Sunday, May 20, 2012

Problem Minifigs: More on Johnny Thunder

Over a year ago, I posted (linkie!) about Johnny Thunder as a minifig, calling him a "problem minifig." The particular definition that I was going for was that, although he's an attractive minifig by himself, he's a difficult fig to assimilate in multiple copies to one's collection. This is a problem with hero, villain, or other "character" minifigs because they've been designed to stand out, unlike "soldier figs," who are conducive to army-building by their very nature. As far as problem minifigs go, Johnny Thunder is by no means the most problematic. The post from last year showed how I've incorporated the five Johnny Thunders of my collection into new forms; this post will go further and deal with other "Johnnies" I've had to deal with. These other Johnnies come from two sources: Soccer sets (3420 and 3406) and the Knights' Kingdom (2) chess set, 678. Before I get to the fates of these eleven minifigs, however, I'll deal briefly with a duplicate Johnny head that entered my collection via Bricklink last summer. It may be wondered why I ordered a Johnny head at all, when these posts show that I have more Johnny heads than I need; the answer is an illustration in the economy of Bricklink: in order to replace a minifig that was part of a stolen bag last summer, I needed a Johnny torso, and it was more expedient for me to buy the whole fig than just the head. The discarded extra head, however, did not stay discarded long, and soon found a job on the police force:
It will be noted, at least, that this redundant Johnny is at least a Johnny 2.0, of which there are fewer in my collection--not least because the 11 Johnnies-that-did-come-as-a-Johnny are all the original versions. Eight came as Shadow Knight pawns in the chess set; the other three are members of soccer teams. Here is a group shot of the 11 duplicates, in their new roles:
It is easy to see here how Johnny-heads are not useless, despite being something of a "problem." Four of them--the four in the back--retain, more or less, the identities they possessed when they arrived in my collection: three soccer players and a Shadow Knight--though there have been some trades in the Soccer league. The major difference is that I did not keep the other seven Shadow Knights as they were. Three have joined other Castle armies: Dragon Master, Royal Knight, and Shadow Knight. Two more have joined other historical themes, Imperial Guard and Wild West cavalry. Joined with three of the extra Johnnies in last year's post who were added to historical (Castle and Pirate) themes, this shows an overwhelming preference for using Johnny's be-follicled face for minifigs who predate modern razors. They don't work uniformly well--I don't think the Dragon Master wears his mustache quite so well as the Imperial Guard, for example, but they do work. In much the same way, Johnny's face can be used in science fiction settings, such as the Aquanaut and Blacktron (1) figs shown here. I don't think Johnny works quite as well in a futuristic setting, but it isn't completely incongruous, possibly because Johnny's facial hair is well-kept and not overly lurid--though maybe more lurid would work better, if one went for more of a "large ham" and less of a "Starfleet" sort of look. Meanwhile, what does the Shadow Knight army look like these days?
Well, in keeping with the original Shadow Knight and with the Johnny-Shadow Knights of the Chess Set, there is a strong tendency towards facial hair among this newer, more diverse cast of soldiers. Nor is this quite the entire army--just the eight soldiers who more or less take their origins from the Chess Set pawns. Coming someday... what about Johnny's shirts? Johnny's hats? Other Shadow Knight heads? The list of Problem Minifig examples are endless, and I'm sure will be discussed again.

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