If you're going to have a successful toy line, you need to make sure your figures are accessible: consumers need to be able to get the toys they want easily. Art Asylum has certainly done this for their new Marvel Minimates, offering two-packs at comic stores, single-carded figures at Target and big multi-packs at Toys R Us.
I passed on the Spider-Man Minimates when I first saw them, because I was more interested in Daredevil and the X-Men. However, that's the beauty of AA's different selections: I didn't want to buy two-packs, but I certainly would get a set of four, especially if that set came with a surprise fifth figure.
Bitten by a radioactive spider, Peter Parker gained increased strength and speed. Now, for the first time, we have an action figure the same size as a spider. All of Spidey's webs are painted on well, as are the spider emblems on his chest and back. His eyes are outlined with the appropriate black borders. His eyes and the webs are the main things that set this Spidey apart from his Ultimate Minimate brother. The set includes a nice long web that you can use to make Spider-Man swing around your room or, as you can see, hang upside down.
Venom was formed when the alien symbiote that had been acting as Spider-Man's costume bonded with disgraced reporter Eddie Brock.
Together they swore revenge on the web spinner. Venom's got his big toothy grin, of course, and the jagged white spider on his chest. There's a variant available to Canadian markets that sees Venom with his freaky long tongue wagging about, but that is (obviously) not included here. That's too bad, because it would have made a nice incentive for the folks who already had the "normal" Venom to invest in this set, as well. To Diamond's credit, they made it relatively easy for anyone in the States who wanted a tongue to request one by sending in a UPC. Venom's hands are molded with tiny claws, and have the white squares painted on the back just as they should.
Strong as he is, Spider-Man still gets his butt handed to him on a fairly regular basis. To simulate that, AA created a Battle Damaged version, with his costume ripped to shreds and blood flowing from his wounds. One eye is exposed, as is his shoulder, ribs, and one of his knees. Of course, all those details are painted on, not sculpted, so don't think this is some vast departure for Minimates - this is still the same smooth body we've come to expect. The detailing is just as sharp on this figure as on all the rest. A second web is included with this package, so you can give it either to Venom or BDSpidey.
The fourth figure displayed in this set is Spider-Man's longtime foe, the Green Goblin. Wearing his hood, manpurse and elf shoes, the Goblin is just as goofy as ever. His hood and ears are a removable piece, and a pumpkin bomb is molded into his right hand - he's the first Marvel Minimate to get such a revamped piece, and it really looks cool. His green and purple contrast nicely, and his smile looks appropriately psychotic.
Unfortunately, Green Goblin serves to show a problem with this line. While the vast majority of Minimates are assembled properly, some will inevitably find their way out of the factory with an error. In my case, Gobby was given two right legs - his "left" leg then bent backwards. I contacted Diamond Select Toys about this, but they did not respond. Further inquiries got a response of "take it back to the store where you bought it," but you know what? That's not customer service.
McFarlane Toys may be sliding down the fast slope to mediocrity and their toys ay fall apart if you look at them, but their customer service is still top of the line. How much can a Minimate cost? And how much would it cost to send out a replacement? Are the few dollars that DST saved really worth the bad press that they'll receive when fans who are left with substandard toys start airing their complaints to anyone who'll listen? "Oh, don't buy those Minimates: if anything's wrong, you're out of luck." That's just bad form, Diamond, and you really need to do better.
I owe many thanks to Milo J. Thatch of the Art Asylum boards for hooking me up with a non-mutant GG. Go Milo!
These boxed sets sell for about $10, which would be a perfectly fine price for the four figures listed on the front. However, each box also includes a "mystery superhero" packed in with the rest, hidden behind both the cardboard box and a black plastic cap. In Spider-Man's case, he gets another enemy to fight: the Rhino.
A smalltime Russian thug, the man who would become the Rhino underwent an expeimental procedure that bonded him permanently to his trademark grey suit. The Minimate version, besides looking suspiciously like the miniaturized Rhino that resulted from some catalyzed shrinking gas in the wonderfully fun Deadpool #66, is also deco'd wonderfully, with the various bumps, cracks and warts of his armor suggested by various paint apps.
His headpiece has a great sculpt, from the big horn on top to the little itsy rhino eyes on the sides. The furious look painted on his tiny face is priceless, and I'm half tempted to get another to turn into a keychain of my own.
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. That's a heckuva lot of motion for something so tiny.
Sold in character-related multipacks, the small size of the Marvel Minimates makes them perfect for creating dioramas. Since anything else would soon take over your entire house, the smaller 'mates can be given just a shelf to call their own. Art Asylum really put some thought into this line, and even though it's a departure from what has gone before, it's still very good.