Thursday, 8 May 2014

DC Universe Action League -- Batman and Deathstroke

Company: Mattel
Year: 2011
Price: See below

The Marvel Superhero Squad style figurines have definitely been influential. They spawned an imitation line of Star Wars figures, and now Mattel and DC have gotten in on the act. I found these bad boys in a Reject Shop near my work. I suspect I missed their initial shipment, as there were only a tiny handful left – unfortunately, the Superman and Wonder Woman 2-pack was missing, if it had ever been there at all. Perhaps even more disapppointingly, no Superman and Bizarro 2-pack! Never mind; but eBay may turn up a bargain yet.

I don’t often comment on packaging anymore, as I am a chucker. But I thought I’d mention these ones, as they are clearly done in homage to the DC Classics Universe – a series I always wanted to buy from, but could never find the characters I wanted. The colouring and blister style is very similar, and the box is also decorated with lots of illustrations of various DC characters – but this time in the Action League style. It’s a nice example of brand consistency.  

The style for these guys is like a shrunken version of the Batman: The Brave and the Bold cartoon, super-cartoony with large exaggerated hands. It’s a cool, dynamic look which gives the figures a lot of personality even before you start moving their arms around to get them into different poses.

Both figures in the set are built around the same basic body shape, but they each have their own individual touches. I’ll talk about each of them individually below.
The first time I saw Deathstroke was in a reprint of a 1980s Teen Titans comic, from the George Perez run on the series – I think it was the Judas Contract storyline where the original Terra revealed herself as a traitor. I wasn’t immediately impressed with the character. But over the years, I’ve grown to appreciate him a bit more – and he was one of the better parts of last year’s Arkham Origins.
This Deathstroke is modelled after his “classic” appearance – blue chainmail and flared orange boots. In one hand he wields a massive sword, with the other bunched into a fist. He's also got his staff stuck to his back, which is a nice touch.
Batman’s suit is very much like his outfit in the 1989 Tim Burton film, which I still think is one of the best versions of the Batsuit that’s been done. All black, large yellow oval Bat-logo on his chest. He’s got a very lantern-jawed look, serious and determined. He’ s a great little figure and I would have picked this set up on his merits alone. In his left hand he wields a metallic grey Batarang, while his right is bunched into a fist. Batman’s cape is also made out of the same hard plastic as the rest of the figure, moulded into a dynamic pose.
The articulation is pretty basic on these, as might be expected – cut necks, cut shoulders* and a cut waist. It’s more or less what I expected, and does the job just fine.

*Batman has swivel-hinged shoulders, whereas Deathstroke simply has cut ones. 

Some slop would definitely be forgiven as the figures are obviously quite small. However, the paint is mostly quite crisp and clean, with very few issues. It’s a little thick around Batman’s mouth area, obscuring the (admittedly limited) detail.

Some of the more recent sets of these guys apparently include accessories such as stands, but these early ones don’t – unless you count the weapons moulded to their hands.

As mentioned above, I picked these guys up in a local Reject Shop. The 2-pack was $5, but I don’t know how close this was to their original price or how widely they’ve been distributed (sending friends from the Central Coast looking has proven fruitless). For my overseas readers, The Reject Shop is kind of like a factory seconds shop or dollar store – a lot of discontinued or off-season toys find their way there.

The Action League line seems to have finished in 2012 or maybe 2013, but still seems to be readily available online, though (naturally) at a premium. Maybe one of my American readers could shed a little more light on this in the comments section?

I’ve heard other reviewers talk about “hand candy” – toys that are just a whole lot of fun to play with. The DC Action League definitely falls into this category. Though they’re quite derivative of the Superhero Squad toys, these are cool, fun and stylish little toys. Given the opportunity, I’d quite happily assemble my own little Justice League out of these guys, with a few key villains. I don’t see myself getting obsessively completist about the Action League, but if I come across any more anytime soon, I’ll probably grab them – the day after I bought these, I picked up a Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) and White Lantern Sinestro set.

1 comment:

  1. Some of us are on the case, searching out the wanted items -- Seymour Knutts.