ERIC MASTERSON AS THOR, THUNDERSTRIKE, & KRONAN STONE MAN
Remember when Thor actually had a secret identity? And then he didn’t? And then he did again, but it was a different guy? And then he didn’t again, but that guy from before had a *different* secret identity? Man, Thor comics is weird…
Today, we’re jumping back into the world of Minimates for just a bit, specifically looking over at the Thor side of things, with a Thor variant, a variant of that Thor variant, and a stone guy, but not that stone guy that every one knows. Confused? Yeah, me too.
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
Eric Masterson as Thunderstrike and the Kronan Stone Man were released in the 42nd Series of Marvel Minimates, with Eric as Thor swapping out for Thunderstrike in the one-per-case variant set. The whole assortment was a split between Captain America and Thor, serving as a loose tie-in to the two characters getting their live-action films in 2011.
ERIC MASTERSON AS THOR
Introduced as a supporting player in the book, Eric Masterson took over as Thor’s human host, after Thor had been without one since he and Don Blake had split a few years prior. Eric was a different sort of Thor, a more working class sort of character. Also, he had a beard, which was a departure at the time…not so much any more. This is not the first time we received an Eric Masterson as Thor ‘mate; the first one was also a variant set, released alongside the main version of Thor waaaaaaay back in Series 16. The figure is built on the standard post-C3 base body, which stands about 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation. Thor has seven add-on pieces, for his helmet/hair, cape/shoulderpads, arm bands, belt, and boots. With the exception of the armbands, which, like the original Thor ‘mate, are re-used from DC’s Stargirl, and the belt, which is also from the original Thor, the pieces were new to this figure, or at the very least the wave, since there were a few shared parts going around. Due one would assume to budgetary reasons, the original Masterson Thor used the same helmet as the standard, with only paint to replicate his signature armored mask. This figure, however gets his own uniquely sculpted helm, with hair designed to work in conjunction with the high sitting cape. It’s a very impressively detailed piece. The cape itself is a somewhat impressive piece. Prior Thor capes seemed to lack some of the grandeur of how his comics incarnations tended to look, but this one does its very best to live up to it, swooping up and out from his shoulders in quite a dynamic fashion. It can at times make him a tiny bit top-heavy, but for this look, I think it’s worth it. The prior Thor used a very bulky set of boots, which made posing his legs very awkward. This figure uses the streamlined style of boot introduced with the Secret Invasion set’s Wolverine, which results in an accurate, detailed depiction of Thor’s footwear that isn’t too restricting. Thor’s paintwork is quite nicely handled. The basic colors are all a good match, and I quite like the way they’ve made his…torso circles (?) reflective. By far the best part is the face that’s under that mask. Not only is it perfectly aligned to the mask, but it also gives us a very expressive, very angry looking Masterson. Thor is packed with one accessory: his hammer Mjolnir. It’s the more sizable model introduced a few years prior with the Reborn Thor, but this time it has “Whosever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of THOR” written on its side. A small, but fun change.
ERIC MASTERSON AS THUNDERSTRIKE
When it was decided that the original Thor was going to return, Marvel didn’t want to just shunt Eric off to the land of forgotten comic book characters, so a new weapon, Thunderstrike, was created for him, and he took on the name to match. As Eric’s main identity, Thunderstrike served as the non-variant set’s anchor. Thunderstrike, like Thor, uses seven add-on pieces. The armbands and belt are the same ones used for Thor, and he gets a new hair piece, vest, and boots. These new pieces are all excellently sculpted, featuring quite a bit of detailing, not always seen on prior figures. The vest’s collar is popped up, as was Thunderstrike’s style, and his pony tail has been smartly sculpted to match. It does make posing the head a little bit tricky, but not impossible. The boots are designed in a fashion similar to the Thor figure, but since Thunderstrike’s boots are intentionally bulkier, they wrap a bit around the sides of the leg as well. Thunderstrike’s paintwork is a good match for Thor’s. It’s similarly clean, and crisp, and the differing way of handling his chest detailing reflects how things were handled in the comics. The face is slightly different from the one under Thor’s mask, but the details make it clear that this is the same guy, just with a slightly different expression. The cool thing is that you can swap the heads between the two, resulting in a calmer Thor and an angrier Thunderstrike, which is definitely a nice little bonus. Thunderstrike is, unsurprisingly, packed with his mace Thunderstrike, a unique sculpt for this set. It’s a reasonable match for the weapon from the comics, though doesn’t quite have the imposing power of Mjolnir.
KRONAN STONE MAN
The Kronan Stone Men, or as they were then known, the Stone Men of Saturn, were Thor’s very first antagonists, appearing alongside him in Journey into Mystery #83. Though never incredibly prominent, they’ve been hanging around the Marvel Universe ever since, and, most recently, gained a little bit of notoriety via Korg, the goofy, inept stone man from Planet Hulk and Thor: Ragnarok. Though I’ve no doubt their presence in Thor’s debut certainly played a part in getting them this slot, I’d say the biggest push to include them in this series was parts re-use. Apart from the head, which is a unique piece depicting the Stone Man’s pointier noggin, these pieces were all sculpted for prior figures. The bulk of the pieces come from the re-worked Thing minimate from Series 37. Technically, the hands are new, since they didn’t make it onto the production version of that figure, but they were certainly sculpted for him. Given the similarities between the Thing and the Stone Men, the re-use is certainly sensible. The skirt piece is from waaaay back in wave 1 of the line, borrowed from Elektra. It’s a somewhat archaic piece, and certainly more geometric and flat than more recent offerings, but for the Stone Men it works. The Kronans’ paintwork is decent enough. Not particularly thrilling or anything, but that’s the Stone Men. They’ve gone with their brown/tan coloring from JiM #83’s interiors, rather than the green from the cover. This also allows for an easy enough conversion to a comics version of Korg, which is a nice bonus. The Stone Man is packed with two different styles of blaster, in both large and small sizes. Both were new to this particular figure, and the pairing allows for some different options for army building.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
I picked these sets up, along with the rest of the assortment, from Luke’s Toy Store, back when they were new. Though not a new figure, Eric Masterson Thor was certainly a very welcome redo, and trumps the original release in just about every way. He may be an off-shoot variant, but he’s one of the best Thors available. It’s always nice to get a new character, and Thunderstrike was definitely a very welcome addition to this line-up. He perhaps lacks some of Thor’s flair, but that’s a bit by design. A few series after introduction of the army builder idea to the line, DST seemed to hit a bit of a low point, running out of exciting choices. The Kronan Stone Man, while not an *awful* choice was kind of a little bit that way. Technically, it’s a fine figure, and it’s a credible character choice, but it’s really just hard to get excited. They can’t all be winners.