Monday, June 12, 2017

Toy Review – One:12 Collective DC Comics Joker from Mezco Toys

By Phantom Troublemaker


Personally, I find the Joker to be a tough project as an action figure.

In my head, when I think of the Clown Prince of Crime, I think of Jim Aparo’s Joker from A Death in the Family. For obvious reasons that story stuck with me and had a huge impact on my overall view of the Joker. I’d almost say it haunted me. For someone that grew up with Cesar Romero’s whooping, pink-clad hooligan, the murderous character depicted in that story was quite a departure. Even Jack Nicholson’s wonderful, maniacal performance didn’t have the same impact as Aparo’s depiction of Joker’s face as he was clubbing Jason Todd with a crowbar:


That’s a nightmare.

As much as I love that Joker, it’s tough to capture that face and those dimensions in three dimensions in a way that is satisfying. Mattel and DC Collectibles have both made admirable attempts, but there are always issues.

There have been plenty of other Joker action figures, but they’re always capturing one specific iteration of the character and seem to fail to capture his iconic history. Almost every Joker figure is “this is Joker from ____________” rather than “This is the Joker”.

As with most of their One:12 Collective releases, Mezco has taken on the difficult task of taking elements from various versions of the Joker to attempt to create a satisfying single amalgam. They’ve done incredibly well with past releases, so I was very excited to get this one in hand and judge the results for myself. Would this be THE Joker?

Side Note: Joker, Punisher, and Shazam all arrived at my Local Comic Shop on the same day.

After selling a kidney so that I could buy them all, I sat down with Phantom, Jr. to look at them and decide which one to review first. Even though Shazam and Punisher look amazing, we both agreed that Joker was the one.

Then I got an email saying that the Entertainment Earth Exclusive Space Ghost had shipped. Goodbye, other kidney.


FIRST GLANCE

Super Major Thing to Remember: The suit looks better in person. I promise. In the pictures it looks a bit baggy and plain. In person it fits incredibly well and has a great texture.

That isn’t the Aparo face – nor should it be – but it is much more exaggerated than many of the more “realistic” Jokers we’ve gotten. The clothing looks incredible and I love the gloss of the gloves and shoes.


PACKAGING

This is the same gorgeous style of box as the other releases. Mezco seems to have settled on a paper rather than plastic slipcover, which is fine but doesn’t look as nice. I don’t really care, but I do keep these boxes rather than throwing them away. Not that anyone would buy one of these empty, but if they were for some odd reason ever sold they’d be ten or fifteen bucks. That’s how good the craftsmanship is. And I tell myself that to help justify the price of these figures.

The back of the box features several full color images of the figure in action, along with some detail shots.


The back of the interior box features a different image with an actual background. This is new for the series. The other boxes have mirrored the back of the slipcover.


The front panel opens to reveal the figure and a very Aparo-inspired image of the Joker. I like that Mezco finds different artists to present the coolest interpretations of the characters rather than maintaining a standard image style. There are two magnets in the panel that wraps around the side to keep it closed.


The box opens easily. Inside there are two plastic trays, each with their own cover. These separate easily and are not taped together, which I liked. The bottom tray holds the arm and armature for the display stand and a storage bag. Everything else in is in the top tray. The figure itself had a plastic piece around it to protect against scratching. There were a couple of pieces of film on various accessories to preserve the paint and keep them in place.

This is a fantastic box. It’s a perfect combination of everything that collector packaging should be – it has a beautiful design, it’s easy to open and remove the figure, and it’s also completely resealable with no sign of damage; not even tape marks. Mezco put together a box that is utilitarian and attractive. I didn’t have even a second of difficulty removing any piece of the toy from the box, and that’s significant.


LOOKS

The default head is basically the middle ground between a more exaggerated comic book look and something close to Jack Nicholson. It reminds me a bit of the way Lee Bermejo draws the character. The sculpt is one of the most intricate I’ve seen from this line. The hair is a sort of asymmetrical pompadour that doesn’t have the perfect shape of a standard action figure. While maintaining a nice profile, there are little shapes and variations that give it a lot of character. The fine work on the strands looks great, as well.

The lines and wrinkles of the face are distinctive and there are a lot of them. It gives him a strained look that’s absolutely fantastic, almost as if he’s about to burst with madness. This face very much looks like the precursor to the included alternate head. The paint applications bring the exceptional sculpt to life. There are shades of green in the hair and the eyebrows are precisely detailed. Joker’s eyes are painted with glossy colors and fairly gleam out of his face. The oh-so-important grin features ruby red lips and teeth that are immaculately sculpted and painted. They’re just a tad larger than seems reasonable for a human, and all the more unnerving because of that.

The white pallor of Joker’s face is washed with a pale flesh tone to give those sculpted wrinkles depth and a darker color around the eyes that doesn’t quite reach the level of Ledger’s eyeshadow look. All in all this is a fantastic combination of various elements of Jokers through the years.


Joker’s body might be a buck that’s a little skinnier than Flash’s. I don’t plan to ever take the clothes off of these, so I won’t know for sure, but whatever the case, it’s great for Joker.


His arms are different, though. Under the jacket the figure has a short sleeve shirt, a vest, and a tie. Each article of clothing is cut and stitched to look scaled to the figure, which is an impressive accomplishment. The buttons on the vest are fake, but look good. The materials used for these pieces are light enough to not be too bulky for a twelfth scale figure, but sturdy enough to not feel like they’re going to fall apart. The stitching is as tiny as it could be and looks good. That goes for the jacket and trousers, too. I kind of wish I had more to say about them, but that’s pretty much it. Some pockets on the sides and chest of the jacket would have been nice and added to the look, but I’m guessing they hit a budget wall. There are a few areas where I feel like Mezco ran out of money on this one just shy of perfection. 
That sounds worse than I mean it to – I’ll explain in the Fun section.


Joker’s gloved hands are as detailed as you’d expect. There are seams and folds and the glossy paint has a dark wash to bring out the sculpted detail. For some reason it always bothers me when Joker has white gloves, so I’m glad Mezco went with the dark lavender for these and the shoes.


The shoes are tremendous. The soles are light brown and the uppers match the gloves. The lighter purple laces look great and the ankle joint is sculpted to be where the socks go into the shoes. It’s perfectly executed and the joint works better than you’d expect from such an aesthetically pleasing connection. Of course, those socks are one of the best things I have ever seen on an action figure. I want to send a card to whomever designed this portion of the figure. As fantastic as the Bat socks are, the part that impressed me the most was that they are actually sculpted socks and not just a paint job on the legs. You can see it a bit in the photo, but Joker’s pasty flesh is above the elastic band at the top of the sock. Impressive.


ACCESSORIES

Joker comes with a stand, a posing armature, an extra head, three extra hands, a pistol, a set of chattering teeth, and a storage bag.


Joker’s additional hands swap out very easily. One is posed to hold the gun, one is splayed out, and one has an immaculately detailed Joker card. They look superb and are necessary choices, but I’ve got to say that I feel like there should be a few more. At the very least I’d want matches for the splayed fingers and gun hand, but a pair of neutral hands would be nice, too. And a joy buzzer.


The pistol is satisfyingly huge and has the mind-boggling amount of detail I’ve come to expect from the One:12 Collective. All of the lines are clean and sharp. The metallic gunmetal color on the barrel looks great and the purple grip is a nice touch. It fits perfectly into the figure’s hand.


Chattering teeth were a delightful addition to the figure and an accessory I wouldn’t have thought of. I love things like this that make Mezco’s products stand out from the rest. These look perfect. Nothing more to say.


The extra head is phenomenal. The strained look that I mentioned above is gone and the madness has burst forth. Even the hair is different and out of place. This look is reminiscent of the Joker from the end of Dark Knight Returns without being that, exactly. The neck is part of the head sculpt and plugs onto a barbell that extends from the body. It’s all pretty sturdy, but be careful. The heads are fairly easy to swap, though, so don’t sweat it too much.


The base is the same glossy plastic as the other One:12 releases, but with a bunch of flat green “HA”s painted on. It looks great. Be careful when swapping the peg and the armature, as the base will scratch easily. I’d like it if the pegs on these were a bit longer, but at least the connection is secure. The armature has several pivots and swivels so you can pose the figure jumping or whatever. Chances are your Joker won’t be flying, but who knows?

The bag is plastic and has a zipper seal on it. There is a spot to presumably write the figure’s name. I won’t be doing that. I do store the extra parts in there in a drawer, though. If I put everything back in the box I’d never pull the parts out and use them.


FUN

For the most part Joker has the same articulation as the other One:12s. The biggest difference is that his elbows aren’t double-jointed, but that’s okay. The figure is designed to be displayed with or without the jacket, and bare double-jointed elbows never look good. These pivot deeply enough for me.


Despite not having two joints, the head has a very good range of movement. I’m glad that the head and neck are all one piece rather than having a joint between them. It just looks better.

Joker can do pretty much everything I want a Joker to do. While posing the figure I didn’t encounter any restrictions that kept me from achieving what I was going for. That’s not to say that this is the most articulated figure ever, just that it has the tip levels of reasonable and useful articulation.


Above and beyond all of the other great things about this figure is the fact that through yet another of Mezco’s design miracles, no matter what I did with the figure, posing-wise, the suit stays neat and in place. I don’t even understand how this works, as I’ve had lots of different figures of different scales in fabric suits and it is a huge pain in the ass to pose the figure and then get the suit back into place. That is not a problem here.

As I mentioned above, I feel like there were a lot of opportunities for more accessories. I’m happy with what’s here, but aside from the additional head it feels like a bare minimum. To Mezco’s credit, the figure still feels like it achieves as much as the budget allowed and is a good value. I would be up for an accessory pack with extra heads, hands, weapons, and maybe a jacket with tails or an overcoat. If Mezco had chosen to release a deluxe version with those things (like they did with their Punisher), I would have bought it.


OVERALL

Once again Mezco has created magic and convinced me that the figures in this line are totally worth the high prices. I’m not gonna lie – every time I buy one, it hurts my financial sensibilities. But once I’ve opened it up, it’s more rewarding than any other toy purchase I make.

This might not be the be-all, end-all Joker that ends your need to buy Joker figures, but it certainly is an excellent consolidated model. Due to the history of the character I’d never say that any Joker was the last one I’d need, but this one is the best one I own. If Mezco were to ever release an Aparo version or a Nicholson from Batman ’89, I’d be in. Until then, this Joker is my favorite on the shelf.

5 out of 5


Mezco rejected my request to join their affiliate program and get a discount on their products for my reviews, so if you want to help Needless Things pay the bills buy this Joker (or anything else) from Amazon!:



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