San Diego Comic-Con 2019 is about a month away and exclusives being released are being revealed. Mattel is celebrating 80 years of Batman with two of their exclusives.
Batman is getting a box set featuring four figures including Negative Suit Batman from Detective Comics #284, Zebra Batman from Detective Comics #275, Rainbow Batman from Detective Comics #241, and a classic Batman as well. Each figure features 23 points of articulation. The set retails for $80.
Batman is also getting a diecast car replica straight from 1989’s Batman (which celebrates 30 years this year). The set features the Batmobile as well as a protective shell you can pop off. It’ll retail for $25.
These things we know. We know that McFarlane Toys has the Harry Potter/Wizarding World license. We know that four figures (Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Voldemort from HP&TDH2) and one Hippogriff are up for pre-order. We know that McFarlane will likely bring their long history of A-game sculpting to the line. Here’s what we don’t know: why has no one else ever made a successful long-term go of a Harry Potter action figure line?
Early in the life of the films, Mattel picked up the license for the line. And they, well, they Matteled, didn’t they? Those early figures (shown on the shelves in the pictures) lack inspired sculpting; consider that these figures were coming out against Toy Biz’s Lord of the Rings line, among others, and you’ll see that they effort just wasn’t there. Factor in early gaffes like the famously backward-armed Dumbledore, unequal pack-outs of Fred and George, and other weirdness, and one might remember those early message boards being rife with complaints. A second group came out for the second film, but the scale was off and they kind of stiffed at retail.
NECA picked it up later with some good sculpts (like this Harry and Sirius), but they didn’t make an overly large amount. In 2007, PopCo picked up the European license and did some decent figures. Mattel even recently came back to make some “action figure dolls” of the leads, McGonagall and Dumbledore. However, the fact remains that there’s never been a truly comprehensive line at U.S. retail.
McFarlane has a crack at changing that. Aside from their general quality, they have wide-ranging distribution. The first four figures also have clever accessories; Harry, Hermione, and Ron each come with their patronus, and Voldemort is packed with Nagini. I also like the idea that McFarlane is starting with The Deathly Hollows Part II. For one thing, it’s the last film in the series, and the one that is the freshest in our minds, overall; for another, these versions of the cast have simply never been done before. It’s also a film that includes a huge variety of characters (the Weasleys, the Order, the Malfoys, most of the professors, Neville, Cho, Hagrid, etc.), so you could conceivably go about knocking out a big portion of the cast just from that film before reaching back into other stories and characters.
It’s important to note that the license in for the Wizarding World, so it also includes Fantastic Beasts. Buckbeak the Hippogriff looks great, so I’m already looking forward to what they do with other magical creatures. I think it would be smart for McFarlane to do an assortment of the main four humans (Newt, Tina, Queenie, and Jacob) at some point in the near future to plant a flag for the franchise, given that the third film now won’t be released until 2021.
What do you think, muggles? Are you interested in the new
line? What would you like to see? Have you placed pre-orders? Talk to us.
Thanks for reading.
I want to circle back to something that I discussed in a video a few weeks ago, and that’s the idea of “unfinished teams” when it comes to toy lines. It’s a phenomenon that plagues a lot of collectors, and not just line completists. Often, fans of a particular team begin buying figures based on that group, only to see the figures stop without the basic, core team ever being finished. Sometimes, a line even gets several figures in before screeching to a halt; then, false hope comes when another line picks up the baton, only for that to fold, too. Today, I want to talk specifically about one of the most popular and, simultaneously, misunderstood teams of all time, and how they’re ripe for figure rehabilitation. I’m talking, of course, about the Legion of Super-Heroes.
Created by Otto Binder and Al Plastino in 1958, the Legion became one of the most popular and longest-running DC Comics teams of all time. The group was in some form of continuous publication from 1958 through 2013; they first appeared as teen allies of Superboy from the future, and grew into a sprawling team whose membership came from more than two dozen planets. The Legion occupied Adventure Comics for several years before bouncing around as a back-up feature at the beginning of the ’70s; finding a home in the Superboy series, they eventually received co-billing by 1973 and completely evicted Superboy in 1980.
In the early ’80s, the team’s popularity was white-hot with the team of writer Paul Levitz and artist Keith Giffen; their “Great Darkness Saga” in 1982 is considered an all-time classic. They were so big that a second book was launched in 1984; Legion of Super-Heroes was sold only in comic shops, while Tales from the Legion of Super-Heroes was sold everywhere. After a year, Tales started reprinting the direct market title, but proved popular enough to run three more years. The 1984 LSH ran until 1989, when the book got a new number 1 and a story that picked up five years later. Known to some as the “Five Year Gap” Legion, the new series told challenging stories about an occupied Earth and the Legion fighting to free it.
In 1994, the old Legion was pushed aside for a new Legion inZero Hour. The young Legion was fairly popular, but that continuity only lasted 10 years before a completely new one came in. Referred to as the “Threeboot,” this new angle only stuck around for five years. In 2007, the original Legion returned in the JLA/JSA “Lightning Saga” crossover. Every version of the Legion got to play together in the Final Crisis tie-in Legion of Three Worlds. When the “New 52” settled in in 2011, the Legion again had two books, but these were gone by 2013. Since then, there have only been teases and hints that the Legion was coming back, most recently in Doomsday Clock.
The core concept of the Legion (“teen heroes from the future!”) is pretty durable, and has proven pretty adaptable to other media. The Legion have appeared in episodes of Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League Unlimited, Smallville, The Flash, and Supergirl. Beginning in 2006, they had their own animated series for two seasons. The Legion has also popped up in direct-to-DVD films like JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time, Lego DC Comics Super-Heroes: Justice League – Cosmic Clash, and this year’s Justice League vs. The Fatal Five.
For all this, the Legion have had a relatively finite showing in action figure form. There’s been a lot of representation in HeroClix, and a handful of figures (Brainiac-5, Lightning Lad, Cosmic Boy, and Saturn Girl) made it in the DC Animated line offered online. In the DC Direct days, just over a dozen Legionnaires were made, along with villain Mordru; the Legion members were Lightning Lad, Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, Brainiac-5, Star Boy, Chameleon Boy, Invisible Kid (Lyle Norg), Ultra Boy, Mon-El, Timber Wolf, Colossal Boy, Sun Boy, and Ferro Lad, as well as Superboy and Supergirl. These were well-made figures, but a consistent complaint was that the figures were made in their 1960s costumes, when their later 70s and 80s looks were by far the most popular versions of the characters.
Those looks were reflected in the online exclusive boxed set that DC Universe Classics offered through Mattel’s MattyCollector in 2011; that epic 12-figure boxed set included Lightning Lad, Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, Matter-Eater Lad (YES.), Wildfire, Karate Kid, Superboy, Brainiac-5, Chameleon Boy, Ultra Boy, Timber Wolf, a super-sized Colossal Boy, and sidekick Proty. A figure of Star Boy/Starman Thom Kallor was also available that same year as an orderable figure through Matty’s Club Infinite Earths subscription series. Legion villain Validus made it into production as the Collect-n-Connect figure in one wave. DC Universe Classics was gone at retail by 2012, and the subs dried up by 2014. The DC Multiverse line became Mattel’s DC offering in 2016, but aside from the arguable inclusion of various Supergirl figures, no Legion members have hit shelves since.
So what have we learned, Charlie Brown? When McFarlane Toys takes over the line in 2020, it’s high time for some Legion. For one thing, outside of Saturn Girl and Supergirl, there have been ZERO other women produced as figures. And this is for a team with a huge number of female characters. Dawnstar would likely be the most popular, given her unique appearance, but fans have waited a long time for mainstays like Phantom Girl, Shadow Lass, White Witch, Duo Damsel, Sensor Girl, and many more. Likewise, we’ve been left hanging for years on visually interesting characters like Blok, Gates, and Tellus.
When the McFarlane line starts, it’s very likely that we’ll start with new versions of the big three and others right away. Such has always been the way of new DC lines. But I’d really like to see McFarlane embrace the idea of scale equilibrium and create some complementary, long-requested figures to make up the balance of those assortments. There are plenty of gaps in the JLA, the JSA, the Titans, the Outsiders, and more, but for a team that’s been around since the late 1950s, there needs to be some more respect given to the LSH. Long Live the Legion, kids.
It took my sons and I a few weeks, but we’ve finally put
together the rest of Imaginext’s DC Super-Heroes blind bag Series 6. This time
out, we got all of them at Meijer and Walgreens stores; Walgreen had the most.
Every other local outlet that carries them regularly has been a strike-out;
some stores still Series 4 out. This is a shame, because this is a good set and
it makes me wonder how long Fisher-Price will stay committed to this format if
they simply can’t be found in stores.
honestly kind of amazing how absolutely few Wonder Twins figures there have
been. Introduced all the way back in 1977 in The All-New Super-Friends Hour (and making their comic book debut
in that same year’s Super Friends
#7), Zan and Jayna are alien siblings with the planet Exxor. When they touch,
they can activate their “Wonder Twin Powers!” of transformation. Jayna can take
the form of any animal, while Zan can become variants of water. Prior to the
Imaginext figures, there have really only been two figure versions of the
Wonder Twins. One was an SDCC Exclusive for the DC Universe Classics line that
was later available online (however, only the con version came with an
additional Gleek). There’s also a Mego-style pack of the Wonder Twins and Gleek
from Figures Toy Company. And that’s basically it.
The Imaginext Jayna is well-done, and offers a good complement to Zan. Sadly, there is no Gleek to be had; maybe Fisher-Price will roll one into a later blind bag or set. Jayna comes packed with a bird, as her most frequent transformation selection was becoming an eagle that would carry a bucket full of watery Zan. The feet of the bird aren’t that well done; they’re made to grip onto a characters arm when they really should be shaped to hold the bucket. So, the figure itself is nice, and the bird is okay, but it could have used more work. I added some shots of Jayna with the previously-reviewed Zan for comparison.
Superman Armor Lex Luthor: This one’s fine. I like the facial expression; that’s classic Lex. But unless you’re really into the whole Lex in SuperArmor story from the comics, this one might not do much for you. The sculpt is good and the cape is well-made, but it kind of sticks out against all of the other characters that could have been made to fill this lot.
Dr. Fate: Now this is something. Dr. Fate is easily the best figure in this group of six. The collar on the costume is patterned after the Hector Hall Dr. Fate from the Geoff Johns and company run on JSA. The colors stand out, and the cape looks good. The best feature is that they took the care to properly scupt the mask so it looks like there are spaces for ears like there are in the comics. That’s some crazy attention to detail. The clip-on power accessory looks good in the yellow plastic, but it’s too bad they couldn’t work an ankh in there. Still, great figure, best of the six.
I’ve included some photos of all 6 figures from this series
together. Overall, it’s a good little group. Fisher-Price’s Imaginext
expression has a good thing going in DC Super-Heroes. Going forward, I’d like
to see them casting wider nets for the blind bag figure choices, and seeing
what they could do to fill some obvious holes (Alfred, more of the Shazam
family, the Atom, etc.).
Welcome back to Super-Articulate! This week, Troy takes a look at the idea of “unfinished teams” and how DC Universe Classics tried (or didn’t try) to fill their holes. And how will this work once the DC figures move to their new home?
DC Multiverse Kid Flash (Mattel): You can probably all guess my first comment, right? Variation on “It’s a damn shame that Mattel has been leveling up so much only to have the license depart at year’s end.” Today, we consider the New 52 Wally West (though it’s also the costume he wears in Rebirth with the Teen Titans. Just go with it.)
This one is another fine sculpt with good costume details.
The figure also comes with two sets of hands (fists, shown & flat hands).
As you can tell, the face and head came out nicely, including the lightning
bolt ear pieces.
However, this figure has an obvious flaw. I’m not sure if it’s across the entire production run or just this figure in particular, but the shoulders are a noticeable color mismatch from the rest of the arms and torso. It doesn’t kill my enjoyment of the figure, but it doesn’t withstand the close inspection that you can make of Vixen, The Ray, or Wonder Girl, for example.
Overall, this Kid Flash is a good figure, but that
distracting color problem denies it from greatness. It does look good on the
shelf with the other Titans, though.
Imaginext DC Super Heroes Series 6 Blind Bag Catman (Fisher-Price): Last time, we looked at Zan and Signal, this time up we’ve got Thomas Blake himself, Catman. Catman was a middling Batman villain until he received a mega-upgrade in Secret Six a decade ago from Gail Simone and Dale Eaglesham. Together with Deadshot and Bane, that gives you one half of an Imaginext Secret Six.
This one’s great. Funny expression, nice cloth cape, good paint opps, and the claws. The claw are pretty amazing, actually. The continual evolution of Imaginext sculpting is always impressive. Catman also comes with a briefcase (my son Connor believe that it contains the get-out-of-hell-free card from Gail’s classic story). We’ll stay on the lookout for the other three (Jayna, Dr. Fate, and Super Lex Luthor).
After a few straight weeks of Marvel Legends, it’s time to pivot back to DC. Mattel’s DC Multiverse distribution has been spotty in my area; you can find the Aquaman movie figures, but good luck with just about anything else right now. However, I did acquire a Vixen.
DC Multiverse Vixen:
This is another straight-up solid sculpting job from the folks at Mattel. What
I’m most impressed by is the fact that they were able to capture the look of
the hairstyle that Vixen wore in Justice
League of America (which was a fun book, now dead). I know I wasn’t the
only fan of that title, as a number of Multiverse figures were drawn from that
particular Rebirth run (Lobo, The Ray, the forthcoming Black Canary, Vixen). As
such, Vixen is sporting the costume from that run, as well. It’s just a figure
with overall good presentation.
Vixen comes with one accessory; in this case, it’s a
translucent purple eagle that’s mean to replicate the visual from the comics
when Vixen accesses one of her animal powers. Going with the bird makes sense
because it’s a power that she uses often and it’s small enough to be an easy
pack-in. I like the look of the accessory, although I would have liked a stand
or some kind of attachment with it.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m sad to see Multiverse go at the end of this year after it really got on track. It would have been nice to see this group of sculptors get to the JSA and the Legion after the fine work they’ve done on the League, the Titans, and the Batman family. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.
Imaginext DC Super Heroes Blind Bag Series 6:One DC expression that Mattel gets to keep is the Fisher-Price housed Imaginext line. The current series went with some excellent and crazy choices. There’s Zan and Jayna (the Wonder Twins), Superman-armor Luthor, Dr. Fate, Catman, and The Signal (Duke Thomas). My boys and I have only found two so far, so we’ll go ahead and take a look at Zan and Signal.
The Signal is Duke Thomas, one of the Robins from the We Are Robin series. Duke became more involved in the official Bat Family and received his own individual costume and codename. Signal comes packed with a pair of ninja kama. Imaginext has really upped their sculpting game in the past few years, and the Signal is a good example of that. While the bodies are frequently basic with (admittedly great) paint jobs, the heads are increasingly unique. This has a good look overall and the vibrant yellow stands out.
Zan and Jayna are no-brainers for a line like this. Zan looks like a decent adaptation of his cartoon self; no real surprises. The best thing is his accessory. As you know, Zan can change into forms of water, and would regularly be carried by his bird-form sister in a bucket. So, of course, Zan comes with . . . the bucket. And the water has his face! Yes, they actually did that. Major kudos, Fisher-Price. Major.
The Imaginext line remains a terrific kids’ focus line, though I know more than a few adult collectors that like to display them as well. While this line-up seems to be a little bit harder to find, these two indicate that their commitment to DC is still in good form.
Let’s get this straight right now. There’s NO WAY we can hit everything. There’s just too much. I’m going to zoom in on our regular areas, Marvel Legends and DC Multiverse, with a couple of side trips.
Funko Pop: Holy crap, just go look at the pictures. There’s WAY too much to digest there. Rest assured that they’re on fire. Catch our full Funko coverage.
McFarlane DC and Harry Potter/Wizarding World: Nothing to show yet, per the terms of the deal, but The Todd Himself seems very excited in his various interviews and personal postings. His comments seem to indicate that their DC license can pull from comics, animation, film, and video games; I’m really excited to see what they come up with, but for now we’ll have to wait.
DC ¡Lucha Explosiva!: DC Collectibles just hit this one out of the park. The Lucha Libre-inspired line is an unexpected visual joy. Even if you’re familiar with the luchadore wrestling tradition, you might not know that there’s an extensive history of heroic masked wrestlers in Mexican film, notably El Santo, Mil Máscaras, and Blue Demon. This assortment celebrates that, and its mere appearance has delighted collectors. I expect it to be a big hit, and I expect more to follow.
DC Multiverse: Not gonna lie. This was a let-down. I’m glad to see the Red Robin and Poison Ivy figures, which look great, but I feel like Mattel are squandering their chance to go out big with this line. While it’s always been hobbled by poor distribution, they had picked up a lot in the last couple of years. The ’89 Batman and new Joker are well-done, but ultimately another Batman and Joker.
Imaginext DC Super Heroes: The 80th anniversary Batman figures, including the boxed set and individual carded figures, look super-fun. Including a Detective #27 figure, the Batmobile-armor version from Alex Ross’s Justice, a Sinestro Corps Batman, the “Rainbow” Batman, a GL Bats, an Azrael Bat, and the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh, these kind of hilariously wonderful. The kids will love them, but adult collectors that don’t normally pick these up might be tempted to grab some, too.
Marvel Legends: Where to even begin? Last week, I wrote a piece about the top 10 figures I wanted to see. And Hasbro gave us NONE OF THEM. And yet, I am extremely impressed and excited by the massive amount of reveals at the show. The Alex Ross Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America are outstanding. The fact that we’re getting Peggy Carter, Ghost, Luis, the Grandmaster, and Korg is insane. The four revealed Retro X-Men (Madripoor Wolverine, Silver Samurai, X-Factor Cyclops, and “Outback” Dazzler) are simply great. Boom Boom is perfect, and long overdue. The problem with Marvel Legends is the best possible problem; even as they make new, great stuff (or new, continually improving stuff), you still find yourself wanting the characters that haven’t been reached yet. The funny thing is that we didn’t even get the full 2019 picture; the other two Retro figures and the rest of the X-Force assortment haven’t been seen, and neither have the Endgame film figures. For me, Hasbro’s line was the clear winner.
With Toy Fair 2019 underway, Mattel has revealed what we’ll be getting as part of their 6″ scale assortment of figures of the upcoming movie Shazam! as well as the DC Multiverse Shazam and Doctor Sivana.
Let me set the parameters on this one right away. This isn’t an exhaustive look. It’s more of a highlight reel of the past few assortments of DC Multiverse figures. I’ll be checking back in with DC Mutliverse a few times throughout the year; unfortunately, as the DC master license leaves Mattel, the line is on a ticking clock. On the upside, I think that the character selection and sculpts have steadily improved over time; the downside, again, is that Mattel will stop making DC figures after a couple of years filled with some exciting choices.
Presently, a new assortment is making its way to stores; it’s a four-figure wave featuring Batman Beyond, Green Lantern Kyle Rayner (in his classic outfit), Kingdom Come Superman, Kid Flash (DC Rebirth), and a Lobo Collect & Connect figure. We don’t have any of those to show yet; as for myself, I only plan on getting the Kid Flash, as I have representations of the other characters that I’m pleased with. And that brings up a salient point. Be a completest if you want, but you’ll be a happier collector if you simply buy what you dig.
So, with our column today, I’m going to go back to a pair of
figures from 2017, and several more from throughout 2018. First up is Batwing, which featured in the Batman
Exo-Suit/Rookie Wave from Summer of that year. I chose to go all the way back
to Batwing because he’s an interesting figure and it’s running fairly
inexpensively on eBay. If I’m not interested in a C&C figure for a
particular wave, then I’m totally comfortable picking up loose figures online
for less rather than paying full price with pieces I don’t want.
At any rate, Batwing is a decent, not spectacular, figure. I’m really glad he was made, particularly because of the key role he plays in the excellent Detective Comics run in Rebirth. I do wish there had been a swappable head for him because I’m certain that not a lot of people outside of the direct readership realize that he’s a member of an underrepresented community. I do like the wing assembly; despite the weight of the thing, the figure is still able to stand, which is a huge plus. Not great, but certainly good.
Wonder Girl from late 2017, however, is excellent. Great sculpt, solid presentation of a character that many have loved since Young Justice, then Teen Titans, then Young Justice on TV. The only bummer was that if you wanted the rest of the Doctor Psycho C&C figure, you had to get a DKIII Wonder Woman. I didn’t care for the story, the design, or the figure, so I passed. But, as for Wonder Girl herself, very well-done. I really like the way that the lasso hangs on the figure, and there’s some fine detail in the hair. She’s looks great next to the Superboy on the shelf.
Batwoman and Green Lantern Jessica Cruz came from the spring/summer 2018 Clayface C&C series, and that’s a great set overall. With that one, DCM went all in on Rebirth. I vastly prefer those to the TV and film figures; in fact, I think that the overabundance of TV, Justice League film, and Dark Knight Returns figures really hurt the line. Some of those figures continue to hang in stores. While the face on Jessica Cruz isn’t the greatest, I’m simply delighted the figure exists at all. I took a picture of the back to show that the costume detail continued on both sides, which is great. The power battery is well-done, the power effects are okay, and it’s generally an agreeable figure. Batwoman is the superior of the two; the extra head is great, but the mask is particularly well-sculpted. It’s kind of shock to consider how few Kate Kane figures there have actually been between DC Direct/Collectibles and Mattel, so we should be glad that we got this one.
The final two I’m looking at come from the DC Rebirth Lex Luthor C&C wave, and those are The Ray and Spoiler, which started dropping in November. This is a generally solid wave, and a strong reminder that DCM was doing their best when they were doing Rebirth. Their plan through 2019 really shows that they were determined to present a strong assemblage of characters from Detective, Justice League, Justice League of America, and the Titans titles, and they were doing pretty damn good job of it. Again, a shame this license is leaving now.
The utter lack of a mass market Spoiler until now has been confounding, but I’m glad she’s here. I’m a little bummed we didn’t get the original look first, but for God’s sake, at least it’s Stephanie! This is a rock-solid figure. Well-designed, well-sculpted, and with nice hood and hair elements, I’m sure it made a lot of fans happy. I wish that she had a little more articulation, but it’s a damn fine addition to Bat-or-teen-hero shelf.
I’ve been a fan of The Ray for years, and I’m glad he’s gotten more a spotlight with the CW Seed animation, the Crisis on Earth-X CW appearance, and his prominent role in Justice League of America. This is a GREAT figure, hands-down. Speaking of hands, it comes with two extras and a “smiley” head; I prefer the serious in this case. But this just another solid, well-sculpted, well-painted figure. I know he’s a little hard to find, but I grabbed one on eBay for less than store price, so I felt pretty good about that. As a matter of act, all of these figures are fairly findable on eBay for decent prices, outside of Jessica Cruz; that one takes more work, but it can still be found in the 20s, despite the fact that some people are pricing Buy It Nows in the $60 range.
At this point, I plan to get Vixen and Rebirth Kid Flash,
which are still in release, Katana at year’s end, and several entries in the
Killer Croc C&C wave, notably Red Hood and Alfred. Have you been enjoying
DC Multiverse? Will you be sad to see it go? What do you want to see before the
end of 2019? Thanks for reading, and comment away.