Saturday, May 17, 2008

Like a Page of Perez: New Teen Titans Series 2

Life throws up challenges all the time: your car gets stolen, your neighbour's dog eats your favourite bed of pansies, a cyclone wipes out your house, or maybe your wife asks you to skip your Friday afternoon trip to the comic shop because she's sick and the kids are being more than a handful, and it happens to be the week that the New Teen Titans Series II figures are coming out.

What do you do? Well, you do what any loving and responsible toy collecting husband would do, and race your ass past the comic shop as quickly as you can and hide the toys in your briefcase so you don't upset your beloved when she's not feeling well. Duh.

Anyhoo, risking, life, limb and an extended lack of nookie was totally worth it. This is a great set of figures. especially if you use your retcon powers to pretend that the maskless Deathstroke isn't a part of the wave. I'll get to him in a moment - happy stuff first.

The great: I'm not the most obsessive when it comes to scale, but even I would have been throwing my toys around the room if my Terra towered over my Starfire, a likely possibility considering DCD's track record. Considering this. they have to be given props for nailing the scale here - these figures are a perfect fit with the original series.
I'm also in love with the packaging. Great use of the original Perez art, the logo from the comics, and the little vignettes at the bottom are excellent. I display my figures loose, but have to admit I ended up going back and buying an extra Terra so I could keep one MIB and enjoy the packaging.

....and that's all I can put here. Everything else is either just that little bit or more than a little bit flawed.....

The could have been great: I'm not one for looking gift horses in the mouth, even if I've waited almost a decade for them, Terra and Jericho are already treasured items in my collection, and while some arm articulation for Terra and an interchangeable head with non-possessed eyes for Jericho would have made them 10/10s for me, I'm gonna deal with it. The extra head is a bigger deal for me, and in fact I was pretty sure that I had seen solicits of Jericho with such a paint job. The ad for the wave in this month's Toyfare confirmed my memory - a shame they didn't stick with it.

Props for the inclusion of Terra's rock - a good link to the props / stands that came with the original series Starfire and Raven, and definitely something DCD should be doing more often.

The far from great: What's this with the blue? Last week it was Harley Quinn's face, this week it's Dick Grayson's hair. Holy blue streaks, Batman! Actually the streaking is a theme - if you look closely at Terra and Jericho's coiffures, they're splotchy as well, just not as noticeable because they're blondies. There have been alot of Henny Pennies bemoaning Dick's blue locks. For me, it's just DCD reminding us they're DCD. Gotta love 'em.
Oh and there's that Deathstroke I'm retconning out of the wave. Meh. I'll hang for the DCUC version thanks.
The rage: I got a genuine set of chills when I put the gang together and had the complete team, in-scale team, and then it hit me: the chills aren't just because its my beloved Teen Titans in-scale, it's because this is pretty much a first, which is pretty crappy for all these years of DCD collecting. Pretty much every other team has gaping holes in the roster or has been cobbled together from different series with a clash of styles and scales. Is it any wonder that so many people are over the moon about the promise of an in-scale DCU from DCUC? I think not.

That makes me sound ungrateful, and I'm not. Whatever moved DCD to give us this much awaited and much needed wave of three pretty great figures, I'm thankful, really.

Oh, and while I'm being nice, DCD, give us a better Kid Flash and Wonder Girl. Starfire and Cyborg could use an update as well if you're feeling generous.
Just, no more streaky hair, okay?

Monday, May 12, 2008

DCUC 2: The Thrills, the Chills and the Freaky-Fugly........

"Trials and travails" has never been more appropriate than when it comes to tracking down DCUC in Australia. While Australian collectors site Ozfigurama reports a couple of random sightings of DCUC 1, there's been nothing happening in my neck of the woods. While there has been a promise that Aussie store Casefresh is going to stock DCUC in the future, I've had to resort to online purchase from the US, which is fraught which challenges in the shipping department. Some sites were asking more to ship to Australia than for the case - I think not! I have to give a shout out to Cornerstore Comics for their consistently reasonable overseas shipping charges - thanks!

With all this behind me I picked up my case of DCUC 2 from the post office with a great sense of relief. First off, I was pleased to get the figures I wanted: classic Aquaman and Firestorm plus one each of Blue and Red Superman. I'll find a MA Firestorm eventually, but I don't get the "Modern Age" Aquaman at all - what Aquaman does he look like exactly? Pass.

Now to the toys:

The best: Aquaman is not only the best figure in this wave, I'd go so far as to say he's the best Aquaman figure ever, and that's in spite of the chest joint which is something I just don't get in these figures. The headsculpt is one of the best versions of Arthur we've seen.

Apart from the scale issues, I've always been a fan of the DCD JLA Firestorm from a few years back. The DCUC Ronnie is a good in-scale alternative, but doesn't capture his face as distinctively as the DCD version did.. I like the nuclear wrist thingies though!

Grodd also goes in the "best" category for me - this is the Grodd I've been waiting for! I thought I'd want to take the weird electrodes off, but I actually don't mind them - they're kind of cool, so I left them on. Mattel also get extra props for limiting the C & C to five pieces and not forcing you to buy the variants to collect the entire figure.

The almost best: Black Manta is excellent - I like the shape of his head and his groovy gun. The Justice Manta has a hand up on this one because of the removable helmet, and personally I like the "wet" look as opposed to the matte look used here. I like the inclusion of a trident for Manta - nice touch.
Blue & Red Superman are fun, and the different headsculpts are appreciated. Even though they were minor players, they help to flesh out my Morrison JLA, so they're winners with me. The only gripe is not being able to take the red/blue flame / electricity thingies off of their backs - that's a bit weird.

The bad: crickets, nothing to see here, skip straight to:

The Freakish. Sorry, but this Harley Quinn goes straight in the "storage / sell / feed to dog" pile for me. It's not just about the blue face, but what's with the blue face??? Harley's a Smurf now is she? Ewww. Beyond that, her joints are loose and her hands won't hold either accessory properly (won't hold the mallet at all and the gun only loosely). Overall in this line Mattel is doing a great job of creating toys that look and feel expensive. Harley looks and feels like a dimestore bauble. Yuck and double yuck.

Overall QC: Paint apps overall are good,with a bit of sloppiness on Harley's wrist being the only noticeable blotch. Apart from Harley's trick hips (hey, maybe that's not so bad after all.....), Red Superman's joints are also strangely loose to the point where standing is precarious. On the flipside, I'm glad I had a backup left Grodd arm from the second Superman, because the left arm from Blue Superman was totally locked at the joint. At first I was too afraid of breaking it to push hard, but when I realised I had a second, working arm, I still couldn't budge it.

The Wrap-up: While I've been tough on DCUC for some aspects of upcoming waves, this is a winner for me. With Aquaman being my all time favourite character it couldn't help but please, but he's well supported by the rest of the wave - if you pretend like I am going to that Harley doesn't exist. (Hey, if the writers can retcon, why can't we??) The accessories are great (again ignoring Harley's which she can't hold..) and the overall QC is excellent.

Thanks DCUC and thanks for reading! As always your comments are most welcome!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Oh My Gods!

It's been awhile since I bought a whole DCD wave, but New Gods Series one was a no-brainer preorder for me based on the solid Kirbyesque style captured in the designs. It didn't hurt that due to a shipping delay these ended up coming in on Free Comic Book Day and I got 20% off them as part of a storewide sale!
Not much to be disappointed about with this wave, in fact I would have to say it's the best since the New Frontier.

I'll try to be sequential: Packaging: very colourful, very Kirby. A larger carded blister this time as opposed to the smaller carded recent JLA figs or the boxes for Trinity or Justice etc. It did make me wonder if the lack of consistency in packaging is an annoyance for MIB collectors in terms of storage. Doesn't bother me because I unpack mine, but I wonder if it makes packing them away a pain? Just a thought.

Sculpts: this is a time when we want a wave to be artist specific, and there's no disappointment here. The lines, the shapes of the faces, it's all Kirby and all good. Even the bases have Kirby dots on them. Pretty cool!

Paint apps: nearly spotless. Mr Miracle has perhaps a tiny bleed between the red and yellow section of his uniform, other than that it's great. Excellent bright colouring, they really look like they've off the pages of the New Gods.

Scale: Well.... if you're obsessive about it you'll be annoyed. They're a bit taller than say the recent JLA figures - I've put in a shot with the JLA Superman for comparison. If you're like me and planning to have a separate New Gods display then you won't worry.

Accessories: Each character has his own Mother Box, but as the hands have no grip the only hope is to position their hands with palm facing upwards to rest them in it. This works for everyone except Mr Miracle - when I tried to twist his hand at the glove it was very tight and felt like it might pop off if I twisted harder. Fairly shortly it made no difference as I had already managed to lose one of the Mother Boxes. Grrr.

Orion has his angry head, and Darkseid has his evil glove, the name of the device is escaping me at the moment and I can't be buggered to look it up. They both interchange easily with the standard parts.

I have read alot of complaints about the lack of Orion's harness, but I actually don't mind having a more BVP Orion to go in this display. The harness does tend to hunch the figure over and in the case of the DCUC Orion he looks terribly constipated.

For me these are the best impressions of any of the characters ever done. There are some great Darkseids out there but this tops them by far. I've given you some comparison shots to help you make up your own mind.

All in all three thumbs up from me (there's a bit of hillbilly in my bloodline) for this excellent series. I am looking forward to Series Two: unlike alot of folks I understand why Superman is in there, but I do hope they fix his fugly headsculpt, and I am puzzled by the version of Kalibak we're getting which isn't what I want.

There are still so many great characters that could be made in this series, so I hope it continues - at least until we get Granny Goodness!!
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