IRON MAN, HAWKEYE, THOR, & GRIM REAPER
“Iron Man, Thor and Hawkeye are just three of the Heroes who make up the super-team known as the Avengers. Together, they can neutralize any threat, even the manipulations of the evil Grim Reaper!”
I just mentioned Minimates passingly in yesterday’s Palz review, so I suppose it’s fitting that today I give them a whole focus of their own. Because, as we all know, Minimates neeeever show up in my review schedule, right? …Anyway, getting back to the Minimates, Disney’s acquisition of Marvel in 2009 left a little bit of uncertainty about the future of Marvel Minimates and whether DST would be allowed to continue as a licensee. Disney assuaged fears by turning around a couple of Disney Store exclusives, sort of out of nowhere one day. I’m looking at one of those exclusives today.
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
This set was released in May of 2012 as one of two Disney Store-exclusive boxed sets meant to tie-in with the release of the first Avengers movie (I already took a look at the other one here). Iron Man and Thor are both the same figures as their Marvel Minimates Series 44 counterparts, while Hawkeye and Grim Reaper were exclusive to this set.
The mid ‘90s marked a bit of a resurgence for Tony Stark as Iron Man (albeit nowhere near as big as the one he got in ’08), with fan favorite Kurt Busiek handling the character both in his solo book and in the pages of the re-launched Avengers title. This figure represents the design he was wearing at that time, and it’s a favorite of mine. The figure is 2 1/2 inches tall and he has the usual 14 points of articulation. He has add-ons for his helmet, breast plate/shoulder pads, gloves, belt, and boots. All of these were new to this figure, and they all are pretty fantastic. There’s a ton of sculpted detail on each piece, but he maintains the ‘mate aesthetic very well. As far as paint goes, this Iron Man is generally pretty solid, but is definitely an example of DST’s learning curve with metallic paints. While the reds are really great looking, the gold is still that very dark, very dull shade they were using for a while, and it’s also worth noting that it’s a paint that doesn’t hold up to time. It’s not as bad as the Avengers #1 set’s version of Tony, but it’s pretty frustrating. Even more frustrating is DST’s decision to package Tony’s helmet on him. For most Iron Man ‘mates (at least leading up to this), the helmet would be packed off to the side. The reason for this is simple: if the paint hasn’t fully dried when the figure is packaged and you stick the helmet on there, it’s likely not coming off. That’s what happened with my figure. Seriously, six years I’ve owned this guy, and I’ve yet to get that helmet off him. It’s a little sad. Guess it’s a good thing I like the fully armored look. Iron Man was packed with a rocket trail flying stand, done in a nice pale blue.
Before this figure, there had been only one other standard Clint Barton Hawkeye (reviewed here), four years prior. That figure had some notable issues, and really looked out of place with all of the other advancements going on. So, he was due for an update, and the extra notoriety given to him by the first Avengers movie granted him that chance. Plus, as a pivotal player in Busiek’s Avengers re-launch, his inclusion alongside the otherwise very clearly Heroes Return-branded ‘mates in this set and Series 44 made a lot of sense. I’ve actually looked at a lot of this figure before, via the Best Of Marvel Minimates Series 3 release, which took it’s add-ons from this guy. I liked the pieces there, and I liked them here first. The only real difference between the two is paint. And paint’s kind of what breaks this figure for me. It’s not terrible. It’s actually pretty decent, even. That being said, if the Series 20 Hawkeye was too subdued, this one went too far the other way, making him way too bright. It’s the blue in particular that throws him off. It should definitely be a deeper tone (which the later release definitely fixed). Another thing I’ve never much liked about this figure is his facial expression. I’m glad they got the face to line up correctly (since the first Hawkeye did not), but the angry, gritted teeth look just doesn’t feel right for Barton. Hawkeye included his bow, three pointed arrows, two sonic arrows, and a hairpiece for his unmasked look. The arrows were nice, and can even be placed in his quiver. The bow, which was a new sculpt, was okay at the time, but was definitely on the small side, and a little hard for him to hold properly.
Though he was the most glaring omission from the line for its first 15 series, by the time of this Thor’s release, we were kind of suffering from a glut of Thors, with this one being the ninth Thor in the space of a year. Like Iron Man, this Thor was definitely patterned on the Heroes Return look, which is really just the classic design plus a beard. Thor was built using add-ons for his helmet/hair, cape, wrist bands, belt, and boots. The wrist bands were from the very first Thor in Series 16, the cape and boots came from the TRU-exclusive First Appearance Thor from 2011, and the belt was just a generic piece. The helmet was new, though you’d be forgiven for not realizing. Overall, a solid set of parts, though the cape does make it a little hard to keep him standing. The rest of the look is achieved via paint. I think it’s pretty good overall, though there’s some slight slop here and there, especially noticeable on the helmet and the cape. He used the same gold paint as Iron Man, which isn’t super, but there’s less of it on Thor. Thor included his hammer Mjonir, in both standard AND spinning configurations. I quite like the spinning version. He also had an extra head sans-beard, which, despite using the exact same facial features as the bearded head, ends up looking a bit too mean for Thor. There’s also a spare hairpiece for a look without the helmet, I suppose to offer people who only knew the movie Thor a more familiar look. Lastly, he included a clear display stand to help him stay standing with the spinning Mjolnir. It’s important to note that these still weren’t a standard inclusion yet.
Last up, the set’s one new character, Grim Reaper! Reaper has been a long-recurring Avengers villain, and he was revived during the Busiek/Perez run, so he’s a perfect fit…well, apart from the total lack of Vision or Wonder Man in the set, but hey, I’ll take what I can get. They went with the classic Reaper design (classic, not original, because no body really wants the technicolor dreamcoat monstrosity that was his first costume), which is sensible enough. I’m still partial to his re-animated look from the ‘80s, but this works too. The figure makes use of add-ons for his mask, cape, and scythe attachment. The mask and scythe were new to this figure (and remain unique to this figure six years later), and were fantastic renditions of his look from the comics. The cape is the standard cape from the DC Minimates Series 1 Superman. It’s not a perfect fit (since Reaper’s really supposed to have the collar), but it’s close enough that it works. In terms of paint, Reaper is certainly subdued, but very well-rendered. The colors are suitably dark, but there’s still plenty of room for detailing. I love the dynamic shading on the bodysuit and mask. I also really love that crazed expression they gave him. Reaper included no accessories, but I don’t really know what you’d give him.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
I grabbed this set at the same time as its companion set, ordering them both from Disney’s online store (since none of my local Disney Stores ever carried Minimates). Reaper’s always been a favorite of mine, so his inclusion definitely excited me, but I was also pretty happy to get another Hawkeye. While Hawkeye didn’t end up being quit what I wanted, I was still pretty happy with the other three in this set. In fact, this was my preferred of the two Disney sets.