Saturday, June 21, 2008

Showcase: Towering over the rest

Scalists beware: Showcase Presents Series One is not the wave for you. Stay away, and I mean you need to give this a really wide berth, unless you want to run into Batgirl's hips. Trust me, if you do, you won't win.

Now AFB is not a scalist, but totally understands why his scalist friends would and are going bananas (like, brown and squishy bananas) about these figures. The best way for someone who wants an in-scale DC Universe to enjoy these is either to pretend they don't exist or to keep them MIB in their lovely packaging. Opening them up will only end in tears.

From all I'd read and seen before I got my own set I was all ready to do some serious hating on these mammoth monstrosities, but once I'd opened them and had a look I had a bit of an epiphany as to the state of the world which I'll get to in a moment. With that in mind I'm willing to give the wave a review on its own merits.

The packaging of these is a definitely a highlight, so much so that I really hesitated about opening them. I decided that I'll probably pick up a second version of my favourite (tell you in a moment) to have an example of the packaging for posterity. The card enclosed is very nice and folds out to promote recent DCD waves which is a nice touch. The back of the card is different for each figure which is also a bit special.

Overall quality control on the figures I bought are excellent. I have read a number of complaints about sloppy paint apps on these but mine are pretty much perfect and the other figures I've seen are the same. The figures are well articulated and apart from Batgirl are well accessorised.

Superman is great if you look at him as a Silver Age Superman, not so great if you were hanging on this to be your Curt Swan Supes. His body proportions are just a bit off and the headsculpt isn't really Swan. I like the extra heads and hands. My eldest daughter, who has previously expressed great interest in the properties and effects of Kryptonite, is over the moon about this figure. I would have liked a lion's mane that extended past the flesh colour on Supes' neck to complete the effect. If I forget that this is meant to be a Curt Swan Supes then I quite like this figure.

Jonah Hex is nothing short of awesome. I love the headsculpt and facial scar, the pattern of the colour on his jacket which well simulates denim and his two guns, one of which fits snugly in his holster. One improvement would have been a hat which fits a little more snugly on his head as it sits a bit "on top" of his head as opposed to "on" it. But that's pretty picky - this is a figure to love for sure.

From the solicits, I expected to like Hawkman the least because of his headsculpt which I wasn't really familiar with, but this has turned out to be my pick of the wave. I've read that others struggled to find a Hawkman with a well painted Hawk symbol but thankfully mine is neat and tidy. His wings fit in easily and he's well proportioned. I hadn't realised that his mask fits over a headsculpt. My big disappointment with the Justice Hawkman was that the Carter head underneath was a pinhead in order to fit the helmet - this one is a big improvement on that. The only thing about displaying him without his helmet is that the way his head is structured to fit the helmet means that without it his face is very downcast.

On her own, Batgirl really is quite an outstanding figure and I quite prefer her to the insipid SA version from the original boxsets. I do think she could have come with some accessories like Batarangs etc especially since the other figures in the wave are well set out in this area. She's the only figure I'll go into detail about scale about: she really is disproportionate to alot of figures you'd want to display her with. She sortof fits in with Justice but is out of place era wise. Obviously DCD wasn't aiming to make these figures in scale with others, but even so Batgirl seems like a production mistake, which is a shame because the sculpt is absolutely excellent.

Batgirl in fact isn't even really in scale with Superman, but it was looking at these two together that something dawned on me: these figures come from a time in comics when stories stood on their own, and characters weren't "in scale" with each other, let alone a "universe", since the concept didn't exist. A time when fans would have been tickled pink to have these amazing representations of their favourite characters and taken them for what they are: great toys.

Before Brewer and co grab this article and make me their poster boy, I'm not defending them. Someone accused me today of being a DCD apologist. O-kay. Look, this little blogger knows that Brewer doesn't understand his client base and that this wave is the latest in a long line of either extremely incompetent or extremely arrogant moves. No question. Is it wrong to want an in-scale DCU? Of course not. Could DCD have delivered that? Yes, and those who set out collecting thinking that would be the case have a right to be jaded and cynical.

I'm not talking about DCD, I'm talking about us. Maybe, just maybe, we contributed to this mess in the first place by wanting everything to connect, by wanting "universes", by wanting everything "in scale". What's the cost? In my book, we've sacrificed good stories, sound writing and characterisation for continuity, crossovers and meaningless event after event. The idea is so appealing. I read CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS as a teenager and it felt like a new age was dawning, so exciting, but where are we now? Has it been worth it? The best comics I've read recently, DC, Marvel or other, don't connect to anything, they stand as outstanding stories on their own. Good times.

These figures could have integrated into existing lines if the scale had been nailed, but it wasn't. Let that stop you from buying them if you want, that's cool. Mine are going in their own spot to remind me that end of the day we all take this stuff a bit too seriously at times.

And now? Back to the LCS to get another Hawkman to keep an example of the packaging, and another Superman for the eldest daughter's Christmas bag.


Anonymous said...

Great review!
Looks more Wayne Boring Supes than Swan to me. Closest to Swan was the First Appearances Superman.

Rob'em Steve-Dave said...

I got the Batgirl figure when it came out. I kinda think she looks a little on "modern Britney Spears" side -- not quite fat, but more plump than skinny. It's a good figure though.

Anonymous said...

I like the Superman figure. And it does look like early Curt Swan's Supes (same head, same "s" chest symbol, same barrel-chested body). Considering that Curt Swan drew Superman from the 1950s to 1970s, there were bound to be some differences from his earlier and later works. Take note, it also looks very much like the "New Adventures of Superman" animated series Superman, which was largely based on Curt Swan's art. Overall, this is THE silver age superman to get. The Silver Age boxset superman (which I have also), nice as it is, look kinda gay. Showcase Superman looks like a man of steel you do not want to mess with. Go forth and buy 4 figures, so you can display them in regular, lion, ant, and mongoloid version. hehe.

Anonymous said...

Oops! I meant from 60s to 80s. Swan's work from the 60s certainly looks like the dcd showcase figure. Check out also this

from youtube. Check out Superman's head, body, "s" symbol, and cleft chin. All are faithfully represented in the DC Direct Showcase ser 1 Superman figure.

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