DC Universe Signature Collection: Ice by Mattel

I’m sure many of you recall the DC Signature Collection. It was Matty’s well-intentioned effort to keep the DC Universe Classics line going by turning it into an online subscription. It lasted for two years before it withered and died due to lack of interest during the run up to its third year. Several figures were shown off for that third year and all of those were eventually produced and made available on Matty Collector to allow those of us who still kept the faith, an opportunity to complete our collections as much as they ever could be. Well, a bunch of those figures went up for sale during Matty’s Cyber Monday event and I finally relented and bought Ice to go with my Fire and complete the buxom elemental duo. And so, here we are, at a little more than a year after the line’s demise, revisiting it this one last time.

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I do kind of miss these compact little collector friendly window boxes. These are a far sight better than the bland packaging DC Collectibles is using these days. The Signature Collection character art was almost universally great and that’s certainly the case here with Ice. Man, this is some great stuff! I love the playful ice heart she’s tracing and the portrait is really good. So, good in fact that when I got the actual figure out it felt like a bait and switch. So let’s get her out of the box, jump right in and take a look at that head sculpt…

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Yeah, I don’t know what happened here. The head sculpts for this line were almost always good, but poor Ice got screwed. She’s got a broad and rather manly face looks more like a dude than the attractive Ice from the comic panels that I know and love. Just compare the figure to the box art and you can see an insurmountable artistic chasm between the two. But if the poor sculpt wasn’t bad enough, there are also some creases from the casting process on her face, which make it look like she’s been scarred up in a bad car accident. How unfortunate. The hair sculpt is a bit chunky, but overall not bad.

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The rest of the figure fares a little better with a pretty good recreation of her costume. The top, the long gloves, and the shaggy leggings are part of the body sculpt and both are done fairly well. The rest of the figure utilizes a standard DCUC style female buck with blue paint added to the white plastic for the coloring of the costume. The paint lines are fairly clean, although the pegs for the knee joints aren’t painted blue to match the costume and that’s a bummer.

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Articulation consists of standard stuff for a DCUC style female. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, sivels in the biceps and wrists, and hinges in the elbows. The legs have universal hinges in the hips, swivels in the lower thighs, and hinges in the knees and ankles. She can swivel at the waist and has an ab crunch hinge just below her chest. The neck is ball jointed.

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Ice comes with one accessory and it’s an effect parts of an ice blast that fits over her right hand. It’s just a clear, crystalline piece of plastic that works fairly well for hat it is.

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And really, that’s all I have to say about Ice. She went up for sale during Matty’s Cyber Monday festivities, but she wasn’t actually on special or anything. That means that I paid about $25 for her and that was way too much for such a mediocre figure. Everything about Ice feels like Mattel knew the writing was on the wall for this line and just wanted to push her out the door. The sculpt for the portrait started out as a fail and the poor casting process dragged it down even further by disfiguring it with creases in the plastic. I guess I’m at least content to own the figure and complete the Fire and Ice duo, but it’s sad to see the once great DC Universe Classics line be reduced to this kind of disappointment in the end. It was truly a great line of figures, one of the best, and it deserved a better send off than this.

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DC Universe Classics: Captain Marvel by Mattel

What’s this? DC Universe Classics??? Yup! I’m a little short on time today so I wanted to do something I could run through pretty quickly. My vehicle is about ready to die on me and so I’ve got to go out and engage in the horror of horrors known as car shopping. I’m not happy about it because in addition to tying up my day, it’s going to force me to spend a lot of money that could have gone to toys.  Anyway, I’ve been filling some holes in my DCUC collection latel and so it seemed like an opportune time to give the old line a little spotlight again. It’s hard to believe that we’re coming on two years since I completed Wave 20, the last wave in the line. The DC Signature Collection helped to soften the blow and put the line on life support and now even that’s gone. But the list of figures that I still need is substantial and last week I was able to check another one off as I finally added Captain Marvel to the collection.

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And there he is! I picked him up loose as part of some trades with a fellow collector, so there’s no packaged shot. That’s a shame because with all the bland and shitty packaging on the pegs these days, it’d be nice to see a little DCUC to brighten the day. I also got him without the C&C Kalibak part, but that’s OK, because I plan on picking up that figure complete on Ebay one of these days. Captain Marvel hails from the early reaches of the line, all the way back to Wave 6 and yes, if I remember correctly he was indeed packaged under the name “Shazam!” because of copyright issues. Poor guy. He’s never going to live that down, is he?

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In a line that garnered a fair share of criticism for recycling a handful of figure bucks with painted costumes, Captain Marvel actually stands out a bit thanks to his unique cape. But if you look more closely you can actually make out the sculpted flap of his tunic and where it buttons just under his right shoulder. It’s a little thing, but totally unnecessary and I think it’s cool that Mattel bothered to put it in there at all. Apart from that you get the sculpting on his segmented arm bracers and the cuffed tops of his boots. The sculpted cape is worn off his right shoulder and while the neck cord is a little chunky, I think it overall looks pretty good right down to the sculpted finials. Alas, the factory got a little sloppy with the glue on this one as there are a few gloppy parts around his neck.

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The pure cheese of the head sculpt suits the character quite well, although the squinting makes me think that I can repurpose this head if I ever want to customize a David Puddy figure from Seinfeld. You can stand Captain Marvel right next to Mary Batson and get creepy smiles beamed at you in stereo. The rest of the figure gets by mostly with red plastic and some yellow paint. The lightning bolt on his chest is nice and crisp, although there’s a little slop on the gold trim of his cape. I’ve also got a little of the red plastic bleeding through the yellow paint on the sides of his boots, but that’s no big deal to me. It’s a simple enough deco, but it’s so bright and colorful that I absolutely love it.

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Articulation consists of what we’ve been seeing in this line more or less since the beginning. The arms have ball joints in the shoulders, hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps and wrists. The legs have hinges in the hips that allow for universal movement, hinges in knees and ankles, and swivels in the thighs. There’s a swivel in the waist, an ab-crunch hinge in the torso and a ball joint in the neck. Nothing surprising, but it still works well.

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And that’s it… told ya today would be a quickie! It feels good to finally fill that gap on my shelf between Mary Batson and Freddy Freeman. This figure has been high on my want list for a long time now, and I can’t for the life of me noodle out why it took so long to pick him up. He tends to be fairly reasonably priced on the second hand market, at least when he’s loose, and even the trade that landed him in my collection didn’t require me to give up much of anything important. Either way, he brings me another step closer to a complete DCUC collection, but there are still quite a few steps on that journey left. The next time I stop back to look at DCUC, it’ll be for another figure I’ve been desparate to get… Orion!

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 Universe Signature Collection: Batzarro by Mattel

Here we go, folks, it’s the very last release in Matty’s Club Infinite Earths! Well, unless you count the four quarterly releases Matty will do this year. The Signature Collection had a pretty good run for two years and while I was still willing to sub for another year, the truth is that the waning months of the club in 2013 was starting to wear thin for me. Case in point, the last release we get is Batzarro. I’ve had this figure for a couple of weeks now and I still have mixed feelings about this guy. On the one hand, I don’t think there were many collectors out there who were asking for him and when you think of how many characters were vying for this slot, Batzarro is a ridiculous choice. On the other hand, if there was ever a viable venue for Batzarro’s release, I suppose a hardcore collector club like this one was the best way to do it.

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There’s the packaging. We may see it again, as I will be buying Ice when she’s released this year, but who knows how Matty will package her. She could come rubber banded into a plastic sandwich baggie for all we know. I don’t have anything new to say about these Signature Collection window boxes. They were well designed, nice and compact, collector friendly, and mostly had great character art. If space wasn’t such a concern for me I would have saved them all. Farewell!

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And here’s Batzarro out of the package. I have absolutely zero knowledge of this character other than what’s printed on the back of the package. Apparently he’s a clone of Batman as opposed to a legitimate Bizarro version of Batman. Does it matter? Not to me. What we have here is basically a pretty standard Batman figure in the grey and black costume with some fun tweaks. His “futility belt” is a newly sculpted piece with all the pouches upside down and opened. The bat symbol printed on his chest is also upside down. Also, I dig that the interior of the cape is grey as opposed to black. The head sculpt is new and it’s pretty damn creepy. There are no eye holes in the cowl and Batzarro sports a crazy rictus grin displaying fanged teeth. It seems pretty obvious that this was a figure planned for the Batman Unlimited line as he would look right at home on the pegs next to that ungodly Planet X Batman.

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Batzarro comes with a soft plastic batarang, which he can hold in each hand. The fact that the bio points out that he likes to use guns makes the absence of a gun accessory rather disappointing.

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If today’s feature is brief, it’s because I don’t have a hell of a lot to say about Batzarro. A lot of collectors were pissed off to find that he was going to take the last slot in the CIE sub, but I will concede that I find him to be a fun release. Yes, he represents some pretty poor character selection by the powers that be over at Matty. The truth is that the final slot could have been much better spent on any one of a hundred characters. Nonetheless, I dig Batzarro a lot more than I did R’as Al Ghul or Red Hood, even if that’s a back-handed compliment. He is by no means the worst figure I received from the sub in its final year. Maybe that fact alone means it was time for CIE to shut down. It’s hard to argue that CIE wouldn’t still be going strong with better and more exciting character selection and Batzarro’s reception is a prime example of that.

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.

DC Universe Signature Collection: Ocean Master by Mattel

The clock is running out on Matty’s Club Infinite Earth with Ocean Master being the first of the final three figures to be released in the Subscription and no new Sub going forward in 2014. These last figures are going to be a mixed bag for me, but of the three, Ocean Master here is definitely my most anticipated. The DCUC Aquaman on my shelf is getting pretty jealous of the other Justice League members and their expansive Rogue Galleries while all he has is Black Manta. Finally he can stop spending all of his time freeing dolphins from tuna nets and go fight somebody new. Besides, I’m fresh off of reading “Throne of Atlantis” and I gotta say, I really dig Ocean Master’s appearance in The New 52.

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There’s the compact little window box I’ve come to know and love over the last couple of years. Of course, this is the Classic design of the character, which I’ve always been rather fond of and he sure looks nice in the box along with the excellent character art. If DC was all I collected I’d have these boxes all lined up on one of my shelves with the lovely character art showing on the side panels. <sigh> Unfortunately, I barely have enough room to display my DC figures loose, so these boxes have all been consigned to the landfill or possibly recycled into My Little Pony packages. Let’s get him out and take a look…

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Last month we got a lot of new tooling with Huntress. This month, not so much. Ocean Master features a standard blue buck with a sculpted belt and sculpted fins on his bracers. I expected Matty to go with the fins on his calves too, but I’m glad they didn’t as it would have made him too similar to his nemesis Aquaman. Ocean Master does get a brand new head and it is a very cool sculpt. Matty went for something a little more subdued than what is depicted on the maniacal box art. He has a solemn, somewhat perturbed visage peeking out from his awesome finned mask. The new tooling is punctuated by a glorious cape with a ridiculously wide collar. I love it!

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Ocean Master gets by with minimal paint apps. His buck is cast in blue plastic, with some metallic purple paint on his belt to match his purple cape. His bracers, mask fins, and cape clasp are all painted in metallic gold. His ray emblem is stamped on his chest and he’s got flesh tones for his hands and face. The coloring is understated, but he still sports a very pleasing deco.

Articulation is what we all expect out of the DCUC style. The arms have ball joints in the shoulders, hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps and wrists. The legs have the usual DCUC style hips, hinges in the knees and ankles, and swivels in the thighs. The neck is ball jointed, there is a swivel in the waist, and he has the usual ab-crunch hinge in the torso.

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Ocean Master comes with his aquatic staff. It’s a pretty simple sculpt finished with a gold metallic paint.

And so, Ocean Master is a solid figure and a welcome addition to my shelf. I’m always eager to expand my Rogue Galleries, particularly someone like Aquaman who is seriously lacking in foes. With only so many figure slots left in the line, it’s easy to start picking apart the character selection, but I think Ocean Master was a great choice. In fact, I’m rather surprised that in 20 waves of DC Universe Classics, he hasn’t made the cut a lot sooner.

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Alas, I’m not terribly keen on the looks of R’as, so hopefully he’ll look better in hand, and I’ll confess to being morbidly curious about Batzarro. It’s worth pointing out that Mattel revealed at NY Comic Con that they will be producing the four figures that were shown off for Club Infinite Earth in 2014. These will include 90’s Aquaman, Ice (YES!!!), Black T-Shirt Superboy, and hell if I can remember who the other one was. If I can’t remember, I certainly wasn’t going to buy it. They are set to be sold quarterly on Matty Collector for $25 each. Had the price held firm at the already steep subscription prices, I would have likely bought the three I can remember. At $25 plus Matty shipping rates, only Ice is a sure thing, and possibly Aquaman. Containment Suit Doomsday will also be released as a Con Exclusive, but I’ve got no interest in that figure at all.

DC Universe Classics: Swamp Thing by Mattel

Yes, with Club Infinite Earths dead, I’m looking backwards and working on slowly completing my DCUC collection with maybe two figures a month. Swamp Thing was a special stand-alone release drummed up as a San Diego Comic Con exclusive for 2012 and later offered on the Matty Collector website. I really wanted to pick him up at the time, but funds are usually tight around SDCC time and I had to make some tough choices, one of which included taking a pass on him. Luckily, a couple of months ago BBTS got hold of some of Matty’s unsold stock (hey, not all of it went to Big Lots!) and cleared them out at half price. A winner is me!

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The fact that this guy was a special exclusive release is evident by the conspicuously awesome packaging. It doesn’t actually say SDCC Exclusive anywhere, but just take one look at this presentation and you’ll know that this was a special release. I believe the only difference between this and the one sold at the Con was the inclusion of some Un-Men figures in the Con version.  The huge outer box is printed with a swamp motif and the DC Universe logo. The front of the box has gaps cut between the vegetation, so you can see Swamp Thing peering out at you from within as if to warn you not to bring your evil here. There’s also a color pamphlet made to look like Alec Holland’s diary.

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Inside you get a giant Swamp Thing head that’s made of some kind of crappy bio-degradable material. It feels like old newspapers and you can actually wear the front as a mask if you’re insane, or just tight on cash this Halloween. It also attracts cat hair like nobody’s business! Ok… so, Matty, my hobby includes amassing a collection of as much plastic as I possibly can before I die, and you’re business involves producing as much plastic as you possibly can sell. Is this one bio-degradable package going to help negate any of that? I get it, Swamp Thing is all about protecting the environment, I’m just busting balls a little.

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Anyway, open up the head, which is hinged on the bottom,  and we finally get to the goods! The inside tray, made out of the same material, holds the Swamp Thing figure and a display stand.

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Out of the package and Swamp Thing looks spectacular! We’ll get to the rubber skin in a minute, because the first thing that struck me about Swamp Thing when I get him out is how freaking huge he is. DCUC has never been a stickler for proper scale, but I guess since this guy was a special release they were able to go apeshit with his size. And boy did they! He’s a full third taller than your average DCUC figure.

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And yes, the figure is covered with a rubbery vegetation skin that feels just a little creepy and looks amazing. When I first saw this figure in hand, I realized there was no other way that they could have done him such justice. For starters, the portrait is just absolutely stunning for a figure in this scale. They captured his noble bad-assery without any compromise, right down to his grim mouth, piercing eyes, and heavy brow. As far as head sculpts go, this is just fabulous stuff!

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Of course, the detail over all of the skin is just as impressive. Besides a rough mossy texture, you get some really cool painted and sculpted bits, there are vines snaking all around his body like exposed veins, flowers sprouting on his chest, fungus growing here and there, and what appear to be some kind of turnips growing on the back of his shoulders. This guy is a veritable walking salad bar.

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Swamp Thing features only four exposed joints. His head is on a regular ball joint, his shoulders are on rotating hinges, and his hips are ball jointed and will pop off, rather than break, if you stress them too far. The rest of the joints lie hidden under the rubbery skin and include hinged knees and ankles and, surprisingly enough, the ab crunch hinge. The biggest compromise comes in the absence of any swivels. He’s not the most poseable figure out there, but you can still do plenty with him and I think the trade-off for the skin was a good one.

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Also included in the package is a very nice environment figure stand. It’s a swampy patch of land with a couple of trees and the remnants of a skeleton partially concealed. There’s one peg that fits into the peg hole on Swampy’s right foot and holds him there quite well. The sculpt and paintwork on this piece goes way beyond anything I’m used to seeing out of Mattel on any level. Yes, that’s a left-handed compliment, but I meant it with all due respects.

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I was extremely happy to get a second crack at this figure from a retailer (I’ve been kind of burned out on hunting figures on Ebay lately) and the fact that it was half price was just the icing on the cake. Had my budget not been bursting last Summer, I would have been happy to have paid $30 for him because he really is that fantastic and he’s definitely going to be a highlight of my DCUC shelves. I’d dare say that even if you aren’t a DCUC collector but still a fan of this character, this is a fine stand-alone piece for your shelf. Mattel did a beautiful job on this guy, and I’m only hoping that the rubber skin stands the test of time.

Batman (Classic TV Series): The Riddler by Mattel

Here we go… it’s the last figure from Mattel’s first wave of 1966 Batman figures. I saved The Riddler for last because he’s probably my least favorite of all the villains from that TV series. I don’t hate him, but for whatever reason, I just didn’t dig him as much as Joker and Penguin, or even King Tut and Egghead. I think I just found his riddles too damn annoying. Anyway, Mattel’s figure is based off Frank Gorshin in the role, so let’s take a look at how he turned out…

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We’ve seen this packaging on no less than four occasions already, so there’s no point in gassing on about any more. Robin’s dopey quote is new and the back of the card has a little blurb about the character and some artwork that is specific to this figure. Suffice it to say that I really like the presentation that Mattel went with here. It’s fun and it captures the wacky spirit of the show.

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The Riddler is certainly the simplest figure in this wave. You get a lean buck cast in green plastic with purple paint for the gloves and belt. Oh yeah, there’s also a bunch of question marks stamped on him. That’s not a complaint against the figure, rather just a commentary on the costume we’re dealing with here. Mattel did a good enough job for what they had to work with.

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I’ve seen a lot of complaints about the likeness here, but I’m not really sure why. For a mass market, $15 figure, I think the portrait is perfectly fine, albeit a little soft. Sure, we’ve seen better in even smaller scales, but it’s certainly not terrible. The eyes could have been set a little deeper behind the mask, and maybe Mattel could have gone with a more jovial and less angry expression, but I’m still pretty happy with what we got.

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Riddler features all the standard DCUC style of articulation. The arms have ball jointed shoulders, hinged elbows, and swivels in the biceps and wrists. The legs have the usual DCUC joints, swivels in the thighs, and hinges in the knees and ankles. He can swivel at the waist, he has an ab crunch in the torso and a ball jointed neck. Oddly enough, the ball joint in the neck doesn’t allow for much more than just side to side movement.

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Naturally, Riddler also comes with the collector card and stand. Riddler’s stand says “Ka-Pow!!!” I’m still digging the artwork on these collector cards a lot and the fact that they double as a backdrop for the stand is cool. They are also each one frame of a complete panoramic view of the Batmobile in the Batcave…

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Yep, it’s a great idea, but you really can’t see the backdrops with the figures on the stand, so it probably could have been executed better.

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And that wraps up the first wave of Mattel’s 1966 Batman figures. I really enjoy these figures, probably enough so that I will pick up the Batman & Robin two-pack just to get Robin. I’m also still waiting for the Catwoman figure, which I have on pre-order. Word is that Mattel has signed a merchandising deal with Yvonne Craig, so I’m really hoping that a Batgirl figure might be coming down the pike as well. I would certainly buy a second wave of these, especially if they rounded out the Rogue’s Gallery of the series.