Last year, Art Asylum's plan for its Minimate exclusives was pretty good: one new character, one variant of an existing character. This year they're trying something different: one new character, one unchanged version of an old character. This plan? Not quite as good.
There have been several versions of premiere X-Couple Cyclops and Phoenix, ranging from their Ultimate versions to the New X-Men costumes, but in terms of classic, old-school designs, so far we've only had Cyke, and then only in an exclusive set. So maybe calling this an unchanged version of an old character is too harsh - there are slight differences, and it's not like classic Cyclops was a mass-market relase.
This is Scott in his bright blue and yellow costume, complete with the red X-emblem belt. To help set him apart, he's got big, dark, muscle/shadow things, the way John Byrne used to draw him. His mask and visor are removable to reveal a face that's a bit more detailed than the previous version. The paint on Cyclops' boots is really sloppy
Overall, it's a good presentation, but if you already have the Giant-Size X-Men box set, then there isn't enough to recommend Cyclops by himself.
Luckily, Cyke isn't by himself. The pinnacle of the Byrne/Claremont run on Uncanny X-Men is probably "The Dark Phoenix Saga," a story that spanned years and chronicled Jean Grey's ascent to near-godhood, her fall to evil and her ultimate redemption. It's great superhero storytelling, and it's the inspiration for this exclusive set.
AA first showed off Dark Phoenix at last year's SDCC, and the figure looks to be unchanged. Like Cyclops, she's got dark shadows suggesting her anatomy, and there's a dark orange shadow covering her face. Her costume is bright red, of course, leaving the possibility of a green variant for a future series. Her sash is a separate piece, and she's got two angled flame pieces that can fit on her wrists. Reflecting her era of origin, Dark Phoenix has some stylin' Farrah hair.
All the Minimates share the same body with different paint decos, and they all move at the same 14 points: neck, waist, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees and ankles. All the Minimates have now switched over to the C3 feet, and Cyclops and Dark Phoenix have the wide-range shoulders. Neither figure's head has the holes for the new pegs that a lot of the hair pieces now have.
Cyclops and Dark Phoenix come in packaging similar to the main-line Minimates, and are available only from Diamond Comics at the summer conventions. Phoenix is one of those characters who seem perennially under-represented, so getting her in a Minimate set is excellent, even if she is saddled with an unimpressive rehash like Cyclops.
What would you have paired Phoenix with? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.