#2602: Batman – Gotham By Gaslight

BATMAN — GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT

ELSEWORLDS (DC DIRECT)

“As a young Bruce Wayne takes up the mantle of the Bat, a series of slayings mirroring the work of Jack the Ripper begins.”

DC’s Elseworlds line allowed them to tell stories that fell outside of the confines of a normal universe story, which opened the playing field to all sorts of crazy concepts.  It also lent itself pretty well to lots of “let’s mash up this DC thing with another established thing” scenarios.  This actually goes back to the very first Elseworlds tale, Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, which is “what if Batman was Victorian era and fought Jack the Ripper?”  It’s not high concept, but it’s certainly fun.  It’s also some of Mike Mignola’s earlier work, and has some pretty impressive design work.  The story’s Victorian Batman design is quite distinctive, which makes it ripe for making action figures, as DC Direct did in 2007.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Gotham By Gaslight Batman was released in the second series of DC Direct’s Elseworlds line.  He was one of two Batmen included, the other being the Red Son version of the character, which is another quite distinctive, if perhaps slightly thematically similar version of the Batman design.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 13 points of articulation.  The articulation’s not a lot, but it was about what you’d expect from DCD at the time.  It’s good for some slight tweaks to his posture, but that’s really it.  It’s certainly better than nothing.  The sculpt was an all-new piece, and it was definitely DCD at their best.  They really had a lot of fun with the artist-specific work in this line, and in the case of this Batman, they’ve done a pretty spot on job of capturing that early Mignola art style.  He doesn’t quite have the extreme hallmarks of later Mignola stuff, but there’s still enough to make it recognizable.  I really like how they’ve translated the texturing of Mignola’s work into something three dimensional, and I also quite enjoy how they’ve managed to keep him rather dynamic while also keeping a fairly neutral pose.  The flow of that cape is just beautiful.  The only thing I’m not too keen on are the ears, which always point a bit inward on mine.  It’s an unfortunate side effect of how small they have to be and how they were packaged in the box, I suppose.  The paint work does a nice job of replicating the way Mignola’s work is illustrated in the book, with a subdued palette and a decent job of outlining the features on the face.  There’s also some great accenting on the belt, as well as some impressive work on the mud stains on his boots and cape.  All in all, a very well rendered paint scheme.  The only slight let down to this guy are the accessories.  All he gets is a stand.  Its not much to go on, and felt quite light given the price these things were going for relative to everything else at the time.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up this guy back when he was brand new, courtesy of my usual comics haunt, Cosmic Comix.  He was the first of the Elseworlds line I grabbed, mostly because I wanted a Mignola Batman figure, and I wasn’t picky about which particular design it was.  I hadn’t even read the comic at the time (I have since).  He’s certainly a nice looking figure, even if he’s maybe not so exciting to actually play with.

#2595: Commissioner Gordon

COMMISSIONER GORDON

BATMAN: DARK VICTORY (DC DIRECT)

“A epic tale of mystery and suspense that takes Batman deep into the underworld of gotham City!

James Gordon leads a police force besieged by a calculating murderer, and Batman is the only one that he can trust.”

As a follow-up to their wildly popular Long Halloween storyline, writer Jeph Loeb and artist Tim Sale sequelized the story with another mini-series, Dark Victory.  While it doesn’t have quite the same notoriety or staying power as The Long Halloween, Dark Victory is still quite critically renowned, and gave us some more time in the world the Loeb and Sale had built.  Much like the creators of the story, to follow-up on their Long Halloween toy line, DC Direct followed up with a Dark Victory line, which they used to help flesh out the cast a bit.  Jim Gordon is a major player in both stories, and was finally granted a figure via this second line of figures.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Commissioner Gordon is one of the four new figures offered up in DCD’s Dark Victory line in 2006 (the fifth figure was a re-release of Batman from the prior line).  While Gordon spends most of Dark Victory (and The Long Halloween, for that matter) in his standard suit/tie/trench coat combo, this figure opts to mix things up a bit and go for a slightly the more toy-etic design of Gordon’s tactical gear seen late in the story.  They had just done a trench-coated Gordon in Hush, and this is a pretty decent design in its own right, so it’s not a bad choice by any stretch.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 15 points of articulation.  Not a ton of movement, but certainly not a bad selection for a DCD figure of this era.  He’s actually one of the most posable figures in the Sale lines, so that’s not bad for a Gordon figure.  His sculpt’s all new, and also probably one of the best we got in these two assortments.  It manages to get Sale’s interpretation of Gordon down pretty much pat, and doesn’t really suffer from any of the oddities that the other sculpts did in order to get that Sale look down.  It also does a great job of just making Gordon look like an average guy, as he should.  The detail work is pretty impressive, even in areas where you might not expect it.  His clothes have a solid amount of texturing, which breathes some real life into this design, and really helps to make it work in three dimensions.  There’s a bit of pre-posing to this guy, but it’s ultimately fairly minor.  He’s in a bit of an idle stance sort of pose, which works well for this design.  Gordon’s paint work is pretty basic for the most part.  It’s not a ton of color, but that’s right for Jim.  They opted to go with opaque lenses on the glasses, which works very well.  There are also no eyes beneath them, but that’s not terribly surprising.  Gordon is packed with a pistol, a flashlight, and a display stand (which is the same as the one that came with Two-Face).

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

If you’ve read my Long Halloween reviews, then you kind of know the song and dance on this one.  I hadn’t read the story when this figure came out, and subsequently didn’t have quite the same appreciation for Gordon that I do after reading the stories.  He actually came into All Time a few months before the other three, but I passed on him at the time because I didn’t know when I’d be able to get the others.  When they came in, he was still at the store, so I picked them all up in one fell swoop.  I’m glad I went back for him, because, much like Gordon in the story, this guy’s probably my favorite of the set.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy for review.  If you’re looking for toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2588: Two-Face

TWO-FACE

BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN (DC DIRECT)

An epic tale of mystery and suspense that takes Batman deep into the underworld of Gotham City.

The Long Halloween reveals the events that transformed Harvey Dent into Batman’s deadly enemy, Two-Face!”

Though he was a long time Bat-foe by the time The Long Halloween was published, Two-Face’s background, beginning with his time as Gotham’s attorney Harvey Dent, had only ever really been touched on in brief.  Long Halloween uses Harvey Dent as one of its central characters, detailing his efforts to clean up Gotham by taking on the mob, and how it ultimately leads to his downfall.  It became rather defining for the character, and even served as a heavy inspiration for The Dark Knight‘s version of the character.  So, it’s not terribly surprising that Two-Face was included in DC Direct’s tie-in line for the storyline, I suppose.  Let’s have a look at that figure, shall we?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Two-Face was included in DC Direct’s Batman: The Long Halloween assortment of figures, which hit shelves in 2006.  He actually marked the first time DCD had done a Two-Face figure, which was really something, given how many figures they’d put out by this point.  He wouldn’t be their last, of course.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  Of the figures I’ve looked at from this line so far, Two-Face is definitely the most restricted in terms of movement (though he’ll be outdone by Mad Hatter, should I ever get around to him), with pretty much no movement in his lower half, as well as cut joints at the shoulders.  There’s not a ton of posing to be done here.  He’s got a nice ball joint on the neck joint, I suppose.  His sculpt is again a very stylized piece, inspired by Tim Sale’s art from the series.  It’s…fine.  The pose is a little more neutral than Batman or Joker, so it’s more versatile.  The feet both pointing one way, which is a little awkward, and I’m not entirely sure why they opted for that.  Also, while the sculpted work on the scarred side of his face is a truly impressive piece of work, the unscarred side misses the mark on capturing Sale’s style…or at least on capturing Sale’s version of Harvey Dent.  There are still some Sale qualities, but his features are a little too exaggerated for Harvey.  Still, it’s far from a bad sculpt, and it’s certainly got a lot of character to it.  Two-Face’s paint work is pretty strong.  They did a great job consistently applying all of the pin stripes to his suit and tie.  It’s adds a nice dynamic flair.  I also really like how well the accenting works on the scarred side of Harvey’s face.  Two-Face was packed with two hands, in the same pose, but with different side of the coin showing, a pistol, a display stand, and a calendar page showing January 1st.  The hands are really hard to swap out, so that’s a bit of a bummer, but the stand’s nice, and the calendar page is a nifty little extra.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I noted in my prior reviews, I hadn’t yet read Long Halloween when these figures were released, so I played the waiting game on getting them.  The same collection that had the Batman and Joker figures I reviewed last week also had this Two-Face figure, loose.  It was actually the Two-Face that caught my eye, as he was the one that was higher on my list.  I really enjoy the story’s take on Harvey, and though this figure may not be perfect, it’s nevertheless a solid rendition.  I’m definitely happy to finally have it.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy for review.  If you’re looking for toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2581: Batman & Joker

BATMAN & JOKER

BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN (DC DIRECT)

“An epic tale of mystery and suspense that takes Batman deep into the underworld of Gotham City.”

Well, we’re firmly a week into November.  Perfect timing for me to have *just* missed Halloween in order to properly theme what I’m about to review.   Yes, I’m jumping into the world of Batman: The Long Halloween, Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s year-long miniseries following an early in his career Batman as he tracks down Holiday, a serial killer who strikes once a month on a holiday.  While on his quest to find the killer, Batman also manages to face down most of his major rogues gallery, making it a nice, all-encompassing Batman story, and certainly one of the best out there.  It’s distinctive style, and the fact that it includes so many heavy hitters made it a perfect choice for a toy line.  Today, I’m delving into the heaviest of hitters, Batman and the Joker.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Batman and The Joker were released as a special collector’s set from DC Direct in 2008, after they’d completed their main Long Halloween and Dark Victory lines.  The set included the two figures and some stripped down accessories, as well as a trade paperback of The Long Halloween.

BATMAN

Batman races agains the calendar as he tries to discover who the killer Holiday is before he claims his next victim.”

Tim Sale’s Batman is a rather distinctive piece, and the chance to own it in three dimensions was one of the primary selling points of the first Long Halloween line.  It was so popular that it sold out the first time, so they just did a straight re-issue of it when it came time for the figures from Dark Victory…and then that one pretty much did the same thing.  So, this guy was the third pretty much straight re-release of this figure, although this one did get a new head sculpt out of it.  He’s almost 7 inches tall and he has 13 points of articulation.  It’s not a ton of posability, but it’s enough to get a few decent poses out of him.  The real weakness of the joints, I’d say, is the shoulders, which don’t really have much up and down.  This means he’s always just got them sort of jutting out to the sides like that.  Given Sale’s tendency to draw Bruce in rather dynamic poses while in costume, it’s not the end of the world, but it’s somewhat limiting.  In terms of the actual sculpt, Sale’s artwork proved a little difficult for DCD to translate into 3D.  His style is somewhat impressionistic, and he likes to keep his characters fluid, so getting them really nailed down in a single sculpt is tricky.  That’s definitely the case with Batman, who ends up looking close to Sale’s work to be sure, but there’s something…off.  The face in particular seems a bit out of place.  It’s a little bit pinched, I think, and almost too simian for the character.  It’s not far off, and definitely a marked improvement over the two single releases, but it’s still not quite there.  The other piece that seems to have given them trouble is the cape.  Sale always had Bruce’s cape all over the place, and he liked for it to be really long.  This figure aims to capture that, with a cape that trails behind and even lays on the ground at the back.  It’s not terrible, but the shaping doesn’t quite seem right here.  In this case, it’s really a matter of fighting with gravity, and it’s hard to fault DCD there.  The paint work on this guy remains pretty much the same as the two prior releases.  It’s black and grey, with just a touch of brown, which is to say it’s exactly what you’d expect from a standard Batman.  It’s pretty cleanly handled, and there’s no notable issues with mine, so I’m calling it a win in my book.  Batman includes a batarang with a line on it (which is the Dark Victory release) and a simple display stand with the book’s name printed on it.  I do miss the cool sidewalk stands that came with the single releases, but it’s fairly minor.

JOKER

Sofia Falcone risked innocent lives when she unleashed The Joker after the Holiday killer!”

Joker’s an interesting choice for inclusion here.  I mean, yeah, he’s definitely Batman’s most distinctive foe and all, and his appearance in the book is a notable one, but beyond being the Joker, he’s not that prominent.  Two-Face and Catwoman are both far more plot relevant, and would have made for a more sensible second.  But, at the end of the day, DCD was hard pressed to say no to another Batman/Joker pairing, especially one the same year as The Dark Knight…which, of course, also had Two-Face in a prominent role, making his inclusion the more logical–nope, I’m spiraling again.  Stop it, Ethan.  What’s done is done.  This figure stands again just shy of 7 inches tall and he has again 13 points of articulation.  In terms of movement, Joker is even more static than Batman, largely because he’s far more pose-specific than Batman.  He’s patterned on a specific visual from the comic, which was more important for the single release of the figure, since it more tied in with that figure’s accessories.  Whatever the case, it’s got him in sort of a mid-stride appearance, which is a little tricky to work with, since it makes him rather hard to get standing.  I was mentioning above how Sale’s characters are very fluid; well, going by that method, his Joker is fully liquified.  He goes for the height of expressiveness, and that means he’s really hard to nail down in three dimensions.  Because of this, his sculpt is probably the weakest of the whole set.  It’s not bad, and when viewed from the right angle, it actually looks really cool.  The profile in particular is really killer.  It’s just not great for posing, and looking too closely at the internal proportions is bound to drive you batty, and not in the thematically appropriate way.  Joker’s paint work marked quite a change from the prior release, with a few changes to the actual color palette.  This is actually a case of DCD making good use of a second release of a mold, as Joker’s colors shift later in the series.  His single release matches the earlier appearance, while this one’s more of an end of the series look.  This release also cleans up the application a bit more, especially on the face, which is now a much cleaner end product.  The accessories are where this guy really takes a hit compared to the single.  He gets his gun and a display stand, but loses the santa hat and bag of gifts from the original.  While I get why they were cut, it’s still a little sad that they aren’t here.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I hadn’t yet read Long Halloween when DCD first released figures from it.  By the time I got around to reading it (and loving it, because boy do I love it), all of the figures, including this pack, had disappeared.  I’ve had my eye out for a set of them for a bit, but never really went to the trouble of tracking them down.  This pair came into All Time as part of a rather large collection a few months ago, and they were at the right price at the right time, so I was definitely on board.  These two were probably the weakest of DCD’s Sale-based figures, but that doesn’t make either one of them a bad figure at all.  In fact, I really quite like them, and I’m happy to finally be making my way through this set of figures.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with these guys for review.  If you’re looking for toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2499: Saturn Girl

SATURN GIRL

LEGION OF SUPER HEROES (DC DIRECT)

Early last week, it was announced that DC Comics was letting go of a major portion of their work force, as well as shutting down their in-house collectibles company, DC Direct.  Ever since DC separated from Diamond Distributors earlier this year, the writing has kind of been on the wall regarding DCD’s fate, but it was still kind of sad to see them officially announce the shut down.  Though rather turbulent in the last decade or so, DCD certainly had some impressive work behind it, and its a presence in the market place that I’ll miss.  I guess in honor of their memory, I might as well jump back to early in their career, back when they were focusing just on giving figures to a bunch of DC character who had never gotten toys before.  In 2001, they gave the Legion of Super Heroes, long a fan-favorite team, their very first action figures, starting with the team’s three founding members.  Today, I’m taking a look at Saturn Girl!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Saturn Girl was released in the inaugural series of DCD’s Legion of Super Heroes line in 2001, alongside fellow founders Lightning Lad and Cosmic Boy.  All three were based on their classic Silver Age designs, which seems appropriate for their very first figures.  Saturn Girl stands 6 inches tall and has 8 points of articulation.  Articulation on DCD figures was never really standardized, and the Legion figures exemplified that.  Though Irma gets reasonable articulation for her arms, there are no joints below her waist.  This wouldn’t be such a terrible thing, if not for the fact that the figure’s legs aren’t *quite* molded in the right position to let her stand flatly, meaning she pretty much can’t stand on her own (the turnaround shots below were nothing short of a miracle, I assure you).  On the plus side, her sculpt is at least a rather nice one.  It’s nothing amazing, but it’s definitely got a nice clean feel about it, and it manages to make her look rather attractive, without having to give her any truly crazy proportions or anything.  The hands do seem maybe a touch on the large side, but otherwise she’s a pretty nice rendition of Saturn Girl’s ’60s design.   The paint work on this figure is fairly basic overall, but the application is all nice and clean, and I quite like the slight bit of accenting on the face to help give her a little color.  I also just really like how clean the painted flesh tone looks on these earlier figures.  Saturn Girl included a stand (which, though helpful, still doesn’t keep her standing as well as you’d hope), a Legion flight belt for her to wear, and a life-size Legion flight ring for the collector to wear.  Please note: flight right does not allow wearer to fly.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

My Dad was getting all of the DCD Legion figures as they were released back in the day, so I experienced most of them through him.  I did get in on the line’s last assortment, however, and I’ve been slowly filling in the rest of the line since.  I’m pretty close, and some of the last ones I still need are the original three.  My dad found Saturn Girl a couple of weeks back, and grabbed her for me for my birthday.  She’s a product of her time, and perhaps not the most impressive by modern standards.  However, she’s still pretty solid, and showcases the work that DCD did to get us figures of the greater DCU.

#2406: Nite Owl

NITE OWL

WATCHMEN (DC DIRECT)

“Awkward, shy, and unnaturally obsessed with masked vigilantes and ornithology, Dan Drieberg was a surprisingly good fit to inherit the mantle of Nite Owl.  He is a talented engineer with a tragic childhood that feeds his needs to help the helpless and fight the good fight.  However, the world is not a perfect place and Dan is forced to constantly question his own morality.”

Back in 2009, the world didn’t quite yet hate/love Zack Snyder because of what he’d done with a DC property…or did they?  Yes, we got our first taste of Zack Snyder on a DC project with 2009’s Watchmen, which was, as with most Snyder projects, met with mixed emotion.  I myself was a fan of it, being on a real Watchmen kick at the time.  I still like parts of it, but I’ll admit I can see the flaws peaking through these days (honestly, though, I find that’s somewhat true of the original source material as well).  The one definite plus to the film for toy collectors was the chance to finally get some actual figures of the characters from the story, even if they were film based.  Today, I’m looking at Nite Owl!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Nite Owl was released in Series 1 of DC Direct’s Watchmen line, hitting shelves just before the film’s March 2009 release.  This one is specifically Nite Owl II, aka Dan Drieberg, who is the main Nite Owl for the purposes of the story (his mentor Hollis Mason, aka Nite Owl I, would follow in the second series of the line).  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  He’s not incredibly poseable, but he’s fairly standard for a DCD offering of the time, and was one of the most mobile figures in this first assortment.  Nite Owl was an all new sculpt, based on his design from the film.  His look was one of the most changed for the movie, shifting from the comic’s more loose-fitting, kind of basic spandex get-up, into something more like the suits seen in the ’90s Batman films.  The general appearance notes of the design are the same, and it reads as more or less being the same guy, so I think it actually works out alright.  The actual quality of the sculpt is actually pretty darn solid, and I’d again rank him as probably the best in the first series.  The proportions are pretty realistic, the smaller detail work, especially on the main body suit, is all really sharp, and what we can see of his face has a passable Patrick Wilson likeness.  The articulation is also worked in without breaking things up too badly, so it ends up looking pretty alright overall.  The paintwork on this guy is generally pretty good.  It’s fairly involved, with all those different shades of brown.  The application’s all pretty clean, and I definitely dig the metallic colors.  He definitely pops.  Nite Owl was packed with a removable crescent blade on his belt (which he can’t hold, and which fell off of mine and went missing while he was in storage), and a display stand that interlocks with the rest of the figures from the line.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I wasn’t quite sold on the movie costumes yet when these figures hit, so I ended up passing Nite Owl initially.  By the time the movie hit and I was sold on wanting the figure, he’d sold out most places, so I went a little bit without one.  Fortunately, All Time Toys came to my rescue, all the way back in 2009, a decade before I was even sponsored.  How kind of them!  He’s not got a lot going on, but I dig this figure more than I expected to when I pulled him back out for review.  It probably helps that Nite Owl was my favorite part of the movie, so he’s got that going for him.

#2206: Soranik Natu

SORANIK NATU

GREEN LANTERN (DC DIRECT)

Coming out of Green Lantern: Rebirth we saw not just the return of classic silver age Green Lantern Hal Jordan, but also the return of the Green Lantern Corps as a whole, for the first time following its destruction during “Emerald Twilight.”  While a number of the GL mainstays were brought out of retirement for the new Corps, a good number of the prior members were dead or missing, meaning there was a need to fill their spots with some new characters who fit the same basic archetypes.  In some cases, they were pretty much just the same characters with a new name (B’dg for C’hp, for instance), but not every new inductee was this way.  Soranik Natu, taking the role of purple-skinned love interest to an Earth Lantern over from Katma Tui, got a pretty decent arc of her own over the course of the Green Lantern Corps focus series, coming to terms with her own resentment of the Corps and of her father, former rogue GL Sinestro.  She also get herself an action figure in the process.  Yay!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Soranik Natu was released in Series 5 of DC Direct’s Green Lantern line, which would prove to be the final series of the line under their tenure.  It joined Series 4 as a bit of a wrap up the the GL stuff following the rather lengthy run of Blackest Night figures.  It was honestly a little surprising that it took Soranik quite as long to get a figure as it did, but at least she got one, I guess.  The figure stands just shy of 7 inches tall (the creeping DCD scale was on the verge of topping out at this particular point), and she has 15 points of articulation.  At this point, you can kind of sense that DCD was feeling the pressure from DCUC and trying to make their figures a little bit more than plastic statues.  Soranik has more articulation than the typical release to be sure, but ultimately there’s not a ton you can do with it beyond putting her into basic standing poses.  There’s some decent range on the arms, particularly the shoulders, but even areas that had previously been pretty easy for the to articulate, like the elbows, are rather restricted here.  Also showing the DCUC influence is the figure’s construction.  DCD was trying their hand at some base bodies around this time, so Soranik uses the same body as Dove and Jade from their Brightest Day line of figures.  To be fair, it’s not a bad sculpt, and it’s got fairly balanced proportions overall, which is more than can be said for a good number of DCD’s later run figures.  It’s also not horribly preposed, and doesn’t have lots of un-needed detailing, making it look rather clean.  Soranik got a new head and hands to complete her look.  They’re fairly basic pieces, but they get the job done.  The stern expression on the face works well for Natu’s usual demeanor.  Soranik’s paintwork is fairly crisp and clean.  She uses the metallic coloring that DCD liked so much for the Lanterns, which honestly looks pretty good here, and I still really dig how those pearlescent white gloves look on all of these guys.  Soranik was packed with her power batter and a display stand with the Green Lantern emblem on it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

At the time that Soranik was released, my brother Christian and I were working on our respective 6-inch Lantern collections (his was Yellow, mine was Green), so he was pretty adamant about having my parents take him out to get me Soranik as soon as she was released so that he could give her to me as birthday present.  While I don’t have a ton of attachment to the character, she was a fairly prominent piece of the Corps for a good while, and I was definitely happy to had her to the roster.  It helps that she’s a fairly decent looking figure, even if she’s not the most playable thing.

#2115: Superman & Lex Luthor

SUPERMAN & LEX LUTHOR

DC MINIMATES

Sometimes when I’m down, I like to remind myself that I’m not as much of a failure as I could be by looking at other failures.  Is that perhaps a cruel way of making myself feel better?  Yes. So, I guess I shouldn’t do it.  Well, on a completely unrelated note, let’s talk again about DC Minimates, one of the great tragedies of Minimate collectors.  Try and try as they may to get more, they just aren’t going to happen, leaving us to reflect on the short eight series run that we actually got.  Things certainly started off strong, with a first series filled with heavy hitters…which might actually have been part of the line’s problem, since they ran out of those heavy hitters rather quickly.  Whatever the case, it meant that Superman and his arch rival Lex Luthor were among the line’s first offerings.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Superman and Luthor were one of the four two-packs in Series 1 of DC Minimates.

SUPERMAN

Superman had had two ‘mates prior to this one, as part of the legal loophole-inspired C3 line.  While his initial C3 release was a pretty decent classic Superman, it was still animation based, allowing this one to supplant it as a proper comics variant.  The figure was built on the basic ‘mate body, and therefore stands 2 1/4 inches tall and sports 14 points of articulation.  He’s constructed with three add-on pieces, for his hair, cape, and belt.  All three were new to this guy (though the hair was shared with fellow Series 1 release Green Lantern), and would go on to see re-use throughout the line.  Compared to the prior Superman, the parts on this one were mostly an improvement, though I always liked the way the C3 connected at the neck a little bit more.  This one isn’t bad looking, but I have trouble getting behind the red bar running across the neck.  I do like the overall shaping of the actual cape part, though.  His paintwork is appropriately bold, and overall not a bad offering, but the red paint on the pelvis in particular didn’t stand up very well to wear and tear.  Superman included no accessories, since stands hadn’t yet become a thing for the brand.

LEX LUTHOR

Luthor actually hadn’t gotten a ‘mate before (though a C3 prototype was shown), nor would he get one after.  This was his only shot.  The character has had a lot of different looks over the years, but this one went for his at the time current iteration of his battle suit, which was definitely a solid choice.  Said battle suit was built from six add-on pieces, again all-new to this figure.  The sculpting on these parts was superb, and is one of the earliest examples of such elements making their way into the line, as well as a good example of it being done well.  All of the sculpted parts are things that should be bulked up, but they have a lot of small detail work to set them apart.  Aiding the sculpted parts, there’s also quite a bit going on with the paint.  Again, lots of small detail lines, which makes him an interesting counterpoint to the much bolder Superman. Luthor is packed with a chunk of Kryptonite.  At least, I assume it’s his.  Neither figure in the set can actually hold it, but it makes more sense to go with him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

These guys, like all of my DC Minimates, were purchased new from Cosmic Comix.  While it was the Green Lantern set that really held my focus going into this line-up, this one’s a strong one.  Superman’s the definitive version of the character, and Luthor is just one of the best ‘mates the line ever produced.  By far one of the strongest sets the line offered up.  This pair set a high bar for the rest of the line.

#2062: Superman – The Dark Side

SUPERMAN – DARK

ELSEWORLDS (DC DIRECT)

After landing on the planet Apokolips instead of Earth, Kal-El is raised to be a merciless soldier, becoming Darkseid’s ultimate weapon in the war with New Genesis”

I’ve spoken once before of DC’s “Elseworlds” line, which they launched in 1989 as a throwback to their “Imaginary Stories” of the Silver Age.  It was actually a pretty big success throughout the ’90s, before being put on a hiatus in 2003.  While it was on hold, there was still some recognition of its importance in DC’s history, in the form of a line of dedicated figures, courtesy of DC Direct.  Numerous stories were given coverage, including 1998’s Superman: The Dark Side, a tale which, as the bio so notes, re-imagines Kal-El as landing on Apokolips and becoming a villainous New God.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Superman was released in 2007 as part of the fourth (and final) series of DC Direct’s Elseworlds line.  He was available in both “Good” and “Dark” variations.  This would be the “Dark” one.  Of the two, it’s certainly the less classically Superman-styled, and hits a lot of the same beats as the brainwashed Superman’s design from Superman: The Animated Series‘ “Legacy.”  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall and he has 13 points of articulation.  DCD was still kind of figuring out the whole articulation thing at this point, so Superman’s not an overly poseable figure.  I suppose he should consider himself lucky that he didn’t get stuck in an uncomfortable pre-pose, like that poor New Frontier Batman.  Instead, he’s just got a fairly basic standing pose, which isn’t that bad looking.  His sculpt was definitely a strong one, even for this line.  It’s sharply defined, and quite clean-looking.  It appears to be fairly faithful to Kieron Dwyer’s illustrations from the book (I haven’t read it myself, so I’m going off what I can find online), and nicely maintains the imposing nature of this armor’s design, as well as capturing that pseudo-Kirby styling. It’s not super detailed, erring more on the side of cleaner, bolder lines, which is again true to the source.  His paintwork is fairly standard from DCD for the time, which is to say it’s pretty solid.  The base work is clean, and sporting a real cool gunmetal grey over most of the figure.  The reds really pop from that, and there’s some really nice accenting, which brings out the details well.  The visor on the helmet is done up in a translucent red, which doesn’t quite catch the light as well as I’d hope, but is otherwise a decent break from the other reds throughout the armor.  Superman was originally packed with an alternate un-helmeted head, a sword, and a display stand.  My figure only has the sword, which, if I’m being honest, is the coolest bit anyway.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Having not read the story, I didn’t pick this figure up when he was new.  Instead, I decided to wait until he was super expensive on the aftermarket, because I’m way smart like that.  Okay, not quite.  This guy was traded-in to All Time Toys in a large lot back in December, and while I’ve never read the story, I quite liked his look, and was able to get him for a very good deal.  He’s a cool-looking based on a cool-looking design,  He’s not super-poseable or anything, but he’s certainly a cool display piece.

#1879: Wonder Woman & Ares

WONDER WOMAN & ARES

DC MINIMATES

Can you believe there was a time when Marvel Minimates wasn’t enough to carry the Minimates brand?  Well, around Series 15 (the only cancelled specialty assortment to date), that was definitely the case.  The line had stagnated, going over a year without a proper assortment release, and there were four back-to-back assortments made up completely of parts re-use.  It was rough to say the least, but then DC came along, and offered salvation.  New characters, new looks, and best of all, new pieces.  Better pieces, pieces that were stronger, faster than before.  Six Million Dollar pieces.  Okay, slight exaggeration there, but DC really did get Minimates out of its slump.  And then, as quickly as it arrived on the scene, it got dropped.  Because that’s just how DC Direct do.  We got a strong selection of DC’s heaviest hitters, though, including number three in their power trio, Wonder Woman, paired off against one of her greatest foes, Ares!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Wonder Woman and Ares were released in the third series of DC Minimates, which is probably my favorite line-up for the whole line.  Wonder Woman was the headliner for the assortment, and as such was actually the focus character on the packaging.

WONDER WOMAN

This would mark the first of Wonder Woman’s three Minimates.  Unlike Superman and Batman, she was not a part of the preceding C3 line, though her prototype had been shown off before the line’s demise.  This one followed a lot of cues from that, while still remaining somewhat distinct.  She’s built on the usual base body, and as such stands about 2 1/2 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  She uses three sculpted add-on pieces, for her hair and her bracelets.  The hair was new to this figure (and would be used again for the next two ‘mates), while the bracelets came from the C3 line.  The hair piece may not be super detailed by today’s standards, but it’s still a sharp, cleanly sculpted piece, which works quite well for the character’s classic appearance.  Her paintwork is nice and clean.  Though Series 3 would be DC Minimates‘ first series to extensively use properly colored plastic, Wonder Woman was unique in following the Series 1/2 style of painting all but the head.  It doesn’t make a huge difference in her appearance, but it does mean she slots in more seamlessly with the Superman and Batman from Series 1.  And, honestly, that’s probably the best course of action. Wonder Woman is packed with her lasso of truth, a newly sculpted piece.  It’s a shame there’s no way to attach it to her waist, but it’s a nice piece regardless.

ARES

When it comes to distinctive Wonder Woman foes, there’s pretty much Ares and Cheetah to choose from.  DC Minimates would produce both, but Ares got to go first.  He’s seen here in his classic blue armored appearance, which has always been my personal favorite for the character, as well as being the most toy friendly.  One of the things that separated DC Minimates from other lines was its use of the larger-scaled base body for larger characters.  Ares was one of those characters, so he’s got an extra half inch on Diana.  Ultimately, whether the larger bodies worked or not was a personal preference thing, but I do find it works particularly well for a character like Ares, who’s just generally depicted as being larger than those around him.  Ares had seven add-on pieces, for his helmet, cape, skirt, wrist bracers, and shin guards.  All of them are unique to him.  These parts really show DCD’s commitment to a higher level of detailing, and definitely rival the modern ‘mates in terms of depth of detail.  And, with the larger base body, the parts are also able to be far more compact to the body than at the smaller scale, making for a more solidly assembled ‘mate.  His paintwork is quite impressive in its own right.  Unlike Wonder Woman, he’s molded in his proper colors for the most part, allowing the paint to actually go more towards accent work.  The best of it’s definitely on his torso, which uses dramatic lighting to nicely outline the texturing of his armor.  It’s a pretty cool effect.  Ares was packed with a sword and an axe, truly appropriate for the God of War.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As with every other series of DC Minimates, I got Series 3 new from Cosmic Comix back in the day.  It wasn’t the set I was most excited about in the set, but I was pleasantly surprised by it after opening it.  Wonder Woman is a solid rendition of an essential character, and is a selling point for that reason.  Ares, however, is the real star for me, and has long been one of my favorite figures to come out of this line.