Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Minifigures - The Guardians of the Galaxy

Considering the low profile of the characters to the wider public it was perhaps a surprise that Guardians of the Galaxy was such a hit. Or maybe considering it followed Marvel/Disney's template of promotional bombardment followed by some two hours high in CGI and funny banter while low in surprises and innovation perhaps it's not. We're rapidly reaching the stage where they could put out two hours of Robert Downey Jr gurning into a mirror for 134 minutes and IMDB fanboys would still give it 9/10. The main point of Disney's infantilisation of Marvel is to make merchandise to sell to seven year-olds and with its' apparent belief that saying "asshole" is inherently amusing Guardians is a prime asset in that regard. Upside is we got a full set of Lego Minifigs. Nearly. And they got bootlegged. Nice.


There have been two official Star-Lord figures and two unofficial; they overlap on the one I've got, which has the character in prison uniform. There's a cool official one with the jacket open that hasn't been copied and goes for too much for such a minor variation and a bootleg that goes for a jacket-less appearance and inexplicably replaces the helmet piece with a painted face. Whereas this guy has a very cool removable helmet, complete with moulded hair - though the bootleg has varying quality in terms of how well this is painted. It's not too bulbous unlike the similar piece for Iron Man and can be slid off to reveal a smiling stubbly face - switch in some brown hair and you've got how the character appeared for much of the film so we'd remember he was played by Chris Pratt. The rest of the outfit is nice and crisp right down to the brown 'leather' gloves and he comes with a neat pair of pistols; it's a very good take overall.


Team totty Gamora had only a single Minifig; thankfully it's a decent one, again wearing the prison suit for his continuity. She's about 83% better dressed than the screen version with cleavage kept to a dignified minimum. Good detail paint apps help considerably, notably gold tattoos on the face in addition to a nice snarling face (the official one is reversible, the other side having a smiling face) and purple highlights in the hair. Add in the doughty Lego samurai sword and you've got someone perfect for will-they-won't they-oh-they-are winkery with Star-Lord or clunking rivalry with Drax.


The Funny Animal of the team is the long-established Rocket Raccoon, finally dumbed down to a level where he's popular thanks to being all aggressive despite being short, which is frankly amazing characterisation. He was a big enough hit wif da kids to get a brace of Minifigures, one in the orange uniform he wore for the entire film and one for the prison uniform he didn't wear. Thankfully those great humanitarians ripping off Lego figures in China resisted the temptation of doing a matching set and did the orange version. Most of the work is done by the all-in-one unique moulded head and shoulder pads, though this means the head can't turn while this is a good a place as any to ponder why Lego still haven't made short legs that have actual movement. Decent paint apps, though.


Another long-serving character chewed and spat out was Drax. I always liked the guy, especially when turning up in Peter David's Captain Marvel, but the film didn't have space to do him much justice as he was relegated to the role of a muscle guy who gets kicked around so we can see the bad guys are serious business. And Lego dicked him over too; the character's sole minifigure boasts a complex set of printed tattoos and prison uniform trousers only to inexplicably make his skin grey rather than green, a mistake carried over for the bootleg. Couple of knives aren't going to help it swim back from that one.


Emotional Manipulation Tree Man didn't get a proper Minifig, Lego instead building the guy up out of bricks and adding a head, which is a neat choice to simulate the wood but wasn't really what I was after. Bootleggers provided a Big Fig that seemed to be a totally new mould and really was more like an action figure than a Lego toy, with only the shoulder connections and stud spaces on the legs to even link it to the building bricks. It was also far too tall. A respectable compromise is the knock-off Minifigure, which works the Woody mould already roped in for Mr Fantastic to make a taller Minifig very reliant on painted detail to get the texture across. It's not a great success but it is probably the most successful of the approaches yet tried.

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