After a couple of Marvel movie-inspired waves, wave 23 contained more obscure characters taken from the pages of Marvel comics. Up first for review are Spymaster and Mark I War Machine. Always good to have a hero/villain set for playability straight out of the box.
The latest Marvel packaging debuted with this wave, and has remained the template for other lines such as Terminator 2. The windowed area to view the actual Minimates in the package is really nice, but I will always have a fondness for the smaller boxes used between waves 4 and 13. There are “concept art” headshots underneath the windows and as usual, each side is dedicated to one character, allowing a better look at the whole figure.
The back of the pack features the whole wave together and also the very welcome return of the mini-bios. Very handy when dealing with the less well-known characters – hands up who knew who Spymaster was!
The first figure in this set is a D-list villain, the Spymaster. He’s the first (comic-book) foe for Iron Man in Marvel Minimates history, which is surprising when you think he’s been selected ahead of some far bigger names. His Wiki page is also pretty sparse, considering the length of some of the entries on there for Marvel characters. Still, you can’t argue with the suitability of the name. He’s a spy alright.
However, he’s not really dressed like a conventional spy. Blue and yellow isn’t the most stealthy colour combination. He is wearing a full face mask, which is not removable. There’s a shock already, as the line moves towards more removable masks. The detailing is a bit overdone, I find. The ears on the side of the face are a bit offputting, because not many Minimates actually have ears! Also the blue stripe on the top of the head has some detailing lines on it but it’s indistinct due to the colour. Couple this with the breaks in the line on the yellow, and this has the unfortunate effect of making Spymaster look like he’s sporting a bowl haircut. The eyes are well done though, the slight squint and furrowed brow giving the appearance of someone concentrating hard.
The body has some nice detailing on the block, with the sword symbol well done at this scale. The arms fare worse; the paint job isn’t as clean with some sloppy lines on the colouring of the shoulders and forearms.
Spymaster has a belt with lots of pouches on it. It’d call it a reuse from a Batman Minimate except there’s a tiny little “S” on the front, where the buckle would be. That means it’s from Superman! Spymaster also comes with two (count ’em) holsters, one on each leg, with a silver pistol in each. The holsters seem different in design to earlier ones seen on the Punisher Minimates, they attach to the legs differently. They look good and you cannot go wrong with a dual pistol pose.
In conclusion: A complete non-entity in terms of character, aside from some niggles on detailing and paintwork, this is an OK figure.
MMC Score – 5 out of 10
Mark I War Machine
Tony Stark designed and wore the War Machine armour when the regular Iron Man suit wasn’t packing enough of a military hardware punch. However, for most readers of Marvel comics, it is an armour more readily identifiable as belonging to Jim Rhodes, Tony Stark’s longtime friend and ally. And that is what makes this figure so hard to review. Tony Stark as Iron Man is one of the heavy hitters of the Marvel Minimates, along with other signature characters such as Spider-Man, Wolverine and Captain America. Rarely will a wave or boxset go by without one or more of these “headliners” included, in order to drive sales. Sometimes whole waves will be devoted to them. However, it’s a really crappy decision by DST to shoehorn Tony Stark as War Machine into the regular wave and leave Jim Rhodes – the more well known wearer of the War Machine armour – as the variant. Poor show, DST, really poor.
Regardless of who’s wearing the armour, the Minimate itself is spectacular. Following on from the gorgeous Iron Man movie armours, this has a really chunky feel, almost bulky instead of sleek and elegant, but it fits. This is an armour that really means business, from the fantastically menacing faceplate on down. Remove the helmet, and it’s Tony, not Jim, boo! I’ll admit Stark is looking rather elegant here. He has a hairpiece for when the helmet is not being used. Not sure if its a reuse but I wouldn’t discount it.
Every part of the armour seamlessly flows together, there’s a superb dynamic about the whole thing. The upper torso/shoulder plates impede arm articulation but it’s a fair tradeoff. Everything is sculpted, there are lines, rivets, ridges galore, yet it doesn’t look too busy or overdetailed. The grey and silver colouring add to the stark (heh) nature of this armour. It’s a lot bleaker and more subdued than red and yellow.
The accessories are what separate the Iron Man and War Machine armours. Well, the accessories and the colours, obviously. War Machine has two shoulder mounted weapons; a missile launcher and a minigun. Both can be stored on his back when not deployed. Again, these make the Minimate look seriously badass and differentiate it from the other Iron Man armours. The heavy weaponry look is enhanced by the guns on the right gauntlet.
In conclusion: Easily my favourite Iron Man armour, movie versions excepted. It’s just such a shame that Rhodey wasn’t given pride of place in this wave. Spymaster is a nobody, and DST knew they needed a big name to pack alongside him. Jim Rhodes is a big enough draw. He’s a well known part of the Iron Man comics and even got his own figure in the movie line, so they could have easily made Tony the variant for this wave.
MMC Score – 5 out of 10 (would be a 9 for the armor, but score dropped to 5 for Tony being the one inside it)
Review and pictures by Danny Mills