#2109: Grey Ghost

GREY GHOST

BATMAN: ANIMATED (DC COLLECTIBLES)

When it was in full swing, DC Collectibles’ Batman: Animated line was one that gave me a lot of mixed emotions.  I liked the concept behind it, because I like the show, and I like well-articulated action figures, but the implementation was always hit or miss.  And if the quality of the figures wasn’t questionable, how they were getting released kept getting weirder.  When my most wanted figure ended up stuck in a $150+ boxed set, I was less than thrilled, and so were a lot of other people, and the line sort of died off for a bit, its last few offerings being a bit up in the air.  Cancellation seemed like a certainty, but DCC surprised us and actually got those last several figures out.  Included amongst them was the Grey Ghost, a show original creation designed to showcase former Batman actor Adam West.  He was one of the few characters not to be given a figure during Kenner’s run, and while Mattel made one, he was never super plentiful, making DCC’s a pretty big deal.  Does he live up to it?  The short answer is yes, but allow me to elaborate.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Grey Ghost is figure 42 in the Batman: Animated line, and is part of what is looking like it may be the final assortment of single-carded figures.  He’s based on the character’s appearance in his showcase episode “Beware the Grey Ghost.”  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Right off the bat, this figure is notable for deviating from the line’s (admittedly a little inconsistent) articulation scheme.  The neck is changed from a restricted ball joint to a universal joint, the hips are now a ball and disk construction with an overlay piece for the pelvis, he has double knee joints, and his ankles follow the current Legends rocker set-up.  The biggest upside to this is an abundance of lateral movement on the legs, which removes the tendency towards pigeon-toes for these figures and also makes him a lot easier to keep standing. There are still some areas where movement could be improved (he still has nothing mid-torso), but this is a great step forward.  This line was sold on show accuracy, and Grey Ghost’s sculpt follows suit.  It’s a pretty clean recreation, and the articulation is suitably worked in without breaking things up too badly.  In terms of paint work, Grey Ghost is fairly consistent with earlier offerings.  This definitely makes the paint the weakest aspect of the figure, but it’s not terrible.  There are a few spots that could stand to be just a touch cleaner.  Grey Ghost is packed with his pistol (plus an extra hand for holding it), one of the Mad Bomber’s toy cars, an extra hand holding a pen, and a copy of the Grey Ghost VHS he’s seen signing at the end of the episode.  While it’s a little sad that the stands were cut, I do like the return to episode specific extras a lot.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I genuinely thought this figure wasn’t getting released, so I was surprised to find him at a comic book store while on vacation a few weeks ago.  I wasn’t expecting much, but wasn’t going to pass on owning some version of the character as a toy.  He pleasantly surprised me to say the least, and in typical DCC fashion, they’ve managed to fix everything just before abandoning things.

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#2055: Batgirl

BATGIRL

DC ESSENTIALS (DC COLLECTIBLES)

I’m a fan of pairing off my figures, which is actually one of the few things that DCC’s current central line is tailored to, since they generally like to have two pairs of figures per assortment.  The latest round is decidedly Bat-themed, and a natural pairing to yesterday’s Nightwing is Barbra Gordon, aka Batgirl, who is amongst many other things his on-again, off-again romantic partner.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Batgirl is figure 10 in the DC Essentials line, placing her two figures ahead of Nightwing, though the two of them arrived in stores at the same time.  She’s based on her “Batgirl of Burnside” attire, which I’ve always found to be a pretty solid design.  It’s also been her default look for a few years now, so it’s certainly sensible.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall and she has 34 points of articulation.  As the line’s first female figure, Barbra does get an all-new sculpt, because DCC has at least drawn the line at saddling her with the same body as everyone else.  How kind of them.  Batgirl changes things up for this line, at least so far as the figures that I personally have looked at, being not just a brand-new sculpt, but also one that’s fairly tailored to its specific character.  While I can certainly see elements of it being reused for other characters, a lot of it, specifically the head, torso, pelvis, forearms, hands, boots, and most of the right leg are all clearly designed for Batgirl and Batgirl alone.  That’s slightly surprising for this line, but I guess not a huge shock given the nature of this particular costume design.  The sculpt is a fairly decent one overall.  The long arms of the male body have been traded for long legs here, which, while still not perfect, are certainly a better trade-off.  Some of the details, especially on the head, are a little softer than I’d like, but it’s not awful.  Other areas are just a little more crisp is all.  The paintwork on this particular figure is brightly colored and eye-catching, and reasonably close to how she appears in the comics, though, like Nightwing, there’s a bit of slop and fuzz on the edges, but no specific gaffes like I had on Nightwing.  I was particularly impressed by how they handled the boots and gloves, which sport some really solid accent work to bring out the details.  Essentials figures aren’t known for their accessories, but Batgirl makes out the best out of all of the figures I’ve looked at so far, with not only a batarang, but also an extra set of gripping hands.  Extra hands with an Essentials release.  Who could have seen that coming?  Certainly not me!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Since I was already grabbing Nightwing on FCBD, I felt compelled to grab Batgirl as well, because I generally like to have them both in any given style.  I also never got around to getting the Icons Batgirl, so I didn’t yet have this costume as a figure.  She’s actually rather refreshing after a lot of same-ness from this line, with an all-new, actually character specific sculpt, and even a few accessories.  Perhaps she’s a sign of things to come?

#2054: Nightwing

NIGHTWING

DC ESSENTINALS (DC COLLECTIBLES)

I’m a little bit of a glutton for punishment, aren’t I?  How else can you explain the fact that I just keep returning to the toylines that hurt me?  There are, of course, a few entries under that title, but the one I’m concerning myself with today is DC Essentials.  It’s DCC’s second line by that name and also their second attempt at a line of consistently styled and highly articulated versions of their characters.  After they put Icons out to pasture, this became their new focus, which, for DCC, generally means rereleasing many of the same characters all over again.  Today, I look at a figure I already had as an Icon, Nightwing!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Nightwing is figure 12 in the DC Essentials line.  He was actually one of the first figures to be shown off when the line was announced, but found himself pushed back a little bit.  He’s based on Nightwing’s Rebirth design, which is fairly heavily inspired by his appearance from The New Batman Adventures.  It’s a nicer redesign than either of his New 52 looks, so I really can’t complain.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  Apart from a new head and hands meant for gripping, Nightwing is just using the same body as Reverse Flash and Superman before him.  Like I mentioned in the Superman review, the fact that they’re using the same base body for all of these characters is one of the iffier aspects of the line, as these three should really not be sharing a build.  On the plus side, the general build works okay for Nightwing, at least in a vacuum.  The downside is that the body still has all of the issues it had before.  The forearms are definitely too long, and those pegs on the ab-crunch still really bug me.  I will say, I do like his new headsculpt, and I think it’s one aspect of this figure that I really prefer to the Icons version of the figure.  In particular, I like the slight little grin on his face.  Nightwing’s paint is fairly straight forward.  The blue makes for a nice contrast to the black, and he’s fairly eye-catching.  However, the application’s a little spotty, with a lot of fuzz around the edges of the blue.  Also, my figure has a rather noticeable smear on the back of his head, which, for the record, I could not see in the package.  Nightwing includes his usual escrima sticks, and that’s it.  In his defense, that’s two more accessories than the prior Essentials figures I’ve reviewed, but it’s still quite a bit less than his Icons counterpart, or really any comparable figures.  Given the MSRP on these is several dollars higher than a Marvel Legend, that’s really a let-down.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When the figures were first shown off, Nightwing was actually one of only two that I really had any interest in, but then I got the Icons Nightwing, who I really liked.  I also got Reverse Flash and Superman, who made me less than enthusiastic for the line, so when Nightwing first popped up, I decided to pass.  However, Cosmic Comix was running a sale on Free Comic Book day, so I was able to grab him for a far more reasonable price.  Ultimately, he’s still not swayed me on the line, but I don’t hate him, because at least he’s a semi-decent Nightwing figure.

#2023: Green Lantern

GREEN LANTERN

DC: THE NEW 52 (DC COLLECTIBLES)

DC’s “New 52” relaunch sure does seem like a distant memory these days, doesn’t it?  Their big relaunch to end relaunches happened several relaunches ago, and, for the most part, it’s kind of old hat.  I mean, yeah, they aimed for big sweeping changes, but they kind of missed.  One of the books least affected by the changes was Green Lantern, which was still pretty big at the time.  Nevertheless, lead GL Hal Jordan got a minor redesign courtesy of Jim Lee, in order to better match the rest of the Justice League.  And, of course, that came with a new figure, which I’m looking at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Green Lantern was one of the first seven figures in the New 52 line, when DC Collectibles was set on getting all of the main Justice League members out in their new uniforms.  He was subsequently re-released in the Justice League 7-pack that followed, and saw an evergreen release as part of the DC Essentials line…well, the first incarnation of it, anyway.  This figure is the original release, but the figures within the package are virtually identical between the three releases.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall and has 11 points of articulation.  This was fairly standard for the launch figures, which were really just carrying forward the stylings of the later DC Direct figures.  Compared to more recent offerings, he’s a little archaic, and, honestly, compared to contemporary lines, they were archaic, too, but they were hardly a surprise given who was producing them.  The main focus was definitely on the sculpts, and GL’s sculpt is actually pretty decent.  He, and all of the early figures, really, was based on Jim Lee’s design for the character.  GL’s look was really just a slight tweaking of his post “Rebirth” design that he’d had for almost a decade by this point, with some extra armor plating here and there, because Jim Lee was all about that armor plating for this round of designs.  The sculpt actually does quite a respectable job of capturing Lee’s style in three dimensions.  While I was a little iffy about the tweaks to the design on the comics page, it actually translates pretty nicely into an action figure.  The details are crisp and sharp, and I especially like the seams on the gloves, even if perhaps a hardlight costume shouldn’t have such things.  Like a lot of DC Direct figures and early DCC figures, there’s a bit of pre-posing going on, but in this figure’s case, he’s just got the heroic stance that all of the League was sporting in the promo shots for the New 52.  It also impedes the articulation’s use a lot less than some of DCD’s figures, so that’s a plus in my book.  GL’s paintwork is pretty solid.  The metallic colors for the green and white are a nice look, and while there’s a little bit of bleedover on the face, for the most part, he’s pretty clean.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, The New 52 being the thing that kind of got me off of DC for a while, I wasn’t exactly breaking down the door to pick these guys up when they were coming out.  Even with my usually forgiving fandom for GL, I skipped this guy when he was released, as well as the few times he was re-released.  Why get him now?  It’s quite simple: Cosmic Comix had one in a package that was worse for wear, and he was marked down to $5.  For that price, he was worth it to me.  He’s actually not a bad figure, truth be told, though I can’t really say he stands out compared to the other GLs I’ve got in my collection.  Still, he was worth what I paid for him.

#1861: Superman

SUPERMAN

DC ESSENTIALS (DC COLLECTIBLES)

After throwing the entirety of their last line, DC Icons, out the window, DC Collectibles is attempting to settle in comfortably with their newest all-inclusive line of DC figures, this time dubbed DC Essentials.  In my first Essentials review, I made it no secret that I wasn’t 100% on board with the change over, and even after reviewing my first figure, I was still rather skeptical.  Well, I’m going to be giving the line a second shot, taking a look at one of the figures DCC keeps trying to get right over and over again, Classic Superman!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Superman is figure 5 in the DC Essentials line-up, making him numerically the first figure of Series 2 of the line.  DCC’s really invested in having these figures pair off, so this guy pairs off with Series 2’s Brainiac figure. Though he’s a “classic” Superman, this figure is actually based on Supes’ most current appearance, introduced in Action Comics #1000.  It’s really the same as his classic garb, but with the teeniest, tiniest little tweek to the edges of his sleeves.  Because *something* had to be different.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  Those numbers aren’t surprising, given they’re the same stats we saw with Reverse Flash.  And why is that?  Because, except for a small handful of pieces, these are the same figure.  There are some issues with that.  While using the exact same body worked out fine for the Series 1 line-up of Batman, Flash, Reverse Flash, and Deathstroke, who are all conceivably the same basic build, it doesn’t quite work out for Superman, who I really feel should be a little larger, at least in the upper torso region.  It’s still a decent, balanced sculpt, but he sure does look a little bit scrawny (and he still has those overly long arms, which I’m guessing won’t be going away).  The shaping of the cape doesn’t really help with that, either, kind of accentuating the small sizing of the upper torso and the comparatively large sizing of the legs.  On the plus side, I do rather like the new head sculpt; it feels appropriately Superman-y.  Superman’s paint work is okay, but not quite as good as Reverse Flash’s was.  Generally, the application is clean, and the colors are nice and bright.  However, there’s some rather noticeable slop and unevenness on the edges of the shorts, an issue that plagues all of the Supermen I’ve seen in person.  Also, for some reason, the belt is just straight yellow, with no red for the sculpted belt loops, which looks rather strange, and is a very obvious missing paint application.  Like Reverse Flash, Superman includes no accessories, which, given the level of re-use and the price-point of these figures is quite frankly insane.  At the very least, he should have some extra hands, or a flight stand, or something.  Anything at all to make him actually feel worth what you’re paying for him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After buying, and being left uncertain by, Reverse Flash, I really wasn’t sure about this figure.  I had initially been very interested, because I’m always on the lookout for a really good classic Superman.  When this guy showed up at Cosmic Comix, I initially passed on him, and ended up waiting to take advantage of their “Biggest Sale of the Year!” a couple of weeks ago.  At a lowered price, this figure feels justified, but still somewhat far from the mark.  He’s an okay standard Superman, but with the larger scale and all, I still find myself preferring NECA’s Christopher Reeve Superman as my go-to.  Were he in-scale with Legends, it might be a different story, but this is the path DCC’s chosen to go down, and this is the hill they want to die on.  And dying on the hill sadly seems to be what’s destined for DC Essentials, because they just don’t seem to be gaining the foothold they were hoping for.  Apart from the upcoming Green Lantern (who I’m going to be getting purely because I have trouble saying no to even a semi-decent GL figure), I just really can’t see myself supporting this line.

#1779: Girl’s Night Out

SUPERGIRL, LIVEWIRE, BATGIRL, HARLEY QUINN, & POISON IVY

BATMAN: ANIMATED (DC COLLECTIBLES)

Female action figures are, on a whole, a rarity.  This stems largely from the days when the line between action figures and dolls was really just that one was marketed to girls and one was marketed to girls.  But, in the 50 years since the term “action figure” was invented by a marketing department, the definitions have become a little more rigid, and opinions on who collects them have slightly changed.  This is my very long-winded way of saying I’m reviewing my second all-female boxed set in the space of three months, which even by modern standards is kind of cool.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Supergirl, Livewire, Batgirl, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy make up the “Girl’s Night Out” boxed set, released last year as part of DCC’s Batman: Animated line.  They’re based on the New Adventures of Batman episode of the same name, which sees Supergirl and Batgirl teaming up to defeat the combined forces of Livewire, Harley, and Ivy.  Only the Superman characters are actually new to this set, with Batgirl, Harley, and Poison Ivy being re-releases of their single figures from the main line, sans most of their accessories.  Since Harley’s new to me, I’ll be reviewing her here, but for my opinion on the other two, go here and here.

SUPERGIRL

For Superman: The Animated Series’ third season, Supergirl was introduced to open up some new story-telling possibilities.  However, due to DC’s then-standing policies on Clark being the only remaining Kryptonian, they had to money around with her origin a bit.  On the plus side, the character remained more or less the same.  This figure replicates her tweaked animated design.  She stands 5 3/4 inches tall and has 24 points of articulation.  Her sculpt is a rather faithful recreation of the design from the show, which is a real first for Supergirl, as her prior animated figures have all strayed from the proper design.  There are some minor nitpicks that can be made, like her head maybe being a smidge too big for the body.  However, that’s really looking for issues, and comes down more to personal preference than anything else.  Her paintwork is very clean, and the colors are bright and eye-catching.  Definitely a nice departure from this line’s penchant for fuzzy edges on everything.  The biggest downfall of this figure (and this set as a whole) is her lack of any accessories outside of a stand.  At the very least, a spare set of fists seems like it should come standard.

LIVEWIRE

After the successful creation and reception of Harley Quinn and Renee Montoya in Batman: The Animated Series, the creators tried their luck again with Livewire (though Livewire *actually* appeared in the tie-in comic before the show).  While she didn’t quite take off the way those two did, she did still pick up a decent fanbase of her own.  She never actually got a figure during S:TAS’s run, but she’s made out alright since the show’s end.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and she has 23 points of articulation.  Like Kara, her sculpt is quite a good match for her show appearance.  In fact, I even have trouble finding the minor nitpicks like I did with Supergirl.  The proportions are more balanced, and the lines are all very sharp and clean.  Her paintwork is appropriately monochromatic, and the blues interact well with each other.  There’s a little bit of fuzzy work on the edges, but it’s mostly confined to the “emblem” on her torso, where it’s somewhat acceptable, with her being an energy being and all.  She also is only packed with a display stand.  The lack of extra hands is slightly less frustrating for her, since she doesn’t need them as much, but I’m still not 100% okay with it.

HARLEY QUINN

And speaking of successful creations from the DCAU, here’s the character that’s by far the greatest success story, Harley Quinn!  Outside of Batman himself, she’s actually the character with the most figures in this line, which really speaks to her marketability.  This figure is a re-issue of her second single-carded figure, which was based on her TNBA appearance.  Harley is one of the characters whose two appearances weren’t that different, but they were enough for the eagle-eyed fan to need two distinct figures.  This figure stands 5 3/4 inches tall and she has 19 points of articulation.  Okay, so, first thing’s first, let’s discuss the articulation.  You know ankle joints?  Harley doesn’t have those.  Why not?  Your guess is as good as mine.  Apparently, DCC didn’t feel Harley needed them.  They also didn’t feel she needed the ability to stand either, though I guess that’s linked to the lack of ankle movement.  The point is, it really sucks.  Really, really sucks.  Her sculpt is fine, but it reminds me that I prefer the subtle differences of the B:TAS version.  The big head’s throwing me on this one.  I guess it’s not a terrible offering though.  Her paintwork is pretty decent.  The dual-toned color scheme looks sharp, and the application is overall pretty clean.  Like all of the others in this set, Harley’s only accessory is a display stand.  No extra hands, no weapons of any sort.  Nothing.  Not even the accessories from the prior figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When the Batman: Animated line launched, I was excited by the prospect of a complimentary Superman line.  It didn’t so much come to fruition, and I’ll admit, two of my most wanted figure from said theoretical line only being available in a big boxed set with two figures I already had kind of killed my excitement.  I ended up getting this set at the same time as yesterday’s DKR set, as a birthday present from my parents.  Supergirl and Livewire are very nice figures, slightly held back by a lack of accessories.  The other three are kind of dead weight.  Harley’s easily the worst version of the character from the line, and while Ivy and Batgirl are perfectly fine figures in their own right, having to buy them again, and not getting any accessories the second time around is really lame.  And a note to DCC:  if you’re only going to include a single set of hands, can you at least make it something more useful than the limp open palm?  This set’s begging for some cool fight set-ups, but as it currently stands, all they’re really prepared for is a big slapping fight.

#1778: Batman, Robin, & Mutant Leader

BATMAN, ROBIN, & MUTANT LEADER

BATMAN: ANIMATED (DC COLLECTIBLES)

For someone who’s only so-so on this whole Dark Knight Returns thing, I sure do review a lot of DKRrelated items, don’t I?  Well, let me ‘splain—no, it’s too much—let me sum up: like the story or not, there’s a lot of supplemental material related to it that’s super awesome.  Take, for instance, “Legends of the Dark Knight,” one of Batman: The Animated Series’ best known episodes, which takes a look at a couple of differing takes on Batman from over the years, with DKR as one of the pair.  And now that particular take has its own figures.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Batman, Robin, and the Mutant Leader were a special three-pack, released as part of DC Collectibles’ Batman: Animated line, commemorating the previously mentioned episode.  All three are based on their appearances from the DKR segment of “Legends,” rather than the actual comic looks. 

BATMAN

I’ve had no shortage of DKR Batmen in the last month or so, with offerings from both Mattel and Mezco, so why not let DCC in on the fun?  This guy’s a pretty massive figure, standing about 6 1/2 inches tall and measuring about 5 inches across the shoulders, and he has 24 points of articulation.  His stature is certainly impressive, but if there’s one draw back, it’s his posability, or rather his lack thereof.  The joints he *does* have all have a solid range of motion (the neck joint in particular works very well), to DCC’s credit.  The issue is that he’s lacking any mid torso movement, as well as any sort of ankle mobility.  Those two things rather limit what can be done with the figure, which is kind of a shame.  The sculpt, which is totally unique, is actually a pretty good offering.  It captures the streamlined design from the show pretty much spot-on, which at this point in the line is very definitely welcomed.   His paintwork is definitely on the basic side, which is appropriate for the line.  It’s overall cleanly applied, but has some of the same fuzzy edges that have plagued this line from the beginning.  Batman was packed with a pair of alternate open gesture hands and a display stand.

ROBIN

Carrie Kelley is one of DKR’s most distinctive features, but is a slightly less common offering when it comes to toys.  That said, I’ve actually looked at a Carrie Kelley Robin before, via Mattel’s offering.  It was…less than stellar.  This figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 24 points of articulation.  She’s another new sculpt, and I gotta say, she definitely benefits from the cleaner style.  Something about Miller’s style didn’t translate so well as an action figure, but this?  This worked out pretty well.  Her smaller stature is well conveyed, and she’s actually got some fairly decent movement.  Still perhaps more restricted than I’d like, but definitely better than a lot of this line.  Carrie’s paintwork is decent.  It’s clean, and matches the show’s color palette.  She has less issues with fuzzy lines and slop.  I also appreciate the use of actual transparent lenses for the glasses, as opposed to just painting them opaque green like *some* toy companies.  Robin is by far the most accessorized in this set, with a slingshot, an three pairs of hands, and a display stand.

MUTANT LEADER

Though not a primary antagonist in the original story, like Carrie Kelley, the Mutant Leader has become a distinctive feature of DKR, and he *was* the primary antagonist of the DKR segment of “Legends of the Dark Knight.”  So, his placement here is rather an obvious one.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall and has 23 points of articulation.  The Leader is a sizable guy, though not quite as sizable as Batman.  He’s about on par with the TNBA version of Bane in terms of build.  His articulation is an improvement overall from Batman’s, since he actually gets some mid-torso movement, as well as ankles.  Of course, he loses the lateral leg movement that Batman and Robin have, which has been, in general my biggest recurring issue with this line, since it makes posing these guys in anything but a basic standing pose a barren source of amusement.  The sculpt is at least a pretty strong one.  It captures the Leader’s slightly tweaked animated design very well, and he pairs off well with Batman.  The paintwork is fairly decent, though nothing beyond basic work.  He’s got a nice contrast, though, which I certainly appreciate.  Like Batman, the Leader is packed with a pair of open gesture hands and a display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

“Legends of the Dark Knight” was my first introduction to The Dark Knight Returns.  I think it spoiled me a bit for the story proper, because while it remains a favorite episode of mine, the comic not so much.  Pretty much all of the prior DKR product I’ve purchased was due to my love of the episode, so an episode-specific set certainly intrigued me.  That said, by the time the set actually hit, I’d fallen a bit out of love with the Batman: Animated line, and as such I didn’t get it new.  I actually ended up getting it this year for my birthday, courtesy of my parents.  While it still possesses a lot of the same issues that have been killing the main line for me, I do overall like this set a lot.  Sure, I’d have liked some more accessories, but the extra hands are at least useful, and there’s no denying that Bats and the Leader look good squaring off.  Plus, after the sincere disappointment of Mattel’s Carrie Kellie, this one was a breath of fresh air.

#1772: Reverse Flash

REVERSE FLASH

DC COMICS ESSENTIALS (DC COLLECTIBLES)

Hey, does anyone know what time it is?  Don’t worry, I do!  It’s “DC’s in-house toy company abandons it’s flagship line in favor of a completely new completely incompatible one”-o’clock!  …Wait, I think that might just be the time on my end.  Sorry, I don’t subscribe to the standard clock concept.  I go more for abstract reference clocks.  Just wait til it gets to be “SDCC exclusive rereleases are the literal devil”-thirty.  That’s when things go off!

Strange time-keeping jokes aside, it’s really a common trend for DC Collectibles (and their predecessors, DC Direct) to constantly abandon current projects in favor of new ones that let them re-release the same crop of heavy-hitters over and over again.  The latest example of this is their DC Icons/DC Essentials change-over.  Icons was itself a tonal shift for DCC, and had some rough beginnings, but it was finally shaping up into a respectable line, just in time for DCC to completely drop it in favor DC Essentials.  Essentials is basically the same concept as Icons, but done in such a way that the two lines are completely incompatible.  Cue the need to release all those heavy hitters again!  Amongst the line’s debut offerings, there is exactly one character who wasn’t covered by Icons, and not coincidentally, he’s the one I’m looking at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Reverse Flash is figure 4 in the first assortment of DC Essentials, making him chronologically the last of the set.  He’s designed to pair off, unsurprisingly, with the standard Flash figure that’s also in Series 1.  He’s technically a modern take on the character, but since he’s essentially had the same look for most of his career, it’s more or less his classic design.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  Let’s just ignore the height issue, because we all knew that was coming.  He’s a full inch taller than any of the Icons figures, and  3/4 inch taller than the average Legends release.  That’s the way it is, and that’s not going to change.  Okay, so, with that out of the way, let’s tackle the other big thing here, which is the articulation.  Overall, it’s very good.  The movement on the joints is solid, and they’ve finally captured that Legends-style articulation they were aiming for.  They’ve even improved on it slightly, especially on those ankles.  But something is rotten in the state of Denmark…and it’s that abdominal crunch.  The actual joint is fine, but you know what’s not?  Those huge, obvious peg holes on either side of his ribs.  They’re just out there, naked, on display, like some sort of joint whoo-ore.  I know it’s a minor flaw, but they really, really jump out at me.  Moving past that, how is the actual sculpt?  Actually pretty good, but not without some slight drawbacks.  He uses the same basic body as the other three figures in the set.  Overall, it’s a decent offering, but the arms are about a half an inch too long for this body.  With the right pose, they look okay, but it’s a little off looking.  I’d like to see them fix this issue for future uses.  The head sculpt is definitely the star piece of this figure.  It’s suitably unique from the basic Flash figure’s head, and the evil smirk is absolutely perfect for Thawne.  The hands are also unique, and while I do like them a lot, I’m not sure how I feel about them being the only hands included here.  Reverse Flash’s paintwork is very clean, very bright, very bold, and extremely eye-catching. Very top-notch work.  Reverse Flash includes no accessories, which is a real let down given the price tag on these figures.  At the very least, he should have an extra pair of hands.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was apprehensive about this line, because I’d quite grown to like Icons, and I was honestly a little bitter about the last handful of Icons figures being cancelled seemingly to make way for Essentials.  I’m also really, really not looking to buy yet another set of the main DC heroes.  But I saw Reverse Flash in person at Cosmic Comix, and I kind of caved.  I’ve still got some mixed feelings.  There’s a lot I like about this figure, but there are a lot of minor mistakes that I feel DCC would be able to avoid if they didn’t feel the need to shake everything up every couple of years.  And, above all, he doesn’t go with anything I own, which is perhaps the most frustrating thing, since, as I said, he’s a solid figure.

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]

 

#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.