Young Justice
6″ Aqualad Review

I’m wavering on being a Young Justice collector. I like the show and enjoy the characters. I like that the line is relatively DCUC-compatible, but I really hate the price. The bases and accessories just don’t make me feel like I’m getting my money’s worth. And yet, I continue to buy…

When Young Justice was announced, the early artwork showed some things familiar and others things changed. Among the biggest differences was the character of Aqualad would forego any comic influence and instead craft a new character from scratch. This naturally set off a firestorm of angry comments and refusals to watch the show – all of which drew me to the character instantly. I waited for the premiere and was happy to find that Aqualad rather rocked. I wasn’t happy with everything the show tried to do (Why is M’gann such a ditz? Why is Superboy so angsty?), but I did love Aqualad. And that meant, much to my wife’s chagrin, I had to have a figure.

Even if it cost me $21.88, you ask? Well… yeah, but just barely. I picked up both Artemis and Robin at the slightly more palatable $19.99 at Target with mild unease, but somehow that extra $2 bugs me a bit more than the previous $5 between DCUCs and YJ figures. It might just be because that price is at Walmart – I’m just not used to prices being cheaper at Target. I can’t say for certain if I’ll be buying all the upcoming Young Justice 6″ figures (only one more (properly attired) team member, Kid Flash, is currently on the schedule), but if I do end up buying figures like Red Arrow or Sportsmaster, I really hope they can be found at Target.

Once I got over the excitement of finding Aqualad, the crushing $22 price-point, and the trip home, I was dismayed to find some of the worst warped limbs I’d ever seen on a 6″ Mattel figure. There’s all that room in the box and they still managed to mangle Aqualad in there pretty badly. So a quick pic for the Quality Control Spotlight and a run to the faucet was in order before we could start the review proper…

About two years before the Young Justice cartoon begins, Aqualad was a young boy serving in Atlantis’ military when he (& his friend Garth) aided Aquaman in a battle against Ocean Master. For their bravery, Aquaman asked offered them a place at his side. Garth, the Aqualad of the comics, declined while Kaldur’Ahm accepted the offer to be the King’s sidekick. Once the show begins, he’s a charter member of Young Justice and, ultimately, the team leader. The character is written to be older and more mature than the others and that’s probably a large part of his appeal to me. He’s the center of the team and strikes a great balance as leader.

This version of Aqualad has since been convoluted into DC history by Geoff Johns. In the comics, Aqualad’s parents were kidnapped by Mera’s people (while exploring the Bermuda triangle in an inflatable raft). He was born shortly afterwards and experimented on; somehow gaining basic Xebelian powers and the ability to open and close the Bermuda Triangle. Mera betrayed her people and rescued him as an infant (I’m not sure if that was before or after she betrayed her people and didn’t assassinate Aquaman) and gave him to foster parents who raised him with no knowledge of his origin. Oh, and his Dad turned out to be Black Manta, but his being kidnapped and experimented was more or less glossed over during these revelations.

In terms of sculpt, it’s hard to identify what’s new and reused on some of the common areas because I haven’t seen the Legion figures in person yet. From what I can tell though, he appears to be built on the Legion buck with only new feet, calves, belt, a right hand, his waterpack, and his head. I love all the new pieces, though the head sculpt gives me some pause. The finned calves and bare feet give the character a unique look on the shelf and the waterpack is nicely detailed. I really appreciate that the waterbearer accessories can stow on his waterpack just like in the show.

I both enjoy and dislike the head sculpt. I know that this figure is based on a cartoon and the head should reflect that. I’m not going to knock this figure any points for having a cartoon accurate head sculpt. In fact, it’s a great piece and if the eyes on mine had been painted better, I’d even call it perfect. It’s just that the body isn’t really on-model to the animation and it makes me wish that the heads didn’t have to be either. I don’t know how it would affect their sales (maybe they’d tank if they were less on-model?), but I still wish the heads were morphed just a bit to be a little more realistic. Still, it’s a great head sculpt, best in the line so far. Continue to Page 2…

42 thoughts on “Young Justice
6″ Aqualad Review

  1. I’m really looking forward to picking these up, just need money and a willing American.

    Surely I’m due a lottery win?


  2. I haven’t picked up any of these, but this guy looks just cool enough to make me bite.

    Concerning the warpage, would you consider using this remaining portion of my comment for your next Matty Q&A? “Dear Matty, why do you INSIST on posing figures in package despite the HORRIBLE WARPING it causes that is DESPISED by opener and MOC collectors alike?”

      1. surely if they can fix Jelly Legs Unlimited, then….oh, wait. NEVERMIND!

        I haven’t been impressed by the show OR the figures I’ve seen so far, but…I’m starting to like this guy. OTOH, Is it wrong that I keep looking at him and thinking how easy it would be to repaint him into GARTH? no?

        1. 😛 We need to just keep shouting at Mattel for a Garth.

          On the subject of the figures and limb warpage, what does bother me is the use of the more rubbery plastic on the limbs in the first place. Why can’t the whole figure be made of the same sturdy plastic that’s used from shoulders to thighs? I’ve never understood that.

  3. Agreed that should’ve gone for a better blend on the style of the heads, it’s the main thing that throws these figures off IMO.

    Accessories here look like tons of fun though! I remember when DCUC would get occasional cool accessories like that!

    1. Yeah, looking back – I didn’t talk those up enough, opting to point out the oddness of how they were made. I really love his accessories; they’re a ton of fun!

  4. They HAVE to pose the figures in extreme ways in the package! Otherwise how will you know they can pose and aren’t just stiff statues? 🙂

    (This particular nonsense seems to be driven by the Toybiz super articulated Spider-Man figure from long ago. Guess that thing had massive sales. Of course there may have been a hit movie and a rush of toy geeks wanting that comic posing Todd McFarlane look that may have helped that push too…)

    And that packaging….man. designed for the ‘collector’ that doesn’t open their toys and to take up shelf space.

    I have to say, I’m kinda attracted to the 2-packs of smaller figures, the ‘mentor and sidekick’ stuff. There’s a sharp looking Batman in that line.

  5. RE: Appealing to kids….it doesn’t matter what they put in it to justify the price, kids aren’t buying these. Maybe the smaller figures but not the 6in ones. Parents aren’t paying that much when there’s 100 other things to choose, but the bigger issue is the show itself, specifically that it’s rarely on tv. My 5 year old loves it and would love the figures but it’s never on and gets forgotten. This is also a kid who’s favorite figures are Deadman, Shark, and Arkillo so it’s not like the YJ figures are too obscure for him to dig. That and as usual, distribution is pretty bad. Add it all up and you’re left with almost only adult collectors buying these.

    Great review regardless.

    1. I have to agree that the price point isn’t kid-friendly. These seem to exist in an overthough no man’s land. My Target sold through the first case, but the second hasn’t moved, TRU hasn’t sold any (at a ridiculous $25), and I’ll have to check back in on this Wal-mart on Thursday or so to see how they’re doing there.

      Cartoon Network is run by monkeys though, no doubt. If DC/WB is serious about getting their product out on multiple platforms, they need to clean house at CN. Those morons strangle cartoons to death for a living.

  6. That picture with Mera, Aquaman, and Aqualad reminds me how odd Mattel’s character choices were. Hasbro’s been ambitious to make a figure out of damn near every background character and alien in their Star Wars lines…but only AFTER the main cast was done.

    It’s like making Cantina Alien #42 and two new Imperial Officers before C-3PO.

    1. You’re not implying that Mattel is foolish for not getting Ram-Man out in the first year of MOTUC when interest and subscriptions were still rising, are you? Because clearly you’re not aware of the development and logistics and synergy and quantum flow embedded into the manufacturing paradigm and the holistic corporate environment!

      heheheheh ain’t I a stinker? 🙂

      1. I can understand spreading out the A-list characters to keep interest up and so you don’t choke the tail end of the line with losers no one wants and sales plummet, but when Mattel does it, it feels more mean-spirited for some reason.

        1. the problem is man, it’s like delaying orgasm… it heightens the experience up to a point, but at some point, you just wanna come and go get a twinkie. mattel delays that orgasm until even sting has lost interest and then they look at us and ask “hey, where ya goin?”

        2. Yeah, I know, it’s just…

          See, if they go to that ‘key figures + a couple of odd ones’ packout then we REALLY will get a peg clogger problem. The B, C list figures (and maybe, shall we call them the A- figures?) will be scooped up instantly and we’ll get pegs filled with No-Shorts Superman, Not-Quite Movie Batman and “look! I got toes!” Green Lantern.

          Then there won’t be any new orders and “Woops, guess nobody wants super heros unless they’re a movie line” becomes the action line.

          1. My first reaction is that if DC moved the same units as Star Wars, my life as collector would be so much simpler. Hell, if they could just move as many units as Marvel figures, I’d take that in a heartbeat.

            You guys are all correct – Mattel needs to hold on to certain characters to keep attrition down, but they also need to not hold out too long in some areas. For MOTU, I think the fans are just too fickle – we got Clawful & Man-E-Faces this year, but Ram Man has taken on this iconic status. It’s suddenly a lot more important to get him than it really should be – in that case, Mattel should make up him right away and let a new character – Mekaneck? Stinkor? Take that over-emphasized role.

            I didn’t mind Martian Manhunter waiting until Wave 15 too much… but I think the YJ Brand Manager would be better served to know that Scott already used a martian to draw out his line and to not follow that path. YJ should’ve given us M’gann right away much in the way the MU brand managers knew to focus on characters that never got MLs to hook us.

            1. I think the angst for certain characters have more to do with Mattel’s track record than it does with the impatience of fans. Just take a second to remember their not to distant pass:

              MOTU 200x: epic fail (how many characters from that line never got made?)
              DCIH: fail…tons of stuff abandoned there
              BMBB: still waiting to find out if that line is dead and what might never see the light of day
              JLU: dead…several fan favorite figures shown that apparently won’t be produced
              Retro Action Heroes: dead with reported fruit on the vine
              DCUCs: Almost Dead! With getting only 1 fig per month for 9 months and Mattel’s license ending in 2012, who knows what figs we will never see if Mattel doesn’t manage to secure the DC license again.

              So I can understand that collectors would rather see Matty blow his wad early on with the main guys rather than wait and possibly miss out altogether.

            2. Well, you know my thing with Ram-Man. He was one of the core characters of the cartoon for a good number of episodes, and completing that ‘team’ has value to some, I believe. Hence my question/thought if there are ‘A-‘ characters- that is, unquestionably needed but maybe not really a major player in the eyes of many.

              Given that he’s going to have to be mostly new tooling with little re-use potential (unless Mattel decides to create an original character using some of the parts), Ram-Man is a large investment and hence ‘at risk’ if/when MOTUC falls into the danger zone. Making him as the line was growing in customer interest would have been less risky and might have been a more honest gauge for the long term health of the line but now, now the risk money is going to go towards what Mattel thinks of as ‘investment buyer’ figures, those items that will make the secondary market crazy, such as unproduced Powers of Grayskull toys, things released only in Italy and the ilk.

              We’ll probably get Skeletor’s robots before Ram-Man.

              1. and don’t forget, rammie’s the last of the original 8 back characters left to produce… his significance isn’t just that he’s the sam to he-man’s frodo, he’s also an OG from the hood.

                as for the strategy of how to keep interest going, i think the key for he-man was staged roster completion. so like, you release he-man and skeletor to start things off, and concentrate just on them… as you wrap up team he-man and team skeletor, start in on NA he-man and the horde… finish them up, start in on 200x he-man vs the snake men.

                then the last couple years, the lowest priority she-ra figs are the focus, and you round out w/ version exclusive restyles or repaints, and again, sprinkle in some new characters. if interest persists, extend the line… if not, call it a day.

                of course, you can sprinkle in some new characters in here, like KG or the goddess, and some she-ra figs to keep things going, there’s no need to hardline through the complete rosters, but keep focus and complete one “tier” of characters before giving us the next. because each generation of figs has it’s no-so-hots and it’s heavy hitters, but by pacing things out like that, each year and a half or so, you feel like you’re accomplished something in completing a roster, plus you have a few new figs to make the shelf look nice, and you get the anticipation of the next roster to complete.

          2. But it’s those B- and C-listers where you gotta bring your A-game.

            Again, look at Star Wars, specifically Clone Wars. How many times has a background or single-episode character gotten an incredible figure that’s too good to pass up?

            The He-Men, Snake Eyes, and Optimus Primes of the toy aisles will sell, guaranteed; it’s the Vikors, Low Lights, and Wheeljacks that need to make you sit up and go, “Oh, crap. THIS is a cool toy.”

            1. I don’t disagree and from my POV we’re on the same page. 🙂

              But maybe it’s not fair to compare Star Wars to anything, ya know? There’s really different rules in play, one being that Lucas is part owner of Hasbro. Ya have to admit that’s a game changer. 🙂

              (IIRC Lucas took a 30% stake in Hasbro as part of the master SW licensing deal back before Eps. 1 came out)

              1. I don’t think it’s fair to compare other toy companies to Hasbro, period. Sure, they got their chinks in their armor–repaints, too many variations of the popular characters–but when they knock one out of the park, it’s GONE.

                1. Hm. As an old school GI Joe man (Fuzz head and kung-fu grip forever proud! Adventure Team REPRESENT! 🙂 ) I have many, many beefs with Hasbro. So, I’m not unbiased. 🙂

  7. I picked up the Robin purely for the weapons and the rooftop base (which now holds my DCSH/DCUC Batman family). Apparently I’m not the only one–just the only one with scruples, as I’ve seen a rather large number of Robin’s with the rooftop base ripped out of the package in my area. (L.A.)

    The rest of the bases don’t much do it for me and after having realized that ALL of my Public Enemies figures wound up in the storage bin, I decided to pass on the Young Justice stuff. Although, since he’s wearing a mask I maaaaaaaaay break down on Sports Master.

    1. I have a little interest in Sportsmasters and Guardian (I love his base actually, but it’s more of a full backdrop), so I can see getting them maybe. I’m not sure.

      You’re right though – how we treated the PE figures is a good indicator. Banshee and Major Force stayed out here, but the rest went to storage bins…

    1. I know! The Brand Manager for that line really dropped the ball. After Toy Guru used Martian Manhunter to stretch out interest in DC Classics, she was the *last* person that should be used to do the same for Young Justice!

      1. I want her as well, but what the heck are they going to pack in with her as accessories to try to justify the $20+ price tag?

  8. i am still not sure why they continue to pose them. They warp the figures!!!!! Most people are opening the toys, so there has to be a better way to show off all the accessories without the crazy posing.

    1. I really don’t get it either. It doesn’t make me more included to buy, but maybe it works on someone else. Personally, I’d rather them just use sturdier plastic on the limbs and the warping issue would cease to exist.

  9. I agree that the price is bad on this line, but I feel like I’d cave if this show was on schedule. Do you realize the 1st episode aired last November? The only managed to air 9 episodes from then till March, ep. 10 leaked online over the summer and now they are finally getting to the remaining Episodes in September. That basically boils down to 1 episode a month for a year. Does anyone wanna watch their toons this way? Comparatively, the new Thundercats (which IMHO kicks YJ butt in every way) Will be airing it’s 8th episode in as many weeks. by the time these toys hit this summer, I’d become sick of the same 9 episode titles showing up on my VCR. I hope they schedule the GL animated series better than this

      1. submit!

        New Thundercats is really amazing. They’re doing stuff with the show I didn’t think you could DO in an American cartoon anymore. Death! Betrayal! Making you question just who the good guys and the bad guys really are!

        I wish someone other than Bandai America had the toy license. OTOH Mattel or Hasbro would probably abandon the line after one wave because the show isn’t in strip syndication (M-F, 65 episodes, running in afternoon kidvid prime time).

        It’s funny, New Thundercats is doing what we anime fans have always called for. Serious, quality animation storytelling in a weekly timeslot just like any other ‘mainstream’ program. It’s as legit as Clone Wars but you know, Clone Wars is Major Name and Tcats is just a silly toy cartoon from the ’80s… humph.

          1. Agreed.

            I suspect there’s people at Bandai America that want success but I suspect the Japanese home office doesn’t really care. The QC makes Mattel look like perfection. 🙂

            I still may end up buying a Thundertank. Then I have to buy the two clip-on Tronish motorbikes. *sigh*

            Show is just amazing. Haven’t been this excited about an American cartoon since Batman the Animated Series.

  10. I cannot figure out why things are such a mess at CN. They way they handle most series makes many shows unwatchable cause you can never find anything on a consistent basis. What a mess over there.

  11. Yeah man i remember trying to find the original Thundercats when they aired them but could never find it in the same place twice???

  12. I have yet to even see a aqualad in stores all we have isn robin and artemis…not hat I would buy a 6 inch aqualad for 20-25$ anyway but it would benice to see him. Guess I shouldnt complains eeing as my TRU managed to get all of series 2 of the 4in figures before the bogo ended.

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