#2241: Legion of Super Heroes

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

JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED (MATTEL)

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

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

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

BRAINIAC 5

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

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

COSMIC BOY

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

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

LIGHTNING LAD

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

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

SATURN GIRL

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

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

 

#2157: Faker

FAKER

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS (MATTEL)

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

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

THE FIGURE ITSELF

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

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

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

#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…

#1713: Animal Man

ANIMAL MAN

JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED (MATTEL)

“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.”

Though Justice League Unlimited covered most corners of the DC Universe, there were a few characters left notably absent.  In many cases, it was where duplication of powers or gimmicks came into play, and a more minor character was chosen because of production team preferences.  One such instance was Animal Man, whose role as an animal expert was passed off to the more minor B’wanna Beast.  But at least Buddy found himself in the toyline.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Animal Man came from towards the end of the Justice League Unlimited line, after it had left retail and moved to Matty Collector.  Buddy was part of a three-pack which also included Adam Strange and a blue variant of the Prince Gavyn Starman.  It’s almost a sensible pack-out, were the last sylable in that last name “fire” instead of “man,” but oh well.  Buddy had no official JLU design, since he never appeared on the show, so this figure just animates his usual design.  The figure stands 4 3/4 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  He’s built on the medium-sized male body, and re-uses the sleeved jacket arms from Mr. Terrific.  He also gets a brand-new head sculpt and a new jacket add-on piece, replicating his denim jacket from the comics.  The head is definitely a nice piece, and it’s well-fitted to the body.  There’s a nice friendly sort of smile that seems appropriate for the character.  The jacket piece is cool, because it could have easily been left out, and instead been replaced with another repaint of the Mr. Terrific piece.  The unique piece adds a character specific flair to the figure, that makes him that much more impressive.  Animal Man’s paintwork is clean, crisp, and very bold.  The shiny black on the gloves and boots looks particularly sharp.  Animal Man included no accessories, but that’s about normal for the line.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

By the time this set was released, I had mostly abandoned the JLU line, so I didn’t get Animal Man new.  Instead, I got him last year from the largest antique mall in the country, on one the many long coastal drives I made over the course of last summer.  He’s a very nice figure, and I’m glad I tracked him down.

#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.