DC COMICS MULTIVERSE (MATTEL)
Following the super hero comics boom of the ’40s, there was something of a comics crash in the ’50s, which resulted in the demise of a great many of the smaller companies that had cropped up. Perhaps the only company not completely decimated by the end of the Golden Age was National Comics, who would eventually become DC Comics (after their best-selling book, Detective Comics. Yes, their full name is Detective Comics Comics). They promptly went about buying up many of the other failed comics businesses, thus amassing a large selection of other companies characters to add to their growing universe. Amongst those companies purchased was Quality Comics, whose biggest characters (barring Plastic Man and the Blackhawks) would be integrated in the DC mythos as the Freedom Fighters, a team of super heroes from Earth-X, a parallel Earth where the Nazis won World War II. Following the collapse of the DC Multiverse during Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Freedom Fighters were worked back into the main DCU and one of their members, The Ray, was given a reasonably successful reboot. Ray Terrill was the son of Langford “Happy” Terrill, the original Ray, and was born with sun-based super powers. This legacy take on the Ray built up quite a cult following, but despite that spent the first 26 years of his existence with absolutely no toys. For shame! (EDIT: I forgot the JLU figure. Of course, that one wasn’t really available to most collectors, so I think my point still stands. But I was technically wrong. Technically).
THE FIGURE ITSELF
The Ray is part of the “Lex Luthor Series” of the DC Comics Multiverse line, which was the second comic-based assortment following Mattel’s attempt at retooling the line at the beginning of 2018. It technically hit shelves in November, but “technically” is the magic word here. Experiences were very mixed on that. Ray is based on his recent re-appearance in the DCU, following his book’s re-launch under the “Rebirth” heading. The design is different from his prior designs, but keeps the same general spirit, and is just generally a pretty solid design. The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation. His size means he actually scales okay with Marvel Legends, which is actually kind of a first for a mainstream DC figure. Also, can you believe it, that’s actually an all-new sculpt on a comic figure. Yes, after a decade of use, it appears Mattel finally realized it was time to retire the DCUC body, and Ray is on a new base body, which I would imagine is the same one being used for the Batman Beyond, Kyle Rayner, and Kid Flash that are just now hitting. It’s…actually not bad. It’s not quite as sleek as a Legends body, but it’s certainly a lot less clunky than the prior bodies, and it’s certainly nice to get a DC male who’s not smuggling bowling balls in his shoulders. Most of the articulation’s even got decent range to it. Look at those elbows! They go deeper than 90 degrees. About the only real complaint I have is that he can’t quite get his arms down flat at his sides. But he can still get into a good pose and actually hold it, which is certainly a breath of fresh air after years of getting the slowly degrading DCUC molds and their soft-detailed, loose-jointed spawn. Even the paintwork is pretty darn good. The gold is a nice hue, which stands out well from both the white and the black (often times, it’ll get lost on one of them), and the application’s nice and sharp. There aren’t any obvious missing applications, and everything is cleanly applied, with minimal slop. They’ve managed to keep the color scheme nice and striking, which is really one of the most appealing things about the character. Ray was packed with an extra head and hands, as well as the arms for the Lex Luthor CnC (missing from my figure). The head is the same as the standard, but with grin instead of the more stoic standard look. It’s a small change, and I might have preferred an unmasked head or something, but I’d rather have this than nothing. The hands swap out fists for gripping. Why gripping? He doesn’t have anything to hold, right? Well, he was originally shown off with some effects pieces, but they got cut along the way, thereby making the hands kind of without purpose. But, like the head, I’d rather have them than not. Plus, it’s another positive change after years of figures getting stuck with open grip hands.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
Okay, you’ve gotten all the way through this thing, and you, the faithful reader, might be sitting here wondering why I didn’t post this positive review of a Mattel figure yesterday, since it must clearly be some kind of prank. Mattel’s been producing some of the worst “collector” figures on the market for years. I mean, they couldn’t possibly have produced something decent, let alone actually good, could they? Hey, I’m as surprised as you. When the prototype for Ray was shown, I thought he looked alright, but Mattel’s been doing okay prototypes for god-awful figures for a little while. I kind of expected him to follow suit. And then like a year passed and I forgot he existed, and really wasn’t even sure he would ever see the light of day. I never actually saw this assortment or the one that preceded it at retail, but a loose Ray was traded-in with a collection that came in at All Time Toys, and I decided to snag him. I’m glad I did, because he’s really good. Kind of a shame Mattel couldn’t have improved these figures sooner and kept the license.