Dragonball Z I-Men

Just about everyone is making mini-figures these days.  There are Mez-itz from Mezco, Minimates from Art Asylum, Pocket Heroes from DC Direct, Stifkas from Hasbro, and I-Men from Toynami, the subject of tonight's review.

I-Men are a slightly unique take on the mini-figure.  They have the four basic properties of most mini-figures - they are under 4"  (actually around 2.5"), they can be taken apart, they have more articulation than a PVC of that size, and they are basic in style. The I-Men have a couple other tricks up their sleeves though.

All I-Men come with little magnets in their feet.  This allows them to attach themselves to anything metal, and to exploit this feature, each figure comes with a 'coin' stand.  The stand is solid metal, and pressed with the picture and name of the unique character, rather than all looking alike.

That means the I-Men can stand in many cool poses on the stands, or attach themselves to other metal items around your house.  This set - the first Dragonball Z series - has another unique property - they light up!  They Super Saiyan versions do at any rate, and there is one of those packed with each regular figure.

You should find these at specialty stores like Media Play or your local comic shop.  Retail tends to be around $8 - $10 a set.

Packaging - ***
The packaging is fairly attractive, and uses a generic I-Men look to signify the broader line.  The licensed characters are represented graphically as well, and you get a nice set of pictures on the back of the rest of the series.  They are fairly small cards, and are easy to store for the MOCer.

Sculpting - ***
There are ten figures in this series: Goku, Vegata, Gohan, Trunks, and Piccolo along with the Super Saiyan versions of Gohan, Goku, Vegeta and two SS versions of Trunks.

The sculpting on most mini-figures is minimalist, and that's true here.  That doesn't mean they aren't quality work though, and the figures are instantly recognizable as the respective characters.  Unlike some other mini-figure lines, these have more detail in the hair (due to the license of course), and much more detail in the added clothing pieces.

Paint - ***1/2
I had no serious problems with any of the paint applications, and the most important - the faces - were excellent.

There was the occasional glitch along the borders between colors, but all colors were consistent and even, and the overall impression is one of colorful but neat work.

Articulation - ***
The I-Men have a number of joints: neck, shoulders, waist, wrists, hips and ankles.  The SS versions actually have steel posts at the hips and waist, to allow for the electricity to flow and complete the circuit.

The figures move fine, with little restriction, but a couple extra joints would have been nice in the original design.  The elbows and knees on the minimates give them a slight advantage in this category.

Accessories - ***
Every figure has at least one accessory - his coin base.  These are very cool, each pressed with the unique character head shot and name, along with an edition number.  They are nice and hefty, and remind me of the coins you could collect from gas stations when I was a kid.  I still have most of my Presidents set!

They also work well as bases, and the magnets attach very tightly (too tightly in some cases, but I'll get to that later).  A couple other characters - Trunks and SS Trunks - come with swords and scabbards that attach around their torso.

The swords are excellent, but I did have one of the two scabbards fall apart on me, requiring some delicate glue work.  It may have been a fluke, but be careful when picking yours out to be sure nothing has popped loose in the package.

Light Up Action - **1/2
The light up action might take a little while to truly work out the bugs.  It's a great idea for this particular license (and will work for some of the others I'm sure), but there are a few kinks.

All five of the light up figures did work just fine out of the package.  None of them had light or battery issues.  Remember when I mentioned those powerful magnets?  Well, those did cause an issue.

The circuit is completed when you attach the magnets to the metal base.  Electricity then flows, and the heads light up.  They are a little dim, but not too bad for something this small.  The magnets were so strong though that on two of them they pulled right out of the feet!  They were a little tricky to get back in, but I did manage to fix them.  Be very careful though, because the parts are damn easy to loose.

Value - **1/2
While the coins are awfully cool, the cost is the biggest problem for this line.  If you can find them for $8 and below, that's not bad, but some places are charging above even that.

Overall - ***
The I-Men are pretty cool little figures, and they did a nice job utilizing and adjusting the basic design and appearance of these for the Dragonball Z line.  The light up feature still has a few bugs, but should serve them well for future licenses as well.  If you're a big DBZ fan, you should give these a serious look, but shop around for the best deal.

Where to Buy - 
I 've seen these at Media Play and Sam Goody's, and a variety of comic shops. Here's a couple on-line suggestions - 

- Entertainment Earth has a set of all five packs for $50, or a case for $175.  The case has 20 sets - everyone needs that many I-Men, don't they?


Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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