#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.

#1309: Beast Boy

BEAST BOY

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS

“While traveling to Africa with his scientist parents, Garfield Logan fell victim to a deadly virus and was saved via an experimental treatment that tuned his skin and hair green, in addition to granting him the ability to transform into any animal he imagined. After his parents died in a boating accident, Gar was taken in by the Doom Patrol, a team of misfit heroes that helped him to master his powers.”

It’s kind of odd that his bio mentions the Doom Patrol, but not the Teen Titans.  I’m not complaining, just noting that that’s the way they went.  In regards to DC Universe Classics, I’ve looked at Negative Man, Elasti-Girl, and Robotman.  The only Doom Patrol member they released that I haven’t yet looked at is the aforementioned Beast Boy, adopted son of Elasti-Girl (but we don’t seem to talk about that anymore), and, more prominently, member of the New Teen Titans.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Beast Boy hit in the Walmart-exclusive Series 10 of DC Universe Classics, alongside fellow Doom Patroller Robotman.  The figure stands about 5 1/2 inches tall and has 25 points of articulation.  The sizing on this guy is confusing to say the least.  He’s effectively wearing his costume from the Teen Titans cartoon, which was worked into the comics when Gar rejoined the Doom Patrol after “One Year Later.”  When Gar was wearing this costume in the comics, he was a full-grown adult, but this figure builds him on the small teen male body (introduced on the Series 3 Robin figure), as if he were just the version of BB from the cartoon.  This wouldn’t be a huge issue if the BB-specific parts weren’t clearly meant to be emulating the older Gar from the “One Year Later” storyline, and built with the proportions of an adult.  So, the end result is a Beast Boy that just sort of seems out of scale with just about everything.  I’m fine with Gar being a little smaller than the rest of the Patrol, but a full inch difference seems a little excessive, and he’s actually just flat-out in the wrong scale.  What’s really frustrating is that the actual sculpt really isn’t that bad.  He’s a pretty solid recreation of Gar from this period in the comics, and has a lot of nice little small details, such as the arm hair on his forearms, and even the really sharp work on his shoes.  The hair is a separate piece, which makes its contrast really sharp, and the ears even have the point they gained in later designs.  It’s clear a lot of effort went into this sculpt; he’s simply too small.  The figure’s paint is pretty solid, at least; the colors are a good match for both the comic and the cartoon, and everything is applied pretty cleanly.  There’s not a lot to mess up here, and Mattel succeeded in not messing it up.  Good for them.  Beast Boy included a green falcon (re-used from the MotUC line), meant to emulate his shape-shifting abilities, as well as the right arm of the series’ Collect-N-Connect, Imperiex.  Woo.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Beast Boy is one of the earlier figures I got from this series.  Just after it started hitting Walmart, my dad and I had a few trips just checking our local stores, and he was one of the ones we found.  I’ve always liked Beast Boy, and at the time I was super pumped about getting the Doom Patrol as action figures.  I can acknowledge some of this figure’s merit, and I certainly don’t hate him, but he disappoints me greatly.  He’s kind of a perfect example of DCUC in a nutshell; great in theory, and in 95% of the execution, but there was just enough leeway for Mattel to find a way to screw him up.  They were so close, and yet still so far.

#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.

#1295: Egyptian Catwoman & Batman

EGYPTIAN CATWOMAN & BATMAN

LEGENDS OF BATMAN (KENNER)

In an effort to prevent this site from becoming all Marvel Legends all the time, and risking becoming too monotonous, today I’m going to be looking at a DC-related item.  Just to add a bit of variety.  Now, yesterday, I looked at a caped vigilante of the night with a bit of an Egyptian flair.  Today, I’ll be looking at…a caped vigilante of the night with a bit of an Egyptian flair.  The more things, the more they stay the same, right?  Today’s review takes us once more to Kenner’s Legends of Batman line from the ‘90s.  While prior reviews have focused primarily on the line’s pirate-sub-line, this time we’re looking at another of the goofy reimaginings, with Egyptian Batman and his foe Egyptian Catwoman!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Egyptian Catwoman and Batman were released in 1996 as one of a pair of two-packs in the Legends of Batman line (the other two-pack was the previously reviewed Pirate Two-Face & Pirate Batman).  Like most of the goofy variants from this line, these two were original creations of Kenner, and had no ties to the comics beyond being Batman and Catwoman.

CATWOMAN

Ancient Egypt revered the cat—with the exception of Egyptian Catwoman.  The mightiest woman pharaoh ever to rule, Egyptian Catwoman tainted the royal throne through her misuse of her immense power.  Forcing whole nations into slavery to build her lavish palace, pyramids, and towering monoliths, Egyptian Catwoman was despised and feared throughout the land.  Only her sworn enemy, Egyptian Batman, could stand up to her evil-doings and massive cat-claw battle staff to release her unfortunate subjects from her iron rule.”

Unlike Two-Face, it would seem Egyptian Catwoman is a markedly different character from her main universe character.  With that said, despite what her bio may insist, she doesn’t seem to be all that different from the average Pharaoh, apart from her willingness to fight her own battles.  Guess the cat-claw battle staff helps.  Also, can we address how silly it is that the bio has to call her “Egyptian Catwoman” every time she’s mentioned?  It just sounds kind of silly, especially since those living in ancient Egypt would be very unlikely to throw “Egyptian” in front of their name.  It’d be like me referring to myself as “American Ethan H Wilson” all the time.  Wouldn’t “Pharaoh Catwoman” have been a better choice?  Oh well.  The figure stands about 4 1/2 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation (counting the tail, which turns at its base).  Most of the articulation isn’t of much use, since she’s rather preposed; it’s really only there to let you fine tune things so that she doesn’t fall over so much (whether it actually helps with that issue is debatable).  The sculpt is okay, I guess.  It’s not as good as Pirate Two-Face, but also not as bad as Pirate Batman.  It’s somewhere in between.  The pre-posing is at least a pretty decent pose, which is clearly designed to interact with the Egyptian Batman figure.  In terms of design, she seems to take a good deal of influence from her then current Jim Balent-designed outfit, mostly in terms of color and general layout of the various elements.  There are, of course, the Egyptian-styled elements, which are all pretty decently rendered, if perhaps a bit on the soft side.  The Wolverine claws seem a bit overkill, but there are worse things.  The paint work on Catwoman is acceptable, but far from perfect.  There’s a lot of fuzz around the edges, and the gold paint doesn’t seem to have held up particularly well.  Catwoman includes a headdress (meant to evoke her exposed hair in the comics), as well as the previously mentioned cat-claw battle staff.

BATMAN

“Many years ago, the son of a high-ranking Egyptian official disguised himself as Egyptian Batman and made it his life’s mission to out an end to evil-doers.  He didn’t have to look far for his main target: his own father’s sponsor, Egyptian Catwoman.  Battling the evil, feline pharaoh with only his powerful bat-shield staff and keen intellect as weapons, Egyptian Batman strived to make his homeland a prosperous, peaceful place once again.”

Okay, so here’s my question here: why a bat?  Like, it makes sense for Bruce Wayne, but random Egyptian dude?  Cats work into the whole Egyptian mythology thing, but bats?  I don’t know.  Anyway, the figure stands about 5 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  The articulation works a little better here, since the figure’s a little less preposed, which is a definite plus.  I think Egyptian Batman may well sport my favorite sculpt of the five Legends of Batman figures I’ve looked at so far.  Sure, he’s still got slightly exaggerated proportions and kind of insane muscles, but there’s a sort of balance to it.  I definitely get a Neal Adams sort of vibe from this figure.  The general design is also one of the stronger ones.  It maintains the basics of the classic Batman design, but also perseveres the whole Egyptian aesthetic, in a way that I feel works better than his pack-mate.  I particularly dig the morphing of his traditional bat-ears into more of a jackal sort of design.  It preserves the basic silhouette, but offers something new and different for the figure.  The paint work is pretty straightforward.  It’s mostly pretty clean, and the colors suit the character.  There’s still an issue with the gold paint one this figure, but it seems less present on this guy.  Like Catwoman, Batman includes a headdress, as well as his previously mentioned shield staff, which he has a little trouble holding properly.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like the prior two-pack, I don’t actually remember seeing this set in stores when it was released.  This one I do recall seeing a few times elsewhere over the years, but I just never got around to getting one.  Super Awesome Girlfriend picked this set up for me at the same time as the Pirate set.  I was actually more interested in the pirate set at first (since they go with my other figures), but after opening them both up, this set was actually my favorite of the two, largely due to the pretty awesome Egyptian Batman figure.  If you’re looking for a good jumping on point for this line, you could do a lot worse than this set.

#1273: Green Lantern

GREEN LANTERN

SUPER FRIENDS (FIGURES TOY COMPANY)

Okay, I just had eight solid days of Marvel, how about something else?  It seems only fair to give DC a shot at a review, right?  DC doesn’t really show up here as often as Marvel.  It’s not that I don’t like DC; in fact, I used to be more of a DC guy than a Marvel guy, largely due to DC’s far superior animation presence.  Back in the day, my very favorite super hero was Green Lantern—Hal Jordan, specifically.  And, if I wanted to see him in animation, my only real option was Challenge of the Superfriends.  Not exactly high art, but it still influenced everything that came after (and I’ll take it over the DCEU any day).  While Super Friends got no direct tie-in toys when the show was still on the air, the old Mego figures were a pretty good substitute.  More recently, someone had the absolutely brilliant idea of tying those two styles together officially, offering some of the show’s characters that never got official Mego figures.  A few months ago, I looked at show-original characters the Wonder Twins, and today I’ll be looking at my main man Hal today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Green Lantern was released in Series 4 of Figures Toy Company’s Super Friends line, alongside the Super Friends versions of Cheetah, Bizarro, and Toyman.  As with the previously reviewed Wonder Twins, Hal is a merging of his Super Friends design and the ‘70s Mego aesthetic.  The figure stands about 8 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  He’s built on the Type 2 male body, with modified arms to allow for the attachment of gloved hands.  The quality of this body is more or less the same as Zan’s, but with less issues on the shoulder movement, which is a plus.  Hal makes use of a unique head and hands.  The head isn’t quite as accurate as the ones on Zan and Jayna, but it’s still pretty good.  The face is actually pretty accurate; it’s mostly the hair that throws it off.  It seems a little too close to the head; Super Friends Hal’s hair was pretty bouncy.  That being said, it fits in quite nicely with the old Mego stuff, which is really the point.  The hands are very similar to the ones seen on Zan, albeit with the gestures swapped.  They’re not technically the right style of gloves, but they’re close enough to work.  And, they’re very nicely sculpted, and that’s the important thing.  They also stay on better than Zan’s did, a definite plus.  Hal’s costume is made up of a cloth jumpsuit and a pair of rubber boots.  The tailoring on the costume is quite nice, and the velcro is a lot better than it usually is at this scale.  The boots are a little clunky, but not horribly so; it’s mostly just at the tops.   The figure’s got some paintwork on the head, which is pretty decent overall.  There’s a bit of slight bleed over, especially on the edges of the mask, however it’s mostly pretty minor.  Also, it’s not exclusively paint, but the color scheme on this figure is a really good match for Hal’s colors on the show; one of the problems with DC Direct’s (otherwise pretty cool) Super Friends figures was that they largely just painted the figures like their normal comics counterparts.  FTC has given Hal the proper slightly greyed-out green he always had on the show.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As a kid, I used to play with my Dad’s old Mego figures when I would spend the day at my grandparents’ house.  It gave me an appreciation of the style that most collectors my age wouldn’t have.  However, the one big hole in the collection for me (and every other DC fan) was Green Lantern.  Back before the whole return of Mego craze, I actually assembled my own custom GL Mego using report parts.  I also picked up Mattel’s Retro Action figure when he was released.  I like both of them, but they’re sort of their own thing, removed from the actual Megos.  My parents picked this guy up for me from Midtown Comics while they were there for a trip a couple of months ago.  He feels a lot more like an authentic Mego than the prior figures, which I really dig.  He’s definitely aimed at a very particular demographic, but if that’s you, this is a pretty nifty figure!

#1258: Robotman

ROBOTMAN

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS (MATTEL)

Wasn’t I just talking about DC Universe Classics a few days ago?  Okay, technically it was only in passing, since Catwoman was actually from one of the spin-off lines.  The main line is particularly noteworthy due to just how deep into the DC Universe it went (something that may have contributed to its downfall in the end, unfortunately).  One of my personal favorite subsets from the line was the Doom Patrol, who are one of my favorite DC teams.  I’ve looked at Negative Man and Elasti-Girl, but now it’s time for me to take a look at the team’s final founding (and most consistently present) member, Cliff Steele, better known as Robotman!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Robotman was released in Series 10 of DC Universe Classics, which was the second Walmart-exclusive series in the line.  He was the first member of the Doom Patrol to be released, which was rather sensible, as he’s probably the most popular of the main three.  The figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  There are a few different Robotman looks to choose from, but Mattel went for his classic ‘60s design.  It’s definitely a wise choice; it’s easily his best design, and it’s one he’s returned to a number of times over the years.  Cliff is built on the medium male body, with his own unique head, hands, and upper torso.  The new pieces all fit pretty seamlessly with the pre-existing stuff, and it all does a really great job of capturing Cliff’s retro-sci-fi design.  The head is a pretty decent piece; it’s not quite as streamlined as Cliff frequently was in his classic appearances, but it’s a pretty close match.  That slightly less streamlined appearance is also there due to the removable scalp, which allows us a view at Cliff’s brain.  It’s a pretty fun little touch, which takes this figure from average to awesome.  The upper those isn’t too far removed from the basic piece, but adds a few of Cliff’s extra robotic bits, as well as the video monitor that allowed the Chief to keep in contact with the team when they were on missions.  Also, since the upper torso includes the ridges above each shoulder, some of the shoulder’s size is masked, thus remedying what I find to be the weakest aspect of the basic DCUC body.  Cliff’s paintwork is some of the cleanest DCUC had to offer.  In the comics, he was always just orange, but here he’s more of a copper sort of color, which looks really slick in person.  The black shorts preserve his robot modesty (and also break up the colors a little bit), and there’s some really sharp detailing on the monitor.  The straps for the monitor are a little rough around the edges, but not horribly so.  Robotman’s only extra was the torso of the series Collect-N-Connect figure Imperiex.  It would have been kind of cool to maybe get an extra robotic Chief head from when he replaced Cliff on one of the missions, since poor Niles was never going to get his own figure.  But, that’s honestly pretty issue-specific, and probably a bit much for a character that was already lucky just to be getting a figure at all.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I found most of Series 10 at retail when it was released, but I never had any luck with Robotman.  It was made worse by the fact that I really needed to find a pair of them, since my Dad’s a huge Doom Patrol fan too.  Fortunately, my good friends at All Time Toys came through for me, and I was able to find two Cliff figures for a reasonable price.  Robotman is a great example of the sort of awesome stuff this line could do when they actually put in the effort.  He’s a lower tier character with exceptional execution, and just a really fun figure all around.  As much as I rag on Mattel, this guy is really one of my favorites, and the whole Doom Patrol set is just really fantastic.

#1254: Catwoman

CATWOMAN

BATMAN: LEGACY (MATTEL)

Okay, I’ve really been ragging on Mattel recently.  While they’ve probably earned it, I still like to at least attempt to be even handed with my reviews here.  And, for a while there, Mattel was actually my favorite toy company.    I know, that seems like blasphemy, but when they were really in the swing of things with DC Universe Classics, they were kind of my jam.  As with Toy Biz on Marvel Legends, it’s not a line that’s aged super well, but they were top-notch at the time.  The line was even successful enough to get a few off-shoots, including Batman: Legacy, which gave us a few of the Caped Crusader’s allies and foes, all in that DCUC style.  Today, I’ll be looking at that line’s Catwoman figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Catwoman was released in the third and final series of Batman: Legacy.  While the first two series each offered a Batman and two supporting players, for some reason Series 3 only gave us Selina and 1st Appearance Batman.  Catwoman was officially dubbed a Golden Age figure, and is seen here in what most would consider her “classic” costume.  It was her first official costume (though it showed up seven years after her first appearance), worn until well into the ‘60s, and it even made a brief comeback in the ‘80s, which means it also works for the silver/bronze age incarnation of the character as well.  The point is, it was one of her longer-lived looks, and it was a pretty solid choice.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and has 23 points of articulation.  Due to the long hair, the cape, and the skirt, her movement’s rather restricted, but you can still manage to get a few decent poses out of her.  Structurally, she’s built on Mattel’s second attempt at the female base body.  It was definitely a marked improvement over their first one (seen on Katma Tui), and is about on par with he base male body.  It looks more or less like an actual human, which I suppose is pretty good.  She got her own unique head, lower arms, and hands, and made use of Donna Troy’s boots.  She also had a new add-on for her cape, and re-used the skirt piece from Raven.  She was just stealing all of the Teen Titans’ stuff.  Which is probably in character, when you get down to it.  Clever move Mattel.  The new pieces all matched up pretty well with the pre-existing parts, which is good, and they add-up to a nice recreation of the classic Catwoman appearance.  The head is one of the stronger ones from this era, although I really do wish she’d gotten maybe a more sly facial expression.  She looks a little bit dead inside as it is.  As far as the paint goes, this figure’s pretty solid.  An argument could probably be made for he being a tad less magenta, but she doesn’t look awful in that respect.  The base application is all pretty cleanly applied, and there’s even some halfway decent accent work on the face and the skirt.  Catwoman’s only extra was a display stand, which was the same one included with all of the Legacy figures.  It had a label with her name on it, which I guess was nice.  The fact that she didn’t include her whip seems a bit silly, since Mattel already had one on hand from the last Catwoman and this one’s right hand is very clearly sculpted to be gripping that piece.  I feel that would have been a more exciting extra than the stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After skipping the entirety of Series 1, and then grabbing all of the figures in Series 2, I decided to split the difference on Series 3 and just get Catwoman.  Of course, that may have been slightly motivated by the fact that Batman: Legacy Series 3 were the first figures to hit the $20 mark at retail, which killed my buying buzz a bit.  Still, I was pretty pumped when I found this figure on the pegs at my local Target.  She’s not perfect, but I do think she’s faired a bit better over the years than some of her compatriots.  This was kind of the last hurrah for Mattel’s DC stuff when you get down to it, which is sort of sad.

#1251: Kilowog

KILOWOG

GREEN LANTERN: MOVIE (MATTEL)

You know how I rag on Mattel a lot, but sometimes they still do things right, and I can give them props?  This isn’t one of those times.

2011’s Green Lantern isn’t a particularly well-regarded film.  In a lot of ways, I don’t think it deserves a lot of the hate it gets.  It had the misfortune of being released in a summer already pretty jam-packed with super hero movies, three of which hailed from Marvel and were generally above expectations.  Marvel fans wanted another Iron Man (which, in their defense, is what DC was promoting the film as; not their smartest move) and DC fan’s wanted The Dark Knight.  The end result is really more in line with Tim Burton’s Batman movies.  It definitely could have been better, but it was far from awful.  One of the movie’s better aspects was its cast.  The late Michael Clarke Duncan made his second turn in super hero flick (his first being the similarly maligned Daredevil; I ain’t defending that one!), playing the GL drill sergeant Kilowog.  He got a few figures courtesy of Mattel’s tie-in line.  I’ll be looking at the standard version today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Kilowog was released in the first series of Green Lantern figures, which hit about a month or so before the movie’s release.  The figure stands about 4 1/2 inches tall and has 8 points of articulation.  The articulation scheme on these figures was really strange; it’s not totally out of the ordinary to see lesser articulated figures in the 3 3/4-inch scale, but these figures randomly had extra shoulder joints, which tend to come after elbows and knees in the articulation hierarchy.  Also, while Hasbro’s started offering more lower POA figures as of late, their competing figures from 2011’s Thor and Captain America lines were fully articulated.  Heck, even Mattel’s own DC Infinite Heroes line was fairly decently articulation.  I’m not really sure why these figures were so out of sync with everything around them.  I’m getting distracted.  Sorry.  Kilowog had a unique sculpt initially, but it would eventually be reused for a number of variants as the line progressed.  It’s a reasonable translation of Kilowog’s movie design.  Of course, the problem with that is that his movie design wasn’t really their strongest.  I mean, it’s nice that he didn’t have the same muscle striation thing that Hal did, but he’s just for of lumpy looking.  Also, they seriously tweaked the shape of his head, which always bugged me; he looks more like Shrek than Kilowog.  Objectively speaking, the head on this figure was definitely the best part.  It’s actually so detailed that it looks rather out of place on the smooth and mostly featureless body.  They almost look like they belong to different figures.  Also, note that once again Mattel has made no attempt to work the articulation into the sculpt.  It’s especially bad at the waist, where there’s really no good reason to have a joint that obvious.  Like many of this line’s figures, Kilowog’s feet are bent back a little too far, which results in a lot of falling on his back.  Getting the two photos for this review was no small feat.  As far as paint, Kilowog was okay, but suffers from a very similar issue as with the sculpt.  The head has some very nice, very subtle work, which makes him look really lifelike.  Then the body seems to just let the paint go where it goes.  One thing that really frustrated me with this whole line was the inconsistency of the greens.  Pretty much ever lantern had their own shade, which was really odd, since that wasn’t true onscreen.  Was it really that hard to pick on pantone number and stick with it?  Each figure in the line included their own construct piece to slip over their ring hand.  Kilowog actually didn’t get a proper construct, but instead got the larger hand adapter piece, which allowed for him (and other larger figures) to make use of the constructs included with smaller figures.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up a handful of the GL movie figures when they were first released, during my pre-movie excitement, and Kilowog was one of those figures.  No figure in this line is particularly noteworthy, but Kilowog was probably the best the line had to offer.  He’s got his issues, but he’s also got some saving graces, which is more than can be said about a lot of the line.

Flashback Figure Friday #0008: Robin

Hey, look at that, I missed another Friday.  Last week was pretty jam-packed, and I barely had the time to right Friday’s main review, much less a second feature.  Nevertheless, I apologize to all of you who were expecting one of these last week!

This week’s Flashback Friday Figure Addendum is actually less an addendum, and more me going back and finally writing a proper review for #0166: Robin.  Why?  You’ll see in a second.

Okay guys and gals, hang on tight. The site is about to go off! No, not like “off” off. It’s still gonna be here. It’s going off in a metaphorical sense, because today, we’ll be looking at one of the greatest entries into the world of action figures ever.

This figure hails from the very first Batman line released once Mattel had picked up the DC license. I know I’ve been hard on Mattel in the past, but it’s only because I’ve been trying to hold them to the standards they set for themselves so early into their run. You see, this Batman line was important, but not for the ways you think. Oh, sure the Batmen were cool and all (especially those sweet neon colored gun-toting variants!), but the real star of this line was Robin! So, let’s have a look at the greatest toy to ever grace shelves!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Robin was the flagship figure of the first series of Batman. He was the real heavy hitter of the wave, there so that Mattel could take chances on the Joker and Martial Arts Batman. He stands about 5 inches tall, and has 10 points of articulation, which may seem like a low number, but they had to take that awesome sculpt into account. Speaking of that awesome sculpt: has Robin ever looked this cool before? I mean, they really out did themselves. I’ve always found that a bad head sculpt can ruin a great figure. In this case, Mattel has wisely chosen to leave off the head so as to avoid any potential issue. This is the first time I’ve ever truly believed that Robin could make people think he’s anyone other than Tim Drake. I mean, Tim Drake has a head and Robin doesn’t. Can’t be the same guy! I’d also love to commend Mattel on the body sculpt, which perfectly captures Robin’s physique. I mean, those muscles are so realistic! And the torso’s straight posture coupled with the relaxed muscles everywhere else? Perfection. I’m heartbroken to say that I lost the accessories included with Robin. He had his ever present Blade-Shield thingy with his logo on it, which was such an important staple of the character at the time. It even launched discs! Who doesn’t need one of those?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I knew as soon as I saw the prototype pictures of this figure back in 2003 that it was going to be the figure to own. So, naturally, I spent all my time searching for this figure at every nearby store, day and night. Eventually I found one, and after sucker punching a four year old and his grandmother to get it, finally the figure was in my possession!

Yeah, so this was my first April Fool’s Day post.  It’s almost quaint, isn’t it?  This review was more a joke thing than anything.  Now a days, I’d have written the review both ways, but the figure was quite incomplete at the time.  Since I finally found this guy’s freaking head, I guess I can actually review him now!

The figure, officially titled “Battle Board Robin,” was released in the first series of Mattel’s 2003 Batman line.  Robin stands about 6 inches tall and has 11 points of articulation.  The main hook of this line at the time was that they’d brought in the Four Horsemen (who had just helped Mattel relaunch Masters of the Universe) to sculpt most of the figures, including the Bat-variants.  There was one exception to this in the first series.  Care to guess who it was?  Yep, it was this here Robin figure, which was handled by Mattel’s in-house team.  In their defense, it’s actually a decent enough sculpt.  It doesn’t look quite as good as the  prototype did, but what figure does?  His muscles are sort of impossible, and I’ve always disliked how stiff he was, bit there are some nice things about the sculpt.  The boots in particular look pretty solid.  But how about that head that I finally found after all these years?  Well, full disclosure: the reason it was missing when I found him was because I had fully intended to replace it with another one.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t particularly good at sculpting at 12, so the replacement I made wasn’t much better.  Ultimately, this one’s okay, but not my favorite Robin head.  I think it’s got a lot to do with the hair, which just doesn’t really look like anything Tim ever sported.  Also, still missing from the figure is his cape.  It was just two pieces of fabric glued together, and was too thick and short to actually hang realistically.  It’s kind of exhibit A of why I prefer capes to be sculpted.  In terms of paint, this figure was fairly basic colors.  For some reason the gloves are black.  Don’t know why, never did.  The accents on the muscles and some of the other sculpted work actually weren’t standard to the figure; I added them around the time that I tried replacing the head.  I really wanted to salvage this figure for some reason.  His only accessory was his titular Battle Board, which was really just a disc launcher than he could also stand on.  It was an odd choice.

There’s actually not a particularly exciting figure regarding the acquisition of this figure.  He, Joker, and the basic (Zipline) Batman were all really hard to find when these figures started hitting stores.  I eventually found him at the KB Toys near where my family vacationed (I got him alongside some Star Trek: Nemesis figures.  Oh what a joyous day that was).  He’s not awful, but he’s also not super great.  The saddest thing is that Mattel never actually returned to this design for Robin (apart from an inaccurate repaint of the later DCUC figure), so this is the best there is from them.   

#1243: Mr. Freeze

MR FREEZE

DC COMICS MULTIVERSE (MATTEL)

What am I reviewing today? <checks review docket> Mr. Freeze.  DC Comics Multiverse.  Mattel.  *sigh* Well, I’m sure this’ll be a joyous review.

Okay, so my hate for Mattel is no secret, nor is my general dislike of their current DC line, dubbed DC Comics Multiverse, which, in its small-scale form, never even came close to living up to that name.  Might as well have called it “Batman & Friends: Arkham Style (and also three ‘80s movies that get two figures each).”  Yes, there was more than a small focus on the Arkham games in this line.  And that’s not inherently bad; the Arkham games were a popular series, and a solid source of cool toys; but there’s a whole lot more DC out there, and returning to the days of no one but Batman getting any toys doesn’t exactly thrill me (the larger scale line looks like it’s avoiding this for now, which is good).  Anyway, I don’t hate Batman or his rogue’s gallery, so I’m not completely unwilling to pick up the stray figure here and there.  One of my all time favorite Bat-Villains is Mr. Freeze, who I’ll be looking at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mr Freeze was released in the very first series of DC Comics Multiverse figures from Mattel.  He’s based on his appearance in Arkham City, the second Arkham game.  It’s not a terrible Freeze design; it feels a little over  complicated for my taste, but it fits alright with the rest of the Arkham game aesthetic, which I guess is really the main point.  The figure stands a little over 4 inches tall and has 17 points of articulation.  The articulation is like a lot of the other figures in this line, where the lower half has reasonable movement, but the upper half is mostly pretty restricted.  Freeze’s shoulder pads in particular limit when can be done with his arms.  Also, the lack of bicep movement is a real killer on Freeze, since it means he cant hold his freeze gun with both hands.  Freeze’s sculpt was all-new to him, and it’s honestly one of the best sculpts this line had to offer.  There are some slight oddities to the proportions, especially when it comes to the placement of the pelvis.  The feet also are a bit clown shoe-y, which looks pretty goofy.  The head and helmet is a pretty solid implementation; his head is connected to the waist joint, which subverts the usual issues with neck movement on Mr. Freeze figures, so that’s something Mattel actually did right.  The paint on Freeze is decent enough.  It’s pretty straight forward work, with solid color work, and no real accent work to speak of.  The application is all pretty clean, and he has some brighter colors that help him stand out from the pack a bit.  Mr. Freeze is packed with his freeze gun, which as I noted above, he can only hold one handed.  It doesn’t look awful that way, so I guess it’s not the end of the world.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As with Knightfall Batman and Detective Mode Bane, Mr. Freeze was given to me by Super Awesome Girlfriend, who purchased him for me during one of her stress-buying sprees.  I gotta say, I came into this review kinda down on this figure, but I’ve come out the other side actually kind of liking this guy.  I mean, he’s still far from perfect, but he’s certainly not as bad as the last few Mattel items I’ve looked at.