C3 Chemical Warehouse
With Joker and Batman

Art Asylum's Marvel Mini-mates have been a huge hit, a break out line even amongst the hordes of mini-figures on the market. Of course, comic book fans immediately began asking the obvious question - where's my DC characters?

Of course, the mini-figures license was all tied up in the triangle of hell that is Warner Brothers, DC and DC Direct. Once a license gets sucked into this vortex, it's tough to find it's way out. So rather than try, Art Asylum went a different direction - construction playsets!

Yes, rather than just try to do DC mini-mates, they did a new type of construction playset themed around the DC universe, that just happened to include mini-mate figures. Unfortunately for fans, that means higher costs for them to just buy the figures, but you have to admit that it's pretty creative on Art Asylum's part. On the plus side, if the sets are good, you can get some really cool toys to go along with your mini-mates.

The line is called 'C3', which stands for "create, construct and customize". The name applies quite aptly to these sets that consist of Lego-like blocks, used to construct a location or vehicle, and a mini-mate or two. 

Out so far are the Batmobile, mini Batmobile, Batcave, Batwing, Batglider, the Superman vs Darksied Throne Room, and the Chemical Warehouse set, reviewed here tonight. The sets range from $10 - $30, depending on where you get them, and which set you're picking up.

There was also a San Diego Comic Con exclusive set of the Batwing.  It was a translucent blue, rather than a solid color.

Some of these sets are considered Batman, some are considered Justice League, and branded as such on the exterior of the package.  The chemical warehouse is branded Justice League.

Packaging - ***
You can't really complain - the graphics are very bright and eye catching, the boxes are nice and sturdy, and you can see the mini-mates included through the little window. And if you don't count the fact that you have to open the plastic bags, you'll be able to return everything to the box for storage later on, as good as new.

Sculpting - ***1/2
Okay, I'm talking about the sculpting on the two mini-mates here - we'll get more into the actual set itself in later categories.

The sculpts on the mini-mates are just what you'd expect, if you've been picking up the Marvel or LOTR versions.  There's not a lot of detail work, since that's the style of these figures, but what's here matches up nicely within the license and across licenses.

The work around the small pieces, like Joker's coat and hair, or Batman's gloves and cowl, looks great. They are scaled at 2", same as the Marvel Mini-mates, so you're universes will be able to collide.

Paint - ***1/2
The set itself doesn't have much in terms of paint ops.  The pieces are molded in the appropriate colored plastic.  But the colors are well selected, and don't look too cartoony, yet stay true to the block type construction sets.

The majority of the paint ops are on the two figures, and it might be my imagination, but both of these figures seem to have more work than the usual mini-mate.  Joker is particularly well done, with lots of detail on his face and clothes.

They aren't perfect, and there's a little slop here and there around the smaller details.  Considering the scale though, the quality is pretty damn good.

Articulation - ***1/2
The figures have the same type of articulation as other mini-mates - neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist, hips, knees and ankles.  The figures also come apart, and you can mix and match parts as you wish.  For example, if you take off Batman's cowl, you'll find a painted face underneath - but a very bald Bruce.  In the picture below, I stole Iron Man's hair piece to give Bruce a little dignity.

The playset is articulated as well - the crane arm turns at the base, has two joints in the lower arm, and the top arm turns.  The claw also moves in and out, allowing you to hold figures within the jaws.

Accessories - ***
Unlike most mini-mates, both the Joker and Batman has an accessory.  Batman has a batarang, and the Joker comes with his cane, complete with jester head on top.  Both are done fairly well, and fit nicely in their hands.

I hope we see accessories with most of these, and that the mini-mates in general start including more.

Construction - ***1/2
The set itself contains 83 pieces, and the instructions are very clear and easy to follow.  I had no trouble assembling the set in a short period of time, and the pieces snap together extremely well.  Although the pegs and holes seem a little short, they work great and fit tightly.

The figures have holes in their feet as well - as did the LOTR mini-mates - specifically to stand on these sets.  You have to hold the feet very close together to get that to work very well, but it does work.

The set comes apart easily enough as well, ready to go into a baggie when you're done.

Kids shouldn't require much help with this set, although I'm betting the huge (and expensive!) Batcave is a whole 'nother story!

Fun Factor - ****
If you love construction toys, you're going to love these.  They are a great addition to the Lego world, and I much prefer the mini-mates style figure to the Lego style that's out there with other construction sets.

Kids should have great fun putting the set together and battling it out on the warehouse platform.  I suspect the Joker is in for many a losing battle.

Value - **1/2
This set runs around $15 on-line, which is at least $3 too much.  Ten bucks is much more reasonable for a set like this, and I suspect that will be closer to the retail price in major retailers.  I'm grading these at $12 - pay $15 and take off a half star, pay $10 and add a half star.

Overall - ***1/2
If you've been reading my reviews, you know I love mini-mates.  I'm not a huge Lego nut though, so it might be surprising how much I like these sets.  I'm no fool though - I can see fun when it steps up and slaps me in the face.

Not only are these fun, but we finally get to pit our DC mini-mates against our Marvel mini-mates.  What more could a comic fan ask for?  We can all die happy now.

Where to Buy - 
K-marts, Wal-marts and Meijers seem to be getting these first, but Targets and Toys R Us stores should have them very soon as well. On-line options include:

- CornerStoreComics has all the small sets listed at $15 each.

- Action Figure Express has all the sets available.

- Entertainment Earth has most of the sets available, along with cases.


Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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