Friday, 3 October 2014

DC Universe Classics Wonder Woman

LINE: DC Universe Classics
YEAR: 2008


Earlier this year, Mattel announced that it was re-releasing several of its DC figures in Super Powers- themed colours and packaging – a tribute to Kenner’s seminal 1980s toyline. Though I didn’t have the Super Powers line as a kid, the announcement pushed my nostalgia button firmly – especially with the Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez-inspired artwork! If it looks familiar, that’s not surprising – DC is currently using his work on quite a lot of merchandise. 

I wasn’t interested in the Riddler, Gold Superman, Mr Mxyzptlk or the Collect-and-Connect Kalibak, but the core trio of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman rapidly became must-have items. It’s not hard to find figures of these core three, but it’s hard to find three that look cohesive together – well, ones that aren’t based on the New 52, anyway. But as the release date started to grow closer approach I began to wonder whether I could justify the not inconsiderable price tag.
“Hmm…the packaging does look nice, but it’s going in the bin anyway…this kind of blue Batman isn’t really my favourite style of Batman…Wonder Woman isn’t going to include her axe and shield…”

Deliberations such as these went on for a few weeks, but I eventually decided I’d be better off looking up earlier releases of these figures, and comparing costs. If older versions were cheaper, I’d go with them instead.
Wonder Woman was the first of DC big three that I managed to track down. This wasn’t surprising in one way; though she’s well recognised and quite popular in her own right, but she’s never quite managed to reach Superman or Batman levels of fame, so it’s not so surprising that there might be stock still lying around. And of course, we all know that “female action figures don’t sell"... I can appreciate that boys don't want to play with this, but as I've mentioned elsewhere, I would argue that this isn't the same thing.  

But before we go on, I should probably disclose that I’m not certain whether this figure is a legitimate Mattel release or a bootleg. I ordered her off eBay as a new figure, as part of my search for figures of DCUC’s “Big Three” and came across a seller who seemed to have a bunch still in stock – not the very original one from 2008, but the 2009 “World’s Greatest Superhero” re-release. When it arrived a couple of weeks later, the printing on the backer card and printed inserts seemed a little…cheap…but I’m not sure whether that was a regional thing or a case of fraud. Suffice to say, I plan to be a little more cautious in my dealings in future. 

If she is a fake, she seems to have been pretty well done. Comparing her with other reviews online, it seems about right bar one or two things with the paint, which I’ll touch on later – though even these could be explained by the fact that it is meant to be a later release.  

If I was to point out an artist for comparison, it would be George Per├ęz or Brian Bolland, though I don’t think either of them is entirely correct. However, it matches well with Superman, and the overall look that the Four Horsemen created for the line. Her face is sculpted in a neutral expression, which kind of makes her look like an older Jennifer Lawrence, though given this was sculpted before her rise to fame it seems unlikely she was the model. There’s probably a bit of Lynda Carter in there too, which has been standard in pretty much any depiction of the character since 1975. Like Superman, her face is quite flat, so it looks good from certain angles, but slightly odd from others.  
The broad details of the costume could have come anywhere from between the 1970s to around 2011. The trunks are high-cut in a modern style (this is actually a good sculptural decision, by the way. If they’d tried to stick more closely to an older look, the results would have been mixed it at best), but otherwise it’s just a good iconic representation of the character, pre New-52.   

The shoulders are a little too narrow, making her thighs look a little too large in proportion with the rest of her. I don’t like John Byrne’s take on her a great deal, but this is an occasion where the broader-shouldered look might have been a good idea.  
She’s a lot skinnier than her male counterparts, which is to be expected, but this seems to have contributed to one of her legs (the left) being a little warped in the package. Fortunately it seems to have mostly straightened itself out since, though it may still need a bit of a going over with the hairdryer.

Articulation is as follows:
*ball-jointed neck

*swivel-hinged shoulders
*swivel-hinged biceps

*hinged elbows
*cut wrists

*ab crunch
*cut waist

*swivel-hinged hips

*cut thighs
*hinged knees

*hinged ankles
Pretty standard for the line, really, and I believe it was the best-articulated figure she'd had at the time. The neck is quite restricted due to her long hair, and her waist is too, due to her girdle. Her swivel biceps are also quite small and thin, so it’s quite tricky to get them to move. Be gentle; you don’t want them to break. But for the most part her articulation works wel, bar a stuck right knee -- but some freezer time should fix that.

Wonder Woman comes with two accessories – a shield and an axe. The axe resembles an eagle flaring its wings, and not coincidentally, a “W”. The axe is particularly cool, but has been cast in really soft plastic and as a result it’s a little warped. I don't remember her having these weapons specifically in the comics, but they fit well with her Amazon Warrior status.

She also comes with a transparent blue stand, to help her stay standing up. It’s emblazoned with the DC Universe logo.

This is an area that could have used some work – the swivel discs in her shoulders are cast in a greyish plastic, which has then been painted over with a skin-coloured paint – this was already torn in the box. It would have been preferable not to paint it at all, though it’s easily scraped off.

There’s some slop around the place – her tiara’s star is a little off, as are her earrings, and there’s some red slop on her chest. The “W” golden logo on her chestpiece also hasn’t been painted to the edges. The blue overspray on the hair worked well on Superman, but here it just looks poorly done.
On the upside, her facial details and the stars on her trunks have been cleanly tampoed. But it's very average paintwork on the whole, which is part of what makes me think it may have been bootlegged.   

This figure isn’t terribly hard to track down, but she is going at a bit of a premium, being a number of years old now. There are two versions of her: the original, which included part of a “Collect and Connect” figure (Despero), and the “World’s Greatest Superhero” reissue covered here today, which is exactly the same figure but doesn’t have the Collect and Connect piece.   

I’m a big Wonder Woman fan, but I was left with mixed feelings after opening the packaging. As one of the flagship characters in the DC Universe and the second female released in the series (after Harley Quinn), she really should have been standard-setting. Instead, she’s simply adequate, but not spectacular. I’m glad I was able to get her, but also glad I didn’t pay the premium for the Super Powers version.

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