Friday, July 3, 2015

Toy Review –Batman: Arkham City Clayface from DC Collectibles

Welcome to Arkham Week on Needless Things!

Every day this week I’ll be reviewing one of the new Arkham Knight figures from DC Collectibles.

At least, that was the plan until DCC delayed the release of the Arkham Knight figure, presumably because it contained some sort of spoiler for the game. If you don’t know, the identity of the Arkham Knight is the big mystery of the game. And it has been handled wonderfully. Hopefully I will have had an opportunity to finish the story by the time this posts and I’ll know whether or not my theory is correct. If you want to know who I am 100% positive the Arkham Knight is, listen to this week’s Needless Things Podcast and I’ll tell you at the end.

As a result of the delay of the Arkham Knight figure I only had four figures to review. Until I realized that I had somehow forgotten to ever review one of the largest action figures in my collection – the massive Arkham City Clayface from DC Collectibles.

***Note: This review will contain spoilers for the Batman: Arkham games, so if you haven’t played them yet, you’re probably not reading this anyway.***

I love Clayface, particularly the Basil Karlo version, which is the one depicted in the Arkhamverse. He’s another tragic villain – an aging actor who is desperate to cling to his fame – with an ability that gives him a huge amount of story potential. He doesn’t have the same limits as Mr. Freeze.

We first meet Clayface as something of an Easter Egg in Arkham Asylum. Batman finds Commissioner Gordon locked in a cell, but when he turns away there’s a “shlurping” sound and it’s someone else (Quincy Sharpe, I think?). A few transformations later and it becomes apparent you’re looking at Clayface, though you never see his true form. It’s a creepy and rewarding moment.

Clayface plays a much larger part in the sequel, Arkham City. The Joker is the main villain of the game, but at one point it is revealed that Clayface has been posing as Joker all along and one of the best boss fights in the history of video games takes place. That’s what this figure is based on.

FIRST GLANCE

This figure is immense – much larger than Killer Croc or even Solomon Grundy. The frozen portions are beautiful. I do sort of wish this Clayface had a different face. I get that the game designers were trying to make him horrific and keep to the slightly more realistic slant they have maintained with all of the Arkhamverse character designs. I just like Clayface with a big monster head. This smaller skull is disconcerting.

PACKAGING

A big-ass figure is going to require an even bigger-ass box. DCC maintained their style and motif and just made this thing huge. The window gives you a great view of the figure and it’s easy to open. Despite Clayface’s weight and bulk they didn’t feel the need to use eight thousand different plastic ties to hold it in place. As a matter of fact, they were even smart enough to put a thick plastic band around the bendy arm to keep the necessary wire from leaving and impression:

That’s the kind of thought and quality I’ve come to expect from DCC. Not wings that fall off.

For some reason I didn’t take a picture of the back of the box (I’m assuming it’s because it didn’t have a bio or anything), so here’s some instructions:

While I didn’t really need them, I do appreciate that DCC thought to include them and I’m hoping they continue the trend when it might be necessary. There have been a few figures (mostly NECA) that have baffled me as to how certain parts were supposed to work or interact.

LOOKS

Clayface is over thirteen inches tall, which is massive, even in a 7” scale line. The figure actually isn’t as heavy as I was expecting, but it still has a good heft.

I’m not sure how I feel about the frozen parts.

Over the course of the boss fight, Batman has to use freeze grenades to immobilize Clayface and eventually defeat him. That’s why this figure has frozen parts. Or more accurately, DCC probably decided to give him frozen parts so he wouldn’t just look like a giant turd man. 

The ice looks fantastic and is actually one of my favorite designs on an action figure, but my problem is that, like battle damage, it fixes the character at one point in time. This can’t be regular, everyday Clayface robbing a bank or kidnapping an heiress. This is boss battle Clayface. There are no questions about his future and it limits the potential play storylines. Despite loving toys I am years past actually “playing” with them (except with my son), but I do still consider play value. And the only mileage you can get out of this figure is when he has Batman throwing freeze grenades at him.

Or I suppose you could have him fight Mr. Freeze.

Since I mentioned them I’ll start with the icy parts. They’re awesome. The ice crystals themselves are actually translucent and the “snow” portions are a shimmering white. It blends out into the clay portions, creating a convincing visual that Clayface is slowly being frozen. While I’m not sure that I want the ice on the figure, it looks amazing and is used sparingly. I really do feel that DCC put it on so that the figure wouldn’t just be a big chunk of brown.

Even then, though, it wouldn’t just be a big chunk of brown. There are subtle variations in the paint on the clay portions that give them definition and character. It helps the figure seem more like a living, moving thing.

The Clayface head is actually a sort of mask that’s covering up another head, but I’ll get to that in a minute. Normally I would consider this an accessory, but since it’s meant to be the primary face I’m going to cover it here. The main head has the disturbing, skull-like appearance of the video game character. It even looks a bit like something out of the Evil Dead movies. The sculpted ridges give it a malleable appearance. The eyes are pure evil. I lie the wash around them that gives them more depth. The hinged jaw is not so much to make Clayface look like he’s yawning as it is to keep the Clayface head on. It only sort of works.

Underneath the Clayface head is a tiny, disturbing Joker head:

Well, half a Joker head. This combined with the extra arm are intended to represent Clayface mid-transformation. This little head is super creepy and has an excellent sculpt. The bubbling mess on the Clayface side transitions very successfully into a Joker face with just a hint of clay coloring. It totally works as a concept. The Clayface head doesn’t stay on so well. As long as you’re not touching the figure or moving it, it stays put, so I can live with it.

Clayface’s torso is ripped and ridged, and incorporates some gritty textures to represent the clay. The way that the tendons and muscle definition are sculpted makes this look almost like a Kelley Jones design, and you know I am down with that. It’s interesting that the further ends of Clayface’s extremities have less human definition and look more earthen.





The arms have ice on the shoulders and elbows, which gives the figure a more interesting profile and helps to conceal the joints.











I really like Clayface’s hands for two reasons – the fingers end in a suggestion of claws and Karlo made a conscious decision to not have pinkie fingers. He could’ve had five digits, he could’ve had fifty. He went with four. I bet he’s a big fan of The Simpsons.

Clayface his big, clompy feet. Above that his legs are sort of dripping onto them, which is a neat effect.

ACCESSORIES

Clayface comes with a bendy arm, an axe arm, Talia al Ghul’s sword, and the Clayface head that I discussed above.

The bendy arm is very impressive. The material over the armature is like a better version of the crap that Matty used to make Snout Spout. It is pliable and resilient like rubber, but gives like foam. Due to the weight of the arm, there is a mechanism to secure it in place. By pushing one of the ice crystals, you move a plastic ring inside the shoulder joint that holds the arms in place:

Even then the arms are a little tough to get out, but I don’t mind because I am familiar with the alternative.

The upper portion of the arm is solid plastic and designed to look like Joker’s jacket sleeve. The paint achieves this effect nicely. The bendy portion has lines on it that suggest it being in mid-transformation from being Joker, as well as long, white fingertips. Those are super creepy. Only the Joker fingers have armatures – the rest will bend, but don’t hold poses.

The axe arm is a bit simpler – it just pops into the socket left open when you remove Clayface’s right forearm:

It’s big and heavy as heck and looks great.

The sword is the same one that came with the Talia al Ghul figure. It looks great and has multiple paint apps. But more importantly, it fits snugly into a slot in Clayface’s back:
Be careful putting it in, as it is a tight fit and it actually goes much further in than it seems like it will. Just be gentle.

FUN

For such a massive figure, Clayface has a good amount of articulation. Nothing below the hips has a huge range, but that’s a necessity. If the hops, knees, or ankles had too much this guy would end up just falling over all the time.

The shoulders and elbows work nicely. My only gripe is that the head really can’t move too much at all. It looks like it could, but there’s very little play up and down. It mostly just swivels, so you can’t have Clayface looking to his left while grabbing Batman with his bendy arm, for example. A guy made entirely of a malleable material shouldn’t have that problem.
His accessories and interchangeable parts more than make up for any joint limitations, though. IT’s fun to switch out his parts and I’d go so far as to say that if DCC wanted to put out some sort of accessory kit with different arms and heads or something I’d buy it.

This figure could have easily just been about standing around and looking imposing, but DCC went the extra mile and packed in some great features, as well.

OVERALL

While this is a beautiful figure for what it represents, I’m still not sold on the ice. It looks fantastic, but I just don’t know if I’d prefer an ice-free Basil Karlo. It wouldn’t look as striking, but it would satisfy my desire for figures to be more neutral and less scene specific.

Still, this is a work of action figure art. From the design to the way it is engineered, this Clayface is a true feat (of clay). It’s definitely pricey, but if you’re a fan it’s a must-have. I applaud DC Collectibles for doing such a bang-up job on this one.

4 out of 5


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4 comments:

  1. Cool review! I snapped him up through your Amazon link! I've been meaning to get him at some point an your review, plus the chance to help Needless Things, tipped the scales.

    I'm looking forward to him!

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    1. Thanks for the support, man! I love this guy. He's so huge I still haven't quite figured out where to put him.

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  2. It's hard to tell how large he really is from the pics, even when you say he's about 13" tall it didn't sink in. Then I saw him today in a Hastings, they had him on the shelf next to a MS Avengers 2 Hulk, and Clayface was almost twice as tall. So, yeah, that's friggin' huge.

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    1. I meant to say twice the size, not twice as tall. Little detail, but I wanted to clarify.

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