Art Asylum's Star Trek line may be floundering under the weight of poorly planned studio mandates, but they're doing everything right with their Minimates.
The original Minimates were all 3" versions of AA's fine products: Crouching Tiger, Star Trek, Dark Angel... everything got miniaturized. Even martial arts legend Bruce Lee and rockers like Rob Zombie became pocket-sized.
At ToyFair 2003, Art Asylum announced that they'd be producing Minimates based on The Lord of the Rings and Marvel Superheroes, though contractual obligations mandated that the Marvel figures would only be 2" tall instead of 3. A lot of fans were upset by this: they wanted their collections to be fully integrated, and can you really blame them?
The Marvel Minimates have finally hit stores, showing that not only is the 2" scale workable, it was the right way to go.
Just a little bigger than your average Lego person, the Marvel Minimates are just as detailed as their bigger brothers, but you get two figures for the same price. Excellent!
Actually, while most of the Minimates are sold in pairs, there was a single-carded exclusive in the first series: Silver Surfer.
Traveler of the spaceways and herald to Galactus, the Silver Surfer was once Norrin Radd, a peace-loving man who bartered his own life in exchange for the safety of his home planet, Zenn-La. For ages he served the Devourer of Worlds, before humanity and all its wonder caused him to rebel and become a defender of life.
Available only through Tower Records, the Silver Surfer is sold alone, as is befitting such a solitary character.
His packaging is the same tubular blister used for many of the Minimates - the two-packs have that curved bubble running horizontally across the card, while the Silver Surfer's is vertical.
Molded from gray plastic, the Surfer was then given a glossy silver coat of paint to represent his striking metal body. To provide detail and bring him more in line with his comicbook counterpart, black and white details were painted on to delineate his musclature and light reflecting off his skin. It looks really good in person, much better than the vac-metallizing that ToyBiz usually gives him. If the upcoming Marvel Legends version looks this good, we'll be in for a treat.
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 Surfer comes, of course, with his cosmic surfboard. Though there's nothing to attach him to the board (oddly enough, just like AA's Tony Hawk), his big square feet give him plenty of stability and have recesses that would allow you to hide a bit of poster tack. Though a very simple accessory, the board looks just like it does in the comics and is thin enough for the Surfer to hold in his tiny hands.
The (extra)small size of the Marvel Minimates makes them perfect for creating dioramas. Since anything else would soon take over your entire house, the smaller 'mates can be given just a shelf to call their own. Plus, as you can see in the comparison pic near the top of the page, the 2" scale will be perfect for Hobbits in the LotR line. Art Asylum really put some thought into this line, and even though it's a departure from what has gone before, it's still very good.
What Marvel Minimates do you want to see? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.