#1813: Hawk & Dove

HAWK & DOVE

JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED (MATTEL)

Jeez, when are the Teen Titans going to stop masquerading as the Justice League?  First Cyborg, now these guys?  Okay, actually, first these guys, by a little bit…unless we’re going to count Super Friends…but then it’s actually first Robin….I’m getting sidetracked.

For Justice League Unlimited’s expansive roster, the creators actually searched just about every corner of the DC Universe for characters not otherwise tied up.  While most of the Titans characters were tied up in their show, for whatever reason, Hawk and Dove weren’t, so they got tapped for Unlimited, getting their main focus in the appropriately titled “Hawk and Dove.”  They also got some figures out of it, which would end up being the very first figures of the pair.  Not too shabby at all!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Hawk and Dove were released in the second round of Justice League Unlimited figures, in a three pack that was rounded out by a re-issue of Wonder Woman.  Given her prominent role in the duo’s eponymous episode, she was a decent choice to pair off.  But, she was just a slight tweak on a character I already had, so I’ve subsequently gotten rid of her.

HAWK

First up, it’s Hank Hall, aka Hawk.  The older and gruffer of the two, he’s also voiced by Fred Savage, of Wonder Years and Princess Bride fame.  Pretty nifty!  The figure stands 4 3/4 inches tall and has 5 points of articulation.  Hawk was built on JLU’s larger male body, which was a retooling of the Superman base.  It’s a decent fit for Hawk, especially as he’s depicted in the show.  It’s worth noting that, the way the pieces work out, Hawk actually ends up with more new parts than most in this line.  He’s got a unique head, of course, but also has a slightly tweaked torso and arms, which allow for the attachment of his “cape” and gloves.  The cape piece I get needing a unique piece for, but the arms are a little surprising, given this line’s penitent for just painting details on.  Of course, I’m certainly not complaining.  Hawk’s paintwork is pretty straightforward and clean.  The red matches the show, and pairs well with the white, presenting an all-around nice looking figure.

DOVE

Hank’s younger brother Don took up the mantle of Dove…at least he was replaced by Dawn Granger following Don’s death during Crisis.  Convenient that they were able to find someone with such a similar name, huh?  On the show, Don was played by Jason Hervey, Fred Savage’s on-screen brother in The Wonder Years.  Family reunion!  Dove is built on the skinny male body, retooled from the Flash body.  It’s definitely a perfect match for Dove’s build from the show.  While Hawk got a bunch of new parts, Dove only gets a new head sculpt.  Fortunately, it’s a really strong sculpt—a pitch-perfect match for his animation model.  Dove’s paintwork is similar to Hawk’s, as you would expect.  It’s also cleanly applied, and the white is thick enough to not have any bleed-through from the blue plastic, which definitely shows some quality work on Mattel’s part.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

“Hawk and Dove” is one of my favorites amongst the earliest episodes of Unlimited, so I was slightly bummed when they were absent from the first assortment.  Their presence in the second series was definitely a plus.  As luck would have it, they were the first set I found, at a Walmart on the way back from a family vacation.  Both of the figures included are pretty strong, definitely amongst the best Mattel produced in this line.

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#1713: Animal Man

ANIMAL MAN

JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED (MATTEL)

“When a teenage Buddy Baker went hunting in the Adirondacks, he found more than big game – he found an alien spacecraft! After being exposed to its strange radiation, Buddy found he could take on the powers and characteristics of any nearby animal – down to regenerating severed limbs, like an earthworm. He has faced many surreal menaces, traveled through space, and seen his entire reality torn apart more than once, but he always remains plain old Buddy Baker, family man and occasional hero – an oasis of sanity in the stranger corners of the DC Universe.”

Though Justice League Unlimited covered most corners of the DC Universe, there were a few characters left notably absent.  In many cases, it was where duplication of powers or gimmicks came into play, and a more minor character was chosen because of production team preferences.  One such instance was Animal Man, whose role as an animal expert was passed off to the more minor B’wanna Beast.  But at least Buddy found himself in the toyline.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Animal Man came from towards the end of the Justice League Unlimited line, after it had left retail and moved to Matty Collector.  Buddy was part of a three-pack which also included Adam Strange and a blue variant of the Prince Gavyn Starman.  It’s almost a sensible pack-out, were the last sylable in that last name “fire” instead of “man,” but oh well.  Buddy had no official JLU design, since he never appeared on the show, so this figure just animates his usual design.  The figure stands 4 3/4 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  He’s built on the medium-sized male body, and re-uses the sleeved jacket arms from Mr. Terrific.  He also gets a brand-new head sculpt and a new jacket add-on piece, replicating his denim jacket from the comics.  The head is definitely a nice piece, and it’s well-fitted to the body.  There’s a nice friendly sort of smile that seems appropriate for the character.  The jacket piece is cool, because it could have easily been left out, and instead been replaced with another repaint of the Mr. Terrific piece.  The unique piece adds a character specific flair to the figure, that makes him that much more impressive.  Animal Man’s paintwork is clean, crisp, and very bold.  The shiny black on the gloves and boots looks particularly sharp.  Animal Man included no accessories, but that’s about normal for the line.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

By the time this set was released, I had mostly abandoned the JLU line, so I didn’t get Animal Man new.  Instead, I got him last year from the largest antique mall in the country, on one the many long coastal drives I made over the course of last summer.  He’s a very nice figure, and I’m glad I tracked him down.

#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.

#1587: Green Lantern

GREEN LANTERN

JUSTICE LEAGUE (MATTEL)

When assembling the final line-up for the Justice League animated series, the creators were faced with two slight issues.  First, the traditional roster of seven members was, apart from one woman and one alien, all white guys, which isn’t particularly diverse.  Second, the traditional roster was made up of characters with very set roles in the public eye, which doesn’t necessarily allow for lots of creative freedom in storytelling.  They solved both of these problems with a minor line-up tweak.  Founding member Aquaman was replaced with the lesser known Hawkgirl, and Green Lantern Hal Jordan was replaced with his less explored successor John Stewart.  It proved a success not just for the creators, but also for the two characters chosen.  For John Stewart in particular, it took him from being probably the least known of the Earth-based Lanterns to being THE Green Lantern for an generation of DC fans.  Sadly, he’s somewhat fallen out of fashion again, but let’s remember back to the times when he was at the top, shall we?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Green Lantern was part of the first series of Mattel’s Justice League line.  Alongside Superman and Batman, he and Flash were definitely the lesser knowns, and as such was the short packs of the lot, which made GL a little hard to track down at first.  Fortunately, the popularity of both the show and the character saw this particular figure getting more than a few re-releases over the years.  The figure stands just shy of 4 1/2 inches tall (GL was the shortest of the founding 7 members, so this was accurately depicted here), and he has 5 points of articulation.  His sculpt was, like all of the Series 1 and 2 figures, done by DC Direct, and then handed over to Mattel when they won the DC license.  It’s really just a shrinking down of DCD’s GL Maquette from the time of the show’s premier, but that was a solid rendition of the character, and it still is on this figure.  The articulation’s not really good for a whole lot, and was certainly a low count, even at the time.  Nevertheless, it was consistent with the prior Kenner/Hasbro animated offerings, and it was really the best that could be hoped for in terms of preserving the aesthetics of the animated design.  As far as paintwork went, GL was pretty straightforward.  I always felt the main green could have stood to be a little lighter (and, going by its shading on the show, it probably should have been metallic), but it’s ultimately a decent offering.  One minor flaw?  His eyes have black pupils.  In the show, they were green, showing the effects of the power ring.  Future figures had this corrected, but this guy just has green irises instead.  Green Lantern was packed with a blue stand, which connected with those of the other main League-ers, to spell out the team’s name.  Lantern gets “JU” so he’s meant to go at the front.  It’s a decent piece, but a bit cumbersome for display purposes.  Sadly, that was all he had; no power battery or constructs for this release.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

While I was able to score a Flash figure pretty quickly when these figures first hit, GL proved to be slightly more difficult to find.  Fortunately, I was able to get some assistance from my friend Cindy Woods, who tracked down a GL for me in fairly short order.  He’s not the greatest John Stewart figure (though he’s certainly a large improvement over the last one I looked at on this site), but he was good for the time, and has remained a favorite of mine.

#1412: Micron

MICRON

JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED (MATTEL)

By the time Batman Beyond hit the air, Hasbro had fully absorbed Kenner and had also given up almost entirely on actually doing complete tie-in toy lines for the DC cartoons.  So, their Beyond line was mostly comprised of weird variants of the title character, with only a handful of supporting players offered, and even then in very altered states.  The Beyond characters largely went un-released until Mattel decided to expand the reach of their Justice League Unlimited line, and go beyond just items based on that show.  It’s only fair that this expanded line would include members of the team actually *called* the Justice League Unlimited, which covers today’s figure, Micron, the team’s legacy replacement for the Atom!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Micron was released in 2012 as part of Mattel’s Justice League Unlimited line.  He was originally packed alongside his teammate Aquagirl and the future version of Static Shock.  Both he and Aquagirl never actually showed up in Justice League Unlimited, but at this point, the line had more of an anthology thing going on.  The figure stands about 4 1/4 inches tall and has 5 inches tall.  He was built using the small male body, with a new head.  While the base body was decent enough for Micron in terms of build, he definitely seems a little small.  Just one of the sacrifices of doing a line based on this sort of model, I suppose.  Also, as a later in the line figure, he’s got the really weak ankles that plagued a lot of these guys, meaning he falls over at the drop of a hat.  It gets rather annoying.  The head is a pretty nice recreation of Micron’s look from “The Call,” though it does seem a touch too big for the body.  Still, not terrible.  The rest of the work is all in the paint, which is pretty decent overall.  The application is clean, and work on his logo is certainly sharp.  The red’s a good shade, but the blue seems a little light.  It’s hard to say, because in the show, the blue sections of his costume were actually black with blue highlights, so how that’s supposed to translate into an actual figure is anyone’s guess.  Micron included no accessories, not even a little mini Micron, which seems like a real missed opportunity.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When “The Call” aired originally, I actually missed most of part 1, meaning I missed almost the entirety of Micron’s role in the show.  It wasn’t for several years that I actually got to see him in action.  As a fan of the Atom, I was always intrigued by his design, and certainly would have gotten a figure of him when the show was still on.  By the time Mattel released this guy, I had largely given up on JLU, and wasn’t really following it.  I ended up getting this guy just this past summer, fished out of a bin of loose figures at Yesterday’s Fun.  He’s not super thrilling, or anything, but he’s not a bad figure.

#1236: Aztek

AZTEK

JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED (MATTEL)

As much as I talk down on Mattel, it should be noted that I still hold some of the stuff they’ve done in pretty high esteem.  In particular, their run on the Justice League Unlimited line, while far from perfect, did get us a whole lot of minor DC characters who would have never seen toys any other way.  Such is the case with Aztek, a character from the ‘90s who never really took off, but has always had a pretty steady fanbase.  He made a few brief appearances in JLU, and it was enough to net him a figure, which I’ll be looking at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Aztek was initially released in the second series of three-packs from Mattel’s Justice League Unlimited line, where he was packed with Superman and Sinestro.  Why those two?  Your guess is as good as mine.  It’s worth noting that the packaging for this set incorrectly listed his name as “Aztec,” which is the name of the civilization, not the character.  Good research there Matty.  Aztek was later released single-carded, and his name was correct there, so I guess they learned.  The figure stands about 4 3/4 inches tall and has the usual 5 points of articulation.  He was built on the medium-sized male body (a retooled Green Lantern mold), with a unique head and arms, as well as the legs of Red Tornado and an add-on for his chest piece.  The new pieces were all pretty solid work.  The head’s sort of stuck looking a bit up all the time, but I suppose there are worse things.  The add-on for the torso lines up surprisingly well with the sculpted shoulder pads of the arms, so that’s actually pretty cool, as are the details on the gauntlets.  The paintwork on Aztek is decent.  It was a bit better when he was still brand new, as he’s plagued by the same issue that so many gold-painted figures from this era tend to be plagued by.  At one point, his shoulders matched with the torso, but no longer.  I’m still iffy on the whole concept of metallic colors on the animated figures at all, but I guess it is what it is.  Aztek included no accessories (unless you count the other two figures in the set), as was the norm with figures in the three-packs.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up Aztek (and his pack-mates) back when he was new.  I believe I found him at a Walmart outside of Dewey Beach, while on a brief weekend trip with my family.  I was a pretty big collector of the line at the time, so I was pretty pumped to have found the set in stores, especially after the rarity of most of the first series three-packs.  Ultimately, I don’t know much about Aztek or have a ton of attachment to him, but this figure’s decent enough, and is on par with JLU when it was at its best.

#1156: Justice Guild

THE STREAK, TOM TURBINE, BLACK SIREN, & GREEN GUARDSMAN

JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED (MATTEL)

justiceguild1

Some of the best characters are the ones that come about because creative teams aren’t allowed to use a pre-existing character.  One of the most famous examples of this is Watchmen, which was originally meant to make use of DC’s recently acquired Charlton characters.  DC seems to do this to their creators rather frequently, as this also cropped up a few times during the course of the DC Animated Universe.  My particular favorite of these was The Justice Guild of America, from the Justice League episode “Legends.”  The episode was originally drafted with the Justice Society in mind, but was ultimately changed when DC decided the direction of the story didn’t fit how they wanted the JSA portrayed.  Fortunately, this worked out pretty well, as it gave the creators more free reign with the characters, and resulted in one of the most entertaining entries in Justice League.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These four were released as one of Matty Collector-exclusive four-packs from Mattel’s Justice League Unlimited line.  Now, it’s a Mattel review, so you’re probably already expecting a bit of Mattel hate.  Well, here it is:  Who in their right mind releases a four-pack based on a five member team?  On top of that, one of the four members released here is Black Siren, who is part of a duo with the unreleased member Catman.  The back of her box even has Catman in both of the screen shots of her!  Were they just rubbing it in our faces?  Seeing as the four-packs were actually just four single-carded figures packed together, and thus there wasn’t an issue of needing to redo the packaging, couldn’t they just have made this a five-pack?  Or, if they really felt the need to go with arbitrary number schemes, couldn’t they have just made it a six-pack and just thrown in a Green Lantern figure to round the set out?  No, that would be sensible.  Can’t have that, especially not on a Matty Collector-exclusive.  It wouldn’t be right!  Okay, I vented, let’s actually look at the figures.

THE STREAK

justiceguild2The Streak possessed super speed and was the leader of the Justice Guild of America, a team of Super Heroes from a simpler time.  Things got complicated when a group of strange heroes calling themselves the Justice League visited their home town of Seaboard City.” The Streak is the Guild’s answer to Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash.  As such, he takes a lot of design cues from Garrick, but trades out Jay’s more unique helmet for an old-school racing helmet. The figure stands about 4 1/2 inches tall and has 5 points of articulation.  He’s built on the mid-sized body (patterned on Green Lantern’s sculpt), which is a good fit for him.  He has an all-new head, as well as new legs to add in his boot cuffs.  The new pieces do a pretty good job of capturing his look on the show, and the head in particular is a very good rendition of the Streak’s look.  The paint on the Streak is bright, clean, and bold, which are all good things.  The red is noticeably brighter than the JLU version of the Flash (as it should be).  As a whole, this is a design that looks really good as an action figure.

TOM TURBINE

justiceguild4A power belt allowed Tom Turbine to generate energy as needed.  He and The Justice Guild protected Seaboard City for years, though between missions he continued to work on his pet project: a gateway capable of piercing the dimensional barriers between multiple earths!” Tom Turbine actually has a couple of analogues in the JSA.  While he actually replaced Al Pratt’s the Atom in “Legends,” and borrows from the Atom in a few areas of design, as well as stature, he also has a similar power set and limitations to Hourman, as well as the general demeanor of Mr. Terrific.  This results in him being by far the most unique of the five Justice Guilders, as well as the most rounded.  He’s built on the same medium body as the Streak, but the only piece that’s actually shared is the torso.  The head, arms, and legs are all unique to this figure, and he’s also got an add-on for his belt.  These new pieces are alright, though I can’t say any of them are as spot-on as the Streak.  The legs make him a little shorter, but it’s not actually enough to be all that noticeable.  I do like that the arms have two fists, since that’s sort of key to the character, but I can’t help but sort of wish they’d just sculpted them into the hands on the hips pose he sported a few times in the episode, since it’s not like the articulation’s good for anything anyway.  The head’s really where the accuracy slips up a bit.  It’s close, but just too squared off for Tom, who was slightly rounder in the face.  Tom’s paintwork is pretty solid.  The colors match up with those seen on the show, and everything’s pretty clean.  The change between the neck and the yellow of his shirt isn’t quite as overt as I’d like, but it’s hard to say what they could have done to fix that.

BLACK SIREN

justiceguild5A nuclear blast destroyed the world Black Siren fought to protect, along with the other members of the Justice Guild.  Then the world and the Guild were back, returned to life by the mental powers of Ray Thompson.  When the truth was revealed, the Guild has to destroy everything again – including themselves.”  Okay, seriously?  That’s Black Siren’s bio?  It’s not even about Black Siren!  It’s just a synopsis of “Legends” (and not even a particularly good one, at that).  I’m guessing Siren got the short end of the stick on bios, since any actual bio for her would have to mention Catman, and we wouldn’t want to remind everyone we left him out.  Of course, this bio mentions Ray, who was also never released, so zero points there.  Second round of venting done.  Okay, so Black Siren was based on Black Canary, who would eventually be properly brought into the show when the roster was expanded.  Her partnership with Catman is patterned on Black Canary’s frequent partnering with Wildcat (another thing that would be properly brought into the show later down the line).  Ultimately, Black Siren is kind of the shallowest character introduced in “Legends,” with her main purpose being to showcase the casual sexism of a bygone era.  Anyway, her figure is built on the standard female body, which wasn’t really one of the stronger bases they had at their disposal.  The legs are oddly spaced, causing the arms to bash into them, and pretty much all of the articulation is useless.  For her part, Black Siren got a unique head sculpt, which is a reasonable enough piece, I suppose.  The jawline seems a bit solid for Siren, but it’s not the worst.  Now, she really should also have a unique set of legs to properly replicate the boots, since those bands should be three-dimensional, but she just get’s the normal legs.  It seems odd that everyone else got all the pieces they needed and she didn’t.  The paintwork on Siren is pretty good overall.  The application is pretty solid and crisp.  Most of the colors match, but the lavender sections should be a more straight grey to be totally show accurate.  Siren is the only figure in the set to get an accessory: a display stand.  It’s good, because she can’t stand without it.  Of course, this is really the sort of thing that should have been standard for all of the figures.

GREEN GUARDSMAN

justiceguild3Powerless against anything aluminum, the Green Guardsman used his power ring to protect Seaboard City as a member of the Justice Guild.  A young John Stewart, who would grow up to become Green Lantern, read comic books of his adventures!” That’s a better bio, I suppose, but the bit about John seems really tacked on.  John doesn’t really interact with Green Guardsman at all.  So, in case it wasn’t obvious, Green Guardsman takes the place of Alan Scott, the Golden Age Green Lantern.  Like the other male figures in the set, Guardsman is built on the medium male body, with a unique head and an add-on piece for the cape.  The head’s okay, but probably the weakest of those included in the set.  It’s looks a little smooshed at the front.  The cape would actually go on to be shared with Alan Scott himself later on the line.  It’s a decent enough piece, but it makes him really difficult to keep standing.  The paintwork on Green Guardsman is about on par with the rest of the set.  It’s bright and bold, and the lifework is all pretty clean.  The only real nit is that the ring gets kind of lost on the hand.  Maybe an outline or something would have made it stand out?  Guardsman includes no accessories.  While that’s somewhat more forgivable with the others, this guy would have really benefited from some constructs or something.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When this set hit Matty Collector, I had pretty much completely checked out of the JLU line, and Matty Collector too.  Turns out, a pretty large portion of the collector-base had done the same thing, which meant this, and a lot of the other sets from the same time period ended up being marked down on Matty Collector and later closed out and made available at a number of other retailers.  I ended up finding these four at Power Comics on small business Saturday, for a rather good price.  I’m still not happy about Catman being left out, especially since he’s never, ever going to get a figure at this point.  That being said, the rest if the figures are pretty cool, and I guess some are better then none.

#0977: Flash

FLASH

JUSTICE LEAGUE (MATTEL)

FlashJLU1

Yeah, so I’m kinda running out of things to say about the DCAU. It was really good. Far better than anything else DC’s done in a very long time. There, I got that out of the way. When the DCAU’s fourth series, Justice League, premiered most of the cast were not household names. While the Flash was decently well-known, the show undoubtedly contributed to character’s current state of popularity. During Hasbro’s run with the DC license, they only released three Flash figures over the course of a decade (and two of them were the same figure with a slight change in paint). Thanks to Justice League , when Mattel took over, Flash was amongst the earliest figures they released. I’ll be looking at that particular figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

FlashJLU2Flash was released in the first half of the first series of Mattel’s Justice League line, alongside Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern. Both he and Green Lantern were short packed to two per case in initial shipments, so they were initially quite scarce. However, this basic Flash figure was released numerous times over the course of Mattel’s later Justice League line with virtually no changes. The figure stands 4 ½ inches tall and has 5 points of articulation. That articulation count was low even in 2002 (heck, ESPECIALLY in 2002, since that’s when Marvel Legends was started), but it both kept the figures somewhat consistent with the Kenner/Hasbro animated figures that preceded, and also preserved the figure’s overall aesthetic. The sculpt for Flash (and all of the other initial Justice League figures) was done not by anyone at Mattel, but rather by DC Direct (prior to Mattel’s holding of the DC license), who down-scaled their larger scale animation maquettes for the first seven figures. The end result is a figure that is quite faithful to Flash’s depiction on the show…mostly. Something’s always bugged me about the head, and I’ve never been quite able to put my finger on it. Other than that, the figure’s spot-on though. Flash’s paint is fairly simple. He’s molded in red, with painted details for the various yellow and white bits, as well as his face. The application is generally pretty clean, though he does have a bit of slop around the edge of his mask. In his initial release, Flash was packed with one of the light blue connecting stands that the first seven figures all came with, as well as a lenticular trading card.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Boy were the Justice League figures a long wait. Even after they finally made it to shelves (a year after the show’s premier), getting a hold of them, especially the short-packed Flash and Green Lantern, was no easy feat. I ended up lucking into Flash: there was a comic book store near the church where my aunt was getting married. My dad and I went there to kill some time and the store had just gotten in their case of these figures and had one each of the short-packs. He’s not a perfect figure, but he was the figure I wanted, and he was one of my favorite Flash figures for a few years. Even with the lessened articulation, he still looks pretty good.

#0930: Waverider

WAVERIDER

JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED

Waverider1Justice League Unlimited really pulled out all the stops when it came to obscure characters.  By most accounts, anytime they had a big crowd shot of heroes, they’d populate it by letting various crew members pick their favorite characters.  The end result was a rather eclectic selection of heroes, giving a brief spotlight to some of DC’s lowest tier characters.  And, thanks to Mattel’s corresponding line of tie-in figures, a lot of them lucked into their very first action figures.  One of those lucky guys was Waverider, whose big claim to fame is being the catalyst for DC’s “Armageddon 2001,” an event that was supposed to turn Captain Atom into one of the DCU’s big bads, but ended up going with Hawk instead.  To date, Waverider’s JLU figure is the only figure he’s received, but that’s not bad for a character that hasn’t been relevant since 1991.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Waverider2Waverider was released in the second series of Justice League Unlimited three-packs from Mattel.  He was packed with Flash and Hawkgirl, who were both re-releases of their single-release Justice League figures.  He also got a single release of his own later on in the line.  The figure stands just shy of 5 inches tall and has 4 points of articulation.  Technically, there’s a joint at the neck, but the way the hair is attached renders the joint motionless.  Waverider uses the mid-sized male body (used on figures such as Starman), with a unique head.  The head and hair are two separate pieces (allowing the flames of the hair to be molded in translucent plastic).  The head is fairly generic; he’s just a fairly average-looking bald guy, but he looks about like he should.  The hair is suitably energetic, and adds a nice bit of flair to him, though it always feels like it’s about to break off.  Paint always did the heavy lifting on the JLU line, and Waverider’s not an exception.  He’s honestly a bit drab.  In the comics, Waverider was always black and a yellow-ish gold, but here the gold has been swapped out for a washed-out yellow, that just doesn’t really pop.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The first series of JLU figures was rather difficult to find, so when I found the entire second series of them (Waverider included) while on vacation, my parents very kindly bought them for me (because they’re awesome like that).  At the time, I didn’t know the character at all, so it was fun getting to figure out who he was after the fact.  He’s not the most exciting figure of all time, but I have fond memories of getting him and his series mates.

#0910: Shade

SHADE

JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED

Shade1

While DC’s Golden Age heroes have all more or less managed to stay in the spot light over the years, the foes that those heroes faced haven’t been quite so lucky. Even hardcore DC fans will struggle to name more than a handful. One of the few to not totally get lost in the shuffle between the various “ages” was the Shade, thanks in no small part to being included in James Robinson’s run on Starman. Shade’s had three action figures over the years. Today, I’ll be looking at the one based on his appearance in the Justice League cartoon.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Shade2Shade was part of Mattel’s Justice League Unlimited line. He was initially released as a solo figure in 2007, but he was also re-released later in a three-pack with Cheetah and Lex Luthor. The figure stands 5 ¼ inches tall counting the hat, and he has 5 points of articulation. JLU was Mattel’s first instance of applying the buck system to a DC line, and Shade was no exception. He was built on the skinny male body (a re-tooled version of the Flash). It’s a decent fit for Shade, though he should probably be a little taller and skinnier. He has a new head, which does a pretty awesome job of translating Shade’s look from the show. There’s no mistaking him for anyone else. Shade also has an add-on piece on his chest, to represent his jacket from the show, but it doesn’t work very well. It’s ill-fitting and overly bulky, and lacks any really defined details. A newly sculpted torso, or even just proper application of paint on the basic torso would have been much better. As it stands, the look of the figure is really off, which is a shame, given the quality of the head sculpt. The paint on Shade is pretty straight forward: white on the face, black everywhere else. It’s not particularly exciting, and it’s also not accurate; Shade on the show had a few different finishes on his outfit, and at least part of it was a dark grey. The single packed Shade included his cane (which he’s unable to hold), while the three-pack version was without any extras.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Shade was a rather rare figure back when he was new, so I never got one. Last November, while participating in Small Business Saturday, my brother and I were in a small nick-knack shop, where he happened upon a Secret Wars Wolverine in a small bin on a low-sitting shelf. A quick look through the rest of the surrounding bins found me this guy, for $1.99. This figure is a bit of a mixed bag, but for 2 bucks, I’m willing to let him slide.