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Strange Tales

by yo go re

In the Marvel Universe, being a hero often means putting on a costume and fighting crime, but in the dark corners of that world, real demons lurk. Earth's Sorceror Supreme, Dr. Strange, protects this plane of existence from supernatural threats, assisted by the vampire hunter Blade, living vampire Michael Morbius, and Jack Russell, the Werewolf by Night.

This is our second Dr. Strange Minimate, and just like this one, the previous release was only available in a box set. But that was released in 2007, and the Minimate style has continued to evolve since then. Fittingly, then, the only parts this figure shares with that old one are the standard Minimate body.

Dr. Stange has a skirt piece with the lower edge of his golden sash hanging down the front. The wrinkles run horizontally on the front and vertically on the sides. His Cloak of Levitation billows out behind him, rather than hanging flat, and the intricate pattern on the golden hem is sculpted in both inside and out. He gets new hair, and though the Vishanti symbol on his chest is more rounded than it was before, he still gets the black dots on the gloves (and yet, not on his hands).

Beyond the removable cape (hey look, you can make anyone you want the new Sorcerer Supreme!), Doc gets a few very cool accessories. To begin with, there's a swirly pink energy base that has a footpeg down inside it and a few sparkly starbursts sculpted into the outside surface. This is a new piece, but surely there are other characters who could reuse it in the future. Then he gets two hands that have been molded with pink energy circling them. They were originally released with a Scarlett Witch Minimate that we haven't reviewed yet, but they had to have been designed with Strange in mind - why else would they have his trademark I love you hand pose?

Next we get our third Blade Minimate. One thing that's always been consistent about Blade is that he looks like what contemporary white guys think a cool black guy looks like. So in the 2000s, that meant he was bald and wore body armor; in the '90s, it was a high-top fade and a black leather jacket; and back in his first appearance, which is what this figure represents, it was an afro and a brown raincoat.

The afro is a new piece, and it sits a little too low on Blade's head. It really needs one of those rings around the peg to lift it up off the forehead. His face is painted with the yellow goggles he used to wear, but since they're flat on the head they end up looking more like a domino mask than eyewear. His coat is also a new piece, molded with his wooden stake bandolier across his chest.

Notice that we just said the bandolier: the wooden stakes are all separate pieces that can be removed and held in the hands! Outstanding! Three of them fit across the chest, and one in the sheath on the hip. If you choose to remove the coat, the set includes a pair of bare arms for him. Finally, there is a new right hand that's designed to look like he's throwing one of his stakes. Too cool! Yes, we've seen similar things on Minimates before, but it's always neat when they make a new one.

The third figure in this set is one that would probably never be released in any other way: Werewolf by Night. The other three selections you could totally imagine coming out in a two-pack, but not this guy. This guy, whose name is Jack Russel. Just wanted to remind everyone of that. Marvel Comics owns and (occassionally) publishes a character named Jack Russel, and he kind of turns into a dog.

Banana 101.5 WWBN uses the hands and feet from the Universal Monsters Wolf Man figure, just like we said we wished Wolfsbane had done. Yay! We're taking credit for that. We can't take credit for the new furry headpiece, though - that's all Art Asylum, and it's very cool. There's even a gap for his face to poke out. The painted face is really fearsome, and the detailing his chest and back is surprisingly complex.

Our final figure is Morbius, the Living Vampire. He recently had his own "ongoing" series, which was clearly destined for cancellation before its first issue was even solicited - nobody cares about Morbius, outside the context of a team-up setting. Maybe eventually someone will find a way to raise him above "supporting character" level, but not yet.

This figure provides Morbius' original "superhero Dracula" costume, with its dark blue body and high, red collar contrasting nicely with his chalk white skin. The collar is a new piece, and so is the hair, but the really impressive thing are the little wings/cape that hang from his arms. They're executed similarly to Black Bolt's wings, but they're not the same mold.

All the figures in the set come with the clear disc bases that Rustin loves so much, but since Morbius can fly, he gets the added benefit of a swoopy stand that ends in a flat plug which can fit into the figure's waist. It can rotate 360°, allowing you to pose him however you want, and has a hole in the bottom of the swoosh that fits the peg on the base for maximum stability. This isn't a new piece, but this is the first time we've reviewed it, so there you go.

The Strange Tales box set is a great Marvel Minimates offering. Two of the characters in it are entirely new, and of the two that aren't, one is a big improvement on the former release, and the other is in a costume no toy has ever worn before - plus, they've got some awesome accessories! It's really odd that the set was released in April, when it's clearly a Halloween box. It's got a wizard, two monsters and a monster-slayer, which is a pretty sweet combo.

-- 10/28/13

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