GREEN LANTERN: FIRST FLIGHT (MATTEL)
As we come to the close of 2019, we also come to the close of Mattel’s 17 year run with the DC Comics toys license. Their run with the license had its share of ups and downs as they stumbled their way through the boys toys market. They definitely hit their biggest success with DC Universe Classics, a line of super-articulated 6-inch figures, but just as they launched that line, their competitors at Hasbro opted to shrink their Marvel lines down to 3 3/4 inches. Mattel followed with DC Infinite Heroes, a line that was…not very good. After launching in 2008, they were already pretty much dead at retail by 2009. It did hang in there til the end of ’09, and in typical Mattel fashion, they started to get the hang of things just before giving up. One of the line’s better offerings wasn’t from the line proper, but was instead a pack-in with 2009’s direct to video Green Lantern: First Flight movie.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Green Lantern was available exclusively at Best Buy, packed in with the DVD and Blu-Ray releases of First Flight. Though he doesn’t bear any official Infinite Heroes markings, he was constructed from mostly IH parts, albeit ones that hadn’t shown up at retail yet when he hit. The figure is a little shy of 3 3/4 inches tall (noticably smaller than Hasbro’s Marvel Universe offerings) and has 22 points of articulation. The body used here is Mattel’s second attempt at a standard male body, which was a huge improvement on the first. The only piece shared between the two was the torso, arguably the only part of the body worth keeping. The articulation is almost double, meaning that you could actually, you know, pose the figure. It’s still a little backwards compared to the likes of MU, with only cut joints at the neck and hips, but at least he could move his wrists and ankles and get some side to side motion on the arms and legs. The proportions are also a lot better; they’re still not a perfect set-up, but at least he doesn’t have those frightening monster hands. The new joints weren’t the most resilient, though, and the cut joints at the wrists in particular were prone to tearing, which happened with the left arm on mine. That said, IH had breakage problems from early on, so this wasn’t exactly a step back. GL’s one new part was the head, which was patterned on his animated appearance. It’s not a bad sculpt, and actually works pretty decently for a comics Hal as well (which is why Mattel ended up re-using it for comics Hal later down the line). The paint work on Hal is okay, nothing amazing. It lacks some of the smaller details of the costume from the movie, and there are some odd choices like not lining the edge of his armband up with the arm joint, but it’s not awful.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
When Infinite Heroes launched, I picked up a few of the figures to give it a try, but ultimately wasn’t that impressed and backed out of the line. However, when First Flight was released, it was right on top of my birthday that year, and my brother was absolutely committed to getting me the deluxe version, figure and all, and had my parents drive him around to a couple of Best Buys in order to make sure he could get me one. This figure is honestly pretty good, and if Mattel had put out figures like this at the launch, then maybe Infinite Heroes wouldn’t have been such a flop.