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Captain Britain/Shadowcat

Minimates
by yo go re

Sometimes a series of Minimates will have a clear theme: all Spider-Man, of '90s X-Men, or what have you. Other times, they just seem to toss a bunch of leftovers together. With a pair of cosmic heroes, a pair of mutants, and an armybuilder/variant set designed specifically to finish off two store-exclusive box sets, Series 31 definitely falls into the latter category.

The embodiment of all the magic and legend of Britain itself, Brian Braddock was transformed into Captain Britain by the powerful Merlyn and charged with using his new found strength, force fields and flight to defend his homeland at all costs.

That whole "embodiment of all British magic" thing was used to great effect during the Secret Invasion crossover - it sounds silly, but the Skrulls tried to conquer the magic realms by going through England to get at them. Why? Who cares, it was awesome! Besides, being mystically empowered probably made Brian feel better about being only human when his older brother and his twin sister were both mutants.

This Minimate depicts Captain Britain's second costume, because his first one was terrible. He used to wear what looked like red pajamas, but while being thrown through time, the staff and medallion that gave him his powers dissolved and reformed as this suit, which makes him look like he's wearing the Union Jack. Some people will tell you that the proper name is "the Union Flag," and it's only the Union Jack if it's flying from a boat; however, Parliament has stated that Union Jack can be used as the correct name anywhere. The stipes on his arms are very clean and straight, and he has fancy boot-fronts that come up over his knees. It would have been nice if he'd gotten a "powerhouse" chest (because he really is a big, muscular guy), and there should be blue paint on the top of his shoulders, not red, but at least they didn't leave it white.

Captain Britain's helmet/mask thing is removable (and is loose enough to do so easily), and the set includes a replacement hair piece for him. It's the long hair first seen with Series 19's Archangel. While he did wear his hair long at one point in the comics, it was never with this costume - he needs something shorter and thicker, like this series' Captain Marvel had.

Having left the X-Men behind and journeyed to England, Kitty Pryde takes the name Shadowcat and continues to fight against evil with the super-team Excalibur. Joined by her alien dragon Lockheed, her phasing powers and quick thinking prove invaluable time and again.

We had a Shadowcat Minimate before, way back in Series 13, but that was her Astonishing X-Men uniform; this figure is in her classic outfit, though "classic" in this case is relative. She definitely wore it the longest, from 1985 to 1993, but it was the fourth costume she'd worn since showing up in 1980. Of course, she was also on her third codename by the time, too, so the girl wasn't exactly good at making up her mind.

This costume is based on the one designed by Art Adams, which Kitty started wearing when she and Wolverine went to Japan. It's two shades of blue, has a sash and large, baggy sleeves. She has a strange new piece to form her collar, and black paint for the details on her shirt. The light blue paint for her sash doesn't come down low enough on the figure, leaving her with a line there.

The face is very much Kitty Pryde. She's wearing a black mask that has huge eyeholes, and she's been painted with this big, unbridled smile that really suits the character. So many Minimates have such a completely neutral expression, but Kitty is ebullient, and the face shows that. She has a terrific new hair piece that conveys the style and bulk of her 'do. It means the head can't move, but it's dead-on accurate, so you have to overlook that.

Shadowcat also includes an accessory/sidekick/whatever you want to call it, Lockheed. Kitty's pet dragon is a single solid piece, molded from purple plastic and with yellow paint for the eyes. It's a neat little design, and just like Peter Venkman's hairless cat, it can rest on a Minimate's arm. It's a very seamless look with him perched there, and the Minimate doesn't require any special support to hold him without falling over. It would be nice if he could sit sideways on the arm, though.

As a fan of Excalibur, I was really glad to see Captain Britain on the schedule to get a Minimate at last. He's a good, solid effort (though he could use some more bulk) but Kitty and Lockheed are the standout part of this set, and are both very well done. They're going to go great with the upcoming Excalibur box set.

-- 11/22/10


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