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Archive for the ‘Minimate Spotlight’ Category

Minimate Spotlight #46 X-Men

02 Apr

Action figures have long been a perfect compliment to comic books, since every kid (or kid at heart) has that natural desire to act out adventures with their favorite heroes off the drawn page. Every so often, a unique style of figure comes along that breaks the mold, so to speak. Each Saturday, Donny B will be showcasing various offerings from Art Asylum’s take on the ‘block figure’, with a weekly spotlight on Minimates.

With a new X-Men movie around the corner, I thought it’d be fitting to take a look at the very first comic-based Moviemates that Art Asylum released – X-Men 3 Minimates!
These were released as Wave 14 of the Marvel series, and opened the door for a brand new sub-category of Minimates. Not only that, but this particular wave came after what fans consider to be the lowest point in Marvel Minimate history, when most of the characters released were comprised of previously released parts (which saved the company a decent amount of $ in production costs, but in the end, made the products suffer) … it is argued that the X-Men 3 wave breathed new life into a line of toys that may have died out otherwise.

Wave 14 was Art Asylum’s first venture into comic movie Minimates, and so they hadn’t yet perfected the marketing aspect of it. First off, they weren’t released until long after the movie had left theaters. Second, with this wave, we were only given 7 different figures – Storm & Colossus, Juggernaut & Beast, Wolverine & Jean Grey, and Phoenix packed as the variant. This isn’t even close to being the full line up of main characters from that movie, but one traditional wave only consists of 6 releases plus a variant.
It wasn’t until Spiderman 3 that more than one full wave was dedicated to a single movie.

Since then, AA has found a pretty solid formula for producing and selling Moviemates, with one full wave for the main characters, supplemental 2-packs released exclusively via TRU, an “army dump” for villains (like the drones from IM2 or the Frost Giants from Thor), and the occasional 4-pack sold through online stores or comic shops – all of which are now appearing on shelves with plenty of time before the film’s release date.

Interestingly, this wave did one additional thing that helps fans track the history of Minimates. On top of being the first Moviemate wave, and the first in several waves to sport a complete line of new sculpts, it also raised the bar in terms of detail. I can still remember when this line was initially released, many of my fellow Minimate collectors had much praise for the ‘impressive detailing’ on Juggernaut, specifically.
Looking back on it now, these particular ‘mates really aren’t too remarkable. But at the time, they were a sizeable leap in terms of the evolution of Minimate design. 

Behind the Image: 

This idea is based very closely off of an officially released posted for the 3rd X-Men movie. I essentially just followed the formula of that poster and altered it to feature each of the 6 released Minimates of that film. The backgrounds were simply lit up with different colored bulbs, and each image was passed through some filters in Photoshop to achieve a more dramatic intensity.

On Ebay: X-Men
On AtomicAvenue: X-Men

 

Minimate Spotlight #44 Yuriko Aran

19 Mar

Action figures have long been a perfect compliment to comic books, since every kid (or kid at heart) has that natural desire to act out adventures with their favorite heroes off the drawn page. Every so often, a unique style of figure comes along that breaks the mold, so to speak. Each Saturday, Donny B will be showcasing various offerings from Art Asylum’s take on the ‘block figure’, with a weekly spotlight on Minimates.

Have you ever wanted a toy of a character that hasn’t been made? It happens all the time. Maybe a certain character is just too obscure for a company to justify the production cost. Maybe it’s tied up in red tape and will never see the light of day. Or maybe it’s something you created in your own mind.
It’s inevitable that any and every toy line will always be missing characters that some fan somewhere is dying to own.

So what is a collector to do?
The more creative ones turn to customizing. It’s an age-old tradition, where a fan takes a toy and tweaks it in some way.

Being an avid Minimate collector, I’ve obtained a modest number of custom ‘mates and occasionally even tried my hand at producing my own creations. It’s not an easy endeavor, and any amateur who can pump out a professional looking toy has earned my respect 1,000 fold.

This week’s image is my most recent custom, which is an amalgam of Lady Deathstrike (Yuriko Oyama) and Samus Aran (of the Metroid game series). I made it as part of a contest to design an ‘alternate universe’ version of any pre-existing Minimate. You can check the backstory here.

Behind the Image:

This is a straight up photograph – the wall is a mini diorama made specifically for use with Minimates (purchased from Luke’s Toy Store, though it is currently discontinued) and the fancy sky was thrown in via photoshop. I was tempted to digitally clean up some of the less-than-professional looking details on the Minimate itself, but I ended up opting to leave it as-is.

On Ebay: Lady Deathstrike
On AtomicAvenue: Wolverine

 

Minimate Spotlight #43 Kilowog

12 Mar

Action figures have long been a perfect compliment to comic books, since every kid (or kid at heart) has that natural desire to act out adventures with their favorite heroes off the drawn page. Every so often, a unique style of figure comes along that breaks the mold, so to speak. Each Saturday, Donny B will be showcasing various offerings from Art Asylum’s take on the ‘block figure’, with a weekly spotlight on Minimates.

Amidst the vast roster of characters in the Green Lantern Corps, Kilowog stands out as one of the most memorable non-human ring bearers. Known for his more rough-and-tumble approach, Kilowog made a name for himself as the foremost trainer of new GL recruits, often referring to them with the somewhat endearing term “poozers” (meaning useless rookies).

Kilowog is a bigger character in the comics, so when Art Asylum released his Minimate (from the second DC series), they utilized a 2.5″ body and a (retro-comparatively modest) big chest piece to compliment his stature.

Behind the Image:

This was a simple photoshop project. I had set Kilowog in front of a green backdrop and lit him with a green light for tones/highlights and couple traditional white lights to overpower the general green tint and draw out the natural color scheme of the ‘mate itself. Then I worked in the Lantern symbol in the background in post-production.

On Ebay: Green Lantern
On AtomicAvenue: Green Lantern

 

Minimate Spotlight #42 Black Panther

05 Mar

Action figures have long been a perfect compliment to comic books, since every kid (or kid at heart) has that natural desire to act out adventures with their favorite heroes off the drawn page. Every so often, a unique style of figure comes along that breaks the mold, so to speak. Each Saturday, Donny B will be showcasing various offerings from Art Asylum’s take on the ‘block figure’, with a weekly spotlight on Minimates.

Stan Lee & Jack Kirby’s Black Panther is celebrated as the first black super hero in mainstream comics, having debuted in Fantastic Four #52 in July of 1966. T’Challa is king/head-of-state of the (fictional) African nation Wakanda, and head of the Panther Tribe (the lead tribe of the Wakanda nation). Being head of the lead tribe brings with it the Black Panther mantle, which serves both in a diplomatic capacity as well a super heroics.

Black Panther married X-Men team member Storm, and shortly after lost his powers as his sister Shuri took up the mantle of Black Panther. T’Challa now resides in Hell’s Kitchen, at the request of DareDevil.

The Minimate incarnation we have been given of Black Panther is T’Challa in his BP costume just before losing his position and powers. His ’iconic’ look is sans cape, and AA designed this ‘mate with fans of the traditional costume in mind – simply remove the extra pieces to reveal the old school Black Panther costume!

Behind the Image:

Another straight-up photograph, with just some minor photoshopping to tweak color contrasts. 

On Ebay: Black Panther
On AtomicAvenue: Black Panther

 

Minimate Spotlight #41 Steel

26 Feb

Action figures have long been a perfect compliment to comic books, since every kid (or kid at heart) has that natural desire to act out adventures with their favorite heroes off the drawn page. Every so often, a unique style of figure comes along that breaks the mold, so to speak. Each Saturday, Donny B will be showcasing various offerings from Art Asylum’s take on the ‘block figure’, with a weekly spotlight on Minimates.

Doctor John Henry Irons was a brilliant weapons engineer who crossed paths with none other than Superman as he fell from a skyscraper one fateful day. When Irons asked how he could show his gratitude, Superman told him to “live a life worth saving.”

After Superman’s death at the hands of Doomsday, Irons donned a ‘home made’ suit of powered armor and took up the good fight to honor his hero’s name.

Behind the Image:

Nothing special here - I simply posed Steel in front of a computer screen with the Superman logo, and took a photo :)  

On Ebay: Steel | Superman
On AtomicAvenue: Superman

 

Minimate Spotlight #40 Cannonball

19 Feb

Action figures have long been a perfect compliment to comic books, since every kid (or kid at heart) has that natural desire to act out adventures with their favorite heroes off the drawn page. Every so often, a unique style of figure comes along that breaks the mold, so to speak. Each Saturday, Donny B will be showcasing various offerings from Art Asylum’s take on the ‘block figure’, with a weekly spotlight on Minimates.

Cannonball is a mutant from the Marvel Universe who possesses the ability to fly at jet speeds while encased in an invulnerable force field … his ability to fly was usually portrayed as if he had a jet pack in his waist, and the flames would engulf his legs completely. To pull off the look of his powers in Minimate form, Art Asylum designed a flame-base that plugs into the body piece where the legs would normally attach. It’s a pretty effective approach, and led to a very appealing Minimate:

Behind the Image:

To pull off the look of Cannonball flying high in the air, I simply set up the Minimate on his flame-base and stood him in front of a sheet of blue paper and later added clouds via photoshop. The fun part was getting the flame-base illuminated. Since it’s made out of transparent red plastic, all I needed to do was shine a light through it. So I set the Minimate on a plate of glass and positioned a flashlight pointing straight up underneath it. A rather simple approach, but a whole lot of fun to do :)  

On Ebay: X-Force | Cannonball
On AtomicAvenue: X-Force

 

Minimate Spotlight #39 Joker and Harley Quinn

12 Feb

Action figures have long been a perfect compliment to comic books, since every kid (or kid at heart) has that natural desire to act out adventures with their favorite heroes off the drawn page. Every so often, a unique style of figure comes along that breaks the mold, so to speak. Each Saturday, Donny B will be showcasing various offerings from Art Asylum’s take on the ‘block figure’, with a weekly spotlight on Minimates.

A great hero is usually defined by his villains, and Batman’s rogue gallery is one of the richest collections of baddies in comic history. Sitting at the top of that A-list pile of nemeses is none other than The Joker, and not too far behind this lunatic whacko of a clown is his (equally insane) muse, Harley Quinn:

Behind the Image:

I love playing with lighting. Since Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, I decided to give the image (of a very disfunctional couple) pink/red lighting. My photos are never as satisfying as I’d like them to be, but I’m not too displeased with the way this one turned out. 

On Ebay: Batman, Joker, Harley Quinn
On AtomicAvenue: Batman, Joker, Harley Quinn

 

Minimate Spotlight #38 Ghostbusters

05 Feb

Action figures have long been a perfect compliment to comic books, since every kid (or kid at heart) has that natural desire to act out adventures with their favorite heroes off the drawn page. Every so often, a unique style of figure comes along that breaks the mold, so to speak. Each Saturday, Donny B will be showcasing various offerings from Art Asylum’s take on the ‘block figure’, with a weekly spotlight on Minimates.

Are you troubled by strange noises in the middle of the night?
Do you experience feelings of dread in your basement or attic? 
Have you or your family ever seen a spook, specter or ghost?

Today, we’re finishing off our spotlight on the Ghostbusters movie & video game Minimates, which we began back at Halloween. What better way to go out than with the Minimate set based on the ”we’re ready to believe you!” commercial?

I also threw in the last of the ‘mated ghosts that I have yet to feature in any of these articles. (From left): the Theatre Ghost, the Washington Square Ghost, and the Subway Ghost:

Behind the Image:

For the first step of this image, I made a composite of the ghosts in photoshop and used it as a backdrop. The second step was displaying it on my computer behind the Ghostbusters. The hardest aspect was getting the ‘mates lit without it reflecting on the screen or casting too many harsh shadows. 

On Ebay: Ghostbusters
On AtomicAvenue: Ghostbusters

 

Minimate Spotlight #37 Ghostbusters

29 Jan

Action figures have long been a perfect compliment to comic books, since every kid (or kid at heart) has that natural desire to act out adventures with their favorite heroes off the drawn page. Every so often, a unique style of figure comes along that breaks the mold, so to speak. Each Saturday, Donny B will be showcasing various offerings from Art Asylum’s take on the ‘block figure’, with a weekly spotlight on Minimates.

Ghostbusters 2 introduced two minor but interesting ghosts – Tony and Nunzio, the Scoleri Brothers. They only had a few minutes on screen, but they left a big impact with fans. Art Asylum continued their comprehensive GB Minimate coverage with faithful recreations of these two baddies:

Behind the Image:

Again, this is a photoshop screen-capture project, but this was a little different than most of the other GB shots I’ve done because I had to work elements of the image overtop the ghosts. It was a slightly more extensive process than just layering the Minimate overtop a background photo.

On Ebay: Ghostbusters
On AtomicAvenue: Ghostbusters

 

Minimate Spotlight #36 Ghostbusters

22 Jan

Action figures have long been a perfect compliment to comic books, since every kid (or kid at heart) has that natural desire to act out adventures with their favorite heroes off the drawn page. Every so often, a unique style of figure comes along that breaks the mold, so to speak. Each Saturday, Donny B will be showcasing various offerings from Art Asylum’s take on the ‘block figure’, with a weekly spotlight on Minimates.

Silence in the library, or the ghost will eat your face!

Yeah, it’s pretty ridiculous =P
But the Library Ghost was the first specter featured in Ghostbusters, and it seemed fitting to give her a feature:

Behind the Image:

There really isn’t anything new to say about this one. It’s pretty much the exact same ‘Minimate-superimposed-over-a-screen-capture’ approach I’ve taken with several of the other Ghostbuster images I’ve done over the last few weeks…

On Ebay: Ghostbusters
On AtomicAvenue: Ghostbusters