Monday, May 19, 2014

Toy Review – Batman: Arkham Origins Firefly from DC Collectibles

I was really excited about this figure.

Arkham Origins was not the best game ever and is certainly the weakest of the Arkham games. But if it had one strong point, it was the boss battles. Well, some of the boss battles. The ones that relied on innovation and utilization of the villains’ characteristics rather than on sending swarms of goons to artificially increase the difficulty.

The Firefly boss battle was one of the former. He flew and he shot fire. And both of those characteristics were used not only to make an effective battle, but also to take him down. The battle was epic and involved a lot of timing and use of Batman’s grapnel. It was something different and fun.


The character design – as with almost all of the Arkham designs – was a fantastic variation on Firefly’s standard look. An element of function was introduced into his wings and costume, while still maintaining a very super-villainy look. I was excited to get this figure in hand and see how DCC had incorporated their usual articulation and features into this character design.

FIRST GLANCE

Firefly is a figure that fills up the package and catches the eye. The contrasting colors look good. This is one of those figures that will probably have toy collectors unfamiliar with the character (because I’m sure there are lots of those…) giving it a second look.

PACKAGING

This is the superior DCC clamshell with the perforated back. It’s still hazardous and I recommend wearing protective gloves while opening it, but at least you don’t need scissors to do so. The new shape of the package seems particularly suited to Mr. Lynns.

LOOKS

Even after battling Firefly in the game and then unlocking his character trophy I didn’t realize how complex this guy’s gear was. There is a lot of gadgetry here and DCC has done an excellent job of representing it.

That helmet looks amazing. I love the lenses, I love the breathing mask with the tubes, and I love the antenna. The thing is so insectile while still looking like a real thing. You don’t look at it and think, “This was made by a man trying to dress up like a bug.”

I think the exoskeleton is what really sells this design. While I’m sure an engineer or pretty much anybody smarter than me could pick it apart, it has a kind of logic to it. Looking at the chest harness and fasteners and the shoulder supports and the braces running down the figure’s legs, it seems totally reasonable that a guy could strap two huge, winged fans on his back and fly around. It almost bears a little resemblance to that thing they built on Mythbusters. The point is that it all looks so functional. There are clasps and straps and buckles. It looks like it supports weight in the right places.

Uh… and this is a toy review, not a critique of the character design, so… the figure captures all of that detail!

Part of the success of this figure comes from the fact that many of the pieces are actually separately sculpted parts and look great because of that.

The jumpsuit has a couple of different textures on it. The base looks like a nylon with some dry brushing to give it a little more depth. The padding is crisp and well defined. Yellow is a notoriously difficult color to work with on toys, but the folks at DCC applied it well enough to look good. The lines are clean and it’s thick enough that the lower layer colors don’t show through. I really dig the high collar, though that is the source of one of my problems with the figure, which I’ll get to later.

There’s some nice asymmetry on the figure. He has grenades under his right arm and some sort of gauntlet thing on his left. Both hands are posed to do very specific things – hold the flamethrower. But they do look okay empty.

Firefly’s boots look extremely uncomfortable, but also like they would provide great support for somebody that was, say, landing suddenly from a great height. The sculpt is angular and clean – clearly these are a rigid material. 
 
ACCESSORIES

Even though the separate pieces that Firefly comes with are permanent pieces of his gear I’m going to treat them as accessories. Because otherwise he doesn’t come with anything.
Firefly comes with two wings and his flamethrower.

The flamethrower has a rubber fuel line attached that actually isn’t attached. I thought it was, but then I moved the thing too far in one direction and it popped out. Fortunately, it plugged right back in. The other end plugs into this little hole in the back of the figure’s harness. This brings up an issue I have with the character design – where is the fuel source for his flamethrower? That flamethrower does look great. The sculpt is simple but solid and the paint is great. DCC doesn’t try to pull the bullshit that Mattel does.

The wings are a problem. For some strange reason the designers decided to create these weird shapes for the wing plugs rather than any kind of conventional connection points. As a result the wings don’t attach very well and don’t sit evenly. The wings do look good. The sculpt is nice and clean and the paint job on the front is great. But it looks like I spoke too soon when I complimented DCC on their accessory paint because the backsides of the wings are unpainted. It looks weird.

FUN

Sadly, this figure is no fun.

The first issue is the articulation. While Firefly does have a decent amount, a lot of it is limited:

Head – swivel
Shoulders – ball joints
Elbows – pivots with swivels at the top
Wrists – swivel
Hips – ball joints
Knees – pivots

That seems okay, right? Not so much. The shoulders and hips are very limited as to how far they can move. The elbows swivel all the way around, but the pivots have a very shallow bend. The arms just needed a lot more range. Firefly can hold his flamethrower in exactly one position, and that’s the only thing he looks good doing. And even that isn’t great because he can’t turn his head far enough to track where he’s aiming.

The hip joints are limited by the brace pieces and the knees have an even shallower pivot than the elbows, but that really doesn’t matter because there are no ankle joints.

I could live with the limited leg articulation because this guy flies and doesn’t really need a lot of lower body action (though being able to point his feet downward would be nice). But he needed a lot better articulation in his arms.

OVERALL

Compered to the DC Direct figures of the past Firefly is very good. He’s more than a statue with five points of articulation. But not much more. When put up against most of DC Collectibles’ more recent releases – especially a lot of the Arkham figures – he just doesn’t quite impress. He looks great, but there are some fundamental flaws with his design.

3 out of 5

He may not be the most exciting figure ever, but Firefly still looks neat hanging from the ceiling. Help Needless Things out and buy one from Amazon!:


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