#2804: Zodac

ZODAC

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE ORIGINS (MATTEL)

NOTE: This review was written before June 6th.

“Cosmic Enforcer!”

Action figures are like potato chips: you can’t have just one.  Or maybe that’s just me.  But only with action figures.  Because I’m actually not that big on potato chips…so I don’t even tend to have the one.  But I do have a lot of action figures.  So, there’s that.  What was the point of all this?  Oh, right, I’m looking at another Masters of the Universe Origins figure.  That’s pretty nifty.  And even niftier, it’s a character I haven’t looked at before, because I don’t actually own him in any other form.  Yes, it’s MotU‘s own resident Cosmic Enforcer (who is no longer “Evil”), Zodac!  Zodac’s actually one of the franchise’s original characters, debuting in the original line-up, and originally being billed as an “Evil Cosmic Enforcer,” so as to keep the numbers equal between both sides.  Outside media generally stuck to a neutral alignment for the character, though, and as the line progressed, “Evil” was removed from his packaging, helping to cement his status as not-a-bad-guy.  Let’s have a look at this not-a-bad-guy.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Zodac is another figure from Wave 3 of Masters of the Universe Origins, right alongside yesterday’s Roboto.  The figure stands about 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  His articulation scheme is effectively the same as Roboto’s, though he gets the extra movement on his right wrist joint.  Like his original figure, Zodac is largely built from shared parts. He’s got the Beast Man torso (because he’s got a lot of back hair, I guess), and the reptilian forearms and boots, as well as the standard upper-arms, upper-legs, and waist.  It’s all topped off with a new head and armor piece.  They do a respectable job of recreating his original, as goofy and silly as it’s supposed to be.  Since his torso is a different set-up, he winds up a little sturdier than Roboto, so he’s less prone to wobbling.  Zodac has a little more in the way of paint than Roboto, but it’s still pretty well applied, on my figure at least.  There’s a slight discrepancy on the painted flesh of the face compared to the molded plastic body, but that’s been an issue with Zodac pretty much since day one.  It’s also not as bad in person as it looks in the photos.  Zodac is packed with his blaster, or, as Tim would like me to point out, his L-shaped mace, seeing as it looks more like that than it does a gun.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

While I was sold on Roboto as soon as he was announced, I wasn’t really planning to pick up Zodac.  However, Max got his earlier, and I got to mess around with it, which was enough to convince me I kind of wanted one of my own.  He’s a fun little figure, and a nice change of pace for my collection at this point.  Here’s to hoping me might get a Zodak redeco at some point!

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2803: Roboto

ROBOTO

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE ORIGINS (MATTEL)

NOTE: This review was written before June 6th.

“Heroic Mechanical Warrior!”

When last I looked at anything Masters of the Universe, I mentioned not yet having any experience with the latest iteration of the line.  Well, hey, that’s changed…just in time for there to be another two for me to keep track of.  Yay?  Well, in the mean time, I guess I’ll look at the one I got.  Launched in the hell-hole of a year that was 2020, Masters of the Universe Origins was designed as a look back at the early days of the line, effectively updating the original vintage line but with more articulation.  So, you know, like Classics, but…umm…not Classics, I guess?  Anyway, my first entry into this new line is one of my favorite characters from the franchise, Roboto!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Roboto is part of the third wave of Masters of the Universe Origins, which started hitting shelves earlier this year.  It showed up at Walmarts and Targets a bit earlier, but has been making its way to other retailers in the last month or so.  The figure stands about 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 22 points of articulation, as well as a moving jaw piece.  The articulation on these new figures is pretty much the best the brand’s ever seen, even improving a little bit on the Classics movement.  Much like his vintage figure, Roboto shares his legs with the Trap-Jaw figure from the line, but everything else is new.  He’s definitely following in the vintage figure’s footsteps in terms of design.  It’s a very clean, rather retro look.  It’s a little bit less goofy in this incarnation, but not so much so that he doesn’t feel like Roboto, who should always be at least a little goofy.  The way that they’ve kept the general proportions of the vintage figures, while still giving them the ability to, you know, stand up straight, also emphasizes that almost Bruce Timm-esque top-heavy nature of the designs.  I certainly don’t mind that.  The only slight downside to the construction of the figure is that, due to the interchangeable nature of the bodies on these figures, his waist joint is a little on the rickety side.  Not like he’s going to break or anything, but he does wobble a little bit.  Roboto doesn’t have a ton of paint, largely relying on molded colors from the plastic, but they’re pretty bright and bold.  The paint that’s there is cleanly applied, and follows the vintage design well.  As is typical for the character, Roboto is packed with three arm attachments for the right arm, blaster, axe, and claw.  He also has his usual action feature; turning the torso moves the gears in the chest and moves his jaw up and down.  It’s basic, but fun.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Roboto is the first Origins figure to really catch my eye (since they appear to be dragging their feet on Mechanek), so I was definitely down for him from the word go.  He’s a very nicely done figure, and just a lot of fun.  Generally, I’m not so much into the vintage style MotU figures, but for the characters I like, this is a nice style, and I’m sure it’s great for more involved MotU fans.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2725: Hydron

HYDRON

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS (MATTEL)

“Hydron is a space sea commander from the domed undersea city of Orca, situated not far from Titus, a small island in the Guardian Sea on Primus. He was ordered by Darius to locate the legendary twin warriors prophesized to defeat the Horde Empire. Arriving on Eternia shortly after Skeletor’s victory at the Second Ultimate Battleground, Hydron and his Lieutenant Icarius recruited not only He-Man and She-Ra, but several of the members of the Masters of the Universe who were eager to pursue Skeletor. Preferring the Triton Spear Gun, his weapon of choice is suitable for intergalactic as well as undersea fighting.”

After a bio that in depth, is there really much more I can do with an intro?  I guess so.  It’s been a little bit since I’ve looked at any Masters of the Universe figures, and there’s a whole new iteration of the franchise running.  So, am I looking at one of those?  No, don’t be silly.  Why would I do that?  Instead, I’m digging into a portion of the franchise I’m so overly familiar with: New Adventures of He-Man…Yeah, familiar…that’s the word I’m going with…that mean’s “barely a passing connection,” right?  Though I’ve never had much in the way of direct interaction with this version of the franchise, I do know the tiniest bit about it, and one of the things I do kind of know is Hydron, the guy what the the bio above talked about.  I hear he’s pretty cool.  He looks pretty cool at least.  Is he pretty cool, though?  Let’s find out.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Hydron was added to Mattel’s Masters of the Universe Classics line during their 2014 sub year, as the March figure for that year.  As with all of the New Adventures-inspired figures from the line, he takes the original design for the character and sort of homogenizes it with Classics‘ heavier vintage stylings.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  Like most of the line, Hydron was built on the standard core male body, with all its pluses and minuses.  It didn’t on its face suit the New Adventures guys quite as well, but they were pretty far into the line when they started doing them, so it’s hard to say there wasn’t some precedent.  It certainly made Hydron far bulkier than he had previously been, especially in conjunction with the new parts.  Said new parts are a brand-new head, forearms, right thigh, lower legs, and waist, as well as a new add-on for the chest armor.  The majority of the bulking up is being done by the chest armor piece, which comprises the whole torso cover/helmet/rebreather set-up.  By making the cover a separate overlay, they add a lot of bulk to the mid section of the figure, and ultimately robs him of his mid-torso articulation.  It was an attempt by Mattel to unilaterally handled the torso designs for the line, but it ultimately hurts this guy, who would have more benefited from a more specifically sculpted torso piece.  It’s still got some cool detailing, of course, so it’s not a total loss, but I feel it could be a touch better on the implementation front.  On the plus side, the figure’s other new parts are all pretty fun, with the star piece being the head beneath the domed helmet.  It depicts Hyrdron with his scuba cap and rebreather device, giving him a really nifty retro sci-fi appearance which I really dig.  Hydron’s colors are a bit different from the norm for Masters, with a lot of light blue and green.  It’s an eye-catching look to say the least, and certainly a rather nice change of pace.  The paint work on this guy was fairly basic but generally fairly good.  The only slightly off part about it is the slight shift in color between the main body and the torso overlay piece.  It’s not major, but it’s there.  Hydron was packed the Triton Spear Gun mentioned in his bio, which is an awkward weapon to say the least.  I think mine’s probably holding it wrong, but I like it better this way, so I’m sticking with it.  MOTUC were never heavy on extras, so Hydron’s fairly average, but after getting the extra un-helmeted head with Flipshot back with his release, it was a shame that Hydron didn’t get more of an unmasked appearance as well.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Even with no attachment to the NA version of the franchise, Hydron’s always been a design that I enjoyed.  Back when these figures were still coming out, Hydron was honestly on my list of figures I wanted, but Mattel’s mismanagement of the line left me rather burned out on the whole thing, and I just gave up.  As such, I didn’t Hydron when he was new, and I probably wouldn’t have gotten him at all, but then he came in with the same collection that got me the BAT and Blake, and I was kind of a weak mark.  Plus, I had Tuskador, and he just looked so lonely.  Ultimately, this guy’s got his flaws, but he’s still pretty fun, and I’m glad to have finally added him to my collection.

#2724: John Blake

JOHN BLAKE

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES MOVIE MASTERS (MATTEL)

Man, remember when DC movies weren’t totally divisive and the subject of much ire between fandoms?  Me either.  But I do remember Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, and there are certainly opinions about that one, aren’t there?  Personally, I break from the few agreed upon ideas about the trilogy, namely that I’ve never been that terribly impressed by The Dark Knight (not that I think it’s a *bad* movie by any stretch), and I actually quite like it’s rather divisive follow-up, The Dark Knight Rises.  Amongst the things that I really enjoy in Rises is Joseph Gordon Levitt’s turn as GCPD Detective John Blake, the closest thing this incarnation of the franchise got to a Robin (and as much as I enjoy the film, even I will admit that reveal was a little bit ham-fisted).  Mattel actually went pretty in-depth for their Movie Masters component to the film’s tie-in toys, covering most of the major players, John included.  I’m taking a look at him today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

John Blake was released in the third round of Mattel’s Dark Knight Rises Movie Masters figures, technically alongside Ra’s Al-Gul, though that implies that the two of them ever shared any shelf space at retail…or made it to retail at all, for that matter…This line was a little bit mismanaged to say the least.  The figure is just shy of 6 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  As a Mattel product, especially from their movie lines, it’s probably not a huge surprise that his articulation doesn’t have the greatest range of motion.  In particular, the ab-crunch and elbows are quite restricted, not that any of that was surprising for this line.  Blake gets two distinct looks for the movie, his standard GCPD officer’s uniform, and the more dressed down attire he gets after being promoted to detective.  At the time, Mattel was doing pretty much everything they could to put as many of these guys as possible on the standard suit body, but despite that opted for Blake in his GCPD attire.  It’s his slightly more distinctive look, and the one used for most of the promotional stuff for the movie, so that made sense.  It also meant he got a surprising amount of new parts, with only the lower half of the figure using the suit body pieces.  The rest was new, and honestly not bad for Mattel’s usual output from this era.  The head’s got one of Mattel’s better likenesses for Movie Masters, and actually kind of looks like JGL.  He’s still perhaps a little on the cartoony side, but it’s pretty close.  His paint work is all pretty basic, but not bad.  It more or less gets the job done.  The hands are painted, rather than molded with makes them a little thick and devoid of detail, but it’s not terrible.  Blake was originally packed with part of the Bat Signal Collect-N-Connect scene, and that was it.  No character specific extras or anything, which feels kind of lazy.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I really wanted this figure when it was released, as I’d really enjoyed the character in the film, and I’m just generally a fan of Joseph Gordon Levitt as an actor.  Unfortunately, I never actually saw one at retail, nor did I even really see him on the secondary market, even for inflated pricing.  He was just rather uncommon.  I resigned myself to not have the figure, and kind of forgot about him.  That was until the same collection the got me yesterday’s BAT, also had this guy.  Huzzah, finally a John Blake!  Ultimately, he’s not really much to write home about, but he’s probably one of the best Movie Masters Mattel did during their tenure.

#2389: KGBeast

KGBEAST

DC COMICS MULTIVERSE (MATTEL)

“One of the world’s best contract killers, the man known as The Beast is hired to take out Batman.”

Okay, we’re officially going into the first week of my “let’s throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks” approach to reviewing.  I’ve got a handful of newish one-off items that I’ve got all the photos and stuff for, so I might as well get some of these suckers actually reviewed.  This week is going to be a little heavier on the DC side, just as a warning.  Today’s review jumps back to mythical time of 2019, when they still sang the songs and things were merry…well, okay, Mattel still had the DC license, so I guess “merry” is a relative term.  Let’s narrow in on their final series of DC product, a Batman-themed assortment, and honestly not a bad one at that.  I’m looking easily the most obscure of the figures contained there in, Anatoli Knyazev, the KGBeast!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

KGBeast was part of the Killer Croc Series of DC Comics Multiverse…well, the second, comics-themed one, anyway.   It was the last official assortment of the line, though it made it to retail before some of the others.  Beast was originally meant to be a Build-A-Figure Collect-N-Connect for a different assortment, but was quickly refitted into this line-up as a standard figure when Mattel realized they weren’t getting another assortment after this.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall and he has 28 points of articulation.  Beast is a little more restricted on the articulation front than some of the others from the improved era of Mattel figures, especially when it comes to the knee joints, but he’s not as bad as some of the red-box era figures got.  Structurally, KGBeast uses a number of parts from the CnC Lobo figure, which isn’t a bad choice, aside from the the fact that he’s inherited that figure’s tendency to pop apart at the waist.  That can definitely be a little annoying.  Aside from that, though, this guy’s got a pretty impressive looking sculpt.  He’s the Rebirth version of the Beast, so the larger build is a little more sensible, and there’s an opportunity to get more cool texture details worked in, especially on that vest overlay piece he’s sporting.  It helps the figure that this is probably KGBeast’s best design to date, and that it just translates pretty nicely into action figure form.  About the only real flaw I can come up with is the decision to just paint the wires connecting his gun on his arm, rather than having some sort of sculpted element.  It looks rather tacky.  Speaking of paint, though, KGBeast’s is fairly decent.  There’s not a ton going on with it, but what’s there works pretty well, and its all fairly cleanly applied.  KGBeast is packed with a bayonet attachment for his gun-hand, two knives which he can stow in his boot sheaths, and the head and pelvis of Killer Croc.  Honestly not a bad assortment, especially when you consider how much of the package is just filled by the figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As cool a look as he has, I’ve never had much attachment to KGBeast as a character, so I looked at this figure when he first showed up, but ultimately decided to pass.  Why the change of heart?  Well, just after the new year, all the Mattel DC stuff that was still around got clearanced to make space for the new stuff, and that included KGBeast.  At $5, he was a lot easier to justify.  He’s honestly not a bad figure, and again shows that Mattel really had a solid footing in their final year with the line.

#2238: Trapjaw

TRAPJAW

MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE (MATTEL)

Evil & armed for combat”

It’s been a stretch since I’ve looked at anything Masters of the Universe.  With it being pretty much the only major property Mattel’s got going for them (on the action figure front, at least; they’ve still got Mega Construx, Hot Wheels, and Barbie, I guess), and they’re supposedly trying to relaunch the brand again this year.  Until that line launches, I’ve got my love the 200x line to keep me warm.  I’ve got a pretty decent little collection of that line, so I’m dusting one of those off for review today.  Let’s have a look at Trapjaw!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Trapjaw was released in the second assortment of Evil Warriors as part of the 2002 Masters of the Universe relaunch (though, as part of said second assortment, he didn’t actually hit until 2003).  He was released alongside a Skeletor Variant and the previously reviewed Tri-Klops.  The figure stands a little under 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 13 workable points of articulation.  Technically, there’s a joint on his jaw as well, but it’s spring loaded, so it doesn’t really hold a pose (though I was able to keep it open long enough for the photo at the top of this review).  Like most of the 200x line, Trapjaw was sporting a unique sculpt, in contrast to his original figure, which used the same torso as everyone else and shared his legs with Roboto and Man-E-Faces.  Nope, this guy was all new.  Like a number of the figures I’ve looked at, Trapjaw was well-served by the divergent sculpts, as he was able to lean more heavily into the “mutilated cyborg” elements of the character.  The end result is far more imposing design than the one from the ’80s, making another member of Skeletor’s band seem like a genuine threat, rather than just another pea-brained buffoon.  Of course, then the cartoon went and made him a buffoon anyway…guess you can’t win them all.  There are a lot of really fun little details worked into this figure, including the stitching on his torso, which adds to that general “Frankenstiened” feeling of this upgraded design.  Trapjaw’s paintwork is pretty decent, being a little more detailed than some of his compatriots.  He takes the general basics of the classic design, but tones them down ever so slightly to make them fit better with the sculpt.  The application’s all pretty sharp, and he doesn’t leave as many details unpainted as some of the other figures in the line.  Trapjaw included three different robot arm attachments.  The main one is a claw, with some extra articulation worked in.  He’s also got a hook, as well as a gun attachment.  They swap out pretty easily and all fit well with the rest of the arm, and can even be stowed on his belt or his back.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Last year, when All Time got in a rather large 200x Masters collection, I was already invested in getting Buzz-Off and Man-At-Arms, but hadn’t quite jumped on the Trapjaw figure.  Jason told me that if I was getting any 200x Masters, I really needed at Trapjaw, because he’s one of the best.  After finally getting this guy for myslef, I can’t disagree with that assessment.  Definitely one of the line’s best, even if Trapjaw isn’t one of my personal favorite characters.

#2297: Hawkgirl

HAWKGIRL

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS (MATTEL)

During ancient Egypt’s 15th Dynasty, Princess Chay-Ara and her beloved Prince Khufu discovered a downed Thanagarian spacecraft. After their murder, the couple’s exposure to the ship’s anti-gravity Nth Metal has destined them to be reincarnated through the ages and fight alongside the Justice Society of America.”

At the start of this year, the DC comics license officially moved from Mattel (who held it for 17 years) to Spin Master and McFarlane.  Their first products started hitting halfway through last month, but right now I’m taking another look at Mattel’s tenure with the license, specifically when they were at their high point, mid-way through their DC Universe Classics run, when they were still filling out that core cast of characters.  Today, I’m taking a look at Hawkgirl!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Hawkgirl was released in the eighth series of DC Universe Classics.  At this point, each assortment was getting one core DC character, and thanks to Justice League and Justice League Unlimited, that was a category Hawkgirl fell into in 2009.  She’s undoubtedly the most marketable character of Series 8 as a whole, due in part to the generally low-profile character selection contained therein.  As a whole this assortment was really our first taste of that deep cut philosophy that would define the line going forward.  Hawkgirl would wind up re-packed alongside fellow Series 8 release Gentleman Ghost in the “Fates Intertwined” two-pack in 2010, after she (and all of Series 8) wound up being very tricky to find at retail (a common tale with this line, unfortunately).  Despite the bio’s detailing of the Golden Age Princess Chay-Ara incarnation of the character, the figure is actually based on the Silver Age Thanagarian police officer Shayera Hol incarnation, who was the one that appeared on the cartoons and is generally better known.  The figure stands just over 6 inches tall and has 29 points of articulation.  As the line was built on parts re-use, it’s no surprise that Hawkgirl had a fair amount of re-use going on.  The shoulders, upper arms, hands, lower torso, pelvis, and upper legs are shared with Series 4’s Wonder Woman, while the wings were previously used for Shayera’s husband Hawkman in Series 6.  In both cases its pretty sensible re-use (and the wings are just very nice pieces in general), and her new parts fit well with the old.  Due to the nature of her head sculpt and how it works with the articulation, she’s stuck looking a bit downward, but if you have her on a flying stand of some sort, it’s not so bad.  It is a shame they couldn’t get some more range out of that neck joint, though.  Overall, though, this is probably one of the most balanced sculpts the line produced.  The paint’s pretty straight forward too, with clean, bright, bold application.  There’s a bit of slop on the mask, but otherwise it’s a pretty clean look.  In her single-packed release, Hawkgirl included her mace, a short sword, a spear, and a display stand.  For the two-pack release, that was cut back to just the mace and the spear.  Mine’s just got the mace these days.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Series 8 was probably the worst distributed assortment in the whole DC Universe Classics line, and I don’t recall seeing any of the figures at retail, Hawkgirl included.  I ended up getting this one, which is the two-pack release loose towards the end of the line, just so I could finally fill out my JLA line-up.  She’s a pretty nice, fairly reserved figure, and one of the best Hawkgirl figures out there.

#2283: Man-At-Arms

MAN-AT-ARMS

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE (MATTEL)

Heroic Master of Weapons”

My introduction to Masters of the Universe was not via the franchise’s original ’80s incarnation, but was instead through the attempted 2002 revival series.  Though ultimately not as much of a success as the original line, I myself have always much preferred this incarnation, in part for my own sentimental reasons, and in part because I have no reason to be sentimental about the original.  Whatever the case, I’m always game for a look back at the line that got me into things, and that’s just what I’ll be doing today, with a look at the updated series’ take on Prince Adam’s own wise, sagely mentor, Man-At-Arms!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Man-At-Arms was released as part of the Heroic Warriors half of the first assortment of Mattel’s 2002 Masters of the Universe line, alongside the basic He-Man and Stratos.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  While the vintage Man-At-Arms was built from the same bank of parts as He-Man and a good chunk of the rest of the line, for the purposes of the 200x update, he was given a major overhaul and, consequently, a totally new sculpt (albeit one that would be used for a handful of Man-At-Arms variants as the line progressed), just like pretty much every one else in the line.  Earlier in the line, Mattel was still trying to hang onto some of the build aspects of the old line, so unlike later figures, Man-At-Arms still has a removable chest piece, much like his vintage counter part.  While there’s not a ton of reason to remove it, it does allow for a continuation of the interchangeability that the old figures had, which would more or less be removed from the line from Series 2 onward.  The arm and leg pieces are not removable this time around, but it’s honestly a bit of an improvement, since now they won’t constantly fall off or be at risk for breaking.  Man-At-Arms’ sculpt is certainly an impressive one, and definitely the strongest of the debut Heroic Warriors.  They’ve gone really crazy with all of the various tech details, which help to really differentiate him from his prior figure, as well as further remove him from his genesis as largely a repaint of the basic barbarian.  That barbarian aspect is much more removed.  What’s not removed this time around is Duncan’s mustache, always curiously absent from his original figure.  This one has it in all of its Selleck-esque glory.  He’s also got a far more intimidating facial expression than his predecessor, making this one guy I would not want to mess with.  The paint work on this figure is fairly decent.  Like the sculpt, the paint exhibits far more detail than the ’80s version, though it still doesn’t quite do the sculpt justice.  Plenty of details go unpainted, and are therefore very easily missed by the casual eye.  Befitting his name, this Man-At-Arms came with two styles of armament.  He has the classic figure’s mace (albeit at a slightly more imposing scale) and adds an arm cannon which slips over his left hand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Man-At-Arms was, admittedly, never a character that was high on my list.  As such, I never had one growing up, and I hadn’t come across one since starting to go back and fill in the holes in the collection.  When All Time got in a whole bunch of 200x Masters figures a couple of months ago, Man-At-Arms was included.  Since I was already picking up a few others, he was a pretty easy purchase.  Now my collection feels a bit more complete.

As touched on above, I picked this guy up from my friends All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2269: Batman

BATMAN

JUSTICE LEAGUE ACTION (MATTEL)

As toys have become more of a collectors game, and toy companies have begun to cater to said collectors, there’s been one major issue plaguing our favorite brands: how do you keep mainstay characters affordable and easily available to younger audiences who haven’t quite latched onto that collector’s game?  The answer? Evergreen lines.  These are lines with figures that don’t follow the same sort of assortment break-down of collector lines, and aim to keep the big names on the shelves, while also producing a cost effective line.  There are a handful of different levels to these sorts of lines, and furthest down the list are the very basic figures that serve as fodder for the shelves at drugstores and places like Dollar General or Family Dollar.  Figures that are cheap, plentiful, and can stand up to some play.  I’m looking at one such figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Batman is part of Mattel’s budget Justice League line, which features all of the iconagraphy of Justice League Action, but sports figures that are otherwise unrelated.  This specific Batman variant was also offered a few years ago under a purely Batman branding, but saw release, as is the intended purpose of the line.  The figure is about 5 1/2 inches tall and he has four points of articulation.  He moves at the neck, shoulders, and waist; no hip movement for him, although some of the line’s more recent offerings have added that.  Structurally, this figure feels quite similar to the Ultra Hero Series and offerings like it, which I can certainly dig.  His sculpt is a fairly clean, rather basic affair.  All of the important details are there, but it doesn’t really move beyond them.  His cape is a cloth piece, slotted into his back a little clumsily, but it’s sturdy and won’t be going anywhere.  As far as paint, he’s pretty basic.  The color scheme is slightly non-standard, being mostly black with a yellow emblem and belt.  It’s not a bad look, though, and the paint for the logo and face is pretty decent.  He’s got no accessories, which isn’t much of a surprise given the usual price point on these things.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got this guy in a big box of presents from my in-laws.  He clearly wasn’t meant to be the star attraction or anything, just something small that they presumably picked up for me while somewhere else.  I can’t say he’s the sort of figure I’d buy for myself, but as a gift, he’s kind of nifty in his own way.  And, of course, now I’m looking at what else has been done in this style, because I have a serious problem.

#2255: Green Lantern

GREEN LANTERN

GREEN LANTERN: FIRST FLIGHT (MATTEL)

As we come to the close of 2019, we also come to the close of Mattel’s 17 year run with the DC Comics toys license.  Their run with the license had its share of ups and downs as they stumbled their way through the boys toys market.  They definitely hit their biggest success with DC Universe Classics, a line of super-articulated 6-inch figures, but just as they launched that line, their competitors at Hasbro opted to shrink their Marvel lines down to 3 3/4 inches.  Mattel followed with DC Infinite Heroes, a line that was…not very good.  After launching in 2008, they were already pretty much dead at retail by 2009.  It did hang in there til the end of ’09, and in typical Mattel fashion, they started to get the hang of things just before giving up.  One of the line’s better offerings wasn’t from the line proper, but was instead a pack-in with 2009’s direct to video Green Lantern: First Flight movie.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Green Lantern was available exclusively at Best Buy, packed in with the DVD and Blu-Ray releases of First Flight.  Though he doesn’t bear any official Infinite Heroes markings, he was constructed from mostly IH parts, albeit ones that hadn’t shown up at retail yet when he hit.  The figure is a little shy of 3 3/4 inches tall (noticably smaller than Hasbro’s Marvel Universe offerings) and has 22 points of articulation.  The body used here is Mattel’s second attempt at a standard male body, which was a huge improvement on the first.  The only piece shared between the two was the torso, arguably the only part of the body worth keeping.  The articulation is almost double, meaning that you could actually, you know, pose the figure.  It’s still a little backwards compared to the likes of MU, with only cut joints at the neck and hips, but at least he could move his wrists and ankles and get some side to side motion on the arms and legs.  The proportions are also a lot better; they’re still not a perfect set-up, but at least he doesn’t have those frightening monster hands.  The new joints weren’t the most resilient, though, and the cut joints at the wrists in particular were prone to tearing, which happened with the left arm on mine.  That said, IH had breakage problems from early on, so this wasn’t exactly a step back.  GL’s one new part was the head, which was patterned on his animated appearance.  It’s not a bad sculpt, and actually works pretty decently for a comics Hal as well (which is why Mattel ended up re-using it for comics Hal later down the line).  The paint work on Hal is okay, nothing amazing.  It lacks some of the smaller details of the costume from the movie, and there are some odd choices like not lining the edge of his armband up with the arm joint, but it’s not awful.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When Infinite Heroes launched, I picked up a few of the figures to give it a try, but ultimately wasn’t that impressed and backed out of the line.  However, when First Flight was released, it was right on top of my birthday that year, and my brother was absolutely committed to getting me the deluxe version, figure and all, and had my parents drive him around to a couple of Best Buys in order to make sure he could get me one.  This figure is honestly pretty good, and if Mattel had put out figures like this at the launch, then maybe Infinite Heroes wouldn’t have been such a flop.