#2819: Brainiac 5

BRAINIAC 5

LEGION OF SUPER HEROES (DC DIRECT)

The beauty of DC Direct in its early years was a wonderful haven for toys of characters that had literally never had them before.  Without the ability to do Superman or Batman, they had to rely on other characters, allowing for a great focus on fan favorites, such as the Legion of Superheroes, to whom they were able to dedicate an entire line of figures.  They tried to focus on the team’s heavy hitters from the earliest days, and that included the heroic descendent of one of Superman’s greatest foes, Brainiac 5, who I’m taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Brainiac 5 was one of the two figures in the second series of DCD’s Legion of Superheroes line, with the other one being Mon-El.  After the original three were covered in series 1, Brainy was by far the most natural choice for inclusion.  The figure stands just shy of 6 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  After the weird articulation choices on the first series figures (where someone had the bright idea of “what if we gave them knees but not hips?”), Brainy is a much more straight forward set-up.  Apart from lacking the ball-jointed shoulders that would become more or less standard later, he’s got a decent set-up.  He’s still very stiff, of course, but for DC figures at this time, he was quite good.  Brainy’s sculpt was largely shared with Mon-El, and it was one that would serve as the influence for the rest of the Legion line from DCD.  It’s a pretty nice sculpt, matching up fairly well with the early silver age appearances for the character.  His head and belt were the two pieces that remained unique to him, and they’re both fairly well-rendered.  The head’s maybe not my favorite, but neither is it a bad offering in the slightest.  The slightly looser sleeves are a very cool touch, and one I’m glad they didn’t leave out.  In terms of paint, Brainy is pretty basic, butt gets all of the important things, I suppose.  Like most DCD figures of the era, he’s completely painted, rather than being molded in any of the proper colors.  It means that he does suffer from a slight tendency to scuff in some parts, especially the purple sections, but for the most part it looks alright.  Brainy included no accessories, which was not surprising, I suppose, but was also a shame.  I don’t know what you’d give him, but still.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I’ve brought up previously, a lot of the early DCD stuff fell into sort of “shared” collection of figures between me and my dad.  Initially, all the Legion figures were officially his, but I was allowed to borrow them whenever I wanted to.  I didn’t start collecting them for myself until the line’s final series, thanks to Ferro Lad’s inclusion.  After that, I started going back and filling in the earlier figures for myself.  Brainiac 5 was a little trickier to find by that point, but I wound up getting him from Baltimore Comic Con a few years later.  He’s fairly basic and not much to write home about these days, but he was fantastic for the time, just because we’d never gotten one before.

#2241: Legion of Super Heroes

BRAINIAC 5, COSMIC BOY, LIGHTNING LAD, & SATURN GIRL

JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED (MATTEL)

There is a surprising lack of toy coverage for the Legion of Super Heroes.  Like, there are toys.  There are a fair number of them.  But it’s just a little surprising that there aren’t more.  Between DC Direct and Mattel, we did manage to get a decent team line-up in the 6-inch scale, and Mattel also added a few select members of the team to their very expansive Justice League Unlimited line, based on their two appearances in the DCAU.  Those are the figures I’ll be taking a look at today.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Brainiac 5, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl were released as one of the Matty Collector-exclusive “four packs” of Justice League Unlimited figures.  Why the quotes?  Well, as I touched on when reviewed the Justice Guild, the sets were actually just four single-carded figures packed together.  So, despite the number of figures being completely arbitrary, almost every one of these packs felt like the warranted one or two more figures.  The Legion didn’t fair quite as badly in this respect, though, so I won’t totally rag on Mattel here.

BRAINIAC 5

“After key members of the Legion of Super Heroes were defeated by the Fatal Five, Brainiac 5 used a time sphere and his level 12 intellect to recruit heroes from the past to save his future and in doing so changed Supergirl fate forever.”

“Changed Supergirl fate forever” indeed.  You gotta love when those typos make it to press.  Typos aside, Brainiac 5’s bio is referencing “Far From Home,” the Legion-focused episode of JLU‘s final season.  Brainiac 5 serves as the main Legionnaire for the episode, making his inclusion the most natural of all the members. The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  Like all of the male members of the set, he’s built on the skinniest of the standard male bodies, which was the one reworked from the original Flash body.  It’s a pretty close match to Brainy’s depiction on the show, made even more so by the pretty spot-on head sculpt that adorns it.  They managed to get his show design down pretty much spot-on.  His paintwork is pretty decent; some of the lines on the costume are a little fuzzy, but they did a good job of cleanly applying the Brainiac symbol on his forehead.  Brainy included no accessories, unless of course you count his 12th level intellect.  Which I suppose would bump him up a bit.

COSMIC BOY

“A native of the planet Braal, Rokk Krinn uses his natural magnetic powers and leadership skills to aid the Legion of Super Heroes in battle in the 31st Century.”

The remainder of this set is filled in with the Legion’s founding trio.  Their bios are actually about them, which is a bit of shift, isn’t it?  Though not featured in “Far From Home” in anything beyond a cameo, Cosmic Boy did get a fair bit of focus in “New Kids in Town,” the Superman: The Animated Series episode that introduced the team to the DCAU.  His design was pretty much the same between both appearances, so it works for either one.  He uses the same body as Brainy with a unique head.  His head is a little larger than the others in this set, owing to him being closer to that S:TAS design, where the characters had slightly more exaggerated proportions.  It means he sticks out a little bit when with the other three figures in the set.  His paintwork is also pretty decent, but there’s still the slightly fuzzy lines of the costume.  Cosmic Boy also included no accessories.  Not even his much lower level intellect.

LIGHTNING LAD

“In the 31st Century, Garth Ranzz is one of the founding members of the legendary Legion of Super Heroes, a vast intergalactic team of teenage heroes dedicated to advancing justice throughout the universe.”

Poor Garth got the short end of the stick for the team’s DCAU appearances, being nothing more than a cameo in either one of them.  Still, he’s a founding member, so that at least got him a figure (even if it was at the cost of getting a Chameleon Boy to round out the “New Kids in Town” team).  Since he wasn’t ever a focus character, Garth didn’t get a new animated design; he’s just a straight adaptation of Dave Cockrum’s design for him from the ’70s.  It’s honestly Garth’s best look, so no complaints there.  He gets his own head sculpt, and it’s honestly my favorite in the set.  It’s just a very sharp sculpt.  Unfortunately, Garth’s paint is the weakest of the bunch; the edges of the white are by far the sloppiest work seen here, and they opted for gold paint over yellow on the lightning bolts, which just isn’t as striking as it is on the page.  Again, there were no accessories for Lightning Lad…I mean, I guess unless you count him having his arm.  He doesn’t always have it, you know.

SATURN GIRL

“A native of Saturn’s moon Titan, Imra Ardeen hoped to use her telepathic powers as a member of the Science Police.  Instead, she became a founding member of the 31st Century’s greatest team of champions, the Legion of Super Heroes!”

I think I may have missed it; what was the name of the team again?  I don’t know if that was repeated enough times.  Like Cosmic Boy, founding member Saturn Girl was prominently featured in “New Kids in Town” and then demoted to cameo for “Far From Home.”  She’s the most unique of the figures in the set; being a girl means that she’s on the girl body.  Of course, she’s only unique within the confines of this set, because being a girl means that she’s also on the only female body Mattel had.  It’s not one of their better base body, with those weirdly spaced legs being the primary issue.  She got a new head, which again is not a particularly strong piece.  The hair and head a two separate parts, and like a lot of the figures Mattel tied this on for this line, the two pieces just don’t quite line up correctly.  It makes her head look a little bit weirdly shaped.  Her paint work is okay, but nothing amazing.  Her eyebrows definitely seem to be set a little bit high, though.  Saturn Girl is a notable exception to this assortment’s lack of real accessories.  She gets a stand, which is good, because she can’t really stand without it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Unlike most of the Matty Collector-exclusive JLU stuff, this set didn’t hit after I’d given up on the line.  I did miss its original drop date on the site, but they went back up during that year’s Cyber Monday sale, and I picked up this, the Doom Patrol, and the Shazam set all at the same time.  Though none of them are going to redefine action figures or anything, I’ve always quite liked this set, and it’s probably one of Mattel’s best Matty-exclusive offerings.