DC Universe Signature Collection: Ra’s Al Ghul by Mattel

Here we go! It’s the penultimate release in Matty’s nearly dead Club Infinite Earths line. Last month I was pretty smitten with Ocean Master: Great character selection and a rather well done figure. I wish I could say the same about this month’s figure. Ra’s does indeed represent a great character choice, but the figure leaves me rather cold for a number of reasons and I’m willing to bet I’m not alone on that!

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There it is the Signature Collection box. We’re only going to see this one more time, folks. Well, maybe more if Mattel uses it for next year’s quarterly releases. I think these boxes have served us well. They offer a fairly compact and totally collector friendly experience and if I had the room I would have an entire shelf of these lined up with the character art on the side facing out. Of course, space being the valuable commodity that it is, I pitch the boxes. For a while, I was clipping the back panels and saving them as cards, but I don’t even do that anymore.

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When it comes to DCUC and its satellite lines, I’ve been suffering from a bit of what I like to call “suit fatigue.” In reality, there haven’t been all that many figures released wearing suits, but when you’re talking about a line dealing with comic book characters, it seems like we got a disproportionate amount of them in the last two or three years. When I first saw Ra’s here in his green suit, I was immediately reminded of DCUC Wave 19 Sandman, but then Sandman had an older style double-breasted suit, whereas this one is more modern. And then it struck me… Ra’s uses a recolor of the exact same body as last year’s Black Mask. And so what we have here are two Batman villains released nearly a year apart, with the exact same bodies. Two figures that will inevitably be standing next to each other on my shelf. Man, that pisses me off!

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I had every intention of flipping Ra’s on Ebay as soon as I got him. I’m sure he’s not going to be worth much, but I figured that if I could trade him for a bottle of Canadian Club, then at least I could get a cheap buzz out of the deal. Now, with that having been said, this figure looks much better in hand then in the pictures I’ve seen. I was compelled to open him up and check him out, and I have in fact decided to keep him. It’s not so much a question of the figure impressing me, but rather one of me not hating it enough to want to take the trouble of off-loading it. Not exactly a ringing endorsement, I know!

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The head sculpt isn’t one of the stronger ones in this line. Over the past two years, we’ve seen some exceptional portraits come out of the Signature Collection, but I won’t count this figure among them. In person I don’t find it as weak as I thought it looked in promo shots, but it’s just not a homerun either. There’s also a curious amount of mold flashing evident on mine. Did Mattel realize the line was kaput and just not care anymore? I don’t know, but let’s just label this portrait “about adequate” and move on.

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As for the rest of the figure, I don’t have anything to say really. As far as suited bucks go, this one is not bad. The jacket is a tad bulky, but it’s a worthy trade off for having it layered onto the figure and giving it some depth and credibility. The tie is also sculpted as a separate piece, which is pretty cool. The cape looks Ok and is thankfully rather understated, but the chain that holds it in place is needlessly chunky, especially when compared to the character art. Still, as good as the figure looks, when he’s standing next to Black Mask you can clearly pick out all the same wrinkles and folds, and it’s rather annoying. Ra’s comes with a sword, or rather a ludicrously huge scimitar. Taken on its own, it’s not a bad accessory; however, it seems to me that a guy wearing a suit would have something a little more elegant and discrete. He looks kind of silly holding it. Seeing as this is a direct reuse of Black Mask’s body, I’m just going to assume you’ve read that feature and not bore you with the details of articulation.

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It’s well known that I’m not the biggest Batman fan around, but even I have to wonder at the way Mattel seemed to non chalantly slip such an important character into the tail end of this line. He doesn’t feel like he was given any special love or care. It’s more like the guys were sitting around the office looking for parts to reuse and then just said, “Screw it, let’s just use Black Mask’s body and make Ra’s with it, so we can all get out of here and go over to Applebee’s for some sodium-enriched dinner specials and watered down drinks. The sad thing is that to me Black Mask is a far more effective figure, and I wasn’t exactly smitten with him either. In the end, Ra’s Al Ghul will stand in the back of my Batman display as a place holder until the pendulum swings back. At some point Mattel has to get all this Total Heroes bullshit out of their system and goes back to doing the DCUC style. I have to cling on to that hope.