DC Universe Classics: Aquaman Vs. Black Manta “Undersea Assault” by Mattel

In this modern day of instant news on the Interwebs we collectors don’t get too many surprises in the toy aisles, but boy did I get one today when I went to pick up some groceries at Walmart. I knew Matty had some DCUC 2-packs coming out, hell I’ve had the Supergirl Vs. Luther one on pre-order forever, but I had no idea this Undersea Assault set with Aquaman and Black Manta even existed on the radar, and as a Walmart Exclusive to boot!

The figures come in a fishtank style package with artwork that remains totally faithful to the single carded figures. The figures come in cool action poses ready to kick each other’s ass, with their accessories in hand. The back panel shows photos of both figures along with their respective stats and biographies on the bottom. Wow, Manta’s actually mentions his murdering Aquaman’s infant son. That’s pretty heavy stuff for the back of a toy package and for a Wally World Exclusive, that’s positively hardcore! The package is completely collector friendly, which is a good thing, because right now my DCUC shelf is too congested to fit either of these figures.

Before going on to look at each figure, individually, I do want to point out that the plastic on these guys doesn’t seem like the same quality used on the single carded DCUC figures. Its not terrible, but it does feel considerably softer in some areas. On Aquaman it only seems to be the case on his legs, especially his knee joints. As for Black Manta, it seems to be his whole body. I’d sort of compare it to the differences in plastic Hasbro uses for their Marvel Universe and Secret Wars comic packs.

This version of Aquaman is my absolute favorite as it really harkens me back to my days as a yewt watching the Superfriends cartoon. Its also one of the more diverse and detailed sculpts of the line. The combination of sculpted scales and gold paint on his torso and upper arms looks fantastic, and I love the high gloss green used on his gauntlets, legs and boots. He has sculpted fins in his gauntlets and calves, and overall the head sculpt is pretty good too. He does look a bit more smug than Aquaman has any right to be, but all in all, its still a good sculpt. He comes with his gold trident, which is nicely sculpted, but the soft plastic gives the forks a tendency to bend a bit.

Like Aquaman, Black Manta also remains a favorite of mine because of his prominance on Superfriends. As his character design dictates, Manta is a much simpler sculpt than Aquaman. Apart from his muscle tone and his belt, his entire body is practically void of any detail and painted in one solid color. Oh wait, there’s actually one other paint app. The trademark information that’s stamped on his ass is painted white. WTF? Seriously, why in the name of all that is holy would Mattel decide to paint this white so that it stands out like a neon sign in the middle of the night?

Of course Manta’s head makes up for the lack of details from the neck down. He sports his huge silver saucer head, complete with hoses that run to his backpack. The metallic silver on his head and backpack really pop against his dark blue body. Overall, as a character, I think its safe to say that Manta enjoys the benefits of Boba Fett syndrome. He’s cool because he wears a cool looking helmet. Nuff said. Manta comes with a silver pistol.

Both figures have the same standard DCUC articulation. They have ball jointed necks; ball jointed shoulders, hinged elbows, knees and ankles; swivel cuts in the biceps, wrists and thighs; and universal joints in their hips. The only difference is in Black Manta. His head is technically balljointed, but the hoses keep it from being very poseable. You can turn his head from side to side quite easily, but it tends to snap back to center.

This 2-pack retails at $29.99. I probably need not point out to DCUC fans that this classic verision of Aquaman was in dire need of a reissue, what with the high prices he commands on Ebay, so to be able to get him and Manta for $15 a pop made my day! Even more incredible is the fact that I was actually able to find a Walmart Exclusive at retail. Apart from the Star Wars AT-ST, which was available in mass quantities, I think the last time I was able to walk into a Walmart and buy an exclusive was back when Hasbro reissued 2-packs of old Beast Wars figures as Dinobots. The other half of this 2-pack assortment is a Batman and Robin, which is a pretty nice set, but as much as I would love the Robin figure, I already have the Batman, so I took a pass.

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