#2391: Atom

ATOM

DC’S LEGENDS OF TOMORROW (DC COLLECTIBLES)

In October of 2017, I reviewed Mattel’s take on Brandon Routh’s Atom from Legends of Tomorrow.  It may be the greatest letdown I ever experienced under Mattel’s tenure with the license, and given how badly they ran things for the last five years or so, that’s saying something.  Don’t drink and buy toys, guys.  The thing about the figures from the CW shows was that both Mattel and DC Collectibles had their proverbial fingers in the pie, and that meant we got multiple options for several of the characters.  As a rule, I tended to go with the DCC versions, but Mattel’s Atom got the jump on DCC, which is why I got that one.  I always meant to get the DCC version as a follow-up, but, well, I didn’t.  Until now, anyway.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Atom was figure 3 in the Legends of Tomorrow line from DC Collectibles.  He hit shelves in late 2017, and was in an assortment that also included Kid Flash and White Canary, though as is often the case with DCC figures, the assortment had no bearing on them actually getting to stores together.  As such, Atom hit a bit after the other two.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall and he has 26 points of articulation.  The Multiverse Atom was pretty awful in the articulation category, as was true of most Multiverse figures of the time.  This one’s not perfect by any means; after all, he’s DCC, and they have mega troubles with articulation, too.  As much as I liked the Kid Flash from this same assortment, his articulation did leave some things to be desired.  There are definitely some spots on this guy, notably the hips and the mid-torso joint, which aren’t sporting a lot of range, and in fact feel a bit like they may break if pushed much beyond their basic positioning.  He also comes from the period after DCC decided that lateral movement on the legs didn’t need to be a standard thing (the decision that pretty much killed my interest in their Batman: Animated line), but at least in Atom’s case, they did manage to make it work so that it doesn’t completely ruin the figure’s posing options.  Additionally, the rest of the joints all have some pretty solid range on them.  I mean, this guy can actually bend his arms!  That’s crazy.  Matty Atom can’t do that!  I also quite like how they’ve articulated the shoulder pads so that they don’t hinder his movement; it woks very well.  The articulation is far better worked into the sculpt on this guy than it was on the Mattel one, which is funny, given that it’s far more useful on this guy.  His sculpt is a pretty solid recreation of the suit design from the show.  The detailing is all pretty sharp, and the layering works to make him look convincingly like a guy in a suit of armor.  The whole face is sculpted on this one, and it’s a respectable likeness of Routh.  He’s got a separate visor piece, which again helps selling the depth on the sculpt.  Paintwork on this guy is pretty decent.  Mostly it’s just basic work, but there aren’t any missing details, and I do quite like the metallic finish on the blue sections of his armor.  It works far better than the flat blue on the Mattel figure.  The visor is actually a clear blue plastic piece, unlike the solid black that Matty went for.  This guy is packed with four sets of hands (fists, gripping, open, and fists with a blast effect), as well as jet effects to plug into the back of the suit.  It’s a shame we didn’t get an unmasked head, but given how Mattel’s attempt went, maybe it’s for the best.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I intended to pick this guy up as soon as he was released, because I was just really let down by that Matty figure, but he ended up being one of the figures that DCC didn’t really get out to everyone.  My LCS didn’t get him at all, and I just never did get around to ordering one online.  By the time I thought about it, he had gotten a little pricey.  In the midst of being stuck at home, I ended up looking around again, and happened to find him through a third party seller on Walmart.com of all places, for about a third of his going rate.  I was a little skeptical and was fully expecting to receive the Matty figure instead, but was pleasantly surprised when the correct figure arrived.  He’s not perfect, but he’s so much better than the other figure, and I’m glad I finally tracked him down.

#1441: The Atom

THE ATOM – DC’s LEGENDS OF TOMORROW

DC COMICS MULTIVERSE (MATTEL)

Oh dear.  It’s a Mattel review.  DC Comics Multiverse even.  This don’t look good….

In effort to at least try to get off to a good start, I’m going to talk about some more pleasant things.  Just over a week ago, I was mentioning that DC’s actually got a pretty good slate of live action TV shows running right now.  Flash and Supergirl are solid straight super hero shows, but over in the eclectic odd-ball corner, there’s Legends of Tomorrow, which is pretty consistently fun.  Part of its success lies in spinning off some of the breakout characters from The Flash and Arrow, including today’s focus, Ray Palmer, aka the Atom.  I’ve been a fan of the character for quite some time, and Brandon Routh’s portrayal of him in Arrow and Legends is always enjoyable.  I’ve been patiently waiting for him to get a figure from *someone* and it looks like Mattel was first up to the bat.  I really like this character and his design, so I’m going to try very hard to like this figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Atom (or should I say “FGC12,” since that’s how he’s listed on  the back of the box.  Yes, it looks like Mattel forgot to swap out the actual character names for the assortment numbers when the box went to print.  I can’t wait for kids to try and beg their parents to buy them DWM60 figure to go with their Robin) was released in the “Rookie” series of DC Comics Multiverse figures, which started hitting towards the end of the summer.  Atom is based on his slightly upgraded design from the second season of Legends, which I think is a slightly stronger look than the earlier design.  The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 22 points of articulation.  As with the last few Multiverse figures I’ve looked at, the articulation count is largely theoretical.  This figure hasn’t met a joint it couldn’t limit.  The neck is a balljoint that operates as a simple swivel.  The shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees all get less than 45 degrees of movement, so sitting poses and any real flying pose are out of the question.  There are ankle joints present, but they don’t seem to actually do anything, so I’m not sure what they’re supposed to be accomplishing.  They’ve foregone the ab-crunch completely this time, which I suppose is better than the essentially useless one found on the Suicide Squad figures.  At least this way the sculpt isn’t needlessly broken up.  Well, in that one place, anyway.  Despite it’s lack of actual effectiveness, most all of the articulation is out there, naked, on display.  Noticeable gaps in the sculpt somehow still leave the joints insanely restricted.  How do you do that? You be Mattel, that’s how.  The figure’s sculpt is all new, and it’s not atrocious.  The details are certainly sharper than on a lot of the TV/Movie figures that Mattel’s offered in the line.  The suit pieces certainly don’t look terrible.  That said, the underlying body is definitely off, though.  The neck’s really skinny and leaves the head sitting too high, the forearms almost look backwards, and the legs are very tube-shaped and inorganic.  He’s also got that hideous hip construction that Mattel seems dead-set on saddling every one of their live-action figures with.  The best I can say about this sculpt is that the whole is the slightest bit better than the sum of its parts; the complete figure looks okay.  The paintwork on this figure is a bit better than some of Mattel’s other offerings.  There aren’t any glaringly missing applications, and the work seems to be overall pretty clean.  If you want to get nitpicky, the visor shouldn’t be solid black like it is, but it’s not terribly far off from the Season 2 design.  Atom is packed with a smaller version of himself, which is a pretty standard extra for Atom figures.  It’s decent enough, but it’s rather hard to keep standing.  There’s also an unmasked Ray Palmer head, which is cool in theory, but not so much in practice.  It doesn’t really look like Routh at all, it’s too large for the body, and it’s really, really shiny.  Of course, seeing as it’s a Mattel accessory, I suppose we should just be glad he doesn’t have “CHINA” stamped right across his forehead.  Lastly, Atom has both the head and pelvis of the Rookie Collect-N-Connect.  Apparently Rookie is the name they assigned to Commissioner Gordon’s big Batman suit.  Was that really a name associated with that suit? Because I don’t believe I ever heard it referred to as such.  Bleh, I’m getting side-tracked again.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Okay, I’ve been burned by Multiverse before.  I don’t really like this line.  Why did I buy another one?  Honestly, I just really wanted a TV Atom figure.  I found this guy at Walmart while I was moving in August, and he just sort of called to me.  I wanted to like him, I really did, but as soon as I took him out of his packaging, I found myself immediately let-down.  Mattel’s articulation has been weak before, but I think this figure may be a new low on that front.  The best you’ll be able to get from him is a semi-decent standing pose.  That’s it.  And, unfortunately, unlike the DCC TV Supergirl, who was also articulation-challenged, Atom’s sculpt isn’t high enough caliber for me to feel his lack of movement is justified.  Instead, he’s just another below average figure.  And that kind of sucks.  I was really rooting for this figure.  I don’t entirely hate him.  He looks okay in that standing pose.  But he’s hardly fun.  For what may be the first time ever, I wish I’d left a toy in its packaging.  At least that way I wouldn’t know just how disappointing he is, right?  DCC’s releasing their own take on Atom in a month or so.  I guess I’ll see how that one turns out.

#1412: Micron

MICRON

JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED (MATTEL)

By the time Batman Beyond hit the air, Hasbro had fully absorbed Kenner and had also given up almost entirely on actually doing complete tie-in toy lines for the DC cartoons.  So, their Beyond line was mostly comprised of weird variants of the title character, with only a handful of supporting players offered, and even then in very altered states.  The Beyond characters largely went un-released until Mattel decided to expand the reach of their Justice League Unlimited line, and go beyond just items based on that show.  It’s only fair that this expanded line would include members of the team actually *called* the Justice League Unlimited, which covers today’s figure, Micron, the team’s legacy replacement for the Atom!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Micron was released in 2012 as part of Mattel’s Justice League Unlimited line.  He was originally packed alongside his teammate Aquagirl and the future version of Static Shock.  Both he and Aquagirl never actually showed up in Justice League Unlimited, but at this point, the line had more of an anthology thing going on.  The figure stands about 4 1/4 inches tall and has 5 inches tall.  He was built using the small male body, with a new head.  While the base body was decent enough for Micron in terms of build, he definitely seems a little small.  Just one of the sacrifices of doing a line based on this sort of model, I suppose.  Also, as a later in the line figure, he’s got the really weak ankles that plagued a lot of these guys, meaning he falls over at the drop of a hat.  It gets rather annoying.  The head is a pretty nice recreation of Micron’s look from “The Call,” though it does seem a touch too big for the body.  Still, not terrible.  The rest of the work is all in the paint, which is pretty decent overall.  The application is clean, and work on his logo is certainly sharp.  The red’s a good shade, but the blue seems a little light.  It’s hard to say, because in the show, the blue sections of his costume were actually black with blue highlights, so how that’s supposed to translate into an actual figure is anyone’s guess.  Micron included no accessories, not even a little mini Micron, which seems like a real missed opportunity.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When “The Call” aired originally, I actually missed most of part 1, meaning I missed almost the entirety of Micron’s role in the show.  It wasn’t for several years that I actually got to see him in action.  As a fan of the Atom, I was always intrigued by his design, and certainly would have gotten a figure of him when the show was still on.  By the time Mattel released this guy, I had largely given up on JLU, and wasn’t really following it.  I ended up getting this guy just this past summer, fished out of a bin of loose figures at Yesterday’s Fun.  He’s not super thrilling, or anything, but he’s not a bad figure.

#1156: Justice Guild

THE STREAK, TOM TURBINE, BLACK SIREN, & GREEN GUARDSMAN

JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED (MATTEL)

justiceguild1

Some of the best characters are the ones that come about because creative teams aren’t allowed to use a pre-existing character.  One of the most famous examples of this is Watchmen, which was originally meant to make use of DC’s recently acquired Charlton characters.  DC seems to do this to their creators rather frequently, as this also cropped up a few times during the course of the DC Animated Universe.  My particular favorite of these was The Justice Guild of America, from the Justice League episode “Legends.”  The episode was originally drafted with the Justice Society in mind, but was ultimately changed when DC decided the direction of the story didn’t fit how they wanted the JSA portrayed.  Fortunately, this worked out pretty well, as it gave the creators more free reign with the characters, and resulted in one of the most entertaining entries in Justice League.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These four were released as one of Matty Collector-exclusive four-packs from Mattel’s Justice League Unlimited line.  Now, it’s a Mattel review, so you’re probably already expecting a bit of Mattel hate.  Well, here it is:  Who in their right mind releases a four-pack based on a five member team?  On top of that, one of the four members released here is Black Siren, who is part of a duo with the unreleased member Catman.  The back of her box even has Catman in both of the screen shots of her!  Were they just rubbing it in our faces?  Seeing as the four-packs were actually just four single-carded figures packed together, and thus there wasn’t an issue of needing to redo the packaging, couldn’t they just have made this a five-pack?  Or, if they really felt the need to go with arbitrary number schemes, couldn’t they have just made it a six-pack and just thrown in a Green Lantern figure to round the set out?  No, that would be sensible.  Can’t have that, especially not on a Matty Collector-exclusive.  It wouldn’t be right!  Okay, I vented, let’s actually look at the figures.

THE STREAK

justiceguild2The Streak possessed super speed and was the leader of the Justice Guild of America, a team of Super Heroes from a simpler time.  Things got complicated when a group of strange heroes calling themselves the Justice League visited their home town of Seaboard City.” The Streak is the Guild’s answer to Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash.  As such, he takes a lot of design cues from Garrick, but trades out Jay’s more unique helmet for an old-school racing helmet. The figure stands about 4 1/2 inches tall and has 5 points of articulation.  He’s built on the mid-sized body (patterned on Green Lantern’s sculpt), which is a good fit for him.  He has an all-new head, as well as new legs to add in his boot cuffs.  The new pieces do a pretty good job of capturing his look on the show, and the head in particular is a very good rendition of the Streak’s look.  The paint on the Streak is bright, clean, and bold, which are all good things.  The red is noticeably brighter than the JLU version of the Flash (as it should be).  As a whole, this is a design that looks really good as an action figure.

TOM TURBINE

justiceguild4A power belt allowed Tom Turbine to generate energy as needed.  He and The Justice Guild protected Seaboard City for years, though between missions he continued to work on his pet project: a gateway capable of piercing the dimensional barriers between multiple earths!” Tom Turbine actually has a couple of analogues in the JSA.  While he actually replaced Al Pratt’s the Atom in “Legends,” and borrows from the Atom in a few areas of design, as well as stature, he also has a similar power set and limitations to Hourman, as well as the general demeanor of Mr. Terrific.  This results in him being by far the most unique of the five Justice Guilders, as well as the most rounded.  He’s built on the same medium body as the Streak, but the only piece that’s actually shared is the torso.  The head, arms, and legs are all unique to this figure, and he’s also got an add-on for his belt.  These new pieces are alright, though I can’t say any of them are as spot-on as the Streak.  The legs make him a little shorter, but it’s not actually enough to be all that noticeable.  I do like that the arms have two fists, since that’s sort of key to the character, but I can’t help but sort of wish they’d just sculpted them into the hands on the hips pose he sported a few times in the episode, since it’s not like the articulation’s good for anything anyway.  The head’s really where the accuracy slips up a bit.  It’s close, but just too squared off for Tom, who was slightly rounder in the face.  Tom’s paintwork is pretty solid.  The colors match up with those seen on the show, and everything’s pretty clean.  The change between the neck and the yellow of his shirt isn’t quite as overt as I’d like, but it’s hard to say what they could have done to fix that.

BLACK SIREN

justiceguild5A nuclear blast destroyed the world Black Siren fought to protect, along with the other members of the Justice Guild.  Then the world and the Guild were back, returned to life by the mental powers of Ray Thompson.  When the truth was revealed, the Guild has to destroy everything again – including themselves.”  Okay, seriously?  That’s Black Siren’s bio?  It’s not even about Black Siren!  It’s just a synopsis of “Legends” (and not even a particularly good one, at that).  I’m guessing Siren got the short end of the stick on bios, since any actual bio for her would have to mention Catman, and we wouldn’t want to remind everyone we left him out.  Of course, this bio mentions Ray, who was also never released, so zero points there.  Second round of venting done.  Okay, so Black Siren was based on Black Canary, who would eventually be properly brought into the show when the roster was expanded.  Her partnership with Catman is patterned on Black Canary’s frequent partnering with Wildcat (another thing that would be properly brought into the show later down the line).  Ultimately, Black Siren is kind of the shallowest character introduced in “Legends,” with her main purpose being to showcase the casual sexism of a bygone era.  Anyway, her figure is built on the standard female body, which wasn’t really one of the stronger bases they had at their disposal.  The legs are oddly spaced, causing the arms to bash into them, and pretty much all of the articulation is useless.  For her part, Black Siren got a unique head sculpt, which is a reasonable enough piece, I suppose.  The jawline seems a bit solid for Siren, but it’s not the worst.  Now, she really should also have a unique set of legs to properly replicate the boots, since those bands should be three-dimensional, but she just get’s the normal legs.  It seems odd that everyone else got all the pieces they needed and she didn’t.  The paintwork on Siren is pretty good overall.  The application is pretty solid and crisp.  Most of the colors match, but the lavender sections should be a more straight grey to be totally show accurate.  Siren is the only figure in the set to get an accessory: a display stand.  It’s good, because she can’t stand without it.  Of course, this is really the sort of thing that should have been standard for all of the figures.

GREEN GUARDSMAN

justiceguild3Powerless against anything aluminum, the Green Guardsman used his power ring to protect Seaboard City as a member of the Justice Guild.  A young John Stewart, who would grow up to become Green Lantern, read comic books of his adventures!” That’s a better bio, I suppose, but the bit about John seems really tacked on.  John doesn’t really interact with Green Guardsman at all.  So, in case it wasn’t obvious, Green Guardsman takes the place of Alan Scott, the Golden Age Green Lantern.  Like the other male figures in the set, Guardsman is built on the medium male body, with a unique head and an add-on piece for the cape.  The head’s okay, but probably the weakest of those included in the set.  It’s looks a little smooshed at the front.  The cape would actually go on to be shared with Alan Scott himself later on the line.  It’s a decent enough piece, but it makes him really difficult to keep standing.  The paintwork on Green Guardsman is about on par with the rest of the set.  It’s bright and bold, and the lifework is all pretty clean.  The only real nit is that the ring gets kind of lost on the hand.  Maybe an outline or something would have made it stand out?  Guardsman includes no accessories.  While that’s somewhat more forgivable with the others, this guy would have really benefited from some constructs or something.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When this set hit Matty Collector, I had pretty much completely checked out of the JLU line, and Matty Collector too.  Turns out, a pretty large portion of the collector-base had done the same thing, which meant this, and a lot of the other sets from the same time period ended up being marked down on Matty Collector and later closed out and made available at a number of other retailers.  I ended up finding these four at Power Comics on small business Saturday, for a rather good price.  I’m still not happy about Catman being left out, especially since he’s never, ever going to get a figure at this point.  That being said, the rest if the figures are pretty cool, and I guess some are better then none.

#0728: Atom

ATOM

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS

AtomGADCUC1

Sometimes, there are really, really cool figures of characters you like, that are held back by one tiny but hard to overlook flaw. Today, I’ll be looking at such a figure. I’ll get to the “why” of it in just a bit.

So, in the second season premier for The Flash, Barry fought a guy called Atom Smasher, aka Albert Rothstein. Rothstein comes from Earth 2, which was the home of the original 40s DC Comics characters. He’s also the godson of the original Atom, aka Al Pratt, who is the focus of today’s review. Unlike the later versions of Atom, who possessed the ability to shrink down to sub-atomic size (not unlike Marvel’s Ant-Man), Al was just a kind of short guy who was a good fighter. He was eventually given an assortment of powers after the fact, but those were kind of a retcon. Amongst other things, he served as a prototype for Justice Guild member Tom Turbine, from the Justice League episode “Legends.” And, he got a figure as part of one of the last series of DC Universe Classics. Yay for him!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

AtomGADCUC2Atom was released as part of Series 19 of Mattel’s DC Universe Classics, which was a whole series themed around the Justice Society of America, of which ol’ Al here was a member. Atom is presented here in his original costume from the 40s, which is definitely his more definitive of his two main looks. The figure stands about 6 ¼ inches tall and has 23 points of articulation. See that height? Remember when I mentioned he was a short guy? Yeah, Al’s listed height is 5’ 1”, which, in DCUC terms, should make this guy about 5 ½ inches tall. So, he’s about an inch too tall. This is because Atom is built on the larger male body (the same one used on the water-camo Aquaman from Series 7). Proportionally, it’s the best body Mattel had on hand; Al’s a pretty stacked guy; but it’s just too tall. It’s kind of a no-win scenario. A character like Al isn’t really privy to an all-new body sculpt, especially in a buck-based line like DCUC, so Mattel had to make due. Moving away from the size thing, Atom has a brand new head, forearms, abdomen, and shins. These are all nicely sculpted parts, and the buckles on the arms and abdomen are an especially nice touch, since they could have easily been painted on. The shins are a little bit shorter than previous pieces, so Mattel was clearly trying a little, but it’s not really a very noticeable difference. The cape is from Series 12’s Dr. Mid-Nite figure; it’s not a perfect match, but it’s close enough, and it’s a well-sculpted piece, so I can’t complain. For some reason, it sits out a bit from his back, which is a tad frustrating.  The paintwork on Atom is some of the best from this line. Some of the line work is fuzzy, but it’s pretty clean overall. The color work is really nice; everything is bold and vibrant, and he really just pops. The brown parts are meant to be leather, and so they’ve been given a slightly darker brown dry brushing, which is actually really effective in conveying the different texturing. Atom didn’t include any of his own accessories, but he did include the head and pelvis of STRIPE, the Collect-N-Connect figure for this series.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The golden age Atom has long been one of my favorite JSA members. I was always a bit disappointed by DC Direct’s less than stellar attempt at the character, so I was intrigued by the DC Universe Classics version. I ended up finding this guy not long after he was released, while on a run to a nearby Target with my Dad. His size put me off at first, but the realization that this was probably the best version of the character I’d ever see in plastic, I went for it. I’m really happy I decided to get him, because, size issues aside, he’s actually a really nice figure.