Today was supposed to be my grand return to getting IAT back on schedule. Well, I managed to lose the box with my camera & photo shoot gear, like the infamous blue backdrop, and it’s nearly noon as I finally get started writing. So let’s just call this a slow rollout as we get caught up on Mattycollector items!
Uncle Sam shouldn’t need a lot of introduction. We’ve all see the poster, right? Sam has various real world origins, but ultimately he’s simply a personification of America that came into use early in the 19th century replacing lesser know personifications like Brother Jonathan and Columbia. His traditional look first appears during World War I in that now-famous recruitment poster by James Montgomery Flagg. And, by World War II, he had transitioned into comics as the feature characters in Quality’s National Comics #1. His stint only lasted a few years, but he was part of the stable of characters acquired by DC in the 1950s. DC let him be for some time, until Len Wein & Dick Dillin used many of the Quality Characters in Justice League of America #107-108 when the combined JLA/JSA traveled to a third earth, one still embroiled in World War II twenty years later. It was there that we first meet the Freedom Fighters, Uncle Sam’s ragtag team of revolutionaries and one of the coolest, at least to me, DC teams that Mattel will never complete.
I learned all that later though. My first exposure to the comic version of Uncle Sam was in a silly story that is still one of my favorites to this day; a reprint of DC Super-Stars #10 in those fantastic Blue Ribbon Digests I’m always talking about. In that story, Sportsmaster & the Huntress (no, not that one) are having a marital spat about being villains. Huntress wants to become a hero because she’s tired of always being on the losing side. Sportsmaster posits that villains can win at something, so he picks… baseball. Yes, one of my favorite Uncle Sam stories is about a baseball game between heroes and villains. Uncle Sam is, due to his love of truth & justice, selected to umpire the game.*
* – Speaking of toys Mattel will never make, while the heroes baseball roster is complete, many of the villains used in that story are woefully absent – no Felix Faust, Chronos, Dr. Polaris, Weather Wizard, Tattooed Man, Sportsmaster, Huntress, and no one will ever make Matter Master.
Anyway, since I’ve wasted that much time explaining about Uncle Sam from memory, it should be pretty obvious that I love the character. He’s a fun addition to the DC Universe and he was written masterfully in both Justice League and Freedom Fighters, some of my favorite Bronze Age comics. He didn’t have as much of a place at DC in my own lifetime though, whether he was turned into the bizarre “Spirit” or made homeless over at Vertigo.
When Mattel made Gentlemen Ghost years ago, Uncle Sam shot pretty high up on my list (as did Zatara, a figure I’m positive will need to be customized). Granted, I already have an amazing DC Direct Uncle Sam by Tim Bruckner, but I’m more of an articulation junkie than not and that figure, while beautiful, is pretty limited.
Unfortunately, Mattel’s Uncle Sam ended up being able to move like I wanted (mostly), but came with a few design & engineering choices that I’m just not particularly happy with. The body, from the neck to the feet, is pretty much what was expected, an easy repaint of the Gentlemen Ghost body with the rocker ankles removed. All that was needed was some new hands and the head sculpt. Continue to Page 2…