C3 Building Set
mini-Javelin with Flash and Martian Manhunter


Everyone loves mini-figures. Not everyone of course, but enough people that there are a billion different kinds covering a billion different license. Carl Sagan would be in awe.

One area that was sorely lacking was DC comic book characters. Considering that DC comic book superheroes are the best (and here come the emails!) it might be surprising that his area was left bereft of mini-figures, but it was all a big contractual problem. It's always the lawyers fault, don't you know. (The email box is overflowing!)

Art Asylum managed to get around the issues by developing a series of building sets, similar to Legos, that included mini-figures of DC characters. The first series seemed to be a decent hit, but the price points had to be fairly high since the sets were often complex. Obviously, not nearly as many people were going to buy $20 building sets just to get a Catwoman.

The second wave of sets is now popping up at comic shops, although I'm unsure as to how wide the distribution will end up. I'd be surprised if we end up seeing these at retailers like Wal-mart or Toys R Us, but stranger things have happened. This wave includes the Batcopter (with Tactial Batman), Batcycle (with Batman and Man-bat), and the Javelin Mini-Starfighter with Martian Manhunter and Flash. I picked up all three, but am confining tonight's review to just the Javelin.

I have some excellent sponsors who have these in stock, with the usual recommendations at the end of the review, and you can expect to pay around $13 for the small sets, or $22 for the Batcopter.

Packaging - ***
The box is pretty basic, but very sturdy and easy to store for the MIBBers. It also shows off the two included figures nicely, and gives a rundown of other sets on the back. Pretty standard for mass market packaging, but I like the size and shape.

Sculpting/Design - ***1/2
Obviously, there's not a ton of sculpting on the figures. While both have some outfit pieces, particularly on their head, the sculpting is basic and minimalist, befitting the style of the figures. There's no doubt who the characters are, yet it's done with such a clean style.

One of the problems I had with earlier sets, particularly the large Batcave, was getting the pieces to stay connected. I'm happy to report that it wasn't an issue at all with the Javelin, and the final product is quite sturdy. My four year old son played with it all day after I finished putting it together, and had almost no issues with blocks coming loose.

The overall design is pretty nifty too, and the figures fit nicely inside the cockpit. The roof opens and closes smoothly, there's a great little steering column inside, and the ship has smooth lines and a clean look that screams speed. It's also just about the perfect size for small hands, and with 87 pieces, wasn't too complex to complete.

Paint/Stickers - ***1/2
The majority of the paint ops are on the figures themselves, and all the lines are clean and neat, with little or no slop. They've got the masking technique down to a science, especially on the faces, where even the smallest slip up would be extremely noticeable.

Red and yellow are often tough colors to get to work together, and they tend to bleed into each other quite easily. Again, no problems here on the Flash, and he'll look great on your shelf with your Marvel Mini-mates.

The ship itself has a number of stickers already applied to the blocks. Not only are they attractive, but having them pre-applied is a HUGE benefit. I can never get the damn things quite straight, so I was a happy camper to see them already there, plus it makes picking out which block to use all that much easier. The stickers give some color and vibrancy to the otherwise consistent look of the Javelin.

Articulation - ***1/2
If you've had mini-mates before, you know what you're getting. Neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist, hips, knees and ankles is a hell of a lot of articulation for a figure that stands just under 3" tall. These figures fit in perfectly with the Marvel mini-mates, or the Hobbits in the LOTR mini-mate series.

The ship itself also has one point of articulation - you can open and close the cockpit.

Accessories/Action Feature - ***
Even if you count the figures themselves as part of the main package, there's still more accessories included. There is an additional head piece for each of the figures - hair for the Flash so he can go in a pseudo alter ego look, and the elongated skull of the Martian Manhunter. Both fit nicely without being too tight, and in general, it's easy to switch around body parts without them falling off randomly.

There is an additional accessory and action feature with the Javelin itself. Included is a black rocket which can be launched from the base. This is not a spring loaded launcher, but the style that requires you to press on the rocket with your finger until it pops free. The rocket launcher worked better than I expected, and didn't fly off the bottom of the ship every time I tried to shoot the rocket. Still, it will be tough for small hands to both hold the Javelin and press on the rocket at the same time.

Fun Factor - ****
These are terrific toys first, collectible sets second. A very distant second. These are clearly great for kids, and for those collectors who are actually into toys and not pop culture collecting. The mini-figures hold up to play extremely well, and the Javelin did much better with my son than I thought it would. I figured he'd have it in a billion pieces about five minutes after I handed it to him, and the steering column would be missing five minutes after that, but it simply wasn't the case. He played with it for a couple hours, had a great time, and I only had to pop the roof on once.

Value - **1/2
There aren't any block sets that I'd call cheap.  Don't even consider calling Legos cheap - there's no way.  Compare these to other popular sets, and the price isn't all that bad, but it's no great value either.

Overall - ***1/2
These are a ton of fun, and great toys.  It's too bad that they'll be mostly bought by collectors, because kids could have so much fun playing around with them.

I don't think the distribution on these is going to be great, so you might want to snag them when you see them rather than waiting for clearance.  I doubt it's going to happen this time around.

Things to Watch Out For - 
I didn't have any issues getting it together, and the directions were nice and clear - quite a different experience than the Batcave.

Packaging - ***
Sculpt - ***1/2
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - ***1/2
Accessories/Action Feature - ***
Fun Factor - ****
Value - **1/2
Overall - ***1/2

Where to Buy - 
Your local comic shop may have them in, or you have a number of on-line options, including:

- CornerStoreComics, where I picked up mine, has this set for $13. The other sets are also in stock.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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