#1692: Robin

ROBIN

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS (MATTEL)

In a similar fashion to Toy Biz’s early Marvel Legends offerings skipping any thing Spider-Man-related due the Spider-Man Classics line that sort of launched Legends, thanks to the lead-in DC Superheroes line, Mattel’s DC Universe Classics was slightly slower introducing Batman and Superman-themed figures.  While Batman found himself in the line’s first series, he would have to wait another two series before getting his trusty sidekick, Robin.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Robin was initially released in Series 3 of DC Universe Classics, and then ultimately re-released in the World’s Greatest Superheroes sub-line.  He was Mattel’s second go at Robin, following the mold that went back to their original Batman line.  This one is based on Tim Drake, the third Robin, and still the current one at the time of this figure’s release.  He’s seen here in the costume he was wearing at the time, which was introduced following the “One Year Later” time-jump caused by Infinite Crisis and 52.  It’s a design that doesn’t quite have the staying power of Tim’s prior look, but it did stick around for a few years, and it’s certainly not terrible.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  This figure’s biggest flaw is his height.  He was a full inch shorter than the standard adult male from this line, but not in a “oh, he’s just a teenager who isn’t fully grown yet” way.  He actually looks like he’s a smaller scale than the rest of the figures.  It’s especially annoying because the later Red Robin figure, meant to represent Tim from just a few years later in the timeline, was just on the standard male body.  That wasn’t the right fit either, but at least he looked vaguely right scale-wise.  The most frustrating about the height issue is that the figure’s sculpt is actually pretty good.  Robin lacks some of the more annoying stylistic elements of the larger bodies, such as the goofy larger shoulders, or the painfully obvious hip joints.  His proportions are fairly balanced, and there are actually quite a few uniquely sculpted pieces, such as the buckles on his tunic and his utility belt, which add a lot of character to the figure.  The head’s maybe more of an early career Tim than one in this costume should be, but it still looks quite nice, and even the cape is a pretty solid sculpt.  Purely from an internal standpoint, it’s a strong sculpt.  Even his paintwork’s not terrible.  I mean, there’s no crazy detail work or anything, but the application is all pretty clean, and there’s some slight accent work on the red sections of the costume.  He was originally packed with a combat staff and the left arm of the Collect-N-Connect Solomon Grundy.  The re-release (which is the one I had), dropped the CnC piece.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When Series 3 of DCUC was unveiled I was thrilled.  I wanted every figure in the set.  To date, of the five figures (six if you included the CnC), I own three, and this one’s not even the original release.  Why?  Mattel’s sucky distribution, that’s why.  I desperately wanted Robin, but I never actually saw him at retail, so I finally settled for the re-release, which I found at Baltimore Comic-Con a few years back.  He’s a frustrating figure.  I love so much about him, but he’s cursed never to really fit-in with his line-mates.  Fortunately, last fall I got the similarly mis-scaled DC Icons Batman, so at least they both have a companion.

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#1688: Tuskador

TUSKADOR

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS (MATTEL)

Mighty Tusked Galactic Warrior”

Tuskador!  It’s Tuskador!  ….Who’s Tuskador?  Boy, is that a good question.  Well, he’s from the New Adventures of He-Man, an iteration of the franchise I have no direct interaction with.  I’ve never seen a single episode of the cartoon, and I own none of the toys.  Or, at least I didn’t, until now that is.  Tuskador was one of the heroic characters, and seems to have followed somewhat in the vein of Ram-Man from the original series.  So, uh, here he is?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Tuskador was released during the 2016 year of Mattel’s online-exclusive Masters of the Universe Classics line.  He was one of the line’s oversized figures, and was also a Collector’s Choice item.  He was also the final figure to ship from the Matty Collector-run version of the line, so there you go.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 21 points of articulation.  Structurally, Tuskador uses the same starting point as Ram-Man, which I’d say is most of the reason he got made in the first place, since Mattel is all about re-use potential.  Direct re-use is limited to the arms and torso, with the rest of the parts on this figure being modeled on older parts but technically new.  In order to facilitate the re-use, Tuskador has been bulked up a bit more from his prior appearances, at least from what I can find of him online. The new pieces fit the more cybernetically-advanced design aesthetic of the New Adventures characters, which helps to keep him well-separated from Ram-Man.  He’s definitely a hefty figure, and his armored elements are well-sculpted, with lots of sharp detail work.  His helmet can be removed, which causes it to sit a little funny.  On the plus side, the underlying head is one of my favorite aspects of the figure.  His astronaut-inspired cap is a fun touch, and there’s something undeniably cool about his grizzled and wrinkled face.  Tuskador’s color scheme is heavy on the blues, which works pretty well, as does the gold.  The application is all pretty clean; paint on these items was at the very least superior to Mattel’s various retail offerings.  Tuskador is packed with his titular tusks, of course.  There are two lengths included, with a more modest pair and a more ridiculous pair.  Both are fun, and you can store the pair not in use on his back if you so choose.  He also includes a big blaster, which can be held or kept on his belt.  It’s annoying that he doesn’t have a trigger finger on his right hand, but if it were perfect, it wouldn’t be Mattel.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

By 2016, I’d completely bailed on MOTUC.  For the most part, the characters I’d wanted had been done, and Matty Collector was just too much of a hassle.  When the line ended, I really paid it no mind, and I moved on to other things.  So, why do I have this figure?  Super Awesome Girlfriend.  The Gamestop where she works got this guy in, she saw the logo on the box and knew I liked Masters of the Universe, so she bought him for me.  I’ve got no prior attachment to the character, nor can I say his design compelled me to track him down on my own.  With that said, he’s actually a pretty fun figure, and a nice counterpart to Ram-Man, who’s one of my favorite figures in the line.

#1686: Triceratops

TRICERATOPS

JURASSIC WORLD (MATTEL)

I am a child of the ‘90s.  That means I was pretty much contractually obligated to go through a period of being super into dinosaurs.  In my case, it was actually a shorter period than for most.  I mean, it’s not that I *don’t* like them, but I haven’t actually bought any proper dinosaur toys since I was like 5.  There’s a new Jurassic World movie coming out, and thus some new toys coming out, courtesy of our friends at Mattel.  Oh goody.  I’m giving them, and dinosaur toys as a whole, another try, though.  Let’s see how this goes.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Triceratops is part of the first assortment of Mattel’s Jurassic World: S.T.E.M Fossil Strikers.  The Fossil Strikers come packaged disassembled, and have to be assembled.  The slightly rubbery plastic can make getting some of the parts popped together a little difficult, but otherwise it’s a rather of painless process.  When fully assembled, the Triceratops is 3 1/2 inches tall and 6 inches long, with 35 points of articulation.  In a similar fashion to the assembly process, the articulation can be a little tricky to get working in some parts.  The joints are tight enough that if you aren’t careful, you can end up popping pieces off instead of moving the joints.  It takes some slight getting used to.  The sculpt is pretty solid, especially for the price point we’re looking at here.  The bones are all textured, and look fairly realistic.  There’s some slight tweaking to a few of them to make room for the articulation, and some of the assembly points are still visible after assembly.  Compared to your average collector-oriented figure, it’s pretty solid work, and it’s especially nice coming from Mattel, whose sculpts can sometimes be a little bit too soft.  The Triceratops has no paint, being just a consistent bone white.  Given the whole “assemble it yourself” concept, this isn’t terribly surprising, and it looks decent enough.  I suppose a wash or something would help to bring out the details some more, but it’s not essential.  The Triceratops includes  his special “DNA Key” which unlocks his “striker” action.  In his case, it swaps out for the neck piece and uses a spring-loaded function to swing his head up or down, depending on how the piece is oriented.  Nothing terribly impressive, and mine won’t be keeping it for display purposes, but they tried to do something more exciting, I guess.  The Triceratops also includes a display stand (made to look like a wood-grain base from a museum or something), and a stanchion with a little card detailing all of his features.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I just sort of stumbled upon this guy at a Target, while out and about with Tim.  That other dinosaur toy I mentioned getting back when I was 5?  A rubber triceratops, picked up from a supermarket trip with my Nana.  Since then, I’ve always had a soft spot for these guys.  This guy was $10, and that was low enough to get me to bite.  This isn’t a revolutionary toy or anything, but it’s still pretty cool, and definitely worth what I paid for it.  If you’re into cool dino toys, this line’s definitely worth checking out.

#1628: Man-At-Arms

MAN-AT-ARMS

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE (MATTEL)

“Man-At-Arms aka Duncan was a mentor to the young Prince Adam as well as a foster father to Teela.”

Most of my knowledge of Masters of the Universe comes from the 2002 reboot of the franchise, which served as my introduction to the context, and also provided the backbone of my MotU collection.  As such, most of my reviews here on the site have also been from the 2002 series.  Today, I’m going into less charted territory, and looking at a vintage offering.  So, let’s look at He-Man’s mentor, Man-At-Arms!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Man-At-Arms was part of the first assortment of Masters of the Universe figures, released in 1982.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  MotU was largely about getting as many uses out the same few bodies as possible, and Man-At-Arms follows suit.  He uses the standard Barbarian body (seen on the previously reviewed Tri-Klops figure), meaning he’s got those same goofy, overly-muscled proportions seen on the rest of the line.  They picked a style and they stuck with it.  Man-At-Arms had a new head, as well as add-on pieces for his chest, shoulder, and shin armor (mine’s missing the shin armor).  The head is infamously missing Duncan’s signature mustache, present on all other incarnations of the character, due to the figure’s design being put into production before Filmation added the mustache for the cartoon.  It results in a slightly different look for Duncan, but not an outright terrible one or anything.  The helmet has some pretty decent detail work going on, as do the clip-on armor pieces.  Man-At-Arms has a pretty simple paint scheme.  For the most part, he’s just molded in the appropriate colors, with only his face, helmet, belt, and boots getting any actual paint.  Application is mostly pretty clean, but the boots in particular have some definite slop.  The armor has no paint at all, making it look rather cheap and goofy, which is a real shame given how much detail went into the sculpt.  Man-At-Arms included a mace, to be held in his right hand.  It was the same color as his armor, and a little small and non-threatening, but I guess if you have muscles like that, you can afford for your weapons to be small and non-threatening.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

With the exception of a few personal favorite characters, the vintage Masters line isn’t one I really go out looking for.  That being said, the 2nd Ave Thrift store nearby seems to have gotten in someone’s ’80s toy collection, which has been slowly trickling out.  This guy and a few others popped up, and for a few bucks for the set, I felt like I could do a lot worse.  This line’s not totally my thing, but Man-At-Arms isn’t a bad figure.

#1626: Mantis

MANTIS

JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED (MATTEL)

“Mantis, an evil resident of Apokolips, decides to lead an invasion of Earth after the apparent demise of Darkseid.”

Of all the New Gods characters, I think Mantis may be the least developed.  I mean, he’s always been there, since Jack Kirby created the group in the ‘70s, but Kirby never did much with him, and subsequent creators sort of followed.  Mantis essentially just exists when writers need a New God for the heroes to battle without throwing off whatever’s going on with the New Gods that actually matter.  Despite that, Mantis inexplicably has four action figures.  Who’d have thunk?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mantis was released as part of the amusingly typo-ed “Attack from Apolkolips” 6-pack from Mattel’s Justice League Unlimited line.  That’s the best name I’ve seen since the good old days of “Muntant Armor.”  The figure stands 4 3/4 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  He’s built on the large male body (patterned after the original Justice League Superman), which is a good fit for the character.  He’s got a brand-new head sculpt, and though it’s made of rather rubbery plastic, it’s actually a pretty decent piece, rather deftly recreating Mantis’ design from the series.  Mantis’ “wings” are handled here has a cloth cape piece.  In a line of figures that used almost exclusively sculpted pieces for such things, this seems a little out of place, especially since it’s not a particularly *good* cloth cape.  There’s no hem on the outside, and it’s held in place by some rather obvious clips.  Organic flow is not among this figures strong suits.  The paint work on Mantis is decent enough; his colors all match up well with the on-screen ones, and the greens are nice and complimentary.  There’s a little bit of slop on his face and mask, but he’s otherwise pretty clean, and the detail lines on his costume are quite sharply defined.  Mantis included no accessories, but this was within the norm for the multi-pack figures.  Also, having seen a number of the accessories that were included with the single-carded figures, I can hardly feel like I missed out on anything.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

My interest in JLU had largely waned by the time this set came along, so I didn’t buy it new.  This guy was bought all on his lonesome from Yesterday’s Fun, during my family vacation last summer.  He’s not an exceptional figure or anything, but he’s not awful either.  He’s about average for this line, which I guess is about as much as you can expect.

#1620: Kilowog

KILOWOG

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS (MATTEL)

The cool thing about the Green Lantern concept is that it allows for a whole lot of different Green Lanterns.  Don’t like Hal Jordan?  You don’t have to!  Don’t like *any* of the Earth-bound GLs?  Well, you’re in luck, because there’s a wonderful assortment of non-human Lanterns to choose from.  One of my personal favorites (and a lot of people’s personal favorite, truth be told), is Kilowog, who I’m looking at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Kilowog was the build-a-figure Collect-N-Connect for Series 11 of DC Universe Classics.  The series was overall Green Lantern-themed, apart from one or two odds and ends, so Kilowog made sense.  It was only his third figure, and only his second in this scale.  The figure stands 9 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  His mobility is mostly the same as the standard DCUC figures, but he’s missing any sort of lateral motion on his legs, which makes him a little stiff.  Nevertheless, it was certainly an improvement on both of his prior figures.  Kilowog was built on the bruiser CnC body, which was technically introduced with Brimstone (from the Public Enemies tie-in assortment), but was designed with both of them in mind.  It’s a pretty solid fit for Kilowog, apart from some slightly long arms.  It’s actually held up a bit better than the standard bodies.  It’s a shame that some of the elements, such as the more worked-in joints, never found their way into the smaller base bodies.  But, I guess that’s Mattel for you.  The character-specific parts, especially the head, are really solid sculpts.  The head has a lot of character and really nails Kilowog’s distinctive design, while also including some fantastic texturing on the exposes sections of skin.  The paintwork on Kilowog is on par with the rest of the figures from this era of the line, which is to say pretty good.  The basic colors are pretty bold, the application is clean, and there’s even some pretty decent accent work.  I might have liked a little more accenting on the head and neck, but it’s certainly serviceable as it is.  Kilowog included no accessories, but as essentially an accessory himself, it’s not terrible, especially since there’s not a ton to give him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Assembling Kilowog was quite an endeavor.  DC Universe Classics were never particularly well distributed, and this series was no exception.  Katma Tui was the only figure I actually found at retail.  The others I pieced together slowly, over the course of almost a decade.  It was only last year that I actually finished him, with some help from both my brother Christian and my friends at Cosmic Comix, who found me the last two figures I needed to finally complete this guy.  I’m glad I did, because he’s perhaps the finest Collect-N-Connect this line offered, and just a favorite of mine in general.

#1595: Mantis

MANTIS

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS (MATTEL)

“Mantis is a servant of Darkseid, ruler of Apokolips, the planet of ultimate evil, and his power may rival that of his master.  When Darkseid sent Mantis to Earth to locate the Anti-Life Equation, the means to control all sentient life throughout the universe, Mantis schemed to conquer the planet himself instead.  Cursed with an insatiable lust for power, Mantis would be just as happy to see Darkseid defeated as he would to see Apokolips triumph.”

In addition to being very much focused on the odd-ball characters of the DC Universe, DC Universe Classics was also committed to being a recreation of Kenner’s Super Powers line from the ‘80s.  Initially, it was just thematically and somewhat stylistically, but eventually, sub-text became full text, and each assortment was given one direct Super Powers recreation.  Today’s figure is one of those.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mantis was released in Series 9 of DC Universe Classics.  As he was a pre-existing New Gods character who just got a hefty redesign for Super Powers, there were actually two variants of Mantis in this assortment.  The one seen here is, as mentioned above, the Super Powers design, which traded in the somewhat goofy spandex for a cool sci-fi robot thing.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  Despite what you might think, being a variant and all, the only parts shared between this and the classic Mantis are the upper arms, upper torso (albeit completely covered by an overlay), and knees, all of which are just the standard medium body pieces.  Everything else was brand-new to this guy, as it well should be.  It’s definitely one of the most impressive sculpts the line had to offer.   It captures the ‘80s figure’s design very well, but also scales it up, adds some extra details, and just generally modernizes the whole thing.  The only real problem I have is actually the re-use; the shoulders just end up looking a little bit out of place with the rest of the figure.  Still, not at all bad for a Mantis figure.  Paintwork on Mantis is pretty impressive as well.  There’s a lot of very bright, very bold color work, so he’ll definitely jump out on the shelf.  He’s also got a whole ton of accent work, including some slight airbrushing to keep things from getting too bland.  He really does represent the line at its peak.  Mantis was packed with the arm of Chemo, the Collect-N-Connect for this particular series, and nothing else.  Not sure there’s really much else you could have given him, though.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Mantis is another recent addition.  Series 9 suffered from some pretty fierce distribution problems, so I never found a lot of them at retail.  Fortunately, Cosmic Comix recently bought someone’s DCUC collection, so I’ve been able to pick up a lot of the figures I’ve missed.  I actually grabbed this figure back on Small Business Saturday, in an effort to be supportive.  Mantis is definitely a fun figure, and I’m certainly happy to have finally gotten him!

#1587: Green Lantern

GREEN LANTERN

JUSTICE LEAGUE (MATTEL)

When assembling the final line-up for the Justice League animated series, the creators were faced with two slight issues.  First, the traditional roster of seven members was, apart from one woman and one alien, all white guys, which isn’t particularly diverse.  Second, the traditional roster was made up of characters with very set roles in the public eye, which doesn’t necessarily allow for lots of creative freedom in storytelling.  They solved both of these problems with a minor line-up tweak.  Founding member Aquaman was replaced with the lesser known Hawkgirl, and Green Lantern Hal Jordan was replaced with his less explored successor John Stewart.  It proved a success not just for the creators, but also for the two characters chosen.  For John Stewart in particular, it took him from being probably the least known of the Earth-based Lanterns to being THE Green Lantern for an generation of DC fans.  Sadly, he’s somewhat fallen out of fashion again, but let’s remember back to the times when he was at the top, shall we?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Green Lantern was part of the first series of Mattel’s Justice League line.  Alongside Superman and Batman, he and Flash were definitely the lesser knowns, and as such was the short packs of the lot, which made GL a little hard to track down at first.  Fortunately, the popularity of both the show and the character saw this particular figure getting more than a few re-releases over the years.  The figure stands just shy of 4 1/2 inches tall (GL was the shortest of the founding 7 members, so this was accurately depicted here), and he has 5 points of articulation.  His sculpt was, like all of the Series 1 and 2 figures, done by DC Direct, and then handed over to Mattel when they won the DC license.  It’s really just a shrinking down of DCD’s GL Maquette from the time of the show’s premier, but that was a solid rendition of the character, and it still is on this figure.  The articulation’s not really good for a whole lot, and was certainly a low count, even at the time.  Nevertheless, it was consistent with the prior Kenner/Hasbro animated offerings, and it was really the best that could be hoped for in terms of preserving the aesthetics of the animated design.  As far as paintwork went, GL was pretty straightforward.  I always felt the main green could have stood to be a little lighter (and, going by its shading on the show, it probably should have been metallic), but it’s ultimately a decent offering.  One minor flaw?  His eyes have black pupils.  In the show, they were green, showing the effects of the power ring.  Future figures had this corrected, but this guy just has green irises instead.  Green Lantern was packed with a blue stand, which connected with those of the other main League-ers, to spell out the team’s name.  Lantern gets “JU” so he’s meant to go at the front.  It’s a decent piece, but a bit cumbersome for display purposes.  Sadly, that was all he had; no power battery or constructs for this release.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

While I was able to score a Flash figure pretty quickly when these figures first hit, GL proved to be slightly more difficult to find.  Fortunately, I was able to get some assistance from my friend Cindy Woods, who tracked down a GL for me in fairly short order.  He’s not the greatest John Stewart figure (though he’s certainly a large improvement over the last one I looked at on this site), but he was good for the time, and has remained a favorite of mine.

#1586: Winston Zeddemore

WINSTON ZEDDEMORE

REAL GHOSTBUSTERS RETRO ACTION HEROES (MATTEL)

 

When it comes to the original Ghostbusters, I’ve always felt that Winston Zeddemore, the team’s fourth member, doesn’t get all of the credit he deserves.  Though he may be a later addition to the team, he’s a very important element in their success.  As the only non-scientist in the bunch, he’s also the only of the four with any real common sense, and it’s always been my firm belief that without him the other three would have been more ghost than buster before the credits rolled.  Fortunately, by virtue of them being a four-man band, Winston is just as lucky as the others when it comes to action figures.  Today, I’ll be looking at his Mego-inspired Retro Action Heroes figure from a few years back.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Winston was part of the four figure basic assortment of Real Ghostbusters Retro Action Heroes figures released by Mattel in 2011.  As with all of the others in this line, Winston is patterned on his appearance from the Real Ghostbusters cartoon.  For Winston, it wasn’t really too far from Ernie Hudson’s look in the second film, albeit a little more colorful.  The figure stands 8 inches tall and has 18 points of articulation.  He’s built on Mattel’s in-house Mego-styled body, which I’ve never liked quite as much as the original, but it’s what they used for the others.  It could be worse.  Winston got a new head sculpt, which was a pretty decent match for his animated counterpart.  The cartoon designs really did lend themselves to the retro style of these figures, so Mattel certain made a good decision there.  Winston has a cloth jumpsuit, which is the same one seen on both Ray and Egon, just in different colors, obviously.  He’s also got a pair of rubber boots, and his proton pack and neutrino wand.  As I’ve mentioned in prior reviews, the proton pack is definitely a highlight of these figures.   The colors on Winston are definitely nice and bright, and the little bit of paint on his face and proton pack is certainly nice and sharp.  In addition to the proton pack, Winston comes with one more piece of ghost hunting equipment: the ghost trap!  This was actually my favorite of the extra equipment included with these guys; it does a really great job of capturing the design from the movies and cartoons.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up the retro Ghostbusters figures one at a time as I found them at Toys R Us.  Winston was the third one I picked up, and, as luck would have it, he’s also the third one I’ve reviewed on the site.  Nifty coincidence, right?  Winston’s a solid figure, though, obviously it’s a style you have to have an appreciation for in order to get the figure.  I definitely love him, though!

#1583: Animal Man & B’wana Beast

ANIMAL MAN & B’WANA BEAST

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS (MATTEL)

Mattel’s DC Universe Classics was really all about the odd-ball characters.  And it’s hard to get much more oddball than the pair of characters I’m looking at today.  Born out of the ‘60s fascination with animal themed heroes, both Animal Man and B’Wana Beast have picked up their respective fanbases over the years, and, believe it or not, they’ve both manage to gain multiple action figures.  Weird, right?

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Animal Man and B’Wanna Beast were part of DC Universe Classics, released in 2009 as the Matty Collector-exclusive “Justice of the Jungle” two-pack.  This was the last of the four such two-packs released this way in 2009, and ultimately the last two-pack in this particular venture for Mattel.

ANIMAL MAN

“When a teenage Buddy Baker went hunting in the Adirondacks, he found more than big game – he found an alien spacecraft! After being exposed to its strange radiation, Buddy found he could take on the powers and characteristics of any nearby animal – down to regenerating severed limbs, like an earthworm. He has faced many surreal menaces, traveled through space, and seen his entire reality torn apart more than once, but he always remains plain old Buddy Baker, family man and occasional hero – an oasis of sanity in the stranger corners of the DC Universe.”

Buddy Baker sort of follows the Ant-Man model of super hero creation.  His initial appearance wasn’t quite of the super heroic variety, instead just following the story of a stuntman who gained animal powers.  It wouldn’t be for another year that he’d get his costume, and even then he was A-Man, not Animal Man.  He was just a fairly run-of the mill forgotten hero, until Grant Morison relaunched the character in the ’80s, bringing the character to critical acclaim and giving him his own unique flavor.  Animal Man’s first figure was via DC Direct’s 52 line, but that one was admittedly less on the whole “action” front, so this one was appreciated.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  He’s built on the medium sized male body, which is a decent enough fit for Buddy.  He gets a new head and arms, as well as an add-on piece for his jacket.  The head is possibly the most detailed head sculpt we got out of this line.  There’s a lot going on there, between the fully detailed eyes beneath his goggles and the insane amount of detail that’s gone into his face.  While it certainly helps him to stand out from the pack, I do feel all of those lines on his face do age poor Buddy just a touch more than I’d like.  Obviously, I’m okay with him looking a bit more experienced than some of the DC heroes, but this does feel like it goes a little far.  Still, an impressive piece nonetheless.  The jacket served to mask some of the same-ness that this line was really running into with the base bodies, and was very nice recreation of Buddy’s signature denim jacket.  The texturing and the small detail work on all of the zippers and stuff is really top-notch.  The paintwork on Animal Man is decent enough; he hails from the line’s best period in this regard.  The base application is pretty sharp, and there’s even some pretty nice accent work.  The only real issue is the slight mismatching of the oranges on the legs, but that’s quite minor.  There were no accessories for Animal Man, which, while a slight bummer, wasn’t much of a surprise.

B’WANA BEAST

“While in Tanzania, Mike Maxwell found himself trapped in a cave high atop Mount Kilimanjaro. In his attempt to survive, he drank the cave’s water – which, unknown to him, was infused with a strange elixir that increased his muscle mass, making him much stronger. When Maxwell donned an ancient helmet, he discovered he could merge any two animals together into a new, hybrid form called a chimera. B’wana became a fighter for animal rights as the jungle’s premier hero.”

Despite being definitely the more obscure of the two, B’wana Beast actually has more figures than Animal Man, with this being one of four.  It was his first (though not by much) and is to date his only comics based figure, but still, that’s pretty impressive.  Like his pack-mate, this figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and has 23 points of articulation.  He too is built on the medium-sized male body, which is fine, except for one small problem: no nipples.  B’wana Beast is supposed to be shirtless, but the sculpt doesn’t quite reflect that.  Mattel had done a shirtless torso prior for Series 6’s Hawkman, but I suppose the wing attachment was too difficult to remove.  Oh well.  On the plus side, B’wana Beast does get a new head and shins, as well as a new add-on piece for his loin cloth.  The pieces are all very nicely sculpted.  The helmet definitely takes its cues from his JLU counterpart, and manages not to look totally dumb, so that’s cool.  Also, despite just looking like the same cuffed shins introduced on Series 1’s Red Tornado, B’wana Beast’s shins are totally new, featuring a pretty nifty fur texturing.  B’wana Beast’s paint is very nice; not only did they manage to pull off the cheat spots on his shorts, boots, and mask without getting messy, but they also did a pretty solid job accenting his skin tone, making him look appropriately tanned for someone who runs around outside in nothing more than a loincloth and boots.  Like Animal Man, B’wana Beast has no accessories.  Still not surprising, but still disappointing.  No cool chimeras? For shame!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Despite Mattel’s claim that these sets didn’t perform as well as they’d hoped, this set was sold out in less than two weeks.  Not a lot of time for someone without their own expendable income to get them, so I didn’t.  Instead, I wound up picking them up around Christmastime in 2012, using an Amazon gift card I’d gotten over the holiday.  I paid a bit of a mark-up, but they were worth it to me.  Neither figure is without its flaws (the biggest for both being the complete lack of extras), but both figures are amongst the strongest that Mattel produced for this line.