Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Toy Review - Batman: The Animated Series Catwoman from DC Collectibles

But first...
Needless Things & Zenescope Entertainment
Present
The Winter Wonderland Contest!

If you listen to the Needless Things Podcast and visit Needless Things, you could win a Wonderland prize pack from Zenescope, which includes:

*One Alice action figure sculpted by Clayburn Moore, as reviewed here on Needless Things

*One Grimm Fairy Tales: Wonderland board game

*A trade paperback collection of the Wonderland comic book from Zenescope Entertainment

Just send an e-mail to phantomtroublemaker@gmail.com with the subject “Winter Wonderland” telling us one item you would take with you if you were going down the rabbit hole into the wild world of Wonderland.

Be sure to include your name, phone number (in case we need to contact the winner), and mailing address. 
 
Contest runs now through midnight on December 13th, 2014. One entry per individual.

*****
I am so excited that these figures are finally coming out!

Of course, this beign the world of toys, that excitement is tempered by the fact that I am also discovering the flaws in the figures. DC Collectibles had a strong couple of quality control years in 2012 and 2013, but 2014 has seen a return to some of their old ways. The Arkham video game figures have been suffering from dull design or fragility on some cases. And both of the animated style figures that I have picked up so far have broken in some way. Not good.

But before I get to that I should talk about Catwoman.

Julie Newmar is my Catwoman. Lee Meriweather was cute in the movie and Earth Kitt was probably actually the best Catwoman, but Newmar was first and was darn good. When I think of Catwoman, she’s who I picture.

My favorite Catwoman, though, is the one that appeared in Batman: The Animated Series as voiced by Adrienne Barbeau. While we never got much in the way of a backstory, this animated Selina Kyle was a fully developed character with her own interests beyond whatever relationship she had with Batman or Bruce Wayne. She was an animal rights activist and even a player in Gotham City’s high society social scene. Like almost every character depicted in the DC Animated Universe, Catwoman was written with depth and substance.

Before I get into the review I want to talk a bit about DC Collectibles’ release strategy for these animated figures.

Rather than releasing these figures in cases together all at once, DCC is putting out one at a time. They aren’t quite weekly, as we had Batman one week, then Catwoman, but nothing last week. But I think spreading them out is a very good idea and probably should have been mentioned when they were offered in Previews. The idea of buying one twenty-five dollar figure a week (or less often) is somewhat less intimidating than shelling out a hundred bucks at once for all four figures in a series. As a matter of fact, if DCC made a point of offering these like a monthly subscription (a model that has seen some success elsewhere) or even weekly if they really needed to, I feel like even more people might have ordered these than did. My local comic book shop is not exactly a high-volume store, so I don’t really have a gauge of what the orders were for these. I was the only customer that ordered a Catwoman there and they didn’t order any extras, but I can’t imagine this is the case most places. I fully expect this line to be a massive hit, but with DCC price points beign what they are I think it needs all the help it can get. Spacing releases out would be smart.

FIRST GLANCE

Catwoman is very tiny compared to Batman, which is refreshing to see. I still have all of my old Kenner Animated Series figures and the scale in that line was not great. The joints on this figure are not overly invasive aside from the hips, which are a little ugly. But overall this is a sleek Catwoman that looks just like the cartoon counterpart.

PACKAGING

I want to write a song about how much I love blister cards every time I see a blister card from a company that I typically associate with clamshells. DCC seems to be moving away from those ugly, hazardous things, but it still makes me happy to see that cardboard cardback.

This line has taken the numbering route, which I like. Each figure’s insert features which cartoon its look is from. Someday I hope to see inserts with Justice League Unlimited printed on them.

The back is simple. I’d like a profile, but I also know darn well who Catwoman is and throw the packaging in the trash anyway, so whatever.

LOOKS

My lousy pictures do not convey just how excellent this head looks. The sculpt and proportions are just perfect. Her mask is sculpted and not just a paint job. The choice to have her mouth open was great. You almost expect her to start talking. Or maybe it’s just really late. I’m tired.

Her body is sculpted with the curves of the cartoon character and the designers chose to leave out any kind of abdominal articulation, as that would have interrupted the profile. I think it was the right call. The hip joints are a little ugly and there’s nothing you can do about that. Otherwise the lines of the figure are great.

The gloves and boots are well defined. The boots are actually separate pieces with swivels at the top, which would be great if not for:

Yeah. That makes two of these new DC Animated figures that have broken – very easily and with careful handling, by the way – out of the two that I’ve bought. Not good.
Side Note: We also picked up the Lil’ Gotham figures for my son. Harley broke almost immediately. I touched one of the little pompoms on her hat and it practically fell right off. DCC really needs to get their act back together or I’m going to have to rethink my love for them.
Catwoman’s hands look great and are delicate and fortunately quite sturdy. I was absolutely positive that they were going to break, given what happened with Batman, but they didn’t. 
 
ACCESSORIES

Catwoman comes with a stand, Isis the cat, a whip, a diamond necklace, four extra hands, and what I think are binoculars.
I’m certain the necklace and binoculars are episode-specific items, but despite the fact that I’ve seen every episode of the animated Batman series multiple times, my knowledge is not encyclopedic. I know Isis the cat because she featured in many (if not most) of Catwoman’s episodes, but I couldn’t tell you what the bag of jewels Catwoman stole in her fourth appearance looked like. Regardless, both of these items look neat. The necklace has a lot of detail and a good paint job. It doesn’t fit over Catwoman’s head, but she can hold it and you can put it on Isis, as well. Which I think is a thing that happened.
The binoculars look like what binoculars in the world of Batman: The Animated Series should look like – that is, what people in the fifties might think binoculars would look like in the future. Catwoman can hold them with a couple of her hands, but she can’t be posed as though she’s looking through them , which kind of defeats the purpose. Also, there’s no paint on one side to suggest lenses, so maybe this thing isn’t binoculars, after all. Maybe it’s a magnet (how do those work?).
The whip is rubber and nicely sculpted. It comes curled up, so it’s going to take a while to straighten out. But if you leave it hanging from the figure’s hand long enough gravity should do the trick. 

The hands are in various useful poses and are hinged at the wrist. They are sturdier than they look (sturdier than Batman’s hands, anyway) and are fairly easy to switch out – but do be careful doing so.
 
Isis looks great and is functional. She has joints on all four legs and her tail and can sit or stand on her own. It’s also relatively easy to get her to sit on Selina’s shoulder. This is a great little accessory that really adds to the value of the figure. If certain other companies had produced this figure it almost certainly wouldn’t have included Isis. 

And if it had, Isis would have been a non-articulated lump of plastic that probably wouldn’t stand up on its own. This little cat goes above and beyond.

Finally there’s the stand. I normally despise stands as accessories, but these are cool and have reference art printed on them. Catwoman’s stand is a little more involved than Batman’s. The clamp has two supports rather than just one. I guess this is because she’s smaller, but I really don’t know for sure. Either way it works well and looks neat – far superior to typical foot peg stands, in that this one actually supports the figure.
I really wish that this figure had come with an unmasked Selina Kyle head. Actually, I was shocked to open it and see that there wasn’t one. Batman didn’t come with a Bruce Wayne head, but for some reason I thought we would get an unmasked Selina. I suppose DCC might have secret identity figures somewhere in the road map, but I’d really prefer just heads to stick on the costumed bodies. While I do think that these figures are worth the price, I don’t necessarily want to spend this for a guy in a suit or a lady in a dress. I would, however, be in favor of a pack of alternate unmasked heads. 
 
And I suppose an undamaged Harvey Dent figure is a must.
FUN

DCC did a very good job with articulation. There’s not much you can do to hide joints on a female form in a skintight catsuit, but for the most part Selina looks good and her joints are all quite functional. The figure might not have quite the range of motion of the character, but it can still achieve a satisfying number of poses. 
 
The accessories definitely add to the fun. Isis was a great addition that could have easily been overlooked and the other stuff is neat to have.
OVERALL

I think I might actually like this figure more than I liked Batman. That one is great, but this Catwoman just seems to have so much personality. I don’t know if you can really tell from the pictures, but that face is so spot-on.
As I said about the animated Batman, this is now the best Catwoman I own. Mattel’s DCUC modern Catwoman is very good, but this one is a step better; a real achievement from DCC.
4 out of 5

Make yourself (and us) happy and buy a Catwoman from the Needless Things Amazon store!:



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