brow that they were both missing.  It also maintains that slightly calmer look for Ben, which is my preferred look for him.  Whatever the case, it’s a very strong sculpt.  He also gets a brand new belt piece.  Though it’s a separate piece, it’s not designed to be removable and won’t be coming off without damaging it.  That said, it would be easy enough to take off permanently, if you really don’t like it.  The paintwork on this figure marks another notable change in the figure, as Hasbro’s way of accenting Ben’s rocky features is a little different.  On the previous figure, they more or less outlined the rocky elements, darkening the recesses, while here they instead highlight the higher points with a lighter shade.  It’s not a bad look (though I wouldn’t mind if the coverage were a *bit* more extensive), but the downside to this change in styling is that you can’t swap the heads between the two releases, meaning you can’t put this head on a more classic Ben.  Alas.  The prior Thing release had his own selection of accessories, with a spare head and an extra set of hands.  This figure gets nothing for himself, but does include the two heads meant for the Super Skrull Build-A-Figure, so it’s not the worst trade-off.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up all of the Walgreens releases, so I didn’t *need* the main four from this assortment.  That said, I’m a big FF fan, and if nothing else, I want to support the prospect of more FF-centric assortments.  If that means getting a few variants of the main team, so be it.  It helps that I really liked Ben the first time around, and that the changes made here are subtle enough that he still works as a standard Ben, while still being prominent to give me something “new.”  It’s also nice that Hasbro’s giving the fans that couldn’t get the Walgreens set another chance at the core team.

I picked up The Thing from my friends at All Time Toys. If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#1848: The Thing

THE THING

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“An impressive, boulder-like exterior grants the Thing exceptional strength and durability in even the rockiest of battles”

They did it!  Look at that, they totally did it!  They finished the FF!  It’s a Christmas Miracle! …but it’s only just now November, so it’s, like, a pre-Thanksgiving Miracle?  That just doesn’t seem to have quite the same ring to it. 

The Fantastic Four and Marvel Legends have a rather storied history.  The team was rather infamously incomplete in the main line for the entirety of Toy Biz’s run, and even with the aid of boxed sets and other such things, over the years, getting the whole team in one cohesive style hasn’t been all that easy.  So, when Hasbro announced they’d be releasing the latest versions of the team, one at a time, at Walgreens, I was excited, but decidedly skeptical.  I also had to go in more or less blind, since at the time of Sue’s release, we’d only seen a prototype for Johnny, who is easily the least impressive of the set.  Reed came along and was awesome, which reignited hopes, but there was a lot riding on this final piece of the set, Benjamin J. Grimm, the ever-lovin’-blue-eyed Thing!  Does he deliver?  Well, to paraphrase the man himself, it’s reviewin’ time!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Thing is the tenth Walgreens-exclusive Marvel Legends release, and the sixth in their Fantastic Four sub-set.  He started arriving on store shelves last month, and will hopefully be arriving in serious numbers over the next few months.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and has 28 points of articulation.  As we’d all pretty much expected (especially when he was slotted at the very end of the release schedule), Ben is sporting an entirely new sculpt.  His rather unique build and the rocky structure of said build means Ben’s usually the one with the all-new sculpt.  In the past, it’s also tended to translate to him being the figure with the most behind the times construction.  This time, however, it seems Hasbro has been taking note of what does and doesn’t work when it comes to Legendsizing larger scaled characters.  Ben’s mobility is surprisingly good for a figure of his size.  His elbows end up rather limited, which is a bit of a bummer, but on the flipside, the knees have a ton more movement than I’d expected from this figure.  This figure manages to do a pretty solid job of walking the fine line of articulation vs. aesthetic.  Speaking of aesthetic, there was much discussion before this figure was unveiled as to which version of the character we’d be seeing.  There was definitely a campaign to get a more Kirby-inspired version of the character, but the final release opts for something that’s more an amalgamation of his more recent appearances.  While I would love a more Kirby-faithful figure at some point down the line, the amalgamated, less artist specific nature of this one means he fits right in with the rest of the team, and consistency of style in FF line-ups has long been one of the biggest issues I’ve had with them.  It helps that the design they’ve gone for works really really well, and that the sculpt is just filled to the brim with sweet, rock monster goodness.  There are two different heads included.  They aren’t much different from each other, but give Ben some slight variety in expression.  The head he comes wearing has an angrier, teeth-baring appearance, while the second head is decidedly more reserved.  While both are solid sculpts, I definitely find myself more drawn to the calmer head, because for some reason Ben having regular teeth just really weirds me out.  Maybe it’s just flashing me back to the old Roger Corman flick.  The paintwork on Ben could have been really basic.  They could have just molded him in orange plastic, and left it at that.  Instead, Hasbro actually put in the effort to do the accent work on Ben’s rocky hide, and the figure is all the better for it, with the intricacies of his craggly being deftly highlighted.  In addition to the second head, Ben is also sporting two sets of hands in both fists and open gesture.  They allow for a nice variety of additional poses.  With two heads, four hands, and one of the largest single-release sculpts we’ve gotten since the Legends re-branding, Ben’s packaging ends up pretty darn jam-packed, and pretty darn hefty.  It’s honestly a little bit astounding that he’s the same retail as the other three.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Ben’s my favorite member of the FF, so I was a little bummed out that I’d have to wait to the very end to get him.  He’s had an okay stock of figures in the past, but none of them ever seemed to quite stand-up to the test of time, or even the figures from the very same assortments.  I will admit, I was a little worried about how this guy would turn out.  Prototype shots of him surfaced at Toy Fair, and I didn’t hate them, but he wasn’t wowing me as much as I’d hoped.  Then the in-package shots hit, and the whole story changed.  In-hand?  I love this figure.  I love, love, love this figure.  Have I mentioned that I love this figure?  Because I do.  I really, really do.  I love this figure, and I love my whole FF line-up that goes with him.  This is just the best, and I sincerely doubt this FF display is ever going to be topped.  Now, can I please have a new Dr. Doom to go with them?

#1559: Transforming Thing & Herald Silver Surfer

TRANSFORMING THING & HERALD SILVER SURFER

MARVEL MINIMATES

After quite a bit of time of having to start every Fantastic Four-based review with a woeful intro about how the team has fallen out of focus, it’s kind of nice to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  In case you aren’t up to date on the comics world, the Fantastic Four, or half of them anyway, are finally making their grand resurgence at Marvel, thanks to the recently launched revival of Marvel Two-In-One.  The book served as a showcase for FF member Ben Grimm in the ‘70s and ‘80s, pairing him off with other heroes from Marvel’s rather impressive stable of characters.  The re-launch once again focuses on Ben, but also brings in fellow FFer Johnny Storm, and is hopefully serving as a prelude to a full-fledged Fantastic Four relaunch.  Anyway, in honor of Ben’s return to comic-star-dom, how about looking at one of his figures?

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This pair was released in the 15th Toys R Us-exclusive series of Marvel Minimates.  The set was pulling double duty, with Ben meant to go with Series 48 of the main line (which was an all FF-themed assortment), and the Surfer augmenting the TRU-exclusive “Heralds of Galactus” set.

TRANSFORMING THING

“Pilot Ben Grimm first turned into the Thing after being bathed in cosmic radiation, and his skin was transformed into orange rock. He has since reverted to human form several times, but rarely for very long.”

This was the Thing’s twelfth (and, to date, last) time as a Minimate.  This one’s based on his John Byrne designed Negative Zone costume.  Ben actually had a few different costume variants under Byrne, and I think Minimates have covered them all.  This is the one that sticks the closest to the classic design, just being the usual shorts.  The figure stands about 2 1/2 inches tall and has either 14 or 12 points of articulation, depending on which way you have him configured.  Just how to handled Ben’s bulky build on the Minimate frame has been the source of much experimenting on DST’s part.  This one is a lot like the recent Hulks and such, being a standard ‘mate body, with a rather extensive selection of add-on pieces.  He’s got a head piece, chest cap, upper arm and leg covers, a pelvis cap, and unique hands and feet.  The head piece goes all the way back to the very first Thing ‘mate from Series 5, and most of the other pieces come from the first really bulked up Thing from Series 37.  The only new pieces here are the hands.  The last two Thing hands hadn’t really fit well with the new bulked up pieces, so these newer parts looked much better.  The bulked up look for Thing has always seemed maybe a touch too large for me, but I don’t think it looks horrible, and there’s no denying that there’s some really great detail work going on.  In terms of paint, Ben’s rather on the simple side…at first glance.  The detailing on the face is really good, of course, and I particularly like that they went with a calm expression.  One can only have so many screaming Ben Grimms.  The shade of orange used is one of my favorites, but it’s bright enough that he looks a little weird without any other sort of detailing on the rocks.  Some sort of black outline would have been cool.  As it stands, he still looks fine, but his face stands out quite a bit.  Under all of the add-on pieces, there’s actually a fully detailed second figure!  Yes, with the help of a spare head/hair, pelvis, hands, and feet, you can transform Ben back into his old human self.  The detailing on this underlying figure is pretty great, and it’s awesome that we got this option.

HERALD SILVER SURFER

The Surfer hasn’t been quite so lucky with ‘mates as Ben, with this one only being his third (and, again, his last to date).  I suppose it’s hard to do too much new with a guy whose design has remained essentially identical for 50 years.  From a sculpting standpoint, there’s not much to say about this guy.  He’s just the standard body, as he should be.  Painted details are really where it’s at, and Diamond has done a pretty awesome job of conveying the Surfer’s cosmic shininess.  The first Surfer was more abstract, and the second perhaps a bit too heavy on the details.  This one went for a Goldilocks approach to detailing and gave us a Surfer whose detail paint was just right.  I also appreciate the slightly more intense expression on this guy, since the last two went more stoic.  The Surfer was packed with his signature surfboard, as well as two energy effects for his hands, a portal effect to plug onto the back of his board, and a flight stand.  It all adds up to easily the most exciting looking of the three Silver Surfer ‘mates.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got Series 48 before these guys showed up, and that was one of my favorite assortments of Marvel Minimates pretty much ever.  So, I knew I was tracking this set down to complete my team.  At the time, I wasn’t particularly keen about getting another variant of the Surfer, but he was sort of along for the ride.  When I finally tracked this set down, I ended up loving it just as much as the Series 48 guys, and both figures included are hands down my definitive versions of the characters.