Thursday, August 30, 2012

X-Factor MiniMates 4-pack

 
I've been reading a bunch of X-Factor I found in the dollar comics bin lately, so it's a good time to bust out this killer X-Factor MiniMates 4-pack! Having read a lot of X-Force and Uncanny X-Men from this era, it's only natural for me to have wandered over to this title starring the original X-Men. This unusual spinoff from the X-Men titles finds the original X-Men estranged from the current team due to their old nemesis Magneto taking Professor X's place as its leader. The five set up a business in New York posing as as mutant-hunters for hire, capturing and secretly training mutants to control their powers and blend into society. Realizing the error of this ruse and it's resulting escalation of mutant discrimination, the group came out to the public with it's true intentions. Wierd idea, but it ends up turning into another X-Men book ultimately, eventually introducing new characters/mutants, and pushing previously "B" characters to the front.


 
 

Not everyone's favorite costumes, I kinda like the crossed chest emblem stretching over the member's torsos in different colors, Cyclops done appropriately in blue and yellow for the beginning of this title back in 1986. I'd be willing to bet this is the least favorite and lesser known Cyclops outfit and the 90's outfit is the most popular. I'd also bet most people don't notice as much because the basic elements remain: yellow & blue/or black, some bandolier/chest emblem, and optic blast visor.

Original field commander of the X-Men, Scott Summers was the first young mutant recruited by Professor Xavier for tutelage of his special powers, away from growing persecution of the general public. The unknown "X-Gene" that caused Scott's mutant evolution is extremely dangerous, revealing itself in the form of powerful concussive beams that shoot from his eyes. This "optic blast" can only be controlled by ruby quartz, fused into either his special visor or sunglasses, revealed when removing this MiniMate's visor/mask. He also come with a hairpiece pictured below, Cyclops sporting the extra set of flesh tone hands included in this set.
 
 
 

Jean Grey, the original Marvel Girl, was killed during the seminal Dark Phoenix Saga in the late 70's, yet retconned in a sort of wishy-washy fashion (just sayin'!). It was decided that Jean Grey had never actually been the Phoenix, kept in a cocoon on the ocean floor while the Phoenix entity performed it's evil machinations under her guise. Marvel had to do away with Cyclops' wife in the process so the pair could fall in love again! All is fair in love & comics  :D

Jean kinda goes well with fellow mutants Polaris and Boomer, sharing the same yellow as Boomer, and green with Polaris... all color coordinated n' stuff. Girl Power!
 
 
 

I think a lot of fans were bummed about Beast returning to his more human features in the early X-Factor books, but I love this! Don't get me wrong: I'm a huge fan of the furry, blue version of Hank McCoy, but I loved those early Jack Kirby issues of X-Men. Beast's costume changes color later in the series, but it's not long before Marvel brought back Hank's blue fur. Marvel more recently started an X-Men reboot in the First Class title, Hank as a "more human" Beast like this, as Jack Kirby created him in 1963. I like this  :)
 
 
 

Like most all toy collectors, I am mysteriously drawn to translucent plastic. It just looks cool, and what better material to render Iceman from? The original version of the character looked like a snowman, shortly thereafter revamped as the icy, angular hero we know today. It seems odd he wears that metal inhibitor belt while the rest of his outfit takes on his icy form, but that's how Bobby Drake looked in in X-Factor, a result of Loki's trickery in attempt to overpower the Frost Giants. Iceman came with an ice structure arm accessory that looks good, but does not fit well over his arm with the hand removed or not. He looks perfect on the flight stand I got with mu Magneto/Zero MiniMate 2-pack!
 
 
I love this set! It would have been nice to have Archangel in the set, or the coveted X-Force Angel that has a large white on red X pattern on his chest matching the rest of the X-Factor costumes (included in a 2-pack with Warpath).  These may seem somewhat plain individually, but make a nice grouping of a somewhat odd, but ambitious period in X-Men history. I've enjoyed reading some of the earlier issues of X-Factor, and look forward to reading some more, including the 90's Version with Polaris, Havok, and Multiple Man.

More Later- Make It FUN!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

X-Factor Annual Vol.1, #2 1987


Franklin Richards is kidnapped by Quicksilver, under control of Maximus. His Power Pack teammates nearly save the day until Lockjaw appears, teleporting Quicksilver and the boy away. Blackbolt and the rest of the royal Attilan family on the moon are roped into the action, as the confused Quicksilver and evil Maximus' plans are carried out, and Power Pack looks to X-Factor for help. With Quicksilver, Lockjaw, Crystal, and Black Bolt under Maximus' mind control, X-Factor must assist the rest of the Inhumans in freeing the young Richards boy.


Power Pack is kind of a fruity idea for a superhero team- all kid mutants... little kids! There's a lot of them, family drama, and love tensions between Cylops & Marvel Girl in this annual, but I had to pick this up beacause a.) it's a GIANT SIZED annual  b.) it was a dollar  c.) the Inhumans are in it. Tom Grindberg and Joe Rubenstein drew and inked the issue with enough skill, but the layout is somewhat of a yawner to me- lots of small panels jammed with dialogue. Still, it was kinda fun to have X-Factor and the Inhumans in one issue  ;)


 I've picked up a few issues of X-Factor in the past, but have more recently picked up about thirty of so spanning from 1986 to '96, so you'll likely read more about that here later on. I'm unsure if this annual contributed to my delving further into X-Factor, or if it's just all the other Uncanny X-Men and X-Force issues I've read from this era, but it's been an ongoing thing for the last year I've enjoyed inbetween all the other stuff I've been reading. Read my post on X-Factor Annual #3: Evolutionary War, Part 1!
More Later-Make It Fun!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Marvel Vs Capcom: Modock/Akuma & Sentinel/Ryu


Like the Wolverine/Viewtiful Joe & Magneto/Zero 2-packs I recently reviewed, these MiniMates are based on a series of video games created by Capcom in which characters created by Marvel Comics and Capcom's own characters appear together. Series 3 are based on the third version, Fate of Two Worlds. While I'm not a gamer, these sets have some colorful characters that look fun to me.

 
Modock is a freaky Marvel creation, first appearing in '67 under the reign of the late, great Jack Kirby. Only Kirby could come up with something that looked like this!
From Wikipedia:
George Tarleton is a technician for the organization Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM). Having recently created the artifact the Cosmic Cube, the AIM scientists use advanced mutagenics to alter Tarleton and create the super intelligent MODOC (acronym for Mental Organism Designed Only for Computing) to study and improve the object. MODOC, however, becomes ambitious and kills its former masters and takes control of AIM. Calling itself MODOK (Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing).
  

 
I stupidly passed on this set the first time I saw it, but had to return for Modock, maybe the most unique MiniMate I've ever seen. He's pretty top-heavy, but the chair holds him upright just fine and looks killer atop it's translucent blastoff base! 
 

The online Street Fighter wiki says Akuma (悪魔 or アクマ, "Demon, Devil" in Japanese), known in Japan as Gouki (豪鬼, Gōki, "Great Devil", "Great Demon" or "Great Ogre"), is a popular fighter as well as a popular villain in the Street Fighter series and UDON comics. He is known as "The Supreme Master of the Fist."






















Being Supreme Master of the Fist and all, I assume one of the translucent blast accessories is for Akuma. The sculpt and color on this tiny figure a great! Those are prayer beads around his neck, and the Kanji symbol for "Ten" appears on the back of Akuma's gi top. While I bought this 2-pack for Modock, I think I like Akuma even more- lookit that hair!   :D

 
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Sentinels are the longtime antagonists of the X-Men, introduced in issue #14 in 1965. The 30 foot tall, flying robots fire energy blasts, and become more dangerous each time the X-Men face them due to their tactical thought capabilities, enhancing their counterattack. It would have been nice if he was an oversized MiniMate, more in scale with the rest, but I'll take this. See my post on the Marvel Universe 16" Masterworks Sentinel!


 



I really like that they used the purple & blue color combo from Marvel Comics canon on this. This is a seriously chunky MiniMate, and his articulation is somewhat restricted due to this. One of the boots is not perfectly secure in it's leg fitting, which gave me a little trouble posing him in flight, but I'm amused by him overall. I mean, who doesn't like giant, killer robots?
 
 
According to the online Capcom database, Ryu's first appearance in the original Street Fighter replaced the red headband with a white one and depicted him with bright red hair, gray eyes, and red slippers. I like the shade of red they used, and while I never played much Street Fighter, this is a fun, archetypal, little martial artist. Trivia from the database: Ryu and Chun Li are the only Street Fighter characters that appear in every Capcom Versus game.

 




















Ryu's shirt/belt overlay can be removed, revealing his block, yet fit chest- the result, no doubt, of never missing a Street Fighter game  :D



Diamond Select gave us four bases with this set, two flat disc and two flight posts- I'm not sure why since Modock has the chair, unless the Sentinel was meant to utilize both flight posts, but Rtu looks cool flying through the air! While I bought the sets for the Marvel characters, Akuma & Ryu rock hard and will go great with the other Capcom characters I have. I'd recommend these to any Minimate fan!


More Later- Make It FUN!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

X-Force Annual #2, Vol.1, 1993


Gosh I love comic annuals- they are usually double issues, and often a story you don't need knowledge of running continuity within a title to enjoy. I found this X-Force Annual #2, Vol.1 from '93 in the dollar comics some time ago, poly-bagged with a Subway sample sticker on it- you'd think a fast food restaurant would give away a lesser title like X-Men Adventures or something, but instead we get a 64 page annual of a hot title, introducing a new character as well. Fabian Nicieza wrote the story, and  Antonio Daniel did a dynamic job penciling the  issue.


Cable & Co. take on fellow mutie X-Treme, whose loyalty belongs to Martin Henry Strong, yet another self-loathing mutant bent on curing all of their genetic "defect". With Strong's promise of a cure and in search of his unknown past, X-Treme topples X-Force when they intervene his attack on Neurotap (Michelle Balters, making her first appearance along with X-Treme and Strong in this issue).  Romantically involved with X-Treme, she betrays X-Treme to win help with her comatose parents from Strong.

 
Using his Shi'ar blades to cut his enemies and thus oxygenate their blood, X-Treme used his unique ability to ignite the electrolytes present, burning his victims from the inside out.  Sounds unpleasant, no?

 
Neurotap eventually leads X-Force to Martin Strong, X-Treme seeing the error of his judgement and helping defeat him.  X-Treme, later known as Adam-X, is even offered to run with X-Force, but soldier's on in search of his past. It won't be the last we see of him though, as Adam X returns in X-Force #30 to battle Shatterstar again-but that's a story for another time  :)   Like a lot of those X-Men related titles from the 90's, this one came with a character card, and features the new character X-Treme. Everything was poly-bagged, collector's edition, foil/alternate cover back then- all in an effort to appeal to the sudden glut/boom in sales driven by market speculators, crashing the market and nearly destroying the industry only a few years later.

More Later- Make It FUN!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Havok & Polaris Minimate 2-Pack


Deeply in MiniMate madness, I happened upon this fun Havok/Polaris 2-Pack at Slackers on Tuesday night for the irresistible price on $2.99. I'd seen this set before I got into MiniMates, and had hoped more recently I'd see it again! The only other set from this wave I'd like would be the Hawkeye/Vision 2-pack, but this set is almost just as good. Yes, my knowledge of these characters are limited, but they are X-Men related which interests me more in the last year, and Polaris' hairdo & outfit are disco  :D 



Havoc and Polaris were both lovers and members of the 1990s-era government sponsored mutant team X-Factor.  As Alex Summers, he is younger brother to fellow X-Man Cyclops/Scott Summers, and possesses the ability to generate powerful plasma blasts, often hard for him to administer precisely. Perhaps more interesting is the psychological aspect of the Summers boy's loss of their parent and separation at an orphanage, Alex adopted by a couple trying to replace a dead son while Scott remained.


 

While Havok is somewhat of a plain MiniMate standing next to one like Beta Ray Bill, who might be the coolest I own. His limbs are more free to pose without boots, a cape or shoulder pads, however.


Polaris was the real reason I bought this set, in her Club 54-worthy outfit with a huge mane of green hair. Nice! Her cape makes her kinda heavy in the back, but her mix of flat & pearlescent coloring, great detail, and big hair scuplt make her unique and fun.

Estranged daughter of Magneto, Lorna Dane controls magnetism like her father, generating magnetic energy pulses, creating force fields, and manipulate the Earth's magnetic field which gives her the ability to fly. Her relationship with her father varies throughout her continuity, depending on which storyline you are reading- like her relationship with Havok, it's complicated. Again, it's the psychological aspect of Marvel's conflicted characters and their intertwined relationships that make them interesting.
 

More Later- Make It FUN!