#2721: Hawkman

HAWKMAN

FIRST APPEARANCE (DC DIRECT)

“Archaeologist Carter Hall discovered that he was the reincarnation of ancient Egyptian Prince Khufu in 1940’s Flash Comics #1!Using an experimental antigravity metal, Hall took flight as Hawkman!”

In the Golden Age, comic books were still very much periodicals in the vain of the pulp magazines that inspired them, with multiple features in each book.  For the most part, the earliest appearances of the heavy hitters only got one notable stand out per book; no one’s really talking much about the characters that were backing up Superman and Batman in Action and Detective.  However, there were a few instances, especially as they get into that slightly lower tier selection, where multiple characters might share their first appearance.  For instance, while Jay Garrick’s The Flash headlined the first issue of Flash Comics, also debuting in that same issue was fellow JSA member, Hawkman, who I’m taking a look at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Hawkman was part of the second series of DC Direct’s First Appearance line.  We’d gotten just one Hawkman from DCD previously at this point, and he was specifically the Silver Age version of the character (albeit one that happened to included a second, Golden Age-inspired helmet), as had all prior versions of the character in toy form.  The figure is approximately 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 13 points of articulation.  Like Alan, he got to keep those extra wrist joints that the Series 1 figures had been lacking, plus he had the extra added joints of the wings.  Hawkman’s sculpt was technically all-new to him, though I’ve actually looked at a lot of it previously, when it was re-used for the ReActivated! Hawkman.  Of course, that being a review from my first month of reviewing, I didn’t actually, you know, really review it.  It’s a rather nice sculpt. It’s got nice, balanced proportions, and does a respectable job of capturing Dennis Neville’s illustrations of the character from the interiors.  The head and wings are the notable changes between the two releases of the mold.  This one’s been designed to include a removable helmet, which is quite nicely handled.  Both the helmet and the underlying head work well together, with neither being too oddly scaled.  Additionally, the wings on this version are designed for more easy removal, and to also more resemble the original intent, where they were more of a glider set-up.  As such, they’re a little flatter, lack the more overt feather detailing, and have a connection via pegs, rather than the ball joint set-up of later figures.  It’s not going to be getting many killer poses or anything, but it does mean you can have a much more dressed down Carter Hall.  Following in Flash’s footsteps from the first series, Hawkman is the one figure in his set that doesn’t feature any cloth parts, mostly because, exactly what would you use them for?  He’s not exactly overly clothed.  Hawkman’s paint work is bright, colorful, and clean, and he’s got some nice variation, especially on the yellows and reds, which have two differing sheens, depending on where they are.  Hawkman’s definitely the best accessorized of the line up to this point, with the previously mentioned removable helmet and wings, as well as a dagger, shield, stand, and reprint of his portion of Flash Comics #1.  Compared to the others, his assortment definitely feels more all-inclusive.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

At this point in my collecting, my dad and I were still kind of sharing a DC Direct collection, so we’d usually split any given assortment of figures.  When Series 2 was released, we got a full set, but Hawkman wasn’t one of the two I got out of that.  I wound up getting one of my own later down the line, under the same circumstances as the Flash figure I looked at earlier this month.  I actually do quite like this figure, even if Hawkman himself has never really been one of my favorites.

#2714: Green Lantern

GREEN LANTERN

FIRST APPEARANCE (DC DIRECT)

“Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern, first shined his emerald light in 1940’s All-American Comics #16.”

1940 proved to be a rather jam-packed year for super hero comics.  After the immense success of Superman and Batman in the two years prior, DC (then National Comics Publications) launched more of their own additions to the genre, but were also joined by a good number of competitors.  One who was perhaps less competitor than the others was All-American Publications, whose characters had frequent crossovers with National’s, and who were themselves absorbed into what would become DC before the end of the Golden Age.  Among All-American’s most prominent heroes was the first Green Lantern, Alan Scott, who arrived in July of 1940 in the 16th issue of All-American’s self-titled periodical.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Green Lantern was released in the second series of DC Direct’s First Appearance line, which hit not too long after the first.  Like Jay, prior to the release of this figure, Alan’s only prior figure was the slightly less artist-specific one from the JSA line.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  After the stripped down articulation approach they gave to the non-Batman figures in Series 1, DCD was nice enough to change things up ever so slightly for the second round, and actually gave Alan here swivels for his wrists, which is certainly nice to have for a character like GL.  His posing is still somewhat limited, of course, but you can get a respectable range out of him.  The figure’s sculpt is based on Marty Nodell’s interior illustrations for the character.  Nodell’s work was somewhat fluid in it’s exact depiction of the character, so this sculpt tries to get the key most elements of his illustrations, worked into a cleaner overall design.  It’s quite a nice looking sculpt, and probably one of the best to come out of this line-up (really, only Hawkman rivals it).  These figures were mostly pretty light on detailing, but in keeping with Nodell’s tendency to put a lot of smaller detailing into his art, there’s actually quite a bit going on in this figure’s sculpt as well. The pants in particular have some really nice work on the folds and creases, and the billowy shirt even manages to look pretty decent.  The head’s also got a little more character to it than most of the other sculpts in the line, with more detailing in the face and hair, and even the actual band that held his mask in place (consistent in the earliest depictions of the character).  In an effort to keep with the cloth goods set-up for the line, Alan’s cape is a cloth piece.  It’s not one of the line’s finest elements, being rather bulky and a little cumbersome.  It’s got a wire to aid in posing, which is cool, but it has some trouble staying in place, and the yellow band across the front that’s supposed to be the chain is really goofy looking.  Like most of the other figures in the set, Alan’s paint work is bright, clean, and colorful.  There’s some very sharp work on the logo, as well as on the face, especially the eyes.  Alan is packed with the usual stand and reprint of his first appearance, but also gets his actual Lantern power batter as well, which is quite a nice piece.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve always had a somewhat sentimental attachment to Alan Scott, largely due to dressing up as him for Halloween when I was 7, but this was the first Alan Scott figure I actually owned.  I got it from my parents for Christmas the year it was released, and even happened to have it with me when I met Marty Nodell at Baltimore Comic Con the following year, although I didn’t have the forethought to actually get him to sign it, which probably would have been a good idea.  He’s a really cool figure, and probably the best of the First Appearance figures.  I don’t like the cape a ton, but that’s ultimately pretty minor.

#2707: The Flash

THE FLASH

FIRST APPEARANCE (DC DRIECT)

After the success of Superman and Batman, DC created a whole host of additional costumed heroes to join them.  Debuting in Flash Comics #1, Jay Garrick became the first incarnation of the titular character.  When the Golden Age ended, he was replaced by Barry Allen as the Silver Age Flash, but re-appeared just a few short years later in “Flash of Two Worlds,” the story that placed all of the Golden Age heroes on a separate Earth and officially created DC’s Multiverse.  Pretty nifty, huh?  Despite being a rather prominent fixture of the DC ‘verse, Jay’s been light on toys.  Under DC Direct, he got his second figure, amusingly enough, under the First Appearance banner.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Flash was released in the first series of DC Direct’s First Appearance figures, alongside the previously reviewed Batman.  Prior to this one, his only figure was the less style-specific figure from the main JSA line.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 9 points of articulation.  While DCD were willing to spring for extra joints on Batman, they were not similarly inclined for the rest of the assortment, so Jay just got their standard movement of the time.  It’s enough for some decent posing, but is admittedly pretty limiting.  He’s certainly not getting any deep running poses or anything.  Like the rest of the line, this version of Jay is quite strictly based on his first appearance art, in this case, Harry Lampert’s illustrations from the interiors of the book.  He seems to draw the most inspiration from the illustration of Jay that ran alongside the character’s header within the book, right down to his slight pre-posing seeming to line up with the slight running pose of the drawing.  It’s actually not a bad match for the art, though it certainly leaves him looking a bit more polished, and generally just a bit, I don’t know, prettier? He’s a pretty man, I guess, or at least he was in 1940.  Less so later.  I’ll admit, I’m a touch weirded out by a Jay that’s not at least middle-aged, but he wasn’t always, I suppose.  This figure also reflects the minor changes that were present in Jay’s costume earlier on, with the free-floating lighting bolt, the slightly less defined boots, and the bolts on the sides of his legs (presumably to make him go faster?).  Flash was the one figure in the first series to lack any cloth goods pieces, due to his costume’s tighter-clinging nature.  He does, however, get a removeable helmet piece.  It’s not as defined as other versions, but it’s also accurate to the art in that way, so good on them for that, I suppose.  Flash’s paint is quite bright and colorful, which is appropriate for this incarnation, and also makes him fairly eye-catching.  As with Batman, they vary up the finishes a bit on some of the colors, which helps give them a little more pop.  Flash was packed with a display stand (same as Batman’s) and a reprint of his story from Flash Comics #1.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

My main focus when this line hit was Batman, so I really didn’t pay this guy much mind when they were new.  Not many people did, honestly, so he would up being way marked down at Cosmic Comix about a year later, which is when I finally picked mine up, because, hey, he was cheap, right?  I also didn’t have another Jay Garrick at the time, so he worked on that front, too.  He’s not a bad figure, though he’s maybe not one of the showier offerings from this line.

#2700: Batman

BATMAN

FIRST APPEARANCE (DC DIRECT)

Adopting a ghastly, bat-like costume designed to inspire fear in the hearts of the “superstitious & cowardly” criminal element of Gotham City, Bruce Wayne burst onto the comics scene as Batman in 1939’s Detective Comics #27!”

2700 reviews.  That’s a nice sort of clean number, easily divisible by 27.  27’s a notable number in the world of comics, what with it being the issue number of the first appearance of Batman, who’s kind of a big deal, I guess.  What a crazy great tie-in for my 2700th review, right?  What great planning, right?  I’m very clever and organized, aren’t I?  ….Are you buying any of this?  Or is it just patently obvious that this was totally a coincidence, and the significance that I picked a First Appearance Batman for my 2700th review only dawned on me when I actually sat down to write the review.  Because, well, that’s what happened.  Thrilling story, I know.  Look, let’s just get to the review, shall we?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Batman was released as part of the first series of DC Direct’s First Appearance line in 2004, the 65th anniversary of the character.  Batman got into the first assortment over Superman, despite Superman’s first appearance being, you know, first, but hey, it was early ’00s DCD; if there was a chance at making a Batman, they were making Batman.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 13 points of articulation.  He was by far DCD’s most articulated Batman at the time, possessing movement at both the wrists and the tops of the biceps.  He could almost cross his arms, even.  How quaint.  DCD was beginning its hard turn to artist-specific figures at this point in time, and First Appearance really embraced that.  Batman’s sculpt is very clearly patterned on Bob Kane’s….studio’s illustrations of Batman from the pages of Detective #27.  It’s a simpler style of art by modern standards, but the figure nevertheless stuck to it.  It’s a pretty clean looking sculpt, and it captures the highlights of what made this version of the costume distinctive, as well as doing a pretty alright job of making him work as an actual posable figure.  That’s something DCD historically had a lot of trouble handling, so they did a very respectable job here.  The range of motion on the joints is actually pretty respectable, especially on the neck, which is really the most key.  For the first few assortments, the First Appearance line dabbled in some cloth goods for most of the figures, a rather new venture for DCD at the time.  In accordance with this, Batman’s cape is a cloth piece.  It’s rather thickly constructed, with two sides; on black, one blue.  In order to give Batman’s the wing-like presence it had in the comic, there are some wires running through.  It’s one of those “better in theory than in practice” deals, but it’s not awful, especially for the time.  Batman’s paint work is pretty straightforward, as is to be expected, given its attempts to stick to the source material.  The colors are rather vibrant, and they’ve even done some rather nice work on the black sections, which have a quite impressive glossy sheen to them.  In terms of accessories, DCD was still going rather sparse.  Batman got a display stand and a small reprint of Detective Comics #27.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

While only a moderate Batman fan myself, I’ve always really liked his first appearance look, and I used to doodle it a lot on various papers and such as a kid.  This figure was really right up my alley at the time, and I snagged him back when he was new, courtesy of my local haunt, Cosmic Comix.  He’s perhaps not an incredibly impressive figure by today’s standards, but he was quite good for a DCD figure at the time, and he still holds up as a really good recreation of the design from the comics, and a distinctive figure at that.

#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.