DC Bombshells (DC Designer Series): Katana by DC Collectibles

It’s DC Friday again, folks, and after today the regularity of DC Friday may become a little spotty. But I’ll save that little editorial for the end of the review. In the meantime, today I’m checking out the final figure in the second wave of the DC Bombshells line. If you’re not up to date, these are action figures based off of statues, which in turn are based off original designs inspired by 1940’s and 50’s pin-up art, which also in turn has spawned a really good comic series. Phew… that’s a lot of exposition!  Anyway, today’s character is none other then Katana, and I saved her for last because I was pretty excited about her.

There you have the typical DC Designer Series packaging. It’s mostly white, it has a cool window front with one end angled. There’s character art on the side panel, and everything is collector friendly. Katana is also number 8 out of 8 in the series. I really dig Katana in general, and I loved her Bombshell design so much, that I almost picked up her statue, but she was one of the ones that sold out pretty quickly and has since really shot up in price on the secondary market. Maybe they’ll do a Deluxe version of her at some point down the road. Anyway, let’s get this open and check out the figure!

So, straightaway, I think DCC did a great job recreating the look of Katana’s Bombshell costume for the figure. I do, however, think this one is pretty detached from the scope of the Bombshell’s art. I get it, though. Most of the characters are based on western art and fashion in and around World War II, so going to the other side for material might have been a little problematic. Also, the source material has changed and expanded a bit since the line’s original inception. With that having been said, this figure shows off some of the more impressive sculpt and variety of paintwork that we’ve seen in this wave for sure, and possibly the line as a whole.

The dress is primarily maroon and black with gold borders around the black areas. The front part of the lower half of the dress features a gold floral motif and it’s torn off about halfway down, allowing Katana to show more leg and thus continuing the cheesecake factor of this line. The waist features what looks almost like a target pattern and has a big sculpted bow on the back. Her arms are painted to match the maroon of the rest of the dress, and she has a piece of segmented armor on her right shoulder. The silver paint on the armor looks especially nice, and each of the sculpted laces are neatly painted red. I really dig the plastic DCC is using for the flesh tones in this line, as it’s very warm and even. Katana’s lower right leg features an elaborate dragon tattoo and she’s wearing a pair of traditional wooden sandals on her feet. Just about everything that made me fall in love with the statue is recreated here quite well.

I say just about everything, because the one big disappointment for me is the dragon tattoo, which is actually a decal. The decal has a bit of a shine to it, making it really stand out against the matte finish of the plastic, especially around the areas where it’s cut out. Also, the edge near the tip of the dragon’s tail is starting to peel a bit on my figure, right out of the box. I don’t have a lot of hopes for that decal standing the test of time, and I can’t believe they didn’t just tampo the design directly onto the figure. What a shame.

On the plus side, Katana features what I believe is the best portrait this line has produced, and that’s quite a complement, because there have been a lot of great looking head sculpts. She’s absolutely beautiful, she has an appropriately stoic expression and the paint is absolutely fantastic. Her lips and eyes are perfect, and the red Rising Sun against the white makeup looks quite striking. They even did a beautiful job sculpting her hair. I couldn’t be happier with how this turned out.

Katana’s articulation is right in line with the rest of the second wave figures, which includes the absence of thigh swivels. I’ll direct you to any one of the three previous figure reviews if you need to get caught up on the points of articulation. I will say that the ankles on my figure wouldn’t budge, and after having one of Mera’s feet snap off right out of the box, I was pretty apprehensive about trying to get them to work. A little time in front of a space heater eventually did the trick. So long as we’re talking articulation and posing, here’s a good time to point out that Katana’s left hand is sculpted in a pointing position to recreate the pose used for the statue. That would be all well and good if she came with extra hands like the first wave figures. But since she doesn’t, that left hand isn’t all that helpful for many poses. In the end, I just didn’t find Katana as much fun to play around with as her fellow Bombshells in this wave.

The only accessory Katana comes with is her… um, katana. Soultaker is a pretty nice sculpt with bright silver paint on the blade, but it does feel a little undersized and unimpressive for what is supposed to be an epic and enchanted blade. She can technically hold it in either hand, although as already mentioned, the left hand has that pointing finger extended so the sword looks a little funny in that hand. And since I’ve also already touched on her lack of extra hands, here’s where I’ll point out another couple of obvious missed opportunities in the accessory department. If you’re going to be so specific and give her the pointing figure from the statue, why not give her a swap-out foot and the samurai helmet, so you can completely recreate the look of her with one foot arched and resting atop the helmet? The answer, I’m sure is budget cuts.

If it sounds like I’m being extra hard on Katana, it’s because I was really excited to get her open and play around with her. And to be fair, there’s plenty of great stuff going on here. The overall sculpt and paint approach the highest levels this line has offered. But little signs of cutbacks like a cheap decal for the tattoo, and a lack of extras in the box really holds this figure back from being the masterpiece it could have been. And that’s been a running theme for this entire second wave. These are really good figures, but it really shows that DC Collectibles wasn’t willing or able to invest the same level of value into them as they did in the first wave. What a shame. DCC has already cancelled two of the upcoming Bombshells, Bumblebee and Supergirl, although they claim the line is not dead. Although, DCC released their highlights for Toy Fair yesterday, and there is only one release announced for Bombshells in 2018, and that’s a Joker and Harley two-pack. Bummer!

And now for some words about the future of DC Fridays. I love DC Comics. These days I love DC Comics sooooo much more than any of the garbage books that Marvel is pumping out. But DC is making it hard for me to express that love with my toy/collectible buying dollars. DC Collectibles has killed off the DC Icons figures, it looks like DC Cover Girls is either retiring or slowing to a crawl, and I’ve seen nothing about the DC Essentials line that makes me want to re-invest in a brand new line of figures at $22 a pop just to have it get cancelled again. And with how many collectors no doubt feel the same, that line is going to have an uphill battle. Meanwhile, Mattel’s Multiverse line continues to disappoint, and even if it didn’t, the distribution here is terrible and the figures tend to go for scalper prices on Amazon. What I’m getting at is that DC Friday’s is going to have to switch to some kind of rotation from here on in. I’m tapped out and the supply of incoming has been reduced to a trickle. As I get new DC related items, I’ll push them to the head of the line. I still have some figures and statues on my “To Buy” list. But don’t be surprised to see other things dropping in on Fridays from here on out.

 

 

 

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DC Bombshells (DC Designer Series): Batgirl by DC Collectibles

It’s Friday and this week that makes me sad, because it means my vacation is just about over and it feels like it just began. But it’s also DC Friday and today that means I get to open up another of DC Collectibles’ Bombshells action figures. If you’re just joining me on these, I absolutely loved the first wave, but this second wave has been a little hit-and-miss. There have obviously been some cuts in the articulation and accessories, and Mera broke right out of the box. Hawkgirl was a big improvement, and I’m hoping that Batgirl can continue this line on the path to redemption.

The packaging is that very familiar DCC window box that they’ve been using with all their Designer Series figures. It’s collector friendly, has some great artwork on the side panel and it shows the figure off brilliantly. I’ll confess I was a bit stumped on Batgirl’s design for a while. At first, I thought it was some kind of vintage circus homage, but after actually reading some of the comics, it’s just meant to be an aviator outfit. Oh, yeah, she’s also vampire.

Sculpting and paintwork have never been an issue with this line, and Batgirl carries on that tradition quite nicely. From the waist up, Babs sports a corset-like half-top features a bat-motif, a pair of long gauntlets, and the straps to her parachute pack are sculpted onto the figure. Down below, she’s got a simple pair of purple painted pants, and high laced high-heeled boots. The utility belt got a lot of attention, with a bat-symbol on the belt buckle and various pouches for all her gadgets.

The coloring on the figure is also fabulous. I love the purple they used, and it’s accompanied by some bright yellow for the boots and belt pouches, plus you get some snappy gold paint on her chest and the belt buckle. Even the lacings on the boots are neatly painted and if you look really closely you can see tiny bat symbols on the sides in a slightly darker shade of yellow. There are some inconsistent spots on her pants, which could have been smoothed out, but I can just chalk that up to some weathering from action in the field and still be happy with it. Finally, I really like the plastic they’re using for the skin on these figures. It’s warm and even and looks great.

The headsculpt here is also pretty solid. It has a goofy charm to it, and I particularly like Babs’ wide, beaming smile. This is an example where I actually like the portrait on the figure better than the final production run of the original statue. The printing on the eyes is sharp and bright, and the glossy paint on the lips looks great. In addition to her aviator-style cowl, Batgirl has a scarf tied around her neck, and her trademark red hair blows off to the side in a ponytail.

The goggles are a separate piece, which was a great idea, as she can either wear them up on her cowl, or if you want to mimic the statue, you can slide them down over her eyes. They fit the figure perfectly, and I dare say they look as good if not better than what we got on the statue.

The articulation here is identical to what we saw in the last two figures in this wave. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, double hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, double hinged at the knees, and have rotating hinges in the ankles. The torso features an ab crunch hinge down low in the waist, a ball joint under the chest and there’s also a ball joint in the neck. And yes, I still do miss those thigh swivels.

The parachute pack is a separate piece that pegs into Babs’ back, just like Hawkgirl’s jetpack. I’m not sure why anyone would want to display her without it, but I guess it’s nice to have options. I guess by putting it next to the figure, it looked like an extra accessory. The pack does actually open and you can put her cape on it, and that brings me to a quality control issue. The flap on my figure’s pack was painted shut. I tried heating it up and carefully razoring the edges, but when I finally got it open, the peg that holds it closed snapped off in the hole. Unfortunately, it’s also the peg that passes through the cape and holds it in place. On the bright side, the cape already hooks over the edge of the pack, so it doesn’t need it to hold it in place. It’s nowhere near as big an issue as Mera’s ankle breaking straight out of the package, but it’s still an issue worth noting.

I’ve mentioned how this second wave seems to be really light on the accessories and Batgirl here is rather deceptive about that. The goggles, parachute pack, and cape all fill up the bubble nicely, but they’re also all parts of her outfit, so they don’t go a long way for play value. I’m never going to display her not wearing her goggles or backpack, and I’m probably going to always have her cape on too, so as far as accessories go, they don’t feel much like bonuses. Not that I can think of much more to pack in with her, other than some extra hands.

Despite some minor gripes and another unfortunate QC issue, I think Batgirl here is another plus for this wave. She’s a great looking figure on every level, and I’m still delighted to see these designs getting their due in action figure form. Some extra hands would have gone a long way to adding to the fun, but even as she is, I had a good time posing and messing around with her. This wave still isn’t reaching the heights of the initial one, but I’m increasingly happy that I bought it. Next week, I’ll finish off the wave with a look at Katana!

DC Bombshells (DC Designer Series): Hawkgirl by DC Collectibles

It’s DC Friday again, and after a few detours it’s time to get back to checking out the second wave of DC Collectibles’ Bombshells figures. If you’re just joining me, these are action figures based on the original statue designs DCC has been putting out for the last couple years. The DC Bombshells have become super popular and have not only spawned merchandise from other companies, but also their own comic book series. I absolutely adored the first wave of these figures, but the first figure I reviewed from this new wave, Mera, left me a little cold thanks to cutbacks in accessories and articulation, not to mention a joint breaking right out of the box. Let’s press on and see how Hawkgirl turned out.

There’s really nothing new to say about the packaging. This is the same style box we’ve seen across most of DCC’s Designer Series figures with the angled edge on the window and some nice character art on the side panel along with the figure’s number in the series, in this case Hawkgirl is #6. The presentation here is nice and clean, and everything is collector friendly, but I can’t help but notice a lot of empty space on that tray. Uh oh… looks like the accessory cut-backs continue!

And here’s Hawkgirl out of the box! I’m not sure exactly what they were going for here in terms of design. That famous first jetpack flight of the Bell Rocket Belt was in the early 60’s so it’s a little too late for the Bombshell’s era. I’m going to go with a vintage Buck Rogers or maybe a Rocketeer kind of vibe. Whatever the case, I like this design a lot and I came damn close to buying the statue even after I had sworn off collecting them because of lack of display space.

Hawkgirl features a green jumpsuit, with the top unzipped and hanging down around her waist and legs, exposing her rather tight yellow tank top. The lower half of the jumpsuit effect is achieved simply with paint, while the top half is sculpted separately and attached to look like it’s hanging off of her. She also wears a pair of long gloves and tall brown boots with yellow trim and sculpted and painted laces. Some nice little touches include the subtle wing motifs etched into her boots and the elastic cuffs on the loose, hanging sleeves of the jumpsuit. The paint on this figure is pretty solid, but then that’s been the case for this line from the beginning. Granted, there isn’t a whole lot of complex brush work going on here, but the yellow on the boots is pretty sharp, as are the stripes on the legs, and they even painted the buckles on the boot straps with a little gold paint. Likewise, the tiny buckles on her shoulder straps are painted silver, and the silver on the helmet looks great. There is a stray spot of red paint on her nose, but otherwise no complaints here.

I really dig the portrait here a lot. Hawkgirl is wearing a wry smirk that gives her a lot of personality. She wears a very familiar hawk-styled helmet, and they did a nice job sculpting the patches of her red hair that spill out from under the tight-fitting helmet. She has a loose pair of goggles hanging around her neck, and the shoulder straps for the jetpack rig are part of the sculpt, so they’re present whether she’s wearing the pack or not. I do wish they could have worked out a way to make her blowing a bubble an option, as that was such a distinctive aspect of the statue, but I guess it wasn’t to be. Before we talk articulation, let’s get her suited up to fly!

I already griped about the accessory cut-backs being a trend in this second wave of Bombshells, and yes the jetpack is the only accessory included here. Gone are the extra hands and various extra bits of fun. In the case of Hawkgirl, I’m almost willing to look past it, because the jetpack uses a little more plastic than your average accessory. It attaches simply to her back via two pegs, but getting the control arms into her hands is a little scary because they are pretty fragile. The pack itself looks pretty good. It has an appropriately retro design with some sculpted panel lines and a pair of wings to follow through on the Hawkgirl theme. There are some red rings painted on the twin cones and the thrusters are painted black. The control arms feature painted wire snaking around them, and the hand grips have red thrust buttons on the tops.

The articulation is overall pretty good, especially when you consider some of DCC’s other offerings. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, swivels in the biceps, and double hinges in the elbows. The legs are ball jointed at the hips and double hinged at the knees. The ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers. There’s an ab crunch hinge, but it’s all the way down near the waist, and also a ball joint just under her chest. Finally, the neck is ball jointed. I do still miss the swivels in the thighs, and while I appreciate the torso articulation, you still can’t get her in a decent flying position where she’s looking up, but she can do some pretty good hovering poses. Also, while it’s a shame I have to mention it as a plus, I was happy not to have any joint snapping issues here. All of Hawkgirl’s articulation was smooth right out of the package.

After a dodgy start with Mera, Hawkgirl here goes a long way to rekindle my hope for this second wave. Sure, removing the thigh swivels still pisses me off, and even with the jetpack, I would have still liked a few more extras in the box. I can’t help but think that if this figure shipped in the first wave, she would have had an extra pair of hands, maybe an alternate bubble-blowing head, or at least some effect parts for her jetpack. That having been said, she’s still a lot of fun to play with and I was happy to not have any QC issues with this one. But best of all, I can finally stop feeling remorse over not picking up the statue, because at least now I have Bombshells Hawkgirl  in my collection as an action figure.

DC Bombshells (DC Designer Series): Mera by DC Collectibles

Welcome to the last review of 2017! Now, I know what you’re thinking, “What happened to the rest of the DC Multiverse Justice League Wave that you started last week?” I’ll come back to it, don’t worry. But I wanted to squeeze at least one of the new wave of DC Bombshells figures in before the end of the year, so I decided to take a detour. Also, I loved the first wave of these figures so much, I couldn’t wait any longer before opening one of these ladies. And since last week was all about Aquaman and Mera, let’s keep the ball rolling with Bombshells Mera!

If you’ve purchased any DC Collectibles figures in the last year or so, this packaging should be familiar. It’s more or less the same style used for the first wave of Bombshells, as well as the DCTV figures, and the other Designer Series releases. It’s not the most exciting presentation out there, but I do like it a lot. The large wrap-around window offers a great look at the figure inside and the design is clean, simple, and the box is collector friendly. It also features character art on the side panel so you can line them up on a shelf and each character is numbered, with Mera being #7 in the series. Let’s get her out of her aquarium and check her out!

Wow, this figure looks great! But before I start gushing, I’ve got to report that her left foot broke off at the ankle just from being taken out of the tray. What the hell, DC Collectibles? You’ve been doing a lot better with this kind of QC stuff, but clearly you haven’t slain all your demons yet. I was easily able to glue it back on, but obviously at a cost to that ankle’s articulation. Of all the places the figure could break, that was probably the best scenario, but it’s still unacceptable to have it happen simply by removing the figure from the tray. We’re not off to a good start, but let’s see if Mera can redeem herself.

The Bombshell makeover puts Mera in a vintage style sailor outfit, which is very appropriate for this Chickie of the Sea. Her cut-off top is sculpted to resemble the scale armor she’s often depicted as wearing, and painted with a beautiful metallic green. She also has a sailor pearlescent white sailor scarf with a green stripe and a golden anchor pendant hanging around her neck by a string. I thought that was a really nice touch.

Below her exposed midriff, she sports a pair of pearlescent white flared slacks with green scaled stripes and a gold belt, as well as a pair of shoes sculpted and painted to match her top with the same green scales. The outfit is rounded out with a pair of gold wrist bracers and a chic white sailor’s cap with a gold “M” on the front. Both the sculpt and coloring on the outfit are top notch, making this one great looking figure. You also get some really nice subtle paint applications like the gold on her shoes and the red nail polish on her fingers and toes.

The portrait is no slouch either. Mera sports a pretty face with some clean paint apps for the eyes and mouth. She also has a copious coif of red hair done up in vintage 40’s style. I’ll note here that I really like the matte plastic that DCC uses for the skin tones on these figures. It looks appropriately warm and soft and much better than the usual paint we sometimes see on some of the other companies’ 6-inch scale figures.

The articulation here is good, but not as good as what we saw in the first wave. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, double hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, double hinged at the knees, and have rotating hinges in the ankles. Well, my figure now only has a rotating hinge in the one ankle. The torso features a ball joint under the chest and there’s also a ball joint in the neck. What’s missing? The thigh swivels have unfortunately been cut from this second wave and I really do miss them.

And you know what else is missing? Almost all the extras. The first wave of figures all came with multiple pairs of hands and in most cases multiple accessories, which really added to the fun factor. Mera comes with no extra hands and just one accessory: Her trident. Cutting the extra hands here is particularly egregious because the ones she comes with don’t really hold her trident well at all. I would have really liked some fists, relaxed hands, maybe a saluting hand. It sucks when a company sets expectations for an initial wave of figures and then lowers the bar for the follow up. And while I won’t swear by it, I’m pretty sure the promo images for this wave showed extra hands.

The trident is a welcome accessory, although it is fairly simple though. It’s cast in a rich gold plastic.

With how amazing the first wave of Bombshells figures was, I did not expect Wave 2 to begin with disappointment, but that’s the word that best comes to mind. Now, to be clear: Mera is a beautiful figure with a terrific sculpt and some great paintwork, but with breakage right out of the box and cutbacks in both the articulation and the accessories, I’m sad to see this line is not dedicated to living up to the standards set by the initial four offerings. Am I sorry I picked up the second wave? Nope. I love these designs, and I’m happy to get the opportunity to add them to my collection as action figures. But that doesn’t change the bitter feeling of the cutbacks. The irony is that I actually picked this figure to review today because I wanted to end the year with a sure thing, and it kind of backfired on me. Granted, it’s possible that the only way DC Collectibles could go through with a second wave of Bombshells figures was to cut costs, but from what I’ve seen the first wave seemed to have sold rather well.

And that’s a wrap for me and 2017! Next week will be gobbled up by the canned content of my Annual Favorites & Disappointments lists, which I’ll be wrapping up and scheduling over the weekend. FFZ will then go on autopilot, but I’ll most definitely be around to reply to comments. Thanks, Toyhounds! I’ll see you on the other side!