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click for largerArt Asylum's Marvel Mini-Mates
photos by Mr. Stinkhead

Finally, someone gets it right. Ever since the mini-figure explosion of late, we the collecting public, have been inundated with crap. But at least it's crap you can leave in your pocket. However, out of the pile comes a mini-fig that's sweet. [Ed note: SUPER sweet]. The Marvel Mini-Mates™ from Art Asylum have come upon the scene and are redfining my expectations for mini-figs. They're detailed, stylized, articulated and collectible.

I have to mention this one more time. The current popularity of American mini brick-style figures is based on the popularity of Kubricks (and other small figs) from Japan. These figures are based on the Japanese' love affair with Playmobil, which are from Germany. The very first playmobil produced in the 70's were construction workers and cowboys (from the U.S. of A.).

The Figures
Art Asylum's Marvel Mini-Mates™ use the same modular construction as the slightly larger Mini-Mates (see our coverage of Bruce Lee). There is a cylindrical head on a ball-joint neck. The shoulders and hips are ball jointed. The wrists, waist & ankles twist, and the knees & elbows bend. That's 14 points of articulation in a figure that's 3 inches tall. The original Mini-Mates stand 3.5 inches tall. The last time somebody packed this much fun into that small a package... [Ed note: Don't finish that joke]

click for largerYou can get all kinds of dynamic poses out of these guys, and their size really adds to their collectibility. I enjoy seeing a recognized figure put into their modular formula and seeing how it comes out as a Mini-mate. The accessories and small details are nice too. Spider-Man and Venom come with web rope you can hook onto something and hang Spidey off of. The two-pack Venom/Battle-Damage Spidey distributed in Canada had an extra head for Venom with his tongue hanging out. Carnage comes with an axe-hand you can switch out.

click for largerThe Detail
Sabertooth appears to have the most sculpted detail, but I'm truly impressed with the detail in the paint jobs. Kingpin's face looks like a comic book head. The line work and colors on each's paint job really ties them to their comic book source. I think it's important for Art Asylum to stick to the "rules" they've established and not go too crazy with extras. Medicom got lots of flak for their sculpted Bruce Lee heads (only creatures and robots had sculpted faces prior). Another great touch is that each figure has the same basic hand, but a few have an extra sculpt added to the basic design. Wolverine's claws are an obvious example, but Venom has little claw-like fingers, Kingpin had a ring on one hand and a cigar poking through the other. These little surprises stay within the set boundaries of the line, but keep it intriguing.

click for largerMix And Match
As R Hunter demonstrates; because they're modular, you can mix and match each one's pieces (skip to his examples). Each one's hair can also fit on another's head. You can stick Logan's hair with mutton chops onto Kingpin to re-enact his ole days as a trucker. Or MJ's scary stint as a porn star. I can't wait until ActionFigureXpress's exclusive Magneto / Professor X twin pack is available. You can stick Cerebro on any of the other mini-mates.

What Can Be Improved?
I don't say this often, but not much. I want more now. I'm waiting with baited breath for Doc Oc and Iron-Man. Some have commented that the availability is tough. I do have to say at first I was skeptical of the size of the figures... I love the full-sized figures. I think it was a good, hefty size for posing and balancing... but once I got my hands on these mini Mini-Mates, I was reassured. They are a little harder to balance, mainly because they're lighter and fall over with the slightest breath, but they're size adds something to their character. Plus their size makes it easier for them to go on adventures in The Incredible Human Body: The Ins & Outs™.

Well now you've seen how fun they are, check out the desktop wall paper I made with the mini-mates.

Check out our Animated Marvel Mini-Mate Fight! (240K... modems beware)
and just added, our review of Series 4 & 5 (Dr. Doom, Thing, Doc Ock, Capn)

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Check out some of these comic book one-shots:
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R Hunter mixed and matched parts to make these characters:

Luke Perry Matt Murdoch GI Joe: General Hawk
Mr. Fix-ItSpidey

Stop on by Art Asylum

Check out our Mini-Mates Contest.
In order to receive the Extended-Tongue Venom head, simply mail a Proof-Of-Purchase from ANY Marvel Minimate and a 3" x 5" index card with your return address on it to:
DST Venom Head Offer
1966 Greenspring Drive
Suite 402
Timonium, MD 21093
ATTN: Nick Meyer
Once we've received your UPC and shipping info, we'll send Venom's missing head right off to you. This offer is good while supplies last or until October 31st, which ever comes first. One head per household...which is a really weird sentence to type.

All names and likenesses are copyright their respective owners. All photos are copyrighted 2003 and may not be reproduced without permission. Have you tried asking?

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