Thursday, June 14, 2012

Toy Review – DC Signature Collection The Flash – Jay Garrick By Mattel

I wavered a lot on whether or not I was going to subscribe to Mattycollector.com’s Club Infinite Earths.
Overall I’ve been very satisfied with Club Eternia. The Masters of the Universe Classics toy line is one of my favorites even though I barely collected He-Man toys when I was a kid. It’s a thrill and a pleasure every month to get those figures in the mail, and the methods of recreating characters and balancing the popular with the obscure is fascinating.
The other side of that is all of the problems this line has had with quality control, customer service, timeliness, and pricing. No matter how you slice it, you are paying $28.70 (or more, depending on your shipping method) for a six-inch-scale action figure. And no matter how cool the figure is, that sucks.

Club Infinite Earths promised to deliver characters from the far corners of the DC Universe even after the retail line underwent a significant change (of course, nobody knew at the time that the significant change would be a whole year with only four figures released and no clear idea of the future). The idea was that without the constraints of the retail market Mattel could deliver a wider variety of characters and not have to stick endless variations of Batman and Superman in the assortments. Granted, very few of the actual waves of DC Universe Classics actually did that; but we weren’t thinking about that then. Matty was just telling us we had better subscribe or we’d never see the rest of the Metal Men or Doom Patrol or, say, Huntress.
There was a catch, as well. If Club Infinite Earths didn’t have a certain (undefined) number of subscribers by a certain date, it wouldn’t happen.
Being a sucker for toys – particularly “Exclusive” toys – I signed up at the last minute. I didn’t want to be kicking myself in 2012 when my favorites like Poison Ivy, Ra’s Al Ghul, Talia, Ragman, Professor Pyg, Oracle, and who knew who else came out and I had to sit on Matty’s shitty website on sale day to get them.
Of course, none of those figures were promised. But it was implied that anything and everything could and would happen. Unbound by retail considerations, figures could be any shape or size and come with tons of accessories! The sky was the limit!
The date came and the meter showing the number of subscribers was hilariously short. Oh, well. It was for the best. I didn’t need to be spending that much more money next year anyway. I could call my DCUC shelf finished and be done.
But then Matty sent out an urgent missive (not through e-mail or anything professional like that – on Facebook or maybe hidden in their forums; I can’t recall) stating that everybody had just a few more weeks to get those sub numbers up!
A few more people subscribed. People in the Matty forums made ridiculous claims of subscribing four, five, or six times just to save the line and derided anybody who didn’t do the same. I feel that these people are stupid liars.
The new date arrived and the meter had barely moved. Matty said they would see what they could do. It turned out what they could do was go back on everything they had promised in the sub and offer mostly repaints and minor retooling; most of which would be utterly accessory-free. They did give the opportunity to cancel the sub if anybody who had signed up wanted to. I think by that time they had announced Metron and Atrocitus and I was already kind of hooked. I have a bad habit of getting caught up in hype sometimes. So I didn’t cancel.
I don’t know how I feel about that decision. I’m glad to be getting Poison Ivy, Metron, Platinum and Tin, and Atrocitus; but I really don’t feel I’m getting the best versions of those characters I could be getting. Of course, that’s kind of the story of DCUC, so I should have known.
Okay, so Jay Garrick is the initial figure. Or “Flash 1” as Matty continually and irritatingly referred to him.
I’ve barely had any exposure to the Justice Society of America. I know them and I’ve read a few stories they’ve been in, but I don’t have any particular attachment to them. I do happen to have figures of a bunch of them because they have a tendency to go on clearance. So I was fine with getting the original Flash to go along with my team. My local Walmart has about eight hundred Hourmans on the pegs, still at full price. I’m waiting patiently.
Also, it’s worth knowing that Matty royally screwed up my order. But in my favor, so I’m not going into detail.
First Glance: The figure looks like Jay Garrick. I do like the vac metal hat an awful lot.
Sculpt: We got a new head, a new waist, and what I believe are new boots for this figure.
Flash has ball joints at the neck and shoulders with the standard DCUC hip joints. There are swivels at the tops of the biceps, wrists, waist, and thighs. His elbows, knees, and ankles pivot. All of the joints on my figure are solid. A bit more solid, in fact, than I am used to from Mattel. There are no joints that are a bit too loose or tight.
The head is very nice and the sort of head that makes you feel like minor retoolings might just be okay. Jay’s face is very distinctive and has a ton of character. It is lined with age and he’s sporting a bit of a smirk that I really like. The hat is well done and is cocked to the side just a bit, as it should be. I love the use of vac metal on the hat, and what looked like a bad seam in the production photos isn’t bad at all on mine. I have seen a couple of samples at this point, though, and some are worse than others.
The new waist features a belt and a buckle with a little lightning bolt sculpted on. It looks good and makes a big difference in how cheap this figure looks. If not for that belt Flash might be kind of Dollar Tree.
The new boots are fine. They look like they should, though rocker ankles would have been greatly appreciated on a Speedster.
Another nice touch that Mattel didn’t bother with would have been an extra set of hands in the “karate chop” position. I could be wrong, but I think most runners do not run with balled-up fists. Granted, Jay needs those for punchin’, but it would have been nice to have the option; especially in this new line with “no retail restrictions on accessories or size”.
Design: Jay’s head really does look great. The paint is excellent and well-placed and accentuates what is a very good likeness.
The upper torso is the basic slim torso from DCUC with a coat of paint to make it look like a shirt. This works fine and the borders of the shirt work naturally with his physique so the lack of sculpted seams isn’t quite so bad. The red is vibrant and not patchy at all. The yellow lightning bolt on Flash’s chest is solid, but the edges are just a tiny bit mushy. Not terrible, but noticeable. Yellow has historically been a difficult color for Mattel to deal with.
The paint on the belt looks very good and the little lightning bolt on the buckle is more solid than the chest one. I suppose it’s easier to put yellow over silver than it is red.
There’s not much in the way of washes or highlighting on Flash, but it kind of works. In my mind he is a clean, bright character from a different age.
Accessories: Nothing. As I stated above, I feel that Flash should have at least come with alternate hands. It’s probably not fair to think that this figure should have come with a younger Jay Garrick head from the new Earth 2 series. I have no doubt we’ll be seeing that variant down the road.
Packaging: It’s a neat little window box. I like it. It’s a little plain, but even if I left stuff in the package I think I’d be happy with it. It would display nicely. I definitely prefer it when collector figures that aren’t ever even going to hit retail come in boxes rather than blister cards. Since this is the first DC Signature Collection review, here are some extra packaging shots:
I cannot tell you how hilarious I find this:
"?", indeed.
Overall: The only problems I have with Jay Garrick are fairly nitpicky. Yeah, he could have come with hands. I mean, really should have. There’s no way around the fact that this is a fifteen dollar figure that you have paid a minimum of $23.70 to own. But he is essentially a very good figure and a perfectly acceptable Jay Garrick.
4 out of 5
Check out BigBad or eBay if you need one. He sold out in under ten minutes, so he might be a bit pricey.
-Phantom

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