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by yo go re

It's always nice when you get surprised by a toy. Thanks to the internet, it doesn't happen very often any more.

Through with being manipulated and used by William Stryker, Wolverine's Adamantium claws and mutant abilities make him one of the only people on the planet capable of stopping his former commander.

Wolverine blah blah blah Minimates blah blah blah lots of him blah blah blah link to handy but ubiquitous blog post numbering them all. We've danced this dance before, you and I, Mr. Wolverine Minimate. I know your tricks, and you know mine, so let's just jump ahead, shall we? Good.

This figure is only called "Wolverine" on the box: he doesn't get any fancy identifiers like "Special Ops" Wolverine, "Origins" Wolverine, "Weapon X" Wolverine, "Battle Damaged" Wolverine or "WWII" Wolverine. (There really are a lot of Wolverines!) But they probably could have called him "Searching" Wolverine or "Hero's Journey" Wolverine or even "Casual" Wolverine, since he's wearing the borrowed bequeathed jacket he had while running around getting the band back together. It's a brown jacket with yellow stripes, neatly sidestepping the question of how he could wear it in the future if he left it behind on the island.

Wolverine's hair is the same piece used on Weapon X Wolverine and Battle Damaged Wolverine - interesting that those are the only three movie figures to use this particular hair, and also the only ones we've reviewed. Should really fix that sometime. His expression is the calmest of the three, since this is the part of the movie where he's just talking to people. Yep, that's the Wolverine we all know and love - the scintillating conversationalist.

We swing, now, from a character who's had dozens of Minimates to a character who's never had one.

An almost indestructable layer of fat protects Frederick Dukes from physical attacks, gunshots and even missiles, making "The Blob" an ideal candidate for missions carrying a high risk of injury.

Technically, that's not true of the movieverse version of Fred: yes, he was immune to physical injury, but he was like that even when he wasn't fat - unsettled by the things he had to do as part of Team X, he turned to food for comfort. So while he retained his invulnerability when he got big, he ceratinly had it prior to that time. In any case, before now, the only way to get a Blob Minimate was to build one yourself.

This figure gets several new pieces, all in service of bulking him up. There's a new chest cap that shows his big gut poking out of a gray shirt, and his head bulges out at the bottom to give him some neck rolls. To keep him from looking like a bell (the way Kingpin did, all those years ago), he also has a unique waist piece that creates the world's first Minimate FUPA. Yeah. You're welcome.

Sadly, Blob is missing the ironic "Save the Whales" image on his shirt, but he does get a pair of boxing gloves - I almost called those new pieces, since I'm an idiot: they came straight out of the Rocky sets. The original plan did call for new hands; the right would have been empty, but the left would have been holding a drink cup. It's a shame that didn't cost out, because it would have been awesome! That said, there's probably a good reason they had to drop the new gloves, and it goes back to what we said at the start of the review: surprises.

If you look at Blob in the packaging, or even on the back of the box, you'll think the figure we've reviewed so far is what you're going to get. But when you actually open the set and start playing around, you'll find an unannounced bonus waiting for you. Like we said, Fred wasn't always "Blob" fat in the movie - he was heavy, but not fat. If you take off all the extra pieces, the figure beneath is the skinny commando from earlier in the film! It's a total play feature that goes undocumented, and it's a cool one, at that!

Fred is wearing a black tank top beneath a dark green vest. His chest hair is showing, and there are pockets and a few wrinkles painted on the front of the vest (nothing is painted on the sides or back). The dancing girl tattoo on his left arm is visible in both modes, and there are stripes running down his legs. Unfortunately, the tat is in its bloated, stretched-out form, even when he's narrower: AA doesn't have any pieces to bulk up upper arms.

Blob was played by Kevin Durand, who you may remember as the big mercenary Martin Keamy in Season 4 of Lost, the big neo-Nazi redneck assassin Jeeves Tremor in Smokin' Aces, or the big Beauty and the Beast-ripoff cat-man Joshua in Dark Angel. Fun fact: a Joshua Minimate was planned and mocked up for the never-released 3" Dark Angel Minimates, so this would have been the second Kevin Durand Minimate. This one doesn't really have much of a likeness (on either the fat or thin heads), but they certainly got the eyes right. The naked head is painted with stubble on his face and cranium.

In addition to a pair of new hands (to replace the boxing gloves, naturally), Fred comes with an in-scale M-16. The piece was originally developed for Art Asylum's Platoon Minimates, so it works for a black ops government soldier. The strap makes it a bit hard for him to hold, but at least you can sling it over his shoulder.

The Wolverine/Blob set is a good one - you're basically getting three figures for the price of two. I picked it up on a whim, and was surprised to find that Blob was hiding a thinner man inside him - if I'd known about that, I would have grabbed this set the first time I saw it! You've gotta give AA credit for trying something so clever, but I have to wonder if keeping it a secret was detrimental in the long run.

-- 01/18/10

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