#2276: Orion

ORION

SUPER POWERS (KENNER)

“The Scourge of Apokolips. Orion is Darkseid’s son and a half-brother to Kalibak. He turned against his father’s evil ways to fight on the side of justice. Orion wields the astro-force, an energy beam of tremendous power, and bears a computer-like device whose rays disguise his true face, the visage of one born on Apokolips. Although Orion is greater than mortal, he can be defeated in battle by a stronger warrior, or injured by conventional weaponry. When traveling on Earth, Orion has used the alias ‘O-Ryan.'”

This year’s Post-Christmas reviews sure do involve a lot of me coming full circle on some stuff and “going back to the beginning” so to speak.  Today’s focus is perhaps not back to the beginning for the site so much, but it is certainly a return to form for my collecting as a whole.  But that’s for the last section of this thing.  Let’s get through the lead-in first.  I’ve reviewed Kenner’s Super Powers six times before on this site; I’ve probably discussed it a few more times than that.  It’s kind of the quintessential DC toy line, and quite frankly, it’s kind of the quintessential comic book toyline.  Mego may have really gotten super heroes out there, but Super Powers is the genesis of most things we think of in terms of super hero toys.  The line ran three years, each year stranger than the last.  As it progressed, they got some help on it courtesy of Jack Kirby, whose Fourth World characters would become a fixture of the line.  Orion, central hero of the Fourth World would join the line not long before its end.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Orion was released in 1986, as part of the third and final series of Super Powers figures.  He and series-mate Mister Miracle rounded out the line’s New Gods theme.  The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation….7 if you count the neck, but that’s not *really* a point of articulation.  Orion, like every Super Powers figure, was a totally unique sculpt.  While the line’s first assortment stuck to the DC style guide, but the second year there were sizable changes for some of the more secondary characters, especially the Fourth World stuff.  Orion followed suit, with one of the more intensely different designs.  Honestly, if it weren’t for his name being on the box, you could be forgiven for not realizing this guy was supposed to be Orion.  The base color scheme is the same, and you can see some remaining elements of his helmet and astro harness, but only slight elements.  The helmet in particular, typically the one constant piece of Orion’s design (and honestly the best piece of Orion’s design) received a major overhaul.  It’s…well, it’s goofy to say the least.  The sleekness of his original design is gone, and while there’s still a lot of Kirby in this look (fitting, since it was an authentic Kirby design and all), it’s just not as strongly heroic as the original design.  Some of it is a symptom of the line’s knack for action features.  Most of them weren’t an impediment to the design of the figure, but Orion was notable exception, because you can definitely tell that a lot of that helmet design had to do with being able to fit in flipping Orion’s face from “good” to “bad.”  It’s certainly a memorable trait of his from the comics, but I’m not really sure it was worth upending his classic design.  All that said, it doesn’t make for a terrible looking toy, and Kenner still put their best foot forward on translating the design into plastic form.  The paintwork is all pretty solid, with a bright palette that is nothing if not eye-catching.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Super Powers may have ended six years before I was born and nine years before I began collecting action figures, but that didn’t stop it from being a huge impact on my collecting as a child and as an adult.  The line first become notable to me as a kid due to my love Hal Jordan, and his notable lack of then-current action figure coverage.  This one being just a few scant years removed made it relatively attainable to me, and so I, with some definite help from my parents, set out on collecting my first “vintage” line.  The Super Powers archive was my home page, I knew the line-ups to each assortment by heart, and I knew the rumors for the failed fourth line-up (before we actually knew the official fourth line-up).  I would scour ebay, looking at auctions for all of the figures.  And, for Christmas every year, I would put two more figures from the line on my Christmas list, and my dad would dutifully track them down.  Interests change, and I fell out of Super Powers for a bit, and when I got back into it, I was doing most of my own buying.  At one point, I was even planning to round out the line-up by buying one figure for myself out of every paycheck.  That didn’t pan out, as you can see by my not owning the whole line yet.  This year for Christmas, I decided I to ask a Super Powers figure again, so I made up a list of the ones I didn’t have, and then this guy was the very last thing I opened on Christmas morning.  It was a nice throwback.  And with that, I have 26 Super Powers figures; just eight left.

#2269: Batman

BATMAN

JUSTICE LEAGUE ACTION (MATTEL)

As toys have become more of a collectors game, and toy companies have begun to cater to said collectors, there’s been one major issue plaguing our favorite brands: how do you keep mainstay characters affordable and easily available to younger audiences who haven’t quite latched onto that collector’s game?  The answer? Evergreen lines.  These are lines with figures that don’t follow the same sort of assortment break-down of collector lines, and aim to keep the big names on the shelves, while also producing a cost effective line.  There are a handful of different levels to these sorts of lines, and furthest down the list are the very basic figures that serve as fodder for the shelves at drugstores and places like Dollar General or Family Dollar.  Figures that are cheap, plentiful, and can stand up to some play.  I’m looking at one such figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Batman is part of Mattel’s budget Justice League line, which features all of the iconagraphy of Justice League Action, but sports figures that are otherwise unrelated.  This specific Batman variant was also offered a few years ago under a purely Batman branding, but saw release, as is the intended purpose of the line.  The figure is about 5 1/2 inches tall and he has four points of articulation.  He moves at the neck, shoulders, and waist; no hip movement for him, although some of the line’s more recent offerings have added that.  Structurally, this figure feels quite similar to the Ultra Hero Series and offerings like it, which I can certainly dig.  His sculpt is a fairly clean, rather basic affair.  All of the important details are there, but it doesn’t really move beyond them.  His cape is a cloth piece, slotted into his back a little clumsily, but it’s sturdy and won’t be going anywhere.  As far as paint, he’s pretty basic.  The color scheme is slightly non-standard, being mostly black with a yellow emblem and belt.  It’s not a bad look, though, and the paint for the logo and face is pretty decent.  He’s got no accessories, which isn’t much of a surprise given the usual price point on these things.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got this guy in a big box of presents from my in-laws.  He clearly wasn’t meant to be the star attraction or anything, just something small that they presumably picked up for me while somewhere else.  I can’t say he’s the sort of figure I’d buy for myself, but as a gift, he’s kind of nifty in his own way.  And, of course, now I’m looking at what else has been done in this style, because I have a serious problem.

#2264: Batgirl & Donatello

BATGIRL & DONATELLO

BATMAN VS TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (DC COLLECTIBLES)

Over the summer, DC Collectibles launched their Batman Vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line with a crossover Mikey as Batman figure, before moving onto the main series of two-packs.  I looked at the first two sets when they hit at the end of September, and liked them enough to stick around for one more, which is my personal favorite pairing of the line, Batgirl and Donatello.  They had a little bit of wait associated with them, but they’re finally here, so let’s have a look at them, shall we?

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Batgirl and Donatello are the third Batman Vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles two-pack, who were supposed to hit stores in October, but ended up hitting throughout November in most locations.  As with the other offerings from this line, they are available exclusively at Gamestop.

BATGIRL

Barbra Gordon as Batgirl is no stranger to animation, having been a regular fixture since The New Batman Adventures.  This version of Babs is based on her recent(ish) “Batgirl of Burnside” redesign from the comics, which, in addition to just being a solid design in its own right, also really lends itself well to the style of animation from the movie.  The figure stands just over 6 inches tall and she has 26 points of articulation.  Barbra’s articulation is about on par with the Damian figure from the same line, so she’s pretty mobile, and has a slightly better range than the main Batman.  That said, she’s still a bit more restricted than any of the Turtles, especially at the right hip, due to the structure of the belt.  The sculpt on this figure is another nice, clean recreation of the film design, and ends up looking quite flattering in three dimensions.  Like Robin, her cape is a sculpted piece, rather than cloth like Bruce’s, but it’s sensible for the shorter style.   The paintwork on Batgirl is pretty decent overall.  It’s bright and colorful, but not quite as sharp and clean as Batman and Damian were.  It’s certainly not bad, but I feel like it could be just a little better.  As is, she feels about on par with one of the middle-of-the-run Batman: Animated figures: not terrible, but not as strong as I’d prefer.  Batgirl is packed with a respectable selection of accessories, including three sets of hands (fists, closed grip, and open grip), a batarang, a blowdart, a small vial, her cellphone, a grapple with two attachments, and a slice of pizza.

DONATELLO

Donatello is the resident tech expert of the Turtles, as well as a fan of purple, so he pairs off pretty decently with this more recent incarnation of Batgirl.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 28 points of articulation.  His articulation scheme follows the same set-up as the other three Turtles, so there’s a lot of range to be had, and he’s generally a little more mobile than Batgirl.  The joints on my figure were a little on the looser side, more like Leonardo than like Raphael.  I wasn’t super thrilled about that, but it’s not terrible. It’s not bad enough to cause any difficulty standing or anything.  Design-wise, Donnie follows the lead of the 2012 show, making Donnie the tallest and skinniest of the four Turtles.  It works quite well for the character thematically, and translates pretty well to the design of the toys.  The head does end up looking a little bit off in my eyes, mostly due to it departing the most from that classic Turtles shaping.  That said, it’s more a question of finding the right angle for it.  Donatello definitely has the best weapon storage of the four, I think largely because it’s the one area where he doesn’t stray from the classic design.  There’s a spot on the back where the staff can slide in, and it stays pretty securely, and doesn’t feel like it could snap at any moment.  After changing up the coloring slightly for Raphael, Donatello is again approximately the same shade as tho other two.  His paintwork is alright.  It’s clean, it’s bold, and it looks decent.  Donatello is packed with three sets of hands (fists, gripping, and flat), his Bo Staff (which splits in the middle for an easier time putting it in his hands or on his back), an extra helmeted head, a TCRI canister, a shellphone, and another slice of pizza.  Now we’re up to seven slices!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When the line was shown off, this was the only pack I actually knew I wanted, so I went ahead and pre-ordered it through Gamestop.  Ultimately, I ended up seeing the others in person and decided to pick them up, which only made me more anxious to pick up this pairing.  So, it was getting more than a little frustrating when people were finding the set and I still hadn’t heard any word on mine coming in, what with it being, you know, the only one I actually bothered to pre-order and all.  Fortunately, Super Awesome Wife has her connections and made darn sure that this set eventually got to me.  As the set that features my favorite Turtle and my favorite of the Bat-cast from the movie, there’s a lot riding on this one.  I do enjoy it overall, and I’m certainly happy to have the figures, but if I’m entirely honest, I’ve cooled off a bit on the line since it started, meaning I don’t really see myself going back for the standard Mikey/Alfred or the Shredder/Ra’s sets.  If they opt to do maybe a non-movie-based follow-up with a Nightwing and Casey, we might be back in business, but that’s something of a longshot.

#2255: Green Lantern

GREEN LANTERN

GREEN LANTERN: FIRST FLIGHT (MATTEL)

As we come to the close of 2019, we also come to the close of Mattel’s 17 year run with the DC Comics toys license.  Their run with the license had its share of ups and downs as they stumbled their way through the boys toys market.  They definitely hit their biggest success with DC Universe Classics, a line of super-articulated 6-inch figures, but just as they launched that line, their competitors at Hasbro opted to shrink their Marvel lines down to 3 3/4 inches.  Mattel followed with DC Infinite Heroes, a line that was…not very good.  After launching in 2008, they were already pretty much dead at retail by 2009.  It did hang in there til the end of ’09, and in typical Mattel fashion, they started to get the hang of things just before giving up.  One of the line’s better offerings wasn’t from the line proper, but was instead a pack-in with 2009’s direct to video Green Lantern: First Flight movie.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Green Lantern was available exclusively at Best Buy, packed in with the DVD and Blu-Ray releases of First Flight.  Though he doesn’t bear any official Infinite Heroes markings, he was constructed from mostly IH parts, albeit ones that hadn’t shown up at retail yet when he hit.  The figure is a little shy of 3 3/4 inches tall (noticably smaller than Hasbro’s Marvel Universe offerings) and has 22 points of articulation.  The body used here is Mattel’s second attempt at a standard male body, which was a huge improvement on the first.  The only piece shared between the two was the torso, arguably the only part of the body worth keeping.  The articulation is almost double, meaning that you could actually, you know, pose the figure.  It’s still a little backwards compared to the likes of MU, with only cut joints at the neck and hips, but at least he could move his wrists and ankles and get some side to side motion on the arms and legs.  The proportions are also a lot better; they’re still not a perfect set-up, but at least he doesn’t have those frightening monster hands.  The new joints weren’t the most resilient, though, and the cut joints at the wrists in particular were prone to tearing, which happened with the left arm on mine.  That said, IH had breakage problems from early on, so this wasn’t exactly a step back.  GL’s one new part was the head, which was patterned on his animated appearance.  It’s not a bad sculpt, and actually works pretty decently for a comics Hal as well (which is why Mattel ended up re-using it for comics Hal later down the line).  The paint work on Hal is okay, nothing amazing.  It lacks some of the smaller details of the costume from the movie, and there are some odd choices like not lining the edge of his armband up with the arm joint, but it’s not awful.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When Infinite Heroes launched, I picked up a few of the figures to give it a try, but ultimately wasn’t that impressed and backed out of the line.  However, when First Flight was released, it was right on top of my birthday that year, and my brother was absolutely committed to getting me the deluxe version, figure and all, and had my parents drive him around to a couple of Best Buys in order to make sure he could get me one.  This figure is honestly pretty good, and if Mattel had put out figures like this at the launch, then maybe Infinite Heroes wouldn’t have been such a flop.

#2248: Red Robin

RED ROBIN

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS (MATTEL)

“Tim Drake already had impressive detective and computer hacking skills when Bruce Wayne offered him the opportunity to train and become his protege, Robin. But when Batman disappeared, Drake went incognito and became Red Robin to find him. During his search, he masterfully formed an alliance with Ra’s Al Ghul that eventually dismantled Ra’s League of Assassins and paved the way for Bruce Wayne’s return. Drake continued to use his brilliant deductive and martial arts skills as Red Robin, working with The Outsiders and Teen Titans.”

Hey, remember a few weeks ago, when I was talking about the history of the name Red Robin?  Let’s touch on that again.  Though the name was originated by Dick Grayson in the alternate future of Kingdom Come, only one of the four Red Robin figures is Dick.  The other three are Tim Drake, who has pretty much laid claim to the name.  It wasn’t quite as cleanly Tim’s at first, though, especially when he got his first Red Robin figure, which I’m looking at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Red Robin was released in “All Stars” series of DC Universe Classics.  Originally, “All Stars” was supposed to be the refitted incarnation of DCUC post-New 52, with this just being the first series.  Unfortunately, demand was pretty low on this particular assortment, and practically non-existent on the proposed follow-up, which retroactively makes this assortment essentially just Series 21 of DCUC, rather than the first series of the new line.  As a continuation of DCUC, Red Robin’s place in the line-up makes a little more sense, given how the line-ups for DCUC assortments tended to go.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  Red Robin was built on the DCUC line’s medium male body which was an odd choice to say the least, given that this is meant to be Tim, and that his last DCUC figure, which is only supposed to be him about a year prior in-universe, is a heck of a lot smaller.  Admittedly, that figure is widely agreed to be really under-sized, but this one definitely goes too far the other direction, making the 19-20 year old Drake look like he’s a good decade older.  It’s worth noting that this is the same base body that Mattel used for both Dick Grayson and Jason Todd, making you wonder if this figure was originally designed to be one of the two of them, rather than Tim.  He does look a fair bit like the Jason Todd version, but that incarnation was rather short-lived, so perhaps Mattel opted to slap a new name on it for more longevity?  I don’t know.  It’s genuinely just possible that Mattel was just being Mattel and simply put him on the wrong body; that’s pretty in character for them.  Scaling issues aside, it’s worth noting that Red Robin got a decent selection of new parts, including a new head, cape, straps, belt, forearms, and shins.  These parts mesh well with the pre-existing parts, and the end result is a pretty clean looking figure, which does a solid job of capturing the costume design from the comics.  His paintwork is all pretty clean.  By this point, most of the nicer accent work from earlier in the line was gone, but there’s still nice touches like the shiny finish on the boots and gloves, as well as the slight accenting on his tunic.  It’s also pretty clean, which is really the most important thing.  The plan for “All Stars” was to cut down on production costs by removing the Collect-N-Connect pieces, so this figure does that, his only extra being a staff (which my figure is lacking).

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Though demand for the overall assortment was pretty low, Red Robin was really the only figure contained therein that anyone really wanted, which made him a little bit harder to acquire.  Not helping matters was that regular retailers had pretty much given up carrying the line by this point, so if all you wanted was Red Robin without his three case-mates, you were kind of out of luck.  Because of this, I didn’t get him new.  Instead, I got him last year when All Time got in a DCUC collection.  Choice of base body aside, he’s a pretty fun figure, and I’m glad I finally got one.

#2227: Batman Beyond & Bruce Wayne

BATMAN BEYOND & BRUCE WAYNE

JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED (MATTEL)

“In the not too distant future, an older Bruce Wayne trains high school student Terry McGinnis to become the new Batman, ensuring the protection of Gotham City for years to come.”

Would you believe there was a time where we were thankful for Mattel making up for the mistakes of Hasbro?  I know, that must have been a strange bizarro world.  When Batman Beyond hit the airwaves, Hasbro had fully absorbed Kenner and were back to making toys under their own name again, and they…weren’t the best at it.  For their Beyond line, they decided that rather than doing anything that followed the actual show, they’d do a bunch of wacky non-standard variants of the title character instead.  It was a reasonable toy line, but not much of a companion for the show.  A show-accurate version of the main character, as well as a handful of the supporting cast, would eventually get their due courtesy of Mattel and their Justice League Unlimited toy line.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Bruce and Terry were released in a three-pack alongside fellow Beyond character Warhawk in one of the final retail assortments of the Justice League Unlimited line.  Terry would also see release as a single-carded figure, but this was the only way to get Bruce.

BATMAN BEYOND

The main character of the show, Terry was not short on action figures, but he was short on accurate ones.  This figure changes that…more or less.  He’s wearing his standard gear from the show, which is a pretty darn timeless design.  The figure stands 4 3/4 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  Batman Beyond is built on one of the line’s mid-sized bodies, in fact the one retrofitted from the original Justice League Batman body.  It’s honestly a little bit on the large side for Terry, and he’d probably have looked more at home on the skinny body that they built out of Flash.  Ultimately, it’s not the worst look, and is okay for maybe a slightly later career Terry as seen in “Epilogue.”  Given it’s the JLU line and that was his main JLU appearance, I suppose it’s not totally unreasonable.  He gets a new head and a slightly tweaked set of arms.  The head is a fairly reasonable recreation of the animation design, certainly closer than any of Hasbro’s attempts.  It’s a little on the large side, but that ends up making the body look slightly more proportionate, I suppose.  The arms are pretty much just the standard ones for this body, but with the scallops on the back of the forearms.  The paint work on BB is fairly basic, just the standard details for him.  One notable omission is the mouth, which really should be white like the eyes.  Instead, it’s left unpainted, which makes it easily lost in the sculpt.

BRUCE WAYNE

Despite many figures of his younger self, this was the very first figure we got of the elder Bruce Wayne as seen for most of Beyond‘s run.  I mean, I guess it’s a little harder fault Hasbro on not releasing this one; he’s an old guy in a suit.  Not a ton of play potential there.  Coupled with a fully suited up Terry and Warhawk, though, he’s admittedly an easier sell.  The figure stands 4 3/4 inches tall and has 5 points of articulation, just like his companion.  Bruce was built on Mattel’s revamped suit body of the time, but given the slightly bulkier arms of Hal Jordan/Mr. Terrific, as well as a unique head and an add-on piece for the torso.  The head is a respectable match for Bruce’s design from the show, but is rather on the small side, especially when compared to Terry’s oversized head.  It also has a straighter neck than Bruce tended to have in the show.  The add-on piece, conversely, adds in some of Bruce’s slight hunch from the show, but when coupled with the very straight neck, plus the arms that really weren’t designed for this body, he ends up looking like his shoulders are about half and inch too low.  It’s not ideal.  Like Terry, Bruce’s paint is fairly basic, though he doesn’t have any obviously missing apps, which I suppose is a good thing.  What he *is* missing is his cane, which he was pretty much never seen without on the show.  Seems like a pretty glaring omission if you ask me.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I fell out of JLU towards the end, so by the time that this set was at retail, I was pretty much gone.  I remember seeing pictures, but the distribution was such that I never saw it anywhere in person.  I can’t say I felt like I was really missing it, but this pair got traded into All Time several weeks back and I had some trade credit, so I decided I kind of wanted them.  Are they great?  No.  Are they good?  Eh.  Are they fairly passable, fairly accurate recreations of the source material?  More or less.

#2212: Red Robin

RED ROBIN

DC COMICS MULTIVERSE (MATTEL)

The name Red Robin is one that’s been with almost as many former Robins as the name “Robin” has.  Originally introduced in Kingdome Come as the identity of an older Dick Grayson, the name made it’s first foray into the “mainstream” universe as a possible moniker for Jason Todd, who was at the time flirting with potentially reforming after being Red Hood for a bit.  That went nowhere, and the name was eventually revived again by Tim Drake following the events of “Battle for the Cowl,” which ended with Damian Wayne taking over the main Robin identity.  The name’s pretty much stuck with Tim since, and that’s the name he’s got for this here new figure I’m looking at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Red Robin is part of Mattel’s final series of DC Comics Multiverse, which is a Bat-themed series.  As with most of the rest of the line-up, he’s officially a Rebirth figure, and depicts Tim in his updated Red Robin costume from post-Doomsday Clock and Heroes in Crisis.  It’s not a bad design, and really gets close to his classic ’90s appearance.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and sports 29 points of articulation.  Robin is built on the same base body as Kid Flash and Ray, which is to say he’s built on pretty much the best base body that Mattel produced under their tenure with the DC license.  It’s got balanced proportions, a solid articulation layout, and just generally plays pretty well.  It’s also pretty well scaled to Legends and DCUC, which is certainly a step up from the prior body Tim was on. Tim has a new head, upper torso, forearms, knees, and shins, plus add-ons for his cape and belt.  These new parts work pretty well with the existing, making for a figure that does a pretty solid job of capturing Robin’s look.  I was particularly surprised by the new upper torso piece, which has actual sculpted elements for the logo and the details on his sides. That was definitely surprising, and it adds a fair bit to the figure.  I will say, I’m not personally as much a fan of the shorter hair on Tim as seen here, but it’s not inaccurate, so I can’t fault Mattel there.  The paintwork on Tim is fairly solid.  It’s bright and eye-catching, and represents the look from the comics well.  Tim is packed with two sets of hands in fists and gripping poses, as well as his usual staff, and the arm of Killer Croc.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked this guy up during my rather disappointing early morning Force Friday run at the beginning of October.  I had passed on him once before and not seen him since, but knowing he was on the same body as Ray made me really want to pick him up.  As with so much of this late-run product from Mattel, he’s genuinely a good toy, and that’s really kind of sad.  Why couldn’t they get these things together earlier?

#2206: Soranik Natu

SORANIK NATU

GREEN LANTERN (DC DIRECT)

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

THE FIGURE ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

#2201: Red Hood

RED HOOD

DC ESSENTIALS (DC COLLECTIBLES)

“The vigilante outlaw who was once a Robin, the man under the hood is extremely proficient in both weapons and hand-to-hand combat.”

Originally conceived as a potential former alias for the man that would eventually become the Joker, the monicker of Red Hood is one that’s been passed around a little bit, but ultimately it’s stuck a pretty darn long time with the un-deceased Jason Todd.  I suppose there’s something poetic about one of the Joker’s victims laying claim to his old name.  Despite being well-established in the role for a good long time now, as well as being introduced in a rather well-known modern era Batman story, Jason’s comics version of his Red Hood gear has been surprisingly absent from toys, or at least was for the first decade of his existence.  There was a New 52 figure which kind of worked in a pinch, but it wasn’t until just this year that we got a whole two Jason Red Hoods, one from DCC, and the other from Mattel.  Today, I’m taking a look at DC Collectibles’ version!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Red Hood is figure 18 in DCC’s DC Essentials line.  After doing a fair bit of retreading, Red Hood is finally a taste of more new stuff…though it looks like we’re going back to the retreading after this.  Oh, DCC, how predictible of you.  This figure represents Jason in the biker-styled Red Hood gear, though it’s not quite his first appearance attire.  Instead, he’s technically the most modern take on the design, from the post New 52/Rebirth era.  It’s a little more costume-y than the original look, but also has lost some of the over-designed elements that the initial New 52 stuff brought about, making for an overall pretty clean looking design for the character.  The figure 7 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  The Essentials line has been fairly heavy on the re-use side, but Red Hood actually does inject a fair number of new pieces into it.  He uses the torso, pelvis, and upper legs of the standard male body, but gets an all-new head, arms, hands, shins, and feet, as well as add-ons for his jacket and belt/holsters.  The new pieces really work out in this figure’s favor.  The head, is definitely sleek and very cool, living up to the really solid heads we’ve gotten so far from the line.   The new arms are great because, in addition to adding the coat sleeves, they are also ever so slightly shorter than the standard arms, thereby fixing the monkey arms problem of prior figures.  The jacket add-on also hides those exposed pegs on the torso joint, fixing my other major complaint.  As a whole, the new parts really sell this figure as his own figure, rather than leaving him really tied to the rest of the Essentials line like the prior figures have been.  The paint work on Red Hood is also really strong, with the metallic red on the helmet being my favorite aspect by far.  The rest of the application is actually cleanly handled, and lacks the fuzzy edges that a lot of DCC stuff sports.  Red Hood is packed with a pair of pistols (which can actually be removed from the holsters and held, giving him a leg up on the Mattel release), as well as two sets of hands in both gripping and fist poses.  It’s nice to see the extra hands cropping up again, as the lack of them with the earliest figures was a real drag.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Red Hood was something of an impulse buy, truth be told.  He came in at Cosmic Comix, and I just really, really liked the look of him on the shelf, so I just ended up grabbing him.  I actually haven’t done that with a single Essentials figure since Reverse Flash, and I wasn’t sure it was going to pay off.  Then I opened the figure up, and oh boy did it.  Essentials has been really spotty for it’s run, but Red Hood is genuinely a solid figure, and by far the best figure this line’s put out.  I’d say here’s to hoping for more like him, but unfortunately DCC’s just shown off a bunch of stuff that goes firmly the other direction…alas.

#2188: Superboy Vs. King Shark

SUPERBOY VS KING SHARK

DC SUPER HEROES (HASBRO)

“It’s the battle of the beach as Hawaiian-based hero Superboy takes on King Shark!  Superboy may not have the massive might of his idol, Superman, but he does have his own special powers and abilities.  He describes them as ‘tactile-telekinesis’ which means that the Teen of Steel can affect anything he touches with his super-strength; in addition, he is also invulnerable and can fly.

Of course, all his strength may not be enough to take a bite out of King Shark!  It’s uncertain whether King Shark is some kind of mutation or, as some Hawaiians believe, the offspring of a shark-god and a mortal woman.  Whatever the case, King Shark is every bit as ruthless a predator as any real shark, with razor sharp teeth, extraordinary strength, and deadly claws on his hands and feet.”

In the mid-90s, Kenner had given Batman a couple of lines, so figured why not give DC’s other big guy a go at it.  Ta-da! Superman: Man of Steel.  It ran two basic series, two deluxe series, and two multi-packs series, and then ended with a bunch of un-released items.  A handful of those pieces would make their way out a few years later.  Among them?  A canceled multi-pack including today’s figures, Superboy and King Shark!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Superboy and King Shark were originally planned for the third assortment of Man of Steel multi-packs, due for release in ’96 (as can be noted from the date stamps on the figures), but were ultimately shelved and then repurposed as one of the four HasbroCollectors.com exclusive DC Super Heroes two-packs that surfaced in 1999.

SUPERBOY

Superboy was quite negatively affected by Man of Steel‘s early end, with two separate figures canceled.  This one got saved, and is, admittedly, the more conventional of the two that were cancelled.  As far as I know, the costume seen here was made for this figure, as were most of the variant costumes for MoS.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  Hooray for that waist swivel.   It’s essentially an all-new sculpt, with a bit of a pre-pose going on.  This one serves the surfing nature of the figure well.  He’s a little larger than the original MoS Superboy, a fact I can tell by the use of a slightly retooled basic Superboy head to top things off.  It’s nice from a consistency standpoint, and nice from a “it’s a good headsculpt” capacity.  The paintwork on Superboy is pretty basic; it matches the standard colors of the character, and the application is pretty solid, if perhaps a bit roughed up on my figure.  Superboy is packed with a hi-tech surfboard, which he can peg into.

KING SHARK

King Shark!  He’s a shark!  He’s King!  And this was his first action figure!  How about that?  King Shark’s figure is another 5-incher (though it’s because he’s squatting; he’d be much taller standing) and he’s got 5 points of articulation.  His head is separate at the neck, as if to add a joint, but there’s no actual movement to be had there.  King Shark’s sculpt is a fair bit more cartoony than a lot of the others in the line, but it’s admittedly not totally out of place for a character like King Shark.  It’s certainly unique when compared to the others.  The paint work on him is rather monochromatic, but, again, fairly accurate, so I can’t really complain.  King Shark had no accessories, but given his larger stature, it kind of made sense.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was a big fan of Raving Toy Maniac’s action figure archives back in the day, and they had a pretty solid one dedicated to the Man of Steel line, where there was a whole page of cancelled items.  These guys were included there and always piqued my interest, so I was beyond thrilled when they actually made it into production a few years later.  I still really dig this set, in all of its gimmicky goodness.