Monday, 29 September 2014

DC Universe Action League – Superman, Wonder Woman and Bizarro

Company: Mattel

Year: 2011
Price: See below

A short time ago, I purchased some of the DC Universe Action League figurines from my local Reject Shop. Of course, I wanted to collect more of them, but I didn’t have much luck tracking down any more of them near my home or workplace, so I sent family and friends scavenging around to see if they could find any.

Ultimately it was my dad who found some – four packs different packs, in fact, covering an interesting range of characters. Most of them should end up on here at some point. This is actually a review of two different 2-packs – Superman vs Bizarro and Superman & Wonder Woman. However, the Superman in both packs is absolutely identical, so I’ve amalgamated the two reviews together. 

The style for these guys is like a shrunken, super-deformed 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.

Superman is in a nice classic flying pose. You can twiddle his arms around to do a few different flying looks, but because of the positioning of his legs and cape, he’s always going to look like he’s flying. This is not really a problem, but I think it’s a bit of a shame that we didn’t get two different Supermen in the two packs. Batman has been replicated multiple times, but at least he gets a new paint job. It’s a missed opportunity to give us something like mullet Superman, Red/Blue Superman or even just a different pose for “Classic” Superman. 
Superman has four points of articulation – his shoulders, his neck and his wait. His neck is a very tight joint though, so I didn’t try and wriggle it round too much.  

Though it would have been easy for Mattel to simply reuse Superman’s sculpt, give it a new head and call it Bizarro, they took a different option. Bizarro is a completely separate sculpt, seemingly a bit larger than his original counterpart. His costume is purple, complete with reversed chest shield. He’s a very cool figure, and has become one of my favourites in the line, even though I tend to be pretty blasé about his appearances in the comics.
Bizarro has four points of articulation – his shoulders, his neck and his waist.  

Wonder Woman is a completely separate sculpt. The only other female in this range that I know of is Metamorpha, aka the Element Woman -- no Black Canary, Zatanna, Supergirl or Power Girl, apparently. The two don’t look they’ve been retooled from one another, which is good to see. Wonder Woman is posed in a classic sort of action stance, as though she's about to deflect bullets from her bracelets.  
Wonder Woman has three points of articulation – her neck, and her two arms. However, the dynamic pose of the hair means that her neck is quite restricted in its movement.

Superman includes a transparent flight stand, so that he doesn’t fall over. Bizarro has a large piece of green rock which I assume is Kryptonite. Wonder Woman doesn’t come with anything, though her signature lasso is moulded to her waist.

There’s a little bit of slop on these guys – Bizarro’s teeth being one of the areas I noticed it most – but nothing unforgiveable. The shields on Superman and Bizarro’s chests are also clean tampos.  Disappointingly, neither of them has the shield tampoed onto their capes  though.

Curiously, these unmasked characters have eye sockets sculpted, but no white painted in there. The effect is probably most noticeable on Wonder Woman, who also has eyelashes for a more feminine appearance. This wasn’t noticeable on masked characters, and while it’s not a major drama, I don’t know if it was the right design choice. Maybe a project for me to experiment with sometime. We’ll see.

After finding a couple of these guys in a local Reject Shop, the next batch I found was on the Central Coast, courtesy of my dad. 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 2-packs are $5, but I don’t know how close this was to their original price or how widely they’ve been distributed – a lot of places seem to have sold out quite rapidly. I don’t think you’d have an easy time tracking them down now. eBay is always an option, of course, if not necessarily a cheap one.  
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?

These were bought several months ago, so I don’t rate your chances of getting them too highly these days.

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 obviously quite derivative of the Superhero Squad toys, these are cool, fun and stylish little toys. I’ve now got a miniature Justice League going, as well as a few villains. The Flash would be nice, as would Martian Manhunter, but if I don’t find any more of these guys I’d still be quite happy with my collection.

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