Guest Review #0048: Super Sons

SUPERBOY & ROBIN

DC ICONS (DC COLLECTIBLES)

The following is a guest review by my dad, writer Steven H. Wilson!  Check out more from him over at his blog, located at stevenhwilson.com

So I bought this set a while back, on new comics Wednesday, and Ethan suggested I review the figures here, and then do a piece over on my blog about the characters and their history. You’ll note that Ethan’s blog is very focused, a new action figure review every day. Mine is not so much. It’s pretty much just whatever the hell I want to talk about, when I want to talk about it. And it hasn’t always been every day, though it has been for a while now. Anyway, here we have The Super-Sons!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Super-Sons are a two-pack in the DC Icons line, what I’m told may be the last such two-pack in the series.

SUPERBOY

The fifth (I think?) Superboy in DC Comics history, Jonathan White Kent is the son of Superman and Lois Lane. The original Superboy was Superman, but it’s unclear these days if that was Jon’s dad. The original grew up to be the Superman of Earth One, which was destroyed (more correctly, merged with a few other earths) in Crisis on Infinite Earths. Jon’s father is the Superman of that merged Earth, who when introduced, was established never to have been Superboy [well, at least until they decided he was…–E]. I don’t know if that still holds because DC history is confusing. The other Superboys were Kon-El, a clone of Superman with different powers, Jon-El, sort of the same deal, and, of course, the dreaded Superboy Prime, the young hero of Crisis on Infinite Earths who later went bad.

Little Jon Kent, ten years old, is growing into his inherited powers. He sort of flies, has some strength, and uses his heat vision an awful lot. True to his father’s influence, he’s a boy scout who’s afraid to swear. True to his mothers, he’s utterly fearless.

Previous Superboy figures have included one that came in a two-pack with his cousin Supergirl from DC Direct, and two Superboy Primes released in the DC Direct Infinite Crisis line and the Mattel DC Universe Classics line.

Superboy stands about 3 ½ inches tall and has 29 points of articulation. He comes with the Icons “flying” stand, a clear plastic cylinder section with a slanted top and a pin the attach his foot. Face and body are original sculpts, about an inch shorter than the male adult figures in the line. The facial sculpt is good, capturing Jon’s confident half-smile and eternal optimism.

His “uniform” (or are they play clothes) is well reproduced—a Superman hoodie he found at a second-hand store, jeans with a rip in the knee, a red T-shirt and short red cape. I think perhaps the hoodie is a bit too form-fitting. It’s shown looser in the comics, contributing more to Jon’s “still-growing” look, and his air of casual disregard for his appearance.

He’s very poseable, although I had a hard time getting him into the “Up, up and away” pose shown on the box.

Like all Icons figures, he comes with extra pairs of hands, specifically three this time around.

ROBIN

The son of Bruce Wayne (Batman) and Talia Al Ghul, daughter of Batman’s immortal enemy Ras Al Ghul, Damian Wayne is the sixth individual to carry the code name Robin, the others being Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drak, Carrie Kelly, and Stephanie Brown (very briefly). Damien Wayne is 13, short for his age, and pretends he only hangs out with Jonathan Kent because the kid has powers, not because he actually likes him, and not because their fathers have pretty much bullied them into being “friends.”

This is the sixth Damian Wayne Robin figure, the last coming out from Mattel’s DC Comics Multiverse line just recently, as well as one from Mattel’s online subscription service, two from DC Collectibles’ Son of Batman and Lil’ Gotham lines, and one from DC Direct’s Batman Incorporated before that.

The figure stands about 3 inches tall, with 29 points of articulation. The facial sculpt shows Damian pouting and angry, because, if Damian ever smiled, his head would explode in order to expel his face away from it with as much force as possible. Or maybe he’s just pissed that the figures so accurately represent how much smaller he is than his junior partner.

I wish he had come with an interchangeable head, so that he could be displayed with his hood up. He does come with a five sets of hands (in fists, flat, two different grips, and with bloody talons), and a staff to make up for not having a flying stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I looked forward to the Super-Sons title, because I was a kid when the original Super-Sons were having their imaginary adventures. (More about them on my own blog.) It’s such a completely hokey idea, and it was always great fun. I think Peter Tomasi has integrated the hokey idea into a fun book that works for a new generation of more-sophisticated (read: really jaded) readers. I was glad to see them rendered in action-figure form, since I doubt the original “Superman, Jr.” and “Batman, Jr.” (Yep, those were their names!) ever will be.

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#1484: Mr. Miracle

MR MIRACLE

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS (MATTEL)

“As part of a peace pact, Scott Free was raised in an orphanage on the cruel world of Apokolips.  Young Scott finally escaped that destiny and made his way to Earth where he was befriended by escape artist Thaddeus Brown, known as Mr. Miracle.  Under Brown’s tutelage Scott assumed the identity of Mister Miracle and elevated to greater glory as an entertainment super-escape artist!”

In time for Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday, his beloved Fourth World creations have made their triumphant return to the four-color-printed pages.  Well, a few of them, anyway.  Kirby’s most successful Fourth World creation is the evil monarch Darkseid, but I’d say that Mr. Miracle’s a pretty close second.  His original book ran for twice as long as the others, and he’s had more than a few revivals, including a currently running one, which I’ve been picking up and enjoying enough to keep reading.  He’s also had a pretty good helping of action figures.  I’ve already looked at two of them, but here’s one more.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mr. Miracle was released in the sixth series of DC Universe Classics, which was the final assortment of the line’s inaugural year.  It was a rather rocky year, with a slow start at Series 1, poor distribution for the four series, and quality control issues all over the place.  Series 6 marked a real turning point, being a little easier to find at retail and offering overall higher quality figures.  Scott was the second Fourth World addition, following Orion in Series 1.   Following Scott, there’d be one New God per series until Series 12.  The figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 25 points of articulation.  He’s built on the medium base-body, which works well enough for Scott, since he’s usually a little smaller than Orion and the like, but still usually depicted as larger than average.  Scott has a new head, forearms, and shins, as well as add-ons for his cape and belt.  It’s nice to see just how many new pieces there were on this guy, given how prone to just painting the details this line got as it went on.  The head is a generic depiction of Mr. Miracle’s mask, not based on any specific artist’s version.  Obviously, there’s some pretty heavy Kirby influence there, but it’s not a strict Kirby version of the character.  Nevertheless, it’s a good take on the character.  The other pieces are mostly just designed to slot in pretty flawlessly with the base body, which they do pretty well.  The cape, it should be noted, is made from a harder plastic than you might expect, which means it’s really stiff, solid, and heavy.  It can make him a little difficult to keep standing.  That being said, it’s still a nicely crafted piece, so no complaints there.  What I find most impressive about this figure are the details that most people will never see.  The back of his belt features a removable Mother Box, and the bottoms of his feet have been re-sculpted so as to get some Kirby circuitry.  Both easily overlooked details, but both details included here anyway.  The paintwork on this guy is perhaps his only real negative.  It’s not terrible, but it’s a little sloppier than I’d like.  Still, it’s got some very nice accent work that you don’t see much these days, and is all-around pretty good.  In addition to the previously mentioned Mother Box, Mr. Miracle is also packed with a pair of flight disks (which get a circuitry detailing similar to the underside of the foot), as well as the right leg of Kaliback.  Most impressively, he includes a pair of arm cuffs, clearly modeled after those included with his old Super Powers figure, making this guy the first official call-back to Super Powers in this line.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t buy this guy new. Not long before his release, DC Direct had done their own set of Jack Kirby designed New Gods figures, which I quite liked.  That Mr. Miracle was my favorite of the set, and I didn’t really feel like I needed another.  Then this figure’s price shot up fairly quickly, and I figured that was just as well.  Recently, Cosmic Comix got in a nearly complete set of DCUC figures, and they’ve been slowly putting them out.  I saw this guy, and it was the same week as the new issue of Mr. Miracle, so I felt it was appropriate.  I’m glad I picked him up, because he’s quite possibly one of the finest offerings from DCUC.  He’s a character that really fit the style, and it’s clear they went the extra mile to make him so cool.  It’s almost hard to believe this was actually a Mattel offering.

#1480: Black Adam

BLACK ADAM

DC ICONS (DC COLLECTIBLES)

Can you smell what Black Adam is cooking?  See, it’s funny, cuz the Rock is playing Black Adam.  Clever, right?  Well, that’s quite enough levity for today, I think.  So, Black Adam is by far Captain Marvel/Shazam’s most known foe.  So well known that he’s actually spent the last decade or so as a more prominent player than the hero he was created to fight.  Funny how things play out.  Guess people just can’t resist a good anti-hero.  Case in point: today’s Black Adam figure, from DC Icons, a line that never got an actual Shazam figure.  Weird.  Onto the figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Black Adam was released in Series 2 of DC Icons.  He’s figure 07 in the line, placing him right in the middle of the Series 2 releases.  He’s based on his New 52-styled appearance from “Forever Evil.”  I can’t say it’s one of my favorite designs.  I mean, it’s just a re-color of the Shazam design, which is fine from a thematic standpoint, but I’m not a huge fan of that design either.  It just feels…over-designed?  That was my common issue with the New 52 stuff, and it’s really true here.  I just really prefer the classic design.  But, that’s not the design they went with, so I guess I’ll just deal.  The figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall (making him the tallest standard figure from the line) and he has 29 points of articulation.  His sculpt is decent enough.  The build is rather similar to the Superman and Batman from the Rebirth pack, just a little taller.  It means he’s not scrawny or undersized like some of the line’s earlier figures, and he slots in decently with other 6-inch lines.  The design is still definitely over-complicated, but the sculpt makes the best of it, and adds some very precise detail work to the figure.  The head is fine from a technical standpoint, but the expression seems a little bland for Black Adam, if I’m honest.  He just seems bored. I also feel that the fraying at the bottom of the cape could be a little more realistic, but aside from that, I find the sculpt to be fairly decent.  The paintwork is well rendered.  The contrast is pretty great, and I quite like the electricity detailing on his insignia.  His skin tone seems a little light for Teth, but that’s relatively minor, since his colors are prone to change from appearance to appearance.  Black Adam is a little lighter on the extras, with just extra hands.  There are three pairs: fists, open gesture, and electricity effects.  Not a bad assortment, even if it’s a little light.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Black Adam was picked up from Barnes and Noble, capping off a day of way too much money spent on action figures.  So, why’d I buy him?  Partly because I’ve recently become obsessed with finishing my DC Icons set.  Partly because he was on clearance for 50% off.  He’s certainly not my favorite figure from the line, nor is he the version of the character I would have chosen.  That being said, he’s a fun figure, and worth the lower price I paid for him.  Shame there was no Shazam to go with him.

#1473: Deadman

DEADMAN

DC ICONS (DC COLLECTIBLES)

Sometimes you don’t need an elaborate costume.  You just need enough collar.  Or something like that.  I feel like that’s probably what Boston Brand’s tailor said to him when he presented Boston with his Deadman costume.  Because, I mean, really, just look at that collar.  That’s a lot of collar, right?  You could say he’s a real….red collar worker… No?  Yeah, you’re right, that one sucked.  It’s okay, that was Tim’s fault, anyway.  Where was I?  Right, action figure review.  Here’s an action figure review.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Deadman is part of the first series of DC Icons figures.  He’s figure 02 in the line-up, just after Batman.  He’s also the fourth and final figure from this series to be reviewed on the site.  Yay?  Deadman’s based on his appearance from “Brightest Day,” which seems like a reasonable enough choice, seeing as it’s one of the few times his been at the center of a major story.  It also allows for what is essentially a classic Deadman, albeit with an ever so slight modern update (he loses the belt, and trades in the pixie boots for taller fare, but that’s really it).  Ironically, this does mean we’ve gotten a Deadman figure based on when he wasn’t actually dead, but hey, why not?  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  For some reason, he doesn’t get cuts at the tops of his boots, which does restrict his poses a little bit, but it’s still pretty manageable.  His sculpt follows the same basic formula as the rest of the line.  It’s unique to him, but definitely has common ancestry with the likes of Batman and such.  I like that it doesn’t get to overly skinny, like some other Deadmen do, since Boston’s not supposed to be *that* small.  Despite his somewhat basic design, there’s a fair bit of detail work, especially on his upper torso and face.  Given the gaunt nature of his face, I’m led to believe this might be Deadman from the very end of “Brightest Day,” after he’s died again.  I appreciate that his “D” symbol is raised, rather than painted, but it’s a little odd that the same wasn’t done for his boots or gloves.  It’s not a big deal or anything, just a little strange.  The paint on this guy is pretty solid all around.  The two toned red on the costume looks pretty great; The shades could perhaps stand to be a little more divergent, but they look good enough to me.  The face is really just a flat white, but that accents the sculpt very well, and I really dig the gradation from black to grey to white around the eyes.  It adds an extra level of otherworldliness to his look.  Deadman is packed with two sets of hands in fists and open gesture poses, as well as a pretty cool possession piece, which can be slipped over the head and shoulders of other Icons figures to make it look like Deadman is possessing them.  I do find a little strange that no unmasked Boston Brand head was included, given how much of “Brightest Day” he spent unmasked.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was tempted by Deadman when these figures first showed up.  I never got the DCUC figure, due to not liking how it turned out, so the only version of Boston in my collection for a good long while was the old DCD version.  I very likely would have bought him had Cosmic Comix not sold out of everyone but Mr. Miracle when these first hit.  Since I never saw him in person, I just never got around to buying one.  In the last few weeks, I’ve been slowly going back and piecing together a complete set of Icons.  Deadman was may first purchase in that venture.  I found him at a store called Alternate Worlds, and they had a coupon on Yelp, so I used it to get him.  He’s a pretty fun figure, and easily the best version of the character out there.

#1468: Golden Pharaoh

GOLDEN PHARAOH

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS (MATTEL)

“British archaeologist Ashley Halberstam was at a dig in Giza, Egypt when he was engulfed by a bolt emanating from a laboratory on New Genesis. The bolt transformed Halberstam and conferred upon him the ”Power of the Pyramids,” as channeled through his magical pyramid staff. Virtuous and heroic by nature, Halberstam fought alongside Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman against the evil machinations of Darkseid and the legions of Apokolips, eternal enemies of New Genesis.”

Just two days ago, I was looking at a DC Icons figure, and lamenting the sad tale of that failed DC line.  How about another?  Yes, I’m feeling nostalgic, so let’s turn our sights to DC Universe Classics.  Admittedly, it’s funny to view this as a “failed” line, seeing as it ran 20 Series at retail and had two years of a subscription service after that.  It’s possibly the longest-running line of DC figures, especially if you factor in its precursor DC Superheroes or any of its numerous spin-offs.  It is, for all intents and purposes, the definitive DC toyline.  So, why is it a “failure?”  Mostly for retrospective reasons.  Despite it’s deep reach in terms of character selection, many teams were left sadly incomplete.  Choices of costumes and incarnations were frequently questionable.  And, if we’re being totally honest, with a few exceptions, the last quarter of the line was filled with mediocre, uninspired figures, leaving it as little more than a hollow shell of its former self.  Despite its flaws, the line is well-noted for its devotion to obscure characters, and even moreso for its recreation of Kenner’s Super Powers line, right down to the kooky original characters.  This includes today’s focus, Golden Pharaoh, who received his second figure ever courtesy of this line.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Golden Pharaoh was released in Series 15 of DC Universe Classics.  From Series 8 forward, each assortment included one Super Powers-recreation figure.  Pharaoh would be the last one in the line (well, not including Samurai in the Super Friends series, but he was a slightly different story), as he wrapped up the “originals” set.  Pharaoh was easily the least developed of all the Kenner-original creations, so the fact that he was the last one to join the line isn’t a huge surprise.  The figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  He was built on the medium-sized base body, with a unique head, torso, arms, and calves, as well as an add-on piece for his loincloth.  As noted in prior DCUC reviews, it’s a body that’s started to show its age, and it wasn’t exactly top-of-the-line when it was new, but for a character like Golden Pharaoh it’s really not bad.  The unique pieces manage to capture the essence of the original figure, while still managing to be modern and updated.  It’s definitely got a bit of an Ed McGuinness vibe to it, but that’s not a bad thing in the slightest.  The paintwork on Pharaoh is pretty solid work, especially for this point in the line.  There’s not a lot of accent work, but he makes up for it with the gold paint and the translucent purple plastic.  It certainly makes for a unique looking figure.  Golden Pharaoh was packed with his fabulous Golden Pharaoh staff, as well as a Super Powers display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t buy Golden Pharoh when he was new.  I can’t really tell you why.  Possibly because we got most of this assortment to finish the Validus Collect-N-Connect, and this guy didn’t come with a piece.  I ended up getting him just a few months ago from Cosmic Comix, who just got in a large collection of DCUC figures and was selling this guy for $7, which was about the right price for me to finally get him.

#1466: Batman

BATMAN

DC ICONS (DC COLLECTIBLES)

For today’s DC Icons Friday, I’m taking a bit of a leap back.  The last three weeks have all been figures from ore towards the end of the line’s run, but for this one I’ll actually be going all the way back to the earliest releases of the line.  I’ll be taking a look at the heaviest hitting of DC’s heavy hitters, Batman, in his inaugural Icons figure form.  Strap in FiQ-fans; this one might get a bit bumpy.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Batman is figure 01 in the first series of DC Icons figures.  Interestingly, though he’s numerically the first, he ended up hitting a week after the other three Series 1 figures, for unknown reasons.  Batman’s packaging lists that he’s based on the “Last Rights” storyline, which was the follow-up to the “Batman R.I.P.” that deals with the various Bat-cast’s reactions to the death of Bruce Wayne.  It’s an odd choice for a Batman figure, since, as you might have guessed, he spends the story…well, dead…ish (it’s a long, convoluted, complicated story.  Best not to ask further questions).  I think there’s a flashback with Bruce in costume at some point, but it’s brief.  Odd choice of storyline aside, it’s really just a pretty standard pre-Final Crisis Batman, which is generally a good thing, since that’s a rather definitive take on the character.  The figure stands a little under 6 inches tall…yeah, you read that right.  Here’s what its hands down the greatest flaw of this figure: he’s too short.  He’s one of the shortest Icons figures produced.  And that just doesn’t quite work out, since he’s Batman, and he really shouldn’t be that short.  And it’s not like he just missed a little height in his legs or torso or something; he’s actually just a smaller scaled figure, so he looks out of place next to most contemporary 6-inch lines, including the line he’s actually a part of.  Looking at the positives, he’s got 29 points of articulation, and is without a doubt one of the best articulated Batman figures ever to be produced.  Only the later Rebirth Batman really surpasses him.  Some of the articulation could still be better, of course.  The lack of any joints on his thighs continues to be the biggest flaw of any Icons release, and his neck joint is rather limited (and his head has an annoying tendency to pop right off the joint at a moment’s notice).  Still, there’s a lot of great poses that this guy can pull off that no other Batman really can.  This Batman figure has a unique sculpt, which is definitely one of the better Batman sculpts out there.  Like the other figures in the line, it’s based on Ivan Reis’s work, and makes for a very satisfying Batman, at least from a design front.  He’s less pouty than his Rebirth compatriot, which I like, and is in general one of the more realistically built figures in the line.  I like the small details like the wrinkles in his costume, and I love how well the belt turned out.  Even the cape is well done, and I’m the sort of guy that’s hard to please when it comes to capes.  The only real issue I have is the gauntlets of his gloves, which have the “spikes” placed on the sides, when they actually should be running on the backs of his forearms.  It’s a symptom of the gloves originally having a swivel joint above them that was later removed; they were just affixed in the wrong position.  Paintwork on this figure is pretty decent overall.  The colors match up well with the usual look of a mid-00s Batman, and the application is mostly pretty clean, aside from a few very minor spots of slop.  There’s one slight oddity with the paint; for some reason he’s got a pair of black eyebrows painted on his cowl.  Now, eyebrows aren’t uncommon on Batman designs, but the modern look mostly dispensed with them, so they can look a little goofy.  Fortunately, they’re effectively invisible to the naked eye.  Batman is packed with two sets of hands in fists and gripping poses, as well as an additional left hand holding a grapple, and a pair of batarangs.  It’s a decent selection of extras, though I can’t say any of it’s terribly exciting.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t buy this figure when he was new, largely due to the whole scale thing.  I thought he looked cool, but the size was a big obstacle.  Cosmic Comix also never seemed to keep him in stock for particularly long, so it’s not like there was one there to tempt me.  With the cancellation of the Icons line, I’ve been feeling a little bad for it, so I’m working on tracking down as many of them as I can.  Batman’s value’s actually taken a bit of a jump on the after market, so I didn’t really think I’d be getting him soon.  Then Cosmic Comix found one in their back room, and priced him at his original retail, so I figured why not?  This figure is frustrating.  Taken purely on his own, he’s possibly the greatest single Batman available.  The problem is he sort of exists in this weird vacuum, where nothing really goes with him.  On the plus side, I did remember that I had a similarly mis-scaled Tim Drake Robin from DC Universe Classics, so at the very least these two now have each other.

#1459: Justice League Rebirth Set

SUPERMAN, BATMAN, WONDER WOMAN, FLASH, GREEN LANTERN, AQUAMAN, & CYBORG

DC ICONS (DCC)

It’s Friday, which means it’s time for another entry in my latest recurring feature…F-DC F-icons Fridays?  Yeah, there’s a name that’s catchy and rolls right off the tongue.  Not content to just review one DC Icons figure a week, I’ve decided to continue my descent into madness and review seven of them in one day.  And you all get to be here for that descent.  Don’t you just feel so special? Without further ado, let’s look at the Justice League!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and Cyborg were released in March of this year in the “Justice League Rebirth” boxed set, as part of the DC Icons line.  The set’s actually been in progress since mid-2016, when it was initially shown as a New 52-themed set, before being updated to reflect the characters in their most recent looks (for the most part), and tying it into the DC Rebirth relaunch.

SUPERMAN

This figure’s my primary reason for grabbing this set, since Rebirth actually got me reading Superman and Action again.  This figure actually just saw a single release a few weeks ago, which looks to be identical, apart from the packaging.  The design of this figure comes from the initial Rebirth books, after the older Post-Crisis Clark took over the identity again.  It’s already been replaced by a tweaked design, but it’s not too far off.  I actually quite like this design; it’s not the classic look, but it’s way ahead of the other post-New 52 looks.  It’s still weird to see a Superman without the red shorts, but I think making his boots blue helps to alleviate some of the color imbalances caused by that.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and has 29 points of articulation.  Superman follows the “new” scale for Icons, meaning he’ll fit in best with figures from later in the line’s run.  He’ll also fit with some Marvel Legends depending on how much of a stickler you are for inter-character scaling.  He’s a little smaller than a Legends figure built on the Reaper body (as seen in the comparison pic with Cap).  Since he’s so sized up, he can’t really use any pieces from the first Icons Superman, making this figure an all-new sculpt.  It’s not bad work at all.  The build of the figure seems about right for Supes, and the proportions are all pretty balanced.  Detailing is all pretty clean and bold as well.  The head is pretty solid too; it’s got a nice friendly expression that seems right for Clark.  It feels maybe a touch wide, and perhaps a bit young for the more experienced Clark Kent this figure is meant to represent, but by and large I find myself really liking it.  The cape is made from a soft plastic, and it’s very nicely done.  After years of Mattel capes that have to be attached with a huge brick that utterly ruins the flow, this is a very refreshing piece.  In terms of paint, Superman is decent, if perhaps not fantastic.  The basic colors are all good matches for the source (the blue is a touch dark for my taste, but that’s accurate) and he looks pretty slick overall.  My only real issue is with the face, which just seems a little bit lopsided.  It’s the sort of thing that looks totally fine from most angles, but really goofy if you catch it the wrong way. Still, good work overall.  Superman includes no accessories.  Of course, that’s true of the entire set.  At least Supes doesn’t feel too light without the extras.

BATMAN

This guy also saw a single release, at the same time as the Superman figure.  It’s hardly a shock, what with it being Batman and all.  Batman is also sporting his look from Rebirth, but he’s been fortunate enough not to have it already change on him.  It’s another decent design.  It doesn’t speak to me quite as much as the Superman design, but that’s less about any particular element pulling me out, and more about it not being too terribly different from all the other Batman designs in recent years.  I can point out what’s different between this and the New 52 design if put on the spot, but they’re fundamentally the same.  Well, this one has less tactical-tech lines, which is certainly a plus.  The figure is 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Batman’s maybe a smidge taller than Superman, depending on posing.  I generally like for Bruce to be a little shorter, but it’s easy enough to have Clark standing straight and Bruce slightly hunching.  The important thing is that this Batman is taller than the Icons Nightwing, which can’t be said of the first Icons Batman (which is absolutely dwarfed by this release).  The very first prototypes of this set showed Batman using quite a few pieces from the older figure, but this guy ended up as a totally new sculpt.  It has its pluses and minuses, to be sure.  As a whole, I think it’s a strong sculpt, and it does a good job of conveying a modern era Batman.  He’s got a good, solid build, and the details on the costume appear to be more or less accurate to his new design.  The mouth seems ridiculously pouty, but Batman is the king of brood, so I guess that just goes with the territory.  His head is set a little higher on the barbel than other Icons figures, which can look a little off in straight standing poses, but actually affords him a good deal more range on his neck joint, which is pretty nice for a guy who does a lot of hunching.  The figure’s topped off with another nicely rendered cape, which has a flow to it that is just as well-crafted as, but completely unique from, Superman’s.  Paint on Batman is very solid work.  Nothing seems out of place like on Superman, and everything’s very bold and clean.  Perhaps the purple could be a little more noticeably different from the black on the cape, but that’s a very minor complaint.  Batman feels a little more hurt by the lack of extras; at the very least a batarang or something would have been nice.

WONDER WOMAN

This set’s Wonder Woman was actually the first in the line, though her single release wasn’t far behind. Unlike the last two, Wonder Woman’s single release was quite a bit different, leaving this one still exclusive to the larger set.  Wonder Woman was another big motivator for me buying this set since, like Superman, Rebirth got me reading her title again.  She’s sporting her first Rebirth look, which was sort of an update on her classic look, with a dash of the movie design thrown in.  She’s switched to something even more movie inspired since, but as with Superman, I sort of prefer this one.  The figure stands almost 6 3/4 inches tall and she has 29 points of articulation.  Yes, you read that height correctly; Wonder Woman really is almost a half an inch taller than Superman and Batman.  I’m not inherently opposed to her being taller than the other two (my favorite take on Diana is most certainly Darwyn Cooke’s, and he drew her as an inch or so taller than Clark), but this feels like a little much.  I think my issues ultimately stem from how the height is distributed; her proportions are a little out of whack, so her legs, specifically her thighs, end up taking most of the height and looking a bit longer than they should.  There’s a similar issue with the arms, where the forearms and biceps look really long relative to the shoulders and torso.  If you look at the comparison between her and the other two, you can see that despite her pelvis being a good half-inch higher than the other two, the hands all end in the same spot.  It’s not awful, but it does look a little off, at least in comparison to the other figures in the set.  On the plus side, it does make her the one figure in this set that fits in with Legends without any fudging.  Regarding the quality of the sculpt on its own, this figure’s a bit tricky.  Based on photos online and my initial reaction right out of the box, I was all ready to hate on the sculpt.  But then I took her out, and was messing with her for the photos and such and I realized it’s actually not a bad sculpt at all; it’s just an exceptionally hard to photograph one.  This figure looks very different based on the angle you catch her from, and she really doesn’t look great viewed from above.  But, head-on, she actually looks rather nice.  Yes, the proportions are still a little off, there’s no denying that, but I like more about this sculpt than I dislike.  Given the right pose, she actually looks pretty great, and given just how bad a lot of prior Wonder Woman figures have been, that’s very much a compliment. Wonder Woman’s paint work is definitely on the better end of things.  From what I’ve seen, there’s a bit of variance on the face, but mine seems to have turned out alright, and I really dig how bright all the colors are.  I didn’t know colors were allowed to go that bright on a DC figure.  Wonder Woman gets hit pretty hard by this set’s lack of accessories, because it means she loses her defining weapon: a big ol’ sword!  I jest, of course.  Who would ever think her defining weapon was a sword?  That’s just silly.  She’s actually missing her lasso, which is a real staple of the character, and a rather glaring omission.  It would have been nice to at the very least have it coiled up hanging from her belt.

THE FLASH

Flash is one of the two figures in this set who I’ve looked at an Icons figure of before.  I was overall impressed by the Series 2 figure, so I wasn’t really in the market for another, especially not one based on his super line-y New 52/Rebirth design.  And yet, here we are.  Flash’s design was essentially unchanged for Rebirth; the only noticeable difference here is the lack of chin strap, but a quick Google search shows that totally varies from artist to artist.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and has 31 points of articulation.  Flash’s sculpt is all-new to this figure, but looks to have used the prior figure as a starting point at the very least; the musculature and sizing are all about the same, but the specifics of the costume have changed.  All of the yellow lines are etched into place, and there’s added details on the boots.  The head is a completely original piece, totally different from the Series 2 figure.  Since the head was the only part of that figure I had an issue with, I was intrigued by this one.  I’m happy to say, I find this one to be a serious improvement over the original.  The yellow lines aren’t etched into the head, so there’s a part of me that’s tempted to try and remove them so I can put this head on the old body, because I like it that much.  The paint work on Flash is mostly good, aside from one glaring issue:  he’s got a big spot of missing paint on the right side of his chin.  It’s a pretty noticeable flaw, and I’m definitely going to have to break out my paints to fix it.  Not the sort of thing I like having to do right out of the box, but I feel confident this is a one-off.  The lack of accessories for Flash is a bit less of an issue, but I do wish his default hands were flat running hands instead of fists.

GREEN LANTERN

GL is the other character for whom I’ve already reviewed an Icons release, and this figure’s even less different than Flash.  At first glance, this is a straight re-release of the deluxe Hal Jordan figure from Series 2.  However, that’s not quite the case.  You see, that figure was 6 inches tall, but this one is 6 1/4.  He’s also got tweaked hips to add the drop-hips that the rest of the set feature, so my first thought was that they’d simply sculpted new thighs with added height. Upon closer examination, I found that the entire figure has actually been ever so slightly enlarged, in order to bring him into scale with the rest of the set.  What’s more, the details of this figure’s sculpt are a lot crisper than those of the earlier figure, and the green has been changed to a more metallic sheen.  I loved this figure the first time I got it, and I still love it here.  Of course, I’m also frustrated by it, because it’s just different enough that it’s not a straight duplicate, so now I have to keep it.

AQUAMAN

You know the old saying: “if an Aquaman figure is released without a trident, does he make a sound?”  …Maybe that’s not quite it.  Regardless, here’s this Aquaman figure.  He’s based on the Rebirth design, which isn’t that much different from his classic look, apart from the gold around the collar and the lack of black shorts.  This figure stands about the same height as all of the other figures in the set, and has 29 points of articulation.  He’s really just a reworking of the single-release Aquaman, though, like with GL, he seems to have been scaled up ever so slightly.  The real difference between the two Aquamen is the head.  I can’t say I’m much of a fan of this one.  It looks fine on the prototype and all, but something was definitely lost in translation, leaving him looking rather goony.  It’s possible it’s just the paint making it look that way, though.  The rest of the sculpt is pretty top-notch.  The build is appropriate for him, and I really like the detailing on the scales of his shirt.  His paint is fairly decent; the colors are bright, and, apart from the odd placement of his eyes and a little bit of bleed over from his belt, it’s fairly well applied.  Aquaman’s lack of accessories here means that he doesn’t include his trident.  And I’m okay with that, because despite what pretty much every Aquaman figure ever would have you believe, he doesn’t really use a trident all that often.

CYBORG

This figure’s presence in this set frustrates me, because it sort of continues a persistent problem I’ve had with DC for several years now.  They keep shoving Cyborg into the Justice League, and it just upsets me.  I like Cyborg.  I like the Justice League.  I don’t really like Cyborg in the Justice League.  Especially when it’s at the cost of Martian Manhunter as a member, which it almost always is.  And that’s what the case is here.  In a seven figure Justice League set, I kind of expect a Martian Manhunter.  But noooooo.  No, in this set, we got Cyborg.  Cyborg who also got a single release with accessories.  Instead of Martian Manhunter, who was completely left out of the line, leaving my Icons Justice League sadly incomplete.  And of course, now I have a Cyborg, but not Titans to go with him, meaning that’s another incomplete team.  Bleh.  I’m sorry, all that ranting is largely to do with the fact that I *actually like* this figure.  Quite a bit, in fact.  His sculpt, even though it’s based on a more modern Cyborg than I tend to go for, is top-notch.  It’s sleek, well put together, and just plain cool looking.  He’s got 31 points of articulation, and it all works really, really well.  The joints are smooth, and the mobility is pretty sound.  He’s probably one of the best in the set, posability-wise.  Perhaps the only drawback to the figure proper is his lack of extras, since his forearms have clearly been designed to swap out for other arm attachments.  Just one of those would have been really cool.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After picking up Nightwing and Supergirl, and finding out that just about everything I wanted from Icons was cancelled, I was admittedly a little bummed.  That being said, I recalled that this set had been released, and I had checked it out a few times, before ultimately deciding it was a little bit on the pricey side for me.  I still really wanted that Superman, though, so I was excited to hear he was getting a single release.  I was less excited to hear that he was going to run me almost $30 and feature no additional accessories.  It was around this time that I discovered that Barnes & Noble’s website had marked this set down to half of it’s original value, and were also offering free shipping and $5 off orders over $25.  The final cost was $45, which is $6.43 a figure.  And that’s an amazing deal.  Superman’s awesome, as is Batman.  Wonder Woman’s better than I expected, if not perfect.  Flash isn’t my ideal costume choice, and has that one annoying paint flaw, but is a very good figure.  Green Lantern’s not the total repeat I expected, and fixes a few minor issues with the original.  Aquaman’s head sucks, but the single release has a spare head I can toss on the otherwise solid figure.  And I ranted a bit about Cyborg’s spot in the set, but he’s still a very, very well crafted figure.  If you want to give Icons a chance, I heartily recommend this set, and feel obligated to inform all of my readers that it’s still available at the discounted price on barnesandnoble.com.

#1452: Nightwing

NIGHTWING

DC ICONS

I’ve had a bit of theme to my purchases as of late, so for the next few Fridays, I’ll be sort of transferring that theme to the site and taking a weekly look at DC Collectibles’ DC Icons line.  Last week, of course, I looked at Supergirl, the first Icons figure I’ve bought in quite a while.  She was a pretty solid figure, so I went back for more, and grabbed the latest version of Dick Grayson, aka Nightwing.  I’m always in the market for a good Nightwing figure.  Is this one?  Let’s find out!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Nightwing is part of the fifth series of DC Icons, alongside Supergirl and the Super Sons.  He’s figure 24, which makes him the first in the set numerically.  Poor Nightwing is actually the last man standing from his initial series-mates; last summer he was first shown off in a series with Shazam, Sinestro, and Deadshot, but those three ended up cancelled, and Nightwing was pushed back a ways to be released alongside Supergirl.  Lucky him?  Nightwing’s package cites that he’s based on his appearance in “Hush,” which has always been one of my favorite Nightwing designs.  It dates back to the Hush line’s Nightwing figure, which has long been my favorite figure of the character. Hush’s more streamlined Nightwing design is really strong, so the design makes a lot of sense here, but it’s still a bit weird to wrap my head around a Hush-based figure that doesn’t actually look like a Jim Lee drawing.  Of course, there are worse things than a figure that looks like an Ivan Reis drawing, so I’m hardly going to complain.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 33 points of articulation.  The upscaling was somewhat evident on Supergirl, but it’s in full force on Nightwing.  He’s not really going to fit in with earlier Icons figures (especially not the Series 1 Batman, which is a little sad), but he’s now a little more at home with something like Marvel Legends.  Just for reference, he’s just a smidge shorter than a Bucky Cap-based figure; the only real inconsistency is the head size, but that’s minor.  Nightwing gets an all-new sculpt, and it’s a very strong one.  The articulation seems quite well worked in, and the figure feels very svelte and streamlined.  The build seems about right for Grayson and the etched-in edges to his logo are very nicely handled.  I wasn’t 100% sold on the head at first (it’s my love of that old DCD Nightwing’s head kicking in there), but after taking the figure out and viewing it from a number of different angles, I’m really happy with it.  Nightwing’s paint work is very strong, apart from one minor issue: the color of his mask.  If this is really a “Hush” Nightwing, then the mask really should be blue, not black.  To be fair to DCC, only the original release of the Hush Nightwing figure got that detail right; all of the re-issues changed it to black.  I have to wonder if it’s some sort of “brand identity” thing.  Beyond that, the paint’s great.  The glossy sheen helps the blue to pop really well up against the matte black, and I also like the high-gloss boots.  This is a very polished looking figure.  Nightwing is packed with his standard Escrima sticks, a batarang attacked to a grapple, and three pairs of hands in fists, and two variations of gripping.  Not a bad assortment.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

It’s all Cosmic Comix’s fault.  No, really.  They sold out of Nightwing initially, so I just bought Supergirl.  And I only would have bought her, content, and unaware of this figure’s existence.  And then they had to go and ask me if I wanted them to order me one.  Darn them and their clear knowledge of my collecting habits….

This figure’s a very strong offering.  I wasn’t sure about him, just based on how much I love that old Hush figure, but this one’s awesome, if for different reasons, maybe.  Regardless, this figure’s so awesome that I went online to see what other Icons figures were coming out, and that’s when I discovered that not only was the line essentially over, but that there were a ton of really cool figures that I wanted that got cancelled.  Now I am a sad Ethan.  But at least I got Nightwing, right?

#1445: Supergirl

SUPERGIRL

DC ICONS (DC COLLECTIBLES)

Remember DC Icons, DC Collectibles’ attempt at creating a DC line to compete with Marvel Legends?   The line was met with praise initially, but the slightly smaller scale DCC chose to go with didn’t sit all that well with a number of fans.  I myself wasn’t too put off by the scale, and picked up a handful of figures from the first two series, but sort of lost touch with the line over the last year and a half.  Too much stuff competing for my money, I suppose.  I’ve finally found my way back, though, and today I’m taking a look at the release that grabbed my attention, Supergirl!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Supergirl is part of Series 5 of DC Icons, figure 25 in the line.  She’s designed by Ivan Reis, and is based on the character’s Rebirth design.  I’m definitely fan of the look; it’s a fairly classic look, with just a few slight variations to give it a bit more polish.  It’s also rather similar to what she’s wearing in the TV show, which I’m sure is no coincidence.  What I like most about this design is that, while it’s a recent look, it still hits all the iconic notes, so we aren’t left with a slightly odd variant that looks out of place, as was the case with Mr. Miracle.  The figure is just over 6 inches tall and she has 29 points of articulation.  Since Series 2, DCC’s been doing a slight creep on the scale, to help bring the line a little closer to the likes of Legends.  Supergirl stands just a touch taller than Flash and GL, who are the tallest Icons currently in my collection.  That means she’s a little out of scale, since Kara’s usually shorter than those two, but she’s close enough that she’ll still fit in alright.  As with Mr. Miracle, Supergirl doesn’t get any shin or thigh swivels, which initially put me off, but I’m happy to see that DCC’s done an overhaul on the way the hip joints work, and has used drop hips similar to those seen on Figuarts releases.  It adds a bit more playability to the figure, and means she isn’t completely without lateral movement on her legs.  Supergirl’s sculpt is quite nicely handled.  She’s clearly inspired by the art in her Rebirth series, but the stylization’s been downplayed a bit so as to help her fit in a little better with the rest of the line.  She looks a little bit older than I tend to think of this incarnation of the character being, but it’s not like she looks decrepit or anything.  The proportions are all fairly nicely balanced, and the details are all clean and sharp.  The articulation is mostly worked in pretty well, though I do find the torso joints stick out a little bit more than I’d like.  The cape is made from a softer rubber and affixed to her shoulders.  It’s not a perfect fit, but it looks fairly decent.  I wouldn’t have minded a second cape that went back over the shoulders, similar to what we’ve seen on some of the Batman Animated figures, since the shoulders are a bit restricted as-is.  The paintwork on Supergirl is pretty solid.  There’s a bit of slop on a few of the transitions, but it’s mostly clean.  The colors are fairly bright, which certainly helps her pop.  Supergirl is packed with an alternate heat-vision head, three pairs of hands, and a flight stand.  The extra head is an interesting idea, though the heat beams look a little bit like Twizzlers, and she’s more than a little frightening with them removed.    The flight stand is a nice thought, but rather a strange execution.  It’s just this big cylinder.  It’s not particularly discrete, and it unfortunately requires you to place all of her weight on her right leg, which causes some balance issues.  I feel something that hooked around her waist would have been slightly more practical.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I grabbed Kara from Cosmic Comix, taking advantage of a 40% off coupon to get her at a more reasonable price.  I’ve been looking for a solid Supergirl figure for quite some time, and she’s a character that companies seem to have some difficulties getting right.  I quite like this figure.  She’s not breaking any records or setting a new bar for action figures, but she’s pretty decent, and a marked improvement on some of the line’s earlier figures.  I think this is going to be my go-to Supergirl from now on.

#1441: The Atom

THE ATOM – DC’s LEGENDS OF TOMORROW

DC COMICS MULTIVERSE (MATTEL)

Oh dear.  It’s a Mattel review.  DC Comics Multiverse even.  This don’t look good….

In effort to at least try to get off to a good start, I’m going to talk about some more pleasant things.  Just over a week ago, I was mentioning that DC’s actually got a pretty good slate of live action TV shows running right now.  Flash and Supergirl are solid straight super hero shows, but over in the eclectic odd-ball corner, there’s Legends of Tomorrow, which is pretty consistently fun.  Part of its success lies in spinning off some of the breakout characters from The Flash and Arrow, including today’s focus, Ray Palmer, aka the Atom.  I’ve been a fan of the character for quite some time, and Brandon Routh’s portrayal of him in Arrow and Legends is always enjoyable.  I’ve been patiently waiting for him to get a figure from *someone* and it looks like Mattel was first up to the bat.  I really like this character and his design, so I’m going to try very hard to like this figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Atom (or should I say “FGC12,” since that’s how he’s listed on  the back of the box.  Yes, it looks like Mattel forgot to swap out the actual character names for the assortment numbers when the box went to print.  I can’t wait for kids to try and beg their parents to buy them DWM60 figure to go with their Robin) was released in the “Rookie” series of DC Comics Multiverse figures, which started hitting towards the end of the summer.  Atom is based on his slightly upgraded design from the second season of Legends, which I think is a slightly stronger look than the earlier design.  The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 22 points of articulation.  As with the last few Multiverse figures I’ve looked at, the articulation count is largely theoretical.  This figure hasn’t met a joint it couldn’t limit.  The neck is a balljoint that operates as a simple swivel.  The shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees all get less than 45 degrees of movement, so sitting poses and any real flying pose are out of the question.  There are ankle joints present, but they don’t seem to actually do anything, so I’m not sure what they’re supposed to be accomplishing.  They’ve foregone the ab-crunch completely this time, which I suppose is better than the essentially useless one found on the Suicide Squad figures.  At least this way the sculpt isn’t needlessly broken up.  Well, in that one place, anyway.  Despite it’s lack of actual effectiveness, most all of the articulation is out there, naked, on display.  Noticeable gaps in the sculpt somehow still leave the joints insanely restricted.  How do you do that? You be Mattel, that’s how.  The figure’s sculpt is all new, and it’s not atrocious.  The details are certainly sharper than on a lot of the TV/Movie figures that Mattel’s offered in the line.  The suit pieces certainly don’t look terrible.  That said, the underlying body is definitely off, though.  The neck’s really skinny and leaves the head sitting too high, the forearms almost look backwards, and the legs are very tube-shaped and inorganic.  He’s also got that hideous hip construction that Mattel seems dead-set on saddling every one of their live-action figures with.  The best I can say about this sculpt is that the whole is the slightest bit better than the sum of its parts; the complete figure looks okay.  The paintwork on this figure is a bit better than some of Mattel’s other offerings.  There aren’t any glaringly missing applications, and the work seems to be overall pretty clean.  If you want to get nitpicky, the visor shouldn’t be solid black like it is, but it’s not terribly far off from the Season 2 design.  Atom is packed with a smaller version of himself, which is a pretty standard extra for Atom figures.  It’s decent enough, but it’s rather hard to keep standing.  There’s also an unmasked Ray Palmer head, which is cool in theory, but not so much in practice.  It doesn’t really look like Routh at all, it’s too large for the body, and it’s really, really shiny.  Of course, seeing as it’s a Mattel accessory, I suppose we should just be glad he doesn’t have “CHINA” stamped right across his forehead.  Lastly, Atom has both the head and pelvis of the Rookie Collect-N-Connect.  Apparently Rookie is the name they assigned to Commissioner Gordon’s big Batman suit.  Was that really a name associated with that suit? Because I don’t believe I ever heard it referred to as such.  Bleh, I’m getting side-tracked again.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Okay, I’ve been burned by Multiverse before.  I don’t really like this line.  Why did I buy another one?  Honestly, I just really wanted a TV Atom figure.  I found this guy at Walmart while I was moving in August, and he just sort of called to me.  I wanted to like him, I really did, but as soon as I took him out of his packaging, I found myself immediately let-down.  Mattel’s articulation has been weak before, but I think this figure may be a new low on that front.  The best you’ll be able to get from him is a semi-decent standing pose.  That’s it.  And, unfortunately, unlike the DCC TV Supergirl, who was also articulation-challenged, Atom’s sculpt isn’t high enough caliber for me to feel his lack of movement is justified.  Instead, he’s just another below average figure.  And that kind of sucks.  I was really rooting for this figure.  I don’t entirely hate him.  He looks okay in that standing pose.  But he’s hardly fun.  For what may be the first time ever, I wish I’d left a toy in its packaging.  At least that way I wouldn’t know just how disappointing he is, right?  DCC’s releasing their own take on Atom in a month or so.  I guess I’ll see how that one turns out.