Thursday, May 3, 2012

REVIEW: Minimates Calico Jack's Pirate Raiders - Calico Jack and Tom Brown

Produced by Diamond Select/Art Asylum | Released 2011

Once a feared pirate, Calico Jack now fights against pirates who prey on innocent travelers. Jack must be constantly vigilant for rival Charles Vanes and other pirates. Can he defeat a man who has already returned from the dead?

Calico Jack's long time crew member and good friend Tom holds the position of weaponer in Jacks's crew but his true job is as trusted confidant and body guard to the good captain. Friends for years, Jack trusts Tom completely.

Calico Jack's Pirate Raiders Minimates
Minimates is a line of - as the name suggests - minifigures, a ''standard buck'' used by designers The Art Asylum to produce a number of toy lines, including such licensed properties as Marvel superheroes, Knight Rider and Back to the Future, plus original concept lines such as the MAX figures and the subjects of today's Review, Calico Jack and Tom Brown from the Calico Jack Pirate Raiders line.

Unlike the Marvel Minimates, the Calico Jack's Pirate Raiders figures come in a simple, clear-fronted blister pack. It's a nicely presented piece of packaging, though, as it gives an unrestricted view of the contents and the graphical design of the packaging is as you'd expect - very pirate-y - even going as far as including a treasure map backdrop.

The rear features images of all eight pirates from Wave 1, along with a biography for both characters within the pack.

Sculpt and Design
Let's take a closer look at the line's protagonist, Calico Jack.

Like all Minimates, Calico Jack is based on a standard buck, which is then modified to include ''personalized'' features. In this case, Jack's bespoke pieces include his head, hair, chest print and tailcoat. A pair of fold-top boots complete his look but these pieces are re-used across a number of figures in the line.

The overall look is pretty neat. The tailcoat is his real ''hero piece'' and gives Calico Jack a unique silhouette and look that's every bit the dashing rogue. The detailing on this piece is pretty impressive and features an assortment of straps, flaps, buckles and accessories, all of which are very well sculpted and there's a real sense of attention to detail here. I particularly like the rough stitching on his collar.

The head is a standard Minimates cylinder with its own tampo transfer face (more on that below) topped-off with a unique hairpiece. It's another nicely detailed bit of design that includes some well-rendered flowing locks and a skull and crossbones bandana to keep it all out of his eyes. Again, it's a cool-looking piece that works well with the standard buck.

So what about his shipmate Tom Brown?

Unfortunately whilst Tom's sculpt includes some nice touches, it just doesn't have the same impact as Calico Jack. Which is probably why he's the hero and Tom is the sidekick...

Tom's centerpiece is his torso/chest, which features shoulder-pad armor and a crossover chest strap. Whilst not as detailed as Calico Jack's tailcoat it's a nice enough piece and the swirl detail on the right shoulder plate, for example, is a nice touch.

Like Jack, Tom features a custom hairpiece/hat atop a uniquely-designed face print piece. And like Jack it features some very nicely sculpted hair. I particularly like how shaggy his locks appear and that the bandana/head scarf he's wearing actually features a flowing tail/knot at the rear. It's a nice touch and shows some thought went into the design.

Although the Minimates figures are only 2'' tall and I didn't expect a Microman or GI  Joe level of movement from these figures it's a little disappointing to discover (yes, these are my first Minimates) that the basic buck doesn't include any form of waist swivel and that the lateral hip movement is rather limited. 

That aside though, what's here is solid enough and although I'd have preferred to see something akin to the Mega Bloks Minifigure rig (which does include the additional movement missing here) the Minimates buck is certainly superior to that used in the Lego Minifigure line.

I'm happy to report that the paintwork is - on the whole - very good. Tampo transfers are used to give each figure a unique face and chest design and the level of detailing is impressive in a cartoon-ish manner. (Is it just me or does the Marvel Minimates Maria Hill really look like Colbie Smulders?)

Jack's face is particularly good, with a suitably rakish expression to it and his torso - which is usually hidden under his chest strap - features a dashing, peekaboo open shirt (replete with hairy chest!) Tom's facial detail is also pretty neat and - unlike the Lego figures - he has his own, unique facial features, which is a nice touch.

The actual paint apps are pretty good, especially for figures of this size. Indeed, I've seen sloppier applications on figures twice their size, so although there may be some minor splodges or over-zealous applications the quality of the paintwork is certainly impressive.

Extras and Accessories
The figure double-pack features five additional weapons, including Calico Jack's pistol and cutlass, plus Tom's elaborate two-handed sword, gun-axe and pike.

The weapons fit reasonably well into the hands of each figure, although the two-handed sword seems somewhat pointless (given the limited mobility of the figures) and the gun-axe can be a pain to get into Tom's hands but overall they're pretty good pieces, featuring functional-but-interesting designs and decent paint apps.

Final Thoughts
The Minimates line does an outstanding job of treading the line between toy and collectible. Kids will enjoy playing with them but they're also detailed enough to make them appeal to the older collector. So kudos to the Art Asylum/Diamond Select Toys for managing to pull that off.

For me, Calico Jack and Tom Brown were certainly the pick of the Pirate Raiders crop my local TRU had in stock. That's not to say the other figures are lacking or in some way poor but the ''regular pirate'' look of the figures gave them the edge and it's because of that I wound-up buying this particular set. And I'm certainly glad I did.

However, I have to admit I was disappointed with the articulation set-up and had it included a swivel waist and improved hip movement the score below would certainly be a lot higher. But even though the set-up isn't quite up to the level I'd like, these are still excellent, fun and very collectible figures. I'd certainly buy more not just from the Calico Jack's Pirate Raiders line-up but also more from the other Minimates lines - especially over the Lego Minifigures.

If you like pirates or are a collector of minifigures then you'll certainly dig this duo.

Final Score: B

Image Gallery

Packaging images from Minimates Central .

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