Monday, January 7, 2013

Toy Review – Batman: Arkham City Mr. Freeze By DC Collectibles

On Friday I talked about my secret collection of un-reviewed Arkham Asylum/City action figures. I feel like it is a superior line with few disappointments (wildly leaning Joker aside) and I’m happy to be collecting.

When Mattel announced their own line of Arkham figures I was a little irritated, as I would usually prefer to collect Mattel’s products over DC Direct/Collectibles’. They’re sturdier and typically articulated a bit better. But it is now apparent that the DC offerings are where it’s at. They are much more committed to the property and are offering a much wider array of characters. They’re also keeping them all in scale with one another (midget Bane aside), something Mattel can’t be bothered to do.

The DC Arkham stuff has been getting progressively more expensive. But since I get a discount at the comic shop, I haven’t felt the bite too keenly.

Until now.

You see, I ordered the first two boxed, oversized figures from my Favorite Local Comic Shop when they were offered in Previews. I wanted Freeze and Croc badly, but I didn’t want to pay full price for them. Forty-five bucks seemed awfully steep for Croc and downright ludicrous for the smaller Mr. Freeze. But a comic shop discount made them more reasonable.

So I wrote down the page numbers on my order form and took it up to the shop and waited patiently for them to arrive. I don’t make it to the comic shop every Wednesday, but I do try to go at least every other week. And even if I didn’t show up the day the dastardly duo arrived, I had ordered them and the shop would hold them in my box.

Or so I thought.

Somehow or other I knew what day they were coming in – maybe from Diamond’s website – and dropped by the next day. I was told that they had gotten one of each figure in but that the store owner had sold them to somebody that had happened to be in the store and had asked about them. They were long gone.

To say I was pissed off would be an understatement.

I get a very good discount at that store, being that it’s the one Mrs. Troublemaker worked at for fifteen years. Regardless of that I was seriously considering taking my business elsewhere. This isn’t the first time something along those lines has happened. But my very good discount kept em there and I just asked the staff to please reorder them.

Months went by. I actually saw Freeze and Croc at another shop, but I didn’t buy them because I had (misplaced) faith that my store would get them in for me. More time went by and I finally decided that if I saw them again I would just buy them. That was right around the time that they disappeared from the market.

But then a few weeks ago, my favorite online store – BigBadToyStore.com – reopened preorders for Croc, Freeze, and a few other older Arkham figures. I don’t know why and I don’t; know where they came from. I also don’t care. I put my order in and was shocked when I received an e-mail the very next day telling me they were in stock and ready to be shipped. I checked my Pile of Loot, saw there was enough stuff there to be worthwhile, and clicked the “Ship My Loot!” button.

Mr. Freeze might be my favorite character from Arkham City. The game uses him better than anything that isn’t Batman: The Animated Series and he looks fucking rad. This version of his armor makes more sense than any other, but still manages to remind me just a little bit of Arnie’s.

All that being said, I did not understand why this figure that seemed to be about half the size of Killer Croc and smaller even than Bane (who was sold as a regular-size character) was forty-five bucks. Did he end up being worth it?

First Glance: Freeze’s box is the same size as Croc’s, so he looks a bit diminutive in there. Not unimpressive, but small. Still, all of the detail on that armor looks amazing.

Articulation: With all of that armor and the detail on it I felt like DCC probably worked in a ton of clever articulation. Not so much.

Head – ball joint

Shoulders – ball joint

Elbows – pivot

Hips – pivot

Thighs - swivel
Ankles - swivel

Knees –pivot

Yep. That’s it. Kind of disappointing.

His head actually has a very good range of movement inside that helmet. You have to do your moving before you put the faceplate on, but I am glad it’s an option.

The shoulder movement is very limited, almost to the point where it might as well be a swivel. Add that to the lack of any arm joint beyond the elbow pivot and Freeze doesn’t have a whole lot of posing options.

The legs aren’t a whole heck of a lot better. The hips don’t have a great range because of the crotch piece, and there honestly just isn’t much reason to even have the thigh swivels or even knee pivots. Both of the latter are good joints with a full range of motion, though. And while this Freeze doesn’t have a whole lot of joints, the ones that are here are blended into the sculpt well.

Sculpt: Mr. Freeze looks outstanding. The level of detail in his armor is amazing – he’s like Killer Croc in that you can just sit and stare at him for a while. Freeze is taller than the standard Arkham figures, but not so much that a box is called for.

The helmet piece is large, with lots of gadgets and doo-dads on the top and back. I like that the  torso and helmet are all one piece, as it creates a great shape and flow for the sculpting. The rest of the figure’s torso has some armor plating and tubes that look cool.

I love the hexagonal pattern on the bodysuit, as well as the texture. It has the look of some sort of heavily insulated material. The detailing and plating on the arms and gauntlets is cool, as is the stuff on the legs. It all looks like a heavy exoskeleton and makes it easy to believe that Freeze would be a physical match for Batman. I’ve always liked the idea that Victor was like, “Well I have to wear this stupid freeze suit anyway, why not build in some super-strength?”

Overall the look of this figure perfectly captures what we see in Arkham City. Which, by the way, delivered on the promise of Mr. Freeze made back in Arkham Asylum BIG TIME. It was so exciting seeing that huge, frozen cell in the first game and then finally getting to see Victor Freeze in the second game. That was some effective setup.

Coloring: At first glance Freeze seems fairly basic – all blues, greys, and blacks. But a combination of several different shades and glosses along with some yellow detailing and those glossy red goggles make this guy more impactful and real.

Freeze’s head is the only exposed skin and it is a light, icy blue with a slightly darker wash to bring out the sculpted details. I guess those black lines going out of the goggles are supposed to be straps. Whatever the case, they are well done and don’t bleed out anywhere. The goggles are nice and shiny and the red is solid.

Freeze’s armor pieces are a glossier black than the bodysuit. The contrast with the tightly decorated blue portions is nice, especially with the yellow bits. Ideally the blue portions would light up, but this figure isn’t ideal.

The honeycombed bodysuit is a flat black with grey detailing and looks really cool.

All of the paint on my figure is placed well. I didn’t notice any blotches or bits of colors in the wrong places. The paint is all solid, as well. There aren’t any areas where it looks like not enough was applied.

Flair: Freeze’s backpack (I guess) is just crazy. There is so much detail. All kinds of pistons and pumps and whatevers jutting out and looking cool. Of course, they also look like things that Batman could easily kick or punch and potentially disable Mr. Freeze; but they look cool.

Accessories: Mr. Freeze comes witha stand, a faceplate for his helmet and his freeze gun.

The faceplate is a little tricky to get into place, but it is sturdier than it seems and will tolerate a little bending and wiggling. I had to slide it into one side of the helmet opening and then use just a bit of force to push it into place. I got it, but it was an odd enough procedure that instructions wouldn’t have been unwelcome. There are some ridges on the edge of the opening that I wasn’t sure if they were supposed to be inside or outside of the faceplate. I’m still not sure. 
The piece is made out of a plastic with a slight blue tint. It is very glossy and looks great on the figure.

The gun is made out of a sturdy plastic. The sculpt looks exactly like Freeze’s blaster from the game. All of the detailing is very sharp and the touches of color are tight and applied well. It fits in Freeze’s hand okay but not great, which continues the trend of DC’s Mr. Freeze figures. This is three that I’ve owned that don’t quite hold their weapons securely.
The stand is a circle with a peg on it. It bugs me because I don't like stands, but some of the figures from this line require them. Mr. Freeze is not one. However, not all of the figures in this line come with stands, so regardless of whether or not you want to use them you simply can't have uniformity in your collection. That sucks. But it isn't Victor's fault.

Packaging: Freeze 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 am utterly confounded as to why this figure costs $44.99. I could see it if he lit up. Or maybe even if he had four times as much articulation. But for a barely above-average-sized figure with twelve points of articulation (only five of which are meaningful) I just don’t get it. There’s no way this guy should cost so much.

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.

3 out of 5


I feel kind of bad for rating such a beautiful figure so low, but even putting aside how hideously expensive he is he just isn’t executed that well. There is exactly one pose he can achieve while holding his gun that doesn’t look stupid thanks to the limited articulation.

BigBad still has him in stock as of this writing. If you’re collecting this line or just love this design for Mr. Freeze you should just bite the bullet and order because he’ll never get any cheaper. The Bane from the Arkham line is selling for over $250 now.

Yes, seriously.

-Phantom


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