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The Defenders

by yo go re

When the original Doctor Strange comic was cancelled in the late '60s, writer Roy Thomas had a problem: there wasn't time to wrap up his storyline. The solution was a simple one: he simply took Doc to another book he was writing, Namor, and moved the story along there, before finally wrapping it up in Incredible Hulk a few months later. And thus was born the greatest non-team in comics, the Defenders!

Dr. Stephen Strange's mastery of the mystic arts led him Dr. Strange to become Sorcer Supreme of the Universe and a founding member of the Defenders.

The control art for the Dr. Strange Minimate showed up a long time ago in Diamond Select Toys' fanclub newsletter, the Radical Confidential, with a note that it was for "an upcoming four-pack." Fans waited excitedly, but it still seemed like forever before the set was announced. That said, the wait was worth it - Doc's wearing his little blue blouse with the light blue Vishanti symbol on the chest. His sash is a part of the separate "skirt" piece, and his Cloak of Levitation (with tiny Eye of Agamotto) is removable - you know, in case you want to give it to anyone else. His hair is new, and his face is detailed nicely: you can tell this is supposed to be Stephen Strange, not Tony Stark. They even thought to put some black dots on the backs of his gloves.

King of Atlantis, the solitary and unpredictable Namor Prince Namor possesses the ability to fly thanks to his half-human, half-Atlantean nature and his genetic mutation.

What? You mean that tiny ankle-wings aren't a natural human trait? More proof that evolution is a lie! Someone get Namor into the Kansas science books, stat!

Someone somewhere is surely complaining that this is Namor in his black outfit rather than his little green banana hammock, but screw them. The black suit is cool, and he's been wearing it in the comics ever since Civil War, so it's fine. Besides, the vest is removable, so you can make a custom "nude" Namor with a little work. The vest is sculpted with a scaly pattern, and all the details of the belt are molded in. His face has a great imperious look, and if this isn't the hair piece that the Spock Minimate has, it should be. The wings are free pieces between his feet and legs.

Empowered with super-strength and durability by Valkyrie the Asgardian goddess Brunnhilde, the role of Valkyrie has been filled by several women over the years.

It's not just that women were empowered by Brunnhilde, but her spirit actually possessed their bodies. Good thing the Defenders never fought any enemeies smart enough to try an exorcism on her, huh? There's this whole thing with Thor's enemy the Enchantress, and soul-swapping, but you already know the important stuff. Valkyrie is wearing her classic costume, which is basically a black bathing suit with giant metal boob-cups. The light blue cape was originally used for Superman, but her braided hair is definitely new. And check out her sword, Dragonfang, which is different than the ones available with Blade and Deathstroke.

Transformed by intense gamma radiation, Hulk Dr. Bruce Banner becomes the unstoppable Incredible Hulk when his anger rages out of control.

Why does Hulk get a shorter bio than everyone else in the box? Just because he's been released, like, five times before? That hardly seems fair. This Hulk is basically the same as the one in the Marvel Zombies set; just, you know, not a zombie. He's got the same pseudo-Powerhouse chest block with the tattered edge of his pants at the bottom, and the same hairpiece as well. His pants are torn about halfway up his shins, and he is sadly lacking any sort of toes - not that that's a major fault or anything. Besides, most of the time you'll be looking at his angry, angry face.

All Minimates move at the same 14 points: neck, waist, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees and ankles. Though the Defenders were molded from white plastic that was then painted, they don't have the same problems with joints sticking that similar ones have had. These four are a good set of 2" figures.

When people think of the Defenders, the four characters who first come to mind are Doctor Strange, Namor, the Hulk and Silver Surfer. So why isn't the Surfer included in this set? Because he's already been released four times before, so we really didn't need a fifth copy. Besides, the fact of the matter is Valyrie was the fourth member of the team: she officially joined before the Surfer did! Stan Lee didn't want to worry about the continuity problems of having Silver Surfer in the book (yeah, before Wolverine, they used to care about that sort of thing), but fan demand eventually did see him added to the roster. Not until after Valkyrie, though, so her inclusion here is a great choice.


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