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Cosmic Silver Surfer/Swordsman

by yo go re

In the 2009 ToY Awards, Art Asylum's Minimates were nominated in the "Best Packaging" category, for the window boxes that allow you to see the actual figure, yet still hide surprise accessories behind the solid bits. Perhaps no set exemplifies that as well as the Toys Я Us-exclusive Silver Surfer/Swordsman set.

Surrendering life and freedom to save his native Zenn-La, Norrin Radd was imbued with the Power Cosmic by Galactus and became the Silver Surfer! After tasting freedom and battling Annihilus, he has returned to his former station as Herald.

My first thought upon seeing this set? "Oh great, another Silver Surfer." SS was one of the first Marvel Minimates released, and like we've said before, a straight re-release of that really doesn't add anything. In fact, he's one of the most popular choices for a re-release, with that same figure having been available five separate times. So needless to say, I bought this set in spite of Silver Surfer, not because of him.

However, this isn't just the Silver Surfer: this is "Cosmic Silver Surfer." What does that mean? Did they finally do the black, starfield-spangled version AFX had wanted for their 2005 exclusive? No, nothing like that. He's still painted silver, with black and white details to give him definition. It's much more detailed than the 2003-2005 release, but that's attributable to the way Minimate paint technology has advanced. The "Cosmic" thing goes back to what we said about the boxes.

The Surfer's head and shoulders are visible through the window, but you can't see anything else. You can't see the transparent purple globs of energy on his hands, or the crackling bolts that can wrap around his arms (two of each, though only one of each is pictured here), which are packaged next to him in the tray.

And then there's his board. Remember how we said it was stupid not to give it a peg to take advantage of the C3 feet? Well, AA finally came through: the board has a single footpeg on the top that allows the figure to attach and stay on securely no matter how he flies around. But they went above and beyond that, because the bottom of the board has a divot where one of the new flight stands can plug in. Yes, the set includes a stand - DST has said they know fans like the new flight stands, and they want to find as many ways to include them as possible. Brilliant move!

So already, the figure I didn't care about in this set turns out to be worth the purchase - if Swordsman is even halfway decent, this is gonna be great!

The son of famed Hydra terrorist Wolfgang von Strucker, Andreas and his twin sister Andrea share flight and energy powers - but only when physically touching. After her death, Swordsman creatively altered his sword to continue using those abilities.

When he first joined the Thunderbolts, no one knew who Swordsman was. It took about a year and a half for his identity to be revealed, although there were lots of guesses along the way. The leading candidate was Hawkeye, since he was "dead" at the time (after the events of "Avengers Disassembled") and due for a comeback. But leave it to Warren Ellis to never take the expected path.

Swordsman is wearing his purple uniform with chainmail painted on the arms and at the neck. The gloves come from Captain America, and his helmet has a mirrored faceplate, like a Viper. He has a new belt with a notch for his sword to hang in. If you're still confused about how modifying his sword would allow Andreas to use his superhuman abilities, consider this: activating his powers required skin-to-skin contact, and his sword has a leather-wrapped hilt. Yeah.

The figure's helmet (which actually looks a lot like the Legion of Superheroes' Wildfire, not that the DC Minimates ever lasted long enough to get to such an obscure character) is removable, but it seems the only reason for that is the design would have been too complex to create solely with paint apps - it's not like Andreas von Strucker is a character anyone would recognize on sight. He's just another cleanly painted face.

Swordsman doesn't have any hidden surprises the way Silver Surfer does, but since he's an all-new character, he doesn't really need them. There's really no reason for these two to be paired together, but they're both worth getting.

-- 01/25/10

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