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The Wolverine Saga

by yo go re

41, 42, 43, 44.

The man called Logan has walked many paths, not all of them the path of a hero. In the Ultimate universe, he was an assassin for the Brotherhood before joining the X-Men. While living in Japan, he suppressed his savage instincts in the name of love, until they overwhelmed him. And when he bonded with a symbiote from space, his most primal urges were unleashed. Yet he has proven himself time and again, traveling to the moon and beyond to protect his friends, his home and the Earth.

This Wolverine, like the Vault Guardsman, Dr. Doom, and Professor X, is based on an old toy. In his case, we go back to the distant days of 1994. ToyBiz's X-Men line was up to Series 8, the first to have a specific name and theme: "The Phoenix Saga." One of the figures in the series was Space Wolverine (with Slashing Space Armor), and this Minimate is a clear update of that one.

Space Suit Wolverine gets a lot of sculpted pieces to create said suit. There are the feet, with sculpted tech detailing in addition to the shin plates that rise up off them. His thighs are molded with the armor already on them, as are his upper arms. He has big gloves, a new belt, and fancy armor pads over his shoulders. Despite just being a repaint of the Iron Man Mark V armor, it's a really awesome update of a goofy ToyBiz design.

On top of all that (no, literally, "on top"), he gets a removable space helmet, with a carefully placed cutout on the front so the X logo on the armor can show through. On the old toy, the helmet fit over his mask, but there's no way a normal Wolverine Minimate mask would fit under there - so they designed him a new one that would! Double awesome!

X-Men Series 8 came out right when ToyBiz was switching the packaging from the short, orange cards they'd used since 1991, to the larger blue cards they'd use until nearly the end. Since this series was released during the transition, it was available in both types of packaging - and when the second wave came out, Wolverine came with some extra accessories. Accessories that included a gun from Cable, and so this Minimate comes with a gun also taken from Cable. That's some crazy attention to detail right there! If they really wanted to go all-out though, he'd have Shatterstar's swords, too.

In case you hate fun and joy and everything that is right with the world, and you'd rather have another plain Wolverine instead of silly space armor, Art Asylum's got you covered! Just as Cable-pool could be stripped down to reveal a normal Deadpool beneath, this set includes an extra pair of arms and legs so you can make a yellow and blue Wolvie. This is his modern "Astonishing" costume, last seen in "vampire" form! He gets a red belt with gold detailing on the front, and your choice of either hair or a more normal mask (and either of those can also be worn when the space suit's helmet is off, obviously).

One of the earliest Minimate exclusives was Mariko Yashida, based on Wolverine's original 1982 miniseries. So here we are, 10 years later, and we get an exclusive Wolvie who looks right standing next to her. Now, granted, this isn't an outfit taken from the comics; more of an "inspired by" type of thing, but the pairing still works.

Logan-san (yes, that's what the toy is called) is wearing a yellow and black kimono, obviously meant to match with his usual costume colors. It's a new piece, covering everything from the neck to the mid-shin. He also gets new forearms, sculpted with large flared sleeves, rather than having separate sleeves that slip on over the wrists. While this does make for a smoother, more natural look, it also means that the sleeves are pointed in the wrong direction unless his arms are at his sides. He does get cute little sandals painted on his feet, though.

Since Wolverine's time in Japan is meant to show him at his greatest level of inner peace, the figure's face reflects that. He's not happy, by any means, but he's not flying into a rage, either. He looks grumpy, that's all. He gets the short Secret Invasion hair, which fortunately this time does not seem to have been molded crooked.

You can remove the kimono to reveal Logan-san's bare torso beneath. Well, bare except for the Robin-Williams-level amount of chest hair. Of course, that would look really weird if he was still wearing the yellow kimono sleeves, so he gets a second set of bare arms, as well. The "yellow and black" colorscheme is maintained by way of a sash around his waist. His arms are just as hairy as his chest, but the plastic they're molded from is pinker than the plastic used for the body, so they don't quite match. He also includes a katana, because if you're going to strip to the waist in Japan, there had better be the threat of sharp steel involved.

Like we told you recently, Ultimate Wolverine was one of the first Minimates ever released, so this guy is a perfect example of how far Minimate designing has come. The original one was blue and yellow, with no discernable muscle tone; the new one is black and gold (the proper colors, since Wolverine started out as a villain, not a member of the team), and has dark blue detailing to suggest his muscles.

This is actually Wolverine's second "Ultimate" costume - the original was almost entirely black, with just an orange/gold panel around the ribs. Then, just about the time X2 was opening in theaters, Marvel decided that all the various versions of Wolverine (other than the movie one) should be wearing the same costume, in order to make merchandising easier. So this basic costume, with minor differences, could be either the Ultimate, 616, X-Men: Evolution or X-Men Legends Wolverine! Take your pick!

One thing switching to a unified look did for Ultimate Wolverine? It made him get rid of his stupid little soulpatch, so this Minimate doesn't have it, either. He's wildly angry, like he usually was in the Ultimate comics, and gets a new hair piece. It's the bushiest hair seen in this set, with a lock falling over his forehead and a bunch of waves in the back.

The final figure in the set isn't based on anything that happened in the comics - but it did happen on a comic. Symbiote Wolverine is taken from the cover of New Avengers #35, an issue he didn't even appear in. Actually, take that one step further: this story didn't even appear in that comic! In the pages of Mighty Avengers, Dr. Doom set off a "Venom bomb" over New York, turning everybody into a symbiote. Everybody, including Wolverine, whose healing factor kept trying to fend it off.

Like Symbiote Bond Spider-Man, this Minimate shows the Venom suit flowing over Wolverine's normal duds (though in the opposite direction). He's mostly been taken over, with just his right arm, ribs, and a spot on his thigh are still "Wolverine." He gets black boots with large white flares, and a new right upper arm that's been molded with tendrils of symbiote swirling up off it.

His mask is the same one Series 47's Brood-infected Wolverine wore, so he can show off his giant, gaping mouth. If you choose to remove the mask, you'll find a fully possessed head beneath it. You won't want to give him any hair, because the eyes are so high on the head. He also shares Ann Weying's neck-tendrils piece, for extra creepiness!

All Minimates share the same basic body with different paint decos, and they all move at the same 14 points: neck, waist, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees and ankles - lots of motion for something so tiny! This set offers four weird versions of Wolverine, which may sound redundant, but they're really fun. And yet again, we'd love to see an entire series of Minimates based on random '90s ToyBiz variation figures.

-- 08/19/13

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