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Calico Jack and Tom Brown

Calico Jack's Pirate Raiders
by yo go re

Art Asylum and Diamond Select Toys are expanding the Minimates brand to include more original properties. First it was the Minimates MAX line, and now it's pirates.

Once a feared pirate, Calico Jack now fights against pirates who prey on innocent travelers. Jack must be constantly vigilant for rival Captain Charles Vanes and other pirates. Can he defeat a man who has already returned from the dead?

Ah, well, look at that: the line is called "Calico Jack's Pirate Raiders," and that little bio just explained the entire premise behind them! It's not unheard of for pirates to go legitimate and hunt other buccaneers, but it's nice that they specify he only goes after those who attacked "innocent" travellers. You're a guilty traveller? Well I guess I'll just see you in hell, butt-horn! How does he differentiate, anyway? And considering none of us are without sin, how innocent does a traveller have to be before Calico Jack will defend them?

Jack definitely has a "piratey" look about him. His skin is darker than the average Caucasian Minimate, suggesting he's tan from time spent outdoors, and his hair is a dirty, sun-bleached blonde. He's got just the right level of stubble to drive the ladies wild, and the scar on his right cheek tells us he's not just some pretty boy playing at being a captain.

He's dressed like modern audiences think pirates dressed: thick boots turned over at the top, heavy gloves, a fancy coat with large lapels, a baldric, wraps around his waist, and a headband. Is it accurate? Almost certainly not, but it's what we expect. The boots and gloves are reused Captain America pieces, but the coat is new. It's blowing to one side, and all the details on it are sculpted - the bandolier, the belts, the tiny patterns on the lapels, even the gun tucked into his waist. Amusingly, the skull and crossbones on his headband are sculpted, too: not just etched in, but actually a raised element. That seems superfluous. You can't tell when he's wearing the coat, but Calico Jack is wearing a red shirt. It's the same color as the coat, so if you remove that piece, the arms still work.

The set includes plenty of accessories, but the only one the packaging specifically identifies as Jack's is the serrated sword. It has a golden hand guard, so you know which direction it's meant to be held, and thus we learn that the jagged edge is the back. I guess if he's slicing upward that's helpful, but it still seems like it would be more effective on the leading edge of the blade.

Calico Jack's long time crew member and good friend Tom holds the position of weaponeer in Jack's crew but his true job is as a trusted confidant and body guard to the good captain. Friends for years, Jack trusts Tom completely.

Ah, but should he? Or does a dark treachery lie behind Tom Brown's seemingly friendly facade? I don't know, that's all the story there is, right there on the cardback. Make up your own from here on out. Tom Brown was hired by a rival captain to spy on Jack, but he really was as loyal as he seemed, told Jack, and together they started feeding false information to the villain while happily taking his gold. That's my story - get started on yours!

Tom's face is very plain. While Calico Jack was giving a slight smirk, Tom Brown seems rather passive. It's completely indifferent. He's got his hair tied up in a headscarf, and he's got a little bit of a goatee, but he still looks bored. Maybe it's because he's already seen everything there is to see on the seas, or he's tired of his good buddy's antics.

The figure gets a huge new chest cap. It's even larger than the "Powerhouse" chests the Marvel Minimates use. It's sculpted with asymmetrical pauldrons, a thick sash, a skull and crossbones belt with a pistol tucked into it, and a few necklaces. It's so massive, though, it doesn't look proportionate with the limbs, and that's disappointing. The chest block beneath is undecoed, but the upper arms have been painted with straps and metal rings. He gets wristbands and the same folded boots.

Tom Brown's weapon of choice is the hooked scimitar thing. He can't wield it right-handed very well, because the pauldron limits the range of motion in that arm. The three remaining weapons in this set are a curved spear with a hook on the back, a silver and gold double-barreled pistol, and a combination rifle/axe, which is highly ornate and just as impractical as it sounds. Anyway, you can give the weapons to whomever you want - that's part of the fun!

Calico Jack is a really nice figure, even with his sculpted pieces, but Tom Brown suffers from his bulky add-on. The names all come from real people, but the story isn't trying to stay true to history. That's fine, though, because Calico Jack's Pirate Raiders is off to a decent start.

-- 06/10/11

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