At ToyFair 2003, Art Asylum announced that they'd be producing Minimates based on Marvel Superheroes, though contractual obligations mandated that the Marvel figures would only be 2" tall instead of 3. If the rate at which the Marvel Minimates are selling across the country is any indication, fans couldn't care less about that missing inch; not only is the 2" scale workable, it was the right way to go.
Just a little bigger than your average Lego person, the Marvel Minimates are just as detailed as their bigger brothers, but you get two figures for the same price. Excellent!
Sold through Diamond Select Toys, the Minimates comes in figure-specific waves: Series 1 covered the Marvel Universe in general, Series 2 was all Spider-Man, and now Series 3 brings us the X-Men. Actually, to be specific, the Ultimate X-Men.
The Ultimate line is Marvel's "reader-friendly" series of comics. Ultimate Marvel features some of the most recognizable characters stripped of decades and decades of continuity - their stories are no longer a series of complex in-jokes that refer endlessly to themselves. This frees the writers to finally write some terrific stories with characters that had become very distant and off-putting.
Between my Daredevil/Elektra and Peter Parker/Mary Jane Minimate sets, I seem to be starting a collection that puts the "mate" in Minimates. This trend continues with my first UXM pair, Cyclops and Marvel Girl.
Scott Summers has the ability to fire powerful ruby red beams of force from his eyes, but lacks the ability to control them. To keep his powers in check, he wears a protective visor at all times. To make sure that we know this Minimate is the Ultimate version, he's wearing the distinctive blue and yellow battle suit. His belt is a separate piece, and his visor (part of one solid piece with his spiky hair) can be removed to show off the bright red eyes beneath. Scott's mouth is open and yelling, probably to shout out orders to the rest of the team. There is a variant Cyclops with no visor and a goatee painted on his chin.
Jean Grey has been Scott's main squeeze in all the X-Men's various incarnations, with a few short sidetrips to Wolverine every now and then. She's an extremely powerful psychic and sometime host to the phoenix force, an ageless cosmic entity. In the Ultimate books, Jean's bright red hair is cut short, so her Minimate's is as well. She's wearing the Ultimate X-Men uniform, complete with that strange yellow harness that fits over her shoulders.
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.
In a dicussion on Art Asylum's message boards, someone started a list of "recipes" for custom Minimates that could be created just by swapping parts of existing figures. Put Cyclops' head on Jean's body and you've got the perfect angry look for a Phoenix of your own.
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.
What Marvel Minimates do you want to see? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.