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DC Classics.Com S.T.R.I.P.E. Week
Golden Age Sandman Review

While I enjoyed DCUC18, I’m still of the mindset that DCUC19, with its JSA theme, was a bastion of greatness in an otherwise dull year for DC Classics. Sandwiched between a wave of Geoff Johns’ Rainbow Deputies and Brightest Day figures, the classic characters featured here were a 2011 bright spot.

I’ve actually had this wave in hand for months, but have been unwilling or unable to get S.T.R.I.P.E. Week on the schedule. There’s been a lot of other stuff to review, but truthfully – once S.T.R.I.P.E. Week is done, that means I’ve gotta do a Nekron Week and that’s kinda depressing. If you’ve been reading IAT long, you know I’m a huge DC fan (the Phantom of the Fair makes an appearance in this review for cryin’ out loud) and you can imagine that I don’t run the DCClassics.Com checklist out of mere passive interest in the line.

And yet, last year was really a hard year to get excited about the line. I enjoyed the Bane Wave, but had some QC issues. The Rainbow Deputies and the Super Friends were cool figures, but were a bit much when released en masse. This wave made it feel like things were looking up, but then came the dullest wave yet with Wave 20. Truth be told, I haven’t even shipped the Nekron Wave out of my BTTS Pile of Loot yet (and I paid for that wave on Christmas Day). I’ve just been kinda blah on the line, the theme waves, the over-reliance on Geoff Johns work, and the lack of “flavor” previous years had. Toy Fair, Rocket Red aside, has kinda righted the ship. 2012 is actually looking up, so it’s a good time to get back on the horse and review some DC Classics.

So, yay, S.T.R.I.P.E. Week is finally here! As usual, I’m going to kick off with my favorite figure from the wave. Enter the Sandman.

You may not know it, but comic characters don’t get much cooler than the Sandman. Whether you want to talk about him in terms of fictional history or publication history, this is a not-superhero character that was introduced when superheroes were becoming all the rage. Though it wasn’t invented yet, spandex was in and the pulp heroes, the mysterymen, were a dying breed. 1939 saw the introduction of characters like Batman, Blue Beetle, & Captain Marvel. That’s when Wesley Dodds dons his iconic gas mask, throws on a cape for good measure, and sets out to take down criminals with his trusty gas gun. Now, I love the Shadow, Crimson Avenger, and characters of that sort, but Sandman wasn’t just a loner, he ended up being incorporated into the Justice Society and his mysteryman feel always made him a standout character to me.

Think about the classic image of the original eight members of the JSA: a speedster, a guy with a magic ring, a guy in a bird-suit, a ghost, a mystic, a guy on drugs, a little dude in a wrestling suit, and then Sandman in his business attire. Admittedly, Sandman would get his spandex makeover (and a sidekick to boot) just a few years after joining up, but this figure is from when Sandman was wonderfully out of place. He dressed snazzy, he had futuristic gear, his girlfriend accompanied him (and the writers actually treated her like a character instead of a plot device), and, funnily enough, he got shot/hurt all the time, but soldiered on.

Sandman wasn’t used a lot in the post-JSA years (in fact, there’s more than a few other Sandmen at DC), but his badassery did earn him a slightly out-of-continuity Vertigo series (how many JSAers can claim that?) and he lived pretty far in modern times. His death was on his own terms, opting to kill himself to take a secret to his grave rather than letting the secret of Dr. Fate’s return fall into the hands of evil. I love almost all of the JSA characters, but Sandman will always be my favorite. I had hoped to find them for this review, but he’s one of a handful of DC characters I’ve customized in various scales over the years. I even had to give a speech about “making something” in college and did “How to make a Sandman Custom”. Yes, folks, I’m that lame.

The reason I was able to make that custom years ago was because it wasn’t too difficult with suit bodies and capes readily available. Mattel was in a similar situation when it came to their Sandman, needing only to develop a new head and a new suit jacket. The body is donated entirely from the Question, right down to the gloves and shoes, while the cape is borrowed from Hourman.

The two new pieces are sufficient to get the job done. The new coat is mostly par for the course, something Mattel re-use on future mysterymen (Crimson Avenger…) though it does have a nifty little loop to stow Wesley’s Gas gun. The key to getting Sandman right is in the gas mask and the 4H knocked it out of the park. The piece could be a little bigger (Wes has to have a tiny head in there – which would explain why he buys tiny hats), but the 4H did a great job of catching that the blue areas are a little recessed and making sure the figure doesn’t look like he has a bucket over his head like the DC Direct figure did some years ago. Continue to Page 2…

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23 comments to DC Classics.Com S.T.R.I.P.E. Week
Golden Age Sandman Review

  • I actually really like Sandman. I dig the colors and his “Goldenageyness”.

  • Know what I think?

    Sandman+GA Green Lantern+new head and medallion = Phantom Stranger.

    That’s what I think,

    I bought the GA Hawkman, for some reason thinking it was the silver age one, as I had memories of the GA hawk head being more extreme in its look, somehow more deadly looking. Then I bought a Specter. Now I want the whole Justice Society for just the reason you stated, the clearly insane mix of characters. It would make me bust out the tools and make a JSA round table. :)

    I look forward to the rest of the reviews!

    • That Phantom Stranger could work. I’d really like to see Mattel get to him… it’s funny, when I get a character I really want – all it does is make me really wish for all the others I’d really want. Mattel might look into that with Miss Martian and Ram Man… lol

      I’m looking forward to this week quite a bit. I’ve got Stargirl, Atom, & STRIPE on tap while Vault will have Hawkman, Kobra, & Magog.

      As for a table, take a look at this post at Critical Mess featuring some GA Customs from the always amazing Rod Keith and a table he had custom made by the folks behind LaserMego.com -> http://www.criticalmess.net/index.php?topic=2541.msg352630#msg352630

  • you_will_forget

    Wesley is one of my favourite Jsa members and I love having him on my shelf.

    I dressed as him on Halloween a couple of years back after scoring a WWII gas mask off ebay. There’s photos on facebook if you want to see.

    Jo

  • Brainlock

    Obviously, you’re not a Whovian, or you would have snuck in a “Are you my mummy?” joke.

    That said, I’m pretty sure the “suit body” comes from the DCSH Clark Kent before it was re-used for Two-Face (SA 5pk pictured and the b/w suit in Batman line before that), Riddler (DCUC w5), and Question (DCUC w11). Why they never did Lex in business suit after YEARS of requests is a poser. Or fellow JSAer Johnny Thunder (which reminds me….)

    I also have to ask who that custom figure is, “Phantom of the Fair” you mentioned? TMNT Nobody? or another character?

    Besides Johnny, characters I wish they would have done are Vandal Savage, Per Degaton, and Wotan. We did get JSA villains Solomon Grundy (GL Scott) and Ultra-Humanite (Kal-L), but in his Great White Ape form, but a head swap with SA Catwoman would do for … Deloris Winter? I think that’s the name she had.

    Outside of those, I would be hard-pressed to name some others that weren’t exactly PC today, like Axis Amerika, which were more of a All-Star Squadron and Young All-Stars villain group. Joker, Lex, and Cheetah seem to remain with their nemeses, so I wouldn’t consider them JSA villains.

    (ok, I really want to shuffle my shelves into an A-SS over JSA, now. :/ )

    • you_will_forget

      Yes, but if he was a Whovian, he’d have to have Dr. Fate dancing in the background for that sketch.

    • I do remember that episode of Doctor Who now that you mention it, but I wouldn’t have thought of it. I have a couple friends that are so consumed by pop-culture in-jokes, that I try to shut them out (the in-jokes, not the friends… though maybe…) LOL

      The suit body Sandman uses is the new one that was designed for Question. The previous suit body used for the other figures you mention (Clark, Riddle, SA Two-Face), was originally designed for the first release of Two-Face in black/white. The tell is the tie – the original sports a bifurcated tie molded to the chest will the new one allows for a softer plastic tie piece to be added.

      As a funny aside, the new suit body shared some original sculpt with the Dark Knight MM suit body. The figures are in different scales, but if you note the folds in the fabric, you can see the legs are similar (though reversed below the knee).

      I had forgotten Grundy when I was writing (as well not really bothering to include big three villains like Joker or Giganta), but I don’t count the Ultra-Humanite because he got that ape body in my lifetime (and I’m an 80s baby). Dolores would be a neat/weird one to have, but I do like the character you name. – Wotan got a frickin’ Action League – where’s my DC Classic? I fear characters like him are too ‘obscure’ for even the subscription…

      As for my JSA Villains, it’s really a list of never gonna happens… Icicle, Ragdoll, Wizard, Tigress, Fiddler, Thinker, Brainwave, Shade (though I’d rather have his 90s look), uh… Harlequin, GA Rose & Thorn, Sivana, Cyclotron, Mist, the Gambler… a proper Sportsmaster, Rival… I’m running low…

      Now that I think about it, I’d like to get a modern, digital Thinker. That guy’s downright “toyetic”. But if we’re talking modern villains I gotta have a Johnny Sorrow.

      • Brainlock

        now that I think about the suit bodies’ ties, you’re right! duh!

        We DID get an Icicle in the Public Enemies line, but that was the son of the first, so I guess he would be the first Infinity Inc villain? and I would prefer the Secret Six’s Ragdoll over hir father. no need to go to the “Green Raggedy Andy” look.

        Wotan: new head, lean “Deadman” body and Mr. Miracle’s cape. That’s not too hard, is it?

        and we both missed a JSA villain WITH a suit! Gentleman Ghost! PLEASE tell me you made Vault have one for the GA Hawkman write up!????

        • Okay, so there’s more than a couple. But we came up with a great list nonetheless.

          I’m sure Vault has Gentlemen Ghost… if his GA Hawkman doesn’t have that pic, we’ll send him back for a revision. LOL

  • susperdadd2

    Hey, Noisy…

    Aren’t you missing wildact in ‘yer JSA pic?

  • j1h15233

    I feel the same way you do. I thought the wave 17 figures were good but not really exciting. I skipped all of 18 except for Seth Green, and 20 was a big let down. 19 was really the only standout of the year.

    • I liked 18 just fine, but 19 far and away runs off with the year.

      I can’t remember if it was at AFI, the Mess, or somewhere, but someone reshuffled the lineups and it didn’t seem near as bad. Same exact figures, but a little bit of each theme spread out and it seemed much more palatable.

      That said, still not looking forward to 20…

  • Nanite

    Thanks for the review! I always end up appreciating a figure more after you’ve written it up.

    I ended up loving this wave, and Sandman is right at the top. Both of my examples have really bad contrast on the lower limbs. They’re bright green, and don’t match the rest of the body.

    Still, great figure.

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  • ero

    I have no emotional attachment to the Golden Age guys, and these days, with limited shelf space, I’m trying to keep my displays nostalgia-based. But damn it all, every time we get more GA figures, out come Midnite, Starman and the rest from the storage bin. They are just wonderful.

  • [...] original Red Tornado, but Jay Garrick is just a couple months away while DCUC19 delivered us the GA Sandman, Hawkman, and the [...]

  • Clutch

    Excellent recap of all things Wes. You sure do know your Sandman history! I prefer this version over the purple and gold suit from the later Kirby era. Wes always worked better in his original duds for the reasons you cited. I mean, how cool is that pic of him facing the Phantom of the Fair? That is a great custom, btw. Wes is an essential part of JSA history and I am thankful that Mattel gave us the Golden Age Sandman as the late great Creig Flessel would have wanted to see him in full, three-dimensional glory.