GLADIATOR THOR, HELA, BRUCE BANNER, & LOKI
Three Norse Gods and….Mark Ruffalo? What could possibly go wrong?
The Thor movies have some slight trouble with getting proper toy representation. The Minimates have done a fair bit of good, but in the case of both of the first two films, last minute cancellations of planned store exclusives resulted in incomplete cast lineups. Fortunately, Ragnarok was a bit more fortunate.
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
These four were released in a specialty-exclusive four-pack, released at the same time as the Walgreens and TRU-exclusive two-pack assortments. Thor and Hela were included in two-pack form in both of those assortments, but Loki and Banner are both exclusive to this particular set.
Ragnarok delivered a rather changed-up look for our hero Thor, who had something of an evolving appearance as the film progressed. This figure represents him from around the film’s mid-point, after he’s arrived on Sakaar and been thrown into the arena as a gladiator. It’s definitely his most distinctive look from the film, so it’s a sensible inclusion. Thor has three sculpted add-on pieces to aid in his look. The first is his helmet. Thor’s helmet has been frequently overlooked by the film’s and while he doesn’t wear it for long in Ragnarok, it does at least get some focus that it hadn’t previously. It’s an all-new piece here, and a pretty decent one at that. The general design of it’s very close to the one seen in the film, and the detail work is pretty solid. It perhaps sits a little high on his head, but only ever so slightly. He’s also got a brand new shoulder piece, featuring his shoulderpads and the remaining half of his cape. It sits well on the body, and doesn’t bulk up the neck too much, so that’s a definite plus. Finally, he’s got a generic skirt piece, standing in for the bottom portion of his tunic. Thor’s paintwork is a good recreation of his film design. The detail lines are nice and sharp, and while the face isn’t the spitting image of Hemsworth, it’s as close as any of the prior attempts have been, and at least this one’s got a good fighting expression. The tunic features some rather ornate detailing, as do his wrist guards, but I think the little bit of Sakaaran armor on his right leg is my favorite bit. It’s just so vibrant and genuine. Since it depicts Thor following Mjolnir’s destruction, this figure doesn’t include that piece. It does, however, include the two swords he tries to replace his hammer with during his time as a gladiator, as well as a spare hairpiece for a sans-helmet look and a clear display stand.
After sparring off with one of the franchise’s most forgettable villains for his second installment, Thor was granted a far more intriguing foe in the form of Hela, goddess of death. She’s still not the Enchantress, but I guess I’ll take it. Hela is built using two sculpted add-on pieces, for her cape and her distinctive headdress. Both pieces are unique to this particular figure, though I’m sure they could easily work for a comic book Hela, should DST be so inclined. They’re both very well crafted additions, capturing the designs from the movie very nicely. The headdress is sufficiently ornate, and the slight swoop at the bottom of the cape is definitely a nice touch. Hela’s paint work is suitably bold and striking, even a bit moreso than her onscreen design. The slightly metallic nature of the green adds even more to the appearance, and I appreciate that the green detailing goes all the way around the legs and pelvis piece. For accesroes, Hela’s packed with an extra head and hair, depicting her unmasked appearance from her more vulnerable portions of the movie, as well as the usual clear display stand.
While the two-packs were host to his jade goliath alter-ego, this set gives us a completely un-transformed Bruce Banner. This is the second such figure we’ve gotten of the Mark Ruffalo version of the character, following his TRU-exclusive release from Age of Ultron. Banner uses two add-on pieces, for his hair and his jacket. Both of them are re-used. The hair is, appropriately, the old Zombie Hulk piece that was used for quite a few Hulks. It’s a pretty decent match for Ruffalo’s look, especially his slightly shorter hair from Ragnarok. His jacket is the Ghostbusters World of the Psychic Peter Venkman piece, which has similarly seen a number of uses. It’s just a basic blazer, so it works well for the look they’re going for. Bruce’s paint work is perhaps not the most thrilling work in the whole set, but it’s reasonable work never the less. The face capture’s Ruffalo’s likeness pretty well, and while the shirt lacks the Duran Duran cover from the movie (which I’m certain is a licensing thing), it does at the very least include some wrinkles and folds, so that it’s not just a blank grey block. Bruce includes a second head, with an angry expression and green pupils. It’s not the first such piece we’ve seen with a Banner figure, but it’s a welcome addition all the same. He also includes the usual clear display stand.
Loki, particularly Tom Hiddleston’s version of the character, is no stranger to the world of Minimates. He’s managed to get at least one ‘mate for each of the movies he’s been featured in (well, barring Infinity War). Ragnarok proved even more generous in this regarding, giving us not one, not two, but three versions of the character. The one seen here is based on his look from the movie’s final climactic battle. It’s a look patterned somewhat after his “Agent of Asgard” look from the comics, which is certainly one of his cooler looks. Loki makes use of three sculpted add-on pieces, for his hair/crown, his cape, and his belt piece. The hairpiece is unique to this figure, and does a respectable job of capturing the design from the movie. The crown in particular is quite sharply detailed. The cape, which is shared with one of the other two Lokis from the movie, is one of my favorite capes, in part because of its rather straight forward nature. His paint is perhaps the figure’s one real flaw. For the most part, it’s not bad. Like Hela, the color scheme is rather striking, and the details on the costume are quite sharp. In addition, the face is my favorite of the Hiddleston Lokis we’ve gotten to date; that smile is fantastic. The real trouble is with the hairpiece, where the application is rather sloppy, and in what appears to be an across the board error, his ears have been painted the same gold as his headpiece, rather than the proper peach-tone. Loki is the lightest packed in this set, featuring only a clear display stand. I wouldn’t have minded his knives or an extra hair piece or something, but the other three help keep the sting down a little bit.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
I grabbed this set from the best Minimate retailer around, Luke’s Toy Store, a few months back. I actually had fallen behind a bit on releases, so this was part of a catch-up I was doing at the time. It’s a pretty strong set. Gladiator Thor is one of the coolest versions of the character we’ve gotten in the MCU, and this ‘mate does a great job of translating that. Hela’s an important character in the context of the movie, and a brand-new character in the context of the line as a whole, plus she’s got a pretty killer look. Though he’s just a basic civilian, Banner’s a very well-executed ‘mate, and another winning figure in this already quite strong set. This Loki is really the star Loki figure from the movie, and issues with the paint aside, he’s a pretty darn solid addition to the line-up.