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Stretch Attack Mr. Fantastic/World War Hulk

Minimates
by Rustin Parr

Series 6 of Toys Я Us Marvel Minimates brought us four sets of figures; two were re-releases (Thor & Lady Loki from Series 33 and Battle Damage Wolverine & Captain America which were slight redecos from the "Heroes to the Rescue!" Boxset) and two were new exclusives, one of which featured Klaw and Storm from Secret Wars while the other was this set before our eyes!

As leader of the Fantastic Four and member of the Illuminati, it falls to Reed Richards to battle the near-unstoppable Hulk using every trick in the book - including his immobilizing Stretch Attack!

Since the packaging doesn't explain what the Illuminati are, let us explain it. No, he's not part of the imaginary group that tin-foil conspiracists believe secretly runs the world - some things are even too stupid for comics. Rather, it's the coalition of Reed, Namor, Professor X, Iron Man, Black Bolt and Dr. Strange, a group that gathers to deal with things that one (group) of heroes can't handle alone. Alien invasions, Infinity Gauntlets, Secret Wars, all that. The biggest guys with the biggest sticks to swing, all in one room.

"Stretch Attack Mr. Fantastic" comes in Battle Damage Mode! His costume is ripped and he has mutliple scratches and even a facial cut which appears to be bleeding black goo - call Mulder and Scully! The deco is well executed but definitely feels odd. While "battle damage" is a classic standby for figure repaints it's definitely not a look easily associated with Reed Richards, especially since the Fantastic Four costumes are made from Unstable Molecules that allow them to mimic the powers of the wearer - hence they rarely, if ever rip or tear. It just shows how badly he's been beaten, if even his uniform can be torn.

This was the third Mr. Fantastic Minimate to be released and it's a bit odd that he isn't accompanied by any fellow F4 members. We've had plenty of Johnny Storm/Human Torch and Thing variants over the years, so it shouldn't be too difficult to build up at least most of the team around him. Other than the scratches, the torso has a really good sense of baggy-ness to the paint application which really fits the classic costumes and is missing from figures with similar apps. Reed comes with a new and unique hair piece but it's really his accessory that makes him special.

While a "battle damage" Mr. Fantastic has little place in your collection, it's the additional piece that gives him the eponymous "Stretch Attack!" It's an alternate lower body that replicates Reed's classic wrapping-around-an-adversary-attack. His upper torso connects to the peg at the top allowing him to slap about his captive as need be. You can even augment this great new piece by using the arms and their bendy-extenders from the original Mr. Fantastic Minimate! The stretch-torso is approximately 1⅓" tall (to the waist) and is a relatively simple wrapping sculpt widening at the top to match to the torso's footprint. Other than "stretch marks" the only sculptural detailing is a band representing the belt on the front. I'm not sure exactly how necessary that is but it's certainly a nice touch. This new piece is frankly the best new display part DST has added in a long time!

After being exiled from Earth by the Illuminati, the Incredible Hulk returns to destroy New York City and in turn battles the X-Men, Avengers, Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, Hercules, Doctor Strange and the Army!

When the Illuminati suggested banishing Hulk to a distant planet (he'd destroyed Las Vegas, so SHIELD went to them for suggestions on what to do about him), Namor told them it would come back to bite them in the ass, and he was right. When Hulk got back to Earth, he went on a "rip-roaring rampage of revenge," as the movie advertisements say. That's why Stretch Attack Mr. Fantastic is so battle-damaged: you don't think just any fight would be enough to see him beaten up like that, do you?

"World War Hulk" (the figure, not the comic) gives us the great look Hulk bore as King of Sakaar and as such he comes with several new parts. The least of the new pieces is his hair piece, a small top-of-the-head mop. It's a great rendition of a semi-classic Hulk look. You can't just put this head on an old Hulk body, because his silver tiara is painted on his forehead.

Over his shins and feet are also new ribbed and spiked pieces to give provide the look of the boots in the comics. Sadly, since they're slip-on pieces, the necessary bulk of the inner-leg parts force the feet to stand further apart than one would prefer causing yet another lopsided Minimate stance. Luckily the feet have a slight angle to counteract that. Included are a pair of standard sized brown feet if you should for some reason not want to use the taller "duck feet," which I'll note not only help give Hulk his necessary height but are also the only way to maintain the boot-lace pieces as the front straps stetches down longer than the standard foot is tall. On the other hand, giving him the normal feet is the only way to fit him into Reed's coil.

The real star of the figure is his new torso that includes his battle pauldron and sword-carryin' belt in addition to his spiked loincloth. It's a great piece that does a fantastic balance between sculptural detail and Minimate simplicity. Hulk also comes with his signature sword, which he can either hold in-hand or carry on his back. The sword came a hole cut in it to fit on a peg coming of the figure's back. While that allows for a whole lot of options in how it can be posed, it means there's a gaping hole in the sword. We would have preferred they found a way to have a holster or clip on the back so that the sword could be solid.

Despite some original misgivings about this set, I picked it up for the unique new Hulk (and since I'm a big F4 fan), and boy was I rewarded! Hulk is just a great Minimate and the stretching torso is a fantastic addition to world of Minimates. While I prefer my Fantastic Four in blue and white, all previous Minimate iterations have been in the blue and black making this piece compatible with all other Mr. Fantastics (with a few minor differences in the exact tone of the blue)!

-- 10/17/11


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