There are countless reasons why I will purchase just about any Minimate product that comes out, but the ‘customize-ability’ of the figures ranks high among those reasons. So it was with great curiosity that I first read about Luke’s Toy Store‘s set of Ninja Decals for Minimates. Then, after reading Poe’s review, it was great excitement that I awaited Luke’s second set of store exclusive decals: Gruesome Ghosts. Luke Porter was gracious enough to provide not only a decal package but also a set of six figures to review.
Luke strikes a really strong balance with the set in that it allows the general sort of Minimates customization we all do on our own – the mixing and matching of existing limbs – with prescribed figure designs. Since these are homemade customs, included in the pack is a full-color 8”x11” sheet showing the six intended base figures for the decals and their “recipes.”
However, designing the set for such a particular set of bodies limits the user’s creative options. All of the decals are solid in color, so they obligate you to a specific torso, head, arm or leg color. This makes sense because about half of the supplied bodies have existing torso paint that has to be covered, but they also prevent you from grabbing any spare Minimate parts lying around or from deviating significantly from the recipe. And indeed the “additional” sets require all-white or all-red body parts, which are not easy to come by in Minimate-dom.
But my main issue with the set is I’m underwhelmed by the designs. The characters match the style of Minimates, but they’re basically minor riffs on the same few designs: for skin-tone figures, this means green eyes and pointed teeth. More variation between all of the heads would have been more exciting. Fortunately, by incorporating some other parts I was able to accomplish a fair share of recombination and have some fun doing it.
I would have been fine with stickers, but now I see the benefit of using decals – they allow for some flexibility post-application and stay very close to the surface, causing minimal problems around hair pieces and so forth. However, its been at least a decade since I’ve worked with decals and boy, were they a sonuvabitch.
The recipe highly recommends the use of a sharp hobby knife, so I went out and bought an X-Acto knife–but I still ran into “white edge” problems. After a few hours of drying I went to examine the handiwork and just about every leg and arm decal stuck to my fingers and came off. A lot of the decals did ‘bubble’ while drying, leading to cracking once hair was put back on. Clearly this is a much more skilled endeavor than I was capable of, and I can see why some paint touch-up and clear-coat sealant are used by experienced customizers.
All in all, though, I’m fairly pleased with my creations. I tried to mix things up as best I could to highlight the versatility of some of the decals and the Minimate format. Overall, I think the Ninja set is a better execution of this concept, but the ‘Ghosts’ does a much better job of working with bodies that can be easily constructed (and gosh darn it, they should be “Ghouls” – “Ghosts” made me anticipate translucent applications for translucent figures, something I’m very into!).
There are two sets of decals that call for an all-black body and 2 sets that could use an all or predominately white body, which also apply to the Ninja sets, so with any luck Luke may become the first retailer to supply blank Minimates – something that would be great for all of us fans to buy and have on hand regardless, but especially if Luke keeps cooking up these decal sheets. Which, despite any issues I may have with the set, are a great deal for $4.99. Here’s what five bucks’ll get you:
- Assembly Sheet (a sheet with full color images and instructions on how to built the 6 base bodies from the two aforementioned box sets)
- Additional Ghosts Sheet (another full color set of 3 ghosts that can be constructed from pieces not in the two box sets)
- Recommended Base Minimates Sheet (Lists of figures and their useful parts that can be used to construct the 3 additional Ghosts – encyclopedic proof Luke knows what he’s talking about!)
- Instructions & Tips and Tricks Sheet (instructions for the decal process and tips from Luke’s own customizing experience – be sure to read the Tips before starting, trust me… they are helpful, and will save you black decals)
- Optional Updates and Upgrades Sheet (a lists of additional accessories than can help ‘plus’ your Ghosts’ appearances)
- 2 Decal Sheets (because believe-you-me, you’ll need two – either from mishaps for us novices or for the desire to make more for the Pros)