The first three series of Art Asylum's Marvel Minimates were all based on the Marvel properties that had been seen on the big screen. They were counting, it seems, on the residual marketing from the movies to help carry the figures through to big sales. Since they're now on Series 9, it seems to have worked. AA kept the movie trend alive in Series 8, giving us two Fantastic Four sets: Thing and the Invisible Woman in one, Mr. Fantastic and the Human Torch in the other.
Mr. Fantastic is looking good in Minimate form. There's not a lot of paint detailing on his body, but his face looks appropriately patrician - this isn't some young buck, but an adult who's old enough to be greying at the temples. Though it may not seem like it, the FF have had a lot of different costumes over the years. Reed's in the team's two-tone blue uniform, rather than the blue and white, though he has black gloves and navy blue boots. Shouldn't they have been consistent?
Portraying Reed's powers in action figure form has always been a difficulty for toy companies - he's completely malleable, so how do you portray that in a solid figure? The current answer seems to be interchangeable parts, which is the path that Art Asylum took. Since the Minimates' modular construction wouldn't allow for many options, they went with the easiest: interchangeable bendy arms. Each arm is about 2 1/2" long, and plugs into the figure's wrist when you remove his glove. It's a nice attempt, and probably the best we could hope for from a 2" figure.
While you might think it would make sense to package Mr. Fantastic with his wife, that's not the way of a toy manufacturer. No, since Reed and Sue are the "boring" characters, they get split up and we get the Human Torch next to his brother-in-law.
Johnny Storm looks really co-- really hot as a Minimate. He's flamed on, so his body is a nice red-orange, detailed with dozens of precise, tiny black lines. Why is it that AA can get these deco'd on so well, while some companies have trouble giving larger figures straight pinstripes? Maybe because all the Minimates share the same plain square bodies? Could be.
The Human Torch (or just plain "Torch," as he's called on the box) is more than just a red Minimate with a face - Art Asylum really packed this set with accessories, and Johnny got the lion's share. While Reed just had extra arms, the Torch has four additional flames to really trick him out.
Though the figure looks good without any of the extras, you can really power him up by popping on the piece that wraps around his shoulders and the flaming "hair." Both are translucent for that fire effect, and the headpiece is a different mold than the similar offering that came with Series 6's Ghost Rider.
But wait, there's more! The figure comes with a red stand that can lift him nearly an inch of the ground. managing at once to both look and function better than the reused base that came with the Marvel Legends Human Torch. Nice! Pop one of his little Minimate hands off, and you can slide on a giant flame blast. The blast is 1 3/4" tall, and although it's too heavy for the figure to stand very well while it's attached, it is a welcome bonus.
It's nice that we got decent figures of the entire Fantastic Four, but you have to admit that Art Asylum and Diamond Select really missed an opportunity with these figures. If they'd been paired up with classic villains, we could have gotten figures of characters that are sorely under-represented in the world of plastic. Imagine Johnny throwing flames at Mole Man or Reed pitting his wit against the Wizard or Paste Pot Pete. Okay, maybe not Paste Pot Pete. But still: one hero, one villain, one box. It was a great idea when they did it for Thing and Dr. Doom, it was a great idea when they did it for Thing and Super Skrull, and it's a shame they backed out now.
What FF villains would you have liked to see? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.