Monday, February 3, 2014

Needless Things Retrospective – DC Signature Collection

I’ve got a cool treat for you guys this week.
No – it’s not coupons for a free Blizzard from Dairy Queen.
I got the idea to do a retrospective on the DC Signature Collection after the final figure – Batzarro – came in the mail. I thought it would be interesting to look back on an entire line of figures that I had judged fairly harshly (to the point where I pretty much stopped reviewing them) and felt stupid for subscribing to both years that it was offered. I wanted to see if I felt differently now that the whole ordeal was in the past and those dollars were freed up for other things.
In case you aren’t aware, the DC Signature Collection is the continuation of Mattel’s DC Universe Classics line of retail action figures. When the retail line faltered, Mattel moved to an online subscription format in the style of its hugely successful Masters of the Universe Classics line (which they do everything in their power to make us believe is not hugely successful). The DC Universe lines are 6” scale and every single figure was sculpted by the legendary toy design team, the 4 Horsemen. This created a consistency and standard within the line that not only made it very appealing to collectors but created a compelling reason to collect them all.
Not for me, personally. I am not a completist in any of the lines I collect unless it just so happens that every release in that line is good and something that I want. I have no problem leaving holes in a collection is those holes would have been occupied by poor figures or characters I don’t like or don’t care about. But I get why other folks do want the full set.
Which brings me to the most exciting part of this feature.
Knowing how negatively I have viewed much of Mattel’s DC releases, I wanted to get some different perspectives. I contacted Evil and the Belligerent Monkey – knowing that they had subscribed to both years, as well. Not only that, both of those guys are completists and generally have a more favorable outlook on these figures than I do. Not that they aren’t capable of criticizing; as you’ll find out over the next week.
I had originally intended on combining all of our thoughts into one article, but I enjoyed reading the other guys’ stuff so much I knew they would make great posts on their own. So today you get my thoughts, Wednesday will bring Evil’s, and Monkey will wrap things up on Friday.
Jay Garrick – I was just starting James Robinson’s Starman when this figure was announced, and I already knew that the Justice Society of America played a fairly large role in that comic. Also, Batman: The Brave and the Bold was still on the air. Those things meant I wanted a Jay Garrick figure, something I might not have cared about a few years ago. As I stated above, I am not a completist, so I need a personal interest or compelling reason to buy a toy. Jay ended up being pretty good. The vac metal helmet is fantastic and his face looked great. Hands in a running position would have been appreciated, though. Since I have the rest of the JSA, I’m glad to have Jay.
Atrocitus – This figure was too small, but otherwise the execution was great. The head and hands look fantastic. Except, of course, for the fact that he cannot hold his accessory – the Red Lantern. What a butthole. Also, every single Lantern figure ever made should have come with construct accessories. Period.
Metron – The chair looks absolutely amazing. It’s one of the best accessories that Mattel has ever produced. It’s sturdy, the sculpt is excellent, and the paint is clean. Metron, on the other hand, is a piece of Dollar Tree crap. His sculpted head looks great. Unfortunately the corresponding details on his body are just paint. It’s a jarring difference and one of the things that makes me dislike Mattel intensely. We deserved better on this one. Oh – he did have neat hands, though.
Starman VIII – I have no idea who this guy is or where he comes from, but I love the figure. A translucent, sparkly figure with a beard just hits me in the right spot. The only thing new here was the unmasked head sculpt, but it’s such a weird and interesting figure that I’m okay with that.
Rocket Red – I’m not familiar with this version of Rocket Red, but from what I understand Matty just fucked this figure all up. I thought it looked pretty cool except for the musculature on the armor that was a result of farming parts when they shouldn’t have. I didn’t care much about this figure one way or the other and moved it on eBay without even opening it. I think I broke even. That was the other lousy thing about this line – I was lucky to break even on eBay with the figures I got rid of. As a matter of fact, I rarely broke even. I was lucky to make back just the cost of the figures not including shipping. There was zero demand for these.
Mirror Master – I think they did a great job with this one. He helps complete Flash’s Rogues (did we ever get Weather Wizard? I can’t remember), so that’s important. I was very impressed that his guns came with alternate barrels and that his holsters were functional. The only thing that would have made this figure better would have been if he could actually hold his guns properly.
Black Mask – I don’t particularly care for Black Mask. Mostly because he killed Stephanie Brown, which caused me no small amount of comic book grief until they brought her back; only to get rid of her again when the horrible thing that is the New 52 began. But I do like a guy with a skull for a head, and this is a pretty good figure of a guy with a skull for a head. Heck, I bought the DC Direct Black Mask figure that was specifically intended to be the “just tortured Stephanie Brown to death” version just because he had a skull head. But it always bothered me that – correct as it was – that he didn’t have a jacket on. Now I have a Black Mask with a jacket. Mask’s accessories were crap because none of them worked like they were supposed to. They should have just given him guns.
Poison Ivy – They did a great job with this one. Unlike many figures in this line, I think she looks exactly like the DCUC Poison Ivy should look. Well, except for her hands. She shouldn’t have had fists.

Elasti-Girl – I have tried, but I’ve never been able to get into Doom Patrol. I passed on all of the figures and sold Elasti-Girl on eBay. I opened the mailer for pictures and thought she looked pretty good and I definitely appreciate that they attempted to finish this team. I mean, they didn’t, but they sort of tried.
Uncle Sam – Despite my general liking of strongly American things, I sold this guy on eBay. I did open him and thought Mattel did a great job. But he just never looked right on the shelf. Since the DC Direct Uncle Sam is way better and is hanging on my wall I figured I could do without this one. I did think it was neat that he came with whoever that tiny guy was.
John ConstantineHellblazer was my first mature comic, my first Vertigo comic, and the first non-superhero comic that was so good I ravenously tracked down every issue that I could find. Needless to say, this figure was important to me. In all honesty, the only good thing that has come out of the New 52 is the fact that we got a DCUC figure of this character. I am still baffled by the scar on its face, but otherwise it’s just about perfect. Obviously Mattel isn’t going to include a cigarette, but there are plenty of mystical items that could have come with this figure if it weren’t part of such a shitty line. I know I’m being terribly negative sometimes and you might wonder why I bought any of these. It’s because I love DC and I wanted sturdy, well-articulated figures of the characters that I love that looked like they shared a common world. The Mattel figures were the best I could do.
Platinum – This one looks fantastic, but the lack of accessories is even more of a sin since all of the other Metal Men came with them. And yes – it’s neat that we got Tin as a pack-in. But guess what? He should have had accessories too.
Lead – I’m still disappointed in this figure. I hate that he has the cracks in his skin – a result of farming his parts from Darkseid. Like Platinum he has no accessories. His head is great and the overall shape is good, but this is another casualty of Mattel’s cheapness.
Saint Walker – When I read the comics where Saint Walker was an important character I was very excited about the idea of a Saint Walker action figure. So excited that I bought the DC Direct one that came out. And then, like two years after everybody stopped giving a shit about all the Lantern Corps drama, Matty released this one. I sold the DCD version because I only need one Saint Walker and I’d prefer one that fits in with my larger DCU collection. The figure is great aside from a lack of actual sculpted detail. The articulation is among the best in the line. But once again – no ring constructs. Unacceptable.
Phantom Stranger – This might be the best figure that came out through Club Infinite Earths. I honestly can’t imagine a better Phantom Stranger in this style. A must-have to go along with Constantine, Zatanna, the Spectre, Swamp Thing, and Deadman.
Elongated Man – My only reason for liking Ralph Dibney is from his appearance in Justice League Unlimited when he and Booster Gold were put on standby during a battle. I really don’t know anything about him. The figure looks like it should, but is pretty dull. Better stretchy parts would have helped. Too bad Mattel hasn’t produced any other figures of stretchy guys. Like, oh, I dunno – Plastic Man. Then they could’ve just repainted a couple of the parts.
Larfleeze – Great head. Can’t hold his Lantern right. Can’t crouch. And what’s weird is that his arms are new sculpts and positioned oddly. Just not oddly enough. The articulation on this one was super-shitty and he had the same lack of sculpted detail as the other Lanterns. BUT – he looks fine standing on the shelf. I just expected more. Which is my own fault.
Monsieur Mallah and Brain – This is one of the high points of the whole DCSC sub. Mallah looks great – a new head on Grodd’s bod – and Brain is all creepy and sci-fi-looking. There were plenty of accessories and I actually feel like this set was one of the few releases in the sub that was worth the money. I had a lot of fun playing with these while I was doing the video review. Which, by the way, was a terrible idea. My idea of a good video review is nothing like the average human’s idea of a good video review.
Wally West – I was stoked to be getting Wally since he is actually an interesting character. While I wasn’t as familiar with Wally from the comics, Michael Rosenbaum’s portrayal of the character on the Justice League cartoon is one of my favorite things ever. And then this Flash arrived and he was kind of plain and underwhelming and the only real difference between him and Barry was the mask. I figured I could get a decent amount for him on eBay and I was right. He sold for a profit.
Red Hood – This is a fun figure that I never reviewed. It isn’t spectacular. It’s just a regular DCUC body with a cape and a big, red dildo hat. But it looks very different from the rest of the line, stands out on the shelf, and is from Grant Morrison’s outstanding run writing Batman. I’m just glad they didn’t slap the dildo hat on another suit body.
Freddy Freeman – The Captain Marvel family is another DC thing that I have only a passing familiarity with. I have loved Shazam (which is the name that I have always thought of for the character – I was surprised to find out he was actually called Captain Marvel) since I was a kid, but I didn’t know a thing about the rest of his family. I still don’t know anything about this character and promptly put him up on eBay. It took four tries and I finally sold him at a loss, so I’m thinking not many other people give a crap about Freddy, either.
Fire – This is another character that I wanted because of Justice League Unlimited. I thought she and Ice were a great pair and considered them essential to my collection. So of course Matty were dicks and (did the smart thing) put Ice in the 2014 sub as an enticement. It didn’t work and the sub failed, but they are still producing Ice later this year. The Fire figure is pretty lazy. The belt doesn’t look good, the paint seems kind of uninteresting and she should have come with a much better fire accessory. I think of all of the great Phoenix figures that have been made with Phoenix Force clip-ons and stands and stuff, and then I think of the pathetic green booger that Fire came with. I hate you, Matty.
Huntress – Aside from the entirely unacceptable production stamp on the side of the figure’s foot, this is a great figure. She ended up with a good number of new pieces and actually looks good enough to be a retail release – something many DCSC figures did not manage. But I have to say I wish they had done her New 52 costume. This costume looks good in pin-ups and poster art, but it’s pretty fucking silly. Even in the same universe as a guy that dresses up like a bat.
Ocean Master – This one is another highlight of the sub. Ocean Master looks great. He has a plain body, but that’s all Ocean Master should have. This one is about as good as it could have been. I dig it.
Ra’s al Ghul – As I mentioned in my review, this is not at all the Ra’s I would have wanted. And it’s not even very good for the Ra’s that I didn’t want. But it is Ra’s al Ghul and the only one I’m going to get in this line, so I’m keeping him and giving him a less stupid sword from my massive drawer full of extra crap. This sword might be good for a He-Man figure.
Batzarro – This might be the best figure that I would have never, ever asked for or wanted. I haven’t opened mine because I’m going to sell it, but I did take it out of the mailer and it looks great. The head is awesome, the body is well done, and the utility belt is hilarious. But he was a December disappointment. With all the characters that this line will never see and we get Batzarro to round out the line. What a turd.
Except that the line isn’t quite over yet. Matty got far enough into production that they can release four final figures at a ridiculously high price – Damien Wayne, Ice, 90s Aquaman, Superboy, and some shitty Doomsday that nobody wanted, even people that actually like Doomsday (I am not one of those people). I’ll buy Damien even though he’s too big and I’ll buy Ice because I have to. And I suppose I will review them because for twenty-five bucks a pop plus shipping I will definitely be getting posts out of those things.
Overall I look at the DC Signature Collection with a sort of resigned acceptance. Out of twenty-six releases that I obligated myself to purchase, there were only eleven that I would consider must-haves:
Ra’s al Ghul
Huntress
Wally West (I know I got rid of him, he wasn’t great)
Platinum w/Tin
Lead
John Constantine
Poison Ivy
Mirror Master
Atrocitus
Saint Walker
Larfleeze
And only eight that I am truly happy with as figures:
John Constantine
Poison Ivy
Mirror Master
Ocean Master
Red Hood
Black Mask
Phantom Stranger
Starman VIII
Those are terrible numbers. Especially for a guy that is in no way a completist. I am not going to sit here and figure out how much I spent in total on these figures versus how much I might have spent buying just the ones I wanted on the secondary market because I am having a great year so far and don’t feel the need to be depressed.
But I must reiterate – this is exactly what I expected when I first subscribed to Club Infinite Earths and I did it again after the first year proved me right. So if I’m all pissy about it, I have nobody to blame but myself.
Be sure and check back on Wednesday for Evil's thoughts on the line, and then on Friday... well, just be ready for the Belligerent Monkey's pictures. Seriously.

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