Ace of Cakes Duff Mini-mate

Ace of Cakes Duff Goldman mini-mate

Out east in Baltimore, there's a little bakery called Charm City Cakes, ran by a quirky and unusual chef named Duff Goldman. He and his colleagues produce some amazing cakes, everything from a replica of Hogwart's for the L.A. premiere of the fifth Harry Potter movie, to a zombie themed groom's cake. The work is frantic, artistic, and unique, and the show has been a huge hit for the Food Network. My wife loves it, and I have to admit to being fascinated by many of the episodes as well.

These are some very creative people, so it should come as no real surprise that they are also interested in pop culture and collectibles. In fact, Duff's brother Willie Goldman, who is a co-producer on the show, runs the website Aliens

So how far away could a Duff action figure really be? They hooked up with Diamond and Art Asylum to put together the Duff mini-mate, which you can pick up at their site for eight bucks. Of course, the fact that this is Duff makes it a unique mini-mate, but there's something else that makes this guy different - he comes with the widest variety of accessories ever packed with a mini-mate!
Ace of Cakes Duff Goldman mini-mate

Ace of Cakes Duff Goldman mini-mate
Ace of Cakes Duff Goldman mini-mate
Ace of Cakes Duff Goldman mini-mate
Ace of Cakes Duff Goldman mini-mate
Ace of Cakes Duff Goldman mini-mate
Ace of Cakes Duff Goldman mini-mate
Ace of Cakes Duff Goldman mini-mate

Packaging - **1/2
The package has an imaginitive die cut cardback, with tons of good graphics and some nice background text on the back.

There's a photo on the back with Duff and the mini-mate that's been photoshopped, but I really would have loved to see him with the actual mate in his hands.

And while the die cut cardback is visually interesting, it won't hold up well to wear. Mine came pretty much mangled in the mail, and I suspect that will be the case much of the time.

Sculpting - ***
Duff stands about 2" tall, the usual height for mini-mates over the last few years. In the early days, they were closer to 3", but most 'mates produced have in this smaller scale.

Of course, the key to 'mates isn't the sculpt. It's done in a basic style, that remains consistent no matter what the license. This allows for some visual consistency across the line, and also means you can swap heads, hands, feet, clothing and accessories between all the licenes.

Since Duff is follically challenged, his mate has the ears sculpted right on the side of his head. He also has sculpted cuffs for his shirt, as well as a sculpted chef's coat over his torso.

Paint - ***1/2
The real key to a 'mate looking like it should is the paint. Sure, it needs to be clean, but it also needs to give the figure it's personality and accuracy.

Duff has a big smile, which is truly part of his personaility. The soul patch is also there, his trademark facial hair. They've added in hairy arms, but I can't tell you whether or not that's accurate - I don't pay that much attention.

Of course the white chef coat is there, but his familiar baggy long shorts with lots of pockets have been added with the paint as well.

Most of the paint is very clean, especially the tampo work on his face and on the various logos. These can be hard to get straight and even, and yet all of them look great.

There's a bit of slop on some of the work in his legs, including the shoes and pants. The slop here was a bit of a disappointment, but fans are likely to overlook the minor issues.

Articulation - ***1/2
The mini-mate style is always well articulated, especailly for such a small figure. He has a cut neck, balll jointed shoulders, pin elbows and kness, cut wrists, waist and ankles, and ball hips.

This means you'll be able to pose Duff in tons of ways, and he stands great on his own in just about any pose. Even with the legs in a walking pose like the final photo - he's holding that pose all on his own.

Please note - the rolled up cuffs on his shirt are separate pieces from the arms, and can move up and down the forearm. When you get your figure out of the package, it is very likely that the cuffs will be up so far on the arm that the elbows won't be able to move at their pin. Don't force them! Just simply push the cuffs down a little way on the arm, and you can free up the elbow and still keep the sleeve looking right.

How can you complain with ten - yes TEN - accessories, all of them very specific to the show and the character?

Duff is almost never without his ball cap, always worn backwards catcher style. The hat fits well, and has the tiny 'Charm City Cakes' written on the back with the equally tiny bakery logo on the front.

Duff is known for using unusual 'utensils'' to make his cakes. He has a couple that are pretty standard - a large spoon and one of those rubber mixer thingies. Hey, I'm not a cook.

But he also has his more unique goodies, like a chainsaw, blow torch, and mixer blade attached to a power drill. These all fit great in his hands, and have both excellent sculpts and paint apps considering the scale.

There's also a bass guitar, which is not a simple re-use of other guitars that we've gotten with past mini-mates. Again, it has the logo and name of the shop on it.

Finally, he has two very recognizable cakes with him. These two aren't the most complex they've done, but they were clearly easier to do in this scale than any of their more complex beasts.

And while it isn't technically an accessory, you can remove his outer shirt by popping off his head. If you do, the underlying shir tis also white...and the Charm City logo is on the back again!

Fun Factor - ***
Mini-mates are always fun. Stick this guy on your desk at work, and everyone that comes in will play with it involutnarily. They are just that irresistable.

Value - **1/2
Duff isn't cheap. So why should his action figure be? While $8 is about twice the usual cost of a normal single mini-mate, the extreme number of accessories makes the cost a lot more sensible. Let's face it, the usual $3 - $4 mini-mate might have one accessory, two if you're really lucky. Here you're getting a ton of stuff, and the two included cakes are quite large. The extra cost with the extra goodies ends up giving you an average value.

Things To Watch Out For
If you're a MOCer, you might want to try making a note of that on your order. I don't know if it will do you any good, but you might end up with a better cardback than I did.

Also, remember than you can move the sleeve cuffs firther down the arms. Otherwise you'll damage the elbow joint when you try to use it.

Overall - ***1/2
If you're a fan of the show and you're a fan of mini-mates, this is a must have. It looks enough like Duff to be recognizable, and it has that fun factor that mimics the attitude of the show.

If you've never heard of the show, but love your mini-mates, you'll want to consider this one to add another unique character to the shelf, or at least find new and interesting uses for the large number of accessories.

If you have no interest in either the show or 'mates, you probably didn't need to read this whole thing.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - ***
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - ***1/2
Accessories - ****
Fun Factor - ***
Value - **1/2
Overall - ***1/2

Where to Buy -
This is available at the Charm City website for $8.

Related Links -
In other mini-mate reviews:

- the most recent was the Marvel Civil War mini-mates.

- I also covered the Back to the Future series.

- Diamond also did several series of DC mates, and I reviewed the first series.

- and back in the day, there was the Star Trek mini-mates, which they added some additional figures to this year, Lord of the Rings, as well as Powerslave and Street Fighter.

- and there's always been tons of Marvel mini-mates of course!

Want to chat about this review?  Try out one of these terrific forums where I'll be discussing it!

Reader Ratings!
Here's your chance to weigh in!  Select your rating for this figure(s) to the right.  Yea, it's a five star system and not a four star system like mine, but it's the best I've been able to come up with so far.  You can only rate once from any particular IP.  Averaging the two scores together and then converting to a five star system for comparison is: 4.375


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