The secret to a good con exclusive is to create something that will be new to fans, but not so terribly different that people will be mad that they didn't get it. Mattel has never quite gotten the hang of this, but Art Asylum knows how to do it very well. This year their Minimate exclusive was a four-pack (of course) of the Fantastic Four.
Though the characters have already been released (some several times over) in the standard two-packs, the versions in this set are all different in one way or another.
Thing is the team's heavy hitter, his massive size and rocky hide making him the perfect damage-dealer. This Minimate has the least apparent changes from his original version - in fact, below the neck, he's just the same: for the most part, his rocks are painted on. From head to toe, he's all orange with black lines. He's got the big stony hands, but this is the first Thing without a head piece.
The lack of any cranial enhancement makes the Thing look more like the walking mud-lump he was at the beginning of the comic. His mouth is open slightly, but not as much as the original version. Overall, this Thing isn't different enough to warrant buying the set: he just doesn't stand out from the rest. Luckily, the rest of the team are more creative.
The only woman on the team, it falls to Sue to be sort of the den mother, taking care of everyone and settling squabbles. And while she's very good at it, and usually quite even-handed, sometimes she does turn into a bit of a bitch. Understandable, though, when you've got Ben and Johnny constantly needling each other.
Taking a cue from the movie Invisible Woman, this Minimate is fading away - her legs and torso are cast from clear plastic, with paint beginning to fade in above the knees. The paint design is the same as the regular Invisible Woman figure, but her belt, previously painted on the torso, has been moved down to her hips. Her mouth is closed, another change from the previous figures. She still has the clear force shield as the others.
Reed Richards is the nominal leader, not because he's better than the rest of the team, but because it's his work that kickstarts most of their adventures. He's like the scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project, so focused on the scientific pursuit of knowledge that he can't see the danger lurking around the corner.
This version of Reed was easy to make, and is one that has shown up as a fan-made custom several times: they took Reed's head and body, and gave him the arms and labcoat from Series 1's Bruce Banner. He's got the same 2 1/2" bendy arms as the normal figure, but this time his belt and boots are black, rather than dark blue. Good catch, guys! Reed's face is nearly the same as before, but his mouth is open slightly - probably talking to himself as he works an equation.
Of the four figures in this set, it's Johnny Storm who has changed the most. This is human Johnny, or as human as he gets - in fine variant Human Torch tradition, he's flaming on. Like his sister Sue, Johnny's legs are clear, though his fade to orange instead of blue. Why clear? No idea. It's not like he disappears before he turns into flame. If you stop to think about it, it's a strange choice, but in practice the figure looks good.
The torso and arms are solid blue, just like Reed's, but there's a slight hint of orange at the waist. Johnny's face is all-new, with a big smirking mouth and bright red eyes; looks like customizers are one step closer to their own Minimate Gambit. His blonde hair is the same mold used for Iron Man and Juggernaut, but it suits him well and looks good in yellow. Johnny's got the same base as the regular version, though it's cast in translucent orange, making it blend nicely with the figure.
If you didn't get the members of the Fantastic Four when they were available separately, then this is a fine alternative. Heck, even if you did get them, this is a good set. There's enough difference between these figures and the normal ones to make it worth a purchase. If your collection can support nine different Wolverines, I don't think two Fantastic Fours are going to kill it.
This set worthwhile or no? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.