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.


Marissa said...

It's no fun when your expectations aren't met. Hopefully you will like the next toys you are contemplating. :)

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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