When Art Asylum launched their Marvel Minimates, they started with the big icon himself, Spider-Man. Now, nearly four years later, they're coming back to their old stamping grounds - but before they do, we're getting a sneak preview of the assortment with this Classic Spider-Man Box Set from Diamond Previews.
There was a five-pack back then, too. When the Spider-Man Minimates debuted, they were available in different configurations at different outlets, including boxed sets of five at TЯU. That set came with a plain Spider-Man, a battle-damaged Spider-Man, a Venom, a villain available in a two-pack and one exclusive figure. Boy, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
The plain Spidey in this set is referred to as "Torment" Spider-Man
not as an indication of his emotional state, but to clue us in that his design is taken from the initial five-issue arc of Todd McFarlane's Spider-Man back in 1990 - a comic more famous for its cover than its content. Why not just call it Todd McFarlane Spider-Man? Because Todd's got a successful toy business of his own, now, so he'd probably be none too happy about being credited on a product from another company. The figure's design is totally Todd, though: the big eyes with the thick black rims; more thin, intricate web lines on the costume than any other Minimate; the dark blue body with light blue highlights; really, the only thing missing is some of these intricate 3D webs that Todd always drew Spidey slinging.
Our battle-damaged figure is Melee Symbiote Spider-Man.
As the name suggests, this is Spidey in his black costume - the original, living version, not the cloth replacement. In addition to enhancing Peter's abilities and providing him with an endless supply of webbing, the symbiote could also mimic street clothes and mend/heal any cuts or tears in the suit. So how did this one get so torn up? Well, figure it's when Pete was trying to keep the suit from bonding with him. The figure's damage is all painted on in the form of pink skin visible through the black suit, with rips on the right shin, left thigh, both sides of the waist, the right forearm, left hand and shoulder, and a pair of spots on the face that show his mouth and eye. The white bits of the costume - the spider on the torso, the right eye and the spot on the back of his hand - are all painted crisply.
Venom is much more than a straight re-pack, as well.
This is "Powerhouse" Venom, which means he joins Powerhouse Thing in donning a floating "jacket" to make his chest bulkier. It sounds silly, but it really works wonders on Venom. He was always a fairly huge character in the comics (at least, once he got popular), so the previous standard-sized Minimate version just seemed to be lacking something. This new Venom is more detailed, with some abs painted on his stomach, and a much more detailed face. Admittedly, he's lost some of the "Minimatey-ness" of the original,
but the jagged eyes and the small, needly teeth suit him. This looks like a truly menacing character.
We've had a Sandman Minimate before, but this is an improvement. "Powerhouse" Sandman (yes, he's got the chest piece) is different in person than what you'll see in the press shots or the box art, but that's a good thing. To simulate his sand powers, his forearms, hands and entire lower body are cast from translucent yellow plastic, then speckled all around to look completely granular. Damn impressive work. The set includes two translucent "blasts" of sand, which can fit over his wrists and were originally seen as Johnny Storm's accessory.
If that's all this figure had to offer, he'd still be very good, but there's one more surprise waiting: his head is actually a hollow mask, like Chameleon's J. Jonah Jameson disguise. Remove it, and his head is now the same speckly trans yellow as the rest of the sand parts. Very nice, and entirely unexpected!
The fifth figure in this set is an exclusive.
If you buy the Target two-packs, you'll be able to get all the figures in this box except one: Hydro-Man. Yes, that second-rate Sandman is available here and only here. Art Asylum, unlike ToyBiz, gave us Morrie in his classic outfit, bluejeans and a plain black shirt. His spiky hair piece was used long ago on the variant Ultimate Cyclops figure, and hasn't been seen since. Since it's old, it lacks the peg of most modern Minimate headgear, even though there's a hole in the figure's head to accommodate it. Hydro-Man's arms are translucent blue, to suggest water, and he has a pair of water spouts that fit over his arms. They're a different mold than Sandman's accessories, which is great - they first appeared with the Street Fighter Minimates.
They're far too heavy for the figure to stand unsupported with them on, but like all current Minimates, he has Lego-compatible C3 feet, so you should be able to find somewhere to plug him in securely.
All the Minimates share the same body with different paint decos, and they all move at the same 14 points: neck, waist, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees and ankles. That's a heckuva lot of motion for something so tiny. The "Powerhouse" chests block the heads, slightly, but there's still movement there.
When the last Spider-Man 5-pack came out, it cost $10 - this new one cost $20. Why the big jump? It's not like the price of the two-packs has gone up that much. Really, the difference is distribution: the original was available at Toys Я Us, a major national retailer; this one is a previews exclusive, which means comicshops and maybe Suncoast. Bigger store = bigger production run = lower price. But $20 for five all-new figures is still a good price, especially when you remember that there's one figure in here you won't be able to get anywhere else.