Rustin's Spoils of the Week #184

Ya all know me - I love me some Minimates! So let's get caught up on a big assortment from figures I haven't had the chance to review yet! We've survived Minimapocalypse I, we've escaped Minimapocalypse II, we've something-elsed Minimapocalypse III, but how can we possibly hope to survive the all-out madness that is Minimapocalupse IV!?!?!

DST - Avengers, Age of Ultron: Vision & Hydra Soldier
After buying the rest of this series, I figured I was going to be screwed on finding Vision, but in comes Disneyland with a a whole shelf full of only the two Vision sets at their Marvel Photo Op area! The Hydra guy is a nice army builder; fully painted torso under a removable jacket piece and two alternate hats allow for some variability. However, DST inexplicably went back to their a-hole single-boxed 'mates and made Von Stucker one-per... nice. Dicks. So any enthusiasm I might have for building this battle is utterly neutered by the fact I'll never have their leader. Vision turned out pretty damn nicely, though, with nice clean paint on a pure base Minimate body. My only problem with him is the translucent cape... It's not really accurate and it's more brown than yellow. I can buy that for the phasing version, but it should have been yellow and fully painted or more opaque for the regular. And speaking of the Phasing one... pass. Kind of like the rampaging Hulk 'mate I get that they were screwed when that variation was scraped from the movie late in post, but that Hulk and this Vision variant really just seem like filler to justify this assortment; and that's compounded by being packed with a non-memorable, non-descript soldier here. It's just not interesting or exciting. But I am happy to have a Vision, though.

DST - Marvel Animated Minimates, "Avengers Assemble": Hulk & Captain America
Is it a Minimate? Then odds are I'm buying it. This set was purchased chiefly to support Minimates at Walgreens, and secondarily to, of course, complete the set. I understand the reasoning behind doing yet another version of basic Hulk and Cap but really any Minimate fan already has a dozen of these guys so... yeah. At least both come with alternate heads/expressions, so that's nice. In all honestly, they turned out better than I expected. They aren't quite as stylized as the others so while that does make them feel more repetitive that does also mean they could work for either your comic display or this new animated one. Still though, this set is a pretty easy pass for your standard Minimate collector.

DST - Marvel Animated Minimates, "Guardians of the Galaxy": Star-Lord, Groot & Rocket Racoon
This is a fun, novel way to reuse some of that new tooling from the movie and the Minimate turned out pretty well, all things considered. I had hoped that I could move this Star-Lord's jacket to the movie figure to replace his trenchcoat, but this is notably too different in style, detail and color. Groot's face and olive coloring are odd, but I do quite like the "cel shading" approach to his paint, and indeed that's been a big hook that's keeping me into this animated subline. Rocket is nice, and I dig his seemingly brighter coloring.

DST - Marvel Animated Minimates, "Ultimate Spider-Man": Ultimate Spider-Man & Ultimate Electro
It's so weird that Marvel Animation Minimates were announced as a Walgreens exclusive but then a whole series of Ultimate Spider-Man figures showed up as TRU exclusives. Here we get yet another generic Spider-Man. While I do like the heavier "cel shading" accents on him he is identical to the one from the TRU set with Nick Fury. To help, though, this Walgreens version does include a fun, "quizzical eyes" alternate head, so I do appreciate DST giving All-In-ers, like myself a way to justify getting both. He comes with animated Electro who is neat but the Glow-in-the-Dark plastic use has an odd "milky" look to it and the painted face and chest details almost contrast in shade. He comes with the energy base as well as one electricty-wrap and two of Iron Man 2 Whiplash's whips - a pretty clever re-use! - all cast in the same GitD plastic. It glows well enough, though skews green in color (and, of course, the paint blacks-out those areas).

DST - Marvel Animated Minimates, "Ultimate Spider-man": Ultimate Agent Venom & Ultimate Spider-Man 2099
This is both the animated set I was most looking forward to and my favorite of the first series. Both of these costumes risk being boring but the awesome "cel shading" paint really brings them to life! It's odd that Agent Venom does get any guns, but we have plenty extras from other sets. I really, really like the multi-tone grays on his mask, in the "cel shading" aesthetic! Similarly, the thick blue details on 2099 really augment the dark blue and red of his costume, bringing it more to life. If you get one set from Walgreens Series 1 - make it this one!

DST - Marvel Animated Minimates, "Avengers Assemble": Hawkeye & Crossbones
While Walgreens' first series of Minimates was alright it was definitely a pitstop on the road to the much neater, much bizarrely labeled "Series 1.5"! But not all the sets are great and is basically that one that leaves room for improvement. Both are fine Minimates of characters clearly chosen since they're (basically) in the movies and are primarily just paint on the base Minimate body - my favorite! It's not a very dynamic pairing, though, being two sleeveless white guys in gray/black. Crossbones is the more appealing of the two and could probably pass for a comic version but sadly he has no accessories. Hawkeye, though, comes with the neck-slung quiver from the second movie's Minimate along with a bow and three arrows. It's an alright set, but nothing very exciting. They do come with clear stands, but aggravatingly the pegs are too large to fit the pegholes on the feet, so there is no use for them.

DST - Marvel Animated Minimates, "Avengers Assemble": Hulkbuster Iron Man & Ultron
Both of these Minimates are repaints of the new molds from Age of Ultron but they are pretty effective repaints. Ultron is really nicely and cleanly printed. There is something about his dull, bluish gray, though, that is equally repelling and enticing - it's odd. I think what it is... he looks better by himself than next to the brightly colored Hulkbuster. The big armor looks pretty good in these dull but bright color. Like the movie version, this Iron Man has a fully detailed head and torso (with printing on the front AND the back), but sadly there are no alternate hands or feet for him to create an un-Hulkbuster-ed look. Fortunately, though, he's the same shade of red as the Spider-Man in this series so you can pull over his hands and feet (though it does look kind of odd without any red on the shins or forearms). I was a bit too optimistic, and enamored of Hulkbuster armor, so I doubled up in hopes of having both armor on display. It's really a bummer there are red paint apps on his limbs and that he didn't come with alternate hands and feet since it seems like this will be our one "plain" Animated Iron Man for the time being. Also included are two bases the figures can't fit on thanks to large pegs.

DST - Marvel Animated Minimates, "Ultimate Spider-man": Miles Morales Spider-Man & Venom
Miles is a nice, simple Minimate. My favorite thing about this Animated line/aesthetic is the heavy cel-shading approach to the designs and the thick, dark blue highlights look really good on this costume helping to make it more dynamic. He comes with a web coil and an alternate unmasked head, though interesting the head has the hair painted on rather than the traditional head + hairpiece. Venom is undeniably the star here, though, and he looks phenomenal. Again, that thick, gray cel-shading really helps make him more interesting looking than some of the other repaints of the same bulky pieces. In addition to all the bulk piece, including an alternate tendril hand, he comes with an alternate head and a logo-less printed torso along with basic hands and feet! So, obviously, I had to buy two - of course I want to have all the alternate looks available for display but also, more politically, I really just want to support Minimates and them being carried by Walgreens - so here's hoping to many more series to come!

DST - Marvel Minimates: Wastelands Wolverine & Dystopia Hulk
Oh ho ho, don't you dare call 'em Old Man Logan or Maestro Hulk! Kind of like the majority of this assortment, this set feels like filler by offering "new" versions of character we have. Maestro Hulk I was a little jazzed for since that awesome Hulk Through The Ages boxset came with that alternate cape for him, but this guy is a notably different color, so that can be used on him. Once I saw the two Maestros side by side, then I could appreciate this one, he's different enough to be a welcome addition but not different enough to be an exciting one. Similarly, this our third Old Man Logan and is basically a mash-up of the two previous, with alternate coat-arms and bare-arms to allow for both looks. This guy gets a new, more Wolverine-y face design as well as metal bracers for his forearms. As far as Wolverine and Hulk variants, I suppose you could do worse, and this are perfectly good Minimates, but as a long-time collector I just struggle to find anything exciting about them.

DST - The Muppets: Dr. Bunsen Honeydew & Beaker
Lots has been said about how weird the Muppet Minimates look, but now that they're out I must confess they're not as bad as I originally thought. I was planning to sit this line out, but I'm just such a damn sucker for Muppets, Minimates and buying Minimates at "traditional" retailers like Toys R Us. Bunsen and Beaker are exclusives to TRU's first series and they are the strongest ones in the whole first series. That's probably a result of them being more "normally" proportioned, i.e. the most humanoid. They also have their noses painted on... it's odd to see noses on Minimates, but it's a very defining Muppet feature and the painted-on approach does look better than the sculpted one. The Lab boys are available in both clean and "explosion" versions, and while both sets include two lab beakers they are different colors in the two sets - nice! The "exploded" versions play in to the common gag but the execution is unremarkable and not very appealing. It would have been REALLY nice, nay expected, for at least one set to include an alternate "sunken down" head for Beaker, but what're-ya-gonna-do?

DST - The Muppets: Fozzie Bear & Scooter
This set is pretty nice. Fozzie fits fairly well into DST's wheelhouse of how to augment out a Minimate body while Scooter is pretty much "just a guy" from the neck down so he works fine for Minimates. I do like the detailing on Fozzie's torso and his new head hits a reasonable midground for the two aesthetics. Plus, he comes with a rubber chicken, complete with a Minimate style head, so that's a fun addition to the accessory catalog. Scooter also looks good, mostly thanks to his bright colors though they do seem oddly dulled down from the more vibrant look he generally has. His head is also a weird kind of half-muppet and half-minimate, which doesn't really work. The top is rounded and has sculpted hair and eyes but the mouth matches the basic Minimate dimensions and looks odd. They really should have made the mouth/face more pointed, especially since they contoured the top of the head, to better match the Muppet. But that's really the problem with this line and it's merging of uncomplimentary aesthetics.

DST - The Muppets: Kermit & Miss Piggy
When DST first announced they were doing Muppet Minimates a lot of us said, "huh?," then once they showed them everyone pretty said "damn, those look bad." Sometimes aesthetics just don't mesh and this was a textbook example of one of those times. I will say, though, that in general, these aren't so bad in hand. Minimates ALWAYS look best when bright colors are employed, and the Muppets are certainly brightly colored. But they have such wild designs that they just don't always work in a stylized way. Take Miss Piggy for example. She's easily "worst in show" for the line (Maybe that's a reference to Palisades first series of Muppet figures? Wokka Wokka) in large part to them basically just gluing a pig nose to a Minimate head - it just looks bad. And her outfit, though true to her, is nothing all that compelling. Conversely, the wildly out of scale and proportion Kermit "works" a bit better thanks to very rich greens and more unique head, though he suffers from the same rounded top but flat mouth look as Scooter and just looks weird as a result. And I really dig that the set includes a little Robin, too! But it's still a tough thing to recommend. I guess I really just can't tell where my affinity for Minimates and Muppets ends and the appeal of these figures begins...

DST - The Muppets: Gonzo & Swedish Chef
I had got the other two sets in Series 1 at TRU so I very pleased to find both of these Gonzo/Chef sets are a Midtown Comics during a trip to New York City! Gonzo looks pretty good in his purple tux, but I gotta say it seems weird seeing it painted on after so many years of sculpted suits. Camille is fun, complete with a Minimate style head. The Swedish Chef feels like the star of the pack, though. He's got a big new chef's hat piece and an apron with a big ol' pot-belly. Like the rest of the Muppets, the aesthetic of his face looks VERY weird translated to 2D art. Indeed, this looks more like a caricature of Gene Shalit to me than a toy of Swedish Chef. He does come with a bunch of new accessories, though - a wooden spoon, a spatula, a hatchet and a big pot. It's a fun set with two must-have characters, even if the premise of the line is a bit misbegotten. And honestly, the variant set just feels like filler. Maybe there was a compulsive need to homage the Palisades line since they did figures kind of like this, but for a "limited" set it's not very compelling. Identical to the standard Chef & Gonzo set other than paint and a new cape piece for Gonzo, it just doesn't offer enough variation to be compelling. And while the Amazing Gonzo is a legitimate variant, "Batter-Damaged" Chef just feels like fishing for variants and/or having too cute of a name.

DST - The Nightmare Before Christmas: Jack Skellington & The Mayor
I had absolutely no idea these were coming to Toys R Us before I saw them on shelves (and, side note, I don't know how I feel about that. On one hand I do enjoy the rush of "oh wow, surprise toys!" but on the other hand, given the narrow collector base for Minimates I don't get why they wouldn't advertise/hype new exclusive stuff. Same with TMNT. Huh, I wonder if it's a blind bag thing... they know no one will buy the [anti-collector/anti-fun] blind bags if they know they'll also be available blister-carded) on December 17th (I know the date, because we stopped by TRU right after picking up our Force Awakens tickets). DST seems to have entered a "throw everything at the wall and see what sticks" approach to Minimates of late, getting a bunch of licenses they are too stylized to translate effectively to Minimates. But I suppose they're doing well enough from the hardcore compulsive people like who will buy anything Minimate or Nightmare regardless of how it looks. Jack is a perfect example - a character defined by lankiness is just slightly taller but otherwise no different than other Minimates. Accepting this, though, he turned out okay; but I should note his jacket/torso cover is empty/hollow - an odd change from how they normally handle bulk. The Mayor is comparably "fine for what it is," but nothing exciting or special. Since Pumpkin King Jack comes with with an alternate head I ended up buying a second of this set to put that head on a Jack body and to have both Mayor faces forward on display. You know how I do.

DST - The Nightmare Before Christmas: Sally & Dr. Finkelstein
Again, more characters shoehorned into an aesthetic that doesn't fit them, but at least Sally has a bunch of nice patterning and bright, diverse colors. Minimates always look better the more colorful they are. Finklestein is a surprising choice to see here, he just seems so secondary, and uniformly white so it fails for the same reason Sally succeeds. It's novel that his skull opens and that he, of course, comes with his wheelchair, but it's very weird to just see his Minimate tootsies just hanging out there. But again... two stylized aesthetics don't always merge well.

DST - The Nightmare Before Christmas: Pink Elf & Green Elf
Really... I just mean... come on. This is one of those very real releases where you have to absolutely wonder, truly, what were they thinking? I appreciate that, though down to three-set series, Minimates are coming back to TRU with some more diversity than the last year or two; and I really love it when they do exclusive sets, but this one is just... you know... not great. When one thinks of The Nightmare Before Christmas do they EVER think of Elves? "Oh man, where are my toys of the elves!?" But this series hit stores the week before Christmas, so I get "synergy" but without a Santa 'mate available at TRU (he's in neither series 1 or 2 - indeed, he's a blind bag exclusive!?!?) I'm just hard pressed to see why a person would be excited for these. To be honest, they're just not that good. The elves in the movie are total background filler so they lack the charisma of all the other characters and as a result they don't translate well at all here. The sculpting is thick and bland and the colors aren't very compelling, especially given what else is available (particularly) at TRU for this movie. They don't even work as "battle builders" because that (a) have exactly the same face and (b) are otherwise so uniquely specific. And based on the pegs... I'm not alone here. So really, I just... I mean who really said "yeah, this. This is a good plan."

DST - Predator: City Hunter Predator & Masked Predator
Man... talk about things that seem like odd properties for Minimates... But I guess Predator is just printing money for NECA so I suppose DST just wants a piece of the action. The more I've seen the Preda'mates the more I've acclimated to them and though is looks odd and I can roll with the sculpted heads but printed mouths for the Predators. What I can't really understand, though, is why both the City Hunter and Jungle Hunter are yellow and brown... not only does it look and feel inaccurate, it makes the two virtually impossible to tell apart - even with differently colored armor. It's just crazy and a bad choice. Jungle Hunter should be green rather than brown. Anyway, this set takes two of the 'mates from the blind bag series and packs them together - Masked Jungle Hunter and City Hunter alternate masked and unmasked heads, because... WTF? City also comes with his staff, which is nice. But, because I'm a moron I bought two of this since City comes with alternate heads (and I hoped that Jungle might too, I guess) only to find out later that both of these figures were packed with unique humans in the Direct Market series, so... awesome, great, terrific. This is totally one of rare instances where I feel screwed by buying Minimates. I definitely shouldn't have doubled up and really shouldn't have bought it at all. And/or DST should really have gotten their act together and come up with a better line up that this utter "filler"-esque wave for TRU.

DST - Predator: Dutch & Predator
It's just so hard to find any enthusiasm for these Minimates. Again, the Jungle Hunter just look inaccurate and bad with brown coloring, and then he's duplicated three times in these three sets with what feels like minor variance. Dutch turned out well, but he's basically the cheap version of Jungle Extraction Dutch as he's identical save for the painted on tank-top and additional green streaks of camo paint for his face. This set is totally skippable unless you're a completist.

DST - Predator: Extraction Dutch & Battle-Damaged Predator
This is the strongest of the three TRU sets but still nothing exciting since both figures are so similar to one available in the other two sets. The Predator is identical to the previous set but now with a mild splatter of marginally noticeable blood on his face and torso. Dutch is the same but with more paint. He comes with his knife, handgun and machine gun too. This whole series just feels like DST shrugging and "not getting it." The NECA Dutches were exciting since we'd never gotten a Dutch before and they staggered out the releases over several series and did enough to keep the figures in each series not very repetitive. Basically the opposite of this series. I should also note that both of these Dutch two-packs are in the Direct Market series 1 as well.

DST - Predator: Dillon & Masked Jungle Predator
One of my favorite things about Minimates is the lack-of-need for likeness rights and the relatively cheap tooling which means they can do a lot of characters that generally can't be covered as action figures. So, as such, I'm really jazzed to get Dillon here since Carl Weathers and NECA can't reach a deal together for a figure.

DST - Predator: Harrigan & City Predator
Harrigan!!! Randy may hate the idea (and yeah, I get that humans don't sell nearly as well as monsters, but Harrigan is THE guy for Predator 2 AND there's never been merch for him AND you could get a least one variant of him out to reuse the tooling AND you could even fudge the details to reuse some of "guy in clothes" tooling to make him cheaper!!!) but thank goodness we have DST on the case! Just a sweaty black cop jumping between rooftops in the brutal, not-too-distant future of 1997! Harrigan looks good. Not immediately identifiable as Danny Glover, but the sweaty shirt sure helps. The City Hunter is just your basic City Hunter predator - at this point is just feels like I have a million of this guy in every conceivable slight variation. But maybe that's cause they paint the Jungle Hunter the same shade of brown rather than the dark green he should be.

DST - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Vision Quest Donatello & Battle-Ready Shredder
This was a very pleasant surprise! I seemed like there was about a year gap between the first two series' of TMNT Minimates but only a couple months before this one landed (though in retrospect I realize that perception is just because they re-released series 2 for the Holidays). My knowledge of the "Vision Quest" turtles goes as far as passing up the marginalized-in-production Playmates figures, so I do appreciate that (a) DST is doing something other than basic Turtles again and (b) that I'll get these novel costumes in my collection. Donnie looks pretty cool, and feels more unique than he really is thanks to the different tone and style of paint on him. He gets a new cowl, complete with tube-sheath for this staff-axe on the back, as well as said staff-axe AND an alternate masked head! I really dig that mask as was tempted to get two of this set, but did I really need a third Shredder? Yes! Because he too comes with alternate helmets - THANK YOU, DST!!! I thought this Shredder was a remarkable improvement but when I looked at that first one I realized this is pretty much identical save for a new face design and a mask-less helmet in lieu of the cape. Huh. Well, that bubble certainly just burst. Still though, it's a neat figure so if you don't have a Shredder 'mate this will more than comfortably scratch that itch.

DST - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Vision Quest Leonardo & Rocksteady
Leo's my boy and Rocksteady is my jam, so this set is 110% Rustin-y Cowabunga!!! Like Donnie, Leo is the same from the neck down and the previous ones but without the katana sheaths on his shell. Instead he gets a new cowl with a sculpted on quiver. He comes with a bow and two arrows plus his two katanas - nice! Like his brothers, he comes with a Minimate stand that is painted, but unlike the sewer lids of the last two series' it's a beige-y white with a Chinese (?) character printed on it, AND each brother gets a different character! Pretty cool! I'm sure it's relevant to the episode, but being ignorant of it I'm not sure. Rocksteady looks flat-out excellent. Despite being an opponent of heavily sculpted Minimates... man, he just looks great, and that big hulking head is glorious! I do wish he had his hammer and sickle but I'll survive. Now, if only I could track down that aggravatingly short-packed blind bag version of his human form... (DEATH TO BLIND BAGS!!!)

DST - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Vision Quest Michelangelo & Bebop
Mikey is pretty cool. He get news arms and lower-legs giving him some treebark-ish armor and a new hood. A cool touch is that, like his brothers, under the hood he has one painted on (and yeah, there is a small part of me that is tempted to get doubles to display those - but that would be crazy...). He comes with his two nunchuku and two ...axe-y weapons. Packed in with him is a great Bebop! If I understand the source material correctly he probably should have used the slender torso, but this looks great as is, and is a wonderful follow-up to his human version in the last series. Earlier I complained a lot of the meshing on contrary aesthetics than Minimates suffers from and I think a big part of that comes from DST lack of rules for the format. I mean, why do Bebop and Rocksteady get very unstylzed heads while the Muppets don't? And that's the problem - there's no real answer. The more the 'mate is sculpted the less of a Minimate is becomes... so I'll just have to take solace in the fact that Bebop and Rocksteady turned out really cool, while most of the Muppets and Predators... you know, didn't.

DST - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Vision Quest Raphael & Slash
Raph gets a new hood and new torso/shell sculpt (are those gas cans on his back?) which look neat, and under the hood is a painted on colored one like Donnie, et al. He comes with the painted stand, two new "claw" weapons, his sais and two new fire bursts which he can hold. I don't get the fire pieces but they do look neat! He comes with Slash, and goddamn he looks great! At first I was excited because it looked like Slash came with one of those small heads they used for Halo (and a big part of my love of Minimates comes from clever re-use of parts) but, alas, not only is this guy's head an all-new sculpt... it's glued in place. So... thanks. Aside from that, though, he's pretty glorious! A nice big, hefty sculpt and cool, vibrant colors! He even gets his mace (take that, Bebop & Rocksteady - Slash gets an accessory). Raph is probably my least favorite of the turtles in this series but Slash is probably my favorite 'mate in it (it's a tight race between Slash and Rocksteady), so I heartily endorse this pack for your collection.

DST - The Walking Dead: Prison Laurie & Shoulder Zombie
Laurie's fate killed The Walking Dead for me. She was such a tough character and storyline to like and get behind, but just when it seemed like finally something was going to come of it Kirkman just... Kirkmaned it all, and I realized that was really what the whole series was about. Just the worst things happening all the time, regardless of anything. And then to have used that as a way to... just like LOST we suffered through all the tedium just to be spat on by the creator/s. So, I was done. But, seeing as this was such a seminal moment for me I did really want this set to have her and the baby in the collection. And she's a good minimate. The orange really pops on these Prison 'mates and the alternate hand with sculpted on baby is a pretty nice piece, with some fun potential for moving around to other Minimates. The Shoulder Zombie is also one of the strongest Zombie 'mates that they've done, so ultimately I suppose it's no wonder that this set was pretty much impossible to find. So that's to absolutely blind/dumb luck scoring it at a local LCS (which definitely didn't have it the last couple times I was in).

This entry was posted in Rustin's Spoils of the Week and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *