#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.

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#1739: Batman – The Dark Knight Returns

BATMAN — THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS

ONE:12 COLLECTIVE (MEZCO)

I told you there’d be another Batman review this week.  See, I’m not a liar!

Today, I’m continuing the DC trend, but moving away from Mattel, and indeed moving away from the lower-end styling of figures they offer.  Instead, I’m turning my sights onto Mezco’s One:12 Collective line of high-end 6-inch-scale figures.  I’ve only looked at one figure from this line before (Space Ghost), but he very much impressed me, and I’ve been eager to check out more from the line.  Today, I’m going back to the very beginning of the line (as well as bookending my reviews for this week) and looking at Batman, based on Frank Miller’s classic The Dark Knight Returns story.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Batman was the inaugural release in Mezco’s One:12 Collective line, released in the summer of 2015.  A consistent feature of the line has been single releases with a number of color variants all released around the same time through various different means.  Even amongst his peers, this release of Batman was kind of drowning in variants.  The one seen in this review is the Previews Exclusive release, based upon Batman’s more classically-inspired color scheme from early on in the story.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has over 30 points of articulation.  For that articulation count, I’m just going by the solicitation info for this guy, since he’s sewn into his costume, thereby making a 100% articulation count a little bit difficult.

Batman was packed with two different heads, though they both end up being pretty similar, with only the expression changing between them.  He’s packed wearing the angrier, teeth-baring head, but there’s also the second one, which is also angry, but you can’t see the teeth, so I guess his slightly less angry?  That’s just my teeth-to-anger scale though.  Yours may differ.  Both heads are very sharp sculpts, which pretty expertly capture Miller’s artwork from the series.  Particularly impressive is the slight texturing of the cowl on both heads; it’s very subtle, but enough to keep the mask from looking to simple, like a smoother surface might.  I’d be hard-pressed to pick my preferred of the two heads, because they’re both very good.  Which one is better really depends upon what sort of pose you want the figure in.  Paintwork on both heads is fairly internally consistent.  The application is quite clean, his palette is appropriately washed out, and there’s even a nice dark grey wash over the face to give him a more dynamic, comic book-inspired appearance.

Despite his smaller stature, Batman is built in a similar fashion to a 1/6th scale item, with an underlying body and a cloth costume.  Space Ghost was built on a smaller body than the one here, but they’re similar in construction.  It poses very well, which is the most important thing by my count.  The costume is made up from a mixed media effort.  The main body suit, shorts, and cape are all cloth items.  They’re pretty well tailored to the body, though the shorts could perhaps be a little tighter fitting.  They aren’t too off, but they definitely end up looking pretty similar to a Mego offering.  The body suit has the logo screened onto it.  It’s a rubbery sort of material, so it shoulded end up stretched out or anything over time. The cape is one of the more impressive Batman capes.  It’s a thin material with no internal wire or anything, so I wasn’t expecting much at first, but it hangs really well on the body and is a lot of fun to mess with during posing.  The belt, cuffs, and boots are all sculpted elements, as is the neck piece that goes under the cape and holds the costume in place.  The sculpted detail is quite impressive, and the boots and gloves in particular are very nice, as they’ve been done up with texturing to match the masks on the two heads.

The accessory complement for this Batman is definitely a solid selection of extras.  In addition to the two heads, he’s got four different sets of hands (in fists, open palm, gripping, and batarang-wielding configurations) which make for lots of fun options when posing.  He’s also got a leg strap of pouches, as he sports for some parts of the story, his rifle, a grappling hook, and a display stand.  The display stand can be used as either a standard pegged stand or a flight stand, and in the flight stand configuration, there’s an extra wired attachment, which can be used to dynamically pose the cape.  It definitely takes some getting used to, and I couldn’t really see myself using it for long term posing, but it certainly helps with some nice photo set-ups.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was very much tempted by this figure when he was originally released, but as only a moderate fan of Dark Knight Returns, I didn’t know if I could justify the higher price tag.  Still, I’ve been intrigued by this figure since its release, and having it in hand, I can definitely say this is one of the best Batman figures out there.  I’m now really interested in checking out Mezco’s follow-up Batman, the Ascending Knight.

The item reviewed here is not from my personal collection, but was instead provided to me for review by my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re interested in owning the very Batman figure reviewed here today, head on over to their eBay listing for this item.  If you’re looking for other toys, both old and new, please also check out All Time’s full eBay store front, and take a look at their webstore at alltimetoys.com.

#1737: Batman – Superfriends

BATMAN — SUPERFRIENDS

DC COMICS MULTIVERSE (MATTEL)

In addition to overall DC theme, I’m introducing a sub-theme today.  I know, that’s a lot to handle, but bear with me.  Anyway, the theme I’m going with is Batman on alternating days.  Why?  Because I have a lot of Batmen, that’s why.  Today’s Batman follows the trend set by yesterday’s Green Lantern, being at the very least inspired by the Super Friends cartoon.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Superfriends Batman was distributed through the same means as Green Lantern, being a Walmart-exclusive entry in the DC Comics Multiverse line.  He, too, would actually stay a Walmart exclusive, unlike the second half of the Super Friends sub-set (who, despite their non-exclusivity, I don’t actually have).  Unlike GL, Batman’s a pretty natural choice for this assortment, since Batman was with Super Friends for its entire run, and was a pivotal player in most episodes.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  For the most part, his sculpt is a straight re-use of the DC Universe Classics Series 1 Batman, with one small exception.  The sculpted cape has been replaced with a cloth one, which has been done in the style of the old Super Powers capes.  Not *quite* the right source material, but it’s goofy and fits the general aesthetic.  I find myself liking the look of it quite a bit, actually, though it’s definitely not going to be for everyone.  AS with Hal, Bats’ mold is definitely showing its age and the wear from all those repeated uses.  On my figure in particular, one of the shoulders doesn’t even quite peg together the right way.  Batman’s paintwork actually ends up more faithful to the source material than GL, which is a plus.  It’s also pretty clean, and likewise very bold.  It looks good on this sculpt.  I appreciate the return of the black shading on the cowl (it’s true to the show, but I wouldn’t have put it past Mattel to leave it off).  Bats even makes out pretty well on the accessories front.  To start with, he’s got the same base and backer card as GL (with the same issue with the peg on the stand).  The back of both cards has part of the Super Friends logo, so that if you get all four, you have the whole thing.  In perhaps the most Mattel move of all, GL and Batman (who, it should be noted, shipped together) don’t have sequential cards, unless of course you really want to celebrate the “Per Inds”.  Fortunately, Batman gets more accessories than GL; he also gets a grappling hook and a batarang (and it does *not* have “CHINA” stamped on it, which was a nice change).

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I grabbed Batman at the same time as GL, from an Ollie’s for $3.  I couldn’t just leave him there, now could I?  That would have been cruel.  Minor issues aside, this figure is actually not terrible.  He’s hardly going to be anyone’s default Batman, but unlike GL, he seems to more fully embrace the concept Mattel was going for.

#1735: Batman – Dark Knight Returns

BATMAN — DARK KNIGHT RETURNS

DC COMICS MULTIVERSE (MATTEL)

Hey hoooo, it’s a Mattel review.  Haven’t done one of these in a little while.  Ooooooo boy, this’ll go well.

Running parallel to Hasbro’s hit line Marvel Legends, Mattel has their own DC line, DC Comics Multiverse.  It started as a 3 3/4 inch line, before making a jump a few years ago when 3 3/4 inch figures were largely dropped by the toy industry.  One of the earliest offerings from the reformed Multiverse was a set of commemorative figures celebrating the 30th anniversary of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns.  Of the three figures offered, I’ve looked at two.  Today, I’m looking at the last of those three, Batman himself!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Batman was a Walmart-exclusive release from the DC Comics Multiverse line.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 25 points of articulation.  Batman’s actually just a slight retooling of an earlier Batman Unlimited Dark Knight Batman, with a new head.  By extension, that means he shares a lot of pieces with the DKR Superman I looked at back when they were first released.  It’s very similar to the Masters of the Universe Classics base body, but Mattel to this day insists they are completely separate molds.  I guess I just have to believe them.  It works well enough for what they’re going for.  Obviously, it doesn’t really look that much like Frank Miller’s artwork, but it melds decently enough with the DCUC style that Mattel was trying to carry forward.  In the context of the whole MotU concept, and even Superman to a smaller degree, the body works, but for Batman, it feels a little….lumpy?  Balloon-y?  I don’t know.  It just feels somewhat off.  The new head goes for a more reserved look than the prior DKR Bats, though he’s still a little grumpy.  I think it’s perhaps a little large for the base body, and it’s definitely on the softer side.  Compared even just to the other two figures from this same assortment, it looks rather off, as both Superman and the Son of Batman figures have much crisper details.  Batman’s sculpt has a quality not unlike mashed potatoes, if I’m honest.  It’s kind of lumpy and ill-defined, even by Mattel standards.  Also bad even by Mattel standards?  The paint.  Sloppy doesn’t begin to describe it.  It looks like the yellow paint was applied from across the room.  It’s just everywhere.  His logo’s at least not terrible, but the general lack of paint overall just makes the rest of the mistakes that much more noticeable.  Batman was packed with a single accessory: one lone batarang…with “CHINA” stamped on one side.  Apparently he gets all those wonderful toys from China.  Who knew?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, I bought the Superman figure at full retail, and I liked him well-enough.  And I got the Son of Batman for a decent discount, and he was alright.  I already had the Unlimited figure of this guy, though, so I wasn’t in much of a hurry to get him.  I ended up buying him *not* from Walmart at all.  I instead found him at an Ollie’s, for $3.  That was enough to get me invested.  I gotta say, I’m really glad that I didn’t pay full price for him, because…well, he’s just not that strong a figure.  I guess I’ve had worse figure, but there’s not a lot that this figure does right.

#1662: Batman

BATMAN

SUPER POWERS (KENNER)

“Batman, The Caped Crusader.  Powers: Accomplished acrobat, a keen detective’s mind, ace criminologist, martial arts expert. Has utility belt with scientific crime-fighting equipment.  Weaknesses: Mortal.  Enemies: Joker, Penguin, Riddler, Catwoman, The Scarecrow, Two-Face.  Secret Identity: Bruce Wayne.”

Kenner’s Super Powers is undoubtedly the greatest DC toyline ever.  Yet somehow, I’ve only managed to review five figures from the line.  Those are rookie numbers!  I gotta pump those numbers up!  To do that, I’m going to look at by far the most toyetic character in the whole line (though, amusingly, not the character in the line with two figures; that’s Superman), Batman!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Batman was released in the first series of Super Powers figures. With himself, his sidekick, and two of his villains, Batman’s corner of the DCU was the most fleshed out in the first series.  He, like the rest of the standard DC characters in the line, was based on his Jose Garcia-Lopez-illustrated entry in the 1982 DC Style Guide.  It’s Batman’s yellow-circled, capsule-belted, short-eared, light blue-shaded Silver Age design, which had been in use for 20 years at the time of this figure’s release.  That’s a pretty good run, and a pretty good choice.  The figure stands 4 3/4 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  Batman’s sculpt matches the rest of the line, in that it’s totally unique to him, and while it’s certainly a product of its time, it doesn’t look half bad under modern day scrutiny.  As with both Superman and Wonder Woman, he’s a little wider than his Garcia-Lopez-drawn self.  It seems most evident on Batman, since at the time he was usually depicted as rather svelte, especially when compared to the likes of Superman.  That being said, I do like that he’s distinctively smaller in build than Superman; a lot of lines these days don’t observe that.  The head’s probably the weakest part of the sculpt, being kind of squat, and having a chin that makes him look a bit too much like the Tick.  It’s worth noting that when Kenner repurposed this sculpt for their Batman and Batman Returns lines, the head was the one part they replaced outright (though part of that was undoubtedly to add a more Keaton-inspired head to the figure).  Like all the caped figures in this line, Batman had a cloth cape, attached by a rather bulky clip at the neck.  Mine’s a little worse for wear; when he was new, the color of the cape matched the rest of the figure a bit better.  I don’t think his cape worked quite as well as some of the line’s other figures, but it’s serviceable.  Batman’s paint continues the Super Powers trend of being clean, and very bright.  He definitely stands out on a shelf.  Batman of course got an action feature, dubbed the “Power Action Bat Punch.”  It’s the exact same feature used on Superman, down to having essentially the same name (though Batman adds and Adam West-style “Bat” descriptor to the name).  Not particularly inventive or anything, but it works.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Batman came late in the game of my Super Powers collecting.  I had plenty of other versions of the character, so he didn’t have the same appeal as some of the others.  Like so many of the line, he was a Christmas present from my parents.  I had specifically asked for him and Green Arrow that year.  They both arrived, as part of a larger lot that also got me Superman and Wonder Woman, as well as a number of accessories I’d been missing up to that point.  Batman was never really the star attraction there, but he’s always been a solid support figure, and he’s definitely one of the best versions of the character out there!

#1624: Batman

BATMAN

TOTAL JUSTICE (KENNER)

“Batman – and alter ego millioinaire industrialist Bruce Wayne – relies on his superb athletic skills, excellent detective work and amazing crime-fighting devices to combat the forces of evil. Using his Fractal Techgear armor equipped with side rocket thrusters and rigid glider cape, the Dark Knight is able to soar through the night skies to take on evildoers.”

In the ‘90s, any DC product that wasn’t Batman was a serious rarity.  Less than a decade after the expansive Super Powers line, Kenner’s only full DC line was Total Justice, a line that didn’t even manage to get us a whole Justice League line-up.  Still, it was all we had, and we liked it, darn it.  So, what figure am I looking at from this decidedly non-Batman-centric line?  Batman, of course.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Batman was released in Series 1 of the Total Justice line, the first of two variants of the character available over the course of its run.  This one was the more standard of the two.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation, plus sliding glider wings.  I know what you’re thinking:  sliding glider wings?  Why on earth does Batman have sliding glider wings?  Your guess is as good as mine.  I guess Kenner just wanted to do something different.  Beyond the wings, we have a sculpt that is perhaps the most Total Justice-y Total Justice sculpt ever released.  Pre-posed doesn’t *begin* to describe this guy.  He’s contorted in all sorts of crazy ways.  Why?  Because he’s Batman, I guess.  On top of that, his muscles are insanely detailed and just about to tear through his costume.  His muscles have muscles.  He’s likely beaten up crime and stolen all of its muscles, just to augment his personal supply of muscles.  And then he used his fortune to buy a few more muscles on top of that.  Lot of muscles is what I’m getting at here.  The crazy thing about it all?  I actually kind of like it.  It’s crazy extreme, but the tiny details in areas like his boots and gloves are rather impressive.  As insane as this sculpt is, someone was clearly having fun with it.  The paint on Batman is decent enough, though it’s fairly basic stuff overall.  A lot of the color work is just molded plastic, but what paint’s there is cleanly applied.  Batman, like his line-mates, was packed with a bunch of goofy tactical armor.  Because what Batman really needs is a set of tech-y armor with a rocket mounted on each knee.  That’s so like him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I did not have this particular Batman growing up.  I *did* have the JLA repaint, but he didn’t have the fancy Tactical Armor, and what’s this Batman without the armor?  I picked this guy up from Lost In Time Toys, back during the holiday season, when they were running a 50% off sidewalk sale.  This figure is kind of ridiculous, but in the best possible way.

#1599: New Frontier Boxed Set

SUPERMAN, BATMAN, WONDER WOMAN, & GREEN LANTERN

DC’s NEW FRONTIER (DC DIRECT)

One of my favorite DC stories is Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier.  It’s a great period piece, with amazing artwork, and a great focus on a few of DC’s lesser followed characters.  It was fortunate enough to get a a whole line of figures focused on it back in the day, which remains one of my favorite products from DC Direct to this day.  I’ll be looking at a few of those figures today!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These four figures were released as a special boxed set to coincide with the release of the Justice League: New Frontier animated film in 2008.  All four figures had originally seen release in DCD’s New Frontier toyline from 2006, before being re-released (with minor tweaks) here.

SUPERMAN

This figure is essentially unchanged from his single-packed release.  Of course, I never got that one, so he’s new to me.  Cooke’s take on Superman is a nice merging of styles.  He’s the character I think best encapsulates the ‘50s feel of the story, and a lot of that comes from his slightly tweaked version of the classic Superman.  He’s got a definite Fleisher flair to him, which I definitely dig.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  Hardly a super-posable figure, but he can get into some decent standing poses.  His sculpt is definitely one of the best in the line.  The details are sharp, and the line work is very clean.  Cooke’s style has been translated very well here, and Clark looks like he’s been lifted right off the page.  The shaping of things like the hair and the cape, and even the wrinkles where his costume has bunched up in a few places, are just perfect matches for the way Cooke drew his take on Superman.  The figure is slightly preposed in nature, but it’s not super awkward or anything.  It is, instead, a slight off-shifted balance of his weight to one side, which provides quite a naturalistic stance.  The paint work on Superman is pretty solid work.  It’s cleanly applied, and the palette nicely matches the more subtle hues of the book’s colors.  The original Superman included a camera and a rather elaborate display stand.  This release only gets a more simple black display stand.

BATMAN

Batman is another figure that was essentially unchanged for this second release.  He is notably distinct from the Designer Series Batman.  That one was based on the ‘40s styled Batman from the first half of the story.  This one goes for the ‘50s styled Batman as he appears in the back half of the book.  I always found this an interesting choice, since a lot of Batman’s role is in that first half, thus making this figure the less prominent design.  The figure is, somewhat frustratingly, taller than Superman.  He’s also a bit bulkier overall, which just looks…strange.  Cooke certainly didn’t draw Batman as the larger of the two, so why DCD went this way is anyone’s guess.  In general, Batman’s sculpt is a bit of a mess.  I mean, there are certainly nice qualities to it.  The head’s pretty strong, and the whole figure still manages to get the style down pretty decently.  The big flaw of this figure is his pre-posed nature.  More specifically, it’s the fact that I’ve never been able to figure out exactly what pose he’s *supposed* to be in.  Absolutely nothing looks natural.  He’s got this sort of a chest-thrust thing going on, but nothing else about him seems to match up with that.  The end result is…less than appealing.  On the plus side, the paint’s pretty decent.  Application is clean, the colors match the comic, and it just generally looks pretty good.  Guess something had to.  As with Superman, Batman’s only accessory is a display stand.

WONDER WOMAN

Darwyn Cooke’s Wonder Woman is my very favorite take on the character, especially in terms of design.  He very deftly merged her classic design with a more battle-ready amazonian look, creating a rather unique design for the character.  All of the important elements remained, of course, and it’s actually a pretty great send-up to the early Wonder Woman illustrations.  This figure marks this set’s first real deviation from the single releases, and it’s perhaps one of the first times that DC Direct ever directly addressed a problem with an initial release.  Wonder Woman gets a new head, which is a slightly more generalized expression, replacing the more intense (and not quite as well implemented) expression of the original figure.  I definitely prefer this one to the original release, though it’s a shame DCD didn’t give another stab at a more intense look.  The rest of the sculpt is straight from the original figure, and it’s actually pretty good.  Like Batman, Wonder Woman goes far more preposed than Superman, but unlike Batman, it doesn’t totally suck.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  The stance is very befitting the battle-happy Wonder Woman of the story.  The details of the sculpt are pretty fantastic, and I especially like the nicks and gashes taken out of her bracelets and shin guards.  Wonder Woman’s paint work is once again pretty decent.  It’s clean, and actually pretty bright, and slightly less subdued than the others in this set, which is appropriate for the character.  The original Wonder Woman release included an extra head, as well as a sword, lasso, and display stand.  This one doesn’t have the extra head, but does still get the sword and lasso, as well as the smaller display stand.

GREEN LANTERN

Hal Jordan is really the closest New Frontier comes to a main character.  You’ll note I said Hal Jordan, and not Green Lantern, since Hal isn’t really GL until the last chapter of the story.  Of course, the costumed look is a bit easier to sell than just Hal in a flight suit, I’d suspect.  This figure is about 6 1/2 inches tall and has 15 points of articulation, the most of any of the figures in the set.  He has my second favorite sculpt in the set, second only to the Superman figure in that regard.  Once again, the line work is simple and clean, and Cooke’s style is expertly recreated here.  The posing to this figure is very subtle, but adds a lot of life to the figure.  I like the friendlier expression seen here, as it definitely fits with Hal’s depiction in the book.  The paint work on GL is the one notable change from the original figure.  The biggest change is giving him the green on his shoulders, meaning this is actually a Hal from later on in his career, presumably sometime after the story.  Technically, this change doesn’t quite match the sculpt, but it’s subtle enough not to really matter too much.  In addition, the green used on this figure has a bit less yellow in it, which makes him look a little cleaner to me.  The original GL figure included an extra unmasked head, as well as his power battery, and the display stand.  This figure only gets a smaller display stand.  It’s a shame his extras got cut.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up a good number of the New Frontier figures when they were originally released, but somehow I managed to miss both Superman and Wonder Woman from the first series.  I remember this set being released, but I passed on it because I already had Batman and GL.  By the time I’d become willing to accept the pair of duplicates, the boxed set and the original releases had both picked up a fairly heft after market value.  As I’ve mentioned a few times in the last few months, Cosmic Comix purchased a rather sizable action figure collection last year.  This set was amongst that purchase, and the guys at CCX were nice enough to sell it to me for quite a markdown from its usual going rate.  I’m happy to finally have Superman and Wonder Woman, and I quite like this variant of GL.  Batman still sucks, but what can you do?

FiQ Friday Fab Five at 5 #0001: Top 5 Batman Figures

What’s this?  Another feature?  Again?  Okay, Ethan, this is getting a bit ridiculous, don’t you think?  Why yes, I do think that hypothetical reader.  I think that very much.  Today’s feature, however, is not entirely my fault.  Like the addition of Wilson-4 (which necessitated taking an extra photo for every review I do), this one came from a friend of mine, who suggested this as an addition to the site.  While I certainly wasn’t looking to pick up more work for myself, I certainly couldn’t deny it was an intriguing idea.  So, what’s the idea?  Top five lists, covering my personal favorites of a given sub-genre of figures.  To keep myself sane, I’ll be limiting these to just the last Friday of each month.  Without further ado, I present the inaugural FiQ Friday Fab Five at 5, where I’ll be taking a look at one of the most toyetic characters of all time, Batman!  Now, there’s way too many Batmen for just one list, so today’s list is going straight for the standard, basic Batmen.  We’ll cover those wacky variants at a later date!

#5:     Batman – Darwyn Cooke DC Designer Series (DC Collectibles)

Darwyn Cooke is quite possibly my favorite Batman illustrator ever (heck, that could probably be extended to “favorite DC illustrator ever”), so action figures based on his work kind of seem like a shoo-in.  Unfortunately, DC Direct’s attempt in the New Frontier line left something to be desire.  Their successors at DC Collectibles took another stab, though, and released an awesome figure.  The only draw back of this figure is his reduced posablity, but if you’re just in it for the cool look, this one’s hard to beat.

#4:     Batman – Batman ’66 (NECA)

NECA’s annual “loophole abuse” figures in conjunction with Warner Brothers have been a ton of fun, and few moreso than their Adam West Batman.  After being let-down by Mattel’s lukewarm offerings, this was exactly the pick-up I needed.  And, thanks to how close the old show stayed in design, this is a figure that can also work as an awesome standard Batman.  The only thing holding this figure back are some minor QC issues that plagued his wrist joints, and I suppose the fact that he’s not a “true” Batman.

#3:     Batman – Super Powers (Kenner)

Kenner set the standard for a large chunk of the DCU with Super Powers, and in a lot of cases have yet to really be beat.  In the case of Batman, I have to admit, he’s not quite as all-conquering and victorious as his other SP-brethren, but he’s still a very solid addition to the line, and a huge piece in Batman’s toy history.  You gotta remember your roots.

#2:     “Last Rites” Batman – DC Icons (DC Collectibles)

It’s sort of amusing, right?  Seeing a figure whose review got the dreaded “Mistakes were made” tag on this site ending up in the #2 spot?  Truth be told, this is actually a really great figure, held back only slightly from greatness by his odd scaling issues.  Were he better scaled to the rest of his line, he’d have won top spot with little issue.  As it stands, he’s a fun figure who is sort of all alone.  But, if you’re just looking for a standard Batman on his own, this is a great one.

#1:     Batman – World’s Greatest Super Heroes (Mego)

Remember what I said about the Super Powers figure?  Remembering your roots and all that?  Yeah, that’s really where this guy comes into it.  He’s kind of goofy and he’s got those oven mitt gloves, but whether his mask is sculpted on or removable, there’s just something about Mego’s take on the Caped Crusader that just can’t be beat.

[Photo Credit: Mego Museum, since I don’t actually own this one]

 

#1554: Red Son Batman

RED SON BATMAN

ELSEWORLDS (DC DIRECT)

“Batman uses a form of radical brain surgery to turn rebels into calm and compliant believers in his party.”

Back in the ‘50s, the writers at DC Comics had a habit of creating stories that didn’t count, dubbed “Imaginary Stories.”  Even within the already fictitious world where there characters resided, these were stories that weren’t real.  You could do radical things, like kill Superman, or give him and Batman fully grown sons.  Eventually, this sort of evolved into full blown alternate universes which, when combined with worlds populated by the Justice Society, the Crime Syndicate, or the Freedom Fighters, formed the DC Multiverse.  The Crisis on Infinite Earths came along and undid all of that.  There was only one universe again.  Of course, that proved restrictive, and slowly those alternate universes started peaking their heads out again.  When the 1989 Gotham By Gaslight proved a notable success, DC founded their Elseworlds imprint, thus allowing a place for these “Imaginary Stories” again, albeit in a format that more resembled Marvel’s What If…?  The imprint was retired in the early ‘00s, but not before spawning a smattering of figures.  Today, I’ll be looking at one of those figures, namely Red Son Batman.  Superman: Red Son, for those unfamiliar, presents the tale of Superman with a slight twist: instead of landing in Kansas, baby Kal-L instead lands on a farm in the USSR.  Where does Batman come into that?  Well, contrary to the bio up top, he’s actually an anti-Superman terrorist, looking to bring down the Russian government.  Fun times.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Red Son Batman was released in the second series of DC Direct’s Elseworlds line.  Interestingly, the Elsewords line was originally shown as a fully dedicated Red Son line, which would have had Batman in its first series.  When the line was re-fitted, this version of Bats got pushed back to Series 2, where he was one of two Batmen (the other was based on Gotham By Gaslight, fittingly enough).  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and has 13 points of articulation.  Batman had a totally unique sculpt, based on his rather unique design from the comic.  All of the characters in Red Son got more utilitarian and practical designs than their main universe counterparts (well, apart from Superman himself), and Batman was no exception, though, admittedly, his design didn’t stray too far from his usual look.  The basic elements remain, but are augmented by things that make this design far more “real world” than “superhero.”  There’s no denying that the Red Son take on Batman is certainly a distinctive one, though, and I certainly can appreciate some of the small details that sell him as being a totally different person within this particular story (such as the holstered gun on his belt).  For the figure, the sculpt does an amazing job of translating the gritty and stylized look from the comic into three dimensions.  There’s some fantastic detail work on the sticking of his suit, as well as the fur lining of his cap, and even the stubble on his face.  The figure is slightly pre-posed, but it’s a more purposeful hunched sort of pose, in contrast to some of the “never looked right in any pose” figures that DCD was putting out at the same time.  The figure’s impressive sculpt is topped off by a similarly impressive paint scheme.  The basic work is all cleanly applied, and there’s some solid accent work going on to keep him from looking too squeaky clean.  I particularly like the mud stains on the cape and uniform.  They add a nice bit of character to the figure.  Batman is packed holding the detonator he attempts to use to defeat Superman in the story, but it can be swapped out for a bat-shaped pickaxe.  I prefer the detonator myself.  He also includes a display stand with the Elseworlds logo and his name on it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When the Elseworlds figures hit, I wasn’t immediately familiar with most of the source material.  Given the choice between the two Batmen in Series 2, I went for the Gotham By Gaslight version, since that was the one I knew.  I only read Red Son many years later, and by that point, the figures had mostly picked up a hefty aftermarket value, with Batman being perhaps the highest.  Recently, Cosmic Comix purchased a rather sizable collection of action figures, and this guy was among them.  They offered him to me for a reasonable price, so I went for it.  He was definitely worth picking up.  He makes for quite a cool looking figure!

#1552: The Riddler

THE RIDDLER

BATMAN: HUSH (DC DIRECT)

Batman’s regular foes have always had a pretty easy time with toys.  I suppose that comes with the territory, being a part of the most successful comics franchise in history and all.  That being said, some of them take priority over others.  While there’s never going to be a shortage of Joker figures, some of the second stringers get left out.  Take, for instance, Riddler.  Certainly high on the list of well-known Bat-Rogues, but he goes rather lengthy spans of time without action figures.  It actually took DC Direct a good couple of years before they got to him, and it was really only because he was a pivotal player in a storyline they were doing a full line of figures for.  But hey, beggars can’t be choosers.  Let’s take a look at that figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Riddler was released in the second series of DC Direct’s Batman: Hush toyline, and is based on Jim Lee’s illustrations from the “Hush” storyline.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  “Hush” saw Riddler in the business-suited attire he picked up in the mid-90s.  It’s a decent enough look, and helped to separate Riddler a bit from the legions of spandex-clad characters DCD was producing at the time.  With that being said, it was perhaps not a design that lent itself to a super exciting action figure, especially when it comes to articulation.  I would think that, at the very least, they would have tried to give him some knee joints or something.  Perhaps they wanted to preserve the integrity of the sculpt?  On the plus side of things, the sculpt is actually pretty solid.  He’s very clean and sharp.  The head definitely capture’s Lee’s artwork very well, especially the snide and serious expression,  I also really dig the question mark-shaped spit curl.  The body is really only designed to work in one particular pose, but it’s a decent enough pose, and you do have some options.  The paintwork is all pretty good; par for the era of figures.   The colors are all pretty bright, and the application is really clean.  Lee had removed the question marks from the suit, so the figure’s a little more basic looking that usual, but it’s accurate to the material.  Riddler was packed with his hat and cane, as well as a display stand.  My figure is missing the hat, but it was cool when he had it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I missed out on the first series of Hush figures when they were released, but when I saw the prototypes for Series 2, I knew I wanted to have this guy in my collection.  I got him new, courtesy of my regular store Cosmic Comix.  I remember this series got pushed back a couple of weeks, which was really frustrating, so I was thrilled when they finally arrived.  Riddler is, I think, the figure in this set that’s aged the worst, and he certainly shows his age.  That said, he’s still one of the best Riddlers out there, especially when it comes to depictions of his suited look.