Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Toy Review – Batman: The New Batman Adventures Mr. Freeze from DC Collectibles

Preface: Before I get into today’s review of this new Mr. Freeze figure, I want to address the quality control issues of this line and DC Collectibles’ reaction to them.

I have already reviewed New Adventures Batman and Animated Series Catwoman. Both figures are beautiful and yet critically flawed. As I did with Funko’s Game of Thrones figures, I reviewed the figures based on their production and design and hoped for less QC issues in future releases.

I look at it like this – a figure that breaks in the course of normal handling is obviously a failure. It pretty much deserves a zero out of five. But how many of you would accept this as a toy review:

Toy Review – Batman: The New Batman Adventures Batman from DC Collectibles

The first one of these I got had a clear, unpainted elbow joint. One of the second one’s extra hands broke when I tried to move the joint.

0 out of 5
Don’t buy this figure:



That would be ridiculous. 


Not just because it would be lousy content for the site, but because the possibility exists that I just happened to end up with the only NA Batman that broke in this way. I can’t very well assume that every single one of them will do this. 
Granted, they might (and probably did) break in other ways, but that’s not for me to speculate on. As I see it, my job is to report whatever flaw my figure had, but otherwise critique those basic “across the line” attributes – design and production. Although I will say that the use of clear plastic for joints is something that has been proven as an utterly unacceptable practice.

To their credit, DC Collectibles seem quite upset about this. They have provided an e-mail address through which you may contact them to report whatever problems you might have with your figures:


Moreover – and I know this thanks to my wife working at a comic shop – they have instructed retailers to destroy remaining stock of the first series of figures. That’s wild.
We do not yet know what action DCC will take regarding existing figures already purchased by consumers, but they seem serious about righting their wrongs. And they damn well should be. This DC Animated line has the potential to go on for a decade – it could easily match the variety and longevity of Mattel’s DC Universe Classics line; if not surpass them. With this line being under the direct control of DC, there is much more room to expand and diversify. Just look at the fact that Baby Doll is among the first twelve figures being offered (she is included with Killer Croc). And quite frankly, so far this line is putting DCUC to absolute shame with its character selection, design, and bevy of accessories.

In short, DC knows they have something special here that is potentially a massive cash cow. Once you hook a toy collector on a line, they’re typically all in. And few franchise in or outside of comics are quite as revered as the DC Animated Universe.

Here’s hoping DCC keeps a much tighter rein on Quality Control going forward. I honestly don’t even care if they replace the figures I have. Mine function just fine. But they have a whole universe of characters (and possibly vehicles and more) to produce, and I want to see them all.

I love Mr. Freeze. He might be my favorite Batman villain. I might have even said before that he’s my favorite Batman villain and at the time I probably meant it. That’s all because of the way he was handled in Batman: The Animated Series
 
Almost every character that appeared in The Animated Series and New Adventures had a story arc of some sort, but Freeze’s was one of the most epic (if not the most), to the point where he was the antagonist in his own feature – Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero. The tragic Victor Fries was featured throughout the run of the animated Batman franchises, including Batman Beyond. His motivations were never villainous – he was always driven by love (or obsession). His deeds, on the other hand, usually planted him firmly in the Rogues’ Gallery.

This isn’t my favorite Mr. Freeze design. It’s not bad by any means. I can’t say I dislike any Mr. Freeze designs except for the New 52 version. Even Schwarzenegger looked pretty rad in Batman & Robin. Granted, Patrick Stewart or John Malkovich (my Freeze dream casting choice) would have been better physically, but the suit design was awesome.

Except for when it turned into a butterfly.

I like my Mr. Freezes to have backpacks and hoses. I can deal with sleeker designs like this one and even the one from The Batman (who had a totally different origin story), but in my mind Freeze needs a ton of life support and a source for his cold gun. I think the Arkham City design nailed it, but the original Animated design is great, too.

While I would have preferred that first design, I definitely want both. After all, this one’s head turns into a terrifyingly creepy robot spider. The good news is that I think if this line continues on we’ll get that original Freeze design. DC Collectibles has just announced that they are releasing the original Animated Series Batman. So they’re not averse to multiple versions. Granted, that’s Batman and he’s the main draw, but I’m sure I’m not the only one that prefers the old Freeze.

FIRST GLANCE

I can’t get over how true these figures are to the animation designs. I think Freeze is the best one so far. The general aesthetic of these characters is to have pretty wild proportions, but Freeze’s long legs, clunky boots, barrel torso and arms, and narrow head he really defines the style. The figure looks absolutely spectacular.

PACKAGING

Ah, the wonderful blister card. There’s nothing I don’t like about this. Since I will –hopefully – be reviewing tons of these figures for many years to come, this is going to be the stock paragraph I use in this section from here on out.

The cardback is simple, with clean graphics and a number on the blister insert. This insert identifies the figure and which show the design comes from. It also gives credit to the sculptor, which in this case is toy legend Gentle Giant.

LOOKS
Freeze’s suit looks like and evil refrigerator from 1950, which is awesome. He’s all clean lines, but has a certain hand-drawn feel that lends itself to the style these figures are trying to capture. 
 
I like a lean Victor Fries – he should be a severe, skinny character – but I was never a fan of this head. It’s a little too alien or corpse-like. I also miss the goggles. But I’m not here to critique the original design, I’m here to decide how well the figure captured it. And the figure does a darn good job. The long face and angular cheekbones look great and the slightly peaked skull is exactly right. With just a few dashes of paint for the eyes and mouth, the head looks perfect.

As does the plastic dome he has for a helmet. It’s a clean, translucent plastic that is completely seamless. I don’t even understand how they did that. It fits snugly into the groove around Freeze’s collar and stays put without the assistance of notches or anything disruptive to the design.

This version of Freeze has one of the more distinctive forms of the DC Animated characters (for a human, anyway) and the figure has captured that profile without giving anything up to stability or articulation. All of the lines on his shoulders, waist, gauntlets, and boots are sculpted. The paint in those lines is a little sketchy, but I’m not sure if that’s intentional. It doesn’t bother me, but if it were a little more solid it might be better.

The various colors are uniform throughout the figure. All of the matte black matches, as does the blue. This may not be my favorite Freeze design, but there’s no doubting this is Victor Fries.

ACCESSORIES

Mr. Freeze comes with a stand, his freeze gun, four head spider legs, and four extra hands.

The hands are in various useful poses and are hinged at the wrist. They are sturdy and are fairly easy to switch out – but do be careful doing so. You’re going to want to very carefully work each hinge before plugging them into Freeze’s wrists.

The freeze gun is flat black and very simple. It looks like it should look and has a very cool design for the smaller, pistol version of Freeze’s weapon. It’s just not as exciting as a rifle with a tube and a backpack attached. 
 
Freeze’s head is removable at the collar and has four smaller holes surrounding the one that affixes Freeze to his body. The creepy spider legs plug into those holes to recreate that mind-boggling moment in the cartoon where you realize just how nutso insane Freeze really is because you see that he has cut off his own head and stuck spider legs to it:

This is one of the most horrifying moments in the history of American animation (it doesn’t even make the top million for worldwide, which would include Japanese) and I’m thrilled that DCC saw fit to let us have a toy of it.

The legs are a little tough to plug in. If you use a hair dryer to warm the plastic up first it will be a lot easier.

Finally there’s the stand. I normally despise stands as accessories, but these are cool and have reference art printed on them. It occurs to me now that this is the standard design, but that Batman’s was different because he has a cape that his stand needs to fit under. This clamp has two supports rather than just one and the support rods adjust horizontally as well as vertically. This is easily the most impressive stand I’ve seen at this scale. I like the graphics an awful lot, as well. I think I might wish they had gone with a black stand with red print (to match the usual color scheme of the show’s materials). This white will likely discolor over time.
 
FUN

Since this Mr. Freeze is sort of a transformer the figure is tons of fun. The multiple interchangeable hands are neat, but not entirely necessary. The big wins here are the excellent helmet and the removable head and spider legs. They give the figure an awful lot of “fiddling around” value, which is something I hold in pretty high regard. A toy scores huge points when it’s something that takes a long time making it off of my desk and onto the shelf because I keep playing with it during podcasts or whatever.

Of course, Freeze’s articulation is also very important. While I’ll never be a fan of the hinged hips this line is using, the rest of the joints are great and work very well. Additionally, the figure’s balance is fantastic. I was able to achieve a number of poses without any kind of support.

While I wouldn’t just hand this figure over to my seven year old son to play with (it’s not that sturdy), it is a good toy for those that know how to be very careful with it.

OVERALL

I can’t give the figure a perfect score because I am unsure of how intentional the paint irregularities are, but overall it still looks fantastic and is a lot of fun to play with. It’s a welcome addition to the shelf and I certainly don’t mind waiting for my preferred Mr. Freeze with this one being so good.

4 out of 5

I’m putting my normal copy here even though I don’t know if you’ll be able to buy one from Amazon at the moment:


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