DC Universe Signature Collection: Saint Walker by Mattel

Hey, folks! It’s the first figure of the year from Matty’s Club Infinite Earths! Last year’s inaugural figure was the much coveted Jay Garrick Flash. Obviously, Matty realized he would be a tough act to top for 2013, so they didn’t even try. Yes, this year’s first figure is Saint Walker, and this guy wasn’t anywhere near my list of wanted characters. In fact, he actually set around here for a couple of days before I got around to opening him. Toss in the fact that I’m still reeling from all the Lantern Corps stuff Mattel has pushed down our throats over the past couple of years, and I honestly couldn’t be less excited about this figure. Let’s do it…

I’ve been pretty consistent in my praise for the Signature Collection packaging, so at least I can be excited about seeing another one of these pleasing boxes… oh, wait… Matty redesigned the packaging. Well, ain’t that a kick in the nuts! The redesign is more of a tweak than a total overhaul. The overall configuration of the box is mostly the same with a big window on the front, wrapping around to the side panel, and another window on the top. The deco is what’s changed. There’s now an illustrated leather-like pattern with a hexagonal grid trim. That f’ugly new DC Comics logo appears on one side panel. Seriously, guys? Your business is basically selling artwork and this logo is the best you could do?

The back panel of the box is mostly the same as the old style, complete with bio, and the character artwork is still great. It may take me a couple of releases before I decide whether or not I really dig this new look, but I can’t say as I hate it. I’m still at the point with these boxes where I’m fooling myself into thinking that I’m going to keep saving them all, when in truth I just don’t have the space. I can see the point coming soon where I’m going to clip the backs off and keep them like cardbacks and probably only keep the complete packages for the oversized figures.

My only experience with Saint Walker is based on his appearances in Final Crisis and Blackest Night. I haven’t read any of his appearances in the New 52, but then right now my sustained readings in the New 52 only amounts to about six books, and I’ve been shying away from most anything concerning the Lantern Corps. I dig his backstory, but as I already mentioned, he’s not a character that I was jonesing to have in figure form, other than the fact that he helps fill out my Lantern Corp leaders and I guess that’s a cool thing. I guess I also still dig the idea of having more alien Lanterns in the DCUC style and Saint Walker certainly fits that bill.

Ok, let me start out by saying that I don’t like the head sculpt very much. Saint Walker is usually drawn one of two ways: You’ve got him with the round “crash test dummy” dots for eyes or sometimes with more almond shaped eyes. DC Direct went with the almond eyes for their Saint Walker bust and I think it looks so much better. Hell, even the artwork on this box features that version and it looks so much better. Maybe, this is a matter of personal preference, but at the very least, Mattel should have had the styling of the box art and the figure agree with each other. Even the configuration of the sculpted lines on Bro’Dee’s face doesn’t really match the artwork. Am I being too hard on the likeness? I don’t hate it, but in light of the many excellent head sculpts we’ve been getting in the Signature Collection, I think it could have been so much better.

On the other hand, I love the body on this figure, and since a lot of what I love about it is the articulation, let’s start there. The arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, have swivels at the biceps, double-hinges at the elbows, and swivels and hinges at the wrists. The legs feature the usual DCUC style hip joints, swivel at the thighs, have double-hinged knees, and hinged ankles. The torso has an ab crunch hinge, swivels at the waist, and the head is ball jointed. You also get a swivel cut in his head-tail. This is really phenomenal articulation and all the joints are strong and sans warping. Honestly, the only thing I could possibly think to add would have been ankle rockers.

Saint Walker’s costume itself is comprised almost solely of paint apps and the paintwork is excellent. I do adore the rich, deep shade of blue Mattel uses for the Blue Lantern costumes and the overall deco when mixed with the black really looks striking on the figure. The white Lantern Corps emblem tampo on the chest really ties everything together. Bro’Dee’s left hand is obviously sculpted in a fist so he can wield his power ring and his right hand is sculpted so he can hold his lantern.

So, Saint Walker is a bit of a mixed bag. If he were a figure that ranked high on my want list, I would have probably taken further issue with the head sculpt, but as he’s just going to be another face in the crowd on my Lantern Corps shelf, I can live with it. Make no mistake, there’s a lot to love about this figure, particularly if you prefer this style of portrait and I hope to see this style of articulation in more figures this year. But I still cannot help but look at the figure next to the character art and say “No!” He’s one of only a select few figures that have appeared in CIE that I wouldn’t have purchased if I wasn’t a subscriber, especially when you consider the fact that he was $28 after shipping.

DC Universe Signature Collection: Lead by Mattel

Alrighty, let’s deal with the giant lead elephant in the room. Mattel has done it again and bestowed giant status on a figure that doesn’t warrant it. First we got the inexplicably huge Rocket Red and now Lead gets the giant treatment. Lead is built off of the C&C Darkseid buck, meaning he towers over the other Metal Men. While definitely the bruiser of the team, Lead was usually drawn the same size as the other Responsometer robots. I should be furious that Mattel took us all the way up to the last member of the team and then did something crazy like this. But I’m not. In fact, I’m willing to give this one a pass, because the Metal Men could change their size and shape at will, and quite frankly, I think he looks pretty good this big.

As a quarterly figure, Lead comes in a bigger version of the same style window box we saw yesterday. In this case, the character art is solid, but not as exceptional as it usually is. You get a little bio blurb about the character and, as expected, the package is completely collector friendly.

Starting off with Lead’s head sculpt, I definitely dig the portrait, which features Lead smiling broadly. He’s got a lot of personality and his nature of the big loveable lug really comes across in the sculpt. Mattel didn’t have to do a lot of new tooling for this figure, but what they did, they did well.

Moving on to the rest of the body… well, besides his obvious growth spurt, Lead’s use of the Darkseid buck also means that he retains the stony sculpted lines on the arms and legs. Mattel, these are the METAL Men not Rock Lords. Lead and stone are two different things and seeing the stone patterns on this figure is both wrong and distracting. Luckily the dark coloring of the figure makes them a little less obvious, but the fact that these are there bother me a lot more than Lead being an oversized figure. One I can explain away, the other I cannot.

Once I get past Lead’s stony limbs, the rest of the figure falls into place pretty well. The rubbery smock that makes up his skirt and chest plate looks good. He’s got heavy rivets sculpted into his triangular front plate, and again around his gauntlets and boots. Otherwise, there’s not a lot of original sculpting on the body, but I’ve come to expect that from this team, and in truth it isn’t necessary.

Lead is painted over in a satisfyingly dark grey wash with some faint swirly patterns that crop up here and there. It’s a good finish for him that’s pretty characteristic of the artwork. The only other paint apps on the figure are the black for his eyes and eyebrows, the “L” symbols on his chest and forehead, and the white for his teeth. I’m a little iffy on the white teeth. I’m thinking black would have worked better, but it’s not really a sticking point for me.

Even as a former C&C buck, Lead retains most of the articulation we come to expect from the DCUC line. His arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, hinged at the elbows, and have swivels in the biceps and wrists. His legs have the usual universal hip movement and feature hinges in the knees and ankles. There are, however, no swivels in the thighs. Lead’s neck is ball jointed, he can swivel at the waist, and he retains his ab crunch hinge, which is still fairly serviceable under his soft rubbery chest plate. The only other thing worth mentioning is that my Lead figure has really loose legs. He can stand ok, but they really flop around.

Mattel can be geniuses when it comes to reusing parts in this line. A quick look back to Uncle Sam certainly proves that to be true. Unfortunately, Lead is not one of those times. They had two good reasons not to reuse the C&C Darkseid buck for this figure: Size being one and the stony pattern in the sculpt being the other. I can get around the size on this one, in fact I even kind of like it, but the problem with the sculpt is tougher for me to get past. I like the figure well enough. I’m very glad to have a complete Metal Men team, but a lot about this figure stinks of laziness, and when you consider that it’s a more expensive quarterly figure, I find that hard to accept. With the first year of Club Infinite Earths in the bag, I’ve been overall extremely satisfied with this line. If Lead here is the biggest disappointment, than that’s not too bad. Still, it’s a shame the line had to end the year on a low.

DC Universe Signature Collection: Platinum and Tin by Mattel

When Iron came out, way back in DC Universe Classics Wave 12, I had little exposure to The Metal Men, other than their cameos in other comics, like 52. But the thing I always loved most about DCUC was the way it could send me scrambling to buy books I never would have otherwise read if it weren’t for a certain figure I liked. Shortly after buying Mercury, I happened upon a stack of the original 1960’s Metal Men comics at a used bookshop downtown. They were in terrible shape, but I got them for cheap, took them home and devoured all of them that night. A bit later, we got word that Mattel would be completing the team through Club Infinite Earths and so I tracked down the Walmart Exclusive Gold. Soon I was hotly anticipating completing a team that I barely knew a couple of years ago. And that brings us to December’s CIE monthly figure(s): Platinum and Tin.

It’s interesting that Mattel waited so long to do Platinum (aka Tina), because at the start of the original comic she was the most prominent of all of Dr. Magnus’ Responsometer creations. Issue #1 (“Rain of the Missile Men”) managed to endear her to me straight away. The issue starts out with Magnus donated her as a museum display for being too emotionally attached to him. Of course, she was promptly kicked out of the museum because she wouldn’t stop crying and the patrons concluded she was a fake because robots don’t cry. In addition to some fun bickering between her and the chauvinistic, dickhead (“I hate women – especially robot ones”) Mercury, Tina eventually becomes the object of lecherous desire from an alien robot who proceeds to attack Earth to get her as his queen. Fun! As for Tin… well, I found him to be a pretty annoying character even at the best of times, but I’m still happy to get him as a pack-in just to round out the team.

On to the packaging… As usual, the character art is fantastic and the window box is completely collector friendly. Sadly, I’ve amassed quite a few of these over the year, and most of the figures have been incorporated into my DCUC display shelves. I’m starting to feel the pinch for space and I’m resisting the sensible urge to ditch the packages. In the end, I may be forced to keep only the quarterly figure boxes. Anyway, I don’t have much new to say about the package, so let’s move on!

Tina’s design hasn’t changed all that much since she was introduced and the figure reflects that fact. The portrait is pretty good, although Tina looks a lot more confident and mature than the doe-eyed naïve and innocent metal woman from the early funnybooks. Either way, she’s quite pretty and certainly invokes the spirit of the modern appearances of the character. Tina has her little cap with her symbol and the sculptors did a fine job recreating her 60’s hairstyle. The rest of the figure is appropriately lacking in sculpted detail. Really, all you have are the rivets around the edges of her triangular front plate and some more around the tops of her boots. Both of her hands are sculpted into tiny fists, which are fine, but I really would have liked a set of attachable coil hands. All the other Metal Men up to this point got extra pieces that allowed their hands to morph. Tina’s trademark move was turning her arms to springs. I guess that extra plastic went into Tin.

Also keeping with the theme of the characters, Tina is washed over with a pleasing coat of shimmery silver paint. The only other paint apps on the figure are the black making up her eyes and eyebrows and the symbol on her cap. My only quibble about the paint would be the unpainted joints, but the base plastic is close enough that it isn’t jarring to the eye.

Platinum’s articulation includes everything you’d expect from a DCUC style figure. The arms feature ball jointed shoulders, hinged elbows, and swivels in the biceps and wrists. Her legs have universal hinges at the hips, hinges at the knees and ankles, and swivels in the thighs. She has a ball jointed neck, can swivel at the waist, and has the usual ab crunch hinge in her torso. The articulation looks good on paper, but her sculpted skirt really puts a damper on her upper leg movement. At least the torso design allows for her ab crunch to work.

And then there’s Tin. Remember that 3-pack of critters Mattel put out in Green Lantern Classics? Well, he’s not as bad as them, but the idea is about the same. He’s a cool little sculpt, which captures the goofy and awkward nature of the character. He’s mostly pre-posed, in an odd hunched over posture with knees bent. I’m not sure what they were going for with the pose, or what he’s supposed to be doing with his pointed fingers, but as a pack-in to finish off the team, I’m fairly happy with him. With rotating shoulders and head, he does have three points of articulation and he stands surprisingly well on his own.

Platinum was one of my most anticipated figures of this year’s CIE offerings, partly because I’ve grown to really love the characters and their books, and partly because my OCD really flares up when I have incomplete teams. In the end she didn’t disappoint. Granted, she wasn’t the hardest figure in the world to do, but at least Mattel didn’t do something crazy like make her into an inappropriately oversized figure like Rocket Red or… oh… well, we’ll talk about Lead tomorrow.

DC Universe Signature Collection: John Constantine by Mattel

It’s the last day of November, which means today’s my last chance to get the feature for the second November Club Infinite Earths figure in just under the wire. Ah, John Constantine. I adore this character so much. He’s one of those comic book personas that I can honestly say transcends his books, and that I read them for my love of who and what the character is and not so much the actual stories. And even beyond the panels of the funnybooks, there was so much potential to bring this character to live action and it was all squandered on that terrible movie. Anyway, it was the reveal of figures like Constantine that made me all the happier that I subbed Club Infinite Earths, and that’s saying a lot since this series has yet to really disappoint in character selection or execution.

We just saw the DCUSC packaging earlier in the week with Uncle Sam, so I won’t spend a lot of time on it here. I will say that this box is so far the sole instance where I’m not thrilled with the character art. It’s fine enough on its own, but it doesn’t match the figure’s portrait at all, and quite frankly I like the figure’s head sculpt a lot better, which is ironic because at first I wasn’t sure about it. As always, the figure looks great in the package and the collector friendly nature of the box means mint-in-box collectors can have their cake and eat it too.

Let’s start with Constantine’s portrait. It’s very stylized, especially compared to the character art on the box. I wasn’t sold on it when I first saw it in the promo pics and I still wasn’t when I first got the figure in hand. It has started to grow on me a lot, however. For a character that was originally designed to look like pop singer Sting, this figure does not, and in the end that’s probably for the better because nobody’s ever accused me of being a fan of Sting, at least not since he left The Police. I like the hair sculpt a lot and the prominent brow gives him a stern look, which is nicely counterbalanced by the slight smirk in his mouth. The scar is well implemented too. He does seem to have an extra helping of ears, but all in all, this is a really remarkable head sculpt that oozes personality. At this rate, if it keeps growing on me, it may turn into one of my favorites.

Obviously, Constantine is a dude in a trench coat, so I don’t think there was any doubt where Mattel was going to look to get parts for this figure… yup it was The Question! The Question was a great figure to begin with, so Constantine was in good hands. The trench coat, arms and legs are all straight grabs and they work very well. Constantine’s coat feels like it’s cast in a slightly more pliable plastic, which is a good thing, and it looks really good in the new tan color. Constantine stands a bit taller than The Question, making up the extra height in the torso.

The rest of the figure features some nice unique work, including a rumpled shirt and a necktie, separately sculpted so that it’s hanging down from the collar. It was sticking out quite a bit in the package, but fear not. If you don’t want your Constantine looking like Lou Costello dressed him, it will lay flat if you tuck it into the coat for a little while, or you can just use a tiny dab of blue tack. I’m not a big fan of Constantine’s hands. They look like they might be the same ones used for Uncle Sam, which means he looks like he’s meant to hold accessories that he doesn’t come with. A pack of smokes would have been cool, but I suppose I can understand why Mattel didn’t include something like that, even if this is an “Adult Collector” line. Ok, no I don’t. Mattel, you should have included a pack of smokes.

Constantine’s articulation is identical to what we saw on The Question and is pretty typical for all DCUC style figures. The neck and shoulders are ball jointed. The arms feature hinged elbows and swivels in the biceps and wrists. His legs feature the usual DCUC style hip joints, hinges in the knees and ankles, and swivels in the thighs. John can also swivel at the waist and still retains the ab crunch hinge under the trench coat.

John Constantine is a fantastic addition to the Club Infinite Earth roster and I’m kind of surprised he didn’t sell out. Even ten days after the sale, he’s still available. I can understand Uncle Sam not flying off the shelf, as he’s far more of a niche character, but even he is listed as “Almost Gone” now while there appears to be plenty Constantines left. Granted to the uninitiated, he’s just a cool looking guy in a trench coat, but I thought John here had more street cred than that, and it saddens me to see him lingering on Matty’s virtual pegs.

DC Universe Signature Collection: Uncle Sam with Doll Man by Mattel

I really love it when Mattel digs deep for their DC Universe figures. With so many of the final waves of DCUC populated by topical characters from recent comic events, it’s easy to forget that this line was always intended to draw from the vast corners and deep history of the DC Universe. That should be doubly the case now that the line doesn’t need to rely on casual retail shoppers and can be fueled strictly by the interests of niche collectors willing to seek out and subscribe to the figures online. And that’s why I love the fact that they’re releasing figures like Uncle Sam. He’s not only a pretty obscure piece of DCU history, but a masterful; some might say diabolical, kitbash of a figure. Let’s check him out!

Sam comes in a typical Signature Collection window box. As always, the character art featured on the back and side panel is excellent. Close your eyes and imagine what a character named Uncle Sam would look like, and you’re probably right on the money. Acquired by DC from the buyout of another imprint in the 1950s, Sam is not so much a character but the spiritual embodiment of American patriotism able to possess different corporeal hosts when needed. Wow, that’s awesome. The box is completely collector friendly, which is always a plus in my book.

Uncle Sam is one of the finest examples of Mattel’s deviously clever ability to reuse parts from older figures and have it turn out perfectly. Sam is an unlikely hybrid of Gentlemen Ghost and The Joker. When I look at the figure, it’s so blatantly obvious that he’s a kitbash, and yet the final result looks amazing. He has a sculpted shirt and vest with a separately sculpted jacket layered over it. Toss in the necktie and this figure has a wonderful sense of depth and complexity to the sculpt. The pants are cuffed around his ankles and he’s got spats on his shoes. If spats were socially acceptable, I would wear them every day. The only thing that really mars this figure in any way is the plug used in his back to cover up what I presume is a cape socket. Not a big deal, but just a little unsightly.

The coloring on Uncle Sam’s outfit is deliciously patriotic. There are two shades of blue for his jacket and vest and the white and red striping of his pants really make the figure pop. Alas, there are some paint flubs on his red striping.

Of course, the whole figure is really tied together by the superb head sculpt. He has an iconic and noble looking face that still manages to convey the fact that if you mess with America, he’s going to kick your ass off the hemisphere. The hair and beard sculpting is awesome and his hat really crowns (literally!) the whole piece. Wonderful!

Uncle Sam has pretty typical DCUC style articulation His head is ball jointed, although the sculpted hair restricts the movement of the head to a turning motion. The arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, hinged at the elbows and feature swivels in the biceps and wrists. The legs have the usual universal joints in the hips, hinges in the knees and ankles, and swivels in the thighs. While there’s no waist swivel, which is disappointing but understandable, Uncle Sam does still have an ab crunch hinge.

While his hands are sculpted to hold accessories, Uncle Sam sadly doesn’t come with any, that is, unless you count Doll Man. He’s similar to the shrunken down version of Rita Farr that we saw last month, only better sculpted and more substantial. He’s actually a pretty solid piece of plastic! I’m not a big fan of Doll Man so he’s kind of lost on me, but it was a nice way for Mattel to deliver a second member of the Freedom Force in this package.

Getting Uncle Sam in my DCUC collection is a real treat. He’s a wonderfully obscure character and while Mattel went the Frankenstein route in creating him, I certainly can’t quarrel with the results. Sam looks amazing and I am thrilled to have him represented on my DC shelf. Of course, November was a double figure month for Club Infinite Earths, and we’ll double back at the end of the week to check out John Constantine.

DC Universe Signature Collection: Elasti-Girl by Mattel

This month Matty brought double the DC goodness to Club Infinite Earth subscribers with another oversized quarterly figure, and it is none other than Ms. Rita Farr aka. Elasti-Girl! Matty made a point of saying that they wanted to use CIE to finish up some teams, and they certainly are delivering. This year we’ll get the rest of The Metal Men and the figure we’re looking at today brings us one step closer to rounding out the Doom Patrol. Personally, I’ve yet to pick up Beast Boy or Robotman, so I only have Negative Man to keep her company. Either way, let’s take a look at the lovely lady and see how she turned out.

Signature Collection packaging! We just saw it on Monday with Poison Ivy, so I’m not going to spend a lot more time on it. It’s exactly the same as the regular monthly figure packaging, only bigger. The artists at Matty did another great job on the character art. I’m not so sure the sculptors had the same image in mind, but the art here is just gorgeous. I’m so glad these packages are collector friendly, because it gives me an excuse to keep all this stunning box art.

A lot of your personal mileage with Elasti-Girl is likely to vary based on how well you know or enjoy the character. Sure, that’s the case with a lot of DCUC figures, but in this case it’s even more so. If you’re not in the know, she is essentially just a really tall chick in a skirt, and unless she’s seen alongside other DCUC figures, she’s just a chick in a skirt. Nonetheless, fans of the character should find this figure to be a real treat, because it really does her justice. As already mentioned, the head sculpt isn’t quite in tune with the box art, but I still really like what we got. She’s pretty, I dig the slight upturn to her eyes and the face features some truly immaculate paintwork. The hair is sculpted with a band to hold it back, and the hair is short enough so as not to inhibit the head articulation too badly.

The rest of the figure’s body features sculpted gloves and boots, and a belt around her slender waist. The skirt is made of particularly flexible plastic, and it’s wide enough so that you can really get some good range of motion out of her hip joints. The top half of her outfit is painted, with some nice sharp lines between the red and white and the neckline. I would have preferred a paler shade of blue for the belt and boots, but now I’m really nitpicking. She’s also got some seriously nice muscle tone sculpted into her arms.

Elast-Girl’s articulation features that new torso joint that we first saw with Poison Ivy. I’m still on the fence over the new design. Is Matty only going to be using this with all the ladies? Time will tell. It doesn’t seem to have the same versatility as the waist swivel and ab crunch, but it is a lot better looking. The arms feature ball joints in the shoulders, hinges in the knees, and swivels at the wrists and biceps. The legs have the regular universal movement at the hips, swivels in the thighs, and hinges in the knees and ankles. Naturally, the head has the usual ball joint. I’m not sure if it’s just because of her size, but I really would have loved to see double hinges in her elbows.

Elasti-Girl comes with a tiny version of herself, which is a very cool bonus. She’s very similar to the Antman that Hasbro put out with their Marvel Universe Yellowjacket, or even the tiny Wasp that came in the Secret Wars comic pack. Just be careful not to sneeze while you’re holding it, or you may lose it forever. The resident FigureFan feline has already been scoping it out for his larder of trophies behind the sofa.

I was pretty delighted when Matty revealed this figure, as I truly believe we would have had no chance of getting her anywhere else. A while ago, maybe I could have seen her as a C&C in DC Universe Classics, but with the direction the line went toward the end, I don’t think it ever would have happened. So what’s the downside of Elasti-Girl? Well, besides now being motivated to go back and pick up the rest of the Doom Patrol, I’m really hankering to pull the trigger on the insanely pricey Giganta, just so I can have another huge chick for her to fight. Then again, I’ve got do some rearranging on my DCUC top shelf in order to fit another oversized figure. At the moment, even poor Rocket Red is still chilling in his box and waiting for some shelf time.

Okdoky, tomorrow we will round out this Matty Haul Week with a look at the Big Guy himself… Voltron! It will, however, likely be posted pretty late, as I’m pulling the graveyard shift tonight and I’ll likely be sleeping most of the day tomorrow.

DC Universe Signature Collection: Poison Ivy by Mattel

I think it’s probably safe to say that Poison Ivy was a predominant name on many DCUC collectors’ wish lists. It’s kind of hard to believe that the line lasted 20 waves without her showing up. Even I, someone who only bothers with Batman when he’s part of the Justice League, was pretty excited to finally get the character in my collection. Of course, Matty was well aware of her popularity and wound up pimping her out as a threat to get people to subscribe to Club Infinite Earths. They even went so far as to warn collectors that if the sub didn’t go through, Poison Ivy would never be made. Pretty classy stuff, Matty.  Instead of a thermometer, they should have had a live cam of the prototype being slowly lowered into a bucket of acid and a tagline, “Only your subs could stop the descent!” Well, all the threats and recriminations are behind us now because the sub did go through and I’m holding in my hands, the DCUC version of Poison Ivy.

I’m always glad to see the Signature Collection package. It looks awesome, it’s collector friendly, and what’s inside seldom disappoints. I’ve been a big admirer of the character art that Mattel has been using for these packages and Poison Ivy’s continues to raise the bar. It was actually a pretty ambitious and risky piece of art to go with, because it’s a lot more detailed than the actual figure, particularly where the vines are concerned, but we’re going to come back to that in a second. You get the usual little bio blurb on the back and as always, the box is totally collector friendly.

A lot of the early criticisms of this figure have been that she looks too plain, and I think those are valid complaints. Just look at the character art on the box and all of those little vines and tendrils. That kind of detail is tough to create in an action figure at this price point, and so compromises have been made. Mattel went with using some simple, sculpted plastic vines, which are molded in spirals so that they snake around her arms and her left leg. They add some depth to the figure, they don’t inhibit her articulation, and generally they look good, but they don’t convey the beauty and complexity of what’s seen in the art. I think the figure would have been much better served with the vines sculpted into her arms and legs and then painted in, but remember, Mattel’s game is to create versatile sculpts that will serve them again later. In the DCUC line, they can often get away with it without compromising the figure, but that’s not the case with Poison Ivy. Her torso suffers from a similar problem. There’s foliage sculpted along the edges, but the rest is plain. In this case, however, it’s less forgivable. The entire one-piece should have been sculpted with vegetation. It would have helped the figure look less spartan. I’m actually surprised that Mattel went with bare feet instead of boots, but I’m glad they did, as it adds some individuality to the figure.

That all having been said, I’m very happy with the way the head sculpt turned out. Ivy’s face is beautiful with a slightly stern expression. The hair is absolutely amazing. It’s intricately sculpted and peppered with leaves here and there. The same effort that went into the hair sculpt should have been vested into her one-piece. That would have helped the figure along quite a bit.

Poison Ivy’s coloring is quite good. Mattel went with a minty colored, unpainted plastic for Ivy’s flesh tone and it looks very cool. A darker green was used for her one-piece and vines, the paintwork on her face is immaculate, and even her toenails are painted. But, again, it’s the hair that really shines here. The deep red paint is gorgeous and really brings out the details in that sculpt.

Ivy features most of the same articulation we’ve been seeing all along in DCUC. Her arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, hinged at the elbows, and feature swivels in the biceps and wrists. Her legs have the usual DCUC universal hip joints, swivels in the thighs, and hinges in the knees and ankles. Her head is ball jointed, but her sculpted hair does inhibit the head movement quite a bit. It’s in the torso where things get a bit kooky. Instead of the usual waist swivel and ab crunch, Ivy has a swivel just under her breasts. It’s admittedly a lot less unsightly than the traditional DCUC articulation, but it’s not as versatile either.

Poison Ivy was a long time coming, so it’s natural she’s going to be subjected to a lot of extra scrutiny. I’m actually fairly happy with what we got, although I will concede that, unlike most DCUC figures, she doesn’t hold up to her character art. From a business standpoint, I understand why Mattel did what they did, but then I shouldn’t have to look at a figure and justify its production from a financial standpoint. On the other hand, despite this line being billed as a “collector club” it’s still essentially a mass market line and for a more complex looking sculpt, we have to look elsewhere. One of these days, I’ll pull out my Bishoujo Poison Ivy statue and we’ll see how great this gal can really look in plastic form.

DC Universe Signature Collection: Black Mask by Mattel

It’s time for another Matty Collector release! My Voltron and Club Infinite Earth subs didn’t synch up this month, so I’ve just got the DC figure to look at. I was a little tempted by the He-Man offerings this month, but I kept my resolve and didn’t go for them. Anyway, this month’s CIE figure is Black Mask, and he is one of the very few figures getting released by the Club this year that I wasn’t really looking forward to. Batman’s funnybooks have always ranked pretty far down on my reading list. On the other hand, that hasn’t stopped me from picking up most of the other Batman related figures that Mattel has put out, so I wasn’t exactly sorry to be getting him either. Let’s see if Black Mask can win me over…

Ahh, I still love this packaging. As usual, the figure comes in a very cool and very collector friendly window box. The package displays the figure very nicely, with his accessories (Yes! Accessories!!!) mounted in the tray all around him. The back panel of the box has some excellent character art and the token short biography. A few of Black Mask’s accessories were a little loose in the package, but I care not for I am taking them all out.

Riddle me this, Batman, where have we seen this body before? Yuppers, it’s the Riddler from one of the early waves of DCUC. I want to say Wave 5 or 6. I have no issues with Mattel making use of the suited body again. It’s quite a good sculpt and as we’ll see in a little bit it retains a surprising amount of the core DCUC torso articulation. The suit jacket is layered on the figure, which gives the sculpt a lot of realistic depth, and you can even reach in and pull his stylish tie right out from inside his jacket. Black Mask is a pretty monochrome character, so there’s little coloring to get excited about here. The suit is matte black and the arms and legs match the jacket petty well. The high gloss paint on the shoes is a nice touch. All in all, I’m pleased with how the body turned out.

What about the head sculpt? Alas, I’m really not so happy about how it turned out. I’ve been overjoyed with all of the head sculpts in the Signature Collection thus far, and while Black Mask’s should have been a slam dunk, it just doesn’t work for me at all. The head looks funny on his big trunk of a neck and the details in the sculpt are really soft, particularly around the teeth. The paintwork on the teeth, which is ironically some of the only paint on the figure is kind of sloppy and uneven too. C’mon, Matty. It’s a skull mask! The Horsemen should have really had some fun with this one. Instead, it feels like they phoned it in.

Black Mask retains all the usual articulation found in the DCUC line. That means the head is ball jointed, the arms feature ball jointed shoulders, hinged elbows, and swivels in the biceps and wrists. The legs have the usual DCUC hip joints, hinged knees and ankles, and swivels in the thighs. What I wasn’t expecting was to get a waist swivel and ab crunch built under the sculpted jacket. Very cool!

One usually doesn’t get a lot of accessories with a DCUC figure, but Black Mask comes with some goodies. You get a double-bladed fork weapon, a knife, and Batman’s cowl. That’s all well and good, but you know what would have been cool, Mattel? Giving us the gun that’s pictured in the character art on the package. I was actually surprised to find that I don’t have a decent black .45 automatic in this scale, so he’ll have to go without.

Black Mask gets a resounding Meh from me. He’s not terrible. I don’t mind standing him in the corner of my display that houses Batman’s rogue gallery. However, he’s the first figure of the Signature line that really disappoints me, and I wasn’t expecting much to begin with. Considering the recycled body and the figure’s meager need for paintwork, I think Mattel should have put in a better effort with the head. I’m fine with having him in my collection, but considering I didn’t get any other figures from Matty this month, Black Mask shipped alone, and that means he cost me about $25. That’s twenty-five bucks worth of Meh!

DC Universe Signature Collection: Mirror Master by Mattel

I didn’t mention it during my Voltron features, but Matty did another great job handling my subscriptions this month. Once again, I was billed the correct amount, everything was processed about five days before the Day of Sale and the package was shipped out about two days ahead of the Sale Day. I realize it’s kind of crazy to have to be praising a company for getting it right, but with how screwed up Matty Collector has been in the past, it’s worth giving credit where credit is due, and I haven’t had any difficulties with Matty for quite a few months. I was really looking forward to this month’s Club Infinite Earths figure, as I really love me some Flash and I’m always happy to add more villains to my collection. Put the two together and it’s no wonder I was happy to get Mirror Master.

There’s that Signature Collection packaging that I love so much. It’s a simple window box with some really kick ass character art on the side and back panels. The package is totally collector friendly and includes a little blurb on Mirror Master on the back, pointing out that this is indeed the Evan McCulloch incarnation of the character. Until I can reorganize my DCUC display, I’ve been keeping all my Signature Collection figures in the boxes and they sure look great lined up on the shelf.

Out of the package and we see that Mirror Master gets by with a very simple sculpt. What we have here is a very basic buck with sculpted boots and wrist bracers. There’s a sculpted belt with two functional holsters, each with fastening flaps and there’s a sculpted neckerchief draped above the figure’s shoulders. The body is cast in brown plastic with green paintwork on the bracers and boots. Both hands are sculpted to hold his weapons.

Mirror Master’s head sculpt is well executed, but I don’t think it’s one of the more remarkable ones we’ve seen from the Club to date. That’s not meant to be critical. Truth is there’s nothing wrong with McCulloch’s head, it just doesn’t pack that extra wow factor that I’ve experienced with figures like Jay Garrick or the unmasked Thom Kallor head. A bit more character in the expression might have helped, because as it is, it’s just rather neutral and flat. The paint work on the head is overall pretty good, although there are a few orange smudges on his chin.

Naturally, we get the standard DCUC points of articulation. The head is ball jointed. The arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, hinged at the elbows, and have swivels at the biceps and wrists. The legs have universal movement at the hips, hinges at the knees and ankles, and swivels in the thighs. The torso swivels at the waist and features the standard ab crunch hinge.

Mirror Master comes with his rather distinctive looking pistols, both of which fit snugly into his holsters. They also each include swappable barrels that feature them deployed in firing mode as well as the standard configuration.

No, Mirror Master isn’t the flashiest of figures (har har) but he is a great representation of a really great character. This figure has gone through some major improvements since it was first revealed. Original images suggested the figure wouldn’t be able to hold his guns, let alone hint at the guns having dual configurations. It’s likely that the improvements were planned from the beginning and what we were seeing was just an early prototype, but you never quite know with Mattel, and fans were pretty vocal about the changes they wanted to see. Whether those changes were always planned or the result of a response to fan feedback, it’s nice that Matty put the extra effort into the figure.

Matty Collector Subs Are A Go…

I interrupt the regular flow of updates this week to celebrate the fact that the DC Club Infinite Earths will be sapping my wallet for one more year. I’m also taking this opportunity to cover the fact that I’m running a little behind this week on updates. Turtle Week will continue on Thursday and Friday, Vintage Vault will get pushed back to Saturday, and Star Trek Saturday will either double up or it may take the week off, seeing as how things go. It is my Birthday this weekend, and I plan on drinking a lot more heavily than usual.

Anyway, as for the Matty Collector news… All of the subs have gone forward. I have never subbed Club Eternia, although I do have a sizeable collection of MOTUC figures purchased day of sale. This current year, I haven’t purchased any, and personally I think Matty criminally mishandled the 30th Anniversary with shitty concept and contest figures, but thankfully the property isn’t so important to me as to fill my with rage over the fact.

I was very tempted to sub the Watchman line just because I would have really enjoyed having a set of Watchman figures in the scale and style of DCUC. The $25 a pop seemed rather high, especially for figures like Dr. Manhattan, which is nothing more than a new head sculpt and a painted buck, but I was still willing to go for it. What stopped me? The uncertainty of Club Infinite Earth going through meant that I could wind up paying shipping on just the Watchman figures, which would bump them up to about $35 a piece with tax. No thanks. Ironically, CIE went through, and Matty screwed themselves out of my Watchmen sub money by playing these ridiculous games.

Obviously, the CIE going through was the big news for me, and obviously I subbed again. I’ve been happy with every single figure that I’ve received from this year so far. Yes, even Rocket Red is cool as a stand alone figure. And next year’s are looking good too. I could take this opportunity to suggest that Matty played games with the thermometer, as I really doubt it jumped that high on the last day, but I’m not going to piss in the punchbowl. I’m just happy its going through and I’m going to keep getting my DCUC fix for another year and a half. Unfortunately, it means I’m going to have to do some re-arranging, because I’m just about out of room on my current display and I have about a dozen figures that aren’t even up yet…

On a related note, I dropped Matty a line via their Forums to inquire about the Young Justice 2-pack. I was actually willing to drop $50 on Superboy and Miss Martian to complete my set, but I found it odd that Matty wasn’t revealing any ship date on the figures. Turns out the reason why is because they won’t be shipping until 3rd Quarter of 2013. I realize the lead time required between concept and mass production for action figures, but there’s no way I’m buying two figures at a premium this week and not getting them for another year. Not where Matty and Digital River are concerned.
Ok, enough about toy politics… I’ll be back tomorrow to check out Raphael.