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Wolverine Through the Ages

by yo go re

Last year, Iron Man was Marvel's big summer hit, and Art Asylum created the Iron Man Through the Ages box set. This year it's Wolverine's turn. Of course, while the Iron Man set was basically just a few new suits of armor, Wolverine's actually had quite a few ages to go through!

We begin with James Howlett, the young boy who would grow up to be Wolverine. Born in the 1880s in Alberta, Canada, little James was the second son of James and Elizabeth Howlett. His older brother had died under mysterious circumstances years before. Origin did a good job of misdirecting the reader, though, setting us up to think James' friend "Dog" was Wolverine for the first two issues, until the trauma of seeing his father killed triggered James' mutation.

That first manifestation is what this Minimate represents. James is wearing his frilly nightshirt, though he has black pants and feet beneath it, rather than bare legs. That seems like a bit of a cheat, doesn't it? Surely the figure was made this way so they weren't selling a Wolverine toy in a "dress," but still. James' claws are popped, and he has a wonderfully terrified look on his face. The hair is short, but still has a good texture sculpted in.

Art Asylum came up with a few new pieces for this Wolverine, beyond just the new hair. The claws, for instance, are still molded pieces of the hands, but they're barely longer than his fingers, just stumpy little things since he's so young. That's a perfect choice! Additionally, AA has given Jimmy new feet, super-short "slippers" that make the figure shorter than all the rest. They were introduced with the DC Minimates (on Penguin and Ma Hunkel, specifically), but if you want to be honest, this is probably the kind of thing AA should have been doing for Wolverine since the very beginning. Failing that, James Howlett was the right time to bring them over to the Marvel side.

For some reason, the little claws are unpainted. There's a red app on the back of each hand suggesting blood, but the actual claws are the still the same color as the skin. Is that a mistake, or a cost-cutting measure? The stock photography shows them with a bone paint app, so it was obviously the original intention, it just didn't make it to the final stage.

Next we have Weapon X, which is easily the most savage-looking Wolverine Minimate yet released. It shows him when he was being experimented upon by the Canadian government, given the tools and training that would mold him into the ideal super soldier. He's also the least-dressed Wolverine ever, wearing a loincloth and... nothing else. Yes, he's going commando under there, too, so you can have a fully bare-ass naked Logan if you want. Make your Jean Grey Minimates happy.

Although he's nude, the figure isn't just plain pink. Not only does he have delineated muscles, he's also got finely painted bodyhair - at least, on his chest, shins and arms. The back of the figure lacks any kind of paint at all, which again seems like a cost issue. The loincloth isn't the same one that came with the Minimate Gollum back in 2004, surprisingly. He looks quite angry, and has been given big busy eyebrows.

The giant hair is new, but it's not even: either the sideburns come forward to different extents, or the dip in the center of his forehead is off to one side; line it up accurately one way, and it's thrown off the other. The rest of the hair is asymmetrical, with unique details on each side, and that's nice, but the off-kilter widow's peak is odd. Plus, this figure has knobby bone claws, which may be new to Minimate figures, but isn't accurate to the character: he got his metal claws during his time with Weapon X, and the very fact that he had claws was a surprise to everyone involved. So getting the bone versions is nice, but you'll do better to trade them to another version. And again, they're unpainted.

Now we come to the modern day, more or less. This is just Logan, out of his X-Uniform, not worrying about the Avengers, not caught up in any spy stuff, not geting into trouble in Madripoor, just hanging out and taking a day off. Maybe clearing some brush, who knows? This is just how he dresses when he's off having a beer at Harry's Hideaway or whatever bar it was that the X-Men used to frequent.

Logan is wearing blue jeans, cowboy boots, a red and black plaid shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and a cowyboy hat. The boots are new, and unfortunately taller than the average Minimate foot, making Logan taller than he should be. He has an extra waist piece, for some reason - couldn't they have just painted the jeans' details on the actual Minimate body? It's painted with a belt and a buckle, and even a fly. There are seams down the outside of the legs, and the plaid on the shirt is crisp and well spaced.

To properly show the rolled-up sleeves, the figure has separate molded pieces that fit over the forearms. The same things were used on one of the Wolverine movie Minimates, and they work well. It's a clever design, and they stay in place well - if the thigs were always falling down to the wrists or something, it would be bad. The oh-so-stylish cowboy hat is a molded piece of Logan's hairblock, so the set also includes a piece of hatless hair, the same that came with the Secret Invasion Wolverine.

Finally, we get Old Man Logan, the version of Wolverine seen in the storyline of the same name. This is probably the figure in the set the fewest people will recognize right away, since the story is still new. It's an eight-issue story that started in August of 2008, so as of this writing, it's still not finished. Ah, the magical combination of Mark Millar and Steve McNiven! Blowing deadlines since... huh. Have they actually ever met a deadline?

Anyway, the story is set 50 years in the future, after the villains have won. Logan's given up the fight, and is just trying to live a quiet life when trouble comes looking for him. It's actually a much better story than our cliched recap suggests, and if the last issue ever comes out, you should check the story out. Anyway, since Logan is just a simple farmer by this point, he ends up dressed like someone in a Western: just normal clothes under a duster with heavy shoulders.

Steve McNiven's ultra-detailed style doesn't seem like the sort of thing that would work on a Minimate head, but Old Man Logan disproves that. Of course, when you think about it, comicbook art is just thin black lines, same as the painted faces on Minimate heads, so maybe it shouldn't be a surprise. Still, the toy looks great, and he's got yet another new hair piece, a close-cropped gray.

Old Man Logan has his claws out, which is a bit disappointing: part of the point of the story is that he refuses to pop them ever again, so putting plain hands on the figure would have been better. However, the backs of his hands are bloody, suggesting how long it's been since Logan unsheathed, so that works in his favor. Plus, this set includes three extra pairs of normal hands, so you can de-claw whichever versions of Logan you want. You can remove his coat to show off the red shirt beneath, but you'll need a new set of bare arms to complete the look. May we suggest using Weapon X's?

The Wolverine Through the Ages set has some minor problems, mainly due to skipped paint apps, but overall the characters are good, and the new pieces add a lot to the figures - especially those new "short" feet, which are particularly clever. Only one of these Logans is anything like what we've had before, and all four are worthy incarnations.

-- 08/03/09

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