#2840: Sun Boy

SUN BOY

LEGION OF SUPER HEROES (DC DIRECT)

Though introduced relatively early on to the Legion (he technically debuted alongside the far more prominent Brainiac 5), Dirk Mogna, aka Sun Boy, has remained relatively minor in terms of actual story telling.  He filled Lightning Lad’s spot as slightly persnickety red-head while LL was dead for a bit, but has otherwise just sort of been around for most of his time with the team.  He was even dropped from the team during the first major reboot in the ’90s, and hasn’t really figured prominently into any of the team’s non-comics appearances.  Despite that, he did still get a figure from DCD’s line, which is good for him, really.  Congrats, Dirk.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Sun Boy was released in Series 3 of DCD’s Legion of Super Heroes line.  Though hardly obscure, he’s probably the least relevant character the line would produce.  He’s sporting his classic ’60s costume, which is really the best known costume he’s got, since he kind of stuck with it, unlike others.  The figure stands just shy of 6 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  Sun Boy is built on the post-Series 2 body, but specifically with a pair of upper arms that sport some pretty mean shoulder pads.  These arms were shared with his Series-mate Chameleon Boy.  He also got a new head sculpt, complete with a collar, and a belt buckle piece.  It’s not a bad selection of parts, truth be told, and he even swaps out the hands so as to have one open and one closed.  The head in particular is fairly distinctly different from the others in the line, with the hair having its own distinctive shape, following the early ’60s depictions of the character.  The only down side is that he does have a rather obvious plug on his back from where the cape would have been if he’d had one.  Other non-caped characters also had it, but it feels like it stands out more here for some reason.  Sun Boy’s paint work is pretty much on par with the rest of the line.  He is again entirely painted, but that works to his benefit more than others, since it means no need for the red or yellow to either one go over the other, keeping it a lot cleaner looking.  One thing that’s not quite so clean looking, however, is the tops of his boots, which are scalloped on his design, in contrast to the flat tops that are on the sculpt.  They just straight up painted across the line, which isn’t ideal.  It’s not terrible, but it does seem odd.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I had a bit of a fixation on Sun Boy when I was much younger, for reasons I’ve not really been certain of in later years.  Of course, it kind of just went away once I knew of Ferro Lad, and he suddenly became my main focus.  By the time these figures came along, I had moved on, and I didn’t wind up getting him when he was new.  However, I found him at the same time as Star Boy, while on a road trip with my dad in 2007.  Not much more to say about him really, but hey, I do have him, so there’s that.

#2833: Starboy

STARBOY

LEGION OF SUPER HEROES (DC DIRECT)

The early days of the Legion of Superheroes had the characters sticking to a pretty set formula of “word to describe powers” and Boy/Lad or Girl/Lass.  Very basic, and generally very descriptive, right?  Well, not always.  Starboy may seem to follow the schtick closely, but “star” as a descriptor for “makes things heavier and lighter” does seem like a bit of a stretch, doesn’t it?  It’s not exactly “Matter Eater Lad.”  Nevertheless, Thom is a pretty prominent member, due to his placement with the JSA after he moved to Starman, as well as being the first member to be kicked off the team for breaking the rules, namely killing someone in self defense, which is a big no-no.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Starboy was released in Series 3 of DC Direct’s Legion of Superheroes line, alongside last week’s Ultra Boy figure.  He’s the first figure to be really negatively impacted by the line’s fixed point in the ’60s for the designs, since it means he’s in his original Superboy knock-off design, rather than his later, much cooler starfield costume that Dave Cockrum designed for him.  Alas, it just was what it was.  The figure stands just shy of 6 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  He’s built on the body that had become the standard base at this point, and was the same exact one used for Ultra Boy (well, in theory, anyway; mine erroneously has the loose sleeve upper arm sculpt on his left side).  It’s fairly basic, so it still works.  He’s also got the same cape used for Series 2’s Mon-El (again, a sensible re-use), as well as a new head and belt pieces.  The new parts are different from those on prior figures, but only just enough to notice that their different.  It’s not exactly like they’re amazing new parts or anything, but they get the job done.  Starboy is totally painted, like the rest of the figures of the era.  He looks pretty decent, but he’s also a little more prone to wear and scratching.  Still, not a bad appearance.  He’s got no accessories, but they’d fully given up on them for this line at this point, and, honestly, what would you give him?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was in no particular rush to own this figure, due to this particular design not ever being a favorite of mine.  Starboy really just doesn’t get interesting until after he gets the new costume, so fixating on the old one does very little for me.  But, I wound up finding him loose, while on a road trip with my dad in the early summer of 2007.  It was him and a few other DCD figures that I found at the time, and he was more of a “well, I’m already getting the others” sort of a purchase.  He’s okay.  Nothing to really write home about, but he’s far from a bad figure.

#2826: Ultra Boy

ULTRA BOY

LEGION OF SUPER HEROES (DC DIRECT)

In the early days of the Legion of Superheroes, one of their by-laws for new recruits was that there could be no duplication of powers.  Today’s focus, Jo Nah of the planet Rimbor (who also got his powers after being swallowed by a space whale, in a reference to the biblical Jonah), aka Ultra Boy, got by on the technicality that, while his powers technically duplicated powers already covered by other members of the team (super strength, speed, flight, flash vision, and pentra-vision), he could only use one of them at a time, which is at least a different gimmick, I guess?  Of course, let’s not get into how they still managed to keep Superboy, Supergirl, and Mon-El on the team at the same time or anything….honestly, there was probably more than a little bit of prejudice and personal bias going into exactly when those by-laws came into effect; early Legionnaires were all kind of bastard people.  They got better.  Sort of.  Anyway, I was talking about Ultra Boy, so I should probably continue that, and not keep discussing how genuinely awful the Legionnaires are as people.  Even though they really are.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ultra Boy was released in Series 3 of DC Direct’s Legion of Superheroes line, which marked when the line starting spreading a little more into the depths of the team.  Not terribly, so, of course, since it’s not like Ultra Boy is that crazy obscure, but he’s the sort of character that doesn’t tend to get picked for the more paired down team line-ups for, like, guest spots and other media appearances.  The figure stands just shy of 6 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  Ultra Boy has quite a few parts in common with the Brainiac 5 figure, as by this point DC Direct had decided to institute more of a base body for this line.  The torso and legs are the same, as is the right hand.  The head and belt pieces were all-new, and the arms were a set designed to be a tighter fit than those used on Brainy and Mon-El, and were shared between this guy and Star Boy in this particular series.  All in all, I still think the base body works pretty well, and it certainly looks good here.  The new head is also one of my favorites, as it really seems to capture the ’60s Ultra Boy appearance, and just feels a little more unique than some of the others in the set.  Ultra Boy’s paint work is nicely applied, very clean, and very bold.  As with Brainy, he’s entirely painted, with no molded colors showing through.  It does aid in him looking clean, but there was always more potential for scuffing on this line of figures.  Fortunately, my Ultra Boy’s not so bad.  Ultra Boy was not packed with any accessories.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Fair warning: I’m going to be getting into some more post-Jess discussion here.

Ultra Boy is a figure that I always wanted when he was new, but who is actually one of my more recent acquisitions, because he just doesn’t show up nearly as often as the rest of the figures in this set, for whatever reason.  I actually quite vividly remember the exact day I got him, though perhaps not for the most happiest of reasons.  This figure came into All Time Toys, along with a whole ton of other DC Direct figures, on June 19th of last year.  It was the Friday before Father’s day, almost exactly a year from when I’m writing this review.  I know this because while I was at work that day, I got a call from Jess, who had just recently had a small surgical procedure done, and had just been told she would need to be moved into observation at the hospital.  She spent the next three days in the hospital, and I spent them right next to her, missing out on my family’s small plans for Father’s Day.  We didn’t know it was cancer yet, and wouldn’t find out for another two weeks, but it was the first indication that things were more serious than we realized.  So, I suppose, looking back, a year removed now, with Jess having been gone for 13 days by my time, this figure carries a rather odd weight, as the very last figure I purchased before my world changed.  It’s quite a bit of weight to place on one item, but my life in the last two weeks has seen me placing a lot of weight on seemingly small things.  And, I imagine, that’s where I’ll be for a little while longer.  And maybe that’s not the worst thing in the world.  As it stands, Ultra Boy’s at least a nice figure, so maybe not a bad choice for one that remains a token of how things were.

#2819: Brainiac 5

BRAINIAC 5

LEGION OF SUPER HEROES (DC DIRECT)

The beauty of DC Direct in its early years was a wonderful haven for toys of characters that had literally never had them before.  Without the ability to do Superman or Batman, they had to rely on other characters, allowing for a great focus on fan favorites, such as the Legion of Superheroes, to whom they were able to dedicate an entire line of figures.  They tried to focus on the team’s heavy hitters from the earliest days, and that included the heroic descendent of one of Superman’s greatest foes, Brainiac 5, who I’m taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Brainiac 5 was one of the two figures in the second series of DCD’s Legion of Superheroes line, with the other one being Mon-El.  After the original three were covered in series 1, Brainy was by far the most natural choice for inclusion.  The figure stands just shy of 6 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  After the weird articulation choices on the first series figures (where someone had the bright idea of “what if we gave them knees but not hips?”), Brainy is a much more straight forward set-up.  Apart from lacking the ball-jointed shoulders that would become more or less standard later, he’s got a decent set-up.  He’s still very stiff, of course, but for DC figures at this time, he was quite good.  Brainy’s sculpt was largely shared with Mon-El, and it was one that would serve as the influence for the rest of the Legion line from DCD.  It’s a pretty nice sculpt, matching up fairly well with the early silver age appearances for the character.  His head and belt were the two pieces that remained unique to him, and they’re both fairly well-rendered.  The head’s maybe not my favorite, but neither is it a bad offering in the slightest.  The slightly looser sleeves are a very cool touch, and one I’m glad they didn’t leave out.  In terms of paint, Brainy is pretty basic, butt gets all of the important things, I suppose.  Like most DCD figures of the era, he’s completely painted, rather than being molded in any of the proper colors.  It means that he does suffer from a slight tendency to scuff in some parts, especially the purple sections, but for the most part it looks alright.  Brainy included no accessories, which was not surprising, I suppose, but was also a shame.  I don’t know what you’d give him, but still.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I’ve brought up previously, a lot of the early DCD stuff fell into sort of “shared” collection of figures between me and my dad.  Initially, all the Legion figures were officially his, but I was allowed to borrow them whenever I wanted to.  I didn’t start collecting them for myself until the line’s final series, thanks to Ferro Lad’s inclusion.  After that, I started going back and filling in the earlier figures for myself.  Brainiac 5 was a little trickier to find by that point, but I wound up getting him from Baltimore Comic Con a few years later.  He’s fairly basic and not much to write home about these days, but he was fantastic for the time, just because we’d never gotten one before.

#2499: Saturn Girl

SATURN GIRL

LEGION OF SUPER HEROES (DC DIRECT)

Early last week, it was announced that DC Comics was letting go of a major portion of their work force, as well as shutting down their in-house collectibles company, DC Direct.  Ever since DC separated from Diamond Distributors earlier this year, the writing has kind of been on the wall regarding DCD’s fate, but it was still kind of sad to see them officially announce the shut down.  Though rather turbulent in the last decade or so, DCD certainly had some impressive work behind it, and its a presence in the market place that I’ll miss.  I guess in honor of their memory, I might as well jump back to early in their career, back when they were focusing just on giving figures to a bunch of DC character who had never gotten toys before.  In 2001, they gave the Legion of Super Heroes, long a fan-favorite team, their very first action figures, starting with the team’s three founding members.  Today, I’m taking a look at Saturn Girl!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Saturn Girl was released in the inaugural series of DCD’s Legion of Super Heroes line in 2001, alongside fellow founders Lightning Lad and Cosmic Boy.  All three were based on their classic Silver Age designs, which seems appropriate for their very first figures.  Saturn Girl stands 6 inches tall and has 8 points of articulation.  Articulation on DCD figures was never really standardized, and the Legion figures exemplified that.  Though Irma gets reasonable articulation for her arms, there are no joints below her waist.  This wouldn’t be such a terrible thing, if not for the fact that the figure’s legs aren’t *quite* molded in the right position to let her stand flatly, meaning she pretty much can’t stand on her own (the turnaround shots below were nothing short of a miracle, I assure you).  On the plus side, her sculpt is at least a rather nice one.  It’s nothing amazing, but it’s definitely got a nice clean feel about it, and it manages to make her look rather attractive, without having to give her any truly crazy proportions or anything.  The hands do seem maybe a touch on the large side, but otherwise she’s a pretty nice rendition of Saturn Girl’s ’60s design.   The paint work on this figure is fairly basic overall, but the application is all nice and clean, and I quite like the slight bit of accenting on the face to help give her a little color.  I also just really like how clean the painted flesh tone looks on these earlier figures.  Saturn Girl included a stand (which, though helpful, still doesn’t keep her standing as well as you’d hope), a Legion flight belt for her to wear, and a life-size Legion flight ring for the collector to wear.  Please note: flight right does not allow wearer to fly.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

My Dad was getting all of the DCD Legion figures as they were released back in the day, so I experienced most of them through him.  I did get in on the line’s last assortment, however, and I’ve been slowly filling in the rest of the line since.  I’m pretty close, and some of the last ones I still need are the original three.  My dad found Saturn Girl a couple of weeks back, and grabbed her for me for my birthday.  She’s a product of her time, and perhaps not the most impressive by modern standards.  However, she’s still pretty solid, and showcases the work that DCD did to get us figures of the greater DCU.

#2241: Legion of Super Heroes

BRAINIAC 5, COSMIC BOY, LIGHTNING LAD, & SATURN GIRL

JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED (MATTEL)

There is a surprising lack of toy coverage for the Legion of Super Heroes.  Like, there are toys.  There are a fair number of them.  But it’s just a little surprising that there aren’t more.  Between DC Direct and Mattel, we did manage to get a decent team line-up in the 6-inch scale, and Mattel also added a few select members of the team to their very expansive Justice League Unlimited line, based on their two appearances in the DCAU.  Those are the figures I’ll be taking a look at today.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Brainiac 5, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl were released as one of the Matty Collector-exclusive “four packs” of Justice League Unlimited figures.  Why the quotes?  Well, as I touched on when reviewed the Justice Guild, the sets were actually just four single-carded figures packed together.  So, despite the number of figures being completely arbitrary, almost every one of these packs felt like the warranted one or two more figures.  The Legion didn’t fair quite as badly in this respect, though, so I won’t totally rag on Mattel here.

BRAINIAC 5

“After key members of the Legion of Super Heroes were defeated by the Fatal Five, Brainiac 5 used a time sphere and his level 12 intellect to recruit heroes from the past to save his future and in doing so changed Supergirl fate forever.”

“Changed Supergirl fate forever” indeed.  You gotta love when those typos make it to press.  Typos aside, Brainiac 5’s bio is referencing “Far From Home,” the Legion-focused episode of JLU‘s final season.  Brainiac 5 serves as the main Legionnaire for the episode, making his inclusion the most natural of all the members. The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  Like all of the male members of the set, he’s built on the skinniest of the standard male bodies, which was the one reworked from the original Flash body.  It’s a pretty close match to Brainy’s depiction on the show, made even more so by the pretty spot-on head sculpt that adorns it.  They managed to get his show design down pretty much spot-on.  His paintwork is pretty decent; some of the lines on the costume are a little fuzzy, but they did a good job of cleanly applying the Brainiac symbol on his forehead.  Brainy included no accessories, unless of course you count his 12th level intellect.  Which I suppose would bump him up a bit.

COSMIC BOY

“A native of the planet Braal, Rokk Krinn uses his natural magnetic powers and leadership skills to aid the Legion of Super Heroes in battle in the 31st Century.”

The remainder of this set is filled in with the Legion’s founding trio.  Their bios are actually about them, which is a bit of shift, isn’t it?  Though not featured in “Far From Home” in anything beyond a cameo, Cosmic Boy did get a fair bit of focus in “New Kids in Town,” the Superman: The Animated Series episode that introduced the team to the DCAU.  His design was pretty much the same between both appearances, so it works for either one.  He uses the same body as Brainy with a unique head.  His head is a little larger than the others in this set, owing to him being closer to that S:TAS design, where the characters had slightly more exaggerated proportions.  It means he sticks out a little bit when with the other three figures in the set.  His paintwork is also pretty decent, but there’s still the slightly fuzzy lines of the costume.  Cosmic Boy also included no accessories.  Not even his much lower level intellect.

LIGHTNING LAD

“In the 31st Century, Garth Ranzz is one of the founding members of the legendary Legion of Super Heroes, a vast intergalactic team of teenage heroes dedicated to advancing justice throughout the universe.”

Poor Garth got the short end of the stick for the team’s DCAU appearances, being nothing more than a cameo in either one of them.  Still, he’s a founding member, so that at least got him a figure (even if it was at the cost of getting a Chameleon Boy to round out the “New Kids in Town” team).  Since he wasn’t ever a focus character, Garth didn’t get a new animated design; he’s just a straight adaptation of Dave Cockrum’s design for him from the ’70s.  It’s honestly Garth’s best look, so no complaints there.  He gets his own head sculpt, and it’s honestly my favorite in the set.  It’s just a very sharp sculpt.  Unfortunately, Garth’s paint is the weakest of the bunch; the edges of the white are by far the sloppiest work seen here, and they opted for gold paint over yellow on the lightning bolts, which just isn’t as striking as it is on the page.  Again, there were no accessories for Lightning Lad…I mean, I guess unless you count him having his arm.  He doesn’t always have it, you know.

SATURN GIRL

“A native of Saturn’s moon Titan, Imra Ardeen hoped to use her telepathic powers as a member of the Science Police.  Instead, she became a founding member of the 31st Century’s greatest team of champions, the Legion of Super Heroes!”

I think I may have missed it; what was the name of the team again?  I don’t know if that was repeated enough times.  Like Cosmic Boy, founding member Saturn Girl was prominently featured in “New Kids in Town” and then demoted to cameo for “Far From Home.”  She’s the most unique of the figures in the set; being a girl means that she’s on the girl body.  Of course, she’s only unique within the confines of this set, because being a girl means that she’s also on the only female body Mattel had.  It’s not one of their better base body, with those weirdly spaced legs being the primary issue.  She got a new head, which again is not a particularly strong piece.  The hair and head a two separate parts, and like a lot of the figures Mattel tied this on for this line, the two pieces just don’t quite line up correctly.  It makes her head look a little bit weirdly shaped.  Her paint work is okay, but nothing amazing.  Her eyebrows definitely seem to be set a little bit high, though.  Saturn Girl is a notable exception to this assortment’s lack of real accessories.  She gets a stand, which is good, because she can’t really stand without it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Unlike most of the Matty Collector-exclusive JLU stuff, this set didn’t hit after I’d given up on the line.  I did miss its original drop date on the site, but they went back up during that year’s Cyber Monday sale, and I picked up this, the Doom Patrol, and the Shazam set all at the same time.  Though none of them are going to redefine action figures or anything, I’ve always quite liked this set, and it’s probably one of Mattel’s best Matty-exclusive offerings.

 

#0401: Composite Superman

COMPOSITE SUPERMAN

FIRST APPEARENCE

In the 50s and 60s, DC Comics was really king of the absurd idea. Their stories pretty much run on absurdity. When it comes to absurd characters, Composite Superman is definitely up there. Right off the bat, he’s a dude who’s half Superman ad half Batman. But, what’s even wackier is that his origin has nothing to do with Superman or Batman. He’s actually a janitor from the future, granted the powers of all of the members of the Legion of Super Heroes when lightning struck a display of figurines possessing their abilities. So, umm… yeah. On the plus side, the fact that he’s half and half of two of DC’s top characters means he’s gotten not one, but two action figures!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Composite Superman was released in Series 3 of DC Direct’s First Appearance line. The first two series were purely golden age characters, but the diversified a bit starting with Series 3. This is the first of the two Composite Superman figures. The figure is about 6 ½ inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation. In case the name of the line didn’t clue you in, he’s based on the character’s first appearance, drawn by the legendary Curt Swan. Simply put, the sculpt is outstanding. It’s head to toe a perfect recreation of Swan’s art. The two halves are distinct to each character, but still totally in synch with each other. The only downside to this figure is that DC Direct never separated the sculpt out into proper Swan versions of Superman and Batman (though they did release a completely unique Superman sculpt of a similar style in their Showcase line). The paint is fairly straightforward, but that’s not a bad thing. The colors are all nice, bold and distinct, emphasizing the differences between the halves. The boots and glove have also been done in a very nice glossy sheen, which adds a nice amount of depth to the look. Composite Superman included a mini-replica of his first appearance and a gold display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Composite Superman, like so many of my DC Direct figures, was gotten from a friend who works for Diamond Distributors. I’ve always loved the look of the character, and I was thrilled to find out he was getting an action figure. To top that, it’s not just any action figure, it’s a phenomenal action figure. This really was one of DC Direct’s best efforts.

#0039: Ferro Lad

FERRO LAD

LEGION OF SUPERHEROES (DC DIRECT)

Today, we’re taking a look at another DC Direct figure.  This time around, it’s Ferro Lad, member of the Legion of Superheroes!  For those not in the know, the Legion of Superheroes is a group of teenaged superheroes  from the 30th Century, inspired into heroism by the stories of Superboy (this was back when Superboy was just a younger Clark Kent).  Ferro Lad, who joined the team not too long after they initially appeared, possessed the ability to turn his body into iron, kinda like Colossus of the X-Men (though Ferro Lad appeared about 10 years earlier).  Ferro Lad is mostly noteworthy for his place as the first Legionnaire to die (and stay dead) in the line of duty, sacrificing himself to defeat the Sun-Eater.  According to his creator Jim Shooter, Ferro Lad was meant to be the first black member of the team, an idea that the editors at DC at the time decided to veto.  So, instead, the first black legionnaire was Tyroc.  Thanks guys…

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ferro Lad was released as part of the fourth series of DC Direct’s Legion of Superheroes line.  He stands roughly 6 inches tall and features 11 points of articulation.  Ferro Lad was built on the basic legion body that DC Direct introduced in the second series of the line.  It’s a well done base body, and features a decent set of proportions.  I wish it had a bit more articulation, but at least he fits in with the rest of the line.  He features a newly sculpted head, belt and wrist braces.  The belt and wrist braces are add-on pieces.  This works fine for the wrist braces, but the belt doesn’t sit quite right on the body, so it looks a bit odd.    Not terrible, but it could be better.  The head is the most important part, and it’s done very well, in all its simplistic glory.  The rest of the details on the figure are carried out with paint.  With the exception of the flesh tones, all of the paint is done with a nice metallic sheen that fits the character well.  I do wish the rivets were sculpted instead of painted, but the paint does a serviceable job of handling them.  All in all, a solid figure, not the greatest, but far from the worst DC Direct had to offer.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Ferro Lad has long been my favorite member of the Legion.  Needless to say, I was extremely excited by DC Direct’s announcement that he’d be in the fourth wave of Legion figures.  It marks one of the earliest instances of me pre-ordering a figure, starting me down a very dangerous path.  When the figure finally arrived, I was thrilled beyond belief to have him.  I recognized the flaws, but I didn’t care, ‘cause I had a FERRO LAD ACTION FIGURE!