#2115: Superman & Lex Luthor

SUPERMAN & LEX LUTHOR

DC MINIMATES

Sometimes when I’m down, I like to remind myself that I’m not as much of a failure as I could be by looking at other failures.  Is that perhaps a cruel way of making myself feel better?  Yes. So, I guess I shouldn’t do it.  Well, on a completely unrelated note, let’s talk again about DC Minimates, one of the great tragedies of Minimate collectors.  Try and try as they may to get more, they just aren’t going to happen, leaving us to reflect on the short eight series run that we actually got.  Things certainly started off strong, with a first series filled with heavy hitters…which might actually have been part of the line’s problem, since they ran out of those heavy hitters rather quickly.  Whatever the case, it meant that Superman and his arch rival Lex Luthor were among the line’s first offerings.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Superman and Luthor were one of the four two-packs in Series 1 of DC Minimates.

SUPERMAN

Superman had had two ‘mates prior to this one, as part of the legal loophole-inspired C3 line.  While his initial C3 release was a pretty decent classic Superman, it was still animation based, allowing this one to supplant it as a proper comics variant.  The figure was built on the basic ‘mate body, and therefore stands 2 1/4 inches tall and sports 14 points of articulation.  He’s constructed with three add-on pieces, for his hair, cape, and belt.  All three were new to this guy (though the hair was shared with fellow Series 1 release Green Lantern), and would go on to see re-use throughout the line.  Compared to the prior Superman, the parts on this one were mostly an improvement, though I always liked the way the C3 connected at the neck a little bit more.  This one isn’t bad looking, but I have trouble getting behind the red bar running across the neck.  I do like the overall shaping of the actual cape part, though.  His paintwork is appropriately bold, and overall not a bad offering, but the red paint on the pelvis in particular didn’t stand up very well to wear and tear.  Superman included no accessories, since stands hadn’t yet become a thing for the brand.

LEX LUTHOR

Luthor actually hadn’t gotten a ‘mate before (though a C3 prototype was shown), nor would he get one after.  This was his only shot.  The character has had a lot of different looks over the years, but this one went for his at the time current iteration of his battle suit, which was definitely a solid choice.  Said battle suit was built from six add-on pieces, again all-new to this figure.  The sculpting on these parts was superb, and is one of the earliest examples of such elements making their way into the line, as well as a good example of it being done well.  All of the sculpted parts are things that should be bulked up, but they have a lot of small detail work to set them apart.  Aiding the sculpted parts, there’s also quite a bit going on with the paint.  Again, lots of small detail lines, which makes him an interesting counterpoint to the much bolder Superman. Luthor is packed with a chunk of Kryptonite.  At least, I assume it’s his.  Neither figure in the set can actually hold it, but it makes more sense to go with him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

These guys, like all of my DC Minimates, were purchased new from Cosmic Comix.  While it was the Green Lantern set that really held my focus going into this line-up, this one’s a strong one.  Superman’s the definitive version of the character, and Luthor is just one of the best ‘mates the line ever produced.  By far one of the strongest sets the line offered up.  This pair set a high bar for the rest of the line.

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#2062: Superman – The Dark Side

SUPERMAN – DARK

ELSEWORLDS (DC DIRECT)

After landing on the planet Apokolips instead of Earth, Kal-El is raised to be a merciless soldier, becoming Darkseid’s ultimate weapon in the war with New Genesis”

I’ve spoken once before of DC’s “Elseworlds” line, which they launched in 1989 as a throwback to their “Imaginary Stories” of the Silver Age.  It was actually a pretty big success throughout the ’90s, before being put on a hiatus in 2003.  While it was on hold, there was still some recognition of its importance in DC’s history, in the form of a line of dedicated figures, courtesy of DC Direct.  Numerous stories were given coverage, including 1998’s Superman: The Dark Side, a tale which, as the bio so notes, re-imagines Kal-El as landing on Apokolips and becoming a villainous New God.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Superman was released in 2007 as part of the fourth (and final) series of DC Direct’s Elseworlds line.  He was available in both “Good” and “Dark” variations.  This would be the “Dark” one.  Of the two, it’s certainly the less classically Superman-styled, and hits a lot of the same beats as the brainwashed Superman’s design from Superman: The Animated Series‘ “Legacy.”  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall and he has 13 points of articulation.  DCD was still kind of figuring out the whole articulation thing at this point, so Superman’s not an overly poseable figure.  I suppose he should consider himself lucky that he didn’t get stuck in an uncomfortable pre-pose, like that poor New Frontier Batman.  Instead, he’s just got a fairly basic standing pose, which isn’t that bad looking.  His sculpt was definitely a strong one, even for this line.  It’s sharply defined, and quite clean-looking.  It appears to be fairly faithful to Kieron Dwyer’s illustrations from the book (I haven’t read it myself, so I’m going off what I can find online), and nicely maintains the imposing nature of this armor’s design, as well as capturing that pseudo-Kirby styling. It’s not super detailed, erring more on the side of cleaner, bolder lines, which is again true to the source.  His paintwork is fairly standard from DCD for the time, which is to say it’s pretty solid.  The base work is clean, and sporting a real cool gunmetal grey over most of the figure.  The reds really pop from that, and there’s some really nice accenting, which brings out the details well.  The visor on the helmet is done up in a translucent red, which doesn’t quite catch the light as well as I’d hope, but is otherwise a decent break from the other reds throughout the armor.  Superman was originally packed with an alternate un-helmeted head, a sword, and a display stand.  My figure only has the sword, which, if I’m being honest, is the coolest bit anyway.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Having not read the story, I didn’t pick this figure up when he was new.  Instead, I decided to wait until he was super expensive on the aftermarket, because I’m way smart like that.  Okay, not quite.  This guy was traded-in to All Time Toys in a large lot back in December, and while I’ve never read the story, I quite liked his look, and was able to get him for a very good deal.  He’s a cool-looking based on a cool-looking design,  He’s not super-poseable or anything, but he’s certainly a cool display piece.

#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.

#2005: Cyber-Link Batman & Cyber-Link Superman

CYBER-LINK SUPERMAN & CYBER-LINK BATMAN

SUPERMAN: MAN OF STEEL (KENNER)

“The Man of Steel teams up with the Dark Knight to form the ultimate crime-fighting team!”

After a rash of success with their various Bat-themed lines, in 1995, Kenner tried to expand their DC reach, giving a dedicated line to DC’s other big hero, Superman.  Superman: Man of Steel was not a smash success like its counterpart Legends of Batman, but did manage to get two regular assortments, plus some deluxe figures, and even a few multi-packs.  In an attempt to get a little bit of synergy from the two lines, Kenner decided to team up the lead characters, as they had been so many times in the comics, releasing the pack as part of Superman’s line to give it a slight boost.  Today, I’m looking at that set.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Cyber-Link Superman and Cyber-Link Batman were the only set offered up in the second round of Multi-Packs from Kenner’s MoS line.  After the poor performance of the “Superman & foe” layout of the first assortment, this one was a push from Kenner for a better selling product.  Despite their propensity for just dropping these sorts of variants without much explanation or thought, these two actually got a backstory.  “Cyber-Link” was an Elseworlds concept, an alternate universe where Batman was a Metropolis resident and he and Superman were a crime-fighting duo.  Trace elements of Kryptonite within the Earth’s atmosphere necessitated the use of the Cyber-Link suits seen here.  All of this was explained in the 11-page Christopher Priest-penned comic included with this set.  It’s a surprising amount of backstory for something that seems kind of straightforward, but I guess they were trying to inject a little bit more of Legends of Batman into Man of Steel.

SUPERMAN

He’s the star of the line and the star of the set, so I guess he gets to go first.  The ninth out of nine Superman figures, this one didn’t exactly cover new ground, but was interesting in his lack of a specific purpose like we had seen with the prior variants.  It’s definitely a different sort of design for the character, a departure from his classic look.  He’s even sporting the mullet still, further removing him from the Superman we all knew.  Of course, in light of things like the New 52, I guess the design doesn’t feel quite so out there anymore.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  Yay for waist joints!  Despite his non-standard nature, the sculpt for this figure is actually pretty decent.  The pre-posing that would plague Total Justice was starting to settle in, but it doesn’t seem quite as bad here.  It’s got sort of a dynamic “just about to leap into action” look about it.  He also doesn’t have any trouble staying standing, which is nothing short of a miracle with most of these figures.  His head, despite the dated hairstyle, is a good take on Superman, and the removable cape is quite nice, and further supports the dynamic stance.  Superman’s paintwork doesn’t stray too far from his classic colors, though the blue and yellow are kind of metallic, and there’s quite a bit of black.  There are also a number of sculpted lines that just sort of get ignored here, though they would be more emphasized on later uses of the mold.  Superman included no accessories, though his hand looks like it was supposed to hold something at some point.

BATMAN

Man, how often is it Batman that plays second fiddle?  Obviously, this was his first figure in this line, though he was hardly lacking on figures from his own lines.  Batman’s design here isn’t quite as foreign as Superman’s, but that may be partly because he’d just had a more fluid design up to this point.  He’s a little more on the armored side, and some of his color elements have been moved around a bit, but otherwise he’s going to pass the squint test.  The figure, like his Kryptonian counterpart, stands 5 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  Batman’s sculpt was unique to him, and is an okay offering, though I don’t think it’s quite as strong as Superman’s.  The posing seems a bit more extreme, and the proportions a bit less balanced.  He also has a little more trouble staying standing, though he still doesn’t face plant nearly as often as some of these guys.  I do kind of like that little sneer to his expression; it’s unique for a Batman figure.  His paint/color work is about on par with Superman.  It’s just slight variations on the usual colors, and some of the sculpted elements are kind of ignored, but the overall work is solid.  Like his packmate, he includes no accessories, but still looks like he’s supposed to be holding something.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I had none of the Man of Steel two-packs growing up.  In fact, I didn’t have anything from the line beyond several Series 1 figures.  However, my obsessive toy-nerdiness meant that I gazed upon their photos many a time on the back of the package and on Raving Toy Maniac’s old archive page, so they’ve always been in the back of my mind.  A loose set ended up traded into All Time Toys alongside a larger collection of ’90s toys, and since there’s not a huge market for these guys, I felt compelled to save them from hanging around the store for forever.  Superman’s my favorite of the two, but I kind of dig both of them, and all their crazy ’90s glory.

As noted above, I got these from All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#1861: Superman

SUPERMAN

DC ESSENTIALS (DC COLLECTIBLES)

After throwing the entirety of their last line, DC Icons, out the window, DC Collectibles is attempting to settle in comfortably with their newest all-inclusive line of DC figures, this time dubbed DC Essentials.  In my first Essentials review, I made it no secret that I wasn’t 100% on board with the change over, and even after reviewing my first figure, I was still rather skeptical.  Well, I’m going to be giving the line a second shot, taking a look at one of the figures DCC keeps trying to get right over and over again, Classic Superman!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Superman is figure 5 in the DC Essentials line-up, making him numerically the first figure of Series 2 of the line.  DCC’s really invested in having these figures pair off, so this guy pairs off with Series 2’s Brainiac figure. Though he’s a “classic” Superman, this figure is actually based on Supes’ most current appearance, introduced in Action Comics #1000.  It’s really the same as his classic garb, but with the teeniest, tiniest little tweek to the edges of his sleeves.  Because *something* had to be different.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  Those numbers aren’t surprising, given they’re the same stats we saw with Reverse Flash.  And why is that?  Because, except for a small handful of pieces, these are the same figure.  There are some issues with that.  While using the exact same body worked out fine for the Series 1 line-up of Batman, Flash, Reverse Flash, and Deathstroke, who are all conceivably the same basic build, it doesn’t quite work out for Superman, who I really feel should be a little larger, at least in the upper torso region.  It’s still a decent, balanced sculpt, but he sure does look a little bit scrawny (and he still has those overly long arms, which I’m guessing won’t be going away).  The shaping of the cape doesn’t really help with that, either, kind of accentuating the small sizing of the upper torso and the comparatively large sizing of the legs.  On the plus side, I do rather like the new head sculpt; it feels appropriately Superman-y.  Superman’s paint work is okay, but not quite as good as Reverse Flash’s was.  Generally, the application is clean, and the colors are nice and bright.  However, there’s some rather noticeable slop and unevenness on the edges of the shorts, an issue that plagues all of the Supermen I’ve seen in person.  Also, for some reason, the belt is just straight yellow, with no red for the sculpted belt loops, which looks rather strange, and is a very obvious missing paint application.  Like Reverse Flash, Superman includes no accessories, which, given the level of re-use and the price-point of these figures is quite frankly insane.  At the very least, he should have some extra hands, or a flight stand, or something.  Anything at all to make him actually feel worth what you’re paying for him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After buying, and being left uncertain by, Reverse Flash, I really wasn’t sure about this figure.  I had initially been very interested, because I’m always on the lookout for a really good classic Superman.  When this guy showed up at Cosmic Comix, I initially passed on him, and ended up waiting to take advantage of their “Biggest Sale of the Year!” a couple of weeks ago.  At a lowered price, this figure feels justified, but still somewhat far from the mark.  He’s an okay standard Superman, but with the larger scale and all, I still find myself preferring NECA’s Christopher Reeve Superman as my go-to.  Were he in-scale with Legends, it might be a different story, but this is the path DCC’s chosen to go down, and this is the hill they want to die on.  And dying on the hill sadly seems to be what’s destined for DC Essentials, because they just don’t seem to be gaining the foothold they were hoping for.  Apart from the upcoming Green Lantern (who I’m going to be getting purely because I have trouble saying no to even a semi-decent GL figure), I just really can’t see myself supporting this line.

#1824: Superman – Quick Change

SUPERMAN — QUICK CHANGE

SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES (KENNER)

“Danger arises in an instant – just the amount of time Clark Kent needs to transform himself into Superman, the Man of Steel.”

Following up on the success of Batman: The Animated Series, the creative team moved onto DC’s next big offering, Superman.  Superman: The Animated Series wasn’t quite the smash success its predecessor was, but it’s remained my personal favorite of the bunch.  Sadly, it wasn’t quite as well treated by merchandising.  It got its own line of figures from Kenner, mostly made up of variants of the main character.  I’m looking at one of those today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Quick Change Superman was one of the handful of Superman variants from the first series of Superman: The Animated Series from Kenner.  He’s the second of two Superman variants in this first series that could pass for a standard Superman…in one configuration, at least.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 5 points of articulation.  The mechanism that allows his “quick change” feature means he has no neck articulation, but he still has the waist movement, which puts him ahead of most figures of the same stylings.  The basic figure is actually rather similar to the Capture Net Superman.  The posing of his hands is swapped, and the cape is cloth, rather than plastic, but otherwise he’s the same basic set-up, with the same strengths and weaknesses as that figure.  As a whole, a pretty decent offering.  The paint also matches pretty closely with the Capture Net offering, but my QC Superman is from later in the run than my CN, so he’s actually got eyes this time, which certainly looks far better.  Of course, mine’s also taken a bit more of a beating, so I guess it’s kind of a wash.  To facilitate his quick change feature, he’s got four clip-on pieces: a head/torso combo, one for each of his legs, and a backpack piece that clips onto the torso.  The overall end appearance is of Clark Kent, with a polo shirt, khakis, and a back-pack.  Definitely a different look than we usually see for Clark.  Maybe he’s gone hiking or something?  It’s certainly better than most attempts at Bruce Wayne.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Quick Change Superman was the first figure I got from this line, not long after getting the show’s premiere episodes on VHS, so I was pretty pumped to find him.  It was on a late-night trip to Toys R Us with my dad, while my Mom was out of town for a bit.  I remember that I got this figure and the 1960s Batman: The Movie on VHS, and my Dad and I sat up and watched the movie while I opened the figure.  He remained my standard Superman for a very long while, and even now he’s definitely a favorite of mine.

#1599: New Frontier Boxed Set

SUPERMAN, BATMAN, WONDER WOMAN, & GREEN LANTERN

DC’s NEW FRONTIER (DC DIRECT)

One of my favorite DC stories is Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier.  It’s a great period piece, with amazing artwork, and a great focus on a few of DC’s lesser followed characters.  It was fortunate enough to get a a whole line of figures focused on it back in the day, which remains one of my favorite products from DC Direct to this day.  I’ll be looking at a few of those figures today!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These four figures were released as a special boxed set to coincide with the release of the Justice League: New Frontier animated film in 2008.  All four figures had originally seen release in DCD’s New Frontier toyline from 2006, before being re-released (with minor tweaks) here.

SUPERMAN

This figure is essentially unchanged from his single-packed release.  Of course, I never got that one, so he’s new to me.  Cooke’s take on Superman is a nice merging of styles.  He’s the character I think best encapsulates the ‘50s feel of the story, and a lot of that comes from his slightly tweaked version of the classic Superman.  He’s got a definite Fleisher flair to him, which I definitely dig.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  Hardly a super-posable figure, but he can get into some decent standing poses.  His sculpt is definitely one of the best in the line.  The details are sharp, and the line work is very clean.  Cooke’s style has been translated very well here, and Clark looks like he’s been lifted right off the page.  The shaping of things like the hair and the cape, and even the wrinkles where his costume has bunched up in a few places, are just perfect matches for the way Cooke drew his take on Superman.  The figure is slightly preposed in nature, but it’s not super awkward or anything.  It is, instead, a slight off-shifted balance of his weight to one side, which provides quite a naturalistic stance.  The paint work on Superman is pretty solid work.  It’s cleanly applied, and the palette nicely matches the more subtle hues of the book’s colors.  The original Superman included a camera and a rather elaborate display stand.  This release only gets a more simple black display stand.

BATMAN

Batman is another figure that was essentially unchanged for this second release.  He is notably distinct from the Designer Series Batman.  That one was based on the ‘40s styled Batman from the first half of the story.  This one goes for the ‘50s styled Batman as he appears in the back half of the book.  I always found this an interesting choice, since a lot of Batman’s role is in that first half, thus making this figure the less prominent design.  The figure is, somewhat frustratingly, taller than Superman.  He’s also a bit bulkier overall, which just looks…strange.  Cooke certainly didn’t draw Batman as the larger of the two, so why DCD went this way is anyone’s guess.  In general, Batman’s sculpt is a bit of a mess.  I mean, there are certainly nice qualities to it.  The head’s pretty strong, and the whole figure still manages to get the style down pretty decently.  The big flaw of this figure is his pre-posed nature.  More specifically, it’s the fact that I’ve never been able to figure out exactly what pose he’s *supposed* to be in.  Absolutely nothing looks natural.  He’s got this sort of a chest-thrust thing going on, but nothing else about him seems to match up with that.  The end result is…less than appealing.  On the plus side, the paint’s pretty decent.  Application is clean, the colors match the comic, and it just generally looks pretty good.  Guess something had to.  As with Superman, Batman’s only accessory is a display stand.

WONDER WOMAN

Darwyn Cooke’s Wonder Woman is my very favorite take on the character, especially in terms of design.  He very deftly merged her classic design with a more battle-ready amazonian look, creating a rather unique design for the character.  All of the important elements remained, of course, and it’s actually a pretty great send-up to the early Wonder Woman illustrations.  This figure marks this set’s first real deviation from the single releases, and it’s perhaps one of the first times that DC Direct ever directly addressed a problem with an initial release.  Wonder Woman gets a new head, which is a slightly more generalized expression, replacing the more intense (and not quite as well implemented) expression of the original figure.  I definitely prefer this one to the original release, though it’s a shame DCD didn’t give another stab at a more intense look.  The rest of the sculpt is straight from the original figure, and it’s actually pretty good.  Like Batman, Wonder Woman goes far more preposed than Superman, but unlike Batman, it doesn’t totally suck.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  The stance is very befitting the battle-happy Wonder Woman of the story.  The details of the sculpt are pretty fantastic, and I especially like the nicks and gashes taken out of her bracelets and shin guards.  Wonder Woman’s paint work is once again pretty decent.  It’s clean, and actually pretty bright, and slightly less subdued than the others in this set, which is appropriate for the character.  The original Wonder Woman release included an extra head, as well as a sword, lasso, and display stand.  This one doesn’t have the extra head, but does still get the sword and lasso, as well as the smaller display stand.

GREEN LANTERN

Hal Jordan is really the closest New Frontier comes to a main character.  You’ll note I said Hal Jordan, and not Green Lantern, since Hal isn’t really GL until the last chapter of the story.  Of course, the costumed look is a bit easier to sell than just Hal in a flight suit, I’d suspect.  This figure is about 6 1/2 inches tall and has 15 points of articulation, the most of any of the figures in the set.  He has my second favorite sculpt in the set, second only to the Superman figure in that regard.  Once again, the line work is simple and clean, and Cooke’s style is expertly recreated here.  The posing to this figure is very subtle, but adds a lot of life to the figure.  I like the friendlier expression seen here, as it definitely fits with Hal’s depiction in the book.  The paint work on GL is the one notable change from the original figure.  The biggest change is giving him the green on his shoulders, meaning this is actually a Hal from later on in his career, presumably sometime after the story.  Technically, this change doesn’t quite match the sculpt, but it’s subtle enough not to really matter too much.  In addition, the green used on this figure has a bit less yellow in it, which makes him look a little cleaner to me.  The original GL figure included an extra unmasked head, as well as his power battery, and the display stand.  This figure only gets a smaller display stand.  It’s a shame his extras got cut.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up a good number of the New Frontier figures when they were originally released, but somehow I managed to miss both Superman and Wonder Woman from the first series.  I remember this set being released, but I passed on it because I already had Batman and GL.  By the time I’d become willing to accept the pair of duplicates, the boxed set and the original releases had both picked up a fairly heft after market value.  As I’ve mentioned a few times in the last few months, Cosmic Comix purchased a rather sizable action figure collection last year.  This set was amongst that purchase, and the guys at CCX were nice enough to sell it to me for quite a markdown from its usual going rate.  I’m happy to finally have Superman and Wonder Woman, and I quite like this variant of GL.  Batman still sucks, but what can you do?

#1487: Lex Luthor

LEX LUTHOR

DC ICONS (DC COLLECTIBLES)

Aw, you guys lucked out today.  Not one, but TWO DC Icons reviews!  And there was even one that *wasn’t* reviewed by me.  What a relief!

Last week, my DC Icons review took a slight turn for the villainous with a look at Captain Marvel foe Black Adam.  Today, I’m continuing that trend, looking at the villainous brains to Superman’s heroic brawn, Lex Luthor!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Lex Luthor was released in the second series of DCC’s DC Icons.  He’s figure 08, which puts him right after Black Adam.  Like Black Adam, Luthor is also based on his design from “Forever Evil.”  “Forever Evil” is a rather Luthor-centric story, which means it’s a good basis from which to draw the character. It’s still not one of my favorites.  Personally, I’d have preferred his Crisis-era battle suit.  With that said, Luthor’s look has always kind of been in flux over the years, so I’m a bit more open to change.  This look is inoffensive.  The figure’s one of the shorter ones, standing just under 6 inches tall.  Fortunately, it makes sense for Luthor to be a little smaller than the majority of the Justice League, so he ends up scaling okay with the line’s later figures.  He’s got 29 points of articulation, distributed in essentially the same way as the rest of the line.  Luthor’s sculpt is completely unique to him.  It’s decent enough.  Like the design it’s based on, I find the sculpt to be a little bit bland, especially the head.  They’ve gone with a more stern take on Luthor, which is perfectly in-character, but not terribly exciting.  I’d have liked an evil grin or something.  They could have at least made it an alternate head.  The suit is at least well-done from a technical standpoint, with lots of clean line-work and a good mechanical look.  The paintwork on this guy is certainly passable, but sort of continues the overall trend of being a little bland.  They’ve opted for flat colors on the suit, rather than something metallic.  It looks fine, but doesn’t possess the pop that I feel it could.  Luthor is packed with several different sets of hands, posed in fists, open gesture, one energy effect for the right hand, and a left hand holding some sort of wand thing that I’m gonna assume is story specific.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I found Luthor at the same time as Black Adam.  He too was 50% off, which is pretty much entirely why I bought him.  He’s the sort of figure that’s fine in the grander scope of the line, and an important character, but he’s just sort of…blah.  Not bad in the slightest, but not exceedingly interesting either.  Still, he looks nice with the rest of the set.

Guest Review #0048: Super Sons

SUPERBOY & ROBIN

DC ICONS (DC COLLECTIBLES)

The following is a guest review by my dad, writer Steven H. Wilson!  Check out more from him over at his blog, located at stevenhwilson.com

So I bought this set a while back, on new comics Wednesday, and Ethan suggested I review the figures here, and then do a piece over on my blog about the characters and their history. You’ll note that Ethan’s blog is very focused, a new action figure review every day. Mine is not so much. It’s pretty much just whatever the hell I want to talk about, when I want to talk about it. And it hasn’t always been every day, though it has been for a while now. Anyway, here we have The Super-Sons!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Super-Sons are a two-pack in the DC Icons line, what I’m told may be the last such two-pack in the series.

SUPERBOY

The fifth (I think?) Superboy in DC Comics history, Jonathan White Kent is the son of Superman and Lois Lane. The original Superboy was Superman, but it’s unclear these days if that was Jon’s dad. The original grew up to be the Superman of Earth One, which was destroyed (more correctly, merged with a few other earths) in Crisis on Infinite Earths. Jon’s father is the Superman of that merged Earth, who when introduced, was established never to have been Superboy [well, at least until they decided he was…–E]. I don’t know if that still holds because DC history is confusing. The other Superboys were Kon-El, a clone of Superman with different powers, Jon-El, sort of the same deal, and, of course, the dreaded Superboy Prime, the young hero of Crisis on Infinite Earths who later went bad.

Little Jon Kent, ten years old, is growing into his inherited powers. He sort of flies, has some strength, and uses his heat vision an awful lot. True to his father’s influence, he’s a boy scout who’s afraid to swear. True to his mothers, he’s utterly fearless.

Previous Superboy figures have included one that came in a two-pack with his cousin Supergirl from DC Direct, and two Superboy Primes released in the DC Direct Infinite Crisis line and the Mattel DC Universe Classics line.

Superboy stands about 3 ½ inches tall and has 29 points of articulation. He comes with the Icons “flying” stand, a clear plastic cylinder section with a slanted top and a pin the attach his foot. Face and body are original sculpts, about an inch shorter than the male adult figures in the line. The facial sculpt is good, capturing Jon’s confident half-smile and eternal optimism.

His “uniform” (or are they play clothes) is well reproduced—a Superman hoodie he found at a second-hand store, jeans with a rip in the knee, a red T-shirt and short red cape. I think perhaps the hoodie is a bit too form-fitting. It’s shown looser in the comics, contributing more to Jon’s “still-growing” look, and his air of casual disregard for his appearance.

He’s very poseable, although I had a hard time getting him into the “Up, up and away” pose shown on the box.

Like all Icons figures, he comes with extra pairs of hands, specifically three this time around.

ROBIN

The son of Bruce Wayne (Batman) and Talia Al Ghul, daughter of Batman’s immortal enemy Ras Al Ghul, Damian Wayne is the sixth individual to carry the code name Robin, the others being Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drak, Carrie Kelly, and Stephanie Brown (very briefly). Damien Wayne is 13, short for his age, and pretends he only hangs out with Jonathan Kent because the kid has powers, not because he actually likes him, and not because their fathers have pretty much bullied them into being “friends.”

This is the sixth Damian Wayne Robin figure, the last coming out from Mattel’s DC Comics Multiverse line just recently, as well as one from Mattel’s online subscription service, two from DC Collectibles’ Son of Batman and Lil’ Gotham lines, and one from DC Direct’s Batman Incorporated before that.

The figure stands about 3 inches tall, with 29 points of articulation. The facial sculpt shows Damian pouting and angry, because, if Damian ever smiled, his head would explode in order to expel his face away from it with as much force as possible. Or maybe he’s just pissed that the figures so accurately represent how much smaller he is than his junior partner.

I wish he had come with an interchangeable head, so that he could be displayed with his hood up. He does come with a five sets of hands (in fists, flat, two different grips, and with bloody talons), and a staff to make up for not having a flying stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I looked forward to the Super-Sons title, because I was a kid when the original Super-Sons were having their imaginary adventures. (More about them on my own blog.) It’s such a completely hokey idea, and it was always great fun. I think Peter Tomasi has integrated the hokey idea into a fun book that works for a new generation of more-sophisticated (read: really jaded) readers. I was glad to see them rendered in action-figure form, since I doubt the original “Superman, Jr.” and “Batman, Jr.” (Yep, those were their names!) ever will be.

#1459: Justice League Rebirth Set

SUPERMAN, BATMAN, WONDER WOMAN, FLASH, GREEN LANTERN, AQUAMAN, & CYBORG

DC ICONS (DCC)

It’s Friday, which means it’s time for another entry in my latest recurring feature…F-DC F-icons Fridays?  Yeah, there’s a name that’s catchy and rolls right off the tongue.  Not content to just review one DC Icons figure a week, I’ve decided to continue my descent into madness and review seven of them in one day.  And you all get to be here for that descent.  Don’t you just feel so special? Without further ado, let’s look at the Justice League!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and Cyborg were released in March of this year in the “Justice League Rebirth” boxed set, as part of the DC Icons line.  The set’s actually been in progress since mid-2016, when it was initially shown as a New 52-themed set, before being updated to reflect the characters in their most recent looks (for the most part), and tying it into the DC Rebirth relaunch.

SUPERMAN

This figure’s my primary reason for grabbing this set, since Rebirth actually got me reading Superman and Action again.  This figure actually just saw a single release a few weeks ago, which looks to be identical, apart from the packaging.  The design of this figure comes from the initial Rebirth books, after the older Post-Crisis Clark took over the identity again.  It’s already been replaced by a tweaked design, but it’s not too far off.  I actually quite like this design; it’s not the classic look, but it’s way ahead of the other post-New 52 looks.  It’s still weird to see a Superman without the red shorts, but I think making his boots blue helps to alleviate some of the color imbalances caused by that.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and has 29 points of articulation.  Superman follows the “new” scale for Icons, meaning he’ll fit in best with figures from later in the line’s run.  He’ll also fit with some Marvel Legends depending on how much of a stickler you are for inter-character scaling.  He’s a little smaller than a Legends figure built on the Reaper body (as seen in the comparison pic with Cap).  Since he’s so sized up, he can’t really use any pieces from the first Icons Superman, making this figure an all-new sculpt.  It’s not bad work at all.  The build of the figure seems about right for Supes, and the proportions are all pretty balanced.  Detailing is all pretty clean and bold as well.  The head is pretty solid too; it’s got a nice friendly expression that seems right for Clark.  It feels maybe a touch wide, and perhaps a bit young for the more experienced Clark Kent this figure is meant to represent, but by and large I find myself really liking it.  The cape is made from a soft plastic, and it’s very nicely done.  After years of Mattel capes that have to be attached with a huge brick that utterly ruins the flow, this is a very refreshing piece.  In terms of paint, Superman is decent, if perhaps not fantastic.  The basic colors are all good matches for the source (the blue is a touch dark for my taste, but that’s accurate) and he looks pretty slick overall.  My only real issue is with the face, which just seems a little bit lopsided.  It’s the sort of thing that looks totally fine from most angles, but really goofy if you catch it the wrong way. Still, good work overall.  Superman includes no accessories.  Of course, that’s true of the entire set.  At least Supes doesn’t feel too light without the extras.

BATMAN

This guy also saw a single release, at the same time as the Superman figure.  It’s hardly a shock, what with it being Batman and all.  Batman is also sporting his look from Rebirth, but he’s been fortunate enough not to have it already change on him.  It’s another decent design.  It doesn’t speak to me quite as much as the Superman design, but that’s less about any particular element pulling me out, and more about it not being too terribly different from all the other Batman designs in recent years.  I can point out what’s different between this and the New 52 design if put on the spot, but they’re fundamentally the same.  Well, this one has less tactical-tech lines, which is certainly a plus.  The figure is 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Batman’s maybe a smidge taller than Superman, depending on posing.  I generally like for Bruce to be a little shorter, but it’s easy enough to have Clark standing straight and Bruce slightly hunching.  The important thing is that this Batman is taller than the Icons Nightwing, which can’t be said of the first Icons Batman (which is absolutely dwarfed by this release).  The very first prototypes of this set showed Batman using quite a few pieces from the older figure, but this guy ended up as a totally new sculpt.  It has its pluses and minuses, to be sure.  As a whole, I think it’s a strong sculpt, and it does a good job of conveying a modern era Batman.  He’s got a good, solid build, and the details on the costume appear to be more or less accurate to his new design.  The mouth seems ridiculously pouty, but Batman is the king of brood, so I guess that just goes with the territory.  His head is set a little higher on the barbel than other Icons figures, which can look a little off in straight standing poses, but actually affords him a good deal more range on his neck joint, which is pretty nice for a guy who does a lot of hunching.  The figure’s topped off with another nicely rendered cape, which has a flow to it that is just as well-crafted as, but completely unique from, Superman’s.  Paint on Batman is very solid work.  Nothing seems out of place like on Superman, and everything’s very bold and clean.  Perhaps the purple could be a little more noticeably different from the black on the cape, but that’s a very minor complaint.  Batman feels a little more hurt by the lack of extras; at the very least a batarang or something would have been nice.

WONDER WOMAN

This set’s Wonder Woman was actually the first in the line, though her single release wasn’t far behind. Unlike the last two, Wonder Woman’s single release was quite a bit different, leaving this one still exclusive to the larger set.  Wonder Woman was another big motivator for me buying this set since, like Superman, Rebirth got me reading her title again.  She’s sporting her first Rebirth look, which was sort of an update on her classic look, with a dash of the movie design thrown in.  She’s switched to something even more movie inspired since, but as with Superman, I sort of prefer this one.  The figure stands almost 6 3/4 inches tall and she has 29 points of articulation.  Yes, you read that height correctly; Wonder Woman really is almost a half an inch taller than Superman and Batman.  I’m not inherently opposed to her being taller than the other two (my favorite take on Diana is most certainly Darwyn Cooke’s, and he drew her as an inch or so taller than Clark), but this feels like a little much.  I think my issues ultimately stem from how the height is distributed; her proportions are a little out of whack, so her legs, specifically her thighs, end up taking most of the height and looking a bit longer than they should.  There’s a similar issue with the arms, where the forearms and biceps look really long relative to the shoulders and torso.  If you look at the comparison between her and the other two, you can see that despite her pelvis being a good half-inch higher than the other two, the hands all end in the same spot.  It’s not awful, but it does look a little off, at least in comparison to the other figures in the set.  On the plus side, it does make her the one figure in this set that fits in with Legends without any fudging.  Regarding the quality of the sculpt on its own, this figure’s a bit tricky.  Based on photos online and my initial reaction right out of the box, I was all ready to hate on the sculpt.  But then I took her out, and was messing with her for the photos and such and I realized it’s actually not a bad sculpt at all; it’s just an exceptionally hard to photograph one.  This figure looks very different based on the angle you catch her from, and she really doesn’t look great viewed from above.  But, head-on, she actually looks rather nice.  Yes, the proportions are still a little off, there’s no denying that, but I like more about this sculpt than I dislike.  Given the right pose, she actually looks pretty great, and given just how bad a lot of prior Wonder Woman figures have been, that’s very much a compliment. Wonder Woman’s paint work is definitely on the better end of things.  From what I’ve seen, there’s a bit of variance on the face, but mine seems to have turned out alright, and I really dig how bright all the colors are.  I didn’t know colors were allowed to go that bright on a DC figure.  Wonder Woman gets hit pretty hard by this set’s lack of accessories, because it means she loses her defining weapon: a big ol’ sword!  I jest, of course.  Who would ever think her defining weapon was a sword?  That’s just silly.  She’s actually missing her lasso, which is a real staple of the character, and a rather glaring omission.  It would have been nice to at the very least have it coiled up hanging from her belt.

THE FLASH

Flash is one of the two figures in this set who I’ve looked at an Icons figure of before.  I was overall impressed by the Series 2 figure, so I wasn’t really in the market for another, especially not one based on his super line-y New 52/Rebirth design.  And yet, here we are.  Flash’s design was essentially unchanged for Rebirth; the only noticeable difference here is the lack of chin strap, but a quick Google search shows that totally varies from artist to artist.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and has 31 points of articulation.  Flash’s sculpt is all-new to this figure, but looks to have used the prior figure as a starting point at the very least; the musculature and sizing are all about the same, but the specifics of the costume have changed.  All of the yellow lines are etched into place, and there’s added details on the boots.  The head is a completely original piece, totally different from the Series 2 figure.  Since the head was the only part of that figure I had an issue with, I was intrigued by this one.  I’m happy to say, I find this one to be a serious improvement over the original.  The yellow lines aren’t etched into the head, so there’s a part of me that’s tempted to try and remove them so I can put this head on the old body, because I like it that much.  The paint work on Flash is mostly good, aside from one glaring issue:  he’s got a big spot of missing paint on the right side of his chin.  It’s a pretty noticeable flaw, and I’m definitely going to have to break out my paints to fix it.  Not the sort of thing I like having to do right out of the box, but I feel confident this is a one-off.  The lack of accessories for Flash is a bit less of an issue, but I do wish his default hands were flat running hands instead of fists.

GREEN LANTERN

GL is the other character for whom I’ve already reviewed an Icons release, and this figure’s even less different than Flash.  At first glance, this is a straight re-release of the deluxe Hal Jordan figure from Series 2.  However, that’s not quite the case.  You see, that figure was 6 inches tall, but this one is 6 1/4.  He’s also got tweaked hips to add the drop-hips that the rest of the set feature, so my first thought was that they’d simply sculpted new thighs with added height. Upon closer examination, I found that the entire figure has actually been ever so slightly enlarged, in order to bring him into scale with the rest of the set.  What’s more, the details of this figure’s sculpt are a lot crisper than those of the earlier figure, and the green has been changed to a more metallic sheen.  I loved this figure the first time I got it, and I still love it here.  Of course, I’m also frustrated by it, because it’s just different enough that it’s not a straight duplicate, so now I have to keep it.

AQUAMAN

You know the old saying: “if an Aquaman figure is released without a trident, does he make a sound?”  …Maybe that’s not quite it.  Regardless, here’s this Aquaman figure.  He’s based on the Rebirth design, which isn’t that much different from his classic look, apart from the gold around the collar and the lack of black shorts.  This figure stands about the same height as all of the other figures in the set, and has 29 points of articulation.  He’s really just a reworking of the single-release Aquaman, though, like with GL, he seems to have been scaled up ever so slightly.  The real difference between the two Aquamen is the head.  I can’t say I’m much of a fan of this one.  It looks fine on the prototype and all, but something was definitely lost in translation, leaving him looking rather goony.  It’s possible it’s just the paint making it look that way, though.  The rest of the sculpt is pretty top-notch.  The build is appropriate for him, and I really like the detailing on the scales of his shirt.  His paint is fairly decent; the colors are bright, and, apart from the odd placement of his eyes and a little bit of bleed over from his belt, it’s fairly well applied.  Aquaman’s lack of accessories here means that he doesn’t include his trident.  And I’m okay with that, because despite what pretty much every Aquaman figure ever would have you believe, he doesn’t really use a trident all that often.

CYBORG

This figure’s presence in this set frustrates me, because it sort of continues a persistent problem I’ve had with DC for several years now.  They keep shoving Cyborg into the Justice League, and it just upsets me.  I like Cyborg.  I like the Justice League.  I don’t really like Cyborg in the Justice League.  Especially when it’s at the cost of Martian Manhunter as a member, which it almost always is.  And that’s what the case is here.  In a seven figure Justice League set, I kind of expect a Martian Manhunter.  But noooooo.  No, in this set, we got Cyborg.  Cyborg who also got a single release with accessories.  Instead of Martian Manhunter, who was completely left out of the line, leaving my Icons Justice League sadly incomplete.  And of course, now I have a Cyborg, but not Titans to go with him, meaning that’s another incomplete team.  Bleh.  I’m sorry, all that ranting is largely to do with the fact that I *actually like* this figure.  Quite a bit, in fact.  His sculpt, even though it’s based on a more modern Cyborg than I tend to go for, is top-notch.  It’s sleek, well put together, and just plain cool looking.  He’s got 31 points of articulation, and it all works really, really well.  The joints are smooth, and the mobility is pretty sound.  He’s probably one of the best in the set, posability-wise.  Perhaps the only drawback to the figure proper is his lack of extras, since his forearms have clearly been designed to swap out for other arm attachments.  Just one of those would have been really cool.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After picking up Nightwing and Supergirl, and finding out that just about everything I wanted from Icons was cancelled, I was admittedly a little bummed.  That being said, I recalled that this set had been released, and I had checked it out a few times, before ultimately deciding it was a little bit on the pricey side for me.  I still really wanted that Superman, though, so I was excited to hear he was getting a single release.  I was less excited to hear that he was going to run me almost $30 and feature no additional accessories.  It was around this time that I discovered that Barnes & Noble’s website had marked this set down to half of it’s original value, and were also offering free shipping and $5 off orders over $25.  The final cost was $45, which is $6.43 a figure.  And that’s an amazing deal.  Superman’s awesome, as is Batman.  Wonder Woman’s better than I expected, if not perfect.  Flash isn’t my ideal costume choice, and has that one annoying paint flaw, but is a very good figure.  Green Lantern’s not the total repeat I expected, and fixes a few minor issues with the original.  Aquaman’s head sucks, but the single release has a spare head I can toss on the otherwise solid figure.  And I ranted a bit about Cyborg’s spot in the set, but he’s still a very, very well crafted figure.  If you want to give Icons a chance, I heartily recommend this set, and feel obligated to inform all of my readers that it’s still available at the discounted price on barnesandnoble.com.