#2973: Battle for Metropolis

SUPERMAN, LOIS LANE, BRAINIAC, & LEX LUTHOR

SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES (HASBRO)

“It’s a never-ending battle of power and wits for Superman and his arch enemies in Metropolis, but this time, star reporter Lois Lane has the scoop!”

After the bulk of the product for the animated incarnations of Batman and Superman had run its course at retail, and shortly after officially shuttering Kenner and moving the DC license under their own name, Hasbro filled in their DC offerings with a lot of re-decos and repacks of stuff Kenner had done in the ‘90s. It helped to get a lot of figures back out there, but also helped to establish right from the start just how much Hasbro intended to phone things in with the license.  While Batman was clearly getting the main focus, there were never the less a few Superman sets, one of which I’m taking a look at today.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Superman, Lois Lane, Brainiac, and Lex Luther were released in 2001 as part of the Superman: The Animated Series line, in a set titled “Battle For Metropolis.”  Like many of the sets, it was three repacks and one new offering.

SUPERMAN

“Kal-El, infant son of Jor-El and Lara of the doomed planet Krypton, was rocketed to Earth when Krypton was obliterated in a cataclysmic explosion.  The baby was found by Jonathan and Martha Kent, who named him Clark and raised him as their own.  As he grew, Clark discovered he possessed powers and abilities far beyond those of ordinary people…powers he decided to use for the benefit of humanity as Superman.”

It’s hard to do a Superman set without Superman, so here was the requisite Superman.  Have I said Superman enough?  Yeah?  So, this Superman was a straight reissue of Strong Arm Superman, from Series 4 of the main line.  At this point, Series 4 was still awaiting its proper US release, so despite his rather standard Superman appearance, he was actually sort of new.  That’s good, I guess.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  The arms are a bit restricted by how the action feature works, but he is otherwise pretty good on the mobility front, at least for a DC figure of this era.  The figure largely re-used parts from Capture Net Superman, the line’s “standard” Superman.  While not entirely show accurate, it was a halfway decent figure, and keeping things consistent is far from the worst thing.  This release got a new set of arms, bent more at the elbows and with the hands flat, for the purposes of lifting stuff overhead.  It’s not the most versatile pose, but it’s good for what it’s meant to do. His paint work is generally pretty decent.  It’s bright, colorful, and pretty cleanly applied.  And he’s even got actual eyes this time!  Superman is packed with a chunk of wall and a car bumper, both of which are meant for use with his throwing action feature.  It’s a little hard to get him stabilized holding them, but they’re still pretty nifty.

LOIS LANE

“As a top-notch reporter for the Metropolis Daily Planet, Lois Lane has a knack for catching the biggest stories and getting in the deepest trouble.  Possessing excellent detective skills and a keen eye for news, she takes risks in pursuit of the scoop.  Lois can handle just about any situation that comes her way and talks rings around most men…but one man leaves her at a loss for words — Superman!”

Lois Lane, despite being one of the oldest and most visible female characters in comics, had up to this point never had an action figure, which seems kind of silly.  She got her first two within a year of each other, so they were learning from their mistakes.  Lois was undoubtedly the selling point of this set, what with not having a figure before and all.  The figure stands about 4 1/2 inches tall and has 4 points of articulation.  Her articulation scheme is rather restricted, with the head being largely immobilized by the hair, and the legs are also without any movement below the waist.  Additionally, she has a lot of trouble remaining standing, not helped by the lack of any movement in the legs, or peg holes in the feet so that you could use a stand.  It’s not a ton of fun.  Lois’s sculpt was all-new and would remain unique to this figure.  It’s alright.  It’s not 100% accurate to the animation model, but it’s about as close as the rest of the line.  The biggest issues are definitely with the eyes, which are just a bit too small to be accurate.  Lois’s paint work is kind of weak.  STAS was notable on that it actually gave its civilians a couple of different outfit options. Lois had two distinct color schemes, but this one is actually neither of them.  It seems to be going for her B outfit, which was red and black, but it’s not quite there.  Additionally, the application is quite dialed down, with only a few apps, which are kind of fuzzy.  It doesn’t do the sculpt any favors, which is a shame.  Lois is packed with her cellphone and a clipboard, which is better than the kind of stuff most of these figures got.

BRAINIAC

“Created by the scientists of the planet Krypton, the humanoid super-computer dubbed Brainiac was more concerned with saving itself as the repository for all Kryptonian knowledge than attempting to save the doomed planet.  Brainiac travelled the universe, draining the worlds he encountered of all knowledge and leaving them ruined husks before he came to Earth where he at last found a foe able to withstand his enhanced strength and mental power — Superman!”

I’ve actually reviewed this exact figure before, back when I looked at him on his own.  He’s honestly not a bad figure, and hadn’t been exceedingly easy to find, so a re-release was honestly okay.  This time, I do have his goofy space sled thing, though, which is pretty cool, right?  How about that?

LEX LUTHOR

“Although born and raised in Metropolis’ downtrodden Suicide Slum, Lex Luthor was destined to become a financial monarch and business magnate.  The aggressive young inventor uses his great cunning and intellect for his own personal advancement, creating the multi-billion dollar megacorporation LexCorp.  Only Superman rivals Luthor for power and respect of the people of Metropolis…for that, Luthor’s hatred of the Man of Steel knows no bounds.”

While Brainiac made some degree of sense, Luthor made almost none.  By this point, his first release was still rotting on the pegs of a lot of major retailers.  While he’s a story important character, this translation of him just didn’t really work, at least not as a Luthor.  I reviewed the Series 1 edition of the figure several years back, and the only difference between the two is some minor paint deco change up.  The gunmetal grey parts of the armor are now a pale metallic green, and the accents on the underlying figure are a truer green than before.  That’s it.    I can’t really say that either is really better than the other.  They both just sort of exist.  Difference for the sake of difference, really, which isn’t terribly compelling.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I remember when this set came out, and I remember looking at it a lot, but I never actually got one.  I think it was just too soft a sell for me.  Sure, it’s got Lois, but she’s honestly kind of mediocre.  The other figures are the very definition of space fillers, which is likewise a disappointment.  It’s not bad, but I’m honestly kind of glad I waited until a loose one got traded into All Time to pick it up.

 

#2882: Brainiac

BRAINIAC

SUPER POWERS (KENNER)

“Brainiac The Living Computer is a brilliant computer mind and evil genius whose schemes are capable of destroying whole civilizations with an insane fear and hatred of Superman and of the being he calls the ‘Master Programmer.'”

The first year of Kenner’s Super Powers was full of the DC Universe’s heaviest hitters, facing off against a handful of villains, of course.  The villains roster was a 50/50 split between Batman and Superman’s rogues galleries.  I’ve already looked at the first of the Superman rogues included, Lex Luthor, and today I’m following up with the second of those, Brainiac.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Brainiac is part of the first year of Super Powers, as one of the four villains included in the debut line-up.  In a move right on par with the Luthor figure, rather than being based on Brainiac’s classic jumpsuited green-skinned humanoid design, this figure was based on his updated appearance from Action Comics #544, which had debuted the year before this figure’s release.  It was still very new and current, and, admittedly, it’s probably a better toy design, so that’s a plus.  The figure stands 4 3/4 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  Brainiac was a little bit less articulated than most of the figures in the line, since he dropped the knee joints.  This was, presumably, due to the way the vac metalizing process works, and a desire to have less joints to potentially lead to damaging the finish.  Brainiac’s sculpt is a rather impressive piece of work.  There’s a lot of room for smaller detail work in the more robotic design, and Kenner took advantage of it.  Even with the slightly softer detailing caused by the finish, he’s still got quite an intricate appearance.  It makes for a very visually interesting sculpt, which is a lot of fun.  Brainiac’s color work largely relies on the chrome finish, which has a slightly bluish hue to it.  It’s a lot of fun.  He’s also got detailing on his eyes, and some additional accenting on the shoulders, which mixes things up nicely.  It’s all topped off with that clear dome on the head.  Brainiac didn’t get any accessories, but he did get an action feature.  Squeezing his arms activates his “Power Action Computer Kick,” which swings his right leg upward.  It can make him a little unstable at times, but with the right placement on the hip, he’s still okay.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After I got back into collecting Super Powers as an adult, I had a small fund of money that I put aside in order to work my way through the rest of the collection.  Luthor was my first purchase after getting back in, and a few months later, I followed up with Brainiac.  He’s a pretty solid figure.  Not classic Brainiac, of course, but still very fun.  A very good, fun robot figure.  And who doesn’t love that?

#1984: Brainiac

BRAINIAC

SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES (KENNER)

“The fusion of alien lifeform and computer, Evil Alien Brainiac uses telekintec powers and a blasting space sled to control his enemies as he attempts to conquer the universe.”

After the smash success of Batman: The Animated Series, the show’s creative team moved to an adaptation of DC’s other big hero with Superman: The Animated Series.  Though not quite the same cultural phenomenon as its predecessor, the show was still a pretty solid success in its own right, and unsurprisingly netted its own line of toys.  But, while Kenner’s BTAS line actually covered a good chunk of the show’s cast, with the wacky-Bat-variants coming in later, Superman’s line was much more variant heavy from the very start.  There were only two non-Superman figures in the initial launch: Superman’s two biggest foes, the previously reviewed Lex Luthor, and today’s focus, Brainiac!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Brainiac was initially released in the first series of Superman: The Animated Series figures under the name of “Evil Alien Brainiac.”  You know, in case there was some confusion about his motivation or his place of origin.  Kind of sad we didn’t get this naming scheme across the whole assortment.  Why not “Good Alien Superman” or “Evil Human Lex Luthor”?  Would those have not appealed to the mass consumer as well?  Regardless, the figure in this review is not actually the Series 1 release, but is instead from the “Battle for Metropolis” four pack released at the tail end of the line.  The two figures are essentially the same, but there were some color differences, which I’ll touch on in the paint section. The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation, which was standard for the line.  After being reasonably faithful to the show designs for BTAS, the STAS line was a bit more stylistically divergent from the show.  Brainiac was one of the more faithful sculpts from the line, though he lacks the somewhat streamlined proportions of the show design.  Beyond that, though, it’s not a bad offering.  The details are pretty well defined, the costume details are all where they’re supposed to, and the pre-posing isn’t as crazy as some of the other figures in the line.  The paintwork on Brainiac does the sculpt well and keeps him fairly faithful to the show.  This second release was even closer, having swapped out the shade of purple for a slightly warmer tone like we saw in the show.  Both versions of Brainiac were packed with the same missile-launching Space Sled.  My figure is without said accessory, though.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

My STAS collection growing up was actually pretty small.  Brainiac here was a slightly more recent addition (though still purchased almost a decade ago, so “recent” is relative), purchased from Yesterday’s Fun Toys & Games during one of my family vacations.  He’s a solid figure of a solid design, and really one of the better figures in this line.

#0440: Brainiac

BRAINIAC

DC SUPER FRIENDS (IMAGINEXT)

And now for Christmas Reviews Part Three!

In the current, extremely adult collector driven action figure climate, it can be easy for toy companies to overlook kids, their original target audience. As figures have become more detailed, they have also become more fragile. And that’s to say nothing of the virtually impossible task of getting certain figures. Fortunately, toy companies are starting to catch on, at least a little bit. It’s no secret that I have my issues with Mattel, especially their handling of the DC license, but they aren’t always the worst people on the planet (just most of the time). One of the few places they don’t suck is their Fisher Price division, which handles their Imaginext brand. Imaginext offers a variety of different figures, meant to stand up to younger kids. In recent years, they’ve had a rather nice selection of DC heroes and villains, all offered in the line’s streamlined style. Today, I’ll be looking at the line’s take on Superman foe Brainiac.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Imaginext doesn’t use the usual “Series” structure of most toylines; instead they have a variety of figures of differing price points and sizes, and they add a few new figures at a time as the line progresses.  Figures are usually sold either in two-packs with other figures or packed in with vehicles. However, Brainiac breaks from this tradition, being released by himself, as something of a deluxe figure. He was introduced into the line in 2014. The figure stands about 3 inches tall and he sports 8 points of articulation (the legs move as one, so just one point there). Brainiac is clearly inspired by his appearance in the DC Animated Universe shows, with a couple of small tweaks; they’ve given him bare arms and his skin is a much greener color. While I still have a soft spot for the classic short-shorts and white go-go boots combo of the 60s, I can’t argue with the choice of design. The DCAU look is definitely a strong one, and it’s probably the most prominent of the character’s appearances in recent years. I’m no expert on Imaginext figures, but Brainac appears to be an all-new sculpt. The figure offers a nice translation of the animated design, and the sculpt is definitely some solid work. Certain details, such as the figures face (apart from the nose), have been left blank on the sculpt. The paint has then been used to bridge the gaps. There are a few areas of slop, but the paint work is generally clean. The best work is definitely on the face, which is nice and clean, and very nicely depicts Brainiac’s cold, calculating mug. Accessories are a rarity among the Imaginext figures, but as a deluxe figure, Brainiac gets a set of robot tendrils, which can be clipped onto his back. While they seem a bit more Doctor Octopus than Brainiac, the character has sported such attachments before, and I certainly won’t complain about extra accessories.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Brainiac was another gift from my parents, and he shows how much attention they pay to my never-ceasing ramblings about toys. While walking through Target a few months ago, I saw the figure and off-handedly mentioned that he was rather cool, and boom, here he is. He’s not the first Imaginext figure I’ve owned (I have a few of the Green Lantern-related ones), but, for whatever reason, he’s the first of them to interest me enough to actually open him up and play around with him. Brainiac is a really fun little figure, and he’s the kind of toy that there should be more of.