Before their demise last month, Toys R Us played a tremendous role in getting the Minimates brand into the hands of many new fans, as well as helping to introduce new licenses and bolstering the ranks of existing ones. As with all things Minimates, by far the most successful of these ventures was with the Marvel license. In the decade that they supported the line (well, the second time around, anyway), they put out 47 series and 6 boxed sets, with over 200 unique Minimates released therein. That’s pretty darn impressive.
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
Negative Zone Spider-Man and Jack O’Lantern, comes from Series 25 of the main comics line of Marvel Minimates, which would prove to be the final TRU-exclusive assortment.
NEGATIVE ZONE SPIDER-MAN
Amongst the many zany properties of the Negative Zone is apparently the ability to create killer costume variants. In addition to doing it for Spider-Man, it’s also done it for the Fantastic Four. It’s a wonder Marvel hasn’t stuck a few more popular heroes through there to get some additional variants! Negative Zone Spider-Man’s a variant that’s cropped up in other lines, but not yet been seen in Minimates, which is honestly a little bit surprising given how many Spider-Men we’ve gotten over the years (this one marks the 83rd, for those keeping count). Negative Zone Spider-Man is another vanilla ‘mate, so no add-on pieces here. I much prefer this method of handling Spider-Men, so I’m happy this was the way they went. The important costume details are done via paint, which is applied very cleanly and is sharply defined, capturing his negative look from the comics very well. It all makes for a very striking looking design, that’s also quite sleek. As an added bonus, the head is almost a dead match for Agent Venom’s mask, should you wish to swap out the slip mask from the TTA set or turn your animated version into a comics one. For accessories, Negative Zone Spidey includes a webline (done in smokey translucent grey instead of the usual solid color; guess Spidey’s web-fluid was affected too), a Negative Zone effects base (a clever re-use of Invisible Woman’s forcefield piece), and the usual clear display stand.
Jack O’Lantern’s a name that’s been held by four Marvel Super Villains. None of them have ever really risen beyond second-string villain, but he’s got an intriguing design, so he’s gotten a few toys. This marks his first Minimate, though. This particular figure’s design is one that could equally work as original Jack O’Lantern Jason Macendale, or his immediate replacement Steven Mark Levens, and it could even work as Daniel Berkhart from before he re-designed his costume to become Mad Jack. Point is, you’ve got options. Jack O’Lantern makes use of a unique pumpkin-shaped head in place of the usual cylinder. At first glance I thought it might be re-used, either from Samhain or Pumpkin King Jack, but it’s a new piece. He also has add-ons for the flame effect, and his flared boots and gloves. It makes for a nice summation of Jack’s classic design, and the flames in particular work a lot better here than they have on the various Ghost Riders we’ve gotten over the years. Like Negative Zone Spidey, Jack’s paintwork is sharply handled, cleanly applied, and very bold and striking. Traditionally, Jack’s color scheme is variations of green, rather than the green and black combo seen here. However, differences in shading mean this general look has shown up on occasion, and it certainly looks very eye-catching. Jack O’Lantern is packed with a spare pumpkin-bomb-wielding hand, as well as his flying disk, a corresponding flight stand, and a standard clear display stand.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
I picked up this set during TRU’s lengthy liquidation sales. It was nearer the beginning, so they were essentially full price, but given how scarce Series 25 proved, I’m glad I got them when I did. Negative Zone Spider-Man is far from an essential design, but as far as one-off variants go, he’s a pretty strong one, and quite a bit of fun. Jack O’Lantern’s a fun lesser villain, and his Minimate lives up to all that fun, and even elevates him, crafting one of the best Spider-Foe ‘mates available.