Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Justice League Original Members

Mattel has been doing animated DC figures for few years, since they took over the line in 2003 from Hasbro. They started with lines based on Batman: The Animated Series, continuing the line Hasbro ended with, as well as a line based on the Justice League Animated Series. In 2005 that line was rebranded Justice League Unlimited, presumably because the animated series was renamed, and is currently titled DC SuperHeroes: Justice League Unlimited.

I really enjoyed the Batman and Superman animated series, and what I have seen of the Justice League series (admittedly, not much). I absolutely love the animated look, and for a while now I have wanted to have the seven Justice League members I was familiar with in the animated style. It was recommended to me to get the original Justice League versions, as they tended to look better, mainly because they lacked elbow and knee joints the current figures have. I was quite excited a few weeks ago to find the new

Justice League Unlimited, Original Members Collection

at my local TRU, which contained the seven original members (imagine that!) in their original 5 POA (points of articulation) versions.

The seven members are Batman, Superman, Green Lantern (John Stewart), Wonder Woman, Flash, Hawkgirl, and Martian Manhunter.


These came in a flat, window-display box, with each character fully visible. It was kinda nice, and after my experiences with these figures after I opened them, I wish I hadn't destroyed the packaging when I opened it.


These are clearly in an animated style that matches the look of the TV series' very well. They're rather simplistic without tons of detail, but each character is clearly different from each other - though many of the male figures share the same pieces (arms, torso and legs), they all have at least distinct head molds.

While having no problems with the design of the characters, I do have issues with the design of the toys. The male figures are very top heavy - big, barrel chests and large arms on tiny, spindly legs. Couple that with the very soft plastic they are made out of, and most of them stand only precariously, and some fall over if I dared to even think about them. Green Lantern was by far the worst, from the knees down his legs are like wet noodles, so flimsy they will not support his weight at all - I think the longest I succeeded in getting him to stand unaided was a few seconds. Supes was the next most frequent faller - he stands okay if I don't breathe in his direction. Flash and Martian Manhunter did okay, but when I bumped the desk (a rather heavy solid desk) at least one of them would fall. I think Batman was the only one that didn't fall while I had them on display at work.

This problem was mostly confined to the men, definitly a combination of the big-chest design and material used. The girls have a more balanced look to their designs. I'm not sure that Wonder Woman fell much at all, but her feet are so tiny she doesn't have as stable of base as she could have, so she would fall if the figure itself was bumped. Hawkgirl shares a similar build, but her wings make her a little more likely to fall over backwards, but it didn't happen too often.


The figures are all re-releases of the original versions of these figures, meaning they only have 5 points of articulation - they have a cut neck, cut shoulders, and cut hips. It's very basic articulation that doesn't allow for much posing or display, but for kids its probably just fine. We got along fine with only 5 POA on Star Wars figures for twenty years, so I think it's okay that these only have 5.


These are definitely mass market toys, aimed at kids. The colors are solid, bright colors, no complex shading or washing like on a McFarlane toy. The lines between colors are mostly okay, but not great, and there was plenty of slop on the figures I left at TRU. I spent probably 15 minutes examining the 5 or 6 of these that TRU had before choosing which to buy.

All but the set I bought had at least one figure with obvious paint or glue issues - Superman and Martian Manhunter suffered frequent, obvious globs of glue where the cape attaches to their chest. Other figures had paint rubs or smears, like black marks on Hawkgirl's yellow shirt, or red on Superman's blue, etc. I realize that most little kids wouldn't care too much about these issues, but I buy figures mostly because I like how they look or the design of the character, and since they are going to be on display, I'd prefer that they look good.


Absolutely none. This is also a problem (in my mind) with the JLU line. Anytime more than one figure is sold together, none of them get accessories anymore. I know that the single pack version of Hawkgirl comes with a mace. Batman has had several different accessories, as has Superman. Green Lantern should come with a green lantern. But they don't.


Considering I paid about $3.50 each for these, and they are for kids to play with, I've probably been complaining too much. But there was a lot of hype building these up in my mind - I know they are very popular with collectors, but I was not at all impressed. Perhaps the main part of the appeal is the wide variety of characters being released in this line (especially since it became Justice League Unlimited), but since for the most part I only buy certain figures that doesn't benefit me much, and the poor paint and flimsy plastic really dragged these down.

As I stated early, I love the animated look of these figures, and for a while I was pleased to have them. However, with my obviously high expectations I was really disappointed with these. I know what a great job Mattel has done/is doing on the 6 inch DCSH/DCUC lines, and I guess I thought more of that would carry over into this line. I would be happier with them had I left them in the package, they would have been a lot easier to display that way, but since I didn't, I will be getting rid of these figures, and avoiding the line in the future. I've actually developed some antagonism to this line, and I hope it dies soon, in favor of the new Infinite Heroes line Mattel previewed at New York Toy Fair earlier this month.

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Battle of the Bats

One reason I like the DC Direct figures is that they do a lot in specific artist styles. One problem with this is it can be hard to assemble coherent collections (such as all the members of Justice League in a single style) but the benefit is having figures based on specific styles from specific comics. Today I'm reviewing two figures based on artwork by the same artist, though from two different stories:

Superman/Batman: Return of Supergirl Batman

pencil/ink by Michael Turner, coloring by Peter Steigerwald

Identity Crisis Batman

covers by Michal Turner and Peter Steigerwald.


I absolutely loved Turner's/Steigerwald's art in S/B: Supergirl. Turner draws, and Steigerwald colors, Batman just as I would—if I had any artistic talent. From now on I will always picture Batman in my mind as they draw/color him. I like the tall but not too tall ears, the black/gray color scheme, and I really like their version of the bat-emblem on his chest. These are basically the same figure, though there are a few differences: the head, hands and cape are different, with the arms, legs, and body being the same. The heads are extremely similar, the only difference being the expression of Bats' mouth. Supergirl Batman has an open-mouth snarl, while Identity Crisis Bats has a stern closed mouth expression that doesn't look as stern in the photos. Both heads look great, but I do I prefer the Supergirl Bats version, just a little bit. The capes have a similar look, long jagged edges, but the Supergirl Batman cape is shorter, and of a lighter rubbery material, while Crisis Batman's is much longer, heavier, and slightly more rigid. It also curves outward in a way that off-balances the figure, making it more difficult to stand it up. Crisis Batman has generic mostly open, vaguely kung-fu pose hands, compared to Supergirl Bats' mostly closed hands, designed to hold the controls of the flight contraptions he borrowed from Mr Miracle, they also kinda work as half-closed fists. Batman looks tall, and his body is well defined and muscular, in a way that looks fairly realistic and believable to me. I can't tell you what scale these are in - DC Direct is know for each line having their own scale that's more likely to be slightly different than any other line - if it's a 6 inch scale then Batman is a tall guy as he's a little over 6.5 inches to the top of his head, and 7 to the tip of his ears. He's close enough in height to the JLA Aquaman, JSA Hawkgirl, 52 Batwoman and JLA Green Lantern I have that they'll look fine together in a Justice League display (though it means that Kyle Rayner is a little short, but not everyone's the same height so it works for me).


There is little in the way of contrasting colors, or color at all, actually, but Batman's always been fairly monochromatic, and I prefer the black and gray look anyway. There is one paint difference between the two - Crisis Batman has a bright yellow belt which may or may not be accurate to the comics - I'll have to check (I'm reading Identity Crisis right now, you'd think I'd have noticed, but I haven't) - whereas Supergirl Batman's belt is a dark gold color that matches his accessories.

They both have the same great rendition of the Bat symbol, it is very cleanly applied with very sharp lines and no slop, and it looks identically good on both figures. The lines between the boots and gloves and the gray body suit are extremely clean, although Supergirl Bats has a couple of black spots on one of his calves above the boot. The black used on the boots and gloves is a very glossy black, while his cape and undies are a flat black. The bat emblem is a semi-gloss black, and the contrast between the three is very nice, and helps to distinguish the different areas, more than if they they were the same color. What little paint there is in his face is well done.


I generally like articulation, but it's not as important to me as it was when I only collected Star Wars figures. Since these are DC Direct figures they don't have a whole lot of articulation - well, compared to Star Wars figures for the last couple of year, compared to McFarlane Spawn figures they're loaded with articulation. This Batman figure(s) have what appears to be the standard DC Direct articulation - ball-joint head and shoulders, hinge elbows and knees, and standard hips. The shoulders and head joints have the most movement, but nothing like the recent DCSH and DCUC figures from Mattel, but good enough for a little variation in poses, though the head can't look up or down as far as would be nice.


Identity Batman comes with nothing more than a stand with the Identity Crisis logo on it - he can stand without it, though it's kind of a trick getting him balanced right what with the way the cape pulls him backwards. Supergirl Batman comes with several accessories, all of which are the same bronze color as his belt. He has a flight thingy that doesn't fit quite as well as the packaged photo would indicate (he doesn't seem to grab the controls right), and there's some thingamajig that I think is supposed to fit over his head and shoulders, but is too small to fit over his beefy shoulders. He also includes two big, long claw things that attach to his forearms - in the comics he wore these when he physically assaulted Darkseid - in fact, he smashed them to pieces against Darkseid's face, not that it bother Darkseid much. The claws were a pain to get on despite the attachment pieces being rather soft and bendy - the larger ones fit right over top the gauntlet fins in a not-convenient way, and the small ones were comparatively stiffer (or else more difficult to bend because of their size) and I had a tough time getting them open enough to fit over his wrists. I think they look cool, though, so I won't be removing them anytime soon. He also includes a stand with the Superman/Batman logo, which I really like. He doesn't need it to stand, as he's much better balanced than Identity Batman.


I think these are both great figures, and I'm glad I purchased both of them, but Supergirl Batman was definitely a better buy for my money - even better that it was a few dollars cheaper than Identity Batman. If you only want one Turner-style Batman, the Superman/Batman: Supergirl Bats is definitely the way to go, his expression is better, he stands better, he's got loads more accessories, and the belt looks much better in bronze than canary yellow. But if you liked Identity Crisis as much as I did it's worth picking that Bats up, too.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Halo 3 Need List

Since I'm on a needlist making kick, I might as well do one for the McFarlane Toys Halo 3 figures. As Hasbro learned with the Clone Troopers, and Joyride learned with the previous Halo series, it appears that McFarlane has realized they can make one cool figure and repaint it many times and sell it over and over again. They've gone a step farther and indroduced multiple armor variations as well. When series one was announced there were 3 armor variations, but with the announcement of series two they've upped the armor count to 6. Yes, SIX ARMOR variations that I have to buy in at least TWO COLORS, possibly three. If ever there was justification to not collect all 17ish colors this is it. Nevermind the fact that I draw the line at collecting pink and mauve armored troopers.

Mostly I'm focusing on Blue and Red multi-player Spartan figures and Master Chief. I'll also be getting a few of the White Sparans, and maybe one or two of the other exclusive colors, and a few aliens - but only the really cool, armored ones.

Spartan Armor Styles

Close Quarter Battle Armor (CQB)
EOD Armor
EVA Armor
Mark VI Armor - the standard armor
Orbital Drop Shock Trooper (ODST)

Blue Spartan - Walmart Exclusive

So far as has been announced, all blue and cyan Spartans will be exclusively available from Walmart - hopefully they'll sell them on

Series 1 Mark VI Spartan
Series 1 CQB Spartan

Series 2 EOD Spartan

Series 3? Scout

Gentle Giant Halo 3 Mini Bust

Red Spartan

Luckily the Red Spartans will be available to any retailer, so I shouldn't have any problems getting these.

Series 1 Mark VI Spartan
Series 1 EVA Spartan
Series 2 CQB Spartan

Gentle Giant Halo 3 Mini Bust

Master Chief

He's the main character from the single-player levels, so I gotta have him.

Series 1
Series 2

Gentle Giant Halo 3 Mini Bust

White Spartan

Available only to specialty retailers, like comic book shops. I'll probably pick all mine up from, although it's possible F.Y.E. will also have them - but who knows at what price.

series 1 Mark VI Spartan
Series 2 EVA Spartan

Misc Spartans

This is the section for any other multi-player Spartans figures that catch my interest that aren't mentioned above. For example: Transworld stores will be getting gold colored Spartans - could be interesting, but I won't know until we see pics, but if I do want a couple of those this is where they'll be.

McFarlane Collector's Club Exclusive Active Camoflage EVA Spartan

Series 2 TRU Exclusive Brown EVA Spartan

Series 2 Transworld (FYE) Exclusive Gold Mark VI Spartan



Series 1 Brute Chieftain
Series 2 Brute Stalker


Series 1 Grunt green
Series 1 Grunt orange

Misc Aliens

Series 2 Arbiter

Aliens I'm not sure I want or not

Series 2 Drone


Mar 7: My first set of Halo 3 figures arrived from, so I was able to scratch off the Red EVA, White Mark VI, and Master Chief. Since I apparently never came back and finished this post with the Covenant figures I wanted, I didn't get to mark off the green Grunt and Brute Chieftain.
Mar 14: Received my Red Mark VI from Also, earlier this week I got the Blue Mark VI from Derek who picked it up for me a week or so ago. Further, yesterday I made arrangements with someone from the GGC forums to acquire the Blue CQB figure, so yippee!
Mar 15: Updated with Series 1 & 2 aliens.
Mar 28: In preparation for pictures of series 3 today, I marked off all of series one (since I received them all within the last couple of weeks) and removed figures I have decided not to get (Jackal Sniper and Gamestop CQB.

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

Justice League DC Direct Need List part 2

This is a continuation of both the Justice League Need List and the DC Direct Need List. It details two different versions of the Justice League I want to get, in the Alex Ross Kingdom Come and Ed McGuinness (from the Superman/Batman & JLA Classified lines) styles. The Ed McGuinness style has really grown on me, so we'll list it first.

Ed McGuinness

Aquaman 2006

Batman 2006 (2005)
Captain Atom 2005 - pending

Flash 2006
Green Lantern John Stewart 2006
Hawkman 2007

Martian Manhunter 2006

Nightwing 2007

Shazam 2005 - pending

Future Superman 2007

Superman 2006 (2005)
Wonder Woman 2006

Kingdom Come

Aquaman 2007

Batman 2007 (2003)

Flash 2004

Green Lantern Hal Jordan 2007 (2003)

Jade 2006

Magog 2004

Red Arrow 2003

Red Robin 2003

Shazam 2003

Spectre 2006

Superman 2007 (2003)

Wonder Woman 2007 (2003)

Wonder Woman Armored 2004


Mar 28: Won an auction for all of Superman/Batman: Series 1 figures, so I marked them as pending, as well as Flash and Green Lantern, which I won in a different auction for $5 each.

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