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Mole Man/Sue Storm

by yo go re

Obviously Minimates have been a realy good product category for Toys Я Us. They're the only major retailer to carry the little figures currently, but they've been doing it for years with no signs of stopping. They've always had their own distinct assortments, with figures mixed and matched between packages or even different series, but other than one or two exclusive packs each time, it was still all figures you could get somewhere else. Now that's changed.

When she was still quite young, Sue became smitten with her aunt's handsome and brilliant tenant, science prodigy Reed Richards: a university student at that point. Sue and her brother johnny insisted on coming on the maiden voyage of Reed Richards' experimental starhip. But inadequate shielding allowed mysterious cosmic rays to penetrate the ship's hull and bombard the crew, forcing them to crash-land back on Earth. Upon landing, they discovered that they had gained superpowers, and Sue became the "Invisible Girl."

Sue here is part of an entire series of Fantastic Four Minimates - four two-packs that feature Marvel's first family and their foes. And what's special about that is that there's no corresponding "real" series to go along with them - there are a Thing and a Doombot in Series 37, but that's it. This is a standalone TRU series, the only way to get these figures.

Sue's costume is light blue with black for the boots, which pegs this as being a rather modern figure: yes, the original FF costumes were similar, but their accents were dark blue, while this is unmistakably black, something that wasn't possible before modern coloring techniques. Modern coloring techniques in comics; you could always paint a toy black. Anyway, this is most similar to the uniform Sue was wearing in the mid-'00s, when Waid and Wieringo were doing their epic run, and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa was writing 4 for Marvel Knights. It was a good time to be a Fantastic Four fan.

Invisible Woman gets her hair from the Secret Invasion Phoenix, so it looks tousled and slightly unkempt - perfect for an adventurer. It makes her seem adult and feminine without being matronly. Yes, she's a mother (twice over), but that doesn't mean she needs to look like a '50s housewife or even a '90s soccer mom - witness Milla Jovovich or Alyson Hannigan, neither of whom fall into the Betty Crocker stereotype.

Sue has a few accessories that show off her powers. She's got the same clear shield Invisible Women have been coming with since Series 8, and one of the clear hover stands the Ghostbusters Minimates introduced. Those are nice, but she also has an extra pair of arms and an extra pair of legs, molded in clear plastic and painted with a little bit of blue where they join the body. She's fading, and that's terrific!

The Mole Man launched his first known attack on the surface world, dispatching his Mutates to destroy power plants in preparation for an all-out invasion; however, his campaign had only just begun when he attracted the attention of the newly-formed Fantastic Four. Entering the realm of Subteranea via its Monster Island entrance, the FF defeated the Mole Man and his army of monsters in the first of many confrontations.

Mole Man, despite being the first villain the FF faced, is often overlooked. The guy just gets no respect - of course, looking at all their other villains, it's not too hard to see why. Living near monsters doesn't compare with eating planets to live.

Mole Man is a short, pudgy guy, and the Minimate delivers. He has the short "Penguin/James Howlett" slipper-feet to make him shorter than everyone else, plus a retooled version of Doc Ock's belly torso (it's been remolded to remove the ports on the back that accommodated Otto's arms). He has a new cane-- sorry, "staff," with a ball on top and a small nub halfway down so it doesn't slide out of his hand. He also wears the cape that was first introduced with Moon Knight. However, between the oversized torso and the undersized feet, the cape doesn't want to sit right - it often ends up covering his mouth.

The figure's face isn't quite as deformed and lumpy as the comic art usually shows him, and not just because it's printed on a smooth, featureless tube. You can still draw warts, right? He's got lots of wrinkles and a long, weird grin, but they could have really pushed it further. His slit glasses are painted on, rather than being a molded part of his hair, which has does a nice job of creating his receding hairline.

It was very unexpected when DST announced that TRU would be getting this unique series of Minimates. The two companies have been working together for years, but never to this extent. With a nicely updated Invisible Woman and a first-ever Mole Man, this is one heck of a set!

-- 09/27/10

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