#1146: Todd Rice

TODD RICE

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS (MATTEL)

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It’s rare for something’s greatest strength to also be its greatest weakness, but that’s really the case with Mattel’s DC Universe Classics.  One of the most endearing and memorable things about the line was the sheer reach of character selection.  Not only did we get definitive versions of major characters, but we also got lots of characters that pretty much no one ever thought would get action figures.  Unfortunately, while is is great for hardcore fans, it doesn’t result in the greatest sales in a retail line.  Still, the line did give a lot of DC characters their very first action figures.  Interestingly enough, today’s focus Todd Rice, better known as Obsidian, is not an example of this.  Oh sure, he’s obscure, but he actually had already gotten a figure courtesy of the Justice League Unlimited toyline.  For those of you less familiar with Todd, he’s the son of the Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scott.  He was a member of the JSA-spin-off team Infinity Inc in the ‘80s, and has been on-again-off-again affiliated with the Justice Society themselves.  Most recently, he was played by Lance Hendrickson in an episode of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, which is easily the most coverage Obsidian’s ever gotten!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

obsidian2Todd Rice was released in Series 14 of DC Universe Classics, which was the third (and final) Walmart-exclusive series from the line.  Given the presence of both his father and fellow JSAer Hourman in the line-up, as well as frequent JSA foe Ultra Humanite being the CnC for this particular series, Todd was right at home.  It’s worth noting that Todd’s official codename is Obsidian, and has always been Obsidian, but for whatever reason (more than likely it’s the fact that Obsidian, as a rock, can’t be trademarked), he’s called “Todd Rice” on the box.  Whatever gets us the figures, I suppose.  The figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and has 23 points of articulation.  Todd was built on the mid-sized male buck, with unique head and hands, as well as add-ons for the cape and belt.  The base body is starting to show its age a bit more with every figure I review from this line, but it’s still a pretty solid piece.  The mid-sized body is actually a pretty perfect fit for Todd.  In fact, he’s the sort of character who really works in a line of this nature.  The new pieces all work pretty well with the established body.  The hands are nice and expressive, and certainly a nice change of pace compared to the basic gripping hands so many of the figures got stuck with.  The cape is one of the better capes from the line, and the belt does a decent job of capturing the design from the comics, as silly as it is.  The head is…well, I guess it’s okay, but I’m not sure it’s one of the better DCUC sculpts.  What’s weird is that is seems almost too detailed on the face.  Like, it’s as if no one told the Four Horsemen that Todd’s wearing a mask and that’s not just his face.  Usually, the black part of the mask was mostly featureless, with just the eyes and his open mouth showing, which makes him look pretty sleek.  Here, they clearly tried to replicate that, but they also tried to add this realistic touch to his face, which just seems…odd.  Also, he seems to have had his lips removed or something, because they appear to be absent.  Obsidian’s paintwork did a pretty decent job of replicating his color scheme from the comics.  It’s a good scheme, and it looks really nice on the figure.  Obsidian was packed with the left arm of Ultra Humanite.  Not really specific to him, but I guess it’s better than nothing.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Obsidian was one of the last figures I found from this particular set (but not THE last; that was Gold).  I’m not insanely familiar with the character, but I’ve always liked his costume quite a bit, and I obviously have at least some appreciation for him due to being the son of a Green Lantern and all.  I was actually pretty excited to get this guy, and he’s really not a bad figure.  Sure, there are a few oddities, but the good definitely outweighs the bad.

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#1131: Solomon Grundy

SOLOMON GRUNDY

JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA (DC DIRECT)

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“Solomon Grundy; Born on a Monday…”

How many comics characters can claim they come from an 19th Century nursery rhyme?  Not many, if you’re using that rather specific qualifier.  There’s a few, I’m sure, but the most prominent, for me anyway, is Solomon Grundy.  Grundy is one of DC’s older super villains, first appearing as a Golden Age Green Lantern foe, before making his way around a few of the DC rogues galleries.  He’s appeared in both Challenge of the Superfriends and Justice League.  His appearances in the latter show got him a fair bit of notoriety, since he was used as a very cool ersatz Hulk for a few stories.  He’s had a handful of figures over the years, but today I’ll be looking at his very first!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

grundydcd2Solomon Grundy was released at the very end of 2001, technically as part of DC Direct’s then running Justice Society of America line.  Grundy, given his size, was released as a stand-alone deluxe figure.  The figure stands about 7 1/2 inches tall (with the hunch; without, he’d be about an inch taller) and he has 9 points of articulation.  Like a lot of figures from the pre-Marvel Legends era of collectibles, he’s pretty much just a plastic statue, with only one real pose he works in (unless you really like him craning his head like his neck is broken).  The sculpt is unique to this figure, and it’s decent enough.  It’s not really based on any specific artist’s take on the character, but it does a reasonable job of summing up the basics of the classic Grundy design, though he’s clearly got some late ‘90s aesthetic to him.  There’s definitely some odd proportions going on, especially on the legs, which are rather on the gangly side, but then finished off with a rather large set of feet.  Honestly, Grundy’s legs almost feel like they’re from a different figure than his top half.  They’re not only built differently, but textured differently as well.  The coat and shirt have a tone of texture work, but the legs are comparatively very smooth, which seems a little out of place.  Grundy’s paintwork is definitely up there.  There’s not a lot of variance in colors, but he’s got some really clean work all around, and a lot of nice, subtle accent work.  DC Direct really knew what they were doing with paint at this point.  Grundy’s main accessory was a big club of wood, which he could hold in his left hand.  It’s a pretty fun piece, even if it’s not totally essential.  Grundy was also packed with a “preview” figure from DCD’s then-upcoming Pocket Super Heroes line, which was a Silver Age version of Wonder Woman, and was actually one of the major selling points of this figure, oddly enough.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I always wanted a Grundy figure when he was new, but never got one for whatever reason.  I ended up picking him up several years later from a vendor at Baltimore Comic-Con, for well below his original retail value (which looks to be even more a of a steal nowadays).  There have been a number of Grundy figures in subsequent years, of varying quality.  This one isn’t a perfect figure, but he’s pretty strong, especially for early DCD. 

#0728: Atom

ATOM

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS

AtomGADCUC1

Sometimes, there are really, really cool figures of characters you like, that are held back by one tiny but hard to overlook flaw. Today, I’ll be looking at such a figure. I’ll get to the “why” of it in just a bit.

So, in the second season premier for The Flash, Barry fought a guy called Atom Smasher, aka Albert Rothstein. Rothstein comes from Earth 2, which was the home of the original 40s DC Comics characters. He’s also the godson of the original Atom, aka Al Pratt, who is the focus of today’s review. Unlike the later versions of Atom, who possessed the ability to shrink down to sub-atomic size (not unlike Marvel’s Ant-Man), Al was just a kind of short guy who was a good fighter. He was eventually given an assortment of powers after the fact, but those were kind of a retcon. Amongst other things, he served as a prototype for Justice Guild member Tom Turbine, from the Justice League episode “Legends.” And, he got a figure as part of one of the last series of DC Universe Classics. Yay for him!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

AtomGADCUC2Atom was released as part of Series 19 of Mattel’s DC Universe Classics, which was a whole series themed around the Justice Society of America, of which ol’ Al here was a member. Atom is presented here in his original costume from the 40s, which is definitely his more definitive of his two main looks. The figure stands about 6 ¼ inches tall and has 23 points of articulation. See that height? Remember when I mentioned he was a short guy? Yeah, Al’s listed height is 5’ 1”, which, in DCUC terms, should make this guy about 5 ½ inches tall. So, he’s about an inch too tall. This is because Atom is built on the larger male body (the same one used on the water-camo Aquaman from Series 7). Proportionally, it’s the best body Mattel had on hand; Al’s a pretty stacked guy; but it’s just too tall. It’s kind of a no-win scenario. A character like Al isn’t really privy to an all-new body sculpt, especially in a buck-based line like DCUC, so Mattel had to make due. Moving away from the size thing, Atom has a brand new head, forearms, abdomen, and shins. These are all nicely sculpted parts, and the buckles on the arms and abdomen are an especially nice touch, since they could have easily been painted on. The shins are a little bit shorter than previous pieces, so Mattel was clearly trying a little, but it’s not really a very noticeable difference. The cape is from Series 12’s Dr. Mid-Nite figure; it’s not a perfect match, but it’s close enough, and it’s a well-sculpted piece, so I can’t complain. For some reason, it sits out a bit from his back, which is a tad frustrating.  The paintwork on Atom is some of the best from this line. Some of the line work is fuzzy, but it’s pretty clean overall. The color work is really nice; everything is bold and vibrant, and he really just pops. The brown parts are meant to be leather, and so they’ve been given a slightly darker brown dry brushing, which is actually really effective in conveying the different texturing. Atom didn’t include any of his own accessories, but he did include the head and pelvis of STRIPE, the Collect-N-Connect figure for this series.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The golden age Atom has long been one of my favorite JSA members. I was always a bit disappointed by DC Direct’s less than stellar attempt at the character, so I was intrigued by the DC Universe Classics version. I ended up finding this guy not long after he was released, while on a run to a nearby Target with my Dad. His size put me off at first, but the realization that this was probably the best version of the character I’d ever see in plastic, I went for it. I’m really happy I decided to get him, because, size issues aside, he’s actually a really nice figure.

#0388: Alan Scott & Solomon Grundy

ALAN SCOTT & SOLOMON GRUNDY

DC POCKET HEROES

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Before Minimates made it onto the scene, minifigures hadn’t yet settled on being “block” figures. In 2002, DC Direct decided to do a line of smaller scale figures, which were inspired by Mego’s Pocket Super Heroes line of the 80s. Instead of dedicated character sculpts like the original figures, DC Direct opted for a basic body with add-on pieces, not unlike Minimates or LEGO Minifigures (or Kubricks, a contemporary of DC Pocket Heroes.) The line never really hit it big, but it was successful enough to get seven assortments of two-packs and four larger boxed sets. It covered characters from all over the DC Universe, but tended to focus more on “classic” characters and looks. Today, I’ll be taking a look at the line’s versions of Alan Scott, the Golden Age Green Lantern, and Solomon Grundy.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Alan and Grundy were released in the third assortment of the first series of DC Pocket Heroes, released in December of 2002.

ALAN SCOTT

GLGrundy3Alan Scott isn’t really anybody’s default Green Lantern, but he’s the original, making him very important. His figure is about 3 ½ inches tall and features 6 points of articulation. He’s based on Alan’s original appearance, back when he was THE Green Lantern. Admittedly, it’s a goofy design, and it doesn’t have the sleekness of the Silver Age design, but it’s not bad. He makes use of the standard Pocket Heroes body, with add-ons for the hair and cape/collar. Unlike Minimates, these pieces aren’t removable, making him a more traditional action figure. The hair and cape are both basic pieces for the line, but they suit the character well, so the re-use is certainly warranted. The base Pocket Heroes body is an interesting piece. It’s a lot clumsier in terms of design than other such bodies. It wasn’t as versatile as DC Direct wanted it to be. However, Alan is one of the characters that fits pretty well on it. The only real issue I see is that the sculpted boots don’t line up with Alan’s actual boots. I don’t know why they didn’t just leave the boots off the sculpt, but I guess that’s what they went with. The paint on Alan Scott is serviceable. It’s nothing amazing, and there are definitely some issues, especially on the color overlay of the boots (the green bleeds through the red, and the red bleeds through the yellow). He’s also got a gash of paint missing on his right eye. However, the paint is mostly bold and colorful, and it looks good for the character. Alan Scott included no accessories.

SOLOMON GRUNDY

GLGrundy4Solomon Grundy. Born on a Monday. So, yeah… Grundy is technically a zombie, I guess, and he was a recurrent foe for a few of the Golden Age DC heroes. He had more than a few run-ins with Alan Scott, so this pairing is sensible. Grundy is about 3 ½ inches tall and he sports 6 points of articulation. He’s based on Grundy’s classic, more reserved design. Like Alan, he makes use of the standard Pocket Heroes body, with an add-on for his hair. The hair was new to this figure, though it would eventually see re-use on the line’s version of Bizarro. The body doesn’t work as well here as it did for Alan. The body is very clearly meant to be used for characters in tights, wearing boots. Grundy has neither of those, resulting in an odd looking figure. Obviously a generic suit body wouldn’t have really worked either, but this looks silly. The figure’s paint isn’t too bad, given that they had to work around the base body. Everything is relatively clean, and the detail lines are pretty sharp. The face is kind of gooney looking, though. An, to top it all off, my Grundy figure’s …uhh…backside… fell off right out of the package, which makes him look even sillier!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Golden Age Green Lantern. When I was in 2nd grade, I even dressed up as him for Halloween. So, it’s no surprise that I picked up his Pocket Heroes figure. He actually wasn’t as easy for me to get a hold of as some of the others, though. I actually ended up having to special order this set through a local comicbook store because it had sold out. All in all, Pocket Heroes are a sort of a goofy little set of figures. Some of them didn’t really work, but some of them really did. This set includes one of each.

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#0209: Stargirl

STARGIRL

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS

Stargirl

If you liked yesterday’s Aquaman review, you’ll be happy to know I’ll be taking a look at yet another DC Universe Classics figure today. This time around, it’s Stargirl, who is most commonly known for her association with the Justice Society of America. She’s one of DC’s better characters in recent years, and if you’d like to know more, you can check out her entry in the Backstories section, here.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Stargirl was released in the 19th series of DC Universe Classics. The series was themed around the Justice Society, so her inclusion makes sense. Stargirl stands about 6 inches tall and features 25 points of articulation. Astoundingly for DCUC, Star Girl is almost an entirely unique sculpt. Only her forearms and boots are re-use, hailing from the 90s Supergirl from Mattel’s earlier line DC Super Heroes. The body sculpt is pretty decently done. She’s well-proportioned all around, and looks appropriate to the character. Sadly, the head doesn’t fair as well. They tried to give her a grinning expression, and she ends up looking a bit like the Joker. I’ll give them credit for trying something different, but it just didn’t work out. The paint work is all very clean, and I really like the metallic blue they used, but the head is once again hit the hardest. The paint on the teeth makes the sculpt look even worse, which is really sad. Stargirl includes her cosmic staff and a piece of series 19’s C-n-C, STRIPE. The staff is a nice piece, though it’s been molded in clear yellow for some reason, and she has a little bit of trouble holding it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Stargirl was picked up for me by my Dad. He found her in the store and knew I’d been looking for one, so he bought it for me. I know I kinda ragged on her, but I honestly don’t think Stargirl’s that bad a figure. Sure, the head sculpt leaves a bit to be desired, but I’ve seen worse and the rest of the figure is handled very well. Plus, it’s a character I like, so I’m just glad she got a figure at all.

#0029: Hawkman

HAWKMAN

DC REACTIVATED (DC DIRECT)

Okay, so today’s review marks a slight change in the format of the blog.  Up until now, I’ve been actually picking the figures I review, with a little bit of purpose, plus a slight bit of alphabetizing , with the occasional review of a figure I just got.  Well, here’s the thing:  That’s a lot of work.  And I’m lazy.  So, from here out, I’ve created a randomized list of all the stuff currently in my collection that I’ll be working from, with possibly a few deviations.  New stuff will still be filtered in when I get it, as that makes life easier.

On to today’s review!  We’re looking at Hawkman from DC Direct’s Reactivated! line.  This was a line where DC Direct would reuse older tooling with a few new pieces in order to create various classically styled versions of the characters.  The line was pretty well done, though it had the ability to be a bit hit and miss.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Hawkman was part of the fourth series of the Reactivated! line.  He’s depicted here in the costume his Earth 2 version* wore during the many Justice League /Justice Society team-ups of the 60s and 70s.  It’s pretty much just his basic costume, but instead of a helmet that resembled a hawk, he had a generic yellow cowl.  At least it had a hawk symbol on the forehead, I guess.  It’s far from his most memorable look, but it was a look he had for a good chunk of time.  Anyway, that’s the look this figure’s based on.  He stands about 6 ½ inches tall, which puts him in scale with some of DC Direct’s other lines.  (They weren’t really good at picking a consistent scale and sticking to it).  He’s got 13 points of articulation, and a basic translucent blue stand with the Reactivated! logo on it.  His sculpting is solid, with good proportions all around, and the paint is nice and clean.  The wings are nicely textured, and have a nice wash over them to bring out the details in the sculpt.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got this figure because I wanted a Hawkman for my JSA, and I was always really liked the old team-ups that this look was featured in.  That’s pretty much it.

*In the sixties, DC comics decided to relaunch a number of their characters, such as Green Lantern, Flash, and Hawkman with new takes on the characters.  When they decided to bring back the original versions of those characters, as well as explain why characters like Batman and Superman could be in their 30s in both the 40s and the 60s, DC decided to come up with the concept of the multiverse. They dubbed the main earth “Earth 1” and the older earth “Earth 2.”  This concept allowed them to tell stories on both earths without having to infringe upon the validity of the other.