DC Comics Multiverse (Doomsday Wave): Dark Knight Returns Batman and Robin by Mattel

So, if you haven’t guessed by now, I’ve been using Mattel’s ho-hum Multiverse line as filler for DC Fridays as I await some better stuff to come in. I should have something next week for sure. In the meantime, I’ve picked up a couple waves of these figures for stupid cheap and I’ve been trudging through the Doomsday Wave. Today I’m doubling up with a look at both Batman and Robin from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. I was actually looking forward to these figures and hoping they would be the breakouts of the wave. Turns out those were lofty and unfulfilled hopes. Let’s have a look…

The figures come in window boxes and are collector friendly. They’re not ugly, they’re not great, they just are. Sometimes I’m sad about tossing packaging, but in this case, I don’t really care. There’s some nice character art on the side panels, and you get a little blurb about each character too. Let’s start with Batman…

So, my first thought here is that the figure looks drab and unfinished and I proscribe that to the lack of paint. I suppose you could argue that they’re going for a comic look here and the art in this particular book sure isn’t cheery. In fairness, they did attempt to add a little color diversity here and there. You get the dark gray of the armor pieces, with the lighter gray and blue of the underlying suit peeking out. Then you get the blue of the cape and cowl, and the bright yellow of the utility belt. And yet still, there’s something about the coloring on this figure that looks cheap.

The sculpt itself is passable. I like that the chest armor is soft plastic wrapped around the buck. It adds to the bulk of the figure and also gives it a unique matte finish to contrast with the rest of the plastic. There are some little cinches and rumples sculpted in too. You get some panel lines in the armor rings, some nice ribbing and texturing on the fists, including reinforced plates on the knuckles, and best of all, you get those crazy spikes on the soles of his boots. Again, I think a lot of the reason this figure falls flat for me is the lack of paint. I’ll also point out that mine came out of the package with the right shoulder cape attachment warped so it looks like it’s pulled up.

The head sculpt isn’t terrible. It fits the style of the art. There’s some nice depth between the face and the cowl. But the paint on my figure is all chipped around the upper lip, exposing the gray plastic under it like some kind of unfortunate case of necro-herpes. For a figure with an MSRP of about $20, that level of quality control just isn’t here.

Articulation here is quite limited. That’s been a gripe of mine for the first two figures in this wave and it looks like that isn’t going to change. Once again, the problem isn’t with the points, but with the range of motion in those points. The elbows in particular have are laughably limited. In the case of this figure, I’m maybe willing to be a bit more forgiving, because he is wearing bulky armor, but it still means that this figure isn’t much fun to play with. Also, there’s a waist swivel in there, but mine is locked tight with the torso slightly turned to the right.

Batman comes with his EMP gun and it’s a pretty sorry excuse for an accessory. Maybe this would have been OK for a 3 3/4-inch scale weapon, but come on, Mattel. This is just embarrassing. I’ve had enough of this guy… let’s move on to Robin.

 

We’re still focused on TDKR here, so this is of course, Carrie Kelly. I like the scaling here, especially when you display her next to Batman, because she’s appropriately tiny. From the neck down, the sculpt isn’t half bad. Mattel actually did a decent job with the classic Robin outfit. It’s not overly encumbered with detail, but it definitely gets the job done and adheres to the art style reasonably well. I even like the coloring here. The bright red, yellow, and green really make this figure pop splendidly. Well, look at that, I had some nice things to say!

For a while I was a little torn on the head sculpt. At certain angles it doesn’t look too bad, but in the end I have to come down against it. The glasses look way too large and blocky and having them just painted over green doesn’t work for me. At this point, I realize it’s asking way too much to have clear green plastic and sculpted eyes behind them (although even Funko’s Pop! Vinyl managed to do it), but it doesn’t change the fact that what we got here looks kind of awkward. And speaking of awkward, the bottom part of the face and lips does not look like anything like a child to me.

Like Batman, the articulation here sucks. Again, on paper this figure should have all it needs to work, but none of those points offer any real range of motion, except the shoulders. The hips are confined by the tunic, the elbows can barely make 90-degrees, and the ankle hinges are all but useless. I pick these figures up, fiddle with them for a few moments, get frustrated, and put them back down again.

Robin comes with her slingshot accessory, which is a good thought, but executed pretty hamhandedly. The rubber band looks like a chewed stretched piece of caramel. She can hold the slingshot in her right hand or it can get tucked into the loop on her belt, where it looks like an oversized albatross.

Goddammit, Mattel! After one disappointment (Supergirl) and one meh (Superman Doomed), I’ve was hoping to finally hit a couple of Multiverse figures that I actually liked and instead I got these. They look and feel cheap, they have horrible articulation, and Mattel should be ashamed of themselves for asking $20 a pop for these. Keep in mind, I paid eight bucks for each of these and I’m still not satisfied. These are giant leaps backwards from the days of DC Universe Classics, a line that Mattel killed many years back so that they could, what… work on developing this garbage? OK, I still have two more figures in this wave to review before I can put together Doomsday, but I feel like I’m really bumming out DC Fridays with this crap, so next week I’m going determined to cleanse the pallet with something decent.

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DC Comics Multiverse (Doomsday Wave): Superman Doomed by Mattel

It’s been pretty slow for me on the DC collecting front, so I’ve decided to continue running through a complete wave of Mattel’s Multiverse line while I’m waiting for some new statues to roll in. This is also helpful, since I just wrapped up another extra long work week and all I want to do is curl up in bed with a bottle of Jameson for at least 12 hours. Last time on DC Friday, I looked at DCTV’s Supergirl and was less than impressed. This time I’m checking out Superman from the 2014 story arc, Superman: Doomed. Will this figure be any good? Or will it be doomed to… ah f’ck it. Never mind the easy puns. let’s just check him out…

The packaging is the same we saw last time for Supergirl. It’s collector friendly, it gives you a good look at the figure inside, and my favorite thing about it is the character art and little bio blurb on the side panel. If I were saving these packages, I could line them all up on the shelf and no exactly who is who. As the package indicates, this is Superman infected by the virus he inhaled from Doomsday’s defeated body. I found it to be a pretty average story, although it was elevated by the fact that most of New 52’s Superman book before it was not my cup of tea. Look, I actually enjoyed several books from the New 52, but I thought Supes’ book was pretty lame. Doomed, on the other hand, well at least it presented something interesting.

So, at first glance, I like what I see. It’s a slightly beefier Superman in his New 52 outfit with some decent red and blue coloring. Some of the costume, like the boots and the belt are sculpted on, while the S-Shield is merely a tampo. This is one of the first times I can remember a New 52 Superman figure violating the New 52 art direction guide that the emblem should always be 3D and never just painted on. Seriously, that shit is printed in at least one of the comics! I’m pretty sure it was Justice League. At this point, however, I guess nobody cares anymore. Hey, at least the S-Shield is very printed very sharply, and the colors are bright and snappy. The figure does have a little bit of a cheap feel to it. It’s not junky per-say, but it feels more like those Total Heroes figures than it does a DC Universe Classics or Unlimited or All-Stars or whatever Mattel was last calling their DC collectors’ line. So far so good, pretty solid.

Of course from the waist upward, the figure takes on a more unique visage and exhibits some of those Doomsday characteristics from the virus. You get bumpy spikes in the arms and torso and those gray grasping monster hands. And that brings us to the head, which is pretty well done. I’m sure I’ve gone on record as saying that I’m not a huge fan of Doomsday’s design, but it looks pretty cool here when presented as a Kryptonian-Doomsday hybrid. Supes is sporting a wide grin with a mouthful of nasty teeth, more or those horn-bumps on his chin and jaw, and some wicked red demon eyes. Not too shabby. He’s still got his regular hair, more or less, but he also has little tufted ears. I like what they did here a lot.

Unfortunately, this figure’s articulation lets it down, and like Supergirl, it isn’t necessarily because the points aren’t there, rather there isn’t just a great range of motion to any of them. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and elbows, and swivels in the wrists and biceps. Those hinges in the elbows can’t do much and the lack of hinges in the wrists is disappointing. The legs have rotating hinges in the hips and swivels up there too, but again, there just isn’t a lot you can do with them. There are hinges in the knees and ankles and that’s all well and good, but again there’s very little range of motion in the knee hinges, and there are no ankle rockers. At least his torso fares well with a waist swivel and a decent ab crunch. Lastly, the neck is ball jointed. On paper, most of this sounds passable, but in hand, the figure just isn’t a lot of fun to pose.

I do like how he scales with Mattel’s earlier lines. Here he is alongside Mattel’s DC Universe “All Stars” New 52 Superman from 2012. He’s a little bit bigger, but then he is supposed to be, so I’d say it’s a pretty good match. You can also see that the Doomed version is missing the panel lines of the costume. That’s something I didn’t even notice until I put them side by side, and now I’m bummed out by it.

Overall, I like this figure better than the DCTV Supergirl, but I really need to qualify that. Supergirl had some great sculpting and paint in the costume, but fell short on everything else. Doomed Superman is a lot less ambitious. It aims lower and as a result doesn’t fail quite so badly. It’s also a comic based figure, which requires less in the way of realism, particularly in the portrait, and that was the Achilles Heel of that Supergirl figure. So, no… don’t take this as a ringing endorsement. This Superman is not a great figure, but I don’t think he’s terrible either.  If I ever get my DC Universe Classics collection set up on display again, I’ll have no qualms about putting him in there. Of course, keep in mind, that I picked up the figures in this wave for around $8 a pop, so I’m going to be a lot more forgiving when it comes to value. Plus, I’m one limb closer to building my Doomsday figure!

DC Comics Multiverse (Doomsday Wave): Supergirl by Mattel

It’s hard to believe it, but this is my first DC Multiverse figure. I’ve been largely avoiding this line because I haven’t heard great things about it and I’m still, YES STILL!!! bitter about Mattel killing off DC Universe Classics only to seemingly re-brand it over and over again in slightly different scales and styles. But, a friend of mine was looking to unload a wave of these for stupid cheap and so I took them off his hands, mainly for the figure I’m looking at today and maybe to satiate my mild curiosity.

The packaging is pretty cool, especially when comparing it to the likes of Hasbro’s Marvel Legends. You get a collector friendly window box that shows the figure off nicely and some character art and a little bio on the side panel. The character selection for this wave is all over the place, but the “Collect & Connect” Doomsday figure is motivating enough to get them all. This version of Supergirl is from the TV Series. It’s a show I started watching as a guilty pleasure, but it’s grown on me a lot. It’s upbeat and good-natured, and I like to think of watching it as passive resistance against the asshole impostor that’s walking around in Superman’s costume in the DC movies.

This is clearly a tale of two figures. From the neck down she looks pretty damn great. I really dig the design of her costume in the series and Mattel did a nice job recreating it here. The S-shield is actually part of the sculpt, as is all the piping on the torso and arms. The belt is sculpted, the pleating on the skirt looks natural, and the boots have little wrinkles here and there. The cape falls pretty naturally and it doesn’t even throw off the balance of the figure too badly. The paint is also exceptional for an off-the-peg Mattel figure. The blue they used for her top is deep and goes really well with the somewhat subdued red of the skirt, cape, and boots. The gold paint they used for the belt and the trim on the S-Shield is quite striking and both it and the red piping on the suit are applied with care and precision. This is surprisingly great stuff! And then you get to the head sculpt.

Woof! What happened here? I mean, I’m not expecting great things, but how the hell was this even approved? Melissa Benoist is an aggressively cute young lady and this is… WHAT IS THIS?  It’s hard to tell what lets this portrait down more, the sculpt or the paint, but in the end it doesn’t matter. It looks like Supergirl got stung by an army of Kryptonite bees and her face is in the process of swelling up and she’s trying to smile it off and act like nothing happened. YOU DON’T SHRUG OFF A BEE ATTACK, MS. DANVERS!!! Also, those printed eyes are just laughable. I will admit, that this head does not photograph well. It does look a little better in hand. At the right angle with the light shining just right, I can kind of see a little of Ms. Benoist in there, but not enough of to save it. What a shame.

Following hot on the heels of that facial disappointment comes the articulation. Now, what’s here sounds decent on paper. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and elbows, with swivels in the wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivels in the thighs, and hinges in both the knees and hips. The torso swivels at the waist, has an ab crunch in the chest, and a ball joint in the neck. There are some obvious bummers here, like no swivels or lateral rockers in the ankles and no hinges in the wrists, but there are a few more problems worth mentioning.

The range of motions in the elbows sucks, mainly because of the way they’re sculpted. She can’t even do a proper hands-on-hips heroic stance. She can barely get right angles out of those guns. Also, the ab crunch hinge is designed so that she can only bend backwards. That’s helpful when trying to put her into a flying pose, but forward movement would have been nice as well. Besides, the sculpted hair keeps her from looking up anyway, so she still can’t really do a very good flying pose.

I was particularly interested in the scaling on these figures, and surprised to find that they scale pretty well with the old DCUC line. On the other hand, they scale surprisingly poorly against Mattel’s more recent Movie Masters line. On the plus side, Mattel seems to be producing all the DCTV figures in this line, so at least those will all display well together.

With some potentially bright spots, this figure still ends up disappointing. I’m pleased to say that it isn’t the kind of junk that I was expecting it to be, but between the limited articulation and the disaster of a face, it’s not hitting the mark. I think Mattel is getting around $20 a pop for these, which feels like a lot. If I break down what I paid for this wave, she’d be more like $8, so I’m not complaining. I’d still like to pick up DC Collectibles’ version of DCTV’s Supergirl and see how it compares. In the meantime, I’ll probably be revisiting the rest of this wave on future DC Fridays when I have nothing better to look at.