#1779: Girl’s Night Out

SUPERGIRL, LIVEWIRE, BATGIRL, HARLEY QUINN, & POISON IVY

BATMAN: ANIMATED (DC COLLECTIBLES)

Female action figures are, on a whole, a rarity.  This stems largely from the days when the line between action figures and dolls was really just that one was marketed to girls and one was marketed to girls.  But, in the 50 years since the term “action figure” was invented by a marketing department, the definitions have become a little more rigid, and opinions on who collects them have slightly changed.  This is my very long-winded way of saying I’m reviewing my second all-female boxed set in the space of three months, which even by modern standards is kind of cool.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Supergirl, Livewire, Batgirl, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy make up the “Girl’s Night Out” boxed set, released last year as part of DCC’s Batman: Animated line.  They’re based on the New Adventures of Batman episode of the same name, which sees Supergirl and Batgirl teaming up to defeat the combined forces of Livewire, Harley, and Ivy.  Only the Superman characters are actually new to this set, with Batgirl, Harley, and Poison Ivy being re-releases of their single figures from the main line, sans most of their accessories.  Since Harley’s new to me, I’ll be reviewing her here, but for my opinion on the other two, go here and here.

SUPERGIRL

For Superman: The Animated Series’ third season, Supergirl was introduced to open up some new story-telling possibilities.  However, due to DC’s then-standing policies on Clark being the only remaining Kryptonian, they had to money around with her origin a bit.  On the plus side, the character remained more or less the same.  This figure replicates her tweaked animated design.  She stands 5 3/4 inches tall and has 24 points of articulation.  Her sculpt is a rather faithful recreation of the design from the show, which is a real first for Supergirl, as her prior animated figures have all strayed from the proper design.  There are some minor nitpicks that can be made, like her head maybe being a smidge too big for the body.  However, that’s really looking for issues, and comes down more to personal preference than anything else.  Her paintwork is very clean, and the colors are bright and eye-catching.  Definitely a nice departure from this line’s penchant for fuzzy edges on everything.  The biggest downfall of this figure (and this set as a whole) is her lack of any accessories outside of a stand.  At the very least, a spare set of fists seems like it should come standard.

LIVEWIRE

After the successful creation and reception of Harley Quinn and Renee Montoya in Batman: The Animated Series, the creators tried their luck again with Livewire (though Livewire *actually* appeared in the tie-in comic before the show).  While she didn’t quite take off the way those two did, she did still pick up a decent fanbase of her own.  She never actually got a figure during S:TAS’s run, but she’s made out alright since the show’s end.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and she has 23 points of articulation.  Like Kara, her sculpt is quite a good match for her show appearance.  In fact, I even have trouble finding the minor nitpicks like I did with Supergirl.  The proportions are more balanced, and the lines are all very sharp and clean.  Her paintwork is appropriately monochromatic, and the blues interact well with each other.  There’s a little bit of fuzzy work on the edges, but it’s mostly confined to the “emblem” on her torso, where it’s somewhat acceptable, with her being an energy being and all.  She also is only packed with a display stand.  The lack of extra hands is slightly less frustrating for her, since she doesn’t need them as much, but I’m still not 100% okay with it.

HARLEY QUINN

And speaking of successful creations from the DCAU, here’s the character that’s by far the greatest success story, Harley Quinn!  Outside of Batman himself, she’s actually the character with the most figures in this line, which really speaks to her marketability.  This figure is a re-issue of her second single-carded figure, which was based on her TNBA appearance.  Harley is one of the characters whose two appearances weren’t that different, but they were enough for the eagle-eyed fan to need two distinct figures.  This figure stands 5 3/4 inches tall and she has 19 points of articulation.  Okay, so, first thing’s first, let’s discuss the articulation.  You know ankle joints?  Harley doesn’t have those.  Why not?  Your guess is as good as mine.  Apparently, DCC didn’t feel Harley needed them.  They also didn’t feel she needed the ability to stand either, though I guess that’s linked to the lack of ankle movement.  The point is, it really sucks.  Really, really sucks.  Her sculpt is fine, but it reminds me that I prefer the subtle differences of the B:TAS version.  The big head’s throwing me on this one.  I guess it’s not a terrible offering though.  Her paintwork is pretty decent.  The dual-toned color scheme looks sharp, and the application is overall pretty clean.  Like all of the others in this set, Harley’s only accessory is a display stand.  No extra hands, no weapons of any sort.  Nothing.  Not even the accessories from the prior figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When the Batman: Animated line launched, I was excited by the prospect of a complimentary Superman line.  It didn’t so much come to fruition, and I’ll admit, two of my most wanted figure from said theoretical line only being available in a big boxed set with two figures I already had kind of killed my excitement.  I ended up getting this set at the same time as yesterday’s DKR set, as a birthday present from my parents.  Supergirl and Livewire are very nice figures, slightly held back by a lack of accessories.  The other three are kind of dead weight.  Harley’s easily the worst version of the character from the line, and while Ivy and Batgirl are perfectly fine figures in their own right, having to buy them again, and not getting any accessories the second time around is really lame.  And a note to DCC:  if you’re only going to include a single set of hands, can you at least make it something more useful than the limp open palm?  This set’s begging for some cool fight set-ups, but as it currently stands, all they’re really prepared for is a big slapping fight.

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#1778: Batman, Robin, & Mutant Leader

BATMAN, ROBIN, & MUTANT LEADER

BATMAN: ANIMATED (DC COLLECTIBLES)

For someone who’s only so-so on this whole Dark Knight Returns thing, I sure do review a lot of DKRrelated items, don’t I?  Well, let me ‘splain—no, it’s too much—let me sum up: like the story or not, there’s a lot of supplemental material related to it that’s super awesome.  Take, for instance, “Legends of the Dark Knight,” one of Batman: The Animated Series’ best known episodes, which takes a look at a couple of differing takes on Batman from over the years, with DKR as one of the pair.  And now that particular take has its own figures.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Batman, Robin, and the Mutant Leader were a special three-pack, released as part of DC Collectibles’ Batman: Animated line, commemorating the previously mentioned episode.  All three are based on their appearances from the DKR segment of “Legends,” rather than the actual comic looks. 

BATMAN

I’ve had no shortage of DKR Batmen in the last month or so, with offerings from both Mattel and Mezco, so why not let DCC in on the fun?  This guy’s a pretty massive figure, standing about 6 1/2 inches tall and measuring about 5 inches across the shoulders, and he has 24 points of articulation.  His stature is certainly impressive, but if there’s one draw back, it’s his posability, or rather his lack thereof.  The joints he *does* have all have a solid range of motion (the neck joint in particular works very well), to DCC’s credit.  The issue is that he’s lacking any mid torso movement, as well as any sort of ankle mobility.  Those two things rather limit what can be done with the figure, which is kind of a shame.  The sculpt, which is totally unique, is actually a pretty good offering.  It captures the streamlined design from the show pretty much spot-on, which at this point in the line is very definitely welcomed.   His paintwork is definitely on the basic side, which is appropriate for the line.  It’s overall cleanly applied, but has some of the same fuzzy edges that have plagued this line from the beginning.  Batman was packed with a pair of alternate open gesture hands and a display stand.

ROBIN

Carrie Kelley is one of DKR’s most distinctive features, but is a slightly less common offering when it comes to toys.  That said, I’ve actually looked at a Carrie Kelley Robin before, via Mattel’s offering.  It was…less than stellar.  This figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 24 points of articulation.  She’s another new sculpt, and I gotta say, she definitely benefits from the cleaner style.  Something about Miller’s style didn’t translate so well as an action figure, but this?  This worked out pretty well.  Her smaller stature is well conveyed, and she’s actually got some fairly decent movement.  Still perhaps more restricted than I’d like, but definitely better than a lot of this line.  Carrie’s paintwork is decent.  It’s clean, and matches the show’s color palette.  She has less issues with fuzzy lines and slop.  I also appreciate the use of actual transparent lenses for the glasses, as opposed to just painting them opaque green like *some* toy companies.  Robin is by far the most accessorized in this set, with a slingshot, an three pairs of hands, and a display stand.

MUTANT LEADER

Though not a primary antagonist in the original story, like Carrie Kelley, the Mutant Leader has become a distinctive feature of DKR, and he *was* the primary antagonist of the DKR segment of “Legends of the Dark Knight.”  So, his placement here is rather an obvious one.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall and has 23 points of articulation.  The Leader is a sizable guy, though not quite as sizable as Batman.  He’s about on par with the TNBA version of Bane in terms of build.  His articulation is an improvement overall from Batman’s, since he actually gets some mid-torso movement, as well as ankles.  Of course, he loses the lateral leg movement that Batman and Robin have, which has been, in general my biggest recurring issue with this line, since it makes posing these guys in anything but a basic standing pose a barren source of amusement.  The sculpt is at least a pretty strong one.  It captures the Leader’s slightly tweaked animated design very well, and he pairs off well with Batman.  The paintwork is fairly decent, though nothing beyond basic work.  He’s got a nice contrast, though, which I certainly appreciate.  Like Batman, the Leader is packed with a pair of open gesture hands and a display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

“Legends of the Dark Knight” was my first introduction to The Dark Knight Returns.  I think it spoiled me a bit for the story proper, because while it remains a favorite episode of mine, the comic not so much.  Pretty much all of the prior DKR product I’ve purchased was due to my love of the episode, so an episode-specific set certainly intrigued me.  That said, by the time the set actually hit, I’d fallen a bit out of love with the Batman: Animated line, and as such I didn’t get it new.  I actually ended up getting it this year for my birthday, courtesy of my parents.  While it still possesses a lot of the same issues that have been killing the main line for me, I do overall like this set a lot.  Sure, I’d have liked some more accessories, but the extra hands are at least useful, and there’s no denying that Bats and the Leader look good squaring off.  Plus, after the sincere disappointment of Mattel’s Carrie Kellie, this one was a breath of fresh air.

#1540: GCPD Rogues Gallery

RENEE MONTOYA, BANE, KILLER CROC, MR. FREEZE, & POISON IVY

BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES (DC COLLECTIBLES)

For my ninth and final 2017 post-Christmas review, I’m returning to a line that fills me with lots of mixed emotions: DC Collectibles’ Batman: Animated.  I was very supportive of the line early on, an really liked the first couple of series, despite some of the minor flaws.  However, as the line has progressed, I’ve found a lot of the later offerings to be a bit lackluster. The thing that broke me from the line was actually the set I’m looking at today.  As I’ve noted a few times, “Heart of Ice” is hands down my favorite episode of Batman: The Animated Series, and is possibly just one of my favorite cartoons ever.  Obviously, I was eager to get a proper Animated Series Mr. Freeze.  The first figure was the New Adventures design, which is fine, but not really what I wanted.  So, what does DCC do when it finally comes time to release the classic Freeze, one of the most demanded figures in the line?  Pack him in with four other figures in an expensive boxed item.  ….Yay?

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This five pack was released about mid-year last year, under the title “GCPD Rogues Gallery.”  All five figures in this set are based on their Animated Series designs, with the four titular Rogues being the second figure for each, following their TNBA design-sporting single-releases.

RENEE MONTOYA

Fulfilling the “GCPD” segment of this set is Officer Renee Montoya.  Montoya is noteworthy for being the second of B:TAS’s successful original creations that made her way back into the comics after the fact (following the immensely successful Harley Quinn, of course).  Montoya is the one wholly unique figure in this set.  She’s wearing her beat cop uniform, since she didn’t make it to detective until TNBA.  The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and she has 22 points of articulation.  Her articulation works better than some of the Batman: Animated figures I’ve looked at, which certainly makes me feel a bit better.  Her sculpt is definitely one of the strongest in the set, recreating her animated design rather nicely. She avoids being too devoid of detail, another issue that plagued some of the line’s other figures.  Similarly, her paint is also very strong.  The application is nice and clean, and the colors all match up with her on-screen appearance.  Montoya is packed with an extra head, a handgun, a shotgun, four pairs of hands, and a display stand.  The head offers Montoya without her hat, which I guess is nice, in theory, at least.  In practice, it’s just very annoying.  Why?  Because, thanks to the design of the double barbel DCC’s used for her neck peg, if you’re not careful when swapping out the heads (a very difficult task, I might add), then the peg will pop out of the neck, rather than the head.  I ended up having to spend about 20 minutes removing the barbel from the second Montoya head to put the one with the hat back on, and after all that, the peg is mangled to the point that I doubt I’ll be able to successfully swap it again.  Okay, but what about the guns?  Well, they look nice, but I almost broke both of them taking them out of the package.  Also, despite the plethora of hands included, there’s not really a combo that can properly hold the shotgun.

BANE

The New Adventures Bane was one of my favorite figures from the single-packed line, so this figure has a lot to live up to.  I’m gonna let you all down easy here: he doesn’t.  He’s not helped by the design, to be fair.  The B:TAS Bane design is certainly one of the weakest from the original run of the show (part of why he got such a drastic redesign later).  He’s not particularly intimidating or anything.  He’s just looks like a slightly paunchy luchador.  Not the greatest design for a villain.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 24 points of articulation.  Okay, let’s get this out of the way: Bane can’t stand.  Like, at all.  Just getting the photos for this review was one of the most infuriating experiences I’ve gone through.  The actual sculpt is decent, I suppose.  It replicates the show design well-enough, but I find he lacks the playability seen on the last Bane figure.  His paintwork is decent from a palette stand-point; he’s bright and colorful.  The application’s a bit iffy, and he’s got several spots of random shininess on an otherwise matte finished figure.  It’s rather distracting and makes for a fairly sloppy looking figure.  Bane includes four sets of hands, a dumbell, and a display stand.  The dumbell’s a nice extra, but, as with Montoya, there’s not actually a hand that can properly hold it.  Doesn’t that seem like the sort of thing that you would want to double check before sending this figure out?

KILLER CROC

I never actually got the TNBA Croc.  I kept meaning to, but I never did.  It’s okay.  I’ve never been a huge Croc fan anyway, so I probably didn’t need two of him.  Truth be told, Croc’s another character who I feel had a stronger design initially, so this figure’s good for that.  He stands just a little shorter than Bane, and he has 23 points of articulation.  He has the mid-torso movement like we saw on the first Bane figure, which is certainly a plus.  It helps to make him one of the most easily posed figures in the set.  It also allows for a lot more fine tuning on his weight distribution, helping him stay standing a bit better.  The sculpt is another strong offering, and I’d certainly place him on par with Montoya in that respect.  He’s very true to the show’s design, and captures Croc’s character.  I look at this guy and can hear him saying “I hit him with a rock!”  The detail work is all very sharp and crisply defined, not soft like some of the others in the line.  The paint on Croc isn’t the most exciting thing, but it matches the show.  It’s all cleanly applied, and it looks pretty decent for what it is.  Croc is packed with three sets of hands and a display stand.  No rock to hit Batman with?  I guess I can supply my own.

MR. FREEZE

Four figures in and I’m finally getting to the one that actually matters!  Yeeeeeeeaaaaahhhhh! …Sorry, that’s not really appropriate for Mr. Freeze, is it?  He’d go for a more reserved, served cold sort of thing.  Ah, yes.  A Mr. Freeze figure.  Of course.  Would that it could warm his frozen heart.  But alas, there is no hope for him.  But hey, cool figure, right?  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 22 points of articulation.  Freeze has nay favorite sculpt of all the figures included here.  He’s just really got the show design down pat.  The best piece by far is the head, which just looks absolutely spot-on from every angle.  The rest of the sculpt is a solid recreation of his suit design from the show, and it’s really only marred by one thing: the head dome.  On its own, it’s fine, but it doesn’t fit the body quite right, so it never sits flush the way it should and it pops out a lot.  It’s not awful, but it’s a minor annoyance, and there was no such issue on the last Mr. Freeze figure.  If there’s a major downfall to this figure, it’s the paintwork.  It’s not the worst I’ve seen in this line, but it’s definitely sloppy, especially on the blue parts of his suit.  How they got the others in this set so clean and not Victor is honestly a bit baffling to me.  Freeze is packed with his freeze gun, five sets of hands, a snow globe, and a display stand.  Ready for the common theme of this review?  Despite the large selection of hands, he can’t really hold his gun very well, and he can’t actually hold the snow globe as well.  I appreciate the extras being included, but I wish they could be more adequately used.

POISON IVY

Last up, it’s Poison Ivy, the other hotly demanded figure in this set.  I picked up the first Ivy figure, and I liked her overall, but she was certainly a flawed offering.  I was sort of hoping that this one would fix some of those.  It does, but there are some other ones that have cropped up to replace them.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and she has 23 points of articulation.  Her sculpt is…okay? It has its ups and downs.  It’s definitely not anywhere near as accurate as the other figures in this set, which is a shame, really.  She’s far more on par with the last Ivy, in that she looks okay from certain angles, but not so great from others.  I do like that she doesn’t have the ugly seam running down the side of her hair this time.  Unfortunately, she’s now got a rather ugly bend in her right leg, as well as a severely misshapen wrist bolt.  It kind of ruins the aesthetics.  The paint on Ivy is okay, but rather on the sloppy side of things.  It’s especially bad on her legs, where there’s a few spots of errant paint.  Ivy is packed wth five sets of hands,  the Wild Thorny Rose seen in “Pretty Poison,” and a display stand.  At least she has hands that can actually hold the rose.  I guess that’s a nice change.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I discussed in the intro, I was less than enthused by DCC’s decision to lump all of these figures into one big set, so I didn’t grab this when it was new.  My parents were nice enough to get this for me as my main gift this Christmas.  This set frustrates me because I really wanted to like it, but it’s perhaps the most frustrating thing I received this year.  Sure, most of the figures are a marked improvement on the single releases, but there are still enough flaws throughout the set that it’s infuriating.  The fact that Freeze and Ivy include more accessories also drives home the point that DCC designed them as individual releases and held them back to move this big set, which feels like a real cheap move to me.  Ultimately, I’m happy to have the Mr. Freeze I wanted.  He’s a good figure.  Montoya is also a solid addition, and Croc’s a pleasant surprise that I probably wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.  Ivy’s another flawed version of the character, though, and Bane just does nothing for me.  So, that’s 2/5 figures in this set that I would have much rather passed on.  That’s not a very good spread, especially for something that carries this hefty a price tag.

1323: Talia

TALIA

BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES (HASBRO)

“Talia is the ‘Daughter of the Demon,’ trained by her father Ra’s Al Ghul to reach the height of her mental and physical capabilities.  Quick witted and lethally skilled, she is a faithful soldier in her father’s mission to save the Earth from environmental destruction–even at the cost of all human life!”

A few years after Kenner’s Batman: The Animated Series line had run its course, Hasbro (who had acquired Kenner in the early ’90s, and officially abandoned the Kenner name in 2000) decided to fill in a few of the line’s holes, offering up an all-new line of boxed sets.  These sets offered up a few repaints of old figures, alongside one or two original figures, generally of characters that would have been hard sells on their own.  Today’s subject, Talia, is one of those figures.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Talia was actually available two different ways.  She was first offered in the “Shadows of Gotham City” set, alongside her father and variants of Batman and Robin.  She was released again not long after as part of the “Girls of Gotham City” set, alongside Batgirl, Poison Ivy, and Catwoman.  My figure comes from the second set, but the two are essentially identical.  The figure stands about 4 1/2 inches tall and she has 4 points of articulation. Her articulation scheme is kind of odd; she has no movement in her legs, which makes getting her to stand a real pain.  Her sculpt was unique to her, and based on her earlier The Animated Series appearance.  It’s not a bad sculpt.  There are a few inaccuracies; the hair shouldn’t really have the curl at the front of her hair, and the boots should have flat soles, not heels.  That being said, those are pretty minor issues, and about on par with the earlier Kenner figures.  In fact, she fits in with those figures pretty seamlessly, which is the most important thing.  As far as paint goes, she’s got some issues.  The basic application is fine, but most of the colors are just flat out wrong.  The biggest one is the jumpsuit; in the show it’s a very, very dark purple.  Here it’s some sort of lavender shade, which removes some of the menace of her design.  It’s also not particularly striking.  There are some additional inaccuracies, such as the black boots instead of the proper grey, and the really pale color that’s been used for the skin tone.  It all adds up to a figure that doesn’t have much in the way of “pop.”  Talia originally included a pair of pistols, which I lost long ago.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

These sets were mostly given to me as Christmas and birthday presents.  I didn’t get the “Shadows” set for either of those events the year it was released, meaning I missed out on Talia the first time around.  Due to that, the “Girls” set was at the top of my list the next year.  As much as I wanted the Talia figure, I can’t really say she was ever one of my favorites.  The sculpt’s alright, but the articulation is lackluster and the paint is as bland as plain white toast.

#1178: Robin

ROBIN

POP! HEROES

robinbtaspop1

On the twelfth day of post-Christmas reviews…I decided to review another Pop.  That’s a lyric from the slightly less popular version of the song.  Amazing how the songwriter predicted the Pop craze, though.  For today’s Pop-centric review, I’m taking a look at the first Pop line, Pop! Heroes, which began it’s life as a DC-themed line, but has expanded to include a few other heroes as it’s gone on.  I’m sticking to the DC side, though, and taking a look at the newest release of Batman’s old chum, Robin!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

robinbtaspop2Robin is figure #153 in the Pop! Heroes line.  He’s the second figure in the Batman: The Animated Series subset and the fourth version of Robin (not counting variants).  The figure stands about 4 inches tall and has an articulated neck (not being limited by the licensing restrictions that affect the Star Wars and Marvel lines).  Robin is sporting an all-new sculpt, which does its best to merge the stylings of B:TAS and the Pop! line.  It’s admittedly, not the easiest venture for Robin here, since the real differences between his comics and animated designs is one of simplicity.  Since all Pop! figures simplify the designs a bit, he has to rely more heavily on his other defining trait, his wacky hair, to make him notably different from the first Robin Pop!  Sadly, while the control art shown on the box gets the hair down perfectly, there’s something lost in translation on the final figure.  The hair ends up a lot rounder than it should be, and his spit curl is mashed into his forehead, giving it rather a different shape and eliminating his v-shaped hairline almost entirely.  It’s still a pretty solid Robin, but falls shy of being an Animated Robin.  On the plus side, the body fixes my major issue with the original Robin Pop!, which was the pose.  This one goes for a nice basic standing pose, full of heroic confidence, in contrast to the “argh, my back” pose of the original.  Paint on Robin is decent by Pop! standards, which is to say the colors are nice and bright, and the basic application is okay, but there are a lot of fuzzy lines and some slight bleed over here and there.  Nothing terrible or bad enough to ruin the figure, though. 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Robin is the other of the two figures I got from my totally cool-tastic brother for Christmas.  It’s no secret that Loren Lester’s portrayal of Robin is my definitive take on the character and a large part of why I love Robin so much, and Christian’s no doubt heard me drone on about that more than once.  While this figure doesn’t quite live up to the control art on the box, I do still really like him, and I’m more than a little tempted to get the animated-style Batman to go with him!

#1154: Firefly

FIREFLY

BATMAN: ANIMATED (DC COLLECTIBLES)

firefly1

Batman has perhaps the most memorable rogue’s gallery in comics.  It’s colorful, diverse, and has produced several of comics’ greatest villains.  But, when you’ve got a 75+ year old character with two to three appearances a month, you need a lot of villains, and they aren’t always going to be the most thrilling.  When it came to Batman: The Animated Series, the creators rather quickly realized that there were only so many top tier villains that could be used, so they started picking up some of the more minor foes and trying to inject a bit more life into them.  One of their less successful attempts was Firefly.  Oh, they gave it their best try, believe me.  He got a pretty sweet design and he was even voiced by Mark Rolston (Drake from Aliens), but he amounted to little more than a villain of the week.  He was also one of the characters totally left out of Kenner’s The New Batman Adventures line.  But, it seems DCC is determined to cover just about everyone they can, so he’s got a figure now!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

firefly2Firefly is part of DCC’s Batman: Animated line.  He’s figure 28, which places his in Series 7 of the line.  The figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 24 points of articulation.  Firefly was a TNBA-exclusive character, so there’s just the one design to choose from.  This figure is listed as specifically being based on Firefly’s first appearance “Torchsong,” but he could just as easily be based on “Legends of the Dark Knight” or even his brief Justice League appearance.  As I noted in the intro, it’s a design I quite like.  It’s fairly simple, but that gives it a sort of sleekness, which makes it really fit with the rest of the animated series designs.  The sculpt on this figure does a pretty reasonable job of capturing the design and translating it into three dimensions.  There are some liberties here and there.  The most obvious is the antenna on the right side of his head, which is about ten times larger than it should be, presumably so it would be less likely to break.  Apart from that, he stays pretty close.  One area where he takes a bit of a hit accuracy wise is the paint.  In every appearance, Firefly’s suit was depicted as having a definite metallic sheen.  Here, it’s just flat grey.  It sort of robs him of any sort of pop, since grey isn’t the most exciting color.  Even if silver was too much, at leas a slightly shinier finish to the grey would have gone a long way, making him not only more visually interesting, but also much more accurate.  Also, in the show, his lenses were black with a red highlight, which they still are here, but the highlights aren’t angled the same way, which makes them look less like highlights and more like really askew pupils. It’s mostly the left sense; if it were just a smidgen to the right, the whole thing would look much better.  Firefly is packed with four sets of hands (fists, relaxed, gripping, and trigger finger), his flamethrower gun, and a display stand.  It would have been nice to also get his flame sword that he uses in both of his TNBA appearances, but I guess what we got here is nice.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Firefly came from Cosmic Comix, specifically their Biggest Sale of the Year (TM).  I wasn’t actually able to be there in person this year, so he was picked up by proxy (i.e. my dad).  The figure is decent enough, but for a line that initially prided itself on remaining accurate to the source material, I’m finding more and more of the figures have had severe liberties taken, which can get a little frustrating.

firefly3

#1123: Bola Trap Robin

BOLA TRAP ROBIN

BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES (KENNER)

bolatraprobin1

Growing up, there were a handful of characters that I was pretty much guaranteed to by in action figure form every time I saw them (it’s not a practice I’ve completely abandoned.  Note my Havok, Wonder Man, and Poe Dameron collections).  One of these characters was Robin (specifically Dick Grayson.  When he switched to Nightwing, those were the figures I wanted), resulting in my collection tending to have more Robins than Batmen at any given point.  A good portion of the Robins in my collection are goofy variants, including today’s entry, “Bola Trap Robin.”

THE FIGURE ITSELF

bolatraprobin2Bola Trap Robin was released in the fifth series of Kenner’s Batman: The Animated Series line.  He would also see a rerelease later on when the line was re-formatted under the Adventures of Batman & Robin banner, but mine’s the original.  The figure is about 4 1/2 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation that were standard for the line.  At this point in the line, Kenner had moved away from focussing on show accurate stuff and had instead delved headfirst into the wacky variants that would define the Dynamic Duo’s toy presence for the next two decades.  That being the case, Robin is seen here in a costume he never sported in the cartoon, its tie-in comic, or any of the comics it was based on.  The design isn’t really in keeping with the designs on the show, mostly due to being a bit busier than they tended to be.  That being said, it’s not a bad design, per se, especially in regards to being on a toy, where business isn’t the worst thing.  It has some of the typical Robin costume elements, but also mixes in a little bit of the 1989 Batman design, and even a little bit of the ‘90s Nightwing look around the tops of the boots and gloves.  The quilted elements are interesting.  They’re well sculpted, but I do sort of wonder why he’s got them.  Are they to protect him from the titular “Bola Trap”?  Robin has a sort of a preposed nature to him, and is probably one of the earliest examples of this trend occurring in Kenner/Hasbro’s DC figures.  Fortunately, he’s nowhere near the level of something like Total Justice.  Rather, I’d guess that the pose on this guy is so that the figure can still stand while holding the big gimmicky weapon.  Robin’s head is the same basic piece that Kenner used on pretty much all of their animated Robins.  It’s hardly on the level of the DCC version in terms of accuracy, but it’s still a decent enough piece, and it fits with the slightly off styling of the whole Kenner line.  The cape, like all of the capes at this point in the line, is cloth.  This means it doesn’t get the proper yellow lining, but other than that, it’s not terrible.  Robin’s paintwork is decent enough.  There’s a clear effort to making him different from the basic Robin, giving him a yellow and black color scheme.  I’d say he was more of a stealth Robin, were it not for all the bright yellow.  Maybe he’s trying to blend into the same place where Night Hunter Batman’s hiding?  The application’s pretty clean overall.  There are a few fuzzy edges, and some slop here and there, but he’s more or less pretty good.  The main gimmick of this guy is, of course, the bola trap, which seems to translate to big…spinny…thingy.  I’m not sure what it is.  I don’t know that bola is an apt descriptor.  At least it’s not a missile launcher, right?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Remember in the intro, where I talked about collecting every figure of certain characters?  Well, I didn’t get this guy growing up.  Instead, in an event similar to the acquisition of the Talking Cyclops figure from earlier this summer, my family found this guy in an antique store about a month ago, and got me this on the pretense of there only being so many chances for them to pick me up a Robin that I didn’t have.  They gave me Robin, alongside a whole bag of things they’d gotten me, when I went up to visit over Halloween.  Also in the bag?  The complete soundtrack to Batman: The Animated Series, which served as my motivational music during this review!  Alright!

#1073: Etrigan & Klarion

ETRIGAN & KLARION

BATMAN: ANIMATED (DCC)

klarionetrigan1

For the most part, Batman: The Animated Series stuck to the more…grounded (?) side of the DCU.  Sure, there were some slightly more out there concepts (Man-Bat is in the very first episode, and R’as shows up a few times), but they at least mostly stuck by things with more plausible explanations.  Superman: The Animated Series was really the first to bridge those more out there concepts, so, when Batman came back, I guess the creators were just a little more comfortable with the stranger side of things.  “The Demon Within” doesn’t even try to ease people into it or anything, throwing the viewer right into the thick of things, and just sort of hoping they won’t get too lost in the DCU’s supernatural side.  Today, I’ll be taking a look at that episode’s two focus characters, Etrigan & Klarion.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Etrigan and Klarion collectively are entry 26 in DCC’s Batman: Animated line.  They’re the deluxe item for the latest series of figures, and, along with R’as Al Ghul and Zatanna, make for a rather supernatural-themed series.  Both figures are based on the appearances of the characters in the episode “The Demon Within.”

ETRIGAN

klarionetrigan2There’s no denying that Etrigan’s supposed to be this set’s star figure.  He is the episode’s titular character after all.  Etrigan comes from a pretty nice pedigree, being one of Jack Kirby’s early creations for DC.  He’s never been much more than a fringe character, but he’s always pretty cool.  The figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  Like Bane, Etrigan features the mid-torso joint, which I really like, and hope we continue to see on future figures.  I do wish he had rocker joints in his ankles, as it can be a little difficult to keep him standing without having his feet flat.  As far as Etrigan’s sculpt goes, I’m of mixed emotions.  Let’s talk about the good first.  Pretty much everything below the neck s pretty much spot on.  The sizing is good, and I really like the overall proportions of the figure.  The legs could maybe stand to be a little less simplistic, and the feet seem a little goofier here than they were on the show, but those are rather minor issues.  Etrigan’s cape is certainly well sculpted, but as with Phantasm, I’m worried about the integrity of the rubber over time.  Mine is already showing some signs of wear, especially on the one painted spot.  That’s concerning.  What really drags this figure down is the head.  Simply put, it’s just wrong.  It’s too big compared to the rest of the body, it’s too wide, the mouth is too small, the ears are too detached from the sides, his  forehead lacks the always present worry lines, and above all his eyes are at least twice as large as they should be and they’re the wrong klarionetrigan4shape to boot.  Any one of these issues would have been okay on its own.  Heck, all them but the eyes could have looked okay too.  But as it stands, the head isn’t even close.  The problems were present on the prototype, and I’d hoped they would fix them prior to release, but it actually looks like they just got worse on the final figure.  I’m really not sure how there was no one at any step of the process to look at this and say “that ain’t right.”  It wouldn’t be so glaring if it weren’t for the rest of the line being so accurate.  Paint is another area where I’m a little iffy.  The prototype showed him with a more vibrant color scheme, which seemed more closely matched to the episode.  The final product is rather dull by comparison.  I suppose that it could be seen as matching the episode’s darker lighting a little better, but it just seems a little bland.  Etrigan includes three sets of hands (fists, gripping, and open) and a display stand with his design sheet on it (which just further showcases how off the sculpt is).  Given Etrigan only appeared in one episode of the show, it would have been nice to get an extra head with the brand on it, since he spends a fair portion of the episode looking that way.  Perhaps they could put that in with another figure down the line and use it as an opportunity to give us a more accurate sculpt…

KLARION

klarionetrigan3Klarion the Witch Boy is a bit less known than Etrigan, but is also a Jack Kirby creation, who’s been Etrigan-related since his creation.  The show made him a little more mundane than his initial incarnation, but maybe teenager from another dimension was a bit too much for a Batman show.  The figure stands 4 3/4 inches tall and he has 20 points of articulation, which is pretty impressive for a figure of his stature, especially in this line.  Klarion’s sculpt is far more consistent than Etrigan’s.  By and large, he’s just a lot closer to his design on the show, which is a definite plus.  His sculpt is nice and sharp, and he gets a lot of the smaller details right.  For a more klarionetrigan5minor character like Klarion, accuracy is really key, and DCC’s really got this guy spot on.  Klarion’s paintwork is pretty straight forward, mostly being blacks and whites.  The application is all nice and clean, and the shades are all a pretty good match for what’s on the show.  Klarion includes three sets of hands (same configurations as Etrigan’s), his cat Teekl (who is fully articulation), a display stand, and the branding iron from “Demon Within”….which I somehow managed to leave out of the photos, and now can’t locate.  Sorry guys, Ethan’s a doofus…

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

“The Demon Within” is the first episode of The New Batman Adventures I remember watching.  At the time, I didn’t know anything about Etrigan, so it was a pretty great introduction, and it’s one of my favorite episodes of the show to this day.  So, I was pretty pumped when this set was announced and snapped it up as soon as it arrived at Cosmic Comix.  There’s no getting around the inaccuracies on Etrigan.  They really hold the figure back, and I was really let down by the final product.  He’s not awful, and I do really hope DCC does that extra head thing somewhere down the line.  On the plus side, Klarion’s pretty awesome, which is good, since he’s far less likely to get re-released.

#1071: Commissioner Gordon

COMMISSIONER GORDON

BATMAN: ANIMATED (DCC)

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Batman: The Animated Series is in many ways a defining take on the Batman mythos, with a particular definitive trait being the voice actors portraying the characters.  Of course, everyone knows and loves Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill’s Batman and Joker, but it goes beyond the two of them.  I’ve written before about how Lorren Lester is the only voice I hear when I read Dick Grayson’s dialogue in a comic, but beyond him, there’s one actor who epitomized my view on the character he portrayed: the late Bob Hastings* as Commissioner Gordon.  Hastings got down both sides of Gordon perfectly, playing him as a strict and confident leader, who was still capable of being a warm, fatherly figure to his men (and his daughter…and Batman.  He was very fatherly), something Hastings’ predecessors never quite got.  As a rather normal looking guy in a trench coat and tie, Gordon wasn’t privy to many action figures. He got exactly one during the run of the Kenner/Hasbro Batman: The Animated Series lines, and even then it was based on his later New Adventures look, of which I was never a huge fan.  Fortunately, DC Collectibles’ ongoing line of Animated figures is proving to be far more complete than earlier attempts, meaning we finally got a proper B:TAS Gordon figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

comgordon2Commissioner Gordon is figure 23 in DCC’s Batman: Animated line.  The numbering places him in Series 6, I believe, alongside Zatanna, Ra’s Al Ghul, and the Etrigan/Klarion two-pack.  It’s a little hard to keep track, especially since DCC doesn’t solicit them with Series numbers.  He’s new.  That’s the point.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and has 22 points of articulation.  One of the more notable features of the early Batman: The Animated Series designs is the certain level of fluidity they all possessed.  Sure, Batman was fairly consistent, but a lot of the other characters would have little changes in design from one shot to the next.  This was especially true of Gordon, which makes this figure sort of an amalgam of his best looks so to speak.  His body was always pretty consistent, so the sculpt has a pretty easy time capturing it.  He’s appropriately stocky, which is a nice  change of pace when compared to the others in the line.  Gordon actually looks like a pretty normal dude (well, by Bruce Timm standards, anyway).  The area with the most artistic license is definitely the head.  While the face is a pretty good recreation (it varies depending on the angle you’re viewing from), the hair is where things are really off.  In the show, Gordon had this pretty crazy cowlick at the front of his hair, which had a tendency to move around in relation to the rest of his face depending on how he was angled in any given shot (it was allegedly hard to work with, which is why his redesign removed it entirely).  Here, rather than pick a definite side for the hair, they just kind of put it roughly center and scaled it down.  It’s alright, but it means that no matter the angle, he never looks quite right.  The glasses are also a bit off, mostly due to the scale of the figure, and them needing to be permanently attached to his face.  That being said, on comgordon3the show the lenses were very definitely rectangular, and they aren’t at all rectangular here.  How did that happen?  The paintwork on Gordon isn’t anything spectacular or amazing.  It’s actually rather drab, truth be told, but that’s accurate, so kudos to them on that one.  There is one issue in regards to the chosen colors: his pants are sort of a pale beige here, when they really should be a slightly darker warm tan.  The prototype actually had a much more accurate coloring, so I’m not really sure what happened.  It’s hardly enough to ruin the figure (and, quite frankly, it’s the sort of thing that 99% of people will never, ever notice), but it’s just a little weird. Gordon is packed with three sets of hands (fists, trigger  finger, and normal grip), a revolver, a megaphone, and a display stand with his design sheet on it.  It would have been nice to get something specific to one of his episodes, but what’s there is pretty reasonable. 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Gordon was purchased from Cosmic Comix, making use of a pretty nice coupon.  Of the three regular figures in this set, Gordon was the one that jumped out at me, which is kind of a bit surprising, since he’s really rather average looking.  As it stands, he’s really one of my favorite figures from this line, even with his slight inaccuracies.  Here’s to more figures like this!

*Fun fact: back in the 60s, one of Hastings’ earliest roles was as Superboy on Filmation’s cartoon of the same name, so he was with DC for the long-haul.

#0985: Mr. Freeze

MR. FREEZE

BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES (KENNER)

FreezeBTAS1

There’s no denying that Batman: The Animated Series is probably the greatest comic book adaptation in the history of comic book adaptations, and it’s also one of the greatest things to come out of the ‘90s. While the show as a whole was always very high quality, there are definitely some episodes that stand out above the rest. My two favorite episodes of the show’s run are “On Leather Wings” and “Heart of Ice” (which, no small coincidence, were both animated by Spectrum Animation, a sadly short-lived studio that produced some of the best animation ever seen on Saturday morning TV). “On Leather Wings” was the debut episode, which perfectly set the tone of the show. “Heart of Ice” comes later in the first season, but is just as defining an episode, taking a second-string Batman villain and turning him into one of the mythos’ greatest characters. I speak, of course, of Mr. Freeze, who is the subject of today’s review.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

FreezeBTAS2Mr. Freeze was released in Series 3 of Kenner’s Batman: The Animated Series line, based on his appearance in the above noted episode, “Heart of Ice.” Despite that being the story that elevated Mr. Freeze to the public eye, this is actually the third Mr. Freeze figure to be released, following the Super Powers and DC Super Heroes versions (though, if you want to get technical, those two are almost the same figure). The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 4 points of articulation (it’s possible there’s an articulated neck, but since the dome isn’t removable, it’s not ever moving). He’s based on Freeze’s initial animated appearance, which, in my opinion, is the superior of the two. Kenner was known for tending to approximate the animated looks, without getting them dead-on. Freeze actually fairs quite a bit better than most of the figures Kenner put out. The head’s a little on the large side, but it’s a pretty much perfect recreation otherwise. Likewise, the body is overall quite solid, with the only real downside being the very skinny arms featured. That being said, they don’t look terrible, and the figure as a whole recreates the look very nicely. Freeze’s paint is pretty straight forward, but that’s to be expected with the animated designs. The colors are a very good match for the show, and the application is generally pretty clean. Freeze was packed with his freeze gun, which was connected to an over-sized version of his cold-tank.  The tank could be filled with water, and when squeezed, the water would shoot out of the freeze gun. Not a perfect effect, but not bad.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Okay, I don’t know for sure, but I’m fairly certain that this Mr. Freeze was the first Batman rogue I ever owned. My dad got him for me not long after I saw “Heart of Ice” for the first time. This figure went a lot of places with me, including a trip to Gettysburg with my dad and Mr. Freeze himself, Michael Ansara. He also got stuck on the roof of my house once, through no fault of my own.  This is probably one of my favorite figures I own, mostly for sentimental value.