#1379: Jason Todd

JASON TODD

BATMAN: HUSH (DC DIRECT)

“When the mysterious Hush swoops into Gotham City, Batman is forced to cut a swath through his famed Rogues Gallery with the aid of his closest allies in a desperate search for the masked villain’s true identity!”

No body ever stays dead in comic books.  There used to be exceptions to that rule, but slowly but surely they’re all finding their way back.  One character who managed to stay dead for a decent chunk of time was Jason Todd, the second Robin.  Following his death in 1989’s “Death in the Family,” he was gone for almost two decades.  He was first “brought back” during Geoff Loeb and Jim Lee’s “Hush” storyline, where he was revealed to be the titular villain.  Over the course of that particular story it was revealed that (spoiler) it wasn’t really Jason at all, but instead Clayface masquerading as Batman’s dead partner to mess with Bruce’s head, and that Jason was still deceased.  But, a returned Jason proved to be a popular idea, and so it was retconned that Jason had indeed been brought back during the course of “Hush,” and he’s since taken up the role of Red Hood.  Comics everybody!  He’s had a crap ton of figures since his return, but today I’ll be looking at his very first proper figure….which may actually not be him…or maybe it is?  Ah, heck with it, let’s just look at the freaking figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Jason Todd was part of DC Direct’s Batman: Hush line, and was offered as a special ToyFare-exclusive, released just before the first series of the main line.  The figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  Not a lot of mobility, but it was pretty good for the time.  He’s based on the Jason-Hush from the comics, depicting him from his fight with Batman, following the dramatic unmasking.  It was a pretty easy way for DCD to get an extra use out of the Hush mold from Series 1, so that’s exactly what they did. The Hush body is actually a pretty nice bit of work, capturing Lee’s design and style very nicely, and offering a crisp, highly detailed sculpt.  It’s really only got the one pose, but you can finesse it a bit, which offers a bit of variety, I suppose.  He gets a new head, which is nicely sized for the body (which is more than can be said for the standard head), and does a respectable job of capturing “Jason” from the story.  I particularly like the slight sneering to the mouth; it adds a lot of Jason’s character to the figure and helps to further separate him from the similar-looking Dick Grayson.  The only one draw back to the figure is his hands.  The Hush figure had guns permanently molded into his hands.  They’re well-sculpted, and work fine for the basic Hush, but Jason never actually has guns during his fight with Bruce.  The figure was originally supposed to have spare hands, but they were dropped somewhere along the way.  The paint on Jason is tight and clean, and very bold.  It’s on par with the rest of the line, and it’s aged a lot better than contemporary figures.  There’s minimal slop, and there’s even some awesome weathering on the jacket and gloves.  The figure’s only accessory is a display stand, which is the same one included with the rest of the line.  It’s a shame he didn’t get anything else; as is, he feels a bit light.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Talk about grail figures.  This guy’s been on my list for a very long time.  I remember very well when he was offered in ToyFare, and I really wanted him.  However, as I’ve noted in my review of Rex Ganon, I only had the money for one of the two, and I ultimately chose Rex.  Since then, I’ve always kept an eye out for Jason, but he’s always been far out of my price range.  Earlier this year, I found someone at a toy show selling a complete set of Hush figures for $400, Jason included, and asked if he might part with just Jason.  He said he would, but quoted me $250 for Jason on his own, which was most definitely not happening.  I came across another Jason just a week later, at Gidget’s Gadgets, a regular stop of mine.  This time he was $70, a far more reasonable price, but still outside of my range.  Have I mentioned before how my family are too good to me?  Because they are.  See, my brother was with me both times I asked about Jason.  He knew I really wanted the figure.  So, being the truly amazing person that he is, he went out and bought me the one that GG was selling.  Have I mentioned I love this guy?  I’m beyond thrilled to have this figure.  I’d reconciled long ago that I’d never own one, but now I do.  And he’s really, really cool.

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#1314: Nightwing

NIGHTWING

BATMAN: KNIGHTFALL (DC DIRECT)

“As Batman’s former ward, Nightwing returns to Gotham City to fight crime during the absence of his mentor.”

I’ve touched very briefly on “Knightfall,” the huge cross-over series that introduced Bane, broke Batman’s back, and gave us the new Batman Jean Paul Valley (formerly Azrael).  It’s actually one of the better regarded big cross-over stories of the ‘90s, largely due to DC consciously using common story elements for the time, and addressing some of the issues behind them. The story got some figures as part of the then running Legends of Batman line from Kenner, but no truly devoted line, until 2005, when the story was given a dedicated line of figures, courtesy of DC Direct.  I’ll be looking at one of those figures, Nightwing, today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Nightwing was released as one of the five figures in DCD’s Batman: Knightfall series, which, as I noted above, hit comic stores in 2005.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall (he’s from the period where the DCD scale creep was really kicking into overdrive, so he was a good half an inch taller then the two prior Nightwings) and he has 11 points of articulation.  He’s sporting his early ’90s costume, which generally isn’t one of my favorites.  It’s largely to do with the particularly egregious mullet that always accompanied it, but also due to the way he tended to be depicted as super bulky in this outfit.  I really have to commend this figure’s sculpt, because it  makes a lot of those issues less present.  In particular, his build is more svelte and similar to DCD’s prior Nightwings, and they’ve also gone with what’s probably the least dated interpretation of the mullet.  The sculpt isn’t perfect, mind you.  There are some slight oddities to the posing; his feet seem a bit wide spread, and I’m not entirely sure what’s going on with the left hand.  Also, his thighs seem oddly…flat.  Still, it’s remarkably well done, given how badly it could have turned out, depending on the iteration of the source material they followed.  One of the coolest things about this guy is the paint work.  The application is all pretty clean, and the colors just really pop.  I particularly love the metallic blue color that makes up the majority of the bodysuit.  It’s a good base color, and it really helps accentuate the brighter colors that have been placed on top of it.  Nightwing included a little…disc thing?  I guess it’s some sort of throwing weapon or something?  Mine’s missing his, but he could hold it in his right hand.  He also had a circular display stand with the “Knightfall” logo printed on it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m hard-pressed to come up with all that much interesting about this guy.  I know I bought him from Cosmic Comix, because that’s where I was getting all of my DC Direct figures at the time, but the exact nature of when or why I got him doesn’t seem to be coming to me.  I know I haven’t traditionally been a fan of this look, but this figure changed my mind on that.  While he’s not my favorite DCD Nightwing, but he’s still a very solid entry.  Also, one of only two figure versions of this particular design, for what it’s worth.

#1304: Hal Jordan – Classic

HAL JORDAN — CLASSIC

GREEN LANTERN CORPS (DC DIRECT)

“Armed with the miraculous Power Ring that makes his every thought a reality, Hal Jordan left behind a heroic legacy that will never be forgotten.”

Every so often, I like to remind my faithful readers that I was, at least at one point in time, a really, really big Green Lantern fan.  It’s rare that you get to be a fan of something both before AND after it was cool, you know?  Amongst Green Lantern fans, everyone’s got their personal favorite Lantern, be they human or alien.  A lot of people rag on Hal Jordan, but he’s still my favorite, which is why I own 54 action figures of him.  Today, I’ll be looking at one of my earlier Jordan figures, who hails from DC Direct’s long run of DC figures!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Classic Hal Jordan was released in the third series of DC Direct’s Green Lantern Corps line, alongside Guy Gardner and…Effigy?  Yeah, okay.  This was the fourth Hal Jordan figure DCD offered, and the first not to just be a straight repaint of the “Hard Traveling Heroes” figure.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation. This figure hit just as DCD started experimenting with articulation.  It’s basic, but it works, and doesn’t impede the quality of the sculpt.  Hal sported an all-new sculpt, based on the artwork of Gil Kane, who designed Hal and drew his very first appearance in Showcase #22, as well as handling the art on 69 of the first 75 issues of Hal’s solo title.  Kane had a rather distinctive take on Hal, and I believe this is the only time we’ve gotten a figure based directly on Kane’s work, in general.  The sculpt does a decent enough job of translating Kane’s renditions of Hal into three dimensions; he’s definitely been cleaned up a little bit, but I like to think of this as a “cover” Hal, as opposed to an “interior” Hal.  The body’s a little stiff, but thankfully predates DCD’s move to odd pre-posing, so it’s pretty exceptible.  The head sports some really nice work, and I like that they really nailed the shape of Hal’s hair.  It’s all flippy in the front, just as it should be.  Hal’s paint is pretty decent.  It’s pretty simple, but that’s appropriate for this style of figure.  The application’s all pretty clean, and I particularly like that they got the appropriate version of his insignia, as it was a bit different when Kane was drawing him.  When Kane drew him, Hal was frequently shown with visible pupils, which aren’t seen here.  Admittedly, it’s hard to get the pupils to not look really goofy, and it was about 50/50 as to whether they’d be there or not, so it’s hardly like they’re inaccurate.  Maybe an extra head would have been cool, but that was hardly a common-place idea when this figure was released.  Hal was packed with his lantern-shaped Power Battery, which, like his insignia, replicates the more unique shaping seen in Kane’s illustrations.  Also, here’s a fun fact: Hal was released during the brief period of time that DCD was doing their resealable clamshell packaging idea.  I always really liked it, but I guess it wasn’t cost effective, since it was worked out by the end of 2003.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This Hal hit during a time when getting any Green Lantern at all was a pretty big deal, so I was pretty pumped for his release.  He’s I think my second or third proper Hal Jordan GL.  I got him from Phoenix Comics, which was a really neat little comic store that I’m not even sure is still around.  He was still a relatively new figure at the time and they were even selling him for a little below the going rate for DCD figures at the time.  He’s a pretty solid figure, even 14 years after his release, and a really great recreation of the early Hal Jordan appearances.

#1209: The Flash

THE FLASH

JUSTICE (DC DIRECT)

flashjust1

A quick glance around the internet tells me that this may be a slightly controversial opinion, but I really love the work of Alex Ross.  Marvels and Kingdom Come are obviously the standouts, but in the late ‘90s/early ‘00s, his work was the best source of classic DC Comics material out there, which was something of a godsend for me, a classic comics fan born into the wrong era. In that regard, his 12-issue maxi-series Justice, which was effectively Challenge of the Superfriends on an even more epic scale, was right up my alley.  The fact that it got a whole line of figures courtesy of DC Direct?  Icing on the cake.  Today, I’ll be looking at my first figure from the line, Barry Allen, aka the Flash!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

flashjust2The Flash was released in the first series of Justice figures from DCD.  This was only the second Barry Allen Flash we’d gotten from them, and the first time he’d been released solo.  The figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and has 9 points of articulation.  Not a ton of movement, but it was an incredible step up from the prior Kingdom Come figures, which had what can be described as “minimal” movement at best.  He’s based, of course, on Alex Ross’s depiction of Barry from not just Justice, but also the tabloid-sized specials DC put in the early ‘00s.  It’s really just Barry’s classic costume styled as if it were made from real fabrics and worn by a real person, but that’s a pretty good look.  The sculpt on this guy was handled by DCD’s main sculptor at the time, Tim Bruckner, and it’s not a bad stab at this particular design.  The main issues I would cite with this figure come from its desire to be two different things simultaneously.  They wanted him to be in a sort of a running pose (something no Flash figure they’d released up to that point was capable of pulling off), but also be able to stand up relatively straight, like the rest of the line.  The end result is a figure with a rather static and stiff upper half, and a lower half that looks to be mid-lunge.  With a bit of careful posing, you can get him to look fine (which is more than can be said for some of DCD’s later output), but he always seems ever so slightly off.  On the plus side, there’s a lot of fun detail work on the sculpt.  The costume sports plenty of wrinkles and stretched fabric, to make it more convincing that he’s not just sporting body paint, and there’s even a seam running down the front, showing how he gets the costume on and off.  The boots are heavily wrinkled and very obviously a different material than the rest of the costume, and there’s even the appropriate treading on the soles.  The head is some pretty solid work as well; the face under the mask displays Barry’s goofy charm pretty well, and the mask has a seam running across the forehead, much like Adam West’s Batman Cowl.  The paintwork on Flash is pretty good, but I have one small complaint: they used gold in place of yellow.  It’s not an uncommon practice, and this is far from the first Flash to do so, but when companies do this, they almost always use this dark and rather dull gold.  In the case of the Flash, this robs him of some of his costume’s boldness and clash, and on this particular figure, it has the unintended effect of sort of reversing the dynamic of his costume and making the red the lighter color in most lighting.  A more vibrant gold would have looked a bit better.  Apart from that, the application is all pretty clean, and I do really like the slightly pearlescent red they’ve gone with.  Barry’s only accessory was a rather large and unruly display stand, which was the same one included with every figure in this line.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Despite getting most of my DC Direct figures from Cosmic Comix, I actually got Flash from a Suncoast.  I think CCX had sold out of Flash by the time I got there, so I ended up finding him while on a mall outing with my Grandmother and my cousins.  I think he may have even been on sale.  I was quite excited to get him, since I didn’t yet have a Barry Allen in this scale.  He remained my go-to Flash figure until he was eventually supplanted by the Darwyn Cooke-styled Flash from New Frontier.  He’s not a perfect figure, but he’s a pretty solid one, and he definitely brings back some fond memories.

#1203: Vixen

VIXEN

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA (DC DIRECT)

vixen1

Following the winding down of the well-regarded Satellite Era of the Justice League, DC tried to inject some new life into their flagship super team.  Marvel was having a great deal of success with the Avengers, who had, for about 15 years at that point, been made up predominately of a number of B and C list heroes who didn’t have books of their own (i.e. Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Wonder Man, Captain Marvel, etc).  Enter Justice League Detroit, a smaller scale team.  The only mainstays from the prior era were Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, and Elongated Man, all notably lower tier.  They were joined by a brand new cast of heroes: Steel (no, not the one from Superman), Vibe (no, not the one on The Flash), Gypsy, and Vixen.  The team was…less than successful, and after a short run, they killed two members and rebranded again.  Personally?  I kinda enjoyed the run.  Sure, it had its flaws (Vibe was little more than a walking stereotype), but there was a lot to like.  Perhaps the only new member to make it out of that run unscathed was Vixen, who happened to have one of the more interesting power sets.  She sort of hung around in the background for a while, before being brought in for a recurring role in Justice League Unlimited and subsequently being brought back onto the team in the comics for Brad Meltzer and Ed Benes’ post-Infinite Crisis relaunch of Justice League of America, which just so happened to get her a figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

vixen2Vixen was released in 2007 as part of the first series of DC Direct’s Justice League of America line.  The figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and has 9 points of articulation.  That articulation’s pretty much good for having her stand there, and that’s about it.  Vixen is sporting her costume from the mid ‘00s which is really just a slight variation of the same basic design she’s been sporting since her first appearance.  I can’t say it’s my favorite design of hers, as it leans pretty heavily on the ‘00s obsession with putting every female character in a catsuit that was three sizes too small.  She, like all of the figures in the line is based on Ed Benes’ artwork.  At this point in their run, DC Direct was pretty much exclusively doing artist-based figures, which was rather a mixed bag, since not every artist’s work translates into three dimensions all that well.  Vixen is kind of weird and lanky for the most part, excepting of course for her breasts, which give an impression not unlike a pair of watermelons strapped to a tree.  It’s an odd look to say the least.  And, as far as posing goes, she looks like she just took a really deep breath and is trying not to let it out, resulting in her chest jutting forward and her shoulders being strangely raised.  She also seems to have had her hips removed at some point, which has had the effect of causing both of her legs to point off to the left in the way that no normal human legs ever would.  Her left foot also appears to have slipped out of place in her boot, since that’s about the only way it could end up that particular shape.  Her arms are probably the best parts of the figure, aside from their intended pose being a little vague; they’re actually shaped like arms, so that’s a plus.  The hands are actually a halfway decent sculpt, but end up being slightly on the large side (and the fingers are also prone to bending out of shape).  The head sculpt is…well, it’s something.  Not sure that something is *good* but it’s something.  The hair’s nice, I guess?  Just try not to look too closely at the face.  Vixen made use of some metal for her bracelets and the pull tag on her zipper.  It’s a nice touch, but the free-floating bracelets can get rather annoying when posing the figure.  Vixen’s paintwork is mostly pretty clean.  The jumpsuit seems a little on the drab side, but it’s not awful.  Once again, try not to look too closely at the face, especially not the lips or eyes.  And that’s not even addressing that super whacky hairline she’s sporting.  Vixen’s only accessory was a display stand with “Justice League of America” painted on it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I actually bought this figure from Cosmic Comix when it was brand new.  I was even excited for it.  At the time, I was really into Brad Meltzer’s run on Justice League of America, and I also really loved Vixen’s recurring role on JLU.  Time has been kinder to the latter of those things, but less so the former.  Also, I believe this was also about the time that I sat down and read the Detroit run, so that probably had something to do with it.  In hindsight, like Meltzer’s run on JLA, time has not been kind to this figure.  She’s rather indicative of this period at DC Direct, which wasn’t a very good one.  It was right about the time I stopped collecting their figures and moved over to DC Universe Classics.  I actually sold off a lot of the other figures from this period, but there hasn’t really been a better Vixen figure, so this one’s stuck around.

Wow, two “bleh” figures in a row.  I swear, I’ll try to review something better tomorrow!

#1131: Solomon Grundy

SOLOMON GRUNDY

JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA (DC DIRECT)

grundydcd1

“Solomon Grundy; Born on a Monday…”

How many comics characters can claim they come from an 19th Century nursery rhyme?  Not many, if you’re using that rather specific qualifier.  There’s a few, I’m sure, but the most prominent, for me anyway, is Solomon Grundy.  Grundy is one of DC’s older super villains, first appearing as a Golden Age Green Lantern foe, before making his way around a few of the DC rogues galleries.  He’s appeared in both Challenge of the Superfriends and Justice League.  His appearances in the latter show got him a fair bit of notoriety, since he was used as a very cool ersatz Hulk for a few stories.  He’s had a handful of figures over the years, but today I’ll be looking at his very first!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

grundydcd2Solomon Grundy was released at the very end of 2001, technically as part of DC Direct’s then running Justice Society of America line.  Grundy, given his size, was released as a stand-alone deluxe figure.  The figure stands about 7 1/2 inches tall (with the hunch; without, he’d be about an inch taller) and he has 9 points of articulation.  Like a lot of figures from the pre-Marvel Legends era of collectibles, he’s pretty much just a plastic statue, with only one real pose he works in (unless you really like him craning his head like his neck is broken).  The sculpt is unique to this figure, and it’s decent enough.  It’s not really based on any specific artist’s take on the character, but it does a reasonable job of summing up the basics of the classic Grundy design, though he’s clearly got some late ‘90s aesthetic to him.  There’s definitely some odd proportions going on, especially on the legs, which are rather on the gangly side, but then finished off with a rather large set of feet.  Honestly, Grundy’s legs almost feel like they’re from a different figure than his top half.  They’re not only built differently, but textured differently as well.  The coat and shirt have a tone of texture work, but the legs are comparatively very smooth, which seems a little out of place.  Grundy’s paintwork is definitely up there.  There’s not a lot of variance in colors, but he’s got some really clean work all around, and a lot of nice, subtle accent work.  DC Direct really knew what they were doing with paint at this point.  Grundy’s main accessory was a big club of wood, which he could hold in his left hand.  It’s a pretty fun piece, even if it’s not totally essential.  Grundy was also packed with a “preview” figure from DCD’s then-upcoming Pocket Super Heroes line, which was a Silver Age version of Wonder Woman, and was actually one of the major selling points of this figure, oddly enough.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I always wanted a Grundy figure when he was new, but never got one for whatever reason.  I ended up picking him up several years later from a vendor at Baltimore Comic-Con, for well below his original retail value (which looks to be even more a of a steal nowadays).  There have been a number of Grundy figures in subsequent years, of varying quality.  This one isn’t a perfect figure, but he’s pretty strong, especially for early DCD. 

#1118: Rorschach

RORSCHACH

WATCHMEN (DC DIRECT)

rorshach1

Hey, remember back when Zack Snyder wasn’t totally divisive, especially in regards to comic book fans?  Yeah, me neither.  It’s worth noting, though, that there was actually a time when I was on the opposite side of the divided fans (that is, those siding with Zack).  Back in 2009, when he directed the film adaptation of Watchmen, I was actually pretty happy.  I went through a phase of being super, super into Watchmen, and the movie hit sort of at the crux of all that.  In retrospect, I can still enjoy the movie, but I certainly see it’s flaws, as well as the early warning signs of what he’d end up doing with the rest of the DC movies he’s directed.  One of the definite plusses about the movie (and one of the few things everyone can agree was a positive) was that it meant we finally got Watchmen action figures, after having them cruelly snatched away from us just a few years before.  Today, I’ll be looking at perhaps the most popular character to be spawned by the franchise, the Question Rorschach!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

rorshach2The Watchmen figures from DC Direct were divided into two series of four figures each.  Rorschach was released in the first series, alongside Nite Owl, Silk Spectre II, and Ozymandias.  The figures were all based on their movie designs, but fortunately in the case of Rorschach, his movie design was a pretty direct lift from the comics.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and has 9 points of articulation.  At this point in their run, DCD was mostly producing plastic statues, so the articulation doesn’t really amount to much.  You can sort of move his arms up and down a little, his head can rotate maybe 45 degrees (and even then, it really only looks good in the one pose), and there are swivels at the tops of his legs to aid a bit in keeping him standing.  There’s really one pose for this figure, and that’s all you’re gonna get.  At the very least, it’s not an awful pose, so there’s that.  In addition, the sculpt on the body is actually pretty solid.  The coat in particular is really nice, and looks appropriately broken in.  Rorschach was available with three different heads: masked, unmasked, and unmasked prisoner.  Masked was the standard figure, available pretty much everywhere.  Specialty stores with qualifying orders of Series 1 got the unmasked figure, and the prisoner version was a TRU exclusive.  The masked head was clearly the best way to go.  It’s pretty straightforward.  The actually head lacks any real details, but that’s pretty accurate, and the hat definitely makes up for it.  Both exclusives had the same head rorshachunmasked2sculpt, with slight tweaks in paint (the prisoner version has taken a bit of a beating).  It’s a decent head, and captures Jackie Earl Haley’s likeness pretty well.  In a perfect world, the normal version probably would have just included the extras from the other two.  I myself skipped the basic unmasked version.  The paintwork on Rorschach is pretty decent.  The base work is clean, and he matches up with the source material.  The jacket makes out the best again with some nice weathering.  The masked head seems a bit too clean.  In the movie, the mask was never really pure black and white, but rather grey around the edges, since the black was always in motion.  Also, that one face was all we got.  He was originally solicited to include different face plates with different “expressions” but those never materialized.  The prisoner head is alright.  It’s clean, but really too clean when you get down to it.  He also looks a bit too friendly, if I’m honest.  He’s not awful, though, certainly on par with the rest of DCD’s output from the time.  All of the Rorschach figures included his grappling hook gun, a hand to hold it, and one of the interlocking display stands all of the figures had. The TRU version also included a plate with his name and prisoner ID, which hung from a chain around his neck, but the chain broke on mine, and I’ve since lost it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Believe it or not, I was ecstatic beyond belief to buy the basic Rorschach when he was released.  He was the very first Watchmen figure I got (picked up from Cosmic Comix, of course), on the very first day they were released.  I picked up the TRU version about a month later, and figured I didn’t really need the basic unmasked version (since he’s never actually seen unmasked in costume without the injuries in either the movie or the comics, and I’d already bought two figures).  As an action figure, Rorschach kinda sucks.  I mean, the sculpt’s great, and the paint’s not bad, but all he’s good for is just standing there.  He’s certainly not a bad investment, and I don’t regret getting him at all, but if you want something you can actually play with, there’s far better options out there.

#0959: Guy Gardner & Kilowog

GUY GARDNER & KILOWOG

DC MINIMATES

Guy&Kilowog1

Today, I’ll be taking another look at the somewhat sad tale of DC Minimates. The line was amazing when it was new, and showed a ton of promise. And then, after eight series, it ended, and despite lots and lots (I mean LOTS) of requests, there’s been no return in the eight years since its demise. As amazing as it seemed at the time, the failure of DC Minimates seems pretty obvious looking back. In a desperate attempt to play catch-up with Marvel (who had a 15 series lead at this point), DC Direct frontloaded the line, by putting just about every heavy hitter in the first three series. This presented a bit of a problem for later series, as finding anchor figures was no simple task. As such, Series 4 and 5 went more or less anchor-less, instead relying on characters who were stand-ins for the heavy hitters. One such example is today’s set, which features the original stand-in Green Lantern, Guy Gardner, along with everyone’s favorite Poozer trainer, Kilowog!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Guy and Kilowog were released in Series 5 of DC Minimates. Due to the prominence of the Green Lantern books at the time, they were probably the best known pair in Series 5. That’s probably a first for either of them.

GUY GARDNER

Guy&Kilowog2Guy Gardner was originally introduced as the “back-up” Green Lantern of sector 2814, who was supposed to take over for Hal Jordan, should anything bad happen to him. Presumably, this was only if Hal was incapacitated in some way other than death, though, since the comics have established that there’s a different process in place for replacing a dead Lantern. When he first appeared, Guy really wasn’t much different than Hal. Which kinda makes sense when you think about it. However, when they decided to have Guy be more than a one-shot wonder, his personality was changed, to make him a bit more unique. Also a bit more surly, cocky, and all-around less friendly. It was at this point that Guy got a new, more ‘80s vintage design, which is the basis of this Minimate. The figure is a little shy of 2 ½ inches tall and has 12 points of articulation. He has 7 add-on pieces for is hair, vest, belt, boots, and the edges of his gloves. The wristbands, belt, and boots were re-used from a number of earlier figures, but the hair and vest are unique to Guy. They’re a pretty good approximation of Guy’s look in the comics, though the hair feels like it could use a touch more detail work. Guy’s paintwork is fairly straight forward. His colors are pretty well chosen, and the details are all nice and sharp. His face does seem just a touch high on the head, causing the eyebrows to be covered by the hair. Guy was packed with a smaller lantern power battery, the same as Hal’s.

KILOWOG

Guy&Kilowog3Kilowog is a surprisingly recent addition to the Green Lantern mythos, first showing up in the late ‘80s. He was around for less than a decade, before being killed by Hal Jordan during the horribly written Emerald Twilight. He then spent another decade or so being dead, but was brought back to life a few years before Green Lantern: Rebirth restored the GL Corps to its former glory. Despite being out of the game for quite a while, Kilowog is still one of the most prominent Green Lanterns. Kilowog uses his post-Rebirth design, which was mostly based on his DCAU look. The figure is built on the larger 2 ½ inch base body, since he was a pretty sizeable guy. It’s a little odd to see this body nowadays, but it’s not too bad for Kilowog. He has a unique head, which, aside from seeming a little squat, is a pretty good fit. He also has a bulkier add-on piece for his torso, which makes him a bit more imposing than some of the others to use the larger body. Though it has no character specific details, Kilowog was the only figure to use it. Kilowog’s paint isn’t too far removed from what Guy has. He uses all the same shades and such, which is good for consistency’s sake. His logo is slightly different than the ones seen on Guy and Hal, which is nice, since Kilowog sports his modern design. Kilowog was packed with a larger power battery (re-used from DCD’s Pocket Heroes line).

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like every set in the DC Minimates line, I picked these two up from Cosmic Comix the week they were released. As both a Green Lantern geek and a Minimates geek, I was pretty excited for these two. That being said, neither of them is super stand out. I mean, they’re solid ‘mates, especially for the time, but they don’t do anything particularly noteworthy…which is probably why the pegwarmed pretty hard. Not bad little figures, though.

#0937: Doctor Fate

DOCTOR FATE

DC’s NEW FRONTIER (DC DIRECT)

DrFate4

Over the weekend, it was announced that artist Darwyn Cooke had passed away. While Mr. Cooke may not necessarily have been a household name, his body of work was nothing short of amazing, and his death is a huge loss to the comics community. Cooke spent most of his career working for DC Comics. A lot of his work was used for promotional purposes, but he did have a few prominent runs, as well as several one-shots and miniseries. Perhaps his greatest work was his Elseworlds project DC’s New Frontier, a love letter to late Golden Age and early Silver Age stories from the company. It was successful enough to get an animated adaptation through Warner Brothers, and even got a two series line of figures from DC Direct. In honor of Darwyn Cooke’s legacy, I’ll be looking at my personal favorite figure from that line, Doctor Fate.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

DrFate2Doctor Fate was part of the second series of New Frontier figures from DC Direct. His inclusion in the series was a bit of a shock, since the character doesn’t really have a very prominent role in the comic. Of course, neither did Series 1’s Black Hawk, so perhaps DCD just wanted to have one oddball choice per series. It’s also possible that the figure was requested by Cooke, as is known to happen with lines based on one specific artist’s work. Whatever the case, I don’t think anyone complained about his inclusion in the line. Doctor Fate is about 6 ½ inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation. That’s not a whole lot of movement, but it wasn’t bad for a DCD figure of the time. He’s not going to be getting into any major action poses, but the arms and head offer a pretty good range of possibilities. The figure is, obviously, based on Cooke’s illustrations of Doctor Fate from the comics. He’s not far removed from the classic Doctor Fate; in place of the usual flared gloves, he has a pair of wrist bands. It preserves all the classic Fate styling a, while still adding a nice flair of originality to the design. While some of the other figures in this line exhibited a little bit of difficulty translating Cooke’s style into three dimensions, Doctor Fate’s sculpt does a pretty fantastic job. Something about his general design just really DrFate3brings out the best of Cooke’s work, and results in a really sharp looking figure. The hands have unique posing (I especially love the right hand) and the cape has some of the best flow I’ve seen in a sculpted cape, but the best part of the sculpt is the head. The helmet is a separate piece, though it’s not removable (well, not intentionally, anyway). The use of a separate piece allows for a fully sculpted set of eyes to be visible beneath the helmet, which adds an incredible amount of depth to the figure. Even without there being a whole head below the helmet, the appearance is there. Doctor Fate’s paint work is pretty strong. The colors are well chosen, and nicely match up with the color palette of the books. The application is nice and clean. There isn’t much accent work, but that feels true to the comics. Doctor Fate’s only accessory was a display stand, which was the same stand included with all the New Frontier figures.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Doctor Fate, along with the rest of Series 2 of New Frontier, was a Christmas gift from my parents. Amusingly enough, though he’s my favorite figure from the set, he was the one figure in the Series I wasn’t sure I wanted. I’m happy to say I was wrong, and he’s remained not only my favorite New Frontier figure, but also my favorite version of Doctor Fate (which isn’t as simple a task as you might think).

#0921: Lobo & Ambush Bug

LOBO & AMBUSH BUG

DC MINIMATES

Lobo&Ambushbug1

So, let’s talk DC Minimates.  Two weeks ago, I discussed Play Along’s use of legal loopholes to get out the first DC-based Minimates in the C3 Construction line.  That line unfortunately ended fairly abruptly, leaving a very incomplete collection of characters.  A few years down the road, DC Direct teamed up with Diamond Select Toys, creating an official line of DC Minimates, which offered a more diverse selection of characters.  Sadly, it too was short-lived, lasting only eight series before ending, once again leaving certain groups incomplete.  The diverse selection of characters ended up as both a blessing and a curse; off the wall characters were fun while the line was running, but after the fact the likes of Lobo and Ambush Bug, who I’m reviewing today, seem like wasted slots in a line that didn’t get us important members of the Justice League.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Lobo and Ambush Bug were released in the seventh series of DC Minimates.  They seem like something of an odd pairing, since I don’t believe the two of them have ever interacted.  Of course, they’re both weird, occasionally fourth wall breaking characters with a tendency to parody popular comics conventions of the time.  So, maybe they aren’t such a bad pairing.

LOBO

Lobo&Ambushbug3Lobo is, by and large, a parody of grungy 90s anti-heroes.  So, of course, he had a large fan base who missed the parody bit and took him as a straight character.  I’ve never been much for Lobo, but I did have a soft spot for his teen-spin-off Slobo, who appeared in Young Justice.  But, that’s neither here nor there; let’s talk about Lobo.  The figure is a little under 2 ½ inches tall and he has 12 points of articulation (due to his boots removing the ankle joints).  Lobo has 5 add-on pieces for his hair, vest, hook-chain-thing, and boots.  All of these parts were new to Lobo, but several of them have seen re-use since.  The parts are pretty well sculpted, and do a suitable job of bulking Lobo up a little bit.  Also, the chain on the hook is a real chain, which is a nice touch.  In general, Lobo is a good example of how great the sculpted work was on this line.  Lobo’s paintwork is fairly impressive; he’s fairly monochromatic, but there’s a lot of detailing, especially on the face and torso.  Lobo included no accessories.

AMBUSH BUG

Lobo&Ambushbug2Ambush Bug is one of the weirder characters in the DCU.  He doesn’t really belong to any particular realm of the universe, and he’s almost entirely absent from normal DCU stories, tending to reside in stories set firmly in his own corner of things.  But hey, he was played by Henry Winkler once, which is pretty cool.  Ambush Bug is mostly a vanilla ‘mate, with one small exception: the antennae on his forehead, which are glued in place.  They’re a pretty good translation of his weird antennae from the comics, so that’s good.  Other than that, everything’s done with paint.  He’s actually surprisingly detailed; DCD could have easily just done a blank green body with only detailing on the face, but Ambush Bug has small wrinkles (just like the ones he has in the comics) on just about every surface.  That’s really nice to see and keeps him from being too boring for the average fan.  I suppose they could have done him in his casual wear he’s known to wear in the comics, but this is his classic look, so it’s understandable.  Like Lobo, Ambush Bug includes no accessories.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As with every figure in the DC Minimates line, I picked these two up from Cosmic Comix on the first day they were available.  I’ll admit that I was split on this set; I love Ambush Bug way more than I should, but Lobo’s not my thing.  At the end of the day, both ‘mates are pretty awesome, for totally divergent reasons.  It might be easy to say that these two are part of the reason the line ended so early, but given that the Marvel line just released Dazzler and Howard the Duck together, it’s hard to say.