#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.

#0709: Starman

STARMAN

JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED

StarmanJLU1

Growing up, I was much more a DC fan than a Marvel fan*. This was due in no small part to my primary exposure to the DC Universe being at the hands of the various animated series, courtesy of Bruce Timm and company. For many (though not necessarily for me), the high point of the DCAU was Justice League Unlimited, which offered tales staring characters from every corner of the DC Universe, barring the more mature Vertigo stuff. Tons of characters appeared on the show in its two seasons, with some taking on actual roles in the story, but most ending up as little more than scenery. Today’s focus, Starman, was part of that second group. Also, he has absolutely nothing to do with the Jeff Bridges film, just to be clear.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

StarmanJLU2Starman was actually one of the earliest figures in Mattel’s JLU line, being part of the first assortment of figures. He was available two ways: on his own with a cosmic staff accessory or packed with Superman and Amazo, in a set based around the episode “The Return.” My figure comes from the set with Amazo and Superman. Starman doesn’t figure into the plot of “The Return” in any prominent way, but he is one of the many characters who gets a brief focus during the initial fight with Amazo. There have been many versions of Starman over the years, and this one’s based on the Prince Gavin version of the character, who starred in Adventure Comics during the 70s. The figure stands roughly 4 ½ inches tall and has 5 points of articulation. Starting with the first series of JLU, Mattel implemented one of their signature buck systems, in order to make producing the multitudes of characters appearing on screen just a little bit easier. Starman is built on the medium-sized body, which was a retooled version of the Justice League line’s Green Lantern body. It’s a good translation of the body style from the show, and it’s a good fit for Starman. One small drawback of this particular body is that one of the legs is shorter than the other, meaning he stands with a slight tilt. It’s a minor issue, but it’s one that affected every figure that used this body. Starman gets his own unique head sculpt, which is probably one of my favorites from the line. It replicates his wacky hair pretty well and features a lot of really sharp line work on the facial features. It’s a great translation of the animation model for the character. The paint takes up the bulk of the work in conveying his costume, which it does pretty nicely. The colors are nice and bold, and the line work is all pretty clean. The multi-pack version of Starman didn’t have accessories, unless you want to count Superman and Amazo.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The three-pack that contained Starman was my second item from the JLU line. The line was still pretty hard to find, so I ended up trading the Doombot from Marvel Legends of all things to get it. Perhaps not the greatest trade in the long run, but I already had a Doombot, so I didn’t mind. Starman remains one of my favorite figures from the line. I’ve always liked Gavin’s design, and it’s not like he’s got an excess of figures. This one captures the design quite nicely, which is awesome!

*Okay, that’s not entirely true. I was a pretty big Marvel fan during the back half of the 90s. It was the early 00s that turned me away from the company, before the Marvel Studios movies brought me back.

#0205: Hal Jordan, Sinestro, & Abin Sur

HAL JORDAN, SINESTRO & ABIN SUR

JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED

IMG_1737

It’s no secret that I’m a pretty big Green Lantern fan. Due to this, I own a metric ton of Green Lantern crap. Good or bad, I own it. There is, however, one Green Lantern item that I will never, ever, own. That is the Hal Jordan Green Lantern figure based on the character’s brief cameo in the Justice League Unlimited episode “Once and Future Thing.” Mattel decided to give this figure out as a gift to a number of Warner Brothers executives one year. I believe the number of figures in existence is in the low three-figures. Unsurprisingly, the figure rarely shows up on the aftermarket, and when one does, they go for prices far beyond what someone like me can reasonably pay.

So, I was bummed. I mean, Hal Jordan was one of my favorite characters of all time, and I would be unable to own him in the primary DC scale of the time. What a bummer! Then came the set I am reviewing today, offering me another chance at the character. No, it’s not the same, but it’s something, so I’ll take it.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Hal Jordan, Abin Sur, and Sinestro were released as part of a San Diego Comic Con exclusive three pack, meant to sort-of promote Justice League: New Frontier. Hal and Abin are based loosely on their appearances there, and Sinestro is based on his GL look in the comics. All three feature swappable heads, to allow Hal to be displayed in either of his GL uniforms. It’s debatable as to whether it works or not.

HAL JORDAN

Hal is presented here in his Ferris Aircraft-issued test pilot gear. He stands just shy of 5 inches tall and has 5 points of articulation. He features a brand new head and legs, along with the basic medium build torso and arms and a coat add-on previously used on Mr. Terrific. The head looks pretty accurate to what Hal looks like in New Frontier, so that works. The re-use all works appropriately as well. The paint work is okay, though there are some fuzzy lines in a few spots.  Hal has no accessories, unless you want to count Abin and Sinestro…

ABIN SUR

Abin Sur is presented here in the GL uniform he wore in his original appearance. This was a bit of a contentious point amongst fans, because it’s not the design he sported in his appearance in the Animated universe. It was done to facilitate the Hal Jordan thing, but I guess I can see the annoyance. Abin is built on the medium build body with a brand new head. The head is a bit big for the body, but overall it looks nice, and the medium body was the best of the bucks Mattel used for this line. The paint is serviceable, though it also still has a few fuzzy lines.

SINESTRO

Sinestro is shown here in his GL uniform, which he never actually sported in any of the animated material, but they wanted to do the interchangeable heads thing, so there it is. Sinestro is a complete re-use. He’s built on the same medium body as Abin, and shares a head with the previous Sinestro figure. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The paint is nice and clean, cleaner than the other two, in fact, which is something I suppose.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked this set up off of Matty Collector following SDCC. It was mostly painless. It’s not the same as the super rare Hal, but this set isn’t too bad. It provides a perfectly fine version of Hal, and Abin and Sinestro are pretty cool too. It’s not a thrilling set, but it is cool for someone who’s a fan of Green Lantern, which is a bill I fit. Yay.

#0128: Superman

SUPERMAN

JUSTICE LEAGUE (MATTEL)

A large portion of my appreciation for DC characters comes from the DC Animated Universe, created back in the early 90s by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini, when they first started Batman: The Animated series.  Batman led to Superman and Batman Beyond, and eventually, they moved on to what many see as the greatest entry on the list: Justice League and Justice League Unlimited.
Kenner offered the initial figures for BTAS, and when they were bought out by Hasbro, Hasbro continued.  By the time of JL, Hasbro was interested solely in Batman and Superman variants, so they had no plans to release the team from the show.  Eventually, the license was moved to Mattel, and Mattel quickly released a set of the seven main characters.  Today, I’ll be looking at the Superman from that line.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Superman was modeled after his design on the show, specifically his look from the first season, although the differences are minor.  He stands just shy of 5 inches tall and features 5 points of articulation.  The sculpt is really sharp, and  very accurately represents the design on the show.  The design doesn’t really translate well to articulation, so Mattel seemed to go for the looks over movement, and I actually greatly prefer it this way.  I do wish that he had a little less of a hunched look on his neck, but overall, it doesn’t look too bad.  For the most part, Superman is molded in the appropriate colors where necessary, but what paint is there is fairly cleanly applied, and has no real issues.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

While I rushed to get the rest of the members of the team, I had plenty of Batmen and Supermen, so the two of them kinda had to wait.  Superman was actually not picked up individually, but actually was included with the Javelin 7, which I believe my brother and I bought a few years ago from a local toystore.  My brother kept the Javelin 7 to himself, and I got the Superman.  It’s probably one of the best animated Superman figures released, and fits nicely with the rest of the line.