#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.

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#2077: Doctor Fate

DOCTOR FATE

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS (MATTEL)

Doctor Fate arises when the Lord of Order known as Nabu bestows his sorcerous knowledge, as well as a magical helmet, amulet and mantle, to a human host in order to battle the forces of chaos. Once a human dons the garb of Doctor Fate, Nabu’s personality assumes control of the human host. Doctor Fate, in his many incarnations, has long served in the Justice Society of America as one of its most powerful members.”

Amongst it’s focus on some of the more oddball teams from the DC Universe, DC Universe Classics also did pretty well by the Justice Society of America, DC’s first super-team.  In the 20 Series at retail (and a few fill-ins from the subscription service), we got the whole founding line-up (well, minus Earth-2 versions of Superman and Wonder Woman), as well as a few figures from the team’s modern-day incarnation.  In some cases, they would pull double duty, giving us classic and modern incarnations hand-in-hand, as was the case with today’s figure, Doctor Fate.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Doctor Fate was part of Series 8 of DC Universe Classics, the ill-fated Giganta Series.  There were two versions of the figure in play; the main one was the classic Doctor Fate, but there was also a variant based on the third Doctor Fate, Hector Hall.  That’s the one I’m looking at today.  He was actually the rarer of the two, as this was one of the 70/30 variant splits.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  Both versions of Fate were built on the mid-sized male body, the line’s most common choice when it came to base body.  He had a new head, forearms, hands, and calves (all shared with the standard release) as well as an add-on piece for his cape/collar combo.  Oddly, this collar piece gives him the illusion of the opposite problem that plagued most of the line: his shoulders kind of get a little lost.  The new parts are all very solid.  The helmet is a good recreation (even if I miss being able to see his eyes the way you could on the DCD figures), and the hands are nice and expressive.  I also dig the ornate detailing on the collar, something that’s very important for this incarnation of the character.  Perhaps the weirdest aspect of this figure is the paint.  There has long been some back and forth over whether Fate should be yellow or gold.  The Super Powers figure was all yellow (as was the standard release from this line, being a Super Powers homage and all), the first DCD figure had gold for the helmet and amulet and yellow for everything else, and the second DCD figure was all gold.  This figure doesn’t seem to want to commit to anything, so we get a weird mix.  I can get behind gold for the helmet and collar (though I wish it had a yellower finish to it), but the boots and trunks don’t seem to work.  On the flip side, the boots and trunks would be fine if at the very least the gloves were also gold.  It’s the arbitrary mix that really gets me.  Why would they do that?  You know, aside from the obvious “because they’re Mattel.”  Fate was originally packed with a magical effect piece, as well as part of the Giganta CnC, but my figure is without either of those.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: this assortment was really badly distributed, so I never found them at retail.  Fate was one of two notable missing members from my DCUC JSA (though the New Frontier figure did okay as a stand-in), until a rather nice DCUC collection was traded in at All Time.  While I would have preferred classic Fate, Modern’s close enough that I was content.  The gold/yellow thing is definitely a glaring issue on an otherwise fairly nice figure, but I’m overall pretty happy just to finally have a DCUC Fate.

#2067: Janine Melnitz & Samhain

JANINE MELNITZ & SAMHAIN

REAL GHOSTBUSTERS RETRO ACTION HEROES (MATTEL)

There was a real drought of Ghostbusters product in the ’90s and ’00s, no doubt tied to there being a real drought of Ghostbusters anything in the ’90s and ’00s.  When 2009 reunited the original cast for a video game sequel, the franchise was given a shot in the arm, and toymakers, most notably Mattel, went full force.  It was Ghostbusters galore for a couple of years, as we got the crew in just about every style you could think of.  Mattel was on something of a Mego-revival kick at the time, so the Real Ghostbusters cartoon got in on that treatment.  Today, I’m looking at the only non-main team offering from the line, Janine Melnitz and Samhain!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Janine and Samhain were the last offering in the Real Ghostbusters Retro Action Heroes line, hitting shelves a few months after the main four ‘busters.  The pack was an exclusive to Toys R Us, though like the rest of the line, there was no specific denotation of this.  There was an elaborate cardboard back-drop behind the figures in the box as well, which served as a “playset” version of the firehouse, though it was really just a very tall backdrop.

JANINE MELNITZ

A more strictly supporting character in the movies, the Real Ghostbusters cartoon gave Janine the opportunity to get in on the action a bit more frequently.  Subsequently, this figure follows that set-up, presenting her in gear to match the rest of the ‘busters.  The figure stands about 7 1/2 inches tall and she has 18 points of articulation.  She used Mattel’s equivalent to the Mego female body, which is overall a pretty decent match for the original, barring one major issue: those hands.  Just as they patterned parts of the male body on Big Jim, the female body, specifically the hands, takes influence from Barbie.  The end result is that she has hands that aren’t designed for holding anything, which is in pretty stark contrast to all the stuff she’s clearly designed to hold.  Janine got a new headsculpt, which is pretty much on par with the others in the line.  It’s a solid match for her cartoon design, and they’ve even managed to not make those glasses look atrocious.  Janine has a cloth jumpsuit, similar to the others, but obviously more tailored for this specific body, as well as a pair of rubber boots (taken from Wonder Woman, meaning she’s hiding peaked boots under the suit), and the same proton pack used for the others.  Janine also got all of the equipment that was divi-ed up amongst the others, the PKE meter, Ghost Sniffer, and Ghost Trap.  Most importantly, she gets one new accessory, the Ghostbusters “mascot” Slimer.  He’s a little on the small side, but it was nice that he didn’t get totally overlooked for this line.

SAMHAIN

The Ghost of Halloween is one of the few recurring ghost foes for the ‘busters, with a handful of appearances in Real Ghostbusters and a pair of focus episodes in that show’s sequel Extreme Ghostbusters.  Also, unlike the other prominent ghost, the Staypuft Marshmallow Man, he could be built using mostly standard parts.  And so he is.  He’s just the basic male body, with a pumpkin head and a robe thrown over it.  That’s really kind of it.  I mean, I guess the pumpkin head is kind of distinct, and the robe has a nice flow about it, but…he’s just not a lot to talk about.  And, without any accessories of his own, there’s not even any fun side extras to discuss…so that’s really about it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was actually pretty darn supportive of this line when they were new, and, having picked up the main four as I found them, I was quite happy to find this one at retail and complete the set.  Janine’s pretty solid, and Slimer’s a neat little addition to the collection.  Samhain doesn’t really do much for me, but I suppose it’s not the worst thing in the world to give the ‘busters something to, you know, bust.

 

#2050: Dr. Sivana

DR. SIVANA

DC COMICS MULTIVERSE (MATTEL)

When the Shazam movie was first announced, there was one big name star attached to it: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.  Originally rumored for the Big Red Cheese himself, it was later revealed that he’d actually be filling the role of antagonist as Shazam’s dark reflection, Black Adam.  So, it came as a little bit of a surprise when the movie’s villain was instead revealed to be a different Shazam foe entirely, in the form of Doctor Thaddeus Sivana.  Sivana’s actually a pretty natural choice for the first outing, since he debuted right alongside Captain Marvel in Whiz Comics #2.  Sivana’s origin was changed up for the film, borrowing a decent chunk of Black Adam’s dark reflection gimmick, but I felt Mark Strong’s performance sold Sivana as a character that wasn’t too far removed from his original incarnation (and the end of the film put him firmly on the path to classic Sivana), and I just found him to be an entertaining villain.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Dr. Sivana is one of two DC Comics Multiverse figures offered up for the movie, with the other being the big man himself.  However, unlike Shazam, Dr. Sivana is thus far not available in the basic line (and I’d be genuinely shocked to see him turn up at this point).  Sivana is also the lesser-packed of the two, making him ever so slightly hard to find.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Sivana’s an all-new sculpt, as he well should be.  While it’s not quite on par with any of Hasbro’s MCU-based sculpts, it’s certainly an immense improvement over where Mattel’s movie-based figures were a year ago.  The best part of the figure is definitely the head, which is sporting a pretty solid likeness of Strong.  His jacket and arms also sport some pretty nice looking texturing, which is a marked change for these figures.  The under-lying body isn’t quite as strong, with more rudimentary shaping, larger patches of un-detailed plastic, and rather obvious breaks for the articulation.  On the plus side, at least the articulation breaking up the sculpt actually serves a purpose this time, as the joints aren’t nearly as limited on this figure as they had been on previous releases.  It also helps that the worst of the sculpting his hidden under the jacket piece, meaning you don’t have to fixate on the mistakes quite as much.  Sivana’s paintwork is mostly pretty subtle work, with a lot of dark, somber colors, like in the movie.  There’s not a ton of actual paint, but the important details are covered, and the work on the face in particular is quite nice and very lifelike.  Sivana is packed with a second head sporting sunglasses, two sets of hands in fists and open gesture poses, and his 8-ball that is fairly plot-relevant.  The heads are a bit tricky to swap back and forth, but it’s otherwise a pretty nice selection of extras, and I particularly like that 8-ball, because it’s the sort of thing you don’t tend to see.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Since there was no Sivana in the main line, this one was really my only option.  Fortunately, I liked the look of him a lot more than the Shazam that’s meant to go with him.  Despite being slightly on the rarer side, I didn’t have too much trouble finding Sivana, finding him at only my second stop after seeing the movie.  While there are some definite “yep, it’s Mattel” elements to this figure, I was still quite happy with him, and he actually fits in pretty well with the basic line.

#2049: Mary

MARY

SHAZAM! (MATTEL)

A year after the introduction of Freddy Freeman, aka Captain Marvel Jr, the Marvel family got third inductee, this time keeping the “family” aspect a bit more literal.  Mary Batson was the long-lost sister of Billy, and was also granted her own set of magical powers.  Like Freddy, Mary proved quite a popular addition to the mythos.  For a while, she even eclipsed Freddy, though things have somewhat shifted.  Though classically Billy’s younger, more innocent sister, Mary was reimagined as an older sibling (with no confirmed biological connection), and had an admittedly minor part in the film as a whole, with her usual role being filled by Darla.  Nevertheless, Mary still ends up powered, and maintains her classic appearance, with an accompanying figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mary is another figure from the basic Shazam! line from Mattel.  She’s one of the lightest packed figures in the assortment, which means she’s so far proved to be the trickiest figure in the line to track down.  The figure stands 5 3/4 inches tall and sports 20 points of articulation.  The movement is the same basic layout as Shazam and Freddy, though the skirt and the hair do end up being a little more restricting to her.  Mary’s sculpt is decent, though I can’t say it’s quite as strong as the other two.  To be fair, my figure is saddled with one issue that I can assume isn’t a recurring one.  Her hair is affixed ever so slightly off-kilter, which means that her entire head is permanently cocked to one side, unless you turn her head off to the side.  It’s kind of a frustrating thing, and not as easily fixed as you might hope.  Were the hair properly attached, I think the head might actually look pretty decent, and the likeness of Michele Borth isn’t terrible, especially by Mattel standards.  Below the neck, Mary shares a number of parts with Darla, which is mostly sensible, but the re-use of the legs, which have sculpted texturing, is a little odd.  It’s not overly noticeable, though, especially with the skirt over top of it.  Beyond that, it’s a pretty respectably sculpted figure.  Mary’s paintwork is pretty solid, and matches the other two.  She’s bright, she’s colorful, and she pairs well with Billy’s colorscheme.  Like the other two in the set, Mary is packed with one of the Seven Deadly Sins, this time Sloth.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After seeing the movie, I desperately wanted the original three Marvels.  While Billy and Freddy were easily acquired, Mary was not quite so simple.  I had actually seen her at retail prior to seeing the film, but after seeing it, she was nowhere to be found, and commanding the highest after market value.  Mary’s my favorite member of the Shazamily, so I was keeping an eye out for her.  She randomly came back in-stock at regular retail price on Amazon on Monday, so I got right on ordering her, had her delivered yesterday morning and, boom, had her reviewed in less than a few hours, which I think may be a record for the site.  She’s the weakest of the three figures, but I do still really like her, and continue to be pleasantly surprised with these.

#2048: Freddy

FREDDY

SHAZAM! (MATTEL)

The first of Marvel family to be added after Billy Batson was granted his powers, Freddy Freeman became Billy’s side-kick Captain Marvel Jr, the member of the Marvel family with more name-changes than even the Big Red Cheese himself.  He proved a popular character in his own right, and was even Elvis Presley’s favorite comic book character (and would in fact serve as an inspiration for his later career appearance).  When Freddy was confirmed as a main character for the movie, it wasn’t that much of a wild guess that he’d be granted his alter-ego, whatever his name might end up being.  Freddy’s alter ego (and all of the Shazamily’s, for that matter) ended up being confirmed not by the movie itself, but rather by his toy, which I’m looking at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Freddy is another figure from the basic Shazam! line from Mattel, and is the first of the extended family figures.  He’s also the heaviest packed after Shazam himself, which is probably a pretty sensible choice, given his prominence in both the comics and the movie.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and has 20 points of articulation.  From the neck down, Freddy’s identical to yesterday’s Shazam figure.  They had essentially the same costume, and a fairly similar build.  Plus, it was a solid sculpt the first time around, and it’s still a solid sculpt this time.  He tops the re-used body off with a brand-new head sculpt, which sports a pretty decent likeness of older-Freddy’s actor Adam Brody.  It’s at the very least on par with the Zachary Levi likeness on Billy, and makes him distinctly different from that figure.  Assisting in him looking different?  The color scheme.  Freddy’s traditional blues are here in true form, and it’s definitely a nice look.  Like Shazam, there’s the printed eyes, which make for a fairly lifelike appearance.  Freddy’s also packed with one of the Sins, this time Pride.  Again, it’s a soft rubber stretchy sort of thing, so it’s largely gimmick.  But hey, I’m not going to complain about extra stuff!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, I saw the pictures of these figures before seeing the movie, meaning I knew about the big twist going in.  It also meant that I knew these figures existed going in, and therefore wanted a Freddy figure as soon as I got out of the theatre.  Fortunately, he’s one of the easier figures in the set to track down.  Like Shazam, Freddy’s figure is a pleasant surprise coming from Mattel.  He’s a solid offering, and definitely worth the price, especially if you liked his appearance in the movie.

#2047: Shazam

SHAZAM

SHAZAM! (MATTEL)

Man of Steel ushered in a new era of DC movies, an attempt at catching onto the train that Marvel was riding with the MCU.  The self-proclaimed DCEU tried to make a big splash, but just never caught up.  Five films into their new shared universe, DC decided to re-orient their movies, moving away from their frantic universe-building epics, and away from their mainstream characters.  Shazam! was their second film in this new-new era, and set its focus less on making its characters “super-hardcore-metal” and more on actually making them semi-likable and giving them a decent story to reside in.  It was the first DC film in a good while that I actually enjoyed, even if it had the misfortune of being wedged between Captain Marvel and Endgame, which seemed to, almost poetically, steal its thunder.  The dead licensees walking over at Mattel are still on tap for the toys, which I’m finally getting around to reviewing a few of this week.  Let’s kick things off with the title character!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Shazam is part of Mattel’s basic tie-in line for the movie, which offers up the whole Shazamily.  It follows Mattel’s trend since Batman V Superman of having the basic line and the “collector’s line” be virtually the same scale.  The figures stands 6 inches tall and he has 20 points of articulation.  I was quite pleasantly surprised by the articulation on this guy, especially on the arms, which sport universal joints on the shoulders, elbows, and wrists.  Honestly, if this figure had more than just swivels on the hips, he’d be on par with any of Mattel’s higher end offerings.  Even as is, he’s an incredible improvement on many of their Multiverse figures simply because he can actually *use* most of his articulation.  No pointless joints here!  Being in the basic line, you might not expect Shazam’s sculpt to be anything impressive, but it’s actually pretty decent.  The head seems to be sporting the best of the Zachary Levi likenesses to be offered up for this movie.  It’s not a spot-on look, but it’s quite close, and fairly identifiable.  The body takes his bulked up physique from the movie and bulks it up just a little bit more, but not quite to the cartoonish proportions of some of the prior basic line figures, especially when compared to how he looks on-screen.  What really impresses me about it is the level of texture work on the suit, which is both movie accurate, and not quite as overpowering as the texturing on the Multiverse release.  Shazam’s paintwork is mostly pretty basic.  The application is fairly clean, with minimal slop.  The eyes and brows actually appear to be printed on, which looks quite lifelike.  However, you have to be careful with it, because a couple of the figures I saw in person had the eyes applied really off the mark.  Each figure in this assortment is packed with a little rubber recreation of one of the Seven Deadly Sins.  Shazam is packed with a little Wrath, molded in red.  It’s not a terribly exciting piece, but it’s nifty enough.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After seeing the movie opening day, I immediately ran out to pick up some of the figures, because that’s what I do.  I compared both of the 6-inch Shazams, and I found myself overall liking the look of this one more.  Once I got him out of the box, I felt even happier with my purchase.  At half the price of the Multiverse figure, this figure offers the better likeness, the more accurate build, and plenty of articulation.  It’s just a really solid figure, and if you know my track record with Mattel, you know that means a lot coming from me.

#2011: Starman

STARMAN

JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED (MATTEL)

Starman created the Cosmic Rod which collects stellar energy and allows him to fly and manipulate gravity on Earth and beyond.”

So, yeah, you know the guy mentioned in that bio?  It’s not the guy shown here.  The bio is very definitely talking about original Earth-bound Starman Ted Knight (not to be confused with the actor), who operated as a member of the JSA in the ’40s.  This here would be Starman #4, Prince Gavyn of the planet Kranaltine.  He was introduced in the ’80s, just before Crisis and is yet another only vaguely related character in the Starman mythos.  Also, for reasons that never quite made sense, he was the version of the character chosen to appear on Justice League Unlimited.  Hey, I’m certainly not complaining.  Though he never spoke once on the show, he somehow managed to get a whopping two figures in the toy line, the second of which I’m looking at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

This version of Starman was released at the tail end of the Justice League Unlimited line, after the line had left retail and moved to Matty Collector.  He was sold in a three-pack with Animal Man and Adam Strange.  His placement in this particular set is rather baffling, since I don’t believe he’s ever had much interaction with either of those characters, and he’d already gotten a figure, meaning he was hardly at the top of anyone’s list at the end of the line when character slots were all the more precious.  Further more, he’s not even based on his show appearance, but is instead based on the character’s second, all-blue get-up from the comics.  An odd choice to say the least.  The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  He’s the exact same sculpt as his previous figure, which is fairly sensible, since the costumes where really just palette swaps, and he *is* the same guy.  One small tweak, though, was that by this point in the line, the molding error on the base body’s leg had been repaired, meaning that he no longer leans to one side.  His head sculpt also remains one of my favorite in the line, and looks just as nice here as it did the first time around.  His paintwork is, of course, the main breaking point.  Rather than the red of the original figure, this one’s molded in blue, and drops the yellow and black detailing on the legs, resulting in an even more streamlined appearance.  It’s sufficiently distinct from the prior figure, and is still nice and striking.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I noted when I reviewed Animal Man, by the time of this set’s release, I’d pretty much abandoned collecting JLU, so I didn’t get it new.  I picked him up alongside Animal Man two summers ago when I made a stop at Factory Antique Mall while on a road trip.  He’s not much different from the first figure, but I loved that one, and I quite like this one too.  Now I guess I need to track down an Adam Strange to finish out the set…

#2006: Bizarro

BIZARRO

DC COMICS MULTIVERSE (MATTEL)

You know, it would be really clever to write this whole review in Bizarro speak, wouldn’t it?  Well, clever as it may be, that seems like way more energy than I have to put into a Monday review.  I know, making things easy for myself seems to run counter to my whole brand, but consider this: I did the backwards speak gimmick for my first Bizarro review, meaning that doing it again would be a retread, so, in a way, this is the less traversed and therefore more difficult path.  Yeah, that’s what I’m going with…

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Bizarro is a Walgreens-exclusive release for the DC Comics Multiverse line.  He started cropping up in the last couple of months, though he was originally shown alongside the figures that made up the “Lex Luthor Series.”  The majority of those figures are modeled on the characters’ “Rebirth” appearances, but Bizarro here is actually a much more classically inspired figure, which was a kind of nice change.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  Bizarro, understandably, re-uses the body introduced with the Rebirth Superman figure from the Clayface Series.  It shares a more common ancestry with the old DCUC body than the body used for Ray, meaning it’s just not quite as refined.  It’s still a definite improvement on the old body, though it feels a little more piecemeal and uneven.  I think the pelvis and hips are the part that really throw the whole thing off.  Bizarro gets a new head sculpt, which is a pretty respectable piece.  It’s appropriately squared off and blocky, and the detailing on the hair in particular is quite nice.  Bizarro trades out Superman’s sculpted cape for a cloth piece that connects around the neck.  On a standard figure, it would be a little goofy, but for Bizarro it actually works to the design’s favor.  His paintwork is overall pretty clean.  The colors are nice and bright, and his skin has a nice textured look about it which works really well.  Bizarro is pretty decently accessorized.  He’s got two sets of hands, in fists and flat flying poses, as well as his signature “Bizarro No. 1” placard.  And, if you want an alternate look, well hey, he has one of those too!  You can give him his Kent Clark guise from the comics by adding a pair of glasses, a tie, and a rather raddy-looking jacket.  As a bonus to this look, the use of a cloth cape means that it can fit under the jacket and stick out like it does in the comics.  It’s a fun extra look and adds a real unique touch to this release.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was moderately interested in this figure when he was shown off, but wasn’t 100% sold on it.  After picking up and being quite impressed by Ray, I found this guy while out on a day trip with my parents and my brother, and was actually pretty happy to do so.  While he’s not quite as strong as Ray, he’s still a lot better than Mattel’s output has been for a good long while.  I am again frustrated that they managed to improve things just before losing the license.  But hey, at least I got this cool Bizarro figure.

#1993: The Ray

THE RAY

DC COMICS MULTIVERSE (MATTEL)

Following the super hero comics boom of the ’40s, there was something of a comics crash in the ’50s, which resulted in the demise of a great many of the smaller companies that had cropped up.  Perhaps the only company not completely decimated by the end of the Golden Age was National Comics, who would eventually become DC Comics (after their best-selling book, Detective Comics.  Yes, their full name is Detective Comics Comics).  They promptly went about buying up many of the other failed comics businesses, thus amassing a large selection of other companies characters to add to their growing universe.  Amongst those companies purchased was Quality Comics, whose biggest characters (barring Plastic Man and the Blackhawks) would be integrated in the DC mythos as the Freedom Fighters, a team of super heroes from Earth-X, a parallel Earth where the Nazis won World War II.  Following the collapse of the DC Multiverse during Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Freedom Fighters were worked back into the main DCU and one of their members, The Ray, was given a reasonably successful reboot.  Ray Terrill was the son of Langford “Happy” Terrill, the original Ray, and was born with sun-based super powers.  This legacy take on the Ray built up quite a cult following, but despite that spent the first 26 years of his existence with absolutely no toys.  For shame! (EDIT: I forgot the JLU figure.  Of course, that one wasn’t really available to most collectors, so I think my point still stands.  But I was technically wrong.  Technically).

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Ray is part of the “Lex Luthor Series” of the DC Comics Multiverse line, which was the second comic-based assortment following Mattel’s attempt at retooling the line at the beginning of 2018.  It technically hit shelves in November, but “technically” is the magic word here.  Experiences were very mixed on that.  Ray is based on his recent re-appearance in the DCU, following his book’s re-launch under the “Rebirth” heading.  The design is different from his prior designs, but keeps the same general spirit, and is just generally a pretty solid design.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  His size means he actually scales okay with Marvel Legends, which is actually kind of a first for a mainstream DC figure.  Also, can you believe it, that’s actually an all-new sculpt on a comic figure.  Yes, after a decade of use, it appears Mattel finally realized it was time to retire the DCUC body, and Ray is on a new base body, which I would imagine is the same one being used for the Batman Beyond, Kyle Rayner, and Kid Flash that are just now hitting.  It’s…actually not bad.  It’s not quite as sleek as a  Legends body, but it’s certainly a lot less clunky than the prior bodies, and it’s certainly nice to get a DC male who’s not smuggling bowling balls in his shoulders. Most of the articulation’s even got decent range to it.  Look at those elbows!  They go deeper than 90 degrees.  About the only real complaint I have is that he can’t quite get his arms down flat at his sides.  But he can still get into a good pose and actually hold it, which is certainly a breath of fresh air after years of getting the slowly degrading DCUC molds and their soft-detailed, loose-jointed spawn.  Even the paintwork is pretty darn good.  The gold is a nice hue, which stands out well from both the white and the black (often times, it’ll get lost on one of them), and the application’s nice and sharp.  There aren’t any obvious missing applications, and everything is cleanly applied, with minimal slop.  They’ve managed to keep the color scheme nice and striking, which is really one of the most appealing things about the character.  Ray was packed with an extra head and hands, as well as the arms for the Lex Luthor CnC (missing from my figure).  The head is the same as the standard, but with grin instead of the more stoic standard look.  It’s a small change, and I might have preferred an unmasked head or something, but I’d rather have this than nothing.  The hands swap out fists for gripping.  Why gripping?  He doesn’t have anything to hold, right?  Well, he was originally shown off with some effects pieces, but they got cut along the way, thereby making the hands kind of without purpose.  But, like the head, I’d rather have them than not.  Plus, it’s another positive change after years of figures getting stuck with open grip hands.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Okay, you’ve gotten all the way through this thing, and you, the faithful reader, might be sitting here wondering why I didn’t post this positive review of a Mattel figure yesterday, since it must clearly be some kind of prank.  Mattel’s been producing some of the worst “collector” figures on the market for years.  I mean, they couldn’t possibly have produced something decent, let alone actually good, could they?  Hey, I’m as surprised as you.  When the prototype for Ray was shown, I thought he looked alright, but Mattel’s been doing okay prototypes for god-awful figures for a little while.  I kind of expected him to follow suit.  And then like a year passed and I forgot he existed, and really wasn’t even sure he would ever see the light of day.  I never actually saw this assortment or the one that preceded it at retail, but a loose Ray was traded-in with a collection that came in at All Time Toys, and I decided to snag him.  I’m glad I did, because he’s really good.  Kind of a shame Mattel couldn’t have improved these figures sooner and kept the license.