#1319: Joker

THE JOKER

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS

“The Clown Prince of Crime is Batman’s deadliest and most unpredictable foe. Rumored to be a failed stand-up comedian turned petty criminal who fell into a vat of chemical waste while escaping from the scene of a crime – that incident turned his skin white and his hair green. Batman knows the Joker is certifiably insane, which makes the end result of his action  that much more deadly.”

A common complaint of DC Universe Classics was about its over-reliance on oddball, C and D-list characters that most of the general public hadn’t heard of, and the subsequent delaying of heavy hitter characters until too far into the line’s run.  Case in point: the Joker.  Batman’s greatest foe, and we had to wait more than a year to get him (made especially egregious by Harley Quinn’s presence in Series freaking 2).  Obviously, in a line like this, you want to hold some heavy hitters back, but 10 series seems like a bit much.  But, with the line wrapped and gone, at least he got a figure.  I’ll be looking at that figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Joker was released in Series 10 of DC Universe Classics.  I’ve been reviewing a lot of this particular series lately.  Not for any particular reason, or anything; just luck of the draw I suppose.  As I’ve noted in prior reviews, the series was the line’s second Walmart-exclusive series.  While it was far less scarce than the first, it still seems a little odd that DC’s most recognizable villain was relegated to a store-exclusive release.  There’s a reason this guy has one of the heftier aftermarket prices in the line.  Anyway, the figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  Joker is seen here in an appearance that’s about as classic as he can get (specifically, he’s modeled after his Super Powers figure as this was really when the line was leaning hard into the recreation of Super Powers).  He’s built on the body that was introduced with Gentleman Ghost, which was designed with Joker in mind.  In that effect, the cut of the suit matches up pretty well with classic depictions of Joker.  The body showcases a lot of Mattel’s troubles with working articulation into a sculpt naturally.  It’s nowhere near as bad as some of their more recent work, but it’s definitely not the strongest showing from DCUC.  On the plus side, it’s not awful to look at, especially if you chose a decent pose.  He had a unique head and neck, which are definitely the star pieces of this figure.  He also has a tweaked jacket, which removes the cape from Gentleman Ghost and adds a flower to his lapel.  It’s an okay piece, but slightly marred by the weird panel in the back where the cape was originally attached.  Why does Mattel insist on attaching capes with that huge rectangular peg?  I don’t think I’ll ever know.  The paint work on the figure’s actually pretty good.  The colors are nice and bold, and there’s some really well-executed accenting, especially on the hair and the vest.  The pinstripes on the legs could probably stand to be a little straighter, but they look decent enough.  Joker was actually pretty well accessorized.  He includes a joker-head cane, some playing card, a laughing fish, and a large green mallet (deliberately pattered after the one included with the Super Powers figure).  They were all pretty solid extras, among the best in the line.  He also included the right leg of Imperiex, the Series’ CnC.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Joker came from the same assortment of trips to Walmart with my Dad that netted me the previously reviewed Beast Boy.  I don’t recall the exact circumstances, but he was definitely a later find, since he was the most sought after initially.  He’s not one of my favorite DCUC figures, but that’s hardly because he’s bad.  He’s actually very well executed, apart from the slightly lackluster handling of the articulation.  For me, he just suffered from being “yet another Joker” in a series full of brand-new characters, but I suppose I’m a bit counter to most fans in that respect.

#1309: Beast Boy

BEAST BOY

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS

“While traveling to Africa with his scientist parents, Garfield Logan fell victim to a deadly virus and was saved via an experimental treatment that tuned his skin and hair green, in addition to granting him the ability to transform into any animal he imagined. After his parents died in a boating accident, Gar was taken in by the Doom Patrol, a team of misfit heroes that helped him to master his powers.”

It’s kind of odd that his bio mentions the Doom Patrol, but not the Teen Titans.  I’m not complaining, just noting that that’s the way they went.  In regards to DC Universe Classics, I’ve looked at Negative Man, Elasti-Girl, and Robotman.  The only Doom Patrol member they released that I haven’t yet looked at is the aforementioned Beast Boy, adopted son of Elasti-Girl (but we don’t seem to talk about that anymore), and, more prominently, member of the New Teen Titans.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Beast Boy hit in the Walmart-exclusive Series 10 of DC Universe Classics, alongside fellow Doom Patroller Robotman.  The figure stands about 5 1/2 inches tall and has 25 points of articulation.  The sizing on this guy is confusing to say the least.  He’s effectively wearing his costume from the Teen Titans cartoon, which was worked into the comics when Gar rejoined the Doom Patrol after “One Year Later.”  When Gar was wearing this costume in the comics, he was a full-grown adult, but this figure builds him on the small teen male body (introduced on the Series 3 Robin figure), as if he were just the version of BB from the cartoon.  This wouldn’t be a huge issue if the BB-specific parts weren’t clearly meant to be emulating the older Gar from the “One Year Later” storyline, and built with the proportions of an adult.  So, the end result is a Beast Boy that just sort of seems out of scale with just about everything.  I’m fine with Gar being a little smaller than the rest of the Patrol, but a full inch difference seems a little excessive, and he’s actually just flat-out in the wrong scale.  What’s really frustrating is that the actual sculpt really isn’t that bad.  He’s a pretty solid recreation of Gar from this period in the comics, and has a lot of nice little small details, such as the arm hair on his forearms, and even the really sharp work on his shoes.  The hair is a separate piece, which makes its contrast really sharp, and the ears even have the point they gained in later designs.  It’s clear a lot of effort went into this sculpt; he’s simply too small.  The figure’s paint is pretty solid, at least; the colors are a good match for both the comic and the cartoon, and everything is applied pretty cleanly.  There’s not a lot to mess up here, and Mattel succeeded in not messing it up.  Good for them.  Beast Boy included a green falcon (re-used from the MotUC line), meant to emulate his shape-shifting abilities, as well as the right arm of the series’ Collect-N-Connect, Imperiex.  Woo.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Beast Boy is one of the earlier figures I got from this series.  Just after it started hitting Walmart, my dad and I had a few trips just checking our local stores, and he was one of the ones we found.  I’ve always liked Beast Boy, and at the time I was super pumped about getting the Doom Patrol as action figures.  I can acknowledge some of this figure’s merit, and I certainly don’t hate him, but he disappoints me greatly.  He’s kind of a perfect example of DCUC in a nutshell; great in theory, and in 95% of the execution, but there was just enough leeway for Mattel to find a way to screw him up.  They were so close, and yet still so far.

#1258: Robotman

ROBOTMAN

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS (MATTEL)

Wasn’t I just talking about DC Universe Classics a few days ago?  Okay, technically it was only in passing, since Catwoman was actually from one of the spin-off lines.  The main line is particularly noteworthy due to just how deep into the DC Universe it went (something that may have contributed to its downfall in the end, unfortunately).  One of my personal favorite subsets from the line was the Doom Patrol, who are one of my favorite DC teams.  I’ve looked at Negative Man and Elasti-Girl, but now it’s time for me to take a look at the team’s final founding (and most consistently present) member, Cliff Steele, better known as Robotman!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Robotman was released in Series 10 of DC Universe Classics, which was the second Walmart-exclusive series in the line.  He was the first member of the Doom Patrol to be released, which was rather sensible, as he’s probably the most popular of the main three.  The figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  There are a few different Robotman looks to choose from, but Mattel went for his classic ‘60s design.  It’s definitely a wise choice; it’s easily his best design, and it’s one he’s returned to a number of times over the years.  Cliff is built on the medium male body, with his own unique head, hands, and upper torso.  The new pieces all fit pretty seamlessly with the pre-existing stuff, and it all does a really great job of capturing Cliff’s retro-sci-fi design.  The head is a pretty decent piece; it’s not quite as streamlined as Cliff frequently was in his classic appearances, but it’s a pretty close match.  That slightly less streamlined appearance is also there due to the removable scalp, which allows us a view at Cliff’s brain.  It’s a pretty fun little touch, which takes this figure from average to awesome.  The upper those isn’t too far removed from the basic piece, but adds a few of Cliff’s extra robotic bits, as well as the video monitor that allowed the Chief to keep in contact with the team when they were on missions.  Also, since the upper torso includes the ridges above each shoulder, some of the shoulder’s size is masked, thus remedying what I find to be the weakest aspect of the basic DCUC body.  Cliff’s paintwork is some of the cleanest DCUC had to offer.  In the comics, he was always just orange, but here he’s more of a copper sort of color, which looks really slick in person.  The black shorts preserve his robot modesty (and also break up the colors a little bit), and there’s some really sharp detailing on the monitor.  The straps for the monitor are a little rough around the edges, but not horribly so.  Robotman’s only extra was the torso of the series Collect-N-Connect figure Imperiex.  It would have been kind of cool to maybe get an extra robotic Chief head from when he replaced Cliff on one of the missions, since poor Niles was never going to get his own figure.  But, that’s honestly pretty issue-specific, and probably a bit much for a character that was already lucky just to be getting a figure at all.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I found most of Series 10 at retail when it was released, but I never had any luck with Robotman.  It was made worse by the fact that I really needed to find a pair of them, since my Dad’s a huge Doom Patrol fan too.  Fortunately, my good friends at All Time Toys came through for me, and I was able to find two Cliff figures for a reasonable price.  Robotman is a great example of the sort of awesome stuff this line could do when they actually put in the effort.  He’s a lower tier character with exceptional execution, and just a really fun figure all around.  As much as I rag on Mattel, this guy is really one of my favorites, and the whole Doom Patrol set is just really fantastic.