I’ve gotta be careful what I say about Young Justice. I sometimes get in the mindset that I want to stop collecting the 6” line, but I hesitate to say it aloud because, seemingly inevitably, a new Young Justice Review keeps popping up here at IAT. This time, it’s Sportsmaster’s turn.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate the Young Justice line when I think about dropping it from my collection. The line has its warts, but I enjoy buying DC figures and this particular brand is relatively compatible with the Classics line. There is the price, $20, which deters me in theory, but not in practice. There’s the worry that Mattel will pull up their stakes before they finish the main roster, robbing me of a much coveted DCUC-Compatible Miss Martian. That one bothers me the most and I’d like to think it will deter me from buying the upcoming Batman, but he might just end up being cool like Sportsmaster here.
I had every intention of not buying this figure. My DCUC collection is so full of holes (and in some cases that will forever be the case) that I’m well over feeling like I need to keep buying to keep the line going. So figures like Sportsmaster aren’t really on my “must have” list. Granted, Mattel has failed to get to Sportsmaster in the DC Superheroes/Classics/All-Star line proper, but the show design is a pretty radical departure from his traditional look.
Anyway, my half-thought out premise as to why’d I skip him went out the window when I saw him at Target. The irony is what motivated me to buy him. It was something that I’ve maligned in almost every other Young Justice review: the base.
It’s modular. I couldn’t resist that. Unlock the other one-piece bases, Sportsmaster’s consists of four individual plates that snap together. More importantly, they can snap together in various configurations. Each plate has three open slots and one connector which allow various setups: a large square, a long strip, an L-shape, T-shape, or an S-shape (think Tetris).
Each plate is also unique, one has a foot peg, one holds the weapons rack, and the other two have a spot to plug in the target or the wooden dummy, both of which also pop on and off easily on mine so they can be swapped into different positions.
I feel like I’m magnifying a minor selling point here (after all the packaging could only be bother to point out “extremely posable” the figure is), but I loved this aspect. I would’ve liked to see the connectors as separate pieces to allow for even more customization, but I don’t really want to nitpick what is a massive improvement Mattel has made here. Imagine if Artemis has an open slot to connect Sportsmaster’s base? Thankfully, they’re like Robin & Red Arrow’s and can sit next to one another, but we still need more connectors on upcoming figures. And for the first time, I’m hopeful we may get it. This is one of those times I want to send a bright signal to Mattel, “more like this, please”. Heck, if nothing else Mattel should at least put the notches for Sportsmaster’s connectors onto new bases. It will save the money. They love that.
Anyway, after all that I’m happy to report that I ended up liking the figure too. While my first reaction was the standard “this isn’t the classic design”, it has since occurred to me that I don’t really care. If I recall correctly, his classic attire was green pants, a quilted purple jacket and a loose cloth mask. While there are assuredly hardcore Sportsmaster fans that want him in his classic look, I’ve discovered that I’m not really one of them.
If you’re not familiar with the classic comic character, it’s pretty simple. He’s a former athlete turned villain with a sport-themed gimmick. He hails from the late 40s and primarily fought Green Lantern Alan Scott, Wildcat, and the JSA as part of the Injustice Society. The version represented in Young Justice differs more than just looks though. The YJ version is more of a mercenary, his sport gimmick downplayed with body armor and more of a focus on martial arts rather than creative uses of soccer balls and bowling pins.
My primary interest in Sportsmaster comes from a classic Strange Sports Stories where the DC Heroes and Villains played against one another in a baseball game to determine if his wife, the Huntress (no, not that one) would turn over a new leaf and become a hero. It was a great read when I was a wee tot and it’s one that I like to revisit when I think about it (I’m still waiting on that Uncle Sam figure to Ump). Anyway, Sportsmaster wore a baseball outfit for that entire story. He’s also been seen in a variety of costumes for different sports too, so I think I’m good with this as my 6” Sportsmaster. And, should by some miracle, Mattel make the Classic version, then I’m going to keep this one out anyway. Maybe it’ll be the original’s grandson, a Legacy villain of some sort. I like the figure that much. Continue to Page 2…