?Minimates, those 2-inch block figures put out by Diamond Select Toys and Art Asylum, turn ten years old in 2012, and it’s been a pretty eclectic decade. While they’re best known for their line of Marvel minifigures (42 waves and counting) and DC minifigures (a co-production with DC Direct), they’ve also tackled dozens of other properties over the years, from TV shows like 24 and Battlestar Galactica to film classics like A Fistful of Dollars and Silence of the Lambs, and even video games like Halo and Uncharted. Sadly, they still get compared to Lego and Kubrick figures, but articulation, accessories and sheer character selection put them in a different class altogether. While there are over a thousand Minimates to choose from, these are the essentials — or as Minimates fans say, “a good start.”
11) Dante, Devil May Cry
?Even if you’re not a gamer, you’ve got to admit that Dante from Devil May Cry is a pretty cool-looking character. White hair, no shirt, red trenchcoat, twin pistols and a big, honking sword? It’s like Final Fantasy and The Matrix had a baby, which may be why the demon-hunting Dante has become so popular even outside his own series of games. Placed in a Marvel vs. Capcom 3 two-pack with Deadpool, this mini-Dante comes with his pistols and his sword, making him more than a match for the similarly outfitted merc with a mouth.
10) Garthe Knight, Knight Rider
?We could have put Knight Rider‘s protagonist Michael Knight on this list, but is it more crucial to own a figure of David Hasselhoff in a leather jacket or David Hasselhoff in a white leisure suit with a gold chain and a pimp cane? Arms dealer Garthe Knight may not be quite as iconic as his doppelganger, but he’s one hell of a snappy dresser, and his Minimate comes with KITT’s evil twin KARR, making that set the ultimate super-villain team-up.
9) “World of the Psychic” Peter Venkman, Ghostbusters
?The Ghostbusters line of Minimates has actually produced a slew of Peter Venkman figures from both movies, as well as one based on his animated series incarnation, but we give the edge to this plain-clothes “World of the Psychic” version because it’s also the quintessential Bill Murray Minimate. So whether you love Murray in Ghostbusters, Scrooged, Quick Change, Groundhog Day, Rushmore, Lost in Translation, The Man Who Knew Too Little or Larger than Life, this Minimate fits the bill. Also, it comes with a hairless cat. Weird!
8) Creature from the Black Lagoon
?The Universal Monsters line of Minimates has taken on Frankenstein, the Bride of Frankenstein, Dracula and the Wolfman, but there is no questioning the eternal coolness of the Creature, and by proxy this Creature Minimate. With his sculpted fins and webbed hand and foot parts, the only question was whether we included the standard green version, the black-and-white version or the glow-in-the-dark one. Black-and-white takes it, mostly because there aren’t many black-and-white Minimates out there, let alone Minimate properties that would warrant it, and this guy represents that tiny subsection like a charm.
7) Doc Brown, Back to the Future
?While Marty McFly is certainly the poster boy of the Back to the Future films, Doc Brown is definitely the franchise’s poster crazy grandpa. And while Marty has that sweet puffy vest, Doc Brown has that fly white radiation suit — at least, my favorite Doc Minimate does, the one from the 25th anniversary box set. Not only does he come with his hood and the remote-control for the time machine, he also comes with an alternate chest piece that shows his bullet-riddled bulletproof vest. Tiny, taped-together handwritten note and temporal paradox not included.
6) Alligator from Battle Beasts
?Remember Battle Beasts? Incredible creatures who battle for fun? The 2-inch toy line made a small splash in the mid-’80s, and this year DST will announce their own Battle Beasts line at C2E2. But they celebrated acquiring the trademark back in 2010 with an armored Minimate alligator who got four different versions — three were given away at conventions, and one was sold at retail, a red version that came in the first edition of the Minimates carrying case. While all of them are awesome, we’ll call the red one the most essential — not only because it carries on some of the crazy color schemes of the original Battle Beasts, but because it’s currently the only Beast that you could conceivably find for sale somewhere.
5) Workout Rocky, Rocky
?The Rocky line from DST was relatively short-lived — only two boxed sets were made — but Rocky is such an American cinematic icon that we had to include him here. And although the Italian Stallion had five different Minimates in all, including two with ring gear and one in his infamous tiger jacket, we have to give the knockout to Rocky in his workout sweats, the outfit he wears when he jogs to the top of the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Plus, that’s the figure that comes with a side of beef for him to beat up on. Meat is neat.
4) Capt. Charles Vanes from Pirate Raiders
?Who is this guy, and why is he so essential? Two words: “zombie pirate.” Diamond Select’s in-house Pirate Raiders toy line features a bunch of famous pirate names — Calico Jack, Anne Bonny, Robert Deal — and pits them against each other in a storyline involving mutiny, murder and revenge, and the big bad of the whole line is Charles Vanes, who’s not only come back from the grave, but brought back other pirates and even has his own spectral pirate ship. Shades of Pirates of the Caribbean, perhaps, but still fun as hell.
3) Wonder Woman
?The DC Direct-distributed line of Minimates only lasted 8 waves, but it was long enough to create a dedicated sub-group of Minimates fans, one that lives in constant hope that the line will return someday. And while there are plenty of female Minimates out there, if there’s one essential lady you need in your collection, it’s gotta be Wonder Woman — luckily, her Minimate is top-notch, and comes with a golden lasso. The best part? With the interchangeability of Minimates, It’s easy as pie to switch out her star-spangled shorts for a pair of pants, then switch out the pants for her old legs after an unreasonably short period of time. Just like DC Comics!
2) Showdown Blondie, The Dollars Trilogy
?A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly were never originally intended to be a trilogy, but having a squinty Clint Eastwood and a stock cast in all three has made them so. Eastwood’s “Man With No Name” (a.k.a. Blondie, a.k.a. Monco, a.k.a. That Guy With a Few Different Names, When You Think About It) got a figure or two in each of DIamond Select’s three Dollars sets, but we’ll pick Showdown Blondie from the “Good/BadUgly set as our essential, because it’s got Eastwood chomping on a stogie and rocking his trademark poncho, but the poncho is thrown back to show off his Western duds and low-slung pistol.
?Now, Diamond Select’s Marvel Minimates license doesn’t allow for a towering action figure. Non-poseable 8-inch statues of Minimate Galactus and a Minimate Sentinel were released several years ago, but they were the only ones of their kind, and today’s Marvel ‘Mates (like all Minimates) are strictly 2 inches tall. Clearly tired of tap-dancing around the issue, Diamond Select recently released a box set that owned up to that fact and included a 2-inch tall Galactus. Of course, with boots and hat he comes out to be a little bit taller than that, and the teeny-tiny Silver Surfer accessory he sports makes him look even bigger, but it’s his icon status and the fact that you can remove his helmet to see his face that make this Toys “R” Us exclusive figure so necessary. Plus, he’s one of the few Galactus figures that makes YOU feel like Galactus, which is indescribably invigorating. Until the MODOK Minimate comes out this summer, this is the Marvel Minimate to beat.