#1692: Robin

ROBIN

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS (MATTEL)

In a similar fashion to Toy Biz’s early Marvel Legends offerings skipping any thing Spider-Man-related due the Spider-Man Classics line that sort of launched Legends, thanks to the lead-in DC Superheroes line, Mattel’s DC Universe Classics was slightly slower introducing Batman and Superman-themed figures.  While Batman found himself in the line’s first series, he would have to wait another two series before getting his trusty sidekick, Robin.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Robin was initially released in Series 3 of DC Universe Classics, and then ultimately re-released in the World’s Greatest Superheroes sub-line.  He was Mattel’s second go at Robin, following the mold that went back to their original Batman line.  This one is based on Tim Drake, the third Robin, and still the current one at the time of this figure’s release.  He’s seen here in the costume he was wearing at the time, which was introduced following the “One Year Later” time-jump caused by Infinite Crisis and 52.  It’s a design that doesn’t quite have the staying power of Tim’s prior look, but it did stick around for a few years, and it’s certainly not terrible.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  This figure’s biggest flaw is his height.  He was a full inch shorter than the standard adult male from this line, but not in a “oh, he’s just a teenager who isn’t fully grown yet” way.  He actually looks like he’s a smaller scale than the rest of the figures.  It’s especially annoying because the later Red Robin figure, meant to represent Tim from just a few years later in the timeline, was just on the standard male body.  That wasn’t the right fit either, but at least he looked vaguely right scale-wise.  The most frustrating about the height issue is that the figure’s sculpt is actually pretty good.  Robin lacks some of the more annoying stylistic elements of the larger bodies, such as the goofy larger shoulders, or the painfully obvious hip joints.  His proportions are fairly balanced, and there are actually quite a few uniquely sculpted pieces, such as the buckles on his tunic and his utility belt, which add a lot of character to the figure.  The head’s maybe more of an early career Tim than one in this costume should be, but it still looks quite nice, and even the cape is a pretty solid sculpt.  Purely from an internal standpoint, it’s a strong sculpt.  Even his paintwork’s not terrible.  I mean, there’s no crazy detail work or anything, but the application is all pretty clean, and there’s some slight accent work on the red sections of the costume.  He was originally packed with a combat staff and the left arm of the Collect-N-Connect Solomon Grundy.  The re-release (which is the one I had), dropped the CnC piece.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When Series 3 of DCUC was unveiled I was thrilled.  I wanted every figure in the set.  To date, of the five figures (six if you included the CnC), I own three, and this one’s not even the original release.  Why?  Mattel’s sucky distribution, that’s why.  I desperately wanted Robin, but I never actually saw him at retail, so I finally settled for the re-release, which I found at Baltimore Comic-Con a few years back.  He’s a frustrating figure.  I love so much about him, but he’s cursed never to really fit-in with his line-mates.  Fortunately, last fall I got the similarly mis-scaled DC Icons Batman, so at least they both have a companion.

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#1664: Green Lantern & Star Sapphire

GREEN LANTERN & STAR SAPPHIRE

DC MINIMATES

It’s been almost two years since I last looked at any proper DC Minimates.  Plenty of other Minimates in the mean time, but not DC.  It’s sort of sad, really.  At the time, they were a beacon of hope, combating fears that the brand might be dying out.  They came in, stepped things up, and then ended up dying out themselves just before Minimates as a brand really took off.  We got eight series, a decent enough run, with most major players covered.  The Green Lanterns did alright, starting from day one, in fact, with a Hal Jordan and Star Sapphire pairing.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Green Lantern and Star Sapphire were part of the first series of DC Minimates.  Initially, they were meant to hit at the same time as the second and third series, to jumpstart the line in a similar fashion to the Marvel line, but delays set in, and the first series ended up hitting on its lonesome.

GREEN LANTERN

Green Lantern was just at the beginning of his upswing in popularity when this line launched, so his place in the first assortment was definitely a sensible one.  They went with Hal to start, which was certainly the smart choice.  He’s got his Bronze Age design, which has always been my personal favorite.  The figure is based on the standard ‘mate body, so he’s 2 1/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  His only add-on piece is for his hair.  It was shared with this series’ Superman.  It’s an okay piece, but lacks the higher detailing of more recent offerings.  I myself have never been really big on the s-curl piece for Hal, since it just feels a bit too distinctly Superman, and doesn’t match Hal’s usual style.  I ended up replacing it with another piece, though he’s seen un-altered here.  The rest of the work is paint, which is actually pretty top-notch, apart from one or two small issues.  The detailing on the face is very clean, and very true to the character, and the torso detailing is spot-on.  There’s even a little bit of detailing on his right hand for his ring.  My only minor complaint is the epaulets on his shoulders, which here cover a much larger section of the arm, making them look more like t-shirt sleeves.  Far from terrible, but a minor annoyance.  GL includes his power batter, which is a fantastic piece, and expertly sculpted.

STAR SAPPHIRE

While Batman and Superman both got their primary villains in Series 1, GL’s main bad Sinestro had to wait for Series 8.  Instead, we got Star Sapphire, who’s still a pretty solid choice.  Like GL, she’s the classic incarnation of the character.  By far the best.  Presumably, this is Carol Danvers, but in a pinch there are probably others it could be.  She’s got two sculpted add-ons; one for her hair/mask, and one for her collar.  Neither’s as good as they could be.  The hair/mask combo was perhaps not the best way to handle it; sure, her mask sticks out in the comics, but I feel it would look better as a painted element.  It’s just a bit bulky as is.  The collar’s a good concept, but execution is once again just too bulky.  It ends up removing most of her neck.  I think just the collar, without the flesh bit attached, would have worked better, but this was at the time when a Marvel figure of an equivalent design would be using a whole bulked-up torso, so this was better.  At the very least, the collar is easily removed if you don’t like it.  Her paint’s not quite as good as GL’s; the actual detail lines are fine, but the base colors seem a little sloppy.  Overall, though, not bad.  Star Sapphire had no accessories.  I feel like an energy effect, or an extra hair piece would have been cool.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got this set, like every other DC Minimates set, from Cosmic Comix, as soon as they were released.  Prior to their release, I was hugely excited to get them.  As a big GL fan, this is actually the set that got me back into Minimates after a bit of a break, and kept me in the game for a solid decade.  The ‘mates themselves aren’t anything amazing, but they were rather momentous for me, and I still really like them.

#1662: Batman

BATMAN

SUPER POWERS (KENNER)

“Batman, The Caped Crusader.  Powers: Accomplished acrobat, a keen detective’s mind, ace criminologist, martial arts expert. Has utility belt with scientific crime-fighting equipment.  Weaknesses: Mortal.  Enemies: Joker, Penguin, Riddler, Catwoman, The Scarecrow, Two-Face.  Secret Identity: Bruce Wayne.”

Kenner’s Super Powers is undoubtedly the greatest DC toyline ever.  Yet somehow, I’ve only managed to review five figures from the line.  Those are rookie numbers!  I gotta pump those numbers up!  To do that, I’m going to look at by far the most toyetic character in the whole line (though, amusingly, not the character in the line with two figures; that’s Superman), Batman!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Batman was released in the first series of Super Powers figures. With himself, his sidekick, and two of his villains, Batman’s corner of the DCU was the most fleshed out in the first series.  He, like the rest of the standard DC characters in the line, was based on his Jose Garcia-Lopez-illustrated entry in the 1982 DC Style Guide.  It’s Batman’s yellow-circled, capsule-belted, short-eared, light blue-shaded Silver Age design, which had been in use for 20 years at the time of this figure’s release.  That’s a pretty good run, and a pretty good choice.  The figure stands 4 3/4 inches tall and he has 7 points of articulation.  Batman’s sculpt matches the rest of the line, in that it’s totally unique to him, and while it’s certainly a product of its time, it doesn’t look half bad under modern day scrutiny.  As with both Superman and Wonder Woman, he’s a little wider than his Garcia-Lopez-drawn self.  It seems most evident on Batman, since at the time he was usually depicted as rather svelte, especially when compared to the likes of Superman.  That being said, I do like that he’s distinctively smaller in build than Superman; a lot of lines these days don’t observe that.  The head’s probably the weakest part of the sculpt, being kind of squat, and having a chin that makes him look a bit too much like the Tick.  It’s worth noting that when Kenner repurposed this sculpt for their Batman and Batman Returns lines, the head was the one part they replaced outright (though part of that was undoubtedly to add a more Keaton-inspired head to the figure).  Like all the caped figures in this line, Batman had a cloth cape, attached by a rather bulky clip at the neck.  Mine’s a little worse for wear; when he was new, the color of the cape matched the rest of the figure a bit better.  I don’t think his cape worked quite as well as some of the line’s other figures, but it’s serviceable.  Batman’s paint continues the Super Powers trend of being clean, and very bright.  He definitely stands out on a shelf.  Batman of course got an action feature, dubbed the “Power Action Bat Punch.”  It’s the exact same feature used on Superman, down to having essentially the same name (though Batman adds and Adam West-style “Bat” descriptor to the name).  Not particularly inventive or anything, but it works.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Batman came late in the game of my Super Powers collecting.  I had plenty of other versions of the character, so he didn’t have the same appeal as some of the others.  Like so many of the line, he was a Christmas present from my parents.  I had specifically asked for him and Green Arrow that year.  They both arrived, as part of a larger lot that also got me Superman and Wonder Woman, as well as a number of accessories I’d been missing up to that point.  Batman was never really the star attraction there, but he’s always been a solid support figure, and he’s definitely one of the best versions of the character out there!

#1636: Johnny Quick

JOHNNY QUICK

CRIME SYNDICATE (DC DIRECT)

The Crime Syndicate is a fairly simple concept.  They’re just an evil version of the Justice League.  Pretty straight-forward stuff.  That’s probably why, even after multiple attempts by DC to abandon the whole Multiverse concept, this group is always pretty quick to turn back up.  They’re actually a bit less frequent than you might think when it comes to toys, though.  Despite first appearing in 1964, it wasn’t until 2003 that they got their first action figures.  I’ll be looking at the first figure of Flash-equivalent Johnny Quick* today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Johnny Quick was released in the one series Crime Syndicate line from DC Direct.  He’s based on Johnny’s classic design, which is a pretty straight forward take off of the Flash’s design (though not as straight-forward as the *other* evil Flash equivalent, the Reverse Flash, who pre-dated Johnny by a year).  The figure stands 6 inches tall and has 9 points of articulation.  Not a lot of movement, and he’s really only good for a basic standing pose, but this was pretty standard for DCD figures of the time.  Johnny pre-dates DCD’s move to artist-specific figures, so he’s instead patterned on DCD’s then current house style.  It’s a style that works especially well with silver age characters like Johnny.  The figure’s sculpt is basic and clean.  He’s not too bulky or too skinny.  Most of his costume details are painted, rather than sculpted, so his head is where most of the important work is.  It’s a decent enough sculpt, but I do wish his expression was a bit less bland.  Johnny was prone to his maniacal laughing and the like, so an evil grin really would have really hit the spot.  The others in this assortment were a bit more emotive, so poor Johnny was just left out in the cold.  The paint work on Johnny is clean, and the colors are bold.  His red/yellow were well-matched to the Flashes that DCD had available at the time, which was a plus.  Nothing particularly notable or exciting beyond that, but hey, passable is still passable.  Johnny’s only accessory was a Crime Syndicate logo-emblazoned display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Acquiring the Crime Syndicate figures was a rather slow process for me, despite my excitement for them when they were announced.  Johnny was the fourth one I picked up, actually a few years after his release.  Despite having long since sold out of their initial quantity, Cosmic Comix had gotten in another of this guy, and I ended up grabbing him during a sale (I think it was for Free Comic Book day, but I could be wrong).  He’s an okay figure.  Not perfect, but he’s definitely a solid offering, especially for the time.

*not to be confused with DC’s heroic speedster, John “Johnny Quick” Chambers, an Earth-2-based hero from the ‘40s.

#1626: Mantis

MANTIS

JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED (MATTEL)

“Mantis, an evil resident of Apokolips, decides to lead an invasion of Earth after the apparent demise of Darkseid.”

Of all the New Gods characters, I think Mantis may be the least developed.  I mean, he’s always been there, since Jack Kirby created the group in the ‘70s, but Kirby never did much with him, and subsequent creators sort of followed.  Mantis essentially just exists when writers need a New God for the heroes to battle without throwing off whatever’s going on with the New Gods that actually matter.  Despite that, Mantis inexplicably has four action figures.  Who’d have thunk?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mantis was released as part of the amusingly typo-ed “Attack from Apolkolips” 6-pack from Mattel’s Justice League Unlimited line.  That’s the best name I’ve seen since the good old days of “Muntant Armor.”  The figure stands 4 3/4 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  He’s built on the large male body (patterned after the original Justice League Superman), which is a good fit for the character.  He’s got a brand-new head sculpt, and though it’s made of rather rubbery plastic, it’s actually a pretty decent piece, rather deftly recreating Mantis’ design from the series.  Mantis’ “wings” are handled here has a cloth cape piece.  In a line of figures that used almost exclusively sculpted pieces for such things, this seems a little out of place, especially since it’s not a particularly *good* cloth cape.  There’s no hem on the outside, and it’s held in place by some rather obvious clips.  Organic flow is not among this figures strong suits.  The paint work on Mantis is decent enough; his colors all match up well with the on-screen ones, and the greens are nice and complimentary.  There’s a little bit of slop on his face and mask, but he’s otherwise pretty clean, and the detail lines on his costume are quite sharply defined.  Mantis included no accessories, but this was within the norm for the multi-pack figures.  Also, having seen a number of the accessories that were included with the single-carded figures, I can hardly feel like I missed out on anything.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

My interest in JLU had largely waned by the time this set came along, so I didn’t buy it new.  This guy was bought all on his lonesome from Yesterday’s Fun, during my family vacation last summer.  He’s not an exceptional figure or anything, but he’s not awful either.  He’s about average for this line, which I guess is about as much as you can expect.

#1624: Batman

BATMAN

TOTAL JUSTICE (KENNER)

“Batman – and alter ego millioinaire industrialist Bruce Wayne – relies on his superb athletic skills, excellent detective work and amazing crime-fighting devices to combat the forces of evil. Using his Fractal Techgear armor equipped with side rocket thrusters and rigid glider cape, the Dark Knight is able to soar through the night skies to take on evildoers.”

In the ‘90s, any DC product that wasn’t Batman was a serious rarity.  Less than a decade after the expansive Super Powers line, Kenner’s only full DC line was Total Justice, a line that didn’t even manage to get us a whole Justice League line-up.  Still, it was all we had, and we liked it, darn it.  So, what figure am I looking at from this decidedly non-Batman-centric line?  Batman, of course.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Batman was released in Series 1 of the Total Justice line, the first of two variants of the character available over the course of its run.  This one was the more standard of the two.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation, plus sliding glider wings.  I know what you’re thinking:  sliding glider wings?  Why on earth does Batman have sliding glider wings?  Your guess is as good as mine.  I guess Kenner just wanted to do something different.  Beyond the wings, we have a sculpt that is perhaps the most Total Justice-y Total Justice sculpt ever released.  Pre-posed doesn’t *begin* to describe this guy.  He’s contorted in all sorts of crazy ways.  Why?  Because he’s Batman, I guess.  On top of that, his muscles are insanely detailed and just about to tear through his costume.  His muscles have muscles.  He’s likely beaten up crime and stolen all of its muscles, just to augment his personal supply of muscles.  And then he used his fortune to buy a few more muscles on top of that.  Lot of muscles is what I’m getting at here.  The crazy thing about it all?  I actually kind of like it.  It’s crazy extreme, but the tiny details in areas like his boots and gloves are rather impressive.  As insane as this sculpt is, someone was clearly having fun with it.  The paint on Batman is decent enough, though it’s fairly basic stuff overall.  A lot of the color work is just molded plastic, but what paint’s there is cleanly applied.  Batman, like his line-mates, was packed with a bunch of goofy tactical armor.  Because what Batman really needs is a set of tech-y armor with a rocket mounted on each knee.  That’s so like him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I did not have this particular Batman growing up.  I *did* have the JLA repaint, but he didn’t have the fancy Tactical Armor, and what’s this Batman without the armor?  I picked this guy up from Lost In Time Toys, back during the holiday season, when they were running a 50% off sidewalk sale.  This figure is kind of ridiculous, but in the best possible way.

#1620: Kilowog

KILOWOG

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS (MATTEL)

The cool thing about the Green Lantern concept is that it allows for a whole lot of different Green Lanterns.  Don’t like Hal Jordan?  You don’t have to!  Don’t like *any* of the Earth-bound GLs?  Well, you’re in luck, because there’s a wonderful assortment of non-human Lanterns to choose from.  One of my personal favorites (and a lot of people’s personal favorite, truth be told), is Kilowog, who I’m looking at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Kilowog was the build-a-figure Collect-N-Connect for Series 11 of DC Universe Classics.  The series was overall Green Lantern-themed, apart from one or two odds and ends, so Kilowog made sense.  It was only his third figure, and only his second in this scale.  The figure stands 9 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  His mobility is mostly the same as the standard DCUC figures, but he’s missing any sort of lateral motion on his legs, which makes him a little stiff.  Nevertheless, it was certainly an improvement on both of his prior figures.  Kilowog was built on the bruiser CnC body, which was technically introduced with Brimstone (from the Public Enemies tie-in assortment), but was designed with both of them in mind.  It’s a pretty solid fit for Kilowog, apart from some slightly long arms.  It’s actually held up a bit better than the standard bodies.  It’s a shame that some of the elements, such as the more worked-in joints, never found their way into the smaller base bodies.  But, I guess that’s Mattel for you.  The character-specific parts, especially the head, are really solid sculpts.  The head has a lot of character and really nails Kilowog’s distinctive design, while also including some fantastic texturing on the exposes sections of skin.  The paintwork on Kilowog is on par with the rest of the figures from this era of the line, which is to say pretty good.  The basic colors are pretty bold, the application is clean, and there’s even some pretty decent accent work.  I might have liked a little more accenting on the head and neck, but it’s certainly serviceable as it is.  Kilowog included no accessories, but as essentially an accessory himself, it’s not terrible, especially since there’s not a ton to give him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Assembling Kilowog was quite an endeavor.  DC Universe Classics were never particularly well distributed, and this series was no exception.  Katma Tui was the only figure I actually found at retail.  The others I pieced together slowly, over the course of almost a decade.  It was only last year that I actually finished him, with some help from both my brother Christian and my friends at Cosmic Comix, who found me the last two figures I needed to finally complete this guy.  I’m glad I did, because he’s perhaps the finest Collect-N-Connect this line offered, and just a favorite of mine in general.

#1608: Green Lantern – Kyle Rayner

GREEN LANTERN – KYLE RAYNER

JLA: CLASSIFIED (DC DIRECT)

Despite getting into comics and such in the ‘90s, my first and favorite Green Lantern was *not* the then current holder of the role, Kyle Rayner.  I was aware of Kyle.  I had figures of Kyle (although, my small child brain hadn’t initially processed that he and Hal were not one and the same).  But I didn’t like him much.  At least not originally.  I’ve acquired an appreciation for him in more recent years, and also acquired a few more figures as well.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Kyle was released in Series 2 of DC Direct’s JLA: Classified line.  The whole assortment was ‘90s-themed, so Kyle in his classic costume was a perfect fit.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  Mobility was never at the forefront on these particular figures, and Kyle’s not really much of an exception.  He’s good for standing there and maybe some slight adjustments to the arms, but not much beyond that.  As with all of the figures in this line, Kyle’s sculpt is based on the style of Ed McGuinness.  I’m not actually sure McGuinness ever drew Kyle in this costume, or even at all, but he does seem to fit MgGuinness’s bolder illustration sensibilities.  I mean, he’s definitely a bit more of a beefcake than Kyle tends to be, but isn’t everyone when illustrated by Ed McGuinness.  He ends up using a lot of the same pieces as the Superman Blue/Red, but does get some unique parts for his head, gloves, and boots.  The head is actually one of my favorites from this subset of figures.  Apart from being perhaps slightly serious in expression for Kyle, it does a solid job of capturing the character, right down to his floppy ‘90s hair, and that goofy crab-mask thing.  Kyle’s paintwork is very clean, and very sharp.  The metallic green is actually a lot better than the sorts of metallic greens that you usually see, being much brighter and thus truer to the comics.  I also dig the slightly pearlescent finish to the white, which contrasts well with the flat black paint on the base body.  Kyle’s only accessory was a JLA: Classified-branded display stand.  A power battery might have been cool, but with the hands both being fists, I guess he couldn’t hold it anyway.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

At the time of this figure’s release, I was pretty well invested in DC Universe Classics, so I wasn’t really picking up any DCD figures.  As such, this guy went under my radar.  I’ve not really seen the figure since, but always was interesting in tracking him down at some point.  I ended up finding him loose at House of Fun this past November.  He’s a rather stylized figure, and certainly requires you to like this particular group of figures.  For me, I quite like him, and I’m happy to add another Kyle figure to my collection.

#1599: New Frontier Boxed Set

SUPERMAN, BATMAN, WONDER WOMAN, & GREEN LANTERN

DC’s NEW FRONTIER (DC DIRECT)

One of my favorite DC stories is Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier.  It’s a great period piece, with amazing artwork, and a great focus on a few of DC’s lesser followed characters.  It was fortunate enough to get a a whole line of figures focused on it back in the day, which remains one of my favorite products from DC Direct to this day.  I’ll be looking at a few of those figures today!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These four figures were released as a special boxed set to coincide with the release of the Justice League: New Frontier animated film in 2008.  All four figures had originally seen release in DCD’s New Frontier toyline from 2006, before being re-released (with minor tweaks) here.

SUPERMAN

This figure is essentially unchanged from his single-packed release.  Of course, I never got that one, so he’s new to me.  Cooke’s take on Superman is a nice merging of styles.  He’s the character I think best encapsulates the ‘50s feel of the story, and a lot of that comes from his slightly tweaked version of the classic Superman.  He’s got a definite Fleisher flair to him, which I definitely dig.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  Hardly a super-posable figure, but he can get into some decent standing poses.  His sculpt is definitely one of the best in the line.  The details are sharp, and the line work is very clean.  Cooke’s style has been translated very well here, and Clark looks like he’s been lifted right off the page.  The shaping of things like the hair and the cape, and even the wrinkles where his costume has bunched up in a few places, are just perfect matches for the way Cooke drew his take on Superman.  The figure is slightly preposed in nature, but it’s not super awkward or anything.  It is, instead, a slight off-shifted balance of his weight to one side, which provides quite a naturalistic stance.  The paint work on Superman is pretty solid work.  It’s cleanly applied, and the palette nicely matches the more subtle hues of the book’s colors.  The original Superman included a camera and a rather elaborate display stand.  This release only gets a more simple black display stand.

BATMAN

Batman is another figure that was essentially unchanged for this second release.  He is notably distinct from the Designer Series Batman.  That one was based on the ‘40s styled Batman from the first half of the story.  This one goes for the ‘50s styled Batman as he appears in the back half of the book.  I always found this an interesting choice, since a lot of Batman’s role is in that first half, thus making this figure the less prominent design.  The figure is, somewhat frustratingly, taller than Superman.  He’s also a bit bulkier overall, which just looks…strange.  Cooke certainly didn’t draw Batman as the larger of the two, so why DCD went this way is anyone’s guess.  In general, Batman’s sculpt is a bit of a mess.  I mean, there are certainly nice qualities to it.  The head’s pretty strong, and the whole figure still manages to get the style down pretty decently.  The big flaw of this figure is his pre-posed nature.  More specifically, it’s the fact that I’ve never been able to figure out exactly what pose he’s *supposed* to be in.  Absolutely nothing looks natural.  He’s got this sort of a chest-thrust thing going on, but nothing else about him seems to match up with that.  The end result is…less than appealing.  On the plus side, the paint’s pretty decent.  Application is clean, the colors match the comic, and it just generally looks pretty good.  Guess something had to.  As with Superman, Batman’s only accessory is a display stand.

WONDER WOMAN

Darwyn Cooke’s Wonder Woman is my very favorite take on the character, especially in terms of design.  He very deftly merged her classic design with a more battle-ready amazonian look, creating a rather unique design for the character.  All of the important elements remained, of course, and it’s actually a pretty great send-up to the early Wonder Woman illustrations.  This figure marks this set’s first real deviation from the single releases, and it’s perhaps one of the first times that DC Direct ever directly addressed a problem with an initial release.  Wonder Woman gets a new head, which is a slightly more generalized expression, replacing the more intense (and not quite as well implemented) expression of the original figure.  I definitely prefer this one to the original release, though it’s a shame DCD didn’t give another stab at a more intense look.  The rest of the sculpt is straight from the original figure, and it’s actually pretty good.  Like Batman, Wonder Woman goes far more preposed than Superman, but unlike Batman, it doesn’t totally suck.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  The stance is very befitting the battle-happy Wonder Woman of the story.  The details of the sculpt are pretty fantastic, and I especially like the nicks and gashes taken out of her bracelets and shin guards.  Wonder Woman’s paint work is once again pretty decent.  It’s clean, and actually pretty bright, and slightly less subdued than the others in this set, which is appropriate for the character.  The original Wonder Woman release included an extra head, as well as a sword, lasso, and display stand.  This one doesn’t have the extra head, but does still get the sword and lasso, as well as the smaller display stand.

GREEN LANTERN

Hal Jordan is really the closest New Frontier comes to a main character.  You’ll note I said Hal Jordan, and not Green Lantern, since Hal isn’t really GL until the last chapter of the story.  Of course, the costumed look is a bit easier to sell than just Hal in a flight suit, I’d suspect.  This figure is about 6 1/2 inches tall and has 15 points of articulation, the most of any of the figures in the set.  He has my second favorite sculpt in the set, second only to the Superman figure in that regard.  Once again, the line work is simple and clean, and Cooke’s style is expertly recreated here.  The posing to this figure is very subtle, but adds a lot of life to the figure.  I like the friendlier expression seen here, as it definitely fits with Hal’s depiction in the book.  The paint work on GL is the one notable change from the original figure.  The biggest change is giving him the green on his shoulders, meaning this is actually a Hal from later on in his career, presumably sometime after the story.  Technically, this change doesn’t quite match the sculpt, but it’s subtle enough not to really matter too much.  In addition, the green used on this figure has a bit less yellow in it, which makes him look a little cleaner to me.  The original GL figure included an extra unmasked head, as well as his power battery, and the display stand.  This figure only gets a smaller display stand.  It’s a shame his extras got cut.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up a good number of the New Frontier figures when they were originally released, but somehow I managed to miss both Superman and Wonder Woman from the first series.  I remember this set being released, but I passed on it because I already had Batman and GL.  By the time I’d become willing to accept the pair of duplicates, the boxed set and the original releases had both picked up a fairly heft after market value.  As I’ve mentioned a few times in the last few months, Cosmic Comix purchased a rather sizable action figure collection last year.  This set was amongst that purchase, and the guys at CCX were nice enough to sell it to me for quite a markdown from its usual going rate.  I’m happy to finally have Superman and Wonder Woman, and I quite like this variant of GL.  Batman still sucks, but what can you do?

#1595: Mantis

MANTIS

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS (MATTEL)

“Mantis is a servant of Darkseid, ruler of Apokolips, the planet of ultimate evil, and his power may rival that of his master.  When Darkseid sent Mantis to Earth to locate the Anti-Life Equation, the means to control all sentient life throughout the universe, Mantis schemed to conquer the planet himself instead.  Cursed with an insatiable lust for power, Mantis would be just as happy to see Darkseid defeated as he would to see Apokolips triumph.”

In addition to being very much focused on the odd-ball characters of the DC Universe, DC Universe Classics was also committed to being a recreation of Kenner’s Super Powers line from the ‘80s.  Initially, it was just thematically and somewhat stylistically, but eventually, sub-text became full text, and each assortment was given one direct Super Powers recreation.  Today’s figure is one of those.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mantis was released in Series 9 of DC Universe Classics.  As he was a pre-existing New Gods character who just got a hefty redesign for Super Powers, there were actually two variants of Mantis in this assortment.  The one seen here is, as mentioned above, the Super Powers design, which traded in the somewhat goofy spandex for a cool sci-fi robot thing.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  Despite what you might think, being a variant and all, the only parts shared between this and the classic Mantis are the upper arms, upper torso (albeit completely covered by an overlay), and knees, all of which are just the standard medium body pieces.  Everything else was brand-new to this guy, as it well should be.  It’s definitely one of the most impressive sculpts the line had to offer.   It captures the ‘80s figure’s design very well, but also scales it up, adds some extra details, and just generally modernizes the whole thing.  The only real problem I have is actually the re-use; the shoulders just end up looking a little bit out of place with the rest of the figure.  Still, not at all bad for a Mantis figure.  Paintwork on Mantis is pretty impressive as well.  There’s a lot of very bright, very bold color work, so he’ll definitely jump out on the shelf.  He’s also got a whole ton of accent work, including some slight airbrushing to keep things from getting too bland.  He really does represent the line at its peak.  Mantis was packed with the arm of Chemo, the Collect-N-Connect for this particular series, and nothing else.  Not sure there’s really much else you could have given him, though.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Mantis is another recent addition.  Series 9 suffered from some pretty fierce distribution problems, so I never found a lot of them at retail.  Fortunately, Cosmic Comix recently bought someone’s DCUC collection, so I’ve been able to pick up a lot of the figures I’ve missed.  I actually grabbed this figure back on Small Business Saturday, in an effort to be supportive.  Mantis is definitely a fun figure, and I’m certainly happy to have finally gotten him!