Guest Review #0048: Super Sons

SUPERBOY & ROBIN

DC ICONS (DC COLLECTIBLES)

The following is a guest review by my dad, writer Steven H. Wilson!  Check out more from him over at his blog, located at stevenhwilson.com

So I bought this set a while back, on new comics Wednesday, and Ethan suggested I review the figures here, and then do a piece over on my blog about the characters and their history. You’ll note that Ethan’s blog is very focused, a new action figure review every day. Mine is not so much. It’s pretty much just whatever the hell I want to talk about, when I want to talk about it. And it hasn’t always been every day, though it has been for a while now. Anyway, here we have The Super-Sons!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Super-Sons are a two-pack in the DC Icons line, what I’m told may be the last such two-pack in the series.

SUPERBOY

The fifth (I think?) Superboy in DC Comics history, Jonathan White Kent is the son of Superman and Lois Lane. The original Superboy was Superman, but it’s unclear these days if that was Jon’s dad. The original grew up to be the Superman of Earth One, which was destroyed (more correctly, merged with a few other earths) in Crisis on Infinite Earths. Jon’s father is the Superman of that merged Earth, who when introduced, was established never to have been Superboy [well, at least until they decided he was…–E]. I don’t know if that still holds because DC history is confusing. The other Superboys were Kon-El, a clone of Superman with different powers, Jon-El, sort of the same deal, and, of course, the dreaded Superboy Prime, the young hero of Crisis on Infinite Earths who later went bad.

Little Jon Kent, ten years old, is growing into his inherited powers. He sort of flies, has some strength, and uses his heat vision an awful lot. True to his father’s influence, he’s a boy scout who’s afraid to swear. True to his mothers, he’s utterly fearless.

Previous Superboy figures have included one that came in a two-pack with his cousin Supergirl from DC Direct, and two Superboy Primes released in the DC Direct Infinite Crisis line and the Mattel DC Universe Classics line.

Superboy stands about 3 ½ inches tall and has 29 points of articulation. He comes with the Icons “flying” stand, a clear plastic cylinder section with a slanted top and a pin the attach his foot. Face and body are original sculpts, about an inch shorter than the male adult figures in the line. The facial sculpt is good, capturing Jon’s confident half-smile and eternal optimism.

His “uniform” (or are they play clothes) is well reproduced—a Superman hoodie he found at a second-hand store, jeans with a rip in the knee, a red T-shirt and short red cape. I think perhaps the hoodie is a bit too form-fitting. It’s shown looser in the comics, contributing more to Jon’s “still-growing” look, and his air of casual disregard for his appearance.

He’s very poseable, although I had a hard time getting him into the “Up, up and away” pose shown on the box.

Like all Icons figures, he comes with extra pairs of hands, specifically three this time around.

ROBIN

The son of Bruce Wayne (Batman) and Talia Al Ghul, daughter of Batman’s immortal enemy Ras Al Ghul, Damian Wayne is the sixth individual to carry the code name Robin, the others being Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drak, Carrie Kelly, and Stephanie Brown (very briefly). Damien Wayne is 13, short for his age, and pretends he only hangs out with Jonathan Kent because the kid has powers, not because he actually likes him, and not because their fathers have pretty much bullied them into being “friends.”

This is the sixth Damian Wayne Robin figure, the last coming out from Mattel’s DC Comics Multiverse line just recently, as well as one from Mattel’s online subscription service, two from DC Collectibles’ Son of Batman and Lil’ Gotham lines, and one from DC Direct’s Batman Incorporated before that.

The figure stands about 3 inches tall, with 29 points of articulation. The facial sculpt shows Damian pouting and angry, because, if Damian ever smiled, his head would explode in order to expel his face away from it with as much force as possible. Or maybe he’s just pissed that the figures so accurately represent how much smaller he is than his junior partner.

I wish he had come with an interchangeable head, so that he could be displayed with his hood up. He does come with a five sets of hands (in fists, flat, two different grips, and with bloody talons), and a staff to make up for not having a flying stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I looked forward to the Super-Sons title, because I was a kid when the original Super-Sons were having their imaginary adventures. (More about them on my own blog.) It’s such a completely hokey idea, and it was always great fun. I think Peter Tomasi has integrated the hokey idea into a fun book that works for a new generation of more-sophisticated (read: really jaded) readers. I was glad to see them rendered in action-figure form, since I doubt the original “Superman, Jr.” and “Batman, Jr.” (Yep, those were their names!) ever will be.

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#1466: Batman

BATMAN

DC ICONS (DC COLLECTIBLES)

For today’s DC Icons Friday, I’m taking a bit of a leap back.  The last three weeks have all been figures from ore towards the end of the line’s run, but for this one I’ll actually be going all the way back to the earliest releases of the line.  I’ll be taking a look at the heaviest hitting of DC’s heavy hitters, Batman, in his inaugural Icons figure form.  Strap in FiQ-fans; this one might get a bit bumpy.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Batman is figure 01 in the first series of DC Icons figures.  Interestingly, though he’s numerically the first, he ended up hitting a week after the other three Series 1 figures, for unknown reasons.  Batman’s packaging lists that he’s based on the “Last Rights” storyline, which was the follow-up to the “Batman R.I.P.” that deals with the various Bat-cast’s reactions to the death of Bruce Wayne.  It’s an odd choice for a Batman figure, since, as you might have guessed, he spends the story…well, dead…ish (it’s a long, convoluted, complicated story.  Best not to ask further questions).  I think there’s a flashback with Bruce in costume at some point, but it’s brief.  Odd choice of storyline aside, it’s really just a pretty standard pre-Final Crisis Batman, which is generally a good thing, since that’s a rather definitive take on the character.  The figure stands a little under 6 inches tall…yeah, you read that right.  Here’s what its hands down the greatest flaw of this figure: he’s too short.  He’s one of the shortest Icons figures produced.  And that just doesn’t quite work out, since he’s Batman, and he really shouldn’t be that short.  And it’s not like he just missed a little height in his legs or torso or something; he’s actually just a smaller scaled figure, so he looks out of place next to most contemporary 6-inch lines, including the line he’s actually a part of.  Looking at the positives, he’s got 29 points of articulation, and is without a doubt one of the best articulated Batman figures ever to be produced.  Only the later Rebirth Batman really surpasses him.  Some of the articulation could still be better, of course.  The lack of any joints on his thighs continues to be the biggest flaw of any Icons release, and his neck joint is rather limited (and his head has an annoying tendency to pop right off the joint at a moment’s notice).  Still, there’s a lot of great poses that this guy can pull off that no other Batman really can.  This Batman figure has a unique sculpt, which is definitely one of the better Batman sculpts out there.  Like the other figures in the line, it’s based on Ivan Reis’s work, and makes for a very satisfying Batman, at least from a design front.  He’s less pouty than his Rebirth compatriot, which I like, and is in general one of the more realistically built figures in the line.  I like the small details like the wrinkles in his costume, and I love how well the belt turned out.  Even the cape is well done, and I’m the sort of guy that’s hard to please when it comes to capes.  The only real issue I have is the gauntlets of his gloves, which have the “spikes” placed on the sides, when they actually should be running on the backs of his forearms.  It’s a symptom of the gloves originally having a swivel joint above them that was later removed; they were just affixed in the wrong position.  Paintwork on this figure is pretty decent overall.  The colors match up well with the usual look of a mid-00s Batman, and the application is mostly pretty clean, aside from a few very minor spots of slop.  There’s one slight oddity with the paint; for some reason he’s got a pair of black eyebrows painted on his cowl.  Now, eyebrows aren’t uncommon on Batman designs, but the modern look mostly dispensed with them, so they can look a little goofy.  Fortunately, they’re effectively invisible to the naked eye.  Batman is packed with two sets of hands in fists and gripping poses, as well as an additional left hand holding a grapple, and a pair of batarangs.  It’s a decent selection of extras, though I can’t say any of it’s terribly exciting.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t buy this figure when he was new, largely due to the whole scale thing.  I thought he looked cool, but the size was a big obstacle.  Cosmic Comix also never seemed to keep him in stock for particularly long, so it’s not like there was one there to tempt me.  With the cancellation of the Icons line, I’ve been feeling a little bad for it, so I’m working on tracking down as many of them as I can.  Batman’s value’s actually taken a bit of a jump on the after market, so I didn’t really think I’d be getting him soon.  Then Cosmic Comix found one in their back room, and priced him at his original retail, so I figured why not?  This figure is frustrating.  Taken purely on his own, he’s possibly the greatest single Batman available.  The problem is he sort of exists in this weird vacuum, where nothing really goes with him.  On the plus side, I did remember that I had a similarly mis-scaled Tim Drake Robin from DC Universe Classics, so at the very least these two now have each other.

#1459: Justice League Rebirth Set

SUPERMAN, BATMAN, WONDER WOMAN, FLASH, GREEN LANTERN, AQUAMAN, & CYBORG

DC ICONS (DCC)

It’s Friday, which means it’s time for another entry in my latest recurring feature…F-DC F-icons Fridays?  Yeah, there’s a name that’s catchy and rolls right off the tongue.  Not content to just review one DC Icons figure a week, I’ve decided to continue my descent into madness and review seven of them in one day.  And you all get to be here for that descent.  Don’t you just feel so special? Without further ado, let’s look at the Justice League!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and Cyborg were released in March of this year in the “Justice League Rebirth” boxed set, as part of the DC Icons line.  The set’s actually been in progress since mid-2016, when it was initially shown as a New 52-themed set, before being updated to reflect the characters in their most recent looks (for the most part), and tying it into the DC Rebirth relaunch.

SUPERMAN

This figure’s my primary reason for grabbing this set, since Rebirth actually got me reading Superman and Action again.  This figure actually just saw a single release a few weeks ago, which looks to be identical, apart from the packaging.  The design of this figure comes from the initial Rebirth books, after the older Post-Crisis Clark took over the identity again.  It’s already been replaced by a tweaked design, but it’s not too far off.  I actually quite like this design; it’s not the classic look, but it’s way ahead of the other post-New 52 looks.  It’s still weird to see a Superman without the red shorts, but I think making his boots blue helps to alleviate some of the color imbalances caused by that.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and has 29 points of articulation.  Superman follows the “new” scale for Icons, meaning he’ll fit in best with figures from later in the line’s run.  He’ll also fit with some Marvel Legends depending on how much of a stickler you are for inter-character scaling.  He’s a little smaller than a Legends figure built on the Reaper body (as seen in the comparison pic with Cap).  Since he’s so sized up, he can’t really use any pieces from the first Icons Superman, making this figure an all-new sculpt.  It’s not bad work at all.  The build of the figure seems about right for Supes, and the proportions are all pretty balanced.  Detailing is all pretty clean and bold as well.  The head is pretty solid too; it’s got a nice friendly expression that seems right for Clark.  It feels maybe a touch wide, and perhaps a bit young for the more experienced Clark Kent this figure is meant to represent, but by and large I find myself really liking it.  The cape is made from a soft plastic, and it’s very nicely done.  After years of Mattel capes that have to be attached with a huge brick that utterly ruins the flow, this is a very refreshing piece.  In terms of paint, Superman is decent, if perhaps not fantastic.  The basic colors are all good matches for the source (the blue is a touch dark for my taste, but that’s accurate) and he looks pretty slick overall.  My only real issue is with the face, which just seems a little bit lopsided.  It’s the sort of thing that looks totally fine from most angles, but really goofy if you catch it the wrong way. Still, good work overall.  Superman includes no accessories.  Of course, that’s true of the entire set.  At least Supes doesn’t feel too light without the extras.

BATMAN

This guy also saw a single release, at the same time as the Superman figure.  It’s hardly a shock, what with it being Batman and all.  Batman is also sporting his look from Rebirth, but he’s been fortunate enough not to have it already change on him.  It’s another decent design.  It doesn’t speak to me quite as much as the Superman design, but that’s less about any particular element pulling me out, and more about it not being too terribly different from all the other Batman designs in recent years.  I can point out what’s different between this and the New 52 design if put on the spot, but they’re fundamentally the same.  Well, this one has less tactical-tech lines, which is certainly a plus.  The figure is 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Batman’s maybe a smidge taller than Superman, depending on posing.  I generally like for Bruce to be a little shorter, but it’s easy enough to have Clark standing straight and Bruce slightly hunching.  The important thing is that this Batman is taller than the Icons Nightwing, which can’t be said of the first Icons Batman (which is absolutely dwarfed by this release).  The very first prototypes of this set showed Batman using quite a few pieces from the older figure, but this guy ended up as a totally new sculpt.  It has its pluses and minuses, to be sure.  As a whole, I think it’s a strong sculpt, and it does a good job of conveying a modern era Batman.  He’s got a good, solid build, and the details on the costume appear to be more or less accurate to his new design.  The mouth seems ridiculously pouty, but Batman is the king of brood, so I guess that just goes with the territory.  His head is set a little higher on the barbel than other Icons figures, which can look a little off in straight standing poses, but actually affords him a good deal more range on his neck joint, which is pretty nice for a guy who does a lot of hunching.  The figure’s topped off with another nicely rendered cape, which has a flow to it that is just as well-crafted as, but completely unique from, Superman’s.  Paint on Batman is very solid work.  Nothing seems out of place like on Superman, and everything’s very bold and clean.  Perhaps the purple could be a little more noticeably different from the black on the cape, but that’s a very minor complaint.  Batman feels a little more hurt by the lack of extras; at the very least a batarang or something would have been nice.

WONDER WOMAN

This set’s Wonder Woman was actually the first in the line, though her single release wasn’t far behind. Unlike the last two, Wonder Woman’s single release was quite a bit different, leaving this one still exclusive to the larger set.  Wonder Woman was another big motivator for me buying this set since, like Superman, Rebirth got me reading her title again.  She’s sporting her first Rebirth look, which was sort of an update on her classic look, with a dash of the movie design thrown in.  She’s switched to something even more movie inspired since, but as with Superman, I sort of prefer this one.  The figure stands almost 6 3/4 inches tall and she has 29 points of articulation.  Yes, you read that height correctly; Wonder Woman really is almost a half an inch taller than Superman and Batman.  I’m not inherently opposed to her being taller than the other two (my favorite take on Diana is most certainly Darwyn Cooke’s, and he drew her as an inch or so taller than Clark), but this feels like a little much.  I think my issues ultimately stem from how the height is distributed; her proportions are a little out of whack, so her legs, specifically her thighs, end up taking most of the height and looking a bit longer than they should.  There’s a similar issue with the arms, where the forearms and biceps look really long relative to the shoulders and torso.  If you look at the comparison between her and the other two, you can see that despite her pelvis being a good half-inch higher than the other two, the hands all end in the same spot.  It’s not awful, but it does look a little off, at least in comparison to the other figures in the set.  On the plus side, it does make her the one figure in this set that fits in with Legends without any fudging.  Regarding the quality of the sculpt on its own, this figure’s a bit tricky.  Based on photos online and my initial reaction right out of the box, I was all ready to hate on the sculpt.  But then I took her out, and was messing with her for the photos and such and I realized it’s actually not a bad sculpt at all; it’s just an exceptionally hard to photograph one.  This figure looks very different based on the angle you catch her from, and she really doesn’t look great viewed from above.  But, head-on, she actually looks rather nice.  Yes, the proportions are still a little off, there’s no denying that, but I like more about this sculpt than I dislike.  Given the right pose, she actually looks pretty great, and given just how bad a lot of prior Wonder Woman figures have been, that’s very much a compliment. Wonder Woman’s paint work is definitely on the better end of things.  From what I’ve seen, there’s a bit of variance on the face, but mine seems to have turned out alright, and I really dig how bright all the colors are.  I didn’t know colors were allowed to go that bright on a DC figure.  Wonder Woman gets hit pretty hard by this set’s lack of accessories, because it means she loses her defining weapon: a big ol’ sword!  I jest, of course.  Who would ever think her defining weapon was a sword?  That’s just silly.  She’s actually missing her lasso, which is a real staple of the character, and a rather glaring omission.  It would have been nice to at the very least have it coiled up hanging from her belt.

THE FLASH

Flash is one of the two figures in this set who I’ve looked at an Icons figure of before.  I was overall impressed by the Series 2 figure, so I wasn’t really in the market for another, especially not one based on his super line-y New 52/Rebirth design.  And yet, here we are.  Flash’s design was essentially unchanged for Rebirth; the only noticeable difference here is the lack of chin strap, but a quick Google search shows that totally varies from artist to artist.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and has 31 points of articulation.  Flash’s sculpt is all-new to this figure, but looks to have used the prior figure as a starting point at the very least; the musculature and sizing are all about the same, but the specifics of the costume have changed.  All of the yellow lines are etched into place, and there’s added details on the boots.  The head is a completely original piece, totally different from the Series 2 figure.  Since the head was the only part of that figure I had an issue with, I was intrigued by this one.  I’m happy to say, I find this one to be a serious improvement over the original.  The yellow lines aren’t etched into the head, so there’s a part of me that’s tempted to try and remove them so I can put this head on the old body, because I like it that much.  The paint work on Flash is mostly good, aside from one glaring issue:  he’s got a big spot of missing paint on the right side of his chin.  It’s a pretty noticeable flaw, and I’m definitely going to have to break out my paints to fix it.  Not the sort of thing I like having to do right out of the box, but I feel confident this is a one-off.  The lack of accessories for Flash is a bit less of an issue, but I do wish his default hands were flat running hands instead of fists.

GREEN LANTERN

GL is the other character for whom I’ve already reviewed an Icons release, and this figure’s even less different than Flash.  At first glance, this is a straight re-release of the deluxe Hal Jordan figure from Series 2.  However, that’s not quite the case.  You see, that figure was 6 inches tall, but this one is 6 1/4.  He’s also got tweaked hips to add the drop-hips that the rest of the set feature, so my first thought was that they’d simply sculpted new thighs with added height. Upon closer examination, I found that the entire figure has actually been ever so slightly enlarged, in order to bring him into scale with the rest of the set.  What’s more, the details of this figure’s sculpt are a lot crisper than those of the earlier figure, and the green has been changed to a more metallic sheen.  I loved this figure the first time I got it, and I still love it here.  Of course, I’m also frustrated by it, because it’s just different enough that it’s not a straight duplicate, so now I have to keep it.

AQUAMAN

You know the old saying: “if an Aquaman figure is released without a trident, does he make a sound?”  …Maybe that’s not quite it.  Regardless, here’s this Aquaman figure.  He’s based on the Rebirth design, which isn’t that much different from his classic look, apart from the gold around the collar and the lack of black shorts.  This figure stands about the same height as all of the other figures in the set, and has 29 points of articulation.  He’s really just a reworking of the single-release Aquaman, though, like with GL, he seems to have been scaled up ever so slightly.  The real difference between the two Aquamen is the head.  I can’t say I’m much of a fan of this one.  It looks fine on the prototype and all, but something was definitely lost in translation, leaving him looking rather goony.  It’s possible it’s just the paint making it look that way, though.  The rest of the sculpt is pretty top-notch.  The build is appropriate for him, and I really like the detailing on the scales of his shirt.  His paint is fairly decent; the colors are bright, and, apart from the odd placement of his eyes and a little bit of bleed over from his belt, it’s fairly well applied.  Aquaman’s lack of accessories here means that he doesn’t include his trident.  And I’m okay with that, because despite what pretty much every Aquaman figure ever would have you believe, he doesn’t really use a trident all that often.

CYBORG

This figure’s presence in this set frustrates me, because it sort of continues a persistent problem I’ve had with DC for several years now.  They keep shoving Cyborg into the Justice League, and it just upsets me.  I like Cyborg.  I like the Justice League.  I don’t really like Cyborg in the Justice League.  Especially when it’s at the cost of Martian Manhunter as a member, which it almost always is.  And that’s what the case is here.  In a seven figure Justice League set, I kind of expect a Martian Manhunter.  But noooooo.  No, in this set, we got Cyborg.  Cyborg who also got a single release with accessories.  Instead of Martian Manhunter, who was completely left out of the line, leaving my Icons Justice League sadly incomplete.  And of course, now I have a Cyborg, but not Titans to go with him, meaning that’s another incomplete team.  Bleh.  I’m sorry, all that ranting is largely to do with the fact that I *actually like* this figure.  Quite a bit, in fact.  His sculpt, even though it’s based on a more modern Cyborg than I tend to go for, is top-notch.  It’s sleek, well put together, and just plain cool looking.  He’s got 31 points of articulation, and it all works really, really well.  The joints are smooth, and the mobility is pretty sound.  He’s probably one of the best in the set, posability-wise.  Perhaps the only drawback to the figure proper is his lack of extras, since his forearms have clearly been designed to swap out for other arm attachments.  Just one of those would have been really cool.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After picking up Nightwing and Supergirl, and finding out that just about everything I wanted from Icons was cancelled, I was admittedly a little bummed.  That being said, I recalled that this set had been released, and I had checked it out a few times, before ultimately deciding it was a little bit on the pricey side for me.  I still really wanted that Superman, though, so I was excited to hear he was getting a single release.  I was less excited to hear that he was going to run me almost $30 and feature no additional accessories.  It was around this time that I discovered that Barnes & Noble’s website had marked this set down to half of it’s original value, and were also offering free shipping and $5 off orders over $25.  The final cost was $45, which is $6.43 a figure.  And that’s an amazing deal.  Superman’s awesome, as is Batman.  Wonder Woman’s better than I expected, if not perfect.  Flash isn’t my ideal costume choice, and has that one annoying paint flaw, but is a very good figure.  Green Lantern’s not the total repeat I expected, and fixes a few minor issues with the original.  Aquaman’s head sucks, but the single release has a spare head I can toss on the otherwise solid figure.  And I ranted a bit about Cyborg’s spot in the set, but he’s still a very, very well crafted figure.  If you want to give Icons a chance, I heartily recommend this set, and feel obligated to inform all of my readers that it’s still available at the discounted price on barnesandnoble.com.

#1452: Nightwing

NIGHTWING

DC ICONS

I’ve had a bit of theme to my purchases as of late, so for the next few Fridays, I’ll be sort of transferring that theme to the site and taking a weekly look at DC Collectibles’ DC Icons line.  Last week, of course, I looked at Supergirl, the first Icons figure I’ve bought in quite a while.  She was a pretty solid figure, so I went back for more, and grabbed the latest version of Dick Grayson, aka Nightwing.  I’m always in the market for a good Nightwing figure.  Is this one?  Let’s find out!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Nightwing is part of the fifth series of DC Icons, alongside Supergirl and the Super Sons.  He’s figure 24, which makes him the first in the set numerically.  Poor Nightwing is actually the last man standing from his initial series-mates; last summer he was first shown off in a series with Shazam, Sinestro, and Deadshot, but those three ended up cancelled, and Nightwing was pushed back a ways to be released alongside Supergirl.  Lucky him?  Nightwing’s package cites that he’s based on his appearance in “Hush,” which has always been one of my favorite Nightwing designs.  It dates back to the Hush line’s Nightwing figure, which has long been my favorite figure of the character. Hush’s more streamlined Nightwing design is really strong, so the design makes a lot of sense here, but it’s still a bit weird to wrap my head around a Hush-based figure that doesn’t actually look like a Jim Lee drawing.  Of course, there are worse things than a figure that looks like an Ivan Reis drawing, so I’m hardly going to complain.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 33 points of articulation.  The upscaling was somewhat evident on Supergirl, but it’s in full force on Nightwing.  He’s not really going to fit in with earlier Icons figures (especially not the Series 1 Batman, which is a little sad), but he’s now a little more at home with something like Marvel Legends.  Just for reference, he’s just a smidge shorter than a Bucky Cap-based figure; the only real inconsistency is the head size, but that’s minor.  Nightwing gets an all-new sculpt, and it’s a very strong one.  The articulation seems quite well worked in, and the figure feels very svelte and streamlined.  The build seems about right for Grayson and the etched-in edges to his logo are very nicely handled.  I wasn’t 100% sold on the head at first (it’s my love of that old DCD Nightwing’s head kicking in there), but after taking the figure out and viewing it from a number of different angles, I’m really happy with it.  Nightwing’s paint work is very strong, apart from one minor issue: the color of his mask.  If this is really a “Hush” Nightwing, then the mask really should be blue, not black.  To be fair to DCC, only the original release of the Hush Nightwing figure got that detail right; all of the re-issues changed it to black.  I have to wonder if it’s some sort of “brand identity” thing.  Beyond that, the paint’s great.  The glossy sheen helps the blue to pop really well up against the matte black, and I also like the high-gloss boots.  This is a very polished looking figure.  Nightwing is packed with his standard Escrima sticks, a batarang attacked to a grapple, and three pairs of hands in fists, and two variations of gripping.  Not a bad assortment.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

It’s all Cosmic Comix’s fault.  No, really.  They sold out of Nightwing initially, so I just bought Supergirl.  And I only would have bought her, content, and unaware of this figure’s existence.  And then they had to go and ask me if I wanted them to order me one.  Darn them and their clear knowledge of my collecting habits….

This figure’s a very strong offering.  I wasn’t sure about him, just based on how much I love that old Hush figure, but this one’s awesome, if for different reasons, maybe.  Regardless, this figure’s so awesome that I went online to see what other Icons figures were coming out, and that’s when I discovered that not only was the line essentially over, but that there were a ton of really cool figures that I wanted that got cancelled.  Now I am a sad Ethan.  But at least I got Nightwing, right?

#1392: Batgirl

BATGIRL

BATMAN ’66 (FUNKO)

Fun fact: did you know that the Barbara Gordon version of Batgirl was only created to help sell the third season of the ‘60s Batman show?  Well, sort of.  Carmine Infantino and Julie Schwartz were working on a way to revamp the Betty Kane “Bat-Girl”, when they were visited by the tv-show’s producers, who were looking for a hook for what would be the show’s final season.  They liked Infantino’s early designs for Barbara, and she was quickly introduced in the comics before making her on-screen debut shortly thereafter.  Yvonne Craig’s portrayal of Batgirl in the show is by far the most definitive take on the character, even years later.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Batgirl was released in the first series of Funko’s new Batman ’66 line of figures.  After being left out of the Mattel line at launch, it’s really nice to see Batgirl turn up much earlier in the new line.  These figures are in a similar style to Game of Thrones figures, but this feels like a property that’s more at home in the style.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and she has 11 points of articulation.  I definitely appreciate the hinges on the shoulders; it’s a shame we couldn’t get similar movement on the hips, but I’ll take what I can get.  The style of these figures has a vaguely retro feel to it, but it’s not quite as hardcore as the ReAction stuff.  The sculpt on Batgirl is somewhat streamlined and more simplistic, but she still manages to have some really incredible detail work, especially on the gloves.  The head actually sports a pretty solid likeness, definitely better than the Mattel version (and I even though that was one of Mattel’s better attempts in their line), and a very crisply defined cowl with her hair billowing out of the back.  The hair is well-placed, so as not to impede the neck movement, which is very much appreciated.  There’s a rubber cape, which is held in place by the head.  It’s fairly light-weight and flexible.  Definitely an improvement on the cloth cape from the Mattel stuff.  The paintwork on Batgirl is decent enough.  The application is all pretty clean, and there’s no real noticeable slop.  The belt has some slight bleed over onto the pelvis, but it’s minor.  I will say, while the flat colors look fine, I do sort of miss the metallics from the Mattel version, and I feel like at the very least, the jumpsuit should have been a little shiny.  Batgirl was packed with a Bat-Communicator, which is cool, though she has trouble holding it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When Funko announced they were doing this line, I will admit, I was skeptical.  I went all-in on the Mattel figures, and I was ultimately rather let down by those.  Similarly, I was only so-so on a lot of the ReAction stuff and the smaller-scale Game of Thrones figures.  But, I was at Lost in Time Toys, and they had Batgirl, and I really liked the look of her, so I figured I’d give the line a shot.  I kinda wish I’d waited it out for the Funko stuff, because I found this Batgirl to be a better put together figure than what we got from Mattel.  On top of that, I’m happy to see Funko starting to find their footing in the action figure world.  Here’s hoping they can maintain their niche. 

#1379: Jason Todd

JASON TODD

BATMAN: HUSH (DC DIRECT)

“When the mysterious Hush swoops into Gotham City, Batman is forced to cut a swath through his famed Rogues Gallery with the aid of his closest allies in a desperate search for the masked villain’s true identity!”

No body ever stays dead in comic books.  There used to be exceptions to that rule, but slowly but surely they’re all finding their way back.  One character who managed to stay dead for a decent chunk of time was Jason Todd, the second Robin.  Following his death in 1989’s “Death in the Family,” he was gone for almost two decades.  He was first “brought back” during Geoff Loeb and Jim Lee’s “Hush” storyline, where he was revealed to be the titular villain.  Over the course of that particular story it was revealed that (spoiler) it wasn’t really Jason at all, but instead Clayface masquerading as Batman’s dead partner to mess with Bruce’s head, and that Jason was still deceased.  But, a returned Jason proved to be a popular idea, and so it was retconned that Jason had indeed been brought back during the course of “Hush,” and he’s since taken up the role of Red Hood.  Comics everybody!  He’s had a crap ton of figures since his return, but today I’ll be looking at his very first proper figure….which may actually not be him…or maybe it is?  Ah, heck with it, let’s just look at the freaking figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Jason Todd was part of DC Direct’s Batman: Hush line, and was offered as a special ToyFare-exclusive, released just before the first series of the main line.  The figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  Not a lot of mobility, but it was pretty good for the time.  He’s based on the Jason-Hush from the comics, depicting him from his fight with Batman, following the dramatic unmasking.  It was a pretty easy way for DCD to get an extra use out of the Hush mold from Series 1, so that’s exactly what they did. The Hush body is actually a pretty nice bit of work, capturing Lee’s design and style very nicely, and offering a crisp, highly detailed sculpt.  It’s really only got the one pose, but you can finesse it a bit, which offers a bit of variety, I suppose.  He gets a new head, which is nicely sized for the body (which is more than can be said for the standard head), and does a respectable job of capturing “Jason” from the story.  I particularly like the slight sneering to the mouth; it adds a lot of Jason’s character to the figure and helps to further separate him from the similar-looking Dick Grayson.  The only one draw back to the figure is his hands.  The Hush figure had guns permanently molded into his hands.  They’re well-sculpted, and work fine for the basic Hush, but Jason never actually has guns during his fight with Bruce.  The figure was originally supposed to have spare hands, but they were dropped somewhere along the way.  The paint on Jason is tight and clean, and very bold.  It’s on par with the rest of the line, and it’s aged a lot better than contemporary figures.  There’s minimal slop, and there’s even some awesome weathering on the jacket and gloves.  The figure’s only accessory is a display stand, which is the same one included with the rest of the line.  It’s a shame he didn’t get anything else; as is, he feels a bit light.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Talk about grail figures.  This guy’s been on my list for a very long time.  I remember very well when he was offered in ToyFare, and I really wanted him.  However, as I’ve noted in my review of Rex Ganon, I only had the money for one of the two, and I ultimately chose Rex.  Since then, I’ve always kept an eye out for Jason, but he’s always been far out of my price range.  Earlier this year, I found someone at a toy show selling a complete set of Hush figures for $400, Jason included, and asked if he might part with just Jason.  He said he would, but quoted me $250 for Jason on his own, which was most definitely not happening.  I came across another Jason just a week later, at Gidget’s Gadgets, a regular stop of mine.  This time he was $70, a far more reasonable price, but still outside of my range.  Have I mentioned before how my family are too good to me?  Because they are.  See, my brother was with me both times I asked about Jason.  He knew I really wanted the figure.  So, being the truly amazing person that he is, he went out and bought me the one that GG was selling.  Have I mentioned I love this guy?  I’m beyond thrilled to have this figure.  I’d reconciled long ago that I’d never own one, but now I do.  And he’s really, really cool.

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.

#1319: Joker

THE JOKER

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS

“The Clown Prince of Crime is Batman’s deadliest and most unpredictable foe. Rumored to be a failed stand-up comedian turned petty criminal who fell into a vat of chemical waste while escaping from the scene of a crime – that incident turned his skin white and his hair green. Batman knows the Joker is certifiably insane, which makes the end result of his action  that much more deadly.”

A common complaint of DC Universe Classics was about its over-reliance on oddball, C and D-list characters that most of the general public hadn’t heard of, and the subsequent delaying of heavy hitter characters until too far into the line’s run.  Case in point: the Joker.  Batman’s greatest foe, and we had to wait more than a year to get him (made especially egregious by Harley Quinn’s presence in Series freaking 2).  Obviously, in a line like this, you want to hold some heavy hitters back, but 10 series seems like a bit much.  But, with the line wrapped and gone, at least he got a figure.  I’ll be looking at that figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Joker was released in Series 10 of DC Universe Classics.  I’ve been reviewing a lot of this particular series lately.  Not for any particular reason, or anything; just luck of the draw I suppose.  As I’ve noted in prior reviews, the series was the line’s second Walmart-exclusive series.  While it was far less scarce than the first, it still seems a little odd that DC’s most recognizable villain was relegated to a store-exclusive release.  There’s a reason this guy has one of the heftier aftermarket prices in the line.  Anyway, the figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  Joker is seen here in an appearance that’s about as classic as he can get (specifically, he’s modeled after his Super Powers figure as this was really when the line was leaning hard into the recreation of Super Powers).  He’s built on the body that was introduced with Gentleman Ghost, which was designed with Joker in mind.  In that effect, the cut of the suit matches up pretty well with classic depictions of Joker.  The body showcases a lot of Mattel’s troubles with working articulation into a sculpt naturally.  It’s nowhere near as bad as some of their more recent work, but it’s definitely not the strongest showing from DCUC.  On the plus side, it’s not awful to look at, especially if you chose a decent pose.  He had a unique head and neck, which are definitely the star pieces of this figure.  He also has a tweaked jacket, which removes the cape from Gentleman Ghost and adds a flower to his lapel.  It’s an okay piece, but slightly marred by the weird panel in the back where the cape was originally attached.  Why does Mattel insist on attaching capes with that huge rectangular peg?  I don’t think I’ll ever know.  The paint work on the figure’s actually pretty good.  The colors are nice and bold, and there’s some really well-executed accenting, especially on the hair and the vest.  The pinstripes on the legs could probably stand to be a little straighter, but they look decent enough.  Joker was actually pretty well accessorized.  He includes a joker-head cane, some playing card, a laughing fish, and a large green mallet (deliberately pattered after the one included with the Super Powers figure).  They were all pretty solid extras, among the best in the line.  He also included the right leg of Imperiex, the Series’ CnC.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Joker came from the same assortment of trips to Walmart with my Dad that netted me the previously reviewed Beast Boy.  I don’t recall the exact circumstances, but he was definitely a later find, since he was the most sought after initially.  He’s not one of my favorite DCUC figures, but that’s hardly because he’s bad.  He’s actually very well executed, apart from the slightly lackluster handling of the articulation.  For me, he just suffered from being “yet another Joker” in a series full of brand-new characters, but I suppose I’m a bit counter to most fans in that respect.

#1314: Nightwing

NIGHTWING

BATMAN: KNIGHTFALL (DC DIRECT)

“As Batman’s former ward, Nightwing returns to Gotham City to fight crime during the absence of his mentor.”

I’ve touched very briefly on “Knightfall,” the huge cross-over series that introduced Bane, broke Batman’s back, and gave us the new Batman Jean Paul Valley (formerly Azrael).  It’s actually one of the better regarded big cross-over stories of the ‘90s, largely due to DC consciously using common story elements for the time, and addressing some of the issues behind them. The story got some figures as part of the then running Legends of Batman line from Kenner, but no truly devoted line, until 2005, when the story was given a dedicated line of figures, courtesy of DC Direct.  I’ll be looking at one of those figures, Nightwing, today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Nightwing was released as one of the five figures in DCD’s Batman: Knightfall series, which, as I noted above, hit comic stores in 2005.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall (he’s from the period where the DCD scale creep was really kicking into overdrive, so he was a good half an inch taller then the two prior Nightwings) and he has 11 points of articulation.  He’s sporting his early ’90s costume, which generally isn’t one of my favorites.  It’s largely to do with the particularly egregious mullet that always accompanied it, but also due to the way he tended to be depicted as super bulky in this outfit.  I really have to commend this figure’s sculpt, because it  makes a lot of those issues less present.  In particular, his build is more svelte and similar to DCD’s prior Nightwings, and they’ve also gone with what’s probably the least dated interpretation of the mullet.  The sculpt isn’t perfect, mind you.  There are some slight oddities to the posing; his feet seem a bit wide spread, and I’m not entirely sure what’s going on with the left hand.  Also, his thighs seem oddly…flat.  Still, it’s remarkably well done, given how badly it could have turned out, depending on the iteration of the source material they followed.  One of the coolest things about this guy is the paint work.  The application is all pretty clean, and the colors just really pop.  I particularly love the metallic blue color that makes up the majority of the bodysuit.  It’s a good base color, and it really helps accentuate the brighter colors that have been placed on top of it.  Nightwing included a little…disc thing?  I guess it’s some sort of throwing weapon or something?  Mine’s missing his, but he could hold it in his right hand.  He also had a circular display stand with the “Knightfall” logo printed on it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m hard-pressed to come up with all that much interesting about this guy.  I know I bought him from Cosmic Comix, because that’s where I was getting all of my DC Direct figures at the time, but the exact nature of when or why I got him doesn’t seem to be coming to me.  I know I haven’t traditionally been a fan of this look, but this figure changed my mind on that.  While he’s not my favorite DCD Nightwing, but he’s still a very solid entry.  Also, one of only two figure versions of this particular design, for what it’s worth.

#1295: Egyptian Catwoman & Batman

EGYPTIAN CATWOMAN & BATMAN

LEGENDS OF BATMAN (KENNER)

In an effort to prevent this site from becoming all Marvel Legends all the time, and risking becoming too monotonous, today I’m going to be looking at a DC-related item.  Just to add a bit of variety.  Now, yesterday, I looked at a caped vigilante of the night with a bit of an Egyptian flair.  Today, I’ll be looking at…a caped vigilante of the night with a bit of an Egyptian flair.  The more things, the more they stay the same, right?  Today’s review takes us once more to Kenner’s Legends of Batman line from the ‘90s.  While prior reviews have focused primarily on the line’s pirate-sub-line, this time we’re looking at another of the goofy reimaginings, with Egyptian Batman and his foe Egyptian Catwoman!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Egyptian Catwoman and Batman were released in 1996 as one of a pair of two-packs in the Legends of Batman line (the other two-pack was the previously reviewed Pirate Two-Face & Pirate Batman).  Like most of the goofy variants from this line, these two were original creations of Kenner, and had no ties to the comics beyond being Batman and Catwoman.

CATWOMAN

Ancient Egypt revered the cat—with the exception of Egyptian Catwoman.  The mightiest woman pharaoh ever to rule, Egyptian Catwoman tainted the royal throne through her misuse of her immense power.  Forcing whole nations into slavery to build her lavish palace, pyramids, and towering monoliths, Egyptian Catwoman was despised and feared throughout the land.  Only her sworn enemy, Egyptian Batman, could stand up to her evil-doings and massive cat-claw battle staff to release her unfortunate subjects from her iron rule.”

Unlike Two-Face, it would seem Egyptian Catwoman is a markedly different character from her main universe character.  With that said, despite what her bio may insist, she doesn’t seem to be all that different from the average Pharaoh, apart from her willingness to fight her own battles.  Guess the cat-claw battle staff helps.  Also, can we address how silly it is that the bio has to call her “Egyptian Catwoman” every time she’s mentioned?  It just sounds kind of silly, especially since those living in ancient Egypt would be very unlikely to throw “Egyptian” in front of their name.  It’d be like me referring to myself as “American Ethan H Wilson” all the time.  Wouldn’t “Pharaoh Catwoman” have been a better choice?  Oh well.  The figure stands about 4 1/2 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation (counting the tail, which turns at its base).  Most of the articulation isn’t of much use, since she’s rather preposed; it’s really only there to let you fine tune things so that she doesn’t fall over so much (whether it actually helps with that issue is debatable).  The sculpt is okay, I guess.  It’s not as good as Pirate Two-Face, but also not as bad as Pirate Batman.  It’s somewhere in between.  The pre-posing is at least a pretty decent pose, which is clearly designed to interact with the Egyptian Batman figure.  In terms of design, she seems to take a good deal of influence from her then current Jim Balent-designed outfit, mostly in terms of color and general layout of the various elements.  There are, of course, the Egyptian-styled elements, which are all pretty decently rendered, if perhaps a bit on the soft side.  The Wolverine claws seem a bit overkill, but there are worse things.  The paint work on Catwoman is acceptable, but far from perfect.  There’s a lot of fuzz around the edges, and the gold paint doesn’t seem to have held up particularly well.  Catwoman includes a headdress (meant to evoke her exposed hair in the comics), as well as the previously mentioned cat-claw battle staff.

BATMAN

“Many years ago, the son of a high-ranking Egyptian official disguised himself as Egyptian Batman and made it his life’s mission to out an end to evil-doers.  He didn’t have to look far for his main target: his own father’s sponsor, Egyptian Catwoman.  Battling the evil, feline pharaoh with only his powerful bat-shield staff and keen intellect as weapons, Egyptian Batman strived to make his homeland a prosperous, peaceful place once again.”

Okay, so here’s my question here: why a bat?  Like, it makes sense for Bruce Wayne, but random Egyptian dude?  Cats work into the whole Egyptian mythology thing, but bats?  I don’t know.  Anyway, the figure stands about 5 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  The articulation works a little better here, since the figure’s a little less preposed, which is a definite plus.  I think Egyptian Batman may well sport my favorite sculpt of the five Legends of Batman figures I’ve looked at so far.  Sure, he’s still got slightly exaggerated proportions and kind of insane muscles, but there’s a sort of balance to it.  I definitely get a Neal Adams sort of vibe from this figure.  The general design is also one of the stronger ones.  It maintains the basics of the classic Batman design, but also perseveres the whole Egyptian aesthetic, in a way that I feel works better than his pack-mate.  I particularly dig the morphing of his traditional bat-ears into more of a jackal sort of design.  It preserves the basic silhouette, but offers something new and different for the figure.  The paint work is pretty straightforward.  It’s mostly pretty clean, and the colors suit the character.  There’s still an issue with the gold paint one this figure, but it seems less present on this guy.  Like Catwoman, Batman includes a headdress, as well as his previously mentioned shield staff, which he has a little trouble holding properly.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like the prior two-pack, I don’t actually remember seeing this set in stores when it was released.  This one I do recall seeing a few times elsewhere over the years, but I just never got around to getting one.  Super Awesome Girlfriend picked this set up for me at the same time as the Pirate set.  I was actually more interested in the pirate set at first (since they go with my other figures), but after opening them both up, this set was actually my favorite of the two, largely due to the pretty awesome Egyptian Batman figure.  If you’re looking for a good jumping on point for this line, you could do a lot worse than this set.