Ultimates Fantastic Four
Mr. Fantastic

Diamond Select Toys produces plenty of interesting statues and mini-busts.  They have done quite a large series of busts based on the Ultimate series of comics, which might not be everyone's cup of tea, but certainly appeals to quite a few collectors.

The latest Ultimate bust is Reed Richards, also known as Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four.  Now remember, this is the Ultimate version, a re-visioning of sorts, so he doesn't look *quite* like you might imagine.  If you haven't read the books, you might find him a tad strange, but for those that do enjoy the comic series, he'll look just like you expect.

Of course, you can't have Reed without the rest of the gang, and the next bust scheduled is Johnny Storm.  We'll see Sue and Thing (whom I've seen pre-orders for) coming up eventually as well.  Reed has been hitting stores for about a month, and retails for around $50.

If the classic look is more your thing, Diamond Select has a series of dioramas for each character coming up as well, based on the early comic.  Check out my suggestions below for seeing or preordering these as well.

Packaging - ***
It's a nice sturdy box, with a solid styrofoam pack inside.  None of that wimpy styrofoam that ends up all over the room.  The box has photos of the actual bust rather than a window, and you know that bugs me, since you won't be able to pick the best paint job.  Still, keeping the bust in one piece is job #1, and it does that job just fine.

DST also includes a very cool COA with every bust, and this one was no exception.

Sculpting - **1/2
In general, the sculpt is solid.  It captures the general appearance of the figure well, and there's the right amount of small detail work. 

I'm giving it a fairly average score for two reasons.  First, the design is simply not dynamic enough for me.  Trapped someplace between static maquette style and graceful movement, this bust just doesn't visually leap off the shelf at you.

My other problem is one of scale, particularly in the arms.  They are in an elongated state, but the arms simply don't work for me.  First, they seem far too thin for the amount of elongation, particularly the right.  Second, the size of the arm drops to a set thickness just slightly below the shoulder, and seems to stay that thickness all the way to the wrist.  I think that is throwing me off visually, with my brain trying to tell me that there should be a gradual taper all the way from the shoulder to the hand.

Now, there might be some comic book physics that refute that, but the problem is that when they look this way in 3-D, they appear to much like silly bendy arms on a toy, rather than dynamic stretchy arms of justice.

Maybe the problem isn't so much that the arms don't taper, but that both arms appear to be the same thickness and size, although the left appears much more elongated.

The original prototype sported a black base as well, but that was dropped for the production version.  I'm torn as to whether that was a wise idea or not.

Paint - ***
The paint work is good, if not exceptional.  The lines are clean, with very little slop, and a nice consistency to the predominant colors.

Design/Quality - **1/2
I've already done some complaining about the design, and the lack of optical stimulation.

The bust is nice and sturdy though, and they didn't cheap out on the materials.  The design also takes possible breakage or weak points into consideration.

Value - **
At $50, this bust is about $10 too much.  The standard seems to be closer to $40 these days, and to push above that requires going well out of the ordinary.

I do have some suggestions below though where you can pick him up for around $40, which is much more appropriate.

Overall - **1/2
This isn't the best work I've seen from Diamond Select on their mini-busts, but it's not the worst I've seen from any company either.  It falls in that average range, where the real market is the big fans of this particular character in this particular incarnation.

I think that the designs for both the Thing and Johnny Storm are much better, but the large '4' base that is consistent between those two should have been reflected here as well.

Things to Watch Out For - 
Nothing to report here.

Packaging - ***
Sculpt - **1/2
Paint - ***
Design - **1/2
Value - **1/2
Overall - **1/2

Where to Buy - 
There are several online options with site sponsors:

- Alter Ego Comics has him for just $40, and he's currently in stock.

- Southern Island doesn't have this one, but they have the Ultimate Torch on clearance for just $32!

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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