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Age of Ultron

Minimates
by yo go re

The evil android Ultron has taken over Earth from his home in the distant future, and Iron Man, Nick Fury, and the rest of Earth's heroes must travel through time to defeat him. But their history-changing mission also affects the fabric of reality, and a Heavenly warrior named Angela is pulled into their universe!

The Age of Ultron story actually began in Avengers #12.1, a comic released in 2011 (which gives you an idea of how long it took this thing to get going). Ultron hitched a ride back to Earth after his adventures in outer space, and since he wasn't ready to fight the Avengers yet, he retreated to do what he does best: upgrade himself (while keeping the same head as always).

This is Ultron's most fearsome design yet. He has six arms, perfect for fending off an entire team of Avengers at once. His legs would look right at home among the live-action Decepticons, because they have talons instead of feet, and a line of spikes running up the animalistic shins. Plus, he's super tall.

The figure gets lots of unique, sculpted pieces to create his new look. There are the lower legs, of course, but the thighs get the benefit of armored pads as well. He has the "waistless" hip block a lot of the larger Minimates have been coming with, and a round waist extender. His intricate chest cap covers a plain Minimate torso, and features the two extra shoulder joints needed to attach the extra arms (which works better than the last effort). His head-cap is new, to create those sharp ear blades of his. He's got sculpted gloves - two different styles, actually - but the upper arms are new as well. To the people who keep telling us that every Minimate is the same? Ultron is the rebuttal.

The head-cap is removable, for some reason. The head beneath is cast from translucent pinkish plastic, and has face details - the same face details seen on the "normal" head - printed on in white. No idea what that's supposed to represent. The torso beneath the chest cap gets some paint as well, if you want to use it to build a skinny Ultron.

As Bendis promised, Age of Ultron started with Ultron triumphant from page one. So with the heroes on the run, they had to turn to the one guy who knows more about being on the run than anyone else: Nick Fury.

This is, surprisingly, only the second Nick Fury Minimate there's been. Well, the white Nick Fury, anyway. Samuel L. Jackson has gotten a few, as have the versions of Nick he's influenced, but this is only our second Hasselhoff-style super spy. Since he's no longer the head of SHIELD, he's dressed more casually - which for him means combat boots, a tactical vest, and gloves with thick leather straps around the wrists. The gloves are new, and the hands are slightly smaller than usual - maybe because of all the sculpted details? Don't know.

If you take off the vest, Nick is wearing a blue T-shirt with the SHIELD logo on the left side of the chest. And also on both shoulders. Apparently he grabbed a bunch of shirts before he left office, like President Bush taking decks of playing cards from Air Force One. He's got a nicely grizzled face, with stubble and a mighty frown.

Nick Fury comes with a pistol that can fit in the holster on his right leg, and he also has the jetpack, flame stand and laser rifle that Hope Summers had. The jetpack is stuck in the vest pretty firmly, but if you do remove it, you can plug the rifle in back there in its place. The holster on his leg was upside down when I opened the set - just remember that the rounded part goes on the top, and you'll be fine. This Minimate really captures the way Nick Fury looked during the story.

Iron Man got a new suit of armor for Age of Ultron, and this is the first toy of it (there's a new Marvel Universe "Zero Gravity armor" figure that just came out, but it's a blend between this armor and the stealth armor he wore in Iron Man #3). Like a lot of things in the comic, Tony's new armor went completely unexplained - he was just wearing it from the start.

It's an odd design, too - is this the first time he's worn an armor without a repulsor beam in the center? Yes, yes it is. [No, no it's not --ed.] The armor itself is black with silver detailing, and big blue stripes that run vertically along the body. It definitely looks unlike any other Iron Man armors you might already own. The helmet, with its golden faceplate, is removable; underneath it, Tony looks tired and unhappy, which makes a lot of sense since he's been living in the sewers under Central Park for a while.

And then there's the most exciting figure in this box set: Angela. It's easy to forget now, but Angela was one of the most popular characters of the '90s. Spawn was a top-selling book, and the fans always wanted more Angela. Todd mostly stopped using her when he got involved in the lawsuit with Neil Gaiman, so that demand went unsupplied. Anyway, when the courts decided that Neil owned 50% of the characters he created, Todd ended up ceding the full rights to Angela to Gaiman, who subsequently sold her to Marvel, and here she is now.

Angela was redesigned by Joe Quesada, who modernized her very-90s costume. The broad strokes are the same - purple and gold bikini armor, wings on the head, living ribbons twirling around her - it just has a more modern sensibility. The figure gets a new hair piece with wings poking out, a piece of asymmetrical armor on her right shoulder, a belt/loincloth combo with a scabbard on the back, and two different gloves. She's armed with a sword (no spear, sadly), but the armor on her hands makes it hard for her to hold it. Regardless, this is something of a landmark toy.

In all honesty, Age of Ultron wasn't a very good event. The plot was obtuse, the underlying gimmick breaks the established rules of the game, and (even taking the crossover issues into account) it felt like a huge chunk of the story was missing. And hey, big-time spoiler alert: Ultron himself never actually appears in it. Those variant covers that show him evolving into his new form? None of that is in the comic. His golden drones are all over the place, but as for the man bot himself? Nothing. The story may start as "Age of Ultron" but quickly changes into "Age of Morgan le Fay," and is mostly just 10 issues of Invisible Woman and Wolverine faffing about. Hey, maybe that can be a TRU two-pack to complement this set: Future Foundation Invisible Woman with a ponytail, and Wolverine inexplicably wearing his Last Defenders "Hooded Man" costume. But whether or not the comic itself was good, this set definitely is.

-- 12/09/13


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