DC Unlimited: Injustice Green Lantern by Mattel

It’s Friday, it’s been a long week and I have a long working weekend ahead of me. Next week is going to be something of a themed week so I was hoping to squeeze in MOTUC’s Battle Lion today and that didn’t happen. I haven’t even gotten around to opening him yet and I needed something quicker and easier for today so I could start drinking earlier than usual. Oh, hello Injustice Green Lantern! You’ve been sitting in the corner of the closet since before Christmas. Let’s open you up and check you out. This shouldn’t take long.

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Ah, it’s refreshing to see this packaging again! I really do miss my 6-inch DC figure fix. Sure I’m planning on buying a lot of DC Collectibles figures this year, but on some level it just isn’t quite the same. As far as I’m concerned, the Unlimited off-shoot of DC Universe Classics had the best package design. That added panel of character art on the front really ties the whole thing together beautifully. I’ll note here that I still have not played Injustice, but I do have it and it is sitting on my rather copious pile of games. Maybe when I get tired of Dark Souls kicking my ass, I’ll finally unwrap it and pop it in. Anyway, I absolutely loved the Injustice Batman figure so I’ve got some high expectations for Green Lantern…

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Oh… Ok. Obviously these figures are beholden to their character designs in the game and while Batman’s new digs were downright awesome, Green Lantern’s are a lot less exciting. No, scratch that. Injustice Green Lantern is just downright boring to me and that’s certainly going to color my reception of this figure. The redesign of his Lantern costume is kind of lazy. His shirt has been turned into a tunic with shoulder pads and side straps to hold it on, while the arms and legs are covered with exaggerated ribbed muscles. I just don’t find the redesign in any way creative or cool looking. Maybe the outfit doesn’t lend itself to the bad boy treatment as well as the others. Of course, even if you do like the design, this figure still isn’t all that great.

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The portrait, for example, is another big stumbling block for me. The face sculpt is very soft for a DCUC figure. None of the detailing in the nose or mouth is very well defined at all. The paint around the mask and hairline is also pretty sloppy for a 6-inch figure. But beyond that the entire portrait just doesn’t work for me. This doesn’t look like Hal Jordan, it looks like the guy with the receding hairline that comes up from IT to fix the copier.

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Aside from some sloppiness on the head, the paint on the figure is pretty solid overall. I’ll definitely give props to the way they painted his tunic around the Lantern emblem. The way the green gets darker as it moves away from the emblem does create a cool effect that the Lantern is actually illuminated. You also get some sharp emblems on his arm bracers and the power ring is painted.

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The articulation is in line with Injustice Batman, which means it’s missing some key points from the DCUC style. There’s no ab crunch, but more importantly there are no swivel cuts in the biceps. Those bicep swivels are pretty much non-negotiable for me and my 6-inch figures and it really pisses me off that Mattel nixed them from these figures. Hal comes off as feeling rather stiff and while you can certainly get him into some different poses, none of them are all that exciting.

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So, considering I only dropped about six bucks on this figure, I’m not too bummed out about it. He’s not terrible. Oh, we’ve seen some real shitty Green Lantern figures out of Mattel back when that movie was out and this figure doesn’t come close to being as bad as any of them. But it isn’t a figure that grabs me in any way. The real kicker is that Mattel only produced a handful of figures based on the Injustice video game and with all the cool character designs in that game, Green Lantern is one of the few they decided to produce. I would have much rather seen figures of Aquaman or Wonder Woman. But for figures of those characters, I’ll have to turn to those tiny DC Collectibles sets.

DC Unlimited: Injustice Batman by Mattel

With all the Marvel Legends love around here these days I’ve been really missing DC Universe Classics something fierce. Why is it that Hasbro can make Marvel 6-inch figures perform so well at retail but Mattel couldn’t? In the end, it might have something to do with Hasbro’s deft marketing of even comic based figures as movie tie-ins. Either way, I was jonesing bad enough that I went into my private stash of DC Unlimited. I’ve had some of these figures sitting around unopened since before Christmas just waiting for an occasion like this when I needed a fix. Today we’re going to check out Batman from the Injustice: Gods Among Us video game.

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Ah, it’s nice to see this packaging again. I always enjoyed the presentation for Mattel’s 6-inch line, but I think it hit its peak with the Unlimited releases. While I’m not currently buying any of their 4-inch line I like that they retained this style for those figures. I find it strangely comforting to still see it hanging on the pegs at Target. You get a great look at the figure and a really nice piece of character art on that angled side insert. Beautiful!

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I’ll have to confess to not having played Injustice yet. As much as I love fighting games, I tend not to buy them until they hit the bargain bins unless they’re a Capcom or SNK release. I don’t have many friends who are into fighting games and I don’t enjoy going online and getting my ass kicked by a 13 year old while he tells me about how he made sweet love to my sister last night. Little f’ckers! I have, however, watched a ton of videos of people playing the game and it looks like a lot of fun and something that I’ll need to pick up sooner or later. Of course, glancing at the stack of unopened games on my shelf, it’ll likely be later rather than sooner. Anyway, let’s open up Bats.

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The character designs for the game have been hit and miss with me, but Batman got a gorgeous makeover. It’s all about the armor. Oh, that gorgeous armor. It’s not a drastic departure from Bats’ regular look, but the two-tone grey and black and the sculpted reinforced plates just make this one of the most attractive Batsuits I’ve seen in a while. Everything looks so beautifully curved and chiseled and the intricacies of the armor are married so perfectly with the glossy sheen of the plastic. Just check out all the detail work in the abdomen and the stylish redesign of the utility belt. Man, that’s awesome. You also get those cool bladed fins on his gauntlets and I really dig the way the cape starts at the top corners of his breast plates and cascades back over his shoulders. The sculpt and coloring here goes above and beyond what I’m used to seeing in the DCU line. What’s not to like? Well, the knee and shin guards seem out of place. The matte grey doesn’t match the rest of the armor making them look rather tacked on.

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I think the biggest departure here from traditional Bats is found in the helmet. It’s more armored and some may find the combination of black blue and grey a little much. Personally, I like the way it carries on the motif of the rest of the suit. I also dig the creepy pupil-less eyes. About my only complaint here is the ears. They’re pretty soft and bendy, so they don’t stand straight up like they’re supposed to.

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The articulation here is pretty good. The arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, hinged at the elbows and feature swivels and hinges in the wrists, but sadly no bicep swivels. The legs have the usual DCUC style hips, ball joints in the knees, swivels in the lower thighs, and hinges in the ankles. The chest appears to have a ball joint, but all it seems good for is a swivel. Lastly, the neck has a ball joint with a nice range of motion.

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The only reason I picked up this figure was because it was part of Amazon’s crazy pre-Christmas deals. I think I wound up getting him and some others for about $6 each. He turned out to be a hidden gem for me, as he’s definitely one of my favorite Batman figures in my 6-inch scale collection. While not all the designs in Injustice are as cool as Batman, I’ve enjoyed this figure enough that I might try to hunt down a few more. I know I have Green Lantern sitting in my pile of unopened figures, but I think a purchase of The Joker is a must.

DC Comics Unlimited: “New 52” Aquaman by Mattel

If you’ve been reading FFZ for a while, you probably recall me making the odd remark about my borderline OCD. It’s not like I can’t go outside without checking the lock on the door a thousand times and I don’t wash my hands until I see bone. It’s just that little inconsistencies often nag at me. I’d like to think there’s probably a little OCD in any collector, so I don’t worry about it too much. What the hell does any of this have to do with Aquaman? Nothing really. It’s just that when it comes to collecting action figures, I hate not being able to complete a team, and Aquaman was the last “New 52” Justice League figure that Mattel gave us before bailing on the DCUC style in favor of that Total Heroes garbage. At least we got five members of the Justice League, but the fact that we’ll never have a proper Green Lantern or Cyborg in DCUC “New 52” style makes me really wish I had just gone with DC Collectibles’ figures in the first place. What was I here to talk about again? Oh yeah, Aquaman. Let’s check him out…

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We’re going to be seeing the DC Unlimited packaging more than a few times over the next month or so. Around Christmastime Amazon had a fire sale on these figures for around $5 each and I took the opportunity to not only finally pick up Aquaman but also get some of those Injustice figures that I was holding out on. We’ve seen this before and I still dig it quite a bit. It’s not too far removed from the old DCUC packages, but it has a fresh new design and a really nice panel of character art on the front that the DCUC packages lacked. The back panel is more similar to the old style, complete with bio and some stats, as well as more of that great character artwork.

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In terms of costume design, Aquaman’s really hasn’t changed much in the jump to the “New 52.” I guess when you hang out underwater with tuna all the time, you don’t always get the new fashion memos.  For those of you who aren’t a fan of the new costumes’ panel lines Aquaman has escaped that treatment. As a result, a lot of this figure is borrowed and/or resculpted from the old DCUC Aquaman, particularly from the waist down where only his fins have been resculpted. The shirt is the same great scale texture that we’ve seen on previous DCUC releases and the sculpted belt is raised from the rest of the figure in keeping with DC’s 3D design guidelines for these characters.

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The portrait on the figure is quite good, with clearly defined features, neat paintwork, and a slightly determined expression. I’d rank this head sculpt closer to the better stuff we were getting out of the DC Signature line. The more youthful nature of the new Justice League is certainly conveyed here as well. Nice job, Mattel!

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Aquaman features all the articulation we’ve come to expect from the DCUC format. The arms feature ball joints at the shoulders, hinged elbows, and swivels in the biceps and wrists. The legs have the usual DCUC style hip joints, hinges in the knees and ankles, and swivels in the thighs. The neck is ball jointed, he can swivel at the waist, and he has the usual ab crunch hinge in the torso.

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Naturally, you get Aquaman’s ubiquitous trident. It’s cast in a matte bronze color, and I really dig the more utilitarian barbed head on this piece. It looks a lot more useful than the overly ostentatious trident from the old DCUC figure. The figure’s hands are sculpted so he can hold it in either or both.

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There’s no doubt that Aquaman is a great addition to the DC Unlimited line, even if the DCUC “New 52” Justice League will never be truly complete without Green Lantern and Cyborg. I’ll concede that this probably isn’t the most exciting figure around because, well, he’s Aquaman and he doesn’t look that much different in the “New 52” Universe. On the other hand, I’ve really enjoyed Aquaman’s current book as well as his contribution in The Justice League. He sure played a pretty big part in the third volume TPB so it’s nice to finally have his figure on my shelf.

DC (Batman) Unlimited: “New 52” Batgirl by Mattel

Bringing back Barbara Gordon as Batgirl… it was easily the most controversial thing for me about the “New 52” because it meant in turn that Oracle had to go. I was pretty bummed about that… until I saw Gail Simone was at the helm of the new book and I got over it… sort of… kind of… a little bit. Needless to say Batgirl has been regular reading for me since the reboot and I was rather anxious to pick up the new action figure of Babs for my “New 52” DCUC shelf. Alas, this one proved to be a tough figure to find at a reasonable price, but we’ll get to that in due time. First, let’s have a gander at the packaging.

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Yes indeedy, I do love the Unlimited packaging, particularly for the snazzy shingle of character art that runs beside the figure. It’s just gorgeous. I feel bad for the mint-on-card collectors because these packages are huge. They’re also apparently hard to keep in good condition. I don’t think I’ve gotten a single DCU figure where the card wasn’t all frayed at the edges. If I didn’t already own the comics, I’d be tempted to keep the insert with the character art. But… I care not. I’m ripping this baby open with extreme prejudice.

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Unlike a lot of people, I dig many of the New 52 costume redesigns (just don’t get me started on what they did to Zatanna), and Batgirl here is par for the course. The head sculpt sticks fairly true to tradition. The hair looks really great flowing out from the back of her cowl and it doesn’t inhibit her neck articulation nearly as bad as I assumed it would. I’m also very pleased with the paintwork on the eyes and lips as it is both clean and precise.

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The New 52 Batgirl is sporting more of an armored look then past incarnations, and that’s reflected nicely in the sculpt. The scalloped armor and panel lines are all present and her bat crest is sculpted rather than just painted on. I’m a big fan of the cape, particularly its triangular configuration that keeps it from dragging on the ground. In the end, though, I think it’s the coloring that really makes this such a stand out figure. The mix of high gloss black and the more subtle gold go great together, and I love the purple for the interior lining of the cape and the black matte used for the back. It’s a killer deco that makes her pop on the shelf, even next to her colorful superhero peers.

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Batgirl features solid articulation, although she is missing two points that are rather crucial to me. There are ball joints in the neck and shoulders. The arms feature hinges in the elbows and swivels in the wrists. The legs have the usual DCUC style hip joints, swivels in the thighs, and hinges in the knees and ankles. She does have a ball joint in the torso. It’s very well concealed and it doesn’t offer a lot of movement, but it is there. So what’s missing? Bicep swivels! Matty’s been a lot better at including them on the female figures, but I guess Batgirl missed out.

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I’ve got no chance of finding any of these figures hanging on the pegs, so I’ve had Batgirl on my Amazon Wish List for a while, where she languished at the price of $25. Even with my Prime free shipping, I wasn’t going to pay that much. Although, seeing as how that’s about what I pay for my Club Infinite Earth figures, I’m not sure why I was so reluctant. Anyway, just last week she dropped to $15.99 and I pulled the trigger. She’s a fantastic figure, thanks to a solid sculpt and a stellar paint job and another great addition to my New 52 shelf!

DC Comics Unlimited: “New 52” Flash by Mattel

As promised, today I’m back to check out the fourth addition to my “New 52” DCUC-style Justice League. The Flash has had a lot of love from Mattel over the past couple of years. We finally got Jay Garrick, we got Mirror Master, soon we’ll be getting Wally West, and now Barry Allen joins the ranks in his reboot costume. I only read the first couple issues of the current Flash book, but I enjoyed it quite a bit and I have the first two volumes of the collected editions on my bookshelf waiting to be read. I am, however, up to date on my Justice League reading and while I think the story took a nose dive around issues #8 to #12, I enjoy the chemistry between the characters, and I really like Flash in that book.

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The packaging here is the same as we saw yesterday with Wonder Woman, so we can just take a gander and move on. I still really dig the art on the big side panel, although in this case, I think they took it from Flash’s own book, rather than Jim Lee’s awesome Justice League art. The packages are so big that the lack of a C&C part is rather conspicuous, but I’m perfectly fine with Mattel not going down that route again with these guys. I already have the All-Stars New 52 Superman and I probably won’t bother with Hawkman.

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I was disappointed to see that Mattel incorporated the lightning effects into the figure. I didn’t like these on my DCUC White Lantern Flash, and I don’t much like them here either. On the plus side, they are all removable. On the downside, removing the one in his back leaves a big hole there. Here would have been a great opportunity for Mattel to toss in a little piece of red plastic to fill it in, but this is Mattel, and I know them better than to expect that. Ok, on to the figure.

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I really dig Flash’s current costume, and I think it looks particularly nice on this figure. He’s molded in a vibrant red plastic, and the added yellow piping just makes the costume look more dynamic and interesting. The apps for the yellow striping are applied with razor sharp precision on my figure. I remember when first reading Justice League, the back of the book had some artist design notes for the new costumes and pointed out that all the emblems should be raised whenever the characters were reproduced in 3D form. Mattel has been true to that directive on all the figures so far, and Flash is no exception. His emblem is sculpted into his chest and apart from his boots, represents the only real sculpted detail on the costume. The boots are somewhat similar in design to Superman’s and even a little bit like Batman’s. I like the added detail a lot.

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Barry’s head sculpt is excellent. Yes, he’s a little stern looking. Maybe a slightly more light hearted expression would have worked too, but what’s here is fine. The lightning style panel lines are sculpted into the hood and the lightning on the sides look great and are surprisingly not made of super flimsy rubbery warping plastic.

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Naturally, Flash features your typical DCUC style articulation, which includes, ball joints in the head and shoulders. The arms feature swivels in the biceps and wrists, and hinges in the elbows. The legs have the usual DCUC hip joints, swivels in the lower thighs, and hinges in the knees and ankles. He has a swivel in the waist and an ab-crunch hinge in the torso.

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Flash is a nice figure, stupid effect parts notwithstanding. So far, I’m fairly happy with DC Unlimited. For a while there, I was tempted to just go the DC Collectibles route and get the whole Justice League in one shot and be done with it. Sure it would have been cheaper, and I wouldn’t have to wait, but I’ve become so used to having the DCUC style articulation in my DC figures, that I’m glad I went this route. Hopefully we’ll be getting Hal, Aquaman, and Cyborg soon too, although if Mattel makes me wait long enough I can’t say I won’t go back and pick up the “We Can Be Heroes” set at some point down the road.

DC Comics Unlimited: “New 52” Wonder Woman by Mattel

Last week I hit y’all with a triple play of Marvel, and yesterday I did my usual Marvel Monday. In case you’re all Marveled out, I thought we’d see what’s going on in the other camp. Today and tomorrow I’ll be delivering a one-two punch from Mattel’s DC Comics Unlimited series, and we’re starting with Wonder Woman. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I really dig the New 52’s Wonder Woman. The art isn’t among my favorite of the current DC books, but it gets by. The story, on the other hand… conceptually, the story is just everything I wouldn’t have expected. The first year played out as a bizarre tour of the tortured relationships between Diana’s extended family, The Olympian Gods. The take on these Gods is nothing short of brilliant. Their dialogue is dry and witty, their character designs are fresh and original, and in a lot of cases, their characterization is so entertaining that they make Wonder Woman take a backseat in her own book! I can see why this sort of thing would irk Wonder Woman fans to no end, but ultimately the book is so imaginative and entertaining to me, I’m willing to forgive what sometimes feels like a bait-and-switch.

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DC Unlimited is just another one of the confused splinter lines which rose from the ashes of the now defunct DC Universe Classics. Like the Signature Collection, or the short-lived All-Stars, these figures are designed to be right at home on your DCUC shelves, while drawing primarily from characters as they appear in contemporary DC Comics media. I had a lot of fun poking fun at the “reinvention” of the DCUC line into DC All-Stars when the package and branding barely changed at all, but the packaging for DC Unlimited got a full revamp, and the result is pretty spectacular.

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The cards really stand out on the pegs, thanks to the huge panel of artwork inside the bubble. The artwork featured here comes from Jim Lee’s Justice League, rather than WW’s own book, which is a good thing, because I think that book looks far more dynamic and exciting. The back panel features a little blurb about the character and brings back the little list of stats. Overall, this packaging is just every bit as colorful and exciting as a comic book action figure deserves.

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The first thing I noticed about WW was that she seems rather smallish, so much so that the regular DCUC WW stands about a head taller. On the plus side, all the New 52 figures have been smaller than their predecessors, so Diana fits in fine with my DC All-Stars Batman and Superman. I’m not sure if Mattel did this to save plastic or just because these are supposed to be younger versions of the characters, either way it does make them stand out when displayed with DCUC figures.

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That having been said, what’s here is quite good. The skin tone on Diana’s face is a bit waxy, but the sculpt is beautiful. Again, she’s patterned after the Justice League art as opposed to Cliff Chiang’s larger eyed version from the Wonder Woman book. The hair is particularly well sculpted, although it does render her neck articulation useless.

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DCUC used to get by with a lot of painted costumes, but that’s certainly not the case here. With the exception of her arm band, every detail on Wonder Woman’s outfit is actually sculpted onto the figure. That includes not only the boots and bracers and the crest running along the top of her “swimsuit” but also all of the panel lines, the stars, and the choker. Her lasso is permanently coiled and attached to her hip, and she has an oddly placed loop on her butt to hold her sword. The sword came out of my package warped to hell. I was able to straighten it out and it looks pretty good in her hand, but it’s still a very soft and flimsy piece of plastic. The one downside of the sculpt is Mattel’s decision to plaster the copyright information in huge lettering across Diana’s back. Yes, some of it is obscured by her hair, but it’s really ugly. This kind of thing belongs on the bottoms of the feet or inside of the leg in tiny letters, not like a billboard on the figure’s back.

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Wonder Woman’s paintwork is mostly ok, but it varies a lot. The paint on her face is solid, although there is a stray mark between her eyebrows. The paint on her one-piece is practically immaculate. On the other hand, the white striping on her boots is rather sloppy. I do like the red and blue and silver they used, although I’m not a fan of the blue boots over the old red ones. But that’s an issue I have with the character design, not Mattel’s figure.

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Diana’s articulation offers most everything you would expect to find in a DCUC figure. The arms are ball jointed in the shoulders, hinged at the elbows, and have swivels in the biceps and wrists. The legs have the usual DCUC joint in the hips, which allow for lateral movement, hinges in the knees and ankles, and swivels in the biceps. There is no ab crunch hinge, instead, there’s a swivel in the upper torso. It feels like it might be a ball joint, but it really only allows for side to side movement. The neck is ball jointed, but as already mentioned, the sculpted hair renders it useless.

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Overall, I think Wonder Woman turned out ok. She’s not exceptional in any way, just competent. There are some tweaks here and there that could have made her a better figure, but she fits in fine with the growing ranks of my New 52 Justice League. I picked up mine online for around $18, which feels a little steep. I think these figures are closer to $15 if you can find them on the pegs, but there’s only one store in my area that even stocks DC Unlimited and all they have is Hawkman, and I’m not keen on his new design to pick warrant a purchase.

Ok, folks, time to pay the kitty, I’ll be back tomorrow with a look at DC Unlimited Flash!