DC Universe All Stars: Superboy Prime by Mattel

So, I’ve been having a little fun with DC Universe All Stars and about how despite all the hype on Mattel’s part about DCUC being completely rebranded as a new retail line, nothing has really changed in terms of the brand. We’ve got the same basic figure styles, same basic packaging. So let’s at least give it to Mattel that what they really meant was that DCUC was being rebranded as a concept, and was going to be spearheading the action figures based on the New 52 reboot. That’s why the first wave has included figures like New 52 Superman and Batman and now… uh… Superboy Prime? Ok. So scratch that idea too. Isn’t Superboy Prime one of the main players partly responsible for the whole thing the New 52 reboot was intending to get away from? Sigh… let’s press on…

Yes, it’s the new rebranded packaging that looks the same as the old packaging. At least having “Classics” left on the package makes sense now since this figure is from the old continuity. For all my poking fun at the lack of package changes, I’m still happy for it. It’s comforting to continue to see this familiar old style keep turning up, despite the line being officially dead and reinvented into something new. The back panel has the little blurb about Superboy Prime and pictures of the other three figures in this wave. This will be the third of the four that I’ve looked at here, and I’m probably going to pass on Red Robin.

Out of the package, we have Superboy Prime wearing his Anti-Monitor inspired armor and it is the armor that I dislike most about this figure. Take a look at the photo of the figure on the back of the package. It looks just like the early promotional images for the figure we’ve been seeing all along, right? Now take a look at the figure itself and you can see some major differences in the armor. The shoulder armor in the images has separate hoses that look really nice. The final figure has hoses sculpted onto the shoulder pieces and are painted like shit. There’s a ton of slop between the gold and the blue making it look like someone had it with a brush and some Testor’s model paint. I can’t tell you how disappointed this change made me. At least the hoses are real on the arms and legs, and the chest shield being part of the shoulder armor is kind of cool.

The figure under the armor is pretty decent. The head sculpt features Supes’ traditional cowlick and the prominent ears give him a youthful, almost dorky appearance. I also like the tattered sculpt used for the cape. Naturally, both hands are sculpted into fists for some “reality punching action.”

I’ve already pointed out how crappy the paint on the shoulder armor is. The paint on the rest of the figure is actually pretty decent, although there isn’t much else to speak of. The body is cast in a nice shade of blue plastic with the boots and super-undies painted matte red. I like the use of glittery blue paint on the arm and leg armor. There is a little scratching on the front of the gold belt, and the blue highlights in his hair are a bit weird.

Articulation? You know the drill. There are ball joints in the neck and shoulders. The arms have hinged elbows and swivels in the biceps and wrists. The legs have universal joints in the hips, hinged knees and ankles, and swivels in the thighs. The torso swivels at the waist and has an ab crunch hinge. The armor inhibits the articulation at the shoulders quite a bit. Thankfully the hoses on the arms and legs are soft and loose enough to not impede the rest of the figure’s articulation.

Who knows what Mattel was attempting with the whole “DCUC is dead and will be rebranded into something new” malarkey? (Yes, I used the word malarkey, dammit! Deal with it!) They could have been trying to fool retailers into carrying the figures again, but then I haven’t seen any of the new All Stars in any of the Big Box toy aisles. They could have been using it as a scare tactic to try to push the Signature Collection as a subscription line to cut out middlemen and up the profits. Or they could have just had different plans that somehow went tits up. I distinctly recall the initial teasers for All Stars having all New 52 versions of the characters, rather than this mix of old and new. Honestly I would have preferred that arrangement, especially in light of how Superboy Prime turned out. He’s not the worst figure I’ve ever picked up, but he’s a blatant bait and switch between the early proto and the final figure, and had I seen him on the pegs, instead of buying him blind online, I would have taken a pass. At least I didn’t wind up paying a premium for him.

DC Universe All Stars: “New 52” Superman

Time to check out the second New 52 treatment in Mattel’s DC Universe Classics line… oops, I mean All Stars. Make no mistake, this isn’t DCUC, that line was cancelled. This is something brand new. You can tell just by looking at the package…

Yep, there’s nothing at all familiar here. We just saw this packaging a few days ago with New 52 Batman, so I’m not going to spend a lot of time on it. It still looks great to me. The back panel of the card has a blurb about Superman, just in case you don’t know who the hell he is, right? The bottom of the card shows the other three figures that make up this wave. Let’s rip it open and get Supes out…

Once again, your mileage with this figure will depend a lot on how you feel about the New 52 costumes. Batman’s wasn’t all that much different than what we’re used to, but Superman here breaks from tradition a bit more. It’s still a blue outfit, red cape, and giant “S” shield on his chest, but as they say, the devil is in the details, and a number of the iconic details have changed up a bit. The most obvious is the omission of the red “underwear” which seems to bother fans the most. The belt has gone from yellow to red, there are panel lines in the costume, giving it a slight armored look, and he’s now sporting a high collar. But in the end the design is what it is, and we’re here to see how well the figure pulls it off…

Pretty damn well, I think. First off, the size difference doesn’t seem as apparent on this figure as it did with Batman. Yes, New 52 Supes seems a little slighter when standing next to my DCUC Supes, but they’re roughly the same height and they can certainly hang on my shelf together. The second thing that grabs my eye the most is the new head sculpt. It really does a great job matching the new, more youthful guise of the New 52’s comic book counterpart. I like it a lot. Next up is the glorious sculpted chest shield. Yes, just as with Batman, DC pointed out in one of the early issues of Justice League that the emblem on Superman’s chest should be raised in any 3D recreations and Mattel answered the call. The difference between a sculpted emblem and one that is just painted on makes a huge difference to me. As with Batman, the panel lines on Supes’ costume are downplayed a bit. I think I would have liked to see them more pronounced.

I’ve always been a fan of Superman’s colors scheme and this figure’s coloring really pleases the eye. The blue plastic used for the body suit is vibrant and spot on and meshes beautifully with the red plastic used for the cape. The paintwork on the chest shield is immaculate and the use of glossy red paint for the boots is certainly welcome. There’s no slop or bleeding to speak of and everything looks snazzy and fresh.

The only things here that I’m not all too keen on are the belt, the wrist cuffs, and the emblem on the cape. The cape emblem is just tampoed on in drab black ink and doesn’t really match the colorful snap of the rest of the figure. The belt is oddly un-centered. I’m not sure if this is a stylistic point that I missed from the comic artwork or not. Either way, it’s not a huge deal. As for the cuffs, well that’s just a sticking point I have with the design, not the figure.

How about articulation? Well, I realize this All Stars line is brand new *cough* so you might not know what to expect. Surprisingly, the articulation is identical to the old DCUC line. Imagine that! You get a ball jointed head; the arms feature ball jointed shoulders, hinged elbows, and swivels in the biceps and wrists. The legs have that same universal movement from the old DCUC line, hinged knees and ankles, and swivels in the thighs. The torso swivels at the waist and features the ubiquitous ab crunch hinge. Nope, no surprises here!

In the end, I really like this figure a lot. It’s definitely fresh and new and it hits all the points of the redesign quite well. The sculpting is all around solid and the coloring is gorgeous. I’m not prepared to toss my original DCUC Superman figure into a tote and give this one his space on the shelf, but I respect the changes, probably more than most vocal fans, and the figure really does it all… dare I say it? Justice!

DC Universe All-Stars: “New 52” Batman by Mattel

[Holy hell, its September already, and to kick off the new month and try to get unburied from the continuing inrush of action figures landing on my stoop, I’m going all week this week. Let’s go… -FF]

I can still remember where I was when Mattel announced the end of DC Universe Classics. It was a line that I sort of just stumbled into a few waves after it first morphed out of the DC Superheroes line, having no idea what an addiction it was going to become. Nonetheless, after years of hunting down these figures, dealing with horrible distribution, and usually surrendering and buying them by the case online, the line was to be no more. Never again would I know the joy of seeing one of those instantly familar DCUC carded figures hanging on the pegs. Never again…

Oh. Huh. Yep, DCUC is dead, but Mattel replaced it with… DCUC. It says so right on the package. Even the “All Stars” moniker was one adopted by DCUC in the past for the Non-C&C re-releases. I understand that this line is supposed to be less classic focused and more intent on delivering figures based on the DC universe since the reboot, but after making such a big deal out of killing the old line, you’d think they could have put a little more into rebranding the line that was “replacing” it. The point I’m making here is that the packaging sure hasn’t changed much… or hardly at all.

Not to say that’s a bad thing. I always loved these packages. They’re not as amazing as the Signature Collection window boxes, but for a retail-based line, these heavy card and bubble design displayed the figures well. This time there are no gimmicks included like C&C pieces or collector buttons, just a figure. The back panel is largely the same design too, with an illustration of the character, a short bio blurb and the publication stats replaced by an invitation for you to go to Matty Collector and expand your collection, which is odd since there really isn’t much DC stuff for sale on Matty Collector. You also get shots of the other figures in this four-figure wave.

Out of the package and this is indeed the New 52 version of Batman and a big part of the appeal of these figures will depend on your personal feelings toward the character redesigns. Most people seem to hate the new designs, but I don’t. And in the case of Batman, well, he’s been re-designed a thousand times over, so I don’t think there’s a huge amount of shock value here, particularly since this version is hardly a major reinvention of the character’s look. I’ll start off by saying that I love the coloring on this figure. The matte grey for his body suit meshes nicely with the glossy black of his boots and gauntlets. The cape is matte black on the outside and grey on the inside, and the whole ensemble is capped off by his bright yellow utility belt. The paint is all clean and well-applied.

The figure’s sculpt is also quite good, with particularly nice attention paid to detail on his gauntlets. Back when the New 52 Justice League first came out, DC included a number of pages of concept art for the characters pointing out that the emblem on Batman’s chest should be raised in any 3D recreation. I’m happy to see Mattel honored that idea with a sculpted bat symbol on the figure’s chest. It really looks fabulous. On the other hand, the panel lines (for lack of a better term) in the suit aren’t as clearly defined as I would have expected and I’m guessing this will please most people who are on the fence over the new outfits. They seem to be more defined in the DC Direct version of the figure, and I would have liked to see them more pronounced here. The head sculpt is pretty straightforward and albeit a little soft. Still, it’s far better than what I’ve seen of the DC Direct version.

Something should be mentioned of the figure’s size, as this has been a point of some controversy since the new All Stars were revealed and the size of the first wave of figures seem to be all over the place. Batman is actually smaller than previous DCUC incarnations of the character. He’s close enough so that he can hang with the other figures, but the size difference is pretty clear. The only possible explanation I can offer is that the New 52 characters are supposed to be conceptually younger versions. It’s a weak explanation, but it’s all that I’ve got.

Size notwithstanding, the body types and articulation are identical to what we’ve seen in the DCUC line. You get a ball jointed neck, the arms have ball joints in the shoulders, hinged elbows, and swivels in the wrists and biceps. The legs have universal movement in the hips, hinged knees and ankles, and swivels in the thighs. The torso swivels at the waist and has the usual ab crunch hinge.

In the end, the slightly diminished size of the figure does irk me a bit, just because it makes no sense, but I’ll still have no problem displaying these guys with the rest of my collection. Other than the size issue, I absolutely love this figure. I think it’s a really good mesh of traditional design with a little sprucing up to make it look fresh. I would have preferred more defined panel lines in the costume, just because if you’re going for a new look, you might as well flaunt it, but in the end I think this figure may be a welcome compromise between those who embrace the new designs and those who just don’t like them. But in the end, Batman’s look has been fluid and this one hits all the traditional and iconic points. Unlike, say New 52 Superman, but we’ll get to him in a couple of days…