Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Day 539

Day 539 Aug 21st

Guest Review – Alpha Flight Box set by Mini Myte

   The year was 1979 when Alpha Flight debuted within the pages of Uncanny X-Men #120. Flash forward 33 years and Marvel Comics’ premier Canadian superhero team has made yet another debut. This time in minimate form at San Diego Comic Con 2012. The first of two boxed sets was offered as an exclusive through Action Figure Xpress. The set consists of: Team leader Guardian, the fast flying mutant Northstar, the aquatic alien Marrina and the diminutive acrobat Puck.

   The Alpha Flight minimates come packaged in the typical 4-pack box. Each minimate contained within can be seen through their respective window. The team’s name is splashed across the front of the box in brightly coloured, bold lettering emphasized with a star burst pattern behind it. Near the top of the box is art work depicting Guardian wearing his patriotic red and white uniform.
   The back side of the box feature a group shot of the team along with the team’s name, star burst pattern and a brief description of the minimates included in the set. As an added teaser, a picture of a second Alpha Flight boxed set is depicted near the bottom of the packaging. Shown are Snowbird, Aurora, Sasquatch and Shaman.

Clad in red and white and prominently displaying the maple leaf, there is no questioning which country Guardian calls home. Along with his iconic costume, the Guardian minimate sports a removable mask which appears to be a newly sculpted piece. Take the mask off and pop on the bonus hairpiece included to reveal Guardian’s secret identity of James MacDonald Hudson. If that’s not enough for you, there is also an alternate head you can swap out with. It belongs to none other than Delphine Courtney (an evil robot who once infiltrated Alpha Flight, disguised as Guardian, bent on destroying the team from within). So in essence, you get two minimates in one. Also included with Guardian is a standard clear flight base. Personally, I’d have liked to have seen the flight base cast in clear yellow plastic to better emulate Guardian’s energized force field.

   Not only is the shape shifting aquatic alien, known as Marrina, making her minimate debut, but she is also making her first appearance ever in toy form. This minimate beautifully captures Marrina’s distinctive look with great detail, from her large black eyes and demure expression to her scaly swimwear and gold necklace.
   Credit must be given to DST for going the extra mile and giving Marrina a pair of newly sculpted “webbed” hands. This bit of extra attention really makes this minimate pop. Marrina also features a newly sculpted hairpiece.


   The French Canadian mutant known as Northstar is yet another minimate that does not disappoint when it come to visual details. Adorned with strategically placed star decals, this mate captures the look of Northstar’s original costume perfectly. He will look even cooler when posed side by side with his sister, Aurora (whose star decals are positioned on the opposite sides of her costume).

   For all you Alpha Flight purists out there, Northstar come with not one, but two hairpieces (one black and one white). Over the years, Northstar has been depicted in the comic book world with black hair, but has popped up with a whiter look a few times. Kudos again to DST for paying homage to this little known fact. Both hairpieces also feature Northstar’s pointed ears.
Like Guardian, Northstar comes packed with a flight base, albeit a slimmer version.

   Lastly, I’m going to review the freaky little man from Saskatchewan. For those of you laughing hysterically right now, I’m referring to Puck not Minijeff.  Eugene Judd (aka: Puck) is Alpha Flight’s diminutive acrobat and this minimate captures the look of his character near perfectly, from his distinctive headgear to the pronounced “P” on his uniform to his overly hairy arms and legs.
   My only nit-pick is that the comic character is depicted as a little person (dwarf) and that characteristic does not translate well to minimate form. In order to make him shorter, DST has given Puck a pair of ‘slipper” feet. While this works to a degree, the other parts of Puck are the same scale as any other two inch minimate. So until such time DST produces a smaller scale minimate, Puck will remain a giant among his own kind.
   Another awesome “first time” accessory included with Puck is a “hand stand” hand. This new hand features a hole that one can peg into a clear minimate base (also included) that will let you pose Puck in several different acrobatic positions. 

Alpha Flight boxed set #1 is, in my opinion, one of the best minimate releases of 2012 thus far. Here’s why...

Character selection: As an avid minimate collector, I always look forward to adding new characters (especially from the Marvel U) to my ever growing collection. But more often than not, in order to get a new character in minimate form, we usually end up having to buy said minimate with a variation or updated version of a pre-existing mate (ie: Spider-man, Wolverine, Ironman, etc). Luckily for us, this wasn’t the case with this exclusive set and we were able to fill up four more slots in our Marvel collection without having to retread on familiar territory.
Accessories: Another standout feature was the amount of accessories we got with the Alpha Flight set. Other than the reused flight bases and Guardian’s hairpiece everything else was brand new and tailored specifically to each character. Whether it was webbed hands, a handstand hand, newly sculpted hairpieces, new masks or a bonus robot head, DST did us proud by not going back to the well and recycling older pieces. Instead they gave us something fresh and new.
Paint apps: Overall the paint apps were sharp, pristine and applied with great care. No paint clumps or bleeding were present in any of the minimates in the two sets I had purchased. The tampos were also applied nicely with great care not to overlap or come off as crooked looking. 
Final word:
If you are a minimate fan and do not own Alpha Flight boxed set #1, do yourself a favor and buy this gem of a set. You will not be disappointed. I now eagerly await until such time I can procure Alpha Flight boxed set #2 (supposedly at NYCC 2012) and the TRU exclusive Box / Vindicator 2-pack to round out the team. Here’s hoping that the follow up sets are just as high in quality and awesomeness as this first was.

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