#2966: Eclipso

ECLIPSO

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS (MATTEL)

“Long ago the Spectre defeated the Spirit of Wrath, exiling its physical manifestation to a black diamond called the Heart of Darkness. And so it remained until Dr. Bruce Gordon found a fragment – and was possessed by Eclipso, the Earthly incarnation of the Spirit of Wrath. During a lunar or solar eclipse, Gordon’s alter ego would grant him superhuman strength, light-powers and use him in its ancient schemes for control over all mortal beings. Since then, Eclipso has possessed others, and is ever ready to tempt and corrupt both superhumans and ordinary people.”

When introduced in House of Secrets #61 in 1963, Eclipso was effectively a superhero comics take on Jekyll and Hyde, two sides of of one man, each struggling for dominance, and ultimately reaching an impasse in all their efforts.  In the ’90s, the character’s history was reworked into what is mentioned above.  Eclipso himself was an ancient entity, a precursor to the Spectre, judged to be too cruel a spirit and banished by the Spectre proper when he finally took his place.  All that’s not terrible for a guy who looks as hokey as this one.  He’s done alright for himself on the toy front, with three whole figures.  Crazy, I know.  I’m looking at the last of those three today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Eclipso was released in Series 12 of DC Universe Classics, the first assortment to be released in 2010.  Series 12 would mark perhaps one of the most obscure selections of characters the line ever boasted, so I suppose Eclipso was right at home with them.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  Generally standard articulation, but it’s notable that this marked the first assortment to remove the rocker ankles.  Ultimately, they weren’t blessed with a particularly great range anyway, but it marked the first step towards the sorts of things that lead to the line’s decline.  For this figure directly, it wasn’t that bad.  Eclipso was built on the mid-sized male body, with an all-new head, left hand, collar, and belt, as well as the right hand from the Series 11 Deadman figure.  The new parts were generally pretty impressive.  They’re up to par with the rest of the line at the time.  The head sculpt was certainly an expressive one, definitely on the more cartoony side, but it definitely fits the character.  The new hand holds his black diamond, which is a fun touch.  It’s posed so that he can hold it out to look through it, as he did in the comics.  Beyond the new sculpted parts, Eclipso relies on paint work to sell his design.  Generally, it works pretty well for the look.  The belt even gets a little bit of accenting, which is pretty cool.  Eclipso was packed with no parts of his own, but did include the left leg of the Darkseid Collect-N-Connect.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

2010 marked a turning point for DCUC in that, in contrast to prior years, the figures actually were generally easy to find, at least with minor searching.  Eclipso wound up was the first figure I got from that year, alongside Dr. Mid-Nite, both of whom were picked up for me by my parents, while I was away on a trip.  He’s not really a star piece for me, but he’s definitely one of those by-the-numbers figures that filled in the DCUC ranks nicely.

#2959: The Flash

THE FLASH

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS (MATTEL)

You do have to give Mattel a little bit of credit, and I can’t believe I’m saying that, on how they handled the early line planning on DC Universe Classics.  There was some serious effort not to just front load the whole thing with all of the hitters right away, instead using them to anchor assortments of otherwise more minor characters.  Their first year saw them struggling to reach full retail distribution, but going into their second, things were starting to seem a little more solid.  They kicked off the year with an assortment loosely centered on today’s focus, the Flash, specifically of the Barry Allen variety, since he had just returned to life after a lengthy period of deadness just a few months prior.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Flash was part of the seventh series of DC Universe Classics, the series that built the Atom Smasher figure I reviewed last year.  This marked Mattel’s first of many assortments where the heavy hitter of the set would be sold sans Collect-N-Connect part, something Hasbro would end up co-opting into their Legends line when it returned a few years later.  Flash was, unsurprisingly, the heavy hitter for this assortment.  The figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 25 points of articulation.  At this point in the line, the rockers are still present on the ankles, for all the good they do.  Okay, that’s a little unfair, because they do wind up being somewhat useful on Flash, at least for some slightly better running poses.  He’s still not gonna balance very well in those poses, but let’s take what we can get.  Flash was built on the medium male body, originally introduced in Series 3 for Nightwing and Green Lantern.  It was the slightest build they had available for an adult male body at the time, and would remain that way for quite a while.  Ultimately, it’s just too bulky for any iteration of the Flash.  Barry can be a little bulkier than the average speedster, but this goes to excess.  I honestly think that it’s really the shoulders that throw things off; the DCUC bucks always had very prominent shoulders, and for a character like Flash, this stands out even more.  Generally speaking, however, it’s not the worst it could be, and in light of a line that was built upon such things across the board, it’s ultimately a minor issue.  Flash got a new head, shins, and feet.  The head is decent, if a bit devoid of personality for Barry.  A slightly warmer expression would go a long way.  The lower legs gave him proper boot sculpts, which are actually quite nice.  The feet even get treads on the bottoms, just like Flash always had.  It’s certainly a nice touch.  His paint work is generally pretty basic, but it’s also generally pretty clean in its application.  He also gets a little bit of accenting on the reds and yellows, just to keep things a little more visually interesting.  It actually works pretty nicely.  Flash was the one figure in the set not to get a CnC piece, but he did get one of Mattel’s patented crappy blue display stands.  They were great for…umm…being not so good at helping the figures stand?  They sure were blue and translucent, though.  They did that part well.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

By the seventh series, the line was starting to get a little easier to get, so it wasn’t quite the nightmare of other sets to get these figures.  That said, I didn’t actually get Flash until after the line was essentially dead.  At the time he hit, I was still mixing these guys in with my DC Directs, and I had a couple of other Barry Allen Flash figures I liked well enough, so I didn’t go after this one.  When the line ended, I realized how close I was to having the Satellite Era League, so I filled in a few gaps, and picked this one up for a decent price loose.  He’s not my favorite figure from the line, but he does an okay job, and he does look cool with the rest of the League.

#2952: Atom Smasher

ATOM SMASHER

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS (MATTEL)

DC’s handling of the Justice Society from the ’60s forward marked an important change in how they handled story telling as a whole, at least for a while.  With the dawn of the Silver Age, they had rebooted most of their popular titles, but “Flash of Two Worlds” confirmed that the original DC heroes existed in a universe all their own, where time had progressed since we last saw them.  It created a universe where the heroes were allowed to age, which, in tandem, created a universe where the heroes were allowed to retire or otherwise pass their mantles onto a new generation.  Roy Thomas’s All Star Squadron was a series dedicated to the exploits of the JSA after we stopped seeing them regularly, and through it we were introduced to a whole collection of legacy heroes, who would eventually become Infinity Incorporated.  Amongst those heroes was the original Atom’s god-son Albert Rothstein, also known as Nuklon.  Al would later move up to the JSA proper, and would take on a new identity, Atom Smasher, whose second figure I’m looking at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Atom Smasher was the Collect-N-Connect for Series 7 of Mattel’s DC Universe Classics.  Atom Smasher would mark the first proper JSA offering within the line, but he would be the first of quite a few, including a whole JSA-themed series by the time the line ended.  Atom Smasher’s status as a CnC allowed him to be a little taller than is compatriots, standing about 8 1/4 inches tall.  His base body was really just patterned on the standard male body, so he kept the same basic 25 points of articulation.  In terms of height, Al had the ability to vary his, much like Giant-Man, but this figure still seemed a little bit on the small side; he felt more like a kind of tall guy, and less like an actual giant.  Still, it was at least a better representation of his size than *some* of the figures in this line…heck, in this very same assortment (looking at you Little Barda).  In terms of sculpt, the sized up base body worked pretty well for the character’s design at least, and the figure specific elements on the neck, belt, forearms, and boots all look pretty good.  The head was a pretty nice piece as well, and would wind up scaled down to normal figure size for use on Mattel’s version of the Al Pratt Atom a few years later.  Atom Smasher’s paint work is pretty good, showing the slightly more involved work from earlier in this line.  The base work is generally pretty cleanly applied, and he also gets some pretty nice accent work, especially on the larger stretches of the same colors on his mask and torso.  Atom Smasher had no accessories, but as an accessory himself, and without any major extras that warranted inclusion, that’s really not a big deal.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Atom Smasher was a slow burn figure for me.  I picked up the figures I most wanted from this assortment right away, so I had their parts for him floating about for a bit.  I even wound up with the Barda figure as well, so I had her part too, but I was so unimpressed with her, and so disenchanted with the possibility of finding the rest of the parts, that I actually wound up trading off the part that came with her before completing this guy.  It wasn’t until the end of the line, when I really started to go back and fill in some holes that I finally brought myself to finish him.   I’m glad I did, because even at his slightly smaller size, he’s a cool figure, and it’s unlikely we’re ever going to get a better Atom Smasher.

#2945: Hawk & Dove

HAWK & DOVE

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS (MATTEL)

“The yin and yang of the superhero world, Hank and Don Hall were complete opposites, working together as powerful vigilante champions for justice. Opinionated and reactionary, Hank always butted heads with his reasonable, yet indecisive, brother. The Lords of Chaos bestowed upon Hank powers that came about when he uttered the word, ‘hawk,’ and his brother was imbued with the same powers from the Lords of Order. Working together, ‘Hawk’ and “Dove” balanced each other out and battled evil.

Dawn Granger was given powers by the Lords of Order, effectively stripping them from Don Hall (the original Dove). Needing the “Hawk” to balance her new role as ‘Dove,’ Granger joined forces with Hank Hall. Lured to Druspa Tau, they were forced to battle each other in a war between the Lords of Chaos and the Lords of Order and their devotees. At the conclusion, Hawk and Dove absorbed the powers of their creators; leaving Dove with a new ability: flight.”

Created by Steve Ditko and Steve Skeates in 1968, Hawk and Dove were originally brothers Hank and Don Hall.  Hank was an aggressive and forceful personality, while his brother Don took on a role of pacifism.  In their super-heroic personas, they were assigned powers that complemented their personalities, all while complementing each other.  The duo first appeared in DC’s Showcase book, before getting a brief run on their own, and then moving into sporadic appearances in various DC books.  Don would wind up as one of the casualties of Crisis on Infinite Earths, and two years later, Hank would gain a new partner in Dawn Granger, the second Dove.  These two would become quite the distinctive pair themselves, but would have their own rather storied history as well.  Amongst other things, they figured rather prominently into Brightest Day, an event that would put them into the public eye long enough to at least get them a little bit of toy coverage.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Hawk and Dove were released separately in Series 20 of Mattel’s DC Universe Classics line.  The entire assortment was based on Brightest Day, which was a rather current story at the time.  It was also the last proper assortment of the line, due to the ending of the mainstream DC Universe and the launching of the New 52.  Boy, that sure stuck, huh?

HAWK

In the comics at the time of this figure’s release, Hawk had just come back from the dead, and was also the only male member of the Birds of Prey, presumable because when you’ve got a team named “Birds of Prey”, you might be willing to amend some of the by-laws for a guy named “Hawk.”  Hawk’s design has essentially remained unchanged over the years, so this figure had an easy choice.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  By this point in the line, the ankle rockers had been completely removed from all of the base bodies, which was on one and a shame, but on the other not really that big of a deal, since they were kind of useless joints anyway.  Otherwise, the articulation remained standard for the line.  In light of modern articulation standards, it’s not fantastic, but compared to early Legends, he’s at least not a floppy mess.  Hawk was built on the larger male body, which was a reasonable fit for the character.  He got a new head and “cape.”  Both pieces fit well on the body and meshed with the pre-existing parts.  The head in particular feels like it’s a good fit for Hawk, especially with that teeth baring expression.  Hawk’s paint work is generally quite straight forward, though it’s worth noting that they adjusted the white sections of his costume to be a light grey.  Maybe to prevent yellowing?  Hawk’s only extra was the torso to the Nekron Build-A-Figure.

DOVE

Believe it or not, Dawn Granger is actually a Rob Liefeld creation.  Well, like half a Rob Liefeld creation.  Barbra and Karl Kessel were also involved, which I’m certain helped her to be a lot less ridiculous than, well, Leifeld’s other body of work.  Like Hawk, Dove’s design has remained essentially unchanged over the years, apart from the whole switching from it being Don to it being Dawn.  Man, that name change sure was convenient, though, right?  The figure stands 6 inches tall and she has 23 points of articulation.  Her articulation scheme is the same as Hawk’s, but there are some pluses and minuses on the ranges of the joints.  The neck joint works very well, but the elbow and mid-torso joints are definitely very restricted.  Dove is based on Mattel’s second attempt at a base body.  It’s definitely the stronger of the two, and it worked well for the character.  She got a new head, as well as a new collar piece.  I quite like the head sculpt, and I think it fits her nicely.  There’s some good dynamic flow to the pony tail, which is cool.  The collar piece is perhaps a touch bulky at this scale, but overall it looks pretty decent, and it actually doesn’t really impede her movement at all.  Dove’s paint work is generally alright.  Like Hawk, the white portions are now a light grey.  Unfortunately, since the hair and collar are softer plastic, they’re also more prone to paint transfer, which has happened on my figure.  Dove was packed with the waist piece for Nekron.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Series 20 of DCUC was one that wasn’t amazingly well received by fans.  It being the end of the line probably didn’t help it.  That said, Christian and I had really gotten into the line together, so we split a full set of figures that we ordered from Big Bad Toy Store.  I took these two, as I had really enjoyed what was being done with them just before the New 52 hit.  Honestly, they’re pretty straight forward, by the numbers figures, but that’s absolutely the right approach for the characters, and they turned out really well.  The only downside is that they didn’t do any variants for the last set, so we never got a Don Hall Dove to round things out.

#2928: Nightwing

NIGHTWING

BATMAN: THE CAPED CRUSADER (SPIN MASTER)

I think I’m finally hitting an okay pace when it comes to these Spin Master DC figures.  I mean, it’s at least a consistent one.  Sure, that consistent pace is, like, one figure per month, but that’s still something, right?  This year’s theme for their Batman line is Bat-Tech, which is outfitting all of the Caped Crusader’s allies and foes with new variant costumes that are all techy.  Largely, I’m picking up the actually new characters, but there are a few intriguing variants mixed in, and I’m always a sucker for a good Nightwing.  So, you know, here we are.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Nightwing is part of the sixth assortment of Spin Master’s Batman: The Caped Crusader line, which is the second assortment under the “Bat-Tech” banner.  This is the same assortment that included the previously reviewed Batgirl, making Nightwing a logical inclusion.  The figure stands about 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 17 points of articulation.  Structurally, the figure is the same as the prior Spin Master Nightwing.  It’s a reasonable enough sculpt, not perfect, but certainly serviceable, and the consistency isn’t a bad thing.  In order to fit with the “tech-y” nature of the set, Nightwing’s color scheme has been tweaked.  It keeps the same basic Nightwing feel, but he’s molded in a smoky translucent plastic, which is fun, and he’s got a bunch of the tech details like we saw on Batgirl and Batman.  They’re fun little details, and I also enjoy the slight change-ups to his basic suit’s layout of details.  Nightwing is packed with the same baton pieces that the prior release included, but in sparkly blue plastic instead.  He also gets two different guns, one of which has a piece to allow for hooking it up to his back.  Guns feel a bit in contrast to Nightwing’s usual loadout, but I guess they’re not real guns, so that’s better maybe?  I’m only gonna use the batons anyway, so it doesn’t really matter.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After getting Batgirl, I found myself really liking the Bat-Tech set-up as a whole, and, I am, as noted before, a sucker for a good Nightwing.  Max wound up finding this one during one of his stops, so he was nice enough to enable me pick one up for me.  He’s not drastically different from the last one, but he’s still a lot of fun, and keeps the spirit of Spin Master’s whole set-up really going.

#2909: Shriek Unmasked

SHRIEK UNMASKED

DC MULTIVERSE (MCFARLANE)

“Walter Shreeve was a skilled audio engineer living in Neo-Gotham, trying to fund his research in the field of sonics. Unable to do so, Shreeve used his highly advanced sound technology to build an armored suit capable of demolishing buildings with sonic blasts. Going by the name Shriek, he was soon hired to destroy Batman and nearly succeeded, but lost his hearing in the ensuing battle. He was then sent to Blackgate Penitentiary where he was able to continue his research behind bars. Since then, Shriek has managed to break out on occasion, each time seeking revenge against Batman and wreaking havoc on the citizens of Neo-Gotham!”

It was bound to happen eventually, I suppose.  After two days of McFarlane DC reviews that weren’t Batman-related, we’ve circled back to what Todd truly knows best about DC.  I mean, it’s not specifically a Batman, of course, but it’s a Batman villain, and it’s also got a stupid variant structure, so we’re right back in that McFarlane comfort zone!

Batman Beyond‘s creator’s strove to give Terry his own unique cast of villains, which wouldn’t just be cheap re-hashes of Bruce’s old foes.  Introduced early on, and becoming a rather recurring opponent, was Walter Shreeve, aka Shriek.  He’s got one of the most distinctive and memorable designs of Terry’s foes, making him a solid choice for toy treatment.  That said, he never did get it during the show’s original run, with his McFarlane figure being his very first…or second, I guess, what with there being two of them and all.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Shriek Unmasked is a solo release within McFarlane’s DC Multiverse line.  As with Batman Beyond, he was preceded by a Target-exclusive release, which also included a Build-A-Figure part, and was fully armored, rather than unmasked.  Yes, in classic McFarlane form, rather than giving us one figure with an extra head, they’re selling us two of the same figure with different heads, and thereby making both figures less valid than one single figure with an extra accessory would have been.  Greeeaaaaat.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  It’s largely the same as the usual set-up, but the movement on the arms is predictably kind of restricted by how the armor works.  To McFarlane’s credit, the movement is all pretty decent, and the arms work better than you might expect at first glance.  The sculpt is a pretty decent piece of work.  He’s technically based on the comics, as was the Batman Beyond, but it’s a good merging of the aesthetics.  The armor’s detailing is pretty sharp and cleanly detailed, and there aren’t too many extra details shoved in to really mess things up, so it’s generally a nice piece.  The head is likewise a very nice piece of work.  It’s real world-styled version of Shreeves, but it really still feels like the character as depicted in the show.  There’s just the right level of slimy sleezebag, and I love it.  Shriek’s paint work is well handled; the suit has some nice contrast on the black/white, and the clear blue parts are definitely fun.  His head has a rather involved paint deco, which gives Shreeves his usual sickly pallor.  He’s clearly a guy who doesn’t get out much.  Shriek is packed with two sound effect pieces, a display stand, and a collector’s card.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This guy reminds me of exactly why I don’t like how McFarlane does things, because the splitting of the two looks just really sucks all around.  I certainly was down for a Shriek to go with my Batman, but I wasn’t really big on how the helmet looked on the first release.  I wanted an alternate head of some sort, which this figure gave me, but, of course, at the cost of him never actually being helmeted now, which is limiting in its own right.  Sure, I may not be thrilled by the helmet’s design, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want the potential option of displaying it.  Ultimately, I was going to feel he was lacking either way, but I felt slightly less so this way, so it’s what I went with.  I do really like this figure, and I think he turned out really well.  He’d be better with the extra head, though.

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

#2908: Green Lantern – John Stewart

GREEN LANTERN — JOHN STEWART

DC MULTIVERSE (MCFARLANE)

“John Stewart is a former U.S. Marine who uses his military training and discipline to protect Earth, and the rest of Space Sector 2814, as a member of the intergalactic peacekeeping force known as the Green Lantern Corps. As Green Lantern, John wields a power ring, which creates a protective shield around him, allows him to fly, and generates hard-light energy constructs in the form of anything he imagines. Fueled by willpower, Green Lantern’s power ring is one of the mightiest weapons in the universe!”

On the topic of McFarlane not always *just* doing Batman, here’s a bit more in that category.  I’m classically a pretty big Green Lantern fan, and there’s no denying that Todd’s been rather stingy on the GL love.  To date, there’s been a Green Lantern Batman (which only half counts), and two different versions of John Stewart.  I don’t really want to delve into the monstrosity that was the animated-style version, so I guess I’ll look at the other one.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Green Lantern John Stewart was 2021 release for the DC Multiverse standard line.  Again, there’s the whole distribution thing, which means he showed up early some places, but just showed up rather recently others.  Yay, that’s fun.  The figure stands 7 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  John’s articulation scheme is again pretty much the same as the other DC McFarlane stuff, but I did find the range of motion on him to be a fair bit more restricted, and also more prone to breaking up the flow of the sculpt.  John’s sculpt was unique to him to start, but most of it’s already planned for a re-use on the upcoming Hal Jordan.  Effectively, this means they kind of designed it with the two uses in mind, so you can sort of see how the details are loosely meant to work for their two differing costume designs.  In simplest terms, that means that no matter which of the two you’re looking at, they’re really over designed, especially for GLs.  There’s just so many unnecessary details just really muddying up the cleanness of the GL design.  It’s especially notable on John, since he’s wearing his more modern, even further streamlined costume.  They didn’t even add extra lines to his costume during the New 52, you guys.  Even New 52 standards knew not to mess up the John Stewart design.  And yet, here we are, with way too much going on.  Todd really does remind me of the old adage “if less is more, think of how much more more could be.”  All the excess detail might be easier to get away with if the actual body sculpt worked, but it’s got kind of wonky proportions, with the arms in particular just being far too long.  I’m also really not digging that the right hand is doing a trigger finger grip; how do you not give a GL a fist for their ring hand?  Topping it all off is the unique head sculpt that’s supposed to be pulling the heavy weight on selling this figure as John Stewart.  Trouble is, it doesn’t really look like John.  It looks like a generic black guy.  They don’t all look the same, I can assure you.  I felt kind of the same way about Mezco’s version of John as well, so maybe there’s just some confusion about his defining facial features.  John’s paint work is alright.  It’s nothing to write home about, and I find myself wishing the greens were a bit brighter, or possibly even metallic.  Just something to make it pop more would be good.  John’s accessories include a construct armor piece for the torso, a construct minigun, a display stand, and a collector’s card.  The minigun isn’t the worst thing ever, but it does really feel a little less joyful and fun than the usual constructs.  I also don’t really like that’s only held, and doesn’t clip on in any way, nor do I like that we missed out on getting a lantern, or maybe some extra hands.  It’s not an awful selection, but it’s not particularly thrilling either.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The general lack of GL focus in the McFarlane output hasn’t really thrilled me.  I wanted to be excited by this guy, but the prototype shots did nothing for me, and seeing him in person didn’t do a lot either.  A loose one wound up coming in at the same time as the Flash figure I reviewed yesterday, so I decided that was the time to give him a try.  He’s…well, he’s really not great.  I want to like him, but I guess I’ve been a little bit spoiled by earlier, better John Stewart figures.  If I’m entirely honest, I pretty much went the whole review just wanting this figure to be the DCUC one, and he’s not, and he’s never gonna be.

#2907: The Flash

THE FLASH

DC MULTIVERSE (MCFARLANE)

“In a freak lab accident, forensic scientist Barry Allen was struck by lightning and doused with chemicals, which gave him the superpowers of the Speed Force. Now he uses these powers to defend his hometown of Central City—and the rest of the world—from the forces of evil as The Flash! The Fastest Man Alive can run up the sides of buildings, across oceans, and around the world at light speed. He can also vibrate his molecules to phase through solid objects!”

Hey, look at that, sometimes McFarlane doesn’t only do Batman.  I know, it’s a crazy concept.  Sometimes he’ll laser focus in on a different character for just a moment.  And for a little portion of the last year or so, one such laser focused character was the Flash, who’s now had a whole five figures.  Can you believe that?  I mean, I guess it’s possible to believe it.  I mean, there’s like empirical evidence to support it and all.  It’s probably been peer reviewed.  Speaking of reviews, that’s what I’m supposed to be doing here, so why don’t I do that?  Yeah, I think I will!  Let’s jump in on that!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Flash was part of the basic DC Multiverse line-up, hitting retail at roughly the mid-point of last year…some places anyway.  McFarlane’s distribution’s been all over the map, so exact timelines can be weird.  He was the first of the Flash figures McFarlane released, but was quickly followed by the slight retool of this one for the two-pack release with Red Death.  The figure stands 7 1/4 inches tall and he has 33 points of articulation.  Flash’s articulation scheme follows what we’ve become used to with McFarlane’s DC stuff.  The range isn’t bad, but it does have a tendency to break up the sculpt in rather odd ways.  Also, some of the joints, notably on the ankles, are a little on the loose side, so it can be hard to get him to hold poses for terribly long.  But, for the most part, it’s not terrible.  Flash’s sculpt was initially unique, but then saw re-use for the two-pack release, and is getting another re-use for the upcoming Reverse Flash as well.  It’s patterned on his far more ridge-y post-New 52 appearance.  While it’s got a bit too much going on for it to be my preferred Flash, it does seem like it’s more up Todd’s alley.  Also, it’s still his current look, so it adds up.  It does at least make for a pretty nice looking figure, and they didn’t add a bunch of other unnecessary details that don’t need to be there.  The main defining trait of this figure, in contrast to the two-pack release, is the head sculpt.  For this one, he gets a more playful expression with a smile.  It’s a bit cartoony an exaggerated, but it feels appropriate for the character, and I really like it.  The only part I’m a bit iffy on is the ear wings, which seem a little too crazy for my preferred take on Flash.  Otherwise, it’s pretty solid.  Flash’s paint work is generally pretty basic.  It’s bright and colorful, which is a bit of a contrast from the usual McFarlane output, so I won’t really complain on that.  The figure is packed with an assortment of lightning effects, as well as a display stand, so that you can get some more intense running displays…when he remains standing, of course.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When DC Collectibles launched Essentials, I picked up Reverse Flash, but not the standard, because I found basic Flash to be just a touch too bland for my taste.  I still wanted one in a comparable scale, so when this guy was shown off, I was at the very least interested.  Of course, with the wonky distribution and such, All Time never ended up getting theirs, and I couldn’t really be bothered to actually hunt him down.  As luck would have it, he wound up getting traded in loose a couple of months ago, so I was able to pick one up without much fuss.  He’s still got those typical McFarlane things going on, but I do like him a fair bit overall, and he fits in well with my Essentials figures, so I’d call that a win.

#2903: Steppenwolf

STEPPENWOLF

SUPER POWERS (KENNER)

As one of Darkseid’s most trusted agents, Steppenwolf commands the every action of the huge, vicious, canine army known as the Hounds of Hades.  In addition, Steppenwolf carries the Electro-Axe, a universally dreaded device that fires deadly Radion Bolts.”

Even within the Fourth World itself, Steppenwolf has always kind of been the red-headed steppenchild stepchild.  He’s just sort of there, and occasionally they’d send him off to go look imposing at someone and invariably get the snot kicked out of him to prove that the heroes are greater than expected. Even Jack Kirby didn’t know what to do with him, and he created him. He’s low tier in an already low tier bracket.  The choice to use him as Justice League‘s main antagonist was odd to say the least, no matter which version you took in.  But, I guess more people know him now?  Yay?  Well, let’s go back to the beginning, and look at his very first action figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Steppenwolf was added to Super Powers in its second year.  Initially, he was the line’s very first mail-away figure, but he was later added to the line proper with his own carded release.  The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  Steppenwolf’s design was one of the most changed of the Fourth World Characters.  Up to this point, he’d generally worn a lot of green with more of nobleman hunter sort of a feel, but his Super Powers design really amped up the sci-fi side of things, as well as just generally making him a whole lot spikier.  I mean, not Justice League levels of spikes, or anything, but, still, like, a lot of spikes.  While I’ve generally been okay with the Super Powers redesigns, Steppenwolf is one that I’ve never really jived with.  There was a formality to the original, which just is lacking here.  So, rather than being imposing he’s just…goofy.  I don’t think that’s what they were aiming for.  From a technical standpoint, it’s not a bad sculpt.  As with all of the Super Powers sculpts, it’s got a nice set of balanced proportions, and just enough detailing to keep him interesting, without making him too overcomplicated.  His backpack and axe are all connected to the figure permanently, and the axe is *supposed* to clip onto the backpack for storage.  On my figure, however, that clip has broken, so he’s forced to forever just hold his axe.  Poor guy.  While the character had classically been done up in shades of green and yellow, for this figure he was inexplicably in red and brown, perhaps to further differentiate him from Mantis?  I don’t know, but I’m not sure I like it.  The application’s not bad, though, and he’s even got some vac metalizing on his axe, which is pretty cool.  Steppenwolf’s action was his “Power Action Electro-Axe Chop,” which swung his right arm downward when his legs were squeezed.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve never been a huge Steppenwolf fan, and I’m even less of a fan of his redesign here.  So, when it came time to confront buying this figure, I wound up bundling him in with another figure I actually was very excited to get, Brainiac.  Even when he was new to me, he wasn’t my focus.  And that’s probably for the best, because he still doesn’t really wow me, honestly.  He’s hardly a bad figure, but probably on the low end of my list for Super Powers.  That’s the price of being such a strong line in general, I suppose.

#2899: Batgirl

BATGIRL

BATMAN: THE CAPED CRUSADER (SPIN MASTER)

It’s been a little bit since I’ve looked at anything from Spin Master’s DC slate.  Admittedly, that’s because it tends to be a little tricky to find.  I’m reviewing it as fast as I can, you guys!  I swear!  This year’s theme for the line is Bat-Tech, which is allowing them to do all sorts of whacky variants for the Caped Crusader, his allies, and his foes.  It’s a mix of re-decos, re-workings, and even some all-new figures.  I’m looking at one of those all-new additions, Batgirl, today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Batgirl is part of the sixth assortment of Spin Master’s Batman: The Caped Crusader line, which is also the second assortment under the “Bat-Tech” banner.  The figure stands about 4 inches tall and she has 17 points of articulation.  Apart from the way the hair is sculpt blocking the neck movement a bit, it’s a good articulation set-up, like the other Spin Master DC offerings before it.  Batgirl’s design here is a mix of a few different designs.  Her Batgirl of Burnside design from recent years is very definitely being referenced, but there’s also some more classic ’60s Batgirl vibes, especially with the gloves and boots.  And it’s all topped off with just a dash of the whole Bat-Tech aesthetic, making it all future-y and sci-fi.  I expected Batgirl to be using parts from Batwoman, but upon comparing the two, that doesn’t seem to be the case, and it looks like Barbara is sporting an all-new sculpt.  It’s a pretty good one at that.  Like Wonder Woman, she’s still rather leggy, but it comes across as more of a stylistic thing, and with the long cape and such as well, it all comes together for a nicely put together sculpt.  Probably one of my favorites, honestly.  The paint work on the figure is pretty decent as well.  The base work matches the sort of amalgamated design, and the extra tech detailing is a rather fun, generally unobtrusive choice.  Batgirl is packed with three accessories, a batarang, a katana, and a grapnel gun, all in transparent blue.  They’re all kinda goofy and silly, but it fits the vibe of the line well, so I can’t really knock them.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I discovered this Batgirl figure’s existence while going through the line’s upcoming releases during my first Bat-Tech review, and I knew I wanted her right away.  I’ve already got a Nightwing, and in my mind, no Nightwing really feels complete without a corresponding Batgirl.  Thankfully, Max was able to keep his eye out for me, and I got my hands on one without much fuss.  She’s a lot of fun, and I honestly don’t mind that we got the Bat-Tech version first, because the extra details are nifty.  I dig it.