Friday, January 4, 2013

Toy Review – Batman: Arkham City Killer Croc By DC Collectibles

I don’t think I have reviewed a single one of them yet, but I have been quietly collecting DC Direct/DC Collectibles’ Arkham Asylum and Arkham City action figures.
I swore off of DC Direct figures a while ago. They are nice to look at, but eventually they are going to fall apart. More than half of the DC Direct figures that I own have super glue somewhere on them. Once I became a full-on DC Universe Classics collector I decided that DCD versions of characters could go. It got to the point where I started selling them off on eBay at a rapid pace – trying to get rid of them before they broke. I still have most of the characters directly related to Batman, but most everything else is gone. If Mattel ever gets around to a Stephanie Brown Batgirl – which seems extremely unlikely at this point – those Batman DCD figures will likely be gone as well and I’ll just be left with the twenty or so post-super glue surgery victims.

Another reason I gave up on DCD was the articulation. It was typically so limited as to be moot. Ever since I was a kid I’ve been a big proponent of articulation. It’s important to me. DCD tried, but their joints were often very odd or offered such a limited range of movement that they didn’t truly register as articulation. And then when they did try to do a super-articulated range of figures the results were… hilarious.
But despite the poor construction and durability of the standard DC Direct releases, I simply could not pass up their Arkham figures. I love those games so much. I can’t think of another video game I’ve ever played that I like as much as the Arkham games. So when DCD announced they were producing a line of figures I had to at least give them a try. Maybe they’d be a little sturdier.
I picked up the first series of Batman, Joker, Harley Quinn, and… Scarecrow? I can’t remember who the fourth was. But they were pretty good. They felt sturdier than past releases, they had solid articulation, and as was the case with almost all DCD figures they were sculpted and painted beautifully. I was hooked.
Fast-forward to last year sometime and DCD decided to offer some large-scale figures that were not part of a standard case assortment. Killer Croc and Mr. Freeze were to be released, followed by a Titan-infected Joker a couple of months later. As much as I enjoyed the final stage of Arkham Asylum, I absolutely hated that Joker design. But I had to have Freeze and Croc. Like many of the character designs in the Arkham games they are some of the best the characters have seen. Yeah, I do like it when Croc is more of a human with a skin problem and filed teeth (making Vinnie Jones from The Cape the best Killer Croc ever), but you can’t deny that the massive hulk from the video games is awesome. I would imagine that anybody who has played the harrowing Killer Croc level from the first game would like to have a figure of the villain.
I’ll get to the story of how I came to own Freeze and Croc when I review Freeze. I’ve learned to save stuff for these intros.
First Glance: Massive. I really had trouble paying $44.99 for this guy – more on that in the Freeze review – but once I had him in hand I got it. Not only is he giant compared to the rest of the line, he simply looks amazing.
Articulation: Killer Croc might have the best articulation of any Arkham figure so far. This is the opposite of how larger-scale figures tend to be, but DCC has really done something special with this higher-dollar item.
Head – ball joint
Jaw - pivot
Shoulders – ball joint
Biceps – swivel
Elbows – pivot
Wrists – ball joint
Waist – swivel
Hips – ball joint
Knees –pivot
Ankles – ball joint
Croc is relatively loaded with joints, but the best part is how functional they are. His head has a wide range of movement; even more when you take the collar off. I’m thrilled that they hinged his jaw, as well.
I was nervous about the arms and shoulders. I had read somewhere that they were a problem for some people. I didn’t see exactly what the problem was, but given my personal experiences with DC’s in-house toys I could imagine. So I was extremely careful when posing the arms and ended up not having any problems. Actually, each joint felt quite sturdy to me. Some were a little tough to maneuver, but that was likely due to how gingerly I was handling them. The arms move as much as I need them to and look good however they end up posed. The hands were a pleasant surprise, as I was expecting swivels and got ball joints with a decent range.
The hips don’t work quite like standard ball joints. They move side-to-side and back-and-forth just fine, but don’t rotate like ball joints do. Still, they’re solid joints and provide a much greater range of motion than DC’s traditional t-joint. The knees are also fairly deep pivots. Like the wrists, the ankles surprised me by being ball joints.
All in all this guy is expertly made and still has a pleasing profile despite the amount of articulation.
Sculpt: Outstanding. Starting with the head, Croc has one of the best sculpts I’ve seen. The patterns of his scales and ridges are mesmerizing. I love how the rough, pebbly scales on Croc’s back give way to larger, softer-looking scales under his arms and on his belly; just like a real crocodile. The game designers went with a more bestial version of Croc, which is fine by me. It works better visually. But rather than give him a straight-up crocodile head they kind of forced croc features into a human head. 
He has a monstrous, gaping maw full of teeth with a pair of menacing, forward facing eyes above.
The musculature is great. It’s done in such a way that Croc seems like a monster, but isn’t exaggerated like Bane. The joints are worked in so that there is a minimum of interruption to the figure’s form.
The pants are sculpted to be baggy prison trousers, but ones that are barely up to the task of keeping this monster covered.
The restraints on Croc’s wrists are awesome. The studs and plating really get across the idea that Croc requires some heavy-duty materials to tie him down. The ankle cuffs aren’t as big and don’t quite make sense considering they’re sized to the pants’ hem and not Croc’s ankles, but whatever.
Finally, Croc’s hands are great. I always prefer the one fist/one grabbing combo (when extra hands aren’t an option) and that’s what we have here. The right hand is a massive fist that looks ready to smash Batman’s entire torso into pulp. The left is a menacing claw that looks ready to… well… squeeze Batman’s torso into pulp. The scales on both hands look tremendous and I love how the claws are done as a sort of combination of reptile claws and fingernails.
Coloring: The paint is every bit as impressive as the sculpt. The teeth and eyes are accurate and well-placed. The bumpier back scales are a reptilian green with a deeper wash to bring them out. The underbelly is a pale color, but the green of the back scales fades into the recessions around the sides. It looks amazing and the same effect of blending the green into the pale yellow is done on the hands.
Croc’s pants are a dirty orange that gets downright filthy at the bottom of the legs. The wrist restraints are comparatively less detailed, but still look good. Same with the ankles.
Flair: Croc has a rope belt that is a separate piece molded out of a soft plastic. It looks good and hangs well. In a lesser line it would simply be a part of his pants. I like that it hangs freely from his waist.
Croc has chains hanging from his wrist and ankle restraints. I’m always a big sucker for actual chain links on toys, so these please me to no end. They hang well and are very sturdy. The loops that the chains are attached to are also strong.
Accessories: Croc comes with a restraining collar. It came with the chain hanging from the back of his neck, but I thought it would look cooler in the front. Luckily it fits either way. The collar is loose when it is in place, but it isn’t going anywhere. The chain is – like the others on the figure – actual links and looks great.
As compared against other action figures this isn’t much of an accessory, but what does Croc need, really? It’s cool enough that they made this thing removable.
Packaging: Croc comes in a very large window box. I like the design of the window and the graphics are quite slick as well. The different glosses of print and the quality of the cardboard mark this as a collector’s item.
There’s also a brief character description:
This is a classy box that I was hesitant to throw out even though I don’t have anywhere to put it or anything to do with it. I usually have no qualms about tossing packaging for figures less than 1/6th scale, but these Arkham boxes are great-looking.
Value: I didn’t expect to be saying this, but Killer Croc is absolutely worth the $44.99. Now, when you add shipping in things get more questionable, but my Croc came in a box full of other figures, so things were pretty spread out. I paid about ten bucks to have five or six figures shipped. Not too shabby, BigBad.
Overall: I was extremely concerned about whether or not I’d be able to get one, and now I know that concern was warranted. This is a damned fine action figure. It’s not so stylized that it wouldn’t fit in with your regular DC figures. I would go so far as to say that this is one of those pieces that collectors that aren’t buying this line or maybe even don’t have an interest in Batman should own. Croc is another one of those figures that is a step above and deserves recognition.

5 out of 5

The last I checked, BigBadToyStore.com still had very limited stock available. I would buy one of these ASAP. The Bane from the second series is currently selling for upwards of $250(!) and I would not be at all surprised to see Croc surpass that. I feel lucky to have gotten him for MSRP.

-Phantom

2 comments:

  1. Cool review! I just got Titan Joker yesterday, and while he looks cool (in my opinion), he's a pain in the butt to keep standing. I am curious though: do you display these around Li'l troublemaker? I don't recall you ever mentioning his age, but I think kids would be creeped out by these things (especially Titan Joker: he's got some creepy shit going on with his spine and torn skin.)

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    1. He's five. I keep my more gruesome stuff out of his eyeline, but he's kind of grown up around some more horror-oriented stuff and is just used to it. I've got several skulls and Leatherface and a few other things tattooed on me, so there's no way around some of it. Honestly, I think it's helped him understand the difference between real stuff and fake stuff. And we're still very strict about what he watches. He hasn't even seen Captain America because it was too violent. Heck, there are a few Doctor Who stories that I've decided will have to wait a while. Same with Revenge of the Sith. Just too dark.

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