Saturday, 29 April 2017

Minifigures: X-Men, Part 1 - The Originals

As touched on elsewhere on this blog, now that Marvel are part of Disney they're not too fond of the deals made a decade or so before where the rights to some of their most popular properties were sold off to other studios. While they wait for rights to revert they've indulged in various cockblocking exercises to try and prevent these outsourced films from being successful, both to limit the competition to their own films and to try and make them flop so the process of rights reverting to Disney (typically after a certain amount of time has passed without new product, as in the case of Daredevil). This extended to actually taking Silver Age flagship Fantastic Four out of print when Josh Trank's reboot film came out. While a deal has been reached with Columbia for Spider-Man the undoubted thorn in their side is Fox's X-Men franchise, currently sitting at ten films and if anything getting more popular. While they'd never dare take the X-Men family of books out of print they have lend on licencees to avoid doing what amounts to promotion for their rivals, most notably Lego.

The company sneaked out one retro-themed playset, a Wolverine Mighty Micro and an SDCC exclusive and that's about it, leading to the slightly absurd situation where there are official minifigures of the White Tiger but not, say, the Beast. Thankfully custom makers and bootleggers mean you can actually round up the bulk of the key characters from the franchise, albeit in a scattershot fashion across the title's fifty-year history. For example, there are only a handful of pricey customs of the original "school uniform" era; instead I've settled for trying to put together the original class in a varety of vintage costumes. The only one I'm currently lacking is Iceman - the only extant bootleg is of a version which features the black uniform of the live action version and looks out of place otherwise; the only custom I've seen otherwise features far too much blue for my liking.


Scott Summers has pretty much always played the straight man in the X-Men, the class swot, the guy saying "no, you can't do that, follow the rules". Still, if you read X-Men he's part of the furniture and not really a bad guy all things considered - or maybe as you get older you get more bored of Wolverine and just wish he'd shut up and listen for once.

One of the few that have slipped out took the obvious Fox-spoiling theme of following the older comics and so Cyclops did get an official figure, yet to be bootlegged. It follows the first version of the blue/yellow uniform he started wearing from the end of the Xavier's uniforms through to finally leaving the team and moving on to X-Factor. It's not the most exciting truth be told and leads to a relatively sparse figure; it's a shame the visor couldn't be given some definition to give him some sort of features and the painted torso applications are just lost against the dark blue. A shame but a useful figure to round out a vintage line-up.


Like squeeze Scott, Jean Grey is another team member who received an official figure. Sadly hers was an SDCC exclusive which can easily fetch triple figures in the aftermarket, one of those situations where it would be more immoral not to get the thankfully more common bootleg.

The figure uses the initial Phoenix costume in its' classic green and yellow, with some nice detail - however, on the booleg the paint is thinner than is ideal, with the details not popping as much as I would expect (hope, at that sort of money) they do on the official figure. In a neat touch her head can rotate to a more aggressive Dark Phoenix style face, though there is also a red variant if you want to go the whole hog.


Hank's original form wouldn't translate well to a Minifigure as there wouldn't be a way to do his oversized hands and feet so naturally the customisers have gone straight for the blue flurred fella that everyone likes more anyway.

There's not really a lot that can go wrong as a result, with a well-chosen hairpiece doing what it can to replicate the seventies look, though in reality it's closer to the later incarnation. The only mis-step is the use of a bestial facial expression which doesn't really capture the character.   


Warren's had several main looks, a few of which have been rewarded by Minifigs - albeit it mainly unofficial ones. This one is from the days he was still Angel, worn up to the point his original wings were crippled famously in the Mutant Massacre event; the red version narrowly pips the similar white/blue oe worn for some of the seventies.

It's well-rendered here, presumably based on a custom, complete with the halo on thechest, the headgear and some nice floppy blond hair. Best of all are the wings; while they're attached by a bulky backpack the look of the two feathered parts at rest is far superior to the wide single piece used on most other winged Minifigures.


Charles Xavier is simple enough to do in Lego for the most part - bald guy in a suit coveres most of it. This version is given a green suit and as such mainly seems inspired by the nineties cartoon where he didn't change clothes all that often. As such this one needs some neat details to stand out; in this case it's a nicely lined face. There's also a second "telepathy" head that can be switched in with the character deep in thought; it's a nice touch using two seperate pieces for the different expressions as the lack of hair would have meant a reversible part would have the other face permanently on the back.

The other thing that adds a bit is the wheechair. Or at least it would do; the floating yellow Shi'ar thing Charles used for much of the comic's most famous years would be too bulk so instead the figure has to make do with a few bricks and wheels. Thankfully since then Lego themselves have brought out a wheelchair piece that does the job, so Charles stole it off the poor child who came with it. 

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