Friday, 10 February 2017

Minifigures - The Avengers, Part 1

As other people owning or part-owning various rights to Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men have denied the Disney-Marvel alliance some of their most high-profile properties they've been largely left to focus on the Avengers for their multimedia attack and this has resulted in a barrage of Minifigures. I've always been a fan of the group so I've been testing and tweaking the various Chinese copies thereof to try and get 'definitive' versions, ending up with a decent chunk of the line-up. I'll be splitting these up for such a large roster; sorting the five founding members for the first seems a logical step. 


This was basically the Minifigure that turned this from "hey, those are cool I'll pick up a few" to "OMG I MUST LET THIS TAKE OVER EVERYTHING". Hank Pym is one of Marvel's more interesting characters, if occasionally bizarre and controversial; unlike so many of his contemporaries he's undergone genuine character development over the years rather than periodic stunts; it was very edifying to see a somewhat low-profile character get some serious love in the Ant-Man film, even if it was via the backdoor as a support role. And the original Ant-Man costume is a period classic, with its' big fifties hangover helmet and neat red/black jumpsuit. I have no idea what the origin of this figure is - there's no official match, the Lego version of Hank Pym being the live action version with a black helmet to differentiate him from Scott Lang - but they nailed it. The helmet's slightly oversized but fits in nicely with the Lego ethos while the paint apps are just right; the only weirdness is the eyes being printed slightly too far apart, presumably to line up with the helmet's holes. Originally he came with a pair of brown spiders, the closest thing in the Lego menagerie to look anything like ants at the time I guess; it doesn't really work and part of me wonders if they couldn't have come up with an ant from scratch but then even bootleggers who aren't paying for rights have a budget and I'm happier that the money's gone to the helmet.


Officially the Hulk has been released by Lego in three forms - a Minifig, a Bigfig and one of those short-legged Mighty Micro ones. The Bigfig came in the 'classic' green with purple pants but has been bootlegged both in this scheme and many others, from grey and red skin to various pants colours. I'm not actually crazy for the Hulk so this one and one of the bootleg Minifigures was enough for me. As I've said before I find Bigfigs to be something of a cheat, especially when they're like Groot and just a statue which can be stuck on Lego bases. Hulk isn't as bad as that, with a Minifig-style head with removable hair, and it feels better having him tower over everyone. The moulded crouching pose works, articulation being limited to the arms, wrist and neck - and naturally this makes him to right size to square up to the bootleg Ben Grimm which seems to be largely based on the same cast. 


Official Thor figures have naturally been very much based on Chris Hemsworth's live action incarnation, though his stubble has been interpreted as a full beard for most of these; the most common one found itself into a promotional polybag and is thus more common than most bootlegs. The bootleggers have got their mileage out of him anyway with several variations on the chest armour pattern and presence or otherwise of the cloak, most sticking with the long blond hair and beard combo. I always preferred the comic look but thankfully the pirates have me covered there, or at least near enough. There's a version that not only features a more complex armour pattern that includes the legs (not entirely comic accurate but better than plain) and a winged helmet that's a fair stab allowing for Lego-style proportions. This originally came with the obligatory bearded head but it's easy enough to switch a shaved face in; naturally the figure comes with Mjolnir, a moulded piece for the Lego version rather than an extant hammer part.


Thanks to the character always being cool but never given much spotlight and being brought to life so well by Robert Downey Jr even in third gear. As such the character's so far become the posterchild for the film universe as a whole, and the multiple armours used in the movies are manna for anyone up for a recolour. Lego themselves have put out 15 variants while those cunning bootleggers have added probably the same amount again, from early marks to bizarre schemes only occasionally glimpsed; only Batman comes close to matching the number of possible variants available. I do have a live-action version or two which I'll cover at some point but for this grouping I've gone with one of the few comic-influenced versions. I've not yet got one of the early flat metal or gold versions because I'm not crazy about them (though I am highly likely to buy some at one point or another as I am no longer in rational control of this). No, instead I've gone for the one figure to properly do the yellow/red scheme - an official Lego figure from the Mighty Micros subline. Aimed at young buyers, this consists of duelling short-legged characters in fun little vehicles. As such I needed to switch in some full-length red legs but aside from that he's very good fun for capturing the way the character appeared for much of the sixties and seventies, with the large visible mouth on the removable helmet (less crazy than many of the Mighty Micros figures, though the face inside is unhinged), the big round chest deco and the neat, clean colour scheme.


Jan's the sort of character that usually gets shafted in this sort of thing, being an unflashy stalwart for fifty years without ever threatening to truly break out, despite leading the team several times and naturally being embroiled in much of husband Hank Pym's storylines. The forthcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp film is likely to see daughter Hope getting most of the focus, Jan having only appeared in a brief flashback. As such there's been no official Lego figure and only one bootleg; this, like many of the Minifigures with no official release, is lifted from the Lego Marvel Superheroes game, the tampographs copied from the in-game model and applied to extant parts. As she's a figure in a suit with wings (using the fairy wing 'backpack') the result is rather good, even if it's naturally something of a shame she's in a sensible modern battlesuit rather than some of the insane outfits she's turned out in over the years. The game version had a black bob but the figure has a brown ponytail; this can be switched out easily naturally but I've actually got used to her looking like this.

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