DCUC is dead. Long live… DCUC! Last year, Mattel took my collector heart and crushed it with six little words: “will no longer be at retail”. Summer 2011 will not soon be forgotten by DC fans. The toyline imploded. The comics disintegrated. It was a bad time to love DC Comics.
Nearly a year later, it’s still not the best time to be a DC fan. The retail line, while planned with more nU figures than Classics, was re-imploded and we’re still not quite sure what Mattel has planned for us beyond a couple figures later this year. My DC Comics pull list continues to shrink as titles are cancelled, writers are shifted around, Rob Leifeld is assigned to the book, etc. etc. I love DC, but there’s been little to no improvement in quality in the books. Here’s a tip if you ever find yourself in charge of a large comic book company, when you remove the nostalgia, the reader investment in the shared history, you really ought to make you sure up the quality of your product. Otherwise, you’re bound to take lifelong JLA readers and hook them up with Avengers.
But there is one bright spot for me as a fan of ye olde DC Universe. After a rocky start, ranging from the threat of cancellation to some delays, Mattel’s Club Infinite Earths has finally begun. Now I’ll be receiving not only some of my favorite MOTU characters in figure form every month, but they’ll be a DC figures in the same box (hopefully) along with it.
The subscription kicked off with a fantastic choice: Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash, or “Flash One” as the folks at Mattel like to refer to him. Jay Garrick was a cornerstone of the classic DC Universe. Jay, the creation of Gardner Fox & Harry Lampert, first appeared in late 1939 and his success with a relatively simple super power, super-speed, inspired the creation of many more speedy characters over the years.
My favorite thing about Jay, which DC has since discarded, is that he was the good-natured, “grandpa” superhero. He never had to “get with the times” or update his look, he was just a great mentor character for several generations of future Flashes and other young heroes. Some of that may just be luck, that no “aspiring” writer or editor tried to make the mark or leave their stamp on ol’ Jay (until now anyway), but whether he was with the JSA in the 1940s, the JLA in the 90s, or just a supporting character in the pages of Flash, Jay was a steadfast part of the DCU from early on, through when I started reading as a kid, and until I was in my thirties.
This isn’t Jay’s first figure. DC Direct churned out two, both with nice sculpts, but limited articulation and Mattel previously made Jay in their 4” DCIH line also with limited articulation. As anyone that reads IAT regular knows, I’m not fan of limited articulation. And while Jay is missing one crucial articulation point, this is exactly the figure I’ve been waiting for. I can’t tell you how excited I was when this guy showed up at my doorstep!
Since this is a “new” line, let me take a minute to explore the packaging. Mattel has redesigned the packaging for Club Infinite Earths, or DC Universe: Signature Series – I’m not sure exactly how to use Mattel’s terminology here anymore. We’ll see what they’re calling everything when they make the 2013 pitch. Anyway, like MOTU Classics, the figure arrived in a white mailer.
Inside the mailer is a boxed setup instead of traditional carded we’ve been getting at retail. Honestly, I don’t really need all this packaging for my subscription, but I’d hate for a packaging designer to go hungry (in the arms of the angel… fly away from here… oh, sorry) Further, I can’t say no some to great Mike Thompson art in my mailbox. If the art looks familiar to you, that’s because we’ve seen Mike’s work before on GI Joe (check out some cool unused head shots at Kastor’s Korner) and numerous projects outside of the toy industry. Now, I’m not a fan of every choice Mr. Thompson made, namely the standard blue jeans, but I do love the look of the art overall and I expect to see some even cooler pieces as the year goes on. And hopefully, Mattel will bring Mike back for 2013. I may not keep all the pacakages, but I do so enjoy when things match.
Moving onto the figure, for the most part, Jay utilizes the standard DCUC buck with Barry Allen’s boots, new lower legs, the standard plain belt, and a swanky new head sculpt. Strictly speaking, you could say that Jay belongs in some looser fitting clothes and I could kinda see that, but plenty of artists have drawn Jay in more of a spandex look over the years and the figure looks sharp just like it is.
To get his details right, Mattel had to have the 4H sculpt new lower legs, but they didn’t quite get the details right nonetheless. Jay nearly always has little wings on his boots and those are absent on the figure. I’m not sure if those were overlooked or simply left off intentionally to allow the shoes to have re-use possibilities, but it does stick out to me when I look at him. That said, I’m glad Mattel went this route and gave him more accurate boots instead of simply repainting the cuffed boots previously used in the line as they would’ve been too high and even more off-putting. Continue to Page 2…