Okay, remember the last time I reviewed MiniMates? And how that didn’t go very well? Well, we’re at it again. It’s been a few years, and Aliens-themed MiniMates have been looking me in the eye, tempting me. So… I’ll give them a shot, I said.
In case a refresher is needed, MiniMates are mini figures, not-quite-LEGO, heavily-stylized and essentially built off a basic blocky body with a cylindrical head. Over the years, they have included more sculpted unique pieces and overlays rather than relying on just paint, but none of that is the reason for the old negative reviews – basically, their quality control was garbage. I bought the full lineup of Battle Beasts, and every single figure had at least one major issue, if not more. Limbs swung freely, pieces snapped, sockets were glued on, arms were swapped, and figures couldn’t even stand on their own without collapsing. It really soured me toward MiniMates, especially when the response I got from Diamond was, “We believe that repairing your figure is an integral part of the customization experience.”
So, yeah. I came after these figures with some trepidation. So let’s get this out of the way first: They’re fantastic. There is a tiny bit of limb looseness, but very little (and it’s manageable). Nothing is broken, swapped, or unstable. These figures are what they were meant to be. Whoever in management managed to fix the quality control, my hat’s off to you! Anyway, Aliens Series 3 contains three two-packs of figures: Space Suit Kane with “Phantom” Alien, Red Alien vs. Black Alien, and Lt. Gorman (dress uniform) with Attacking Alien. These are all Toys R Us exclusives. Let’s take a look at all three, and see what we can find!
Lt. Gorman is the most “ordinary” MiniMate figure in the set – just a human body, details painted on, no overlays. If you weren’t told who he was, you wouldn’t know, which is kind of a thing with MiniMates in general – their faces, while distinct per figure, need the costumes. As you can see, it’s almost but not quite a LEGO theme, retaining the blockiness while being larger in scale and containing much more articulation. The original idea was for “blanks to be sold, thus allowing people to paint their own. But licensed figures have won out (there are even Muppets). Gorman’s ordinariness makes him great foil for the Aliens in this wave.
Lt. Gorman comes with a teeny-tiny gun – seriously, I don’t know how losing it is not an option. It’s a great little detail, but eminently loseable. Don’t lose his service pistol.
So now that we’ve stared at the ordinary human, let’s look at an Alien! They’re the stars of this set, after all.
The MiniMate Alien body makes use of overlays and custom pieces – its chest snaps over a basic MiniMate chest, and its hands and lower legs are also different. It’s taller than the average figure (of course), and since most of its detail are sculpted on, it’s really quite good – for this tiny scale, I’d say it’s fantastic. The two main things differentiating this from other aliens are that it is a darker plastic than the others in the wave (barely), and it has an open mouth with inner jaw – the jaw is articulated, too. You can slide it from side to side if you want.
he Alien also comes with two eggs, one open and one closed. If you’ve been buying Series 1 and , you’d actually be building a decent collection of these. It’s nice to see extras added wherever possible.
Kane is an ordinary human all wrapped up in a suit. Much like the Aliens, he makes extensive use of overlays to make the figure work – and work it does!
Kane also comes with a flashlight and a tiny gun. I lost the gun, no kidding.
If you strip off the overlays, you’ll find that they actually painted Kane’s clothes on, which is a really nice little detail. It’s true to form for MiniMates, though – they don’t give you “blank” pieces even when it would be justified (such as when an overlay is a monster’s flesh, it’ll still have a chest pattern printed underneath).
But the star of this set is the “Phantom” Alien, so named because it’s actually a translucent smoky gray – just like the suit, or many other toys of this character.
It’s a little bit bobbleheaded for some reason, but this figure is utterly fantastic. The change in color not only matches the movie, it makes it stand out pretty much anywhere. The trnasparency effect is rather subtle, not in-your-face.
Speaking of faces, it’s got the visible skull that it should have, which is rendered really, really well, and makes the head look less like a “toy” and more like a prop, even at this scale.
The figure is also really sturdy, and at least mine has flawless QC – a complete 180 from the MiniMates I had bought in the past!
No, this isn’t the same picture. Hmm. Oddity how that happened without my realizing it.
For some added fun, try putting it under a black light. This doesn’t work with the other Aliens, but the translucent plastic glows bright blue!
And if you fiddle with regular lighting as well, you can make it look natural!
If you’re tired of humans, why not try for the red and black aliens from the Genocide comics? Yeah, that’s right, Minimates are adapting those figures, too.
These guys are different from Gorman’s Attacking Alien – the black one is a slightly lighter shade of graphite than his, and the heads are not entirely the same. The black aliens mouth is closed, while the red one lacks its second jaw (though you can plug in the one from Gorman’s alien if you want).
Underneath the overlays, you can see the printed chests.
The black Alien is the most “normal” one you’ll ever see – neutral pose, and all!
The difference in shade with Gorman’s alien is visible when you see them side-by-side.
The detailing is really great with these guys – it’s a pleasant surprise, and makes MiniMates as a whole seem pretty attractive.
The red alien adds some great variety, and there’es something about turning these creatures into lobsters that just works.
Overall, I’ve really got to recommend these figures. MiniMates have improved tremendously, and the Aliens are great, great little hyper-poseable renditions of the creatures. You can even build a whole hive without breaking the bank, and then go on to terrorize your LEGOs or similar figures!