Thursday, January 23, 2014

Toy Review – Suicide Squad Harley Quinn from DC Collectibles

I keep breaking my DC Collectibles rule.

As I’ve mentioned before, I stopped collecting DC’s in-house action figures for a while. When a toy can’t survive simply standing on the shelf - let alone a thirty-six inch drop – you have a shitty line. I’ll never forget coming home one day and finding Catwoman’s forearm just lying next to her on the shelf. The figure hadn’t fallen over, the arm just… fell off. This is when I was living by myself, so unless a ghost decided to break just that one figure DC was making shitty toys.

Side Note: I am currently developing a range of tests to determine the quality of toys, Consumer Reports-style. The thirty-six inch drop is one of the standards. Granted, I will never actually perform these tests because I can’t afford to be breaking a bunch of toys, but I’ll put it out there in case any of you want to.

With the Arkham video game figures, DC seemed to be doing a better job. As of now none of mine have broken, the sculpts and paint jobs are generally fantastic, and the articulation continues to improve (mostly). So I made the decision to collect the Arkham figures because they were rad. But only the Arkham figures. After all, I have hundreds of DC figures from Mattel and I am not a guy that can mix up styles that vary wildly like that. I cannot accept the dichotomy of a DCC figure next to a Mattel figure.

Of course, now that the 6” DC Universe Collectibles style is over, I have a problem. Because I still like DC characters, but the Total Heroes style simply doesn’t appeal to me as a collector. They’re fun toys, but they aren’t particularly compelling shelf fodder.

So I was in my friendly neighborhood comic shop the other day and saw this new Harley Quinn figure. And it looked really good, like a smaller version of one of those statues that I don’t buy (unless they’re Darkchilde).

I know a lot (A LOT) of people hate the New 52 Harley. I don’t. I understand why the people that hate the look hate it, and that’s fine. But to say it’s overly sexualized is silly because all you have to do is watch some of the later episodes of The New Batman Adventures to see a pretty sexed-up Harley. And don’t think Harley’s daddy Paul Dini is going to get upset because this naughty little sketch is in the back of his absolutely incredible, highly recommended by Phantom Troublemaker art book:
Yeah.

So while you may not like this Harley, it is in no way against her character; just against your perception of her.

Sorry – that went on too long. I’ve just hit a wall with a lot of the people on the internet that think everybody has to agree with them and that their point of view is the only point of view.
Anyway, I saw this Harley and thought she looked like a very well done figure. While I prefer the roller derby look she has in the new ongoing comic:
I still like this one and who knows how long it will be before we get a figure of that look, if at all. Since I kept most of my collection of Batman-related DCD figures, I felt like buying Harley wasn’t too much of a stretch.
FIRST GLANCE

Her face is what jumped out at me. But the whole figure appears to be very high quality, at least as far as sculpt and paint go. She does have the simple and usually nigh-useless cut joints on her hips.
PACKAGING

Mattel may have used a single size of window box for its DC Signature Collection (review of the ENTIRE LINE coming soon!), but DC Direct started that. They’ve been rocking window boxes of the same basic size for years now, only updating the designs for each line they release. These packages can accommodate a pretty wide range of figure sizes and provide a uniformity to the line.

Harley’s box has a Suicide Squad motif since her companions in this wave are Deadshot and Captain Boomerang. It has that folded over thing that DC does now on the front and nice graphics all over.

There’s no bio on the back:
But I’ll gladly trade a bio for sculptor credits:
Nice work, DC!
LOOKS

Another factor in my inability to put Mattel and DCC figures together is that DCC figures are 7” scale and I can’t very well have Harley Quinn dwarfing Batman. I’m not a huge fan of the 7” scale and honestly don’t understand why DC and Diamond chose it for their fancy-pants lines. I can only assume it has something to do with them being fancy-pants lines. Also, I prefer DCC’s cut hips to Mattel’s… whatever those ugly things are.

This figure is more involved than a lot of the ones I review. Harley is 100% a new sculpt, so there are no shared parts to gloss over. 
 
The head is fantastic. I’m glad they found a facial expression that is a little different without being utterly crazy and too big to fit into my definition of neutral. She looks mischievous. What I like most about it is that it is very human – not exaggerated at all. The hair is a separately sculpted piece so that the bangs and other pieces actually sit away from the face rather than being sculpted on. It looks great. The paint is very precise and there are several apps just in this area. Her mask paint is crisp, her lips and hair are clean and don’t blotch or bleed out anywhere. Harley’s eyes are outstanding, right down to the little reflections in her irises. The paint on her ponytail holders is exact – again, no bleeding.

Harley’s skin tone is pale but not white, as she appears in the comics. This Harley got shoved into a vat of chemicals by Joker (still not sure how I feel about that redo), so the allover pale skin works. It’s a great, almost translucent shade that’s unlike anything else I’ve seen on an action figure. The contrast of the skin tone and the bright clothes is part of what drew my eye in the first place.
Harley’s collar and cape are separately sculpted pieces made of rubber. They look great and are one of the things I like about this character design. It’s an utterly whimsical contrivance that contrasts so strongly with the rest of her outfit. It’s just silly. The only issue here is that the thickness of the collar makes Harley’s neck look shorter than it is and gives her sort of a hunchy look. I wish the collar was a little flatter. The collar is gleaming white and the cape is red with a blue lining. All of the paint is done well and doesn’t show any signs of smudging despite the rubber material.

Harley’s costume is sculpted onto the figure, but the…

Look – there’s no delicate way to discuss this little marvel of sculpting without using some adult terms. Like “boobies”.
The bustier and lacing is separate from the torso sculpt, so it actually sits in front of Harley’s boobies. It looks really good and I appreciate the effort that went into it. And I just am not comfortable discussing Harley Quinn’s boobies any further.

Maybe she is overly sexualized.

There’s a lot of detail on the bustier – laces going into eyelets, edges on the front that look like jacket lapels (as though she cut up a suit coat to make this article of clothing), and sheathed (non-removable) throwing knives on either side. The paint is good on the actual bustier portion, but the laces get a little sloppy towards the bottom. You won’t notice when she’s on the shelf, but up close or in pictures it’s there.

It surprised me that Harley’s gauntlets match. I figured they’d be reversed. But they have a nice thickness to them and the designs are actually sculpted rather than just paint apps. Harley’s hands are posed in a way that can look natural or like they are holding pistols, but unfortunately they aren’t quite right for the pistols she came with. Her right hand is open just a bit too wide and the left isn’t quite posed to hold a pistol. But that’s because what it’s posed for is the huge sledgehammer the figure comes with. Some hot water will fix the right hand (and you know I don’t like having to do that), but I wouldn’t mess with the left is you plan on using the hammer. It’s also worth noting that Harley’s fingernails are painted different colors – red on the right hand and blue on the left.
Harley has sculpted booty shorts with a ton of detail – seams and markings and whatnot – with some big ol’ holsters over them. The holsters are attached to a belt with sculpted bullets on it and they are functional. I particularly like the straps hanging down from the bottom, like Harley wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. The pistols fit in the holsters snugly and look good. 
All of the paint in this area is solid. The bullets even pass a close-up inspection, which is impressive given that they are so tiny and that it’s a metallic paint on a black surface.

Harley’s thigh-high socks and shoes are sculpted very nicely – there’s a ton of detail – but paint-wise are a bit plain. It’s not that I think there should be any more color. The red and blue are in keeping with the character’s current color scheme. It’s just how they are. The shoes seem a little plainer than the socks, but I think it’s just because shoes aren’t ever a solid color like that. I think maybe a bit of black detailing would have been okay.
ACCESSORIES

Harley comes with two matching pistols and a big honkin’ sledgehammer.

The pistols area good size. I like that they didn’t give her a couple of dainty little guns. The sculpted detail is fantastic. They’re molded out of a gunmetal grey plastic with no painted detail. They look fine, but are nothing special.

The sledgehammer has a great shape to it. I really dig the head. The haft could use a little wood grain, but otherwise this thing looks okay. It’s absurd to think that little 5’7” Harleen Quinzel is going to be able to heft a hammer like this, let alone swing it. But hey – that’s comics.
FUN

I’m trying not to list articulation like I used to because I think it’s pretty boring and lots of people probably don’t care (and also because I review so many figures from the same lines – MOTUC, Marvel Legends – that have basically the same articulation). But I’ll run down some of Harley’s that I feel are worth mentioning:
Her ponytails are articulated on swivels, which is awesome.

Her shoulders are ball joints with bicep swivels, so she has a great range of motion there. DCC is really good with these joints, as their figures usually have much better range than anything Mattel does. Hasbro tends to be the best, though.

Her head is on a ball joint with a great range.

The swivels on her forearms and thighs are concealed by her clothing. Really well concealed. You don’t know they’re there until you start playing around with the figure.

She doesn’t have a waist joint, but with the curves they gave her it would look really ugly if it was just a swivel and DCC isn’t in the habit of doing waist ball joints like NECA is.

Harley’s hip joints have a much greater range than most DCC releases, as they can almost achieve a 90° angle when moved forward and get close to that moved back. The knee joints don’t bend a ton, but without ankle joints there’s not much reason for them to.

Overall Harley has just enough articulation to be fun to try and pose for a while. The perfect version of this figure would have ball jointed hips covered by rubber shorts (like NECA does), a ball joint waist and upper abdomen (at the bottom of the bustier), and swivel/pivot ankles like Hasbro has been doing.

I considered taking the head off to get some pictures without the collar and cape, but I was too afraid it wouldn’t go back on.

Harley can interact well enough with her accessories – she can hold them in reasonable ways.
OVERALL
I’m happy I bought this figure. It looks great and is a shining example of what can be done with a line that has a budget for new sculpts. The sculpting is beyond reproach, the paint is very good, and the design is a solid representation of the character. Aside from the articulation (which is pretty good for a DCC figure), no shortcuts were taken on this one.

The MSRP is $24.95, but if you have a pull service at your local comic shop you probably get at least a little discount on toys. If you don’t, ask about it. This figure comes pretty close to being worth that price, and is definitely worth what I paid for it.

I won’t say this is a must-have because if you don’t like this Harley you just don’t. But the creators did an excellent job of capturing the New 52 Harley Quinn. This is definitely a great, high quality action figure.

If you need one, visit your local comic shop. If they’re sold out (which they probably will be which is weird given that “everybody” hates this design) try BigBad or Entertainment Earth. Sometimes your comic shop can reorder, but not always.
4 out of 5

4 comments:

  1. Good review! I'm still waiting for my figure to come in!

    When you mentioned the consumer reports styled toy test, it reminded me that Zillions: Consumer Reports for Kids did a similar test in the early 90s' They used a wrestling figure, a BTAS Utility Belt Batman, Zen: Intergalactic Ninja, General Flag from G.I. Joe, and probably a few others. They had some kid dressed up in a superhero costume who did things like run the toys over with a car, twist every joint 100 times, and hit them with a hammer like device.

    It was cool but weird.

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    1. THAT is a fantastic idea. Rather than applying my potentially destructive test to all of my toys I can pick out one from each of several lines. I AM DOING THIS. Thanks, man!

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  2. Nice review! I'm not a fan of this costume but am a huge fan of Harley, so I might pick this one up. With her new comic book and look therein, this costume design is probably done for in the comics at this point, so it would would be worth having for that reason alone (since this look may never see action figure form again!)

    I am really hoping for a roller derby costumed action figure in the near future!

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    1. Thanks! With Harley Quinn being such a popular character it wouldn't surprise me if we got some sort of variation in the next year or two. As long as she doesn't undergo any major design changes I think the roller derby version might have a chance. Although I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a statue that was a direct recreation of Conner's work first.

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