Let’s get this out of the way at the beginning. I’m an X-Men fan. I’m an X-Men fan who discovered comics in 1994, and enjoyed what I was reading at the time. In fact, I still like re-reading them nowadays, too. This puts me into a unique subset of often disliked and derided people in the comic community: those who feel genuine nostalgia and love for comics of the 90’s and admit to it in public.
It was the Fleer Ultra X-Men ’94 collector cards that got me interested in the X-Men, which lead to me watching the animated series by Fox in the mid 90’s, which lead to me reading Uncanny X-Men on a regular basis, which ultimately lead to me reading most of the X titles, and eventually the wider Marvel Universe.
The reason I admit to all of this, is that my history heavily influences what I consider ‘essential characters’ for the Minimates line. With that in mind, let’s begin.
Wave 60 features characters from the X-Men universe. Specifically, Jim Lee’s X-Men Strike Force and the Brotherhood of Mutants. Essential. Characters. Each hero is paired with a villain, so you have a battle-ready 2-pack in every box. I think the set-up of this wave is brilliant. Personally, I’d be happy to see almost every comic wave handled this way from now on. Can you just imagine the possibilities? East Coast Avengers vs Wrecking crew? Fantastic 4 vs the Frightful Four? X-Force vs the Mutant Liberation Front? It’s a great way to help flesh out teams of both heroes and villains.
The packaging is what we’ve come to expect from standard two packs in recent waves. Since this is an X-Men focused wave, the usual Minimates graphic from the front of the box has been replaced with the Uncanny X-Men logo. We’re also told that the package ‘Includes Gambit Parts’ just above the window.
On the back, we can see the usual group shot and bios, but this time we also have headshots of various X-Men inserted into the image. That’s right, the 3 out of the 4 X-Men in this wave come with the alternate pieces to create another X-Men character. DST have figures out a way to pump out the whole team in one single wave.
Strike Force Banshee
Sean Cassidy has been noticeably absent from Minimates for some time. While he hasn’t featured much in the comics in the last few years, he has had a fairly strong and consistent presence since his debut. He was a part of the Giant Sized X-Men special that essentially re-launched the X-Men back in the 70’s. He was a member of the X-Men, the leader and mentor of Generation X, has made both Film and TV appearances. He was one of the mutants that didn’t make the cut for the Giant Sized X-Men box set back in 2004, and fans have been crying for him ever since. He’s what I would call an ‘essential character’.
If you polled fans asking which version of Banshee they’d most want, I’d wager that you’d find overwhelming support for his classic green & gold look with the high collar. Since this waves theme is the Strike Force team, we’ve received the more modern blue and gold look he sported in the 90’s. It’s certainly not a bad look for him.
Most of the new tooling for this wave appears to have been spent on Pyro, so Banshee is another ‘parts re-use’ figure. However, this doesn’t hold him back as much as one might think. Banshee is sporting the cape that first came with Photon in the Secret Wars box set. It’s not a perfect representation of Banshee’s cape (which normally secures connects from his wrists, continues down under his arms and runs down his legs), but it still looks very recognisably like his cape thanks to the bold black and yellow stripes.
The prototype image used on the packaging shows Banshee with Captain Marvels hair-piece (wave 31), but the figure actually comes with a re-purposed Adam Warlock piece. Adam’s hair works extremely well for Banshee. If it hadn’t been pointed out to me by someone else, I’d have sworn it had been sculpted specifically for the Sean.
The paint aps are nice and crisp, the colours are bold and accurately mirror those used in the comics of the 90’s. All in all, it’s a pretty great figure.
Banshee’s face shows him wailing for all he’s worth. You really couldn’t have a Banshee figure with any other expression, and DST have nailed it here.
One small niggle about accuracy: these looks seem to be based on the Strike Team from Uncanny X-Men #275. On the cover, Banshee still has his high collar & it would have been nice to see it included here. I can understand why it’s not there though – it would have required either a) additional tooling or b) paint apps that made it harder for his alternate character look to work. And to be fair, he was seen without the collar in print numerous times (check out the Muir Island Saga if you don’t believe me). The ‘X’ on his belt is also slightly mis-aligned, so that the bottom quadrant is yellow, rather than red. Again – not a deal breaker, but it is noticeable.
Most toy companies would have happily given us a plain figure with no accessories at all for a character like Banshee, who doesn’t use a weapon and has no obvious, visual energy signature. Luckily DST aren’t most toy companies. His accessories are quite perfect for him. He has a flight stand & a piece that shows his ‘sonic scream’. The ‘scream’ has been re-purposed from TRU Havok’s ‘plasma burst’, but as with the hair, if I didn’t know any better, I’d have sworn it was sculpted just for Banshee.
There was some talk of the level of success of the Star Trek lines being tied to the figures that, apart from their heads, were largely indistinguishable from each-other (however, one really can’t fault DST for the sticking to the source material). While I can understand this point of view, the same concept has worked remarkably well for this wave of X-Men.
DST have used this concept to also give us alternate parts to turn Strike Force Banshee into Strike Force Gambit. Gambits head as it appeared in wave 28 is also included. This addition alone would have been enough to switch between characters, but DST have really gone the extra mile and included the charged card & card-tossing hands that were included with the original Gambit minimate. Gambit was seen on the cover of Uncanny X-Men #275 carrying a satchel bag as well, which DST have also included as an accessory for this figure. Why Gambit was drawn with a satchel in the first place is a bit beyond me. Perhaps he needed somewhere to store his decks of cards, since the strike force uniforms had surprisingly few pouches compared to other 90’s designs. Still – DST have included it, and I commend them for it.
Considering that this isn’t the version of Banshee I’d have been campaigning for, I’m surprised by how much I love this figure. With the accessories, alternate character parts and references to the source material, I’ve got to give Banshee a 8 out of 10.
MMC Score – 8 out of 10
As an Australian, there are precious few comic book characters in the X-universe to look up to. Maybe a dozen? Of those dozen, even fewer have been made into action figures. Fewer still have made it to Minimate status. Pyro may in fact be the only Australian Marvel Minimate we’ve ever had, which seems odd for a toy with the word ‘mate’ in the title. As such, Pyro and the rest of his Brotherhood/Freedom Force cronies have been on my Top 10 list of most wanted minimates for quite some time. How wonderful it is to get them all released together in the one wave.
St John Allerdyce has the ability to psionically control flames, but not to generate them. As such, he carries around a back-pack style flame thrower to get him started.
Pyro has pretty much always worn a red, yellow and orange costume with a raised collar and shoulder-pads, and an orange cowl with red goggles that leaves his hair exposed because…. well… fashion. It’s certainly not a stealthy look, but it obviously works for him, because most of his comic book appearances feature some variation on this classic look.
The costume is represented pretty accurately in minimate form, right down to the little diamond feature on his chest-cap. The chest cap is a newly sculpted piece which has the flame-thrower-backpack sculpted onto it. The flame thrower is connected to his wrists via thin, flexible tubes. The piece is actually pretty amazing. It is as close to a perfect representation of the source material as you could hope to find on 2″ action figure. I’m especially thrilled that DST have been able to use a flexible plastic for the tubes. The last time they had a character with tubes connected to the arms like this was Apocalypse back in wave 19, and the plastic was very rigid. So rigid, that it either a)greatly inhibited articulation, or b) snapped when you tried to move the arms. These tubes are a great improvement.
Pyro’s cowl is also a new piece. It has sculpted on goggles and a cut away mouth to reveal the sinister grin that is painted onto his head block. There is a bit of paint slop where the hair meets the cowl, and from what i’ve seen online, it seems to be a bit of a common problem. Removing the cowl eveals the rest of Pyro’s villainous face. It’s a great face. He looks playfully evil… like he’s a bad guy and he’s really enjoying it. Unfortunately, there’s no spare hair-piece to display him with, so his smirking eyes kind of go to waste.
The accessories he does come with, however, are awesome. What would any pyro be without some flames? DST could have very easily included almost any one of the energy blast parts from their parts library with Pyro, cast them in translucent orange plastic, and called it a day, but that’s not what they’ve done. Pyro gets newly sculpted flame piece that are designed specifically for him. They fit snuggly over his hand and extend forward. You really get the feel that he is thrusting the flames outwards from his hands. They’re great little pieces, and really add to the figure.
This figure is so close to being perfect for me. The resemblance to the source material is spot on. The colours are beautiful and vibrant. The accessories are apt. Having an alternate hair-piece would have pushed this figure over the top, but considering how many extra pieces are already included to make Gambit, i can understand the exclusion. The only thing holding this figure back is the little bit of paint slop on the hair piece/cowl, and it seems to be a bit of a consistent problem. I’m giving this figure 8 out of 10.
MMC Score – 8 our of 10.
Agree? Disagree? Why not vote for yourself below, or comment further over at the Minimate Multiverse MMC Review Forum.
Review and pictures by Nessex.