#2163: Batcave (w/ Batman)

BATCAVE (w/ BATMAN)

BATMAN ’66 (MATTEL)

So, it’s apparently Batman Day, a fact I know because pretty much everyone keeps saying “hey did you know it’s Batman Day?”  I didn’t realize fictional characters were getting days now, but if anyone’s gonna get one, I guess it makes sense for it to be Batman.  He’s does have like one of everything; it’s only sensible he’d eventually have a day as well.  In the spirit of the day, I figured I’d take a look at one of the very many Batman items I have in my collection, courtesy of Mattel’s ill-fated run with the Batman ’66 license.  Let’s have a look at Batman and Mattel’s go at the Batcave!

THE SET ITSELF

The “To The Batcave” set was one of the last two items to come out of Mattel’s Batman ’66 line, released (initially, at least) as a Toys R Us-exclusive item, alongside the Triumphant Trio three-pack, in the late summer of 2015.  While billed as a playset, what it more works out to is a figure with a larger than average selection of accessories, because that’s just how Mattel do, I suppose.  The figure included here is a standard Batman, who would receive five separate releases by the time the line was done.  He stands right at 6 inches tall (quite under-scaling him when compared to pretty much any other 1:12 lines, since they tend to punch up a bit on size) and he has 23 points of articulation. Despite how many times it would end up re-issued, the Batman sculpt was probably the weakest of the line’s selection of very weak sculpts.  Firstly, let’s discuss the articulation.  DC Universe Classics was never on par with Legends, but it at least offered a workable selection of joints; not so with this line.  In addition to the general lack of joints, the joints included aren’t particularly useful.  The ab-crunch, the knees, and the elbows in particular have extremely reduced range, making even rather basic poses very difficult.  The quality of the sculpt proper’s not great either. While Adam West may not have been a body builder or anything during his time under the cowl, the extraordinarily skinny build on this figure goes way too far, building a figure that really doesn’t look like a real person at all.  Coupled with the already small scale on the figures, it makes Batman downright silly looking when compared to his contemporaries from lines running at the same time.  Additionally, despite being based on a real person, and not a comic book creation, this figure’s level of detailing marked a major step down when compared to prior Mattel output, as the majority of the costume is devoid of any sculpted textures.  About the best that can be said of the sculpt is that the masked head doesn’t have a terrible likeness.  So, that’s the old figure that they threw into the box to take up space.  What about all the new stuff they added that was supposed to actually sell this thing?  Well, the box proudly proclaims that the set includes 15 accessories…which is true, albeit not quite as impressive as the box might lead you to believe.  To go on the figure proper, we get an unmasked Bruce Wayne head.  Kind of an interesting choice, since I don’t believe we actually ever saw Bruce unmasked in the costume on the show.  However, it’s got a decent likeness of West, and it actually looks a little better on the body than the standard head.  The largest piece is definitely the Batcomputer, which is a decent set piece, even if it is pretty simplistic.  At least it’s got its proper label, showcasing 60s Batman’s love of labels.  The piece is hollow, and the back pops off to reveal the “Secret Equipment Storage,” which is where you can stow all of the other parts when you aren’t using them.  The back that pops off is designed to look like the inside of stately Wayne manor, allowing for two different display options, and two different sets of accessories to go along with them.  On the cave side, we get three batarangs (all identical), four cans of Batman Spray Repellent (again all identical), the Batzooka, Bat megaphone, and Bat communicator.  The duplication of the batarangs and repellent is kind of odd, since obviously he can’t use them all at once, nor is there really anywhere to display the extras, making it really seem like Mattel included as many as they did to bump that accessory count up.  Additionally, there’s the ongoing issue with Batman generally just being unable to really hold any of the included extras. The Batzooka in particular is notable, as its size and weight mean that the figure will fall over if its held in any fashion other than at his side.  On the Wayne Manor side, we get the Shakespeare bust with the hidden button for cave access and the red Bat-phone.  The bust is definitely my favorite extra included here, because the sculpt’s really clean, and the hinge works quite nicely.  To complete the two different set-ups, there’s a card with a Batcave illustration on one side and Wayne manor on the other, as well as a stand to hold the card.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

By the time this set hit, my enthusiasm for the line was completely dead.  I picked up everything from the initial run, but only ended up picking up the three-pack when I was disappointed at not getting anything Star Wars-y during the first Force Friday event.  This set, as interesting a concept as it may be, just didn’t excite me enough to drop $35 on it.  However, a friend of mine had gotten one a while ago, and decided they no longer wanted it, and thus it made its way into my collection.  As with so much Mattel did, it fills me with mixed emotions.  There are some cool things in here, and in general it’s a fun concept, but the core Batman’s kind of rotten, and this being the fifth time we got him really hinders the set.  I think if it had been in that first wave of product, rather than pushed all the way to the end of the line, it might have been a bigger hit, but quite frankly there’s a lot of things that could have been done differently to make this line worth while.

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#2161: Kid Flash

KID FLASH

DC COMICS MULTIVERSE (MATTEL)

“Cousin of Wally West, this super-powered speedster joins the Teen Titans as Kid Flash”

I think my favorite thing about this figure’s bio is how they avoided giving the actual character’s name in order to avoid confusing the casual audience.  Why would it be confusing?  Because the name of the new Kid Flash who’s cousin of Wally West?  Wally West.  It’s like in Smallville when they revealed at Jimmy Olsen’s funeral that he had cousin also named Jimmy who was also into photography.  Of course, in the mainstream universe’s defense, there were some cosmic forces at play, and also people didn’t receive the new Wally so well.  Now that both Wallys are running around, it’s not so bad, though.  Perfect time for the new one to get his own action figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Kid Flash is part of the Lobo Series of DC Comics Multiverse figures, where he fills the quotient of relevant modern character.  This marks the first time that this incarnation of the character has ever gotten a toy, though Mattel’s already given us a few variants of the original Wally (with one more supposedly on the way).  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Wally shares his base body with the previously reviewed Ray figure, which is hardly a bad thing.  Honestly, it’s probably the best base body Mattel ever produced; the proportions are fairly realistic and balanced, and there’s very little aesthetic sacrificed for articulation.  At the same time, the articulation is still very strong.  Those rocker ankles in particular are really handy when posing the figure; the running pose seen above was actually captured without any sort of trickery.  He’s standing on his own.  Now, I can’t say he’d have stayed that way for long, but it’s still impressive.  Kid Flash gets a new head and feet to round him out.  The head’s quite nice; it’s cartoony but not as goofy or odd looking as prior Mattel figures.  The new feet give Kid Flash a distinctive set of treads for his boots and also increase his footprint a bit in order to offer slightly more stability.  Kid Flash’s paintwork is probably the sharpest of the three I got from this assortment.   Everything is clean, and the colors are bold and eye-catching.  They did make the cardinal sin of painting yellow over red, but it’s actually not terrible looking, so I’ll give them a pass on this one.  Wally is packed with two sets of hands: one in a fist/grip combo, and the other in a flat running pose.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Kid Flash is the other of two figures I agreed to take in order to get Kyle.  Like Superman, I had absolutely no expectations of this figure, possibly even less than none, if I’m honest, since I’ve got no actual attachment to this version of Wally.  Ultimately, I was really pleasantly surprised by the quality of this guy.  He’s genuinely one of the nicest figures Mattel’s put out, pretty much ever.  It’s kind of sad we never got a classic Wally of this quality.

#2160: Kingdome Come Superman

KINGDOM COME SUPERMAN

DC COMICS MULTIVERSE (MATTEL)

Having spent ten years in solitude, Superman returns to fight for justice in a new disinterested and indecent planet.”

In the mid-90s, after several years of totally un-ironic “X-Treme” comics, the industry was starting to get at least a little bit introspective.  Not a lot, mind you, because they’re only rated for so much self awareness, but there was definitely a move by some of the older fans who found themselves within the industry to try and reign things in, and throw back to the good old days, with maybe a jab or two at modern comics’ expense thrown in for good measure.  Rather than making statements about these “not being your daddy’s comics,” there was a push to actually start treating things a little bit more seriously and add just a touch of prestige to things.  Marvel hired the up-and-coming writer and artist team or Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross to create Marvels, a four-part mini-series that told picturesque real-world stories from throughout Marvel history.  It was enough of a success that DC decided to bring on Ross for a series of their own, pairing him off with writer Mark Waid for Kingdom Come, an alternate DC future rife with references to the days gone by, and deeply critical not just of modern comics, but also of people who didn’t like change or compromise in their comics.  The star of the series was an aged and despair-ridden Superman, who was desperate to regain some of his old-fashioned hope.  It’s gone on to become a rather defining take on the character, with its fair share of toy goodness.  Most recently, he’s received a figure from Mattel, which I’ll be taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Kingdom Come Superman is part of the Lobo Series of DC Comics Multiverse figures.  He’s our second Superman following the reworking of the bodies, and our third 6-inch KC figure under Mattel’s tenure (though a good argument can be made that Red Robin and Magog are really just main universe figures…of course, technically the same can be said of Superman, so the whole thing’s a wash.)  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and has 25 points of articulation.  KC Superman is built largely from the same bank of pieces as the Clayface Series’ Rebirth Superman (which in turn means a lot of those pieces are also shared with Bizarro), for better or for worse.  It means he’s more articulated than a DCUC figure, but also means the balance between pieces is still a little bit whack.  Not terrible, but not quite Ross’s ultra-realistic anatomy.  The figure gets a brand-new head and forearms.  The forearms are fairly basic; all they really do is remove the pointed ends on the outside of each wrist, which is accurate, but also minor enough that I imagine most people are going to miss it.  The head’s really the star piece here.  While certainly a more generic take on the character than other, more Ross faithful releases, the head is nevertheless a quite nicely detailed piece.  The details are sharply defined, capturing the very slight aging seen on Ross’s version of the character; it’s definitely one of Mattel’s best goes at a Superman portrait. The paint on Superman is mostly pretty basic, at least on the body, which is actually fairly accurate to the source, since Superman’s costume is very classically inspired in the book.  The head gets a bit more work, with some pretty solid accenting.  I particularly like that they did more for his greying temples than just solid white streaks, as is usually the case with this design.  KC Superman includes two sets of hands in fist and flat poses, as well as piece to the Lobo CnC.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Part of the agreement that got me yesterday’s Kyle figure was me agreeing to take the figures from the line-up that Max didn’t really want.  Superman was one such figure.  I wasn’t inherently opposed to getting the figure, but I can’t say that he was super high on my list.  Going in with essentially no expectations, I’m pretty pleased with this figure.  He’s not as strong as some of the other recent offerings, but he’s certainly one of Mattel’s best Supermen they’ve ever made.

#2159: Kyle Rayner – Green Lantern

KYLE RAYNER — GREEN LANTERN

DC COMICS MULTIVERSE (MATTEL)

Once a White Lantern and the bearer of seven rings, Kyle Rayner is back to basics under a new Corps as a Green Lantern.”

What do you get when you put together two things that Ethan didn’t used to like?  That’s right, a Mattel Kyle Rayner figure.  My rocky history with Mattel is of course no secret around these parts, but then again most people’s rocky history isn’t much of a secret, I suppose.  What’s slightly more downplayed is my dislike of Kyle.  I mean, he’s a Green Lantern, and he was active during the ’90s; he’s even the star of my favorite episode of Superman: The Animated Series, which is my favorite DC animated property.  What’s not to like?  Well, admittedly, I got a little caught up in the “he replaced Hal Jordan” rage.  As a kid, my first exposure to GL was in Challenge of the Superfriends, where it was Hal, and I was quite confused by this Rayner guy running around in the comics.  Over the years, though, I’ve actually grown to like Kyle quite a bit, which means I’m actually quite excited to get his latest figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Kyle Rayner is part of the Lobo Series of DC Comics Multiverse, which is the third assortment following the change to the blue packaging.  This marks the second Kyle we got during Mattel’s tenure.  The first was a fine figure, but fell victim to the late-line tendency for DCUC figures to be in their most recent costume, rather than their most-wanted.  This one goes for Kyle’s classic ’90s costume, or at least the Rebirth recreation of it, which is a solid choice.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Kyle uses the relaunched line’s equivalent of the old line’s mid-sized male body.  Like the Bizarro figure (who used the larger male body equivalent), this means the Kyle’s a little bit outdated when compared to the line’s more advanced figures.  That said, it’s still a marked improvement over what Mattel was doing a year ago, and makes for a serviceable base body.  Kyle gets a new head, forearms, hands, and knees.  The new parts are fairly decent; nothing amazing or anything, but they recreate his look pretty well, and he’ll fit in with DCUC stuff, as well as Multiverse stuff, so he’s a decent bridge figure.  The paintwork on Kyle is pretty basic, but gets all the important points down.  There’s a touch of fuzz on the edge of the white section on his chest, but aside from that it’s all pretty clean.  Kyle is packed with his power battery and a blast effect piece that goes over his hand.  Standard stuff for a GL, but honestly that’s a step-up from how Mattel’s been handling up to this point.  He also included a piece to the Lobo CnC, but I didn’t get that for reasons I’ll touch on in just a moment.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Despite the issues I may have had with Kyle as a character, in the ’90s a figure in this costume was the only way you were getting a Green Lantern figure, meaning I have quite a soft spot for this design.  Despite my general reservations about Mattel products, I was intrigued by this figure when he was shown off.  Of course, I’ve not once seen a single one of the figures from this assortment at retail, so I didn’t have a chance to buy one.  However, Max really wanted the Batman Beyond figure, as well as having a passing interest in the Lobo, so he and I decided to split a set of the figures from Big Bad Toy Store.  I got the one figure I really wanted, and I’m really quite happy.

#2157: Faker

FAKER

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS (MATTEL)

Originally built by Man-At-Arms to cover for He-Man when Prince Adam is needed, Faker was abandoned in the royal junkyard after his first mission and salvaged by the evil warrior Tri-Klops. At the request of Skeletor, Faker was reprogrammed to replace He-Man and convince the people of Eternia that He-Man had betrayed King Randor and turned evil.”

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I guess someone should be flattered by the existence of Faker.  Maybe it could be He-Man, whom Faker is based upon, or maybe it could be Bizarro, whose schtick Faker totally stole.  Of course, it’s not like “evil-clone of the main hero” is a wholly unique concept, having made its way into all sorts of super hero fiction over the years.  It’s even more sensible in the world of toys where it’s quite the suitable excuse to do a recolor of a prexisting mold, which is exactly where Faker really hits his stride.   Additionally, Faker continually falls into that odd niche of characters who are nothing more than cheap repaints, who still for some reason have a ton of fan demand.  I guess we’re an easily amused lot.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Faker was an early offering from the Master of the Universe Classics line, available as an NYCC-exclusive in 2009, and then briefly on Matty Collector a month later.  As with the vast majority of the line, he’s designed to closely emulate Faker’s vintage toy.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  This Faker figure follows the tried and true construction of all Faker figures.  He’s the line’s standard He-Man body with Skeletor’s armor atop it.  It’s not anything revolutionary, but it’s not like you can say it’s not true to the character.  The base body for MotUC wasn’t a bad one, but I have to admit I was never a huge fan of the standard He-Man head.  By extension, I’m not a huge fan of this figure’s head.  It’s not awful, but something about it just never seemed quite as imposing as prior takes on the character.  He just looks a bit slack-jawed.  Faker’s main selling point is, of course, his paint.  He’s got that distinctive orange and blue combo, which is…well, it’s certainly something.  The paintwork on the figure is actually pretty solid.  At this point in the line, Mattel was still splurging for things like accenting, which shows most nicely on his boots, loincloth, and armor piece.  The nature of the details on the bracers and belt are actually quite striking, especially when compared to the same details on the He-Man figure.  He also keeps the robotic detailing on the torso, which is not quite hiding under his armor, just like on his vintage figure.  Faker was packed with his version of the Power Sword, as well as his half of the split sword, which is the same as the standard, but with the back half missing.  It’s a slightly light pack-out, given that He-Man got a shield and axe as well, but hey, it’s Mattel, right?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve always liked Faker as a concept, but the price points on his figures have always been too high for me.  For whatever reason, the price on this particular figure dropped to a reasonable range for a hot minute back in 2012, and my parents managed to get me one as a birthday present in that time.  My relationship with MotUC was always something of a love-hate one, and Faker fits right into that.  There are nice aspects of this figure, and there are annoying aspects of this figure, which is kind of the classic Mattel bit, isn’t it?

#2147: Alfred Pennyworth

ALFRED PENNYWORTH

DC COMICS MULTIVERSE (MATTEL)

“Butler.  Medic.  Soldier.  Friend.  There’s nobody more important to Bruce Wayne than Alfred Pennyworth.”

Since his first appearance in Batman #16 waaaaay back in 1943, Alfred’s been a pretty standard fixture of the Batman mythos.  Even as Robins come and go, Alfred’s always there, snarking his way through life.  He’s perhaps the most pivotal member of Batman’s supporting cast.  Despite his importance, he is just an older gentleman in a suit, meaning he doesn’t quite lend himself to the most exciting toys.  While his frequency as an action figure has certainly stepped up in the last decade, it’s still rare enough an event to be pretty exciting, and it’s certainly cool to see him squeak his way into Mattel’s final push of DC figures.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Alfred is part of the Killer Croc Series of DC Comics Multiverse, one of the final assortments of DC product coming out of Mattel.  It’s a whole Batman-themed line-up, so Alfred’s place is a natural one.  Interestingly, this assortment sort of jumped the order a bit, and ended up arriving sooner at stores than many had expected.  Alfred is officially branded “DC Rebirth”, but generally works quite well as a fairly standard classic Alfred.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  So, let’s address my primary complaint about this figure: his height.  He’s a good 1/4 inch taller than just about every similarly styled Batman figure that Mattel put out.  Integrating this guy in with your DCUC collection’s not really happening, to say nothing of the even smaller Movie Masters-style figures.  He’ll go fine with some DC Collectibles stuff, and actually fits pretty much right in with NECA figures, but it’s weird that they didn’t actually work to scale him with their own offerings.  Moving on from the height, let’s also discuss the articulation.  Alfred is possibly the best articulated DC figure Mattel’s ever put out.  He pretty much takes the Marvel Legends set-up and ports it over to DC.  As amazing as that is, I definitely had a laugh about Alfred having a neck joint that goes up and down after so many flying characters went without, and double-jointed elbows and knees when we never got a single Batman figure with those joints, given that Alfred is not a particularly acrobatic character.  Whatever the case, I certainly won’t complain in the case of this figure, who is not only well-articulated, but it’s also pretty well worked into his sculpt, which is itself a surprisingly good offering for a Mattel figure.  There’s quite a bit of detailing on the body, and Alfred is packed with not one, not two, not three, but four different heads.  The one he comes wearing is the standard classic comics Alfred, and it definitely captures the usual spirit of the character.  Also in the comics department is the head depicting Alfred in his Outsider identity; it’s the most modern version of the concept, and it’s not quite as well-scaled to the body, as well as being more situation specific, but it’s still cool.  Moving away from the printed page, there are also two live action Alfred heads included.  We get Alan Napier from the ’66 Batman show, as well as Michael Gough from the ’90s films.  This ties back into my point about the body not scaling with Movie Masters and the like from earlier, as these heads won’t quite work with Mattel’s offerings.  On the other hand, NECA produced both West and Keaton as 7 inch figures, and he’ll look good with them.  It’s worth noting that both likenesses are pretty much spot-on, which really sells the whole idea here.  In addition to the multiple heads, Alfred is also packed with a serving tray, a small glass, a Batman cowl, and one of the arms of Killer Croc.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I knew only passingly about this figure, and honestly didn’t expect for him and his wave-mates to make it to shelves.  I had also managed to miss that he was coming with all of the extra heads, so that was a pretty pleasant surprise when I found him in person.  The base figure is a solid offering, and the extra heads are nothing short of inspired.  This is how to do an Alfred figure justice, and it continues the increasingly depressing trend of Mattel’s DC Comics Multiverse figures actually being really good.  He’s kind of so good that he further highlights just how awful their output had been for so long.  Imagine if the Batman ’66 figures had been on par with the Alan Napier head included here.  Wouldn’t that have been something?  Honestly, wouldn’t it have been something if Mattel had gotten things together some time before their final year with the license?

#2136: Wildcat

WILDCAT

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS (MATTEL)

Ted Grant was a heavyweight boxing champion in the 1930s. He became a fugitive when mobsters framed him for murder in the ring. Ted donned a black costume and, adopting the name Wildcat, used his combat skills to beat a confession out of the men who framed him. Wildcat decided to remain in costume and focused his attention on mob-related crime. In his civilian identity, Ted Grant has operated a gym and trained Batman, Black Canary, and Catwoman in hand-to-hand combat arts.”

I had been tempted to start this review with a gag about how I hadn’t reviewed any DC Universe Classics figures recently, and how that was actually Mattel’s fault.  Trouble is…it’s only been two weeks since my last DCUC review, so I guess that joke doesn’t really fly so well.  Well, I’m still gonna blame Mattel…force of habit really.  For today’s review, I turn to one of the DC Universe’s older heroes, Wildcat, notable for sharing his first appearance with Wonder Woman (and Mister Terrific, but not as many people know him).  As a definite second stringer to her starring role, he found himself somewhat pushed to the sidelines, not even joining the premier Golden Age team, the Justice Society, until after the Golden Age had ended.  He found a renewed life after Earths 1 and 2 merged after Crisis on Infinite Earths, where he was retrofitted into an aged hero who had trained most of the current generation.  As a mentor, he flourished and became a fan-favorite.  And that’s how he’s become one of the most action-figured golden age heroes.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Wildcat was released in Series 9 of DC Universe Classics.  He wasn’t technically the only JSA member in the assortment, since Black Canary was also part of the line-up, and the two actually made for a pretty sensible pairing.  He was also right at the head of the oncoming push for the JSA, and continued the DCUC trend of providing updates to characters DC Direct hadn’t touched in a while.  There were two versions of Wildcat available, though unlike a lot of the variants produced for this line, the differences between the two are menial at best.  The standard’s body suit was a straight black, while the variant (reviewed here) was instead a very dark blue.  The reasoning behind the variant was never really explained, since it’s not exactly a callback to a specific look.  Both figures went for Wildcat’s slightly modernized look, with his wrapped up hands, befitting his past as a boxer.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  Wildcat was built on the larger male body, which was in service from Series 1 to Series 20.  For a bruiser like Ted, it was a good fit.  He also got a new head, forearms, hands, and feet.  The head is definitely the most impressive piece; rather than just a solid piece, the face is separately sculpted from the mask on top of it.  It adds some nice depth to the sculpt, and makes him unique amongst the other, single-piece sculpts from the line.  Wildcat’s colorscheme is fairly monochromatic, and by extension his paintwork is pretty simple for the most part.  The variant is sort of a purplish-blue, which doesn’t look half-bad, and he gets some pretty impressive work on those hand wraps.  Wildcat was packed with the torso and head of the Series 9 CnC, Chemo, who I didn’t actually complete, but there it is.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I feel like all of my DCUC reviews have the same “Me Half of the Equation,” but here goes: Series 9’s distribution was spotty.  Not as spotty as Series 8, but still pretty damn spotty.  I never saw either version of Wildcat at retail, and so I never got one while the line was running.  Fortunately for me, when All Time Toys got in a DCUC collection last December, I was able to find this guy among them.  He’s a strong figure, no doubt, and I’m definitely glad I was able to get ahold of him, because he really exhibits the line’s strength in simplicity very nicely.

#2129: Peter Venkman

PETER VENKMAN

REAL GHOSTBUSTERS RETRO ACTION HEROES (MATTEL)

You all knew this was coming eventually.  I’ve been building to this review since #0123, when I reviewed Ray Stanz, the first of the Real Ghostbusters Retro Action Heroes, and slowly working my way through the four man crew.  There was a bit of a curve ball back in June when I reviewed a Retro Action Heroes release that wasn’t one of the main four, but I’m finally circling back around, coming to the end, and taking a look at Dr. Peter Venkman!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Venkman is the final of the four ‘busters included in the mass release assortment of Real Ghostbusters Retro Action Heroes, released by Mattel in 2011.  Venkman was the most fortunate of the ‘busters when it came to this line, with not one, but three whole figures, thanks to a SDCC release, plus a variant of said release.  This is just the standard version though, which is sporting his unique jumpsuit from the cartoon.  The figure stands 8 inches tall and has 18 points of articulation.  Like the other three, Venkman was built on Mattel’s in-house take on the Mego-style body, which has its plusses and its minuses.  The most important thing is that it matches the rest of the crew.  Venkman gets a new head sculpt and, if I’m totally honest, it’s really the weakest of the heads from this line-up.  It’s not terrible, but it’s certainly more off-model based on the animation than the rest of them were.  It’s also a fair bit softer than the others.  Due to the SDCC-exclusive with which he shared his head being released prior to the main line, it’s likely this one was produced first, which might explain why it isn’t quite as spot-on.  Venkman has a cloth jumpsuit, which is the same one seen on prior three, just in the appropriate colors.  There’s also a pair of rubber boots, and his proton pack and neutrino wand.  The proton pack is, as always, definitely the highlight of these figures. Venkman’s color scheme isn’t quite as bright and exciting as the other three, but it’s still fairly eye-catching, and the paint work does its part to sell it, which I can certainly appreciate.  Perhaps the largest drawback to this figure is the accessory complement.  While the rest of the figures all got one extra gadget in addition to the proton pack, Venkman is lacking.  It feels like something of a missed opportunity if you ask me.  While we did get Slimer later down the line, including him here would have been a solid choice.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Though he’s the last of them I’ve reviewed, Venkman was actually the first of these figures I picked up.  I found him by himself at my local TRU, and he was cool enough to sell me on the rest of the line-up.  While he’s the weakest of the four main figures, he’s actually a great starter figure, since he was pretty easy to find and had the most basic extras, so it was all upward from here.

#2122: Robin

ROBIN

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS (MATTEL)

Tim Drake is the third youngster to serve as Robin, partner to Batman. Through rigorous and constant training, Robin keeps his physical edge, which, along with his knowledge of computers, makes him a formidable foe of Gotham City’s villainous population. Tim balances his activities as Robin with his school and friends… but he is always ready to answer the call to action.”

Mattel’s DC Universe Classics line was rife with distribution issues, pretty much for its entirety, but especially at its start.  This meant that key characters had figures that were virtually impossible to find, which was a major barrier for entry.  To offset this, Mattel tried to at the very least offer up repaints of prior molds.  Series 3’s Robin figure had a direct rerelease in their World’s Greatest Super Heroes sub-line, but even still was hard to find, and to top it off, he wasn’t in the costume most collectors hoped for.  Mattel attempted to kill two birds with one stone with today’s figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Robin was one half of a Walmart-exclusive “Dynamic Duo” two-pack, released in 2010 under the DC Universe Classics banner.  No points for guess who the other half was.  This Robin makes use of the exact same tooling as the Series 3 version of the character.  That figure was not without its flaws, but one of the most stand-out issues was one of scaling.  He was pretty darn tiny when compared to the rest of the line, especially when you remember he was supposed to be the older Tim Drake of “One Year Later.”  It was a major blow to a figure who might have been pretty nice otherwise.  This figure changes up the entire paint scheme, going for something that more closely resembles Tim’s original costume.  While the sculpted details don’t all exactly match up with his older design (the scallops on the gloves and cape, and the pouches on the belt being the main errors), it still works surprisingly well, and in fact the head sculpt with its short and spiky hair actually makes more sense for this color scheme.  Additionally, the traditional Robin colors are just more appealing to my eye, and on top of that, the fact that it’s supposed to be a younger version of Tim means that the scale issues are a lot less pressing on this release.  The only drawback to this figure was that he lacks the original’s combat staff, since the set only included a single batarang for the duo to share.  Ah, classic Matty.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, you know those crappy distribution issues that prevented me from easily acquiring the original Robin release?  Well, they reared their ugly head again when it came time for the repaints that were supposed to address the issue…which didn’t really fix things, did it?  Whatever the case, I didn’t get the set new, but I was able to get ahold of Robin on his own thanks to one being traded into All Time Toys last December.  I’m glad I finally got my hands on this one, as he really manages to salvage the sculpt of the original, without being held back by scaling or overly-time-specific costumes.

#2092: Nightwing

NIGHTWING

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS (MATTEL)

After his parents were murdered, young Dick Grayson was adopted by Bruce Wayne, becoming his ward… and, as the first Robin The Boy Wonder, his partner in the war against crime. Years later, Robin struck out on his own as Nightwing and now lives in the corruption-ridden city of Bludhaven where by day he serves as a member of that city’s police department.”

Mattel’s DC Universe Classics was born out of DC Superheroes, a line that was itself born out of their earlier Batman line.  DC Superheroes introduced some Superman characters into the mix, but was otherwise still very Batman-focused.  When it came time for DC Universe Classics, there was no corner of the DCU unavailable, so Mattel got a lot deeper with their coverage.  However, they still didn’t stray too far from the Batman side of things, meaning it wasn’t a huge surprise to see two of his sidekicks crop up early in the line’s run.  I’ve already looked at the Robin, so how about the former Robin, aka Nightwing?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Nightwing was part of Series 3 of DC Universe Classics, alongside the previously reviewed Tim Drake Robin, Green Lantern, Sinestro, and Deathstroke.  He was the third figure Mattel had done of Nightwing at this scale, and like Robin before him, this figure marked the first time that the Four Horsemen worked on the character.  Nightwing is seen here in his traditional blue/black costume, which had been his consistent look for over a decade when this figure hit shelves, meaning it was a pretty safe choice.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  Nightwing used the mid-sized male body, which was first introduced for this very assortment, and would be used simultaneously for both him and Hal Jordan.  It’s a little on the bulky side for how Dick is usually portrayed, especially in the shoulders, but within the context of the line, it worked alright.  Nightwing had a unique head, forearms, and shins.  The head depicts an early-to-mid ’00s Nightwing, as denoted by the hairstyle.  While I might like it to be a little more expressive, it’s otherwise a pretty strong take on the character, and there’s plenty of detail work, especially in the texturing of the hair.  The forearms and shins depict the most inconsistent element of this Nightwing costume: the cuffs for the gloves and boots.  They were frequently all different shapes, sizes, and positions, and by the time of Hush, Jim Lee had removed them completely.  That streamlined look is honestly my preferred interpretation, but to Mattel’s credit, there’s been very little action figure coverage with these pieces included, so it does help the figure stand out from DCD’s offerings.  The paintwork on Nightwing is mostly pretty basic, straight color work.  The blue is appropriately bright, and the application is clean.  There’s some ever so slight accenting on the hair, which helps bring out the sculpted textures, and that’s pretty nice.  Nightwing was packed with his usual Eskrima sticks (which he can store on his back, another unique feature of this figure), as well as the head/torso of the Grundy CnC.  Why he got the largest piece over the comparatively much smaller Robin figure is anyone’s guess, but mine didn’t have it anyway, so it doesn’t really matter.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Okay, it’s a DCUC review, so you know the drill: this assortment was hard to find at retail, and I never saw a Nightwing in person.  I managed to track down GL and Sinestro, my two main wants, in-package and new, and got the reissue of Robin a little later, but Nightwing never turned up.  I already had the Hush figure, so I wasn’t too worried about it, but when this guy was among a large DCUC collection that got traded into All Time Toys last year, I jumped at the opportunity to get him.  I’ve got a lot of Nightwing figures, and I can’t say this one really stands out from the pack, but he’s certainly not a bad figure.