#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!

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#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.

#1540: GCPD Rogues Gallery

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

BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES (DC COLLECTIBLES)

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

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

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

RENEE MONTOYA

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

BANE

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

KILLER CROC

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

MR. FREEZE

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

POISON IVY

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

#1505: Kryptonite Batman

KRYPTONITE BATMAN

SUPERMAN/BATMAN (DC DIRECT)

“When the Joker got his hands on Batman, he united him with a being of practically pure Kryptonite named Mr. Kryptonite.  Possessed by this other being and bent on destroying Superman, Kryptonite Batman is a deadly foe of the Man of Steel”

In the early ‘00s, DC decided to give a go at reviving their old Batman and Superman team-ups from World’s Finest, under the more minimalist Superman/Batman title.  It started out moderately well, with an at least enjoyable opening arc, followed by a few actually decent ones, before sort of becoming a place where half-formed Superman and Batman stories went to die.  I think the first telltale sign was the story that spawned today’s figure, titled “With A Vengeance.”  I’d give a synopsis of the story, but, as someone who read every issue, I still don’t know what happened.  Anyway, let’s just look at the figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Kryptonite Batman was released in Series 4 of DC Direct’s Superman/Batman, which was a whole assortment based on “With A Vengeance.”  This was the main Batman-variant of the assortment, because you gotta have at least one.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  None of these style of figures were particularly amazing when it came to mobility, but the Batman figures were actually some of the worst, because his armoire permanently stuck out.  Seriously, dude looked like Randy from A Christmas Story.  This figure’s sculpt was actually a complete re-use from the basic Batman released in Series 1 of this same line.  Since he was just a palette swap in the comics, it’s not an unreasonable choice.  Like the two JLA: Classified Supermen I looked at a while back, this guy’s based on Ed McGuinness’s rather distinctive style.  In fact, he actually uses the same basic starting point as those two figures, albeit with a variety of more Batman-specific items.  Despite the difficulties with posability, the actual sculpt isn’t half bad, and does a pretty solid job of capturing McGuinness’s Batman in three dimensions.  Paint is the main thing that differentiates this figure from the Series 1 offering, but even on that front, he’s not that different.  He’s got most of the same basic detailing, but with glow in the dark green plastic instead of the grey for his body suit.  It certainly makes for a unique look.  The figure is packed only with a display stand, sporting the Superman/Batman logo.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up a number of the “With A Vengeance” figures when they were new.  This one wasn’t among them.  Instead, it took me ten years to finally get around to buying him.  Why did I finally get him?  Mostly because Cosmic Comix was selling him for $7, which was a low enough price to get me to bite.  He’s goofy, and not really for everyone, but I enjoy him.

#1500: The Joker

JOKER

THE DARK KNIGHT (HOT TOYS)

And another hundred reviews have passed.  Would you believe I only barely remember writing #1400?  It’s been a real whirlwind of a year, let me tell you.  As is the case with all of my “monumental” reviews, I’ll be taking a look at a higher end item, courtesy of out friends at Hot Toys.  These reviews are frequently from the MCU, which makes up a sizable portion of my Hot Toys collection, but today I’m flipping over to their distinguished competition and taking a look at another figure from the widely successful The Dark Knight (which, coincidentally, was released the same summer that the MCU was launched with Iron Man).  So, without further ado, here’s The Joker!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Joker was released as part of Hot Toys’ long-running Movie Masterpiece Series line.  He was entry 68 in the line, placing him between the Original Costume Batman and the Tumbler.  He and both surrounding releases are, of course, from The Dark Knight, and this Joker represents the character as he looks for the majority of the film’s run time…more or less.  I’ll get to that. Joker stands about 11 3/4 inches tall and has over 30 points of articulation.

First up, let’s look at the headsculpt.  Right up front, this is the weakest part of the figure.  It’s not that it’s a *bad* sculpt, necessarily, but more that it’s highly inaccurate.  Look at that head.  Does it look at all like Heath Ledger?  No it does not, and that’s what makes reviewing it difficult.  See, it’s still a very strong, realistic sculpt, on par with HT’s best from a purely technical standpoint.  He totally looks like a real dude, just not the real dude who played the part in the movie.  Quite frankly, the sculpt isn’t even a half bad Joker.  I actually quite like it.  But it’s not Heath Ledger.  Even the paint sort of follows this trend.  It’s good technically, but for a Dark Knight Joker, it’s a little too clean and consistent.  If I had a guess, I’d say this whole head was largely assembled with early materials that didn’t quite represent Joker’s final look.

Joker’s outfit is made up of a shirt, tie, vest, pants, socks, sport coat, and over coat, as well as a pair of sculpted shoes.  The overcoat is probably the weakest piece.  Like the head, it’s not bad, just a little inaccurate.  It’s got the same basic look, but the specifics are a little off.  The rest of the parts are fairly decent, accurate, and generally well-tailored to the body.  His vest is a bit hard to keep closed, due to some iffy velcro.  I think snaps might have been better.  It’s worth noting that the belt is actually a superfluous piece, since he doesn’t have one in the movie, but you can remove it easily enough, and then there’s no issue.  The prints on the shirt and pants are quite impressive, and I particularly like the funky socks, a detail that most will never see.

Older HT offerings were a bit lighter than later ones.  Joker is one of the lightest in my entire collection, but he does still include two pairs of hands (one set for poses and one set for holding accessories), a deck of 13 unique Joker cards, a switch blade, and a standard black display stand with his same and the movie’s logo.  It’s not a huge selection, but it covers the basics.  Later releases offered other just about any extras you could want for a Dark Knight Joker, so there are options out there.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Joker has the distinction of being my very first Hot Toys figure, and easily one of the most difficult times I’ve had acquiring one of them.  I asked for him for Christmas the year they were released, and my parents ordered him, nut he just kept getting pushed back over and over, to the paint that I just gave up completely and ended up asking for a couple of Sideshow Star Wars figures instead.  I tried again the next year, and I finally got him that time, thus beginning my lengthy obsession with Hot Toys figures.  This figure’s started showing his age, especially in light of later Joker figures, but I still really like him, and except him for what he is.

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.