Thursday, December 12, 2013

Toy Review Batman: Arkham Origins The Joker from DC Collectibles

I didn’t preorder this figure. I didn’t like the lack of purple, the face seemed weird, I knew the voicing wasn’t going to be Mark Hamill, and I already had a perfectly good Joker from Arkham Asylum.
Okay, well – I had the Joker from Arkham Asylum. The quality of that figure is up for debate.
By the time this Joker hit stores I knew a few things – I had played Arkham Origins and liked the depiction, the guy that replaced Mark Hamill was fantastic, and the new clothes still should have been purple.
Then I saw this figure in the store and the deal, as they say, was sealed for one reason – this Joker could look straight ahead.
I have mentioned in my reviews how much it irritates me when a figure cannot be posed to look straight ahead. And for some reason my Joker figures seem to suffer from this affliction more than any others. But not this Joker! No siree! This Joker can look you straight in the eye while he stabs you in the gut with a rubber chicken or a pineapple or whatever.
I don’t want to give away any plot points, but Joker plays a huge role in Arkham Origins. There are definitely some problems with the storylines, but Joker’s role isn’t among them. Not is the performance of the new voice actor. Most of Joker’s on-screen time is just excellent. It all feels a bit familiar – nothing surprising or new – but that might have been a good idea. Anything too over-the-top might have seems odd in a prequel game. And there is a definite progression from game to game.
One thing that I guess is good about this Joker’s lack of purple is that it makes him different. I don’t collect Jokers like I do Batmans, so getting one that stands out as different the way this one does is kind of cool. And at least they didn’t just repaint the old one.
First Glance: I just realized that this Joker is clothed almost exactly like Jonny Lee Miller from Elementary. I’m okay with that. I’m not crazy about the mouth, but everything else looks pretty cool.
Articulation: Parts of this figure are a bit of an improvement over some other DCC releases. Parts feel like the same old thing. But overall I’d have to say Joker is acceptably articulated.
Head – ball joint
Shoulders – swivel
Elbows – swivel/pivot
Wrists – ball joint
Waist - swivel
Hips – swivel
Knees – pivot
Ankles – ball joint (sort of?)
This head has the best range of movement of any Joker I own. You’d think a lunatic that is known for his wild and erratic movements would always have an extremely poseable head. Sadly, this is not the case.
I am very disappointed in the cut joints on the shoulders. This seems so primitive to be showing up at this point in the line. And again – Joker is an individual that is constantly making big, expansive motions. These simple joints do not accommodate that. I am glad for the dual-purpose elbows and the ball-jointed wrists, but they only serve to make the decision about the shoulders all the more baffling.
The leg joints are simple but good enough. Joker can bend 90° at the hips and almost that at the knees. I don’t understand his ankles at all, though. They have a tiny bit of movement in every direction, but not enough to be useful at all. It’s just weird.
Sculpt: This Joker has the overall shape you expect from the Clown Prince of Crime, but without any of the sculpted posture weirdness that has afflicted some other versions. If you want him to just stand up straight, he can. I like that.
I love the look of the head. He’s visibly younger and different from the Joker in the later Arkham games, and yet the same character. But there’s something that’s a bit off that I can’t quite put my finger on. I think his bottom lip is part of the problem. It’s very thin and raised so it almost looks like he’s biting it. It’s a creepy, almost perverse look but it’s oddly wrong for this Joker. Not bad and not completely wrong. Just a little. The hair looks great though.
Joker’s torso features a swanky looking shirt and vest combo. The sculpt is so good that the vest appears to be a separate piece. The buttons are clean and well defined. The arms match the jacket.
I don’t like that the hands are fists. The fists look great. They’re gloved and have plenty of detail. But I would prefer neutral hands. Or splayed fingers. Or pretty much anything other than closed fists. Joker isn’t a closed fist kind of guy. I am finding this figure to be very un-Joker-y as far as the design and posability.
Joker’s lower portions look fine. His trousers are trousers and look about as good as you could expect. His shoes have that weird overlapping tongue thing that golf shoes have. I don’t know what that’s all about. At first I thought they were part of his trousers somehow. It’s weird and distracting.
As many nitpicks as I have, this does look exactly like the in-game character. My problems are more with the design of the character than the execution of the figure. As far as that goes DCC nailed it except for the shoulders. And maybe that bottom lip.
Coloring: This Joker’s face is much more like the Heath Ledger Joker. The dark circles around his eyes and the mouth that is wide rather than long look good and aren’t so different that it couldn’t be the original Arkham Joker (though I do prefer that one and am hoping for an updated figure of that design).
The rest of the paint is fairly unremarkable. The shirt is an off-white that seems odd for Joker. Plus, mine has two little splotches of green paint on it from the vest. I didn’t notice them until I opened the figure (I am not a guy that always inspects his figures for stuff like that before I buy them, though I should be). I’m not sure what I’m going to do about them. I don’t want to trouble the comic shop with a return over such a small thing, but I don’t feel like painting over them. And they won’t scrape off – I tried.
Joker’s trousers have flecks on them to give some texture. They are much more noticeable in pictures than they are in person. When you’re just looking at the figure they blend into the trousers and create a sort of tweed-ish effect. I will say that this is where I got confused about what was happening with his shoes because the blue wash continues onto those. If they had been a different color than the trousers they wouldn’t seem so odd.
Flair: Joker's coat is a separately sculpted piece. The cut of the jacket is awesome and I want one just like it. The material is a soft rubber, so it moves well and doesn't interfere with posing. It has a cool texture to it, and that texture and the coat's color are matched on the figure's arms. One good thing about having cut joints on the shoulders is that there's no opening for the arms to protrude through - it's a clean seam. 
I like that the lining of the coat is a different color. That does add a little distinction to this otherwise kind of drab figure. Also, I understand that portions of this figure look quite purple in the pictures, but they are super dark - almost black - in person. I have a crap camera. Go to the podcast page and click the PayPal button and help me afford a better one!
Accessories: Nothing. He could have come with an extra set of hands or a pistol. Heck, they could have done a box set with the electric chair from the Blackgate level and that would have been awesome. As is, we have a Joker with a couple of fists and nothing else.
Packaging: The all-new amazing DC Collectibles clamshell. It’s slightly more likely to cause injury, but less likely to cause frustration. And they require no scissors. I’ll take the risk if it increases convenience.
Value: The MSRP on this guy is $24.99, which is not awesome. I’ve been thoroughly impressed with many of DCC’s releases lately, but an accessory-free figure with so-so articulation isn’t going to pass muster here. While Joker still feels like a higher quality figure than most 6” offerings (except NECA’s), his features are lacking.
Overall: I can’t even say he looks great on the shelf because I can’t get any poses I would really like out of him. He just has to stand there. Which he looks fine doing, but it isn’t what I want out of Joker.
3 out of 5
This isn’t a must-have. It’s not a signature Joker look and the figure isn’t so great it demands to be in your collection. If you have to have one check with your local comic shop, then BigBad, etc. But I have to say this Joker is probably a pass. He could possibly end up on eBay.
-Phantom


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