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SDCC Armchair Truetorial:
Mattel & DC Comics

I’ve been a little hesitant to write-up the SDCC Mattel/DC Coverage. Not because I have a problem with the subscription reveals. I mean, I could nitpick things here and there like Ra’s face sculpt or trying to figure out exactly how much more “unleashed” Doomsday costs over “containment suit” Doomsday, but it’s not really about that.

It’s other collectors that have made me hesitate. Not all of them, of course. Probably not even most of them. And probably not the majority of readers here at IAT. I think you guys get me, or at least tolerate my foolish and generally lighthearted take on things. The thing is that I want to like action figures. I want to enjoy collecting. I wouldn’t spend the copious hours on my articles and reviews if I didn’t. And while I can get just as frustrated with the companies that make toys as anyone, sometimes I just have a hard time understanding my fellow collectors.

I was at work when the Mattypalooza panel revealed the remaining line-up for 2013: Ocean Master (Sweet!), Ra’s al Ghul (dat face, but alright!), Batzarro (a fun WTF!). And then they kicked things into high gear with 2014: Hook Hand Aquaman (my face melted, I tell you), Ice (expected, but looks good), and T-shirt Superboy (okay, well not everything was perfect, but that’ll scratch someone’s itch for sure), and the sub exclusive was Doomsday. The only thing I found odd was that Doomsday was one of two versions, Containment Suit if the sub goes through okay and the more fan-demanded “unleashed” one if it goes through better than okay, but both versions looked fantastic.

So after the reveals, I was understandably excited. I love DC figures and this line, warts, morts, and all has done a better job than Kenner, Hasbro, or DC Direct ever did in getting me a great, consistent shelf of DC figures. I have gone to Big Lots to buy them. I have travelled an hour to a Ross. Two hours to a KB Toys. Combed the countryside, travelling from Walmart to Walmart wondering why the heck collecting these was so difficult. I’ve done crazy stuff to collect this line and wished that Mattel would just giftwrap ‘em and send them directly to m- oh, wait… they already do that. Because, yes, I’ve also committed $250+ a year to a questionable website to get the figures directly mailed to my house. Crazy lengths indeed.

I’ll be honest; a part of me is over the Mattel subscriptions. They’re expensive. And I’m the type of collector that after collecting something for so long, kinda wants to move on and diversify. Hot Toys is finally getting into properties that I deem “must have”. Third Parties are doing amazing things with transforming combiners. But those are expensive obsessions. It would be much easier to afford those if I didn’t commit a $1000 to Mattycollector next year (MOTU & DC subs, plus shipping, and an extra item or two). Granted, that’s only like 4 Hot Toys figures, but still, it’s harder than ever to try and budget everything cool these days.

So, yeah, part of me is over this subscription thing, but then I see the figures. Some of which were pulled right from the top of my most wanted list like Hook-Hand Aquaman. Others, like Batzarro, not so much, but y’know what – I’ll take him. He’s a DC figure and even though I’m a little tired of subscribing, I’m not tired of DC figures, even ones I wouldn’t have thought to put on my want list. I’m going to have Fire & (presumably) Ice for a JLI set. I’m going to have Wally & (presumably) Hook-Hand Aquaman to build my Morrison JLA. And those figures necessitate others, I still desperately want a Kyle Rayner is his classic (& best if you ask me) costume. I want Zauriel. I want the 2nd Dr. Light. I want a proper Bizarro to go with my Batzarro. I want Talia to hang out with Ra’s. I want that Doomsday – heck, I want both of those Doomsdays. If some miracle makes Tier 2 happen, I’ll be disappointed if we don’t get containment suit Doomsday too. He looks cool. I love DC figures and this 6” foray is the line that got the farthest and one thing I don’t want to do is trade up. I want it to creep along, even at one figure a month.

I wish we could buy them in stores. I don’t remember the last one I bought in a store anymore (maybe the Crime Syndicate 5pk after hours of driving?), but we can’t buy them in stores. And the thing is, I don’t really care why. I don’t care if it’s because DC wants nU at retail. I don’t care if it’s because Mattel doesn’t want to try. I don’t care if it’s because North American buyers have no imagination. I can’t change any of that. And I’ve got better things to do than worry about why they’re sold the way they are.

They’re in a subscription, essentially a DC Figure of the Month Club. It’s kinda like signing up for pajamas or cheese by the month. You sign up, you don’t care which one you get because you love pajamas or cheese, they ship it to you, you open it, and you enjoy. Or maybe you don’t. Maybe you got scratchy wool this month. Or Gorgonzola. Disappointing, but maybe next month will be better. That’s the hope. It’s exactly like those – except better for me, because I love DC figures a lot more than I like pajamas… and maybe more than I like cheese. Maybe.

So maybe Batzarro is my Roquefort, Red Hood my Stilton (can you tell I don’t like bleu cheese?). But I love these DC figures enough to know that most of the months are going to be right up my alley.

And I was wrong about Red Hood, by the way. I thought he was going to be the low point of the subscription for me this year and he turned out to be a highlight. Maybe folks can tell me that I’m just not wise enough to know what I will and will not like from SDCC coverage pics. Maybe they’d be right. But I’ll take a collector that can learn to love a figure they didn’t know they wanted over one that jumps into a profanity-laced tirade because their pet character wasn’t chosen. Then again, I have Jemm, the Son of Saturn, so I don’t know what that’s like anymore. (*Cough* Zauriel… *Cough* Aztek… *Cough* GA Mr. Terrific… *Cough* Gangbuster…. I could go on all day, but my throat’s gettin’ scratchy…)

We all have our bad moments. It’s understandable. I think that’s truer for DC fans the last couple years. So I read through the complaints after the panel and I wasn’t schooled about how the panel was disappointing or how the figures chosen suck. I try to just keep in mind that it’s the internet and that, almost always, cooler heads prevail.

I was hesitant to bring that back to IAT though. I read every comment on this site. Every one. (I wish I had the time to respond to each and every one of them like I did in the good ol’ days.) But did I want to post something just to read more comments about why Mattel sucks because Cosmo the Phantom of the Disguise was overlooked again? Not really. Did I want to hear more about the straw man “DC Direct already did it” argument? Not really. (Why Mattel should give a crap what some other toy company made umpteen years ago doesn’t make much sense to me. (I mean, I do treasure my under-articulated, bow-legged, well-sculpted DCD Hook Hand Aquaman from eight years ago, but I’ll take a 4H articulated one any day. That’s the line I collect.).) Did I want to hear more about how it’s suddenly so important if a figure was intended for retail but scrapped and moved to the sub? I think I’d rather tackle “DC Direct already did it” before even entertaining that one.

Two years ago, I put out an article urging folks to buy a subscription. Well, I wasn’t really urging folks to buy-in. I was more explaining to people the upside of the subscription. The MOTU sub works just fine, but it gets a bad rap from loud complainers and I wanted my fellow DC fans to know it wasn’t as bad as they’d heard. Admittedly, the DC sub hasn’t turned out as nice as the MOTU one.

I’m already getting e-mails about writing a pro-sub article again this year. I’m not planning on it. I didn’t do it last year and this is as close as I’ll get this year. I don’t really care if folks buy a subscription or not. I’d like to see it go through, of course, but we all know what it is. We all know how it works. Admittedly, I’d like it if some of my fellow collectors could take the time to find joy in what they liked instead of being so negative. Course, I’d also like it if DC figures were readily available in stores, but we all can’t get what we want.

Continue to Page 2 for some Brief Thoughts on Future Retail Offerings

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72 comments to SDCC Armchair Truetorial:
Mattel & DC Comics

  • I can tell you my last DC retail purchase, but that’s because it was Dark Knight Rises Batman. A surprisingly enjoyable figure.

    I have to ask though, what is a “proper” Bizarro in your opinion? You’re the second person I’ve heard asking for a new iteration of Bizarro, when Mattel’s already done him two or three times.

    t-shirt and jeans Superboy was one of the highlights of the reveals for me. That’s the Superboy figure I’ve wanted since Mattel’s had the DC license. I still mourn the lost opportunity for the young Justice version, but I’ll take this one. I was never a fan of hook-hand Aquaman (it seemed like DC was trying too hard to make him T3H KeWLLZ!!1!! and give the character “attitude.” He’s a very 90s character). Ra’s was also good to see. I wasn’t a big fan of the 80s Justice League, so while I like Fir and Ice, I’m not going crazy over them, and am not handing Mattel a blank check to get them. Funny enough, I probably would have scooped them up without hesitation if I saw them in a store, but the subscription and online buying thing takes some of the fun out of collecting for me. then again, so did not being bale to find certain figures/waves, so maybe there’s just no winning with Mattel on that front.

    The Doomsday thing confuses me, too. Who’d want containment suit Doomsday without also wanting standard Doomsday? Don’t get me wrong, they’re both cool figures, but containment suit Doomsday seems more like he’d be a variant than the only release. Of course, this is the company that gave us containment suit Superboy in its Young Justice retail line, but never a normal Superboy, and a caped Red Hood but not a biker jacketed one. And who rereleased all but one figure from a build-a-figure wave, leaving the vast majority of collectors with forever-incomplete Gigantas.

    • Freefire

      I think proper Bizarro is a more normally shaped body but the face is rocky and stone like, kinda like in Super Friends. I’m guessing.

      In a way the containment suit version is kinda smart. Its a new version we dont have and if the sub doesnt go all of the way to level 2 we can still pair it with the older admittedly smaller DC Superheroes version of Doomsday.

      • Yep, pretty much. I’d just like a white, rocky faced Bizarro. Unfortunately, though, I don’t think they should spend a subscription slot on it.

    • See, there’s fans for anything put in the sub. We have completely different takes on TT Superboy & Hook-Hand Aquaman. Aquaman was written so well in the 90s – David, Morrison, Larsen – that it’s become his iconic version for me. I still respect the classic, but he was so much cooler in that run than just about anywhere else. I do like the late sixties run too though…

      As for Bizarro, the figure we have is okay, particularly the later, darker version with the nameplate, but it’s very animated-inspired. I’d really love to have seen a classics Legion of Doom style Bizarro in the line. On that note, being finicky like that, I still don’t feel like we have a proper Superman either.

    • Tom

      Actually James, this line has given us three Superboy’s, which includes the one set for 2014. We have the “Reign of Superman” Superboy in his leather jacket and the classic Silver Age Superboy that was in the Legion 12 pack. The containment suit version is from the Young Justice line.

  • Freefire

    Very much how I feel, but better articulated. I want the figures I want, I want the figures I didnt know I wanted. Classics, whatever form its in, is my line. The longer it goes the happier I will be.

  • Shadow_Contact

    I think alot of us had a feeling that something was wrong when Damian got the Axe. It’s sad to see such a great line go out with a wimper I’m hoping for the 2014 club to go thru but I would imagine thats it. I have no interest about bitching about character choices, I’m fine with everyone except maybe Ice and Batzarro should have switched months, (I will be pissed if the 14 club fails and I have Fire but no Ice!!!!!) as Noisy said every character has a fan, I’m just happy to have DC figures and if I dont care for them….. To the back of the display they go.

    I have no interest at starting a new Scale and I think most of you can relate why. Whats the point if we can never finish teams? I look at JLE, JLA, Doom Patrol, Titans and think we only needed 2 or 3 more to finish some of those teams.

    The only positive I can think is what Noisy has brought up, it leaves more cash for other things. As neat as some more Neca Predators will be, I still know I’d rather have a Chronos for my DCUC shelves so it will be hard to let go.

    And Dont worry folks Scott said he would make sure we got our Nekron Staffs……. At Comicon 2 years ago.

    • And my most wanted team is the Birds of Prey. With Huntress, we’ll finally be getting our first member of that team, and she wasn’t even a member for the first 50 issues or so. Big Barda was a member briefly, but that figure is woefully out of scale. They made Black Canary, but that figure sucked. It was from the wrong era, and the legs were crap. They gave us “real fishnets,” which looked awful, at the expense of articulation. For one of the world’s greatest martial artists, they removed leg articulation. Sheesh. And on my figure, the leg joints are so bad, she can’t even stand up on her own.

      I have little hope for Oracle ever getting made. It seems like the online sub, which is geared more towards the fans and less towards the “moms and dads,” would have been a great place to get one made.

      • I’d love to get Oracle. And a “modern” Black Canary would be cool too. I’m okay with the Lee version of Huntress, but I was always partial to the late 90s look most.

        All good choices, too bad the sub couldn’t last a decade…

      • Brainlock

        I call that figure “Little Barda” after the brief (non)Titans member partnered with “Power Boy”.
        Neither of which we got much background on, other than a handful of hints they were from Apokolips, too.

      • TwoFisted

        Would you rather have a Canary figure with legs painted grey to give off a fishnet effect? Or would you rather her flesh colored legs be painted in a fishnet grid?

    • I can’t complain about Ice being in 2014. I likely would’ve split them up to to sell more subscriptions (Mattel does it to make money, I’d just do it to help the new sub go through and get more figures).

      By Chronos you mean Gabriel Walker, right? He’s the only cool Chronos… o.O 😀

      • Brainlock

        I think it was Erik Skov I was talking with recently who insists on the android version from DC 1 Million as being “the” Hourman. 😉

        It’s Rex or Rick for me.
        (MIA 🙁 )

        • If I could only have one, I’d go for Rex. If I could only have two, I’d go for Rex and the Android. If I had to have three, I’d make sure Rick got a nice spot in the storage box. 😉

  • cbomb23

    Well he also said Animal Skin Cheetah would be released in another form, so I waited that out and ended up missing out. But I don’t really blame Scott it just didn’t work out for whatever reason the figure didn’t make it out again for any number of reasons that I will never know? I liked the reveals and I think I’d actually rather have the Containment suit Doomsday than the Unleashed version if I can’t have both??? The reveals were alright but only the Doomsdays really raised my interest. I don’t know if I’ve just not been wowed by enough of the releases or what? Huntress is great, Ra’s is a great reveal and Conner is cool, but the rest while are nice additions just fell meh. I’ll still sub but I don’t know if enough others will?

    • Naked Cheetah in the hand is worth two in the bush?

      On the topic of things Scott said, he was quoted at SDCC that they’d find a way to get the contained Doomsday out if Tier 2 is triggered.

      • Shadow_Contact

        I’ll point you to my comment that he said he would get Nekrons Scythe out as well.
        Scott, He will P*ss in your ear and tell you it’s raining.

  • 3B

    After some major problems with my 2012 sub, the CIE ’13 was an easy pass, but I’m looking at the reveals this year as an olive branch from Matty. I’m in for CIE ’14 and I want BOTH versions of Doomsday! I have little interest in the other new lines, but with a Keaton Batman debuting in 4″ I don’t see why they wouldn’t deliver him as a Movie Masters figure so I’m holding out for that.

    And why the hate for the ’66 Batman line? I just received the two-pack and think they look pretty cool, although admittedly the in-scale Batmobile was a major factor in me buying into the line. It should be here on Wednesday and depending on how it turned out, Matty will have my preorder for the Ecto-1.

    • What problems did you run into last year? I’ve had a few aggravating hiccups now and again over the last five years.

      Did I mention the classic tv Batman? I forget. LOL I also received the same two-pack. Sloppy paint, bow-legged Robin, and that may have soured the whole thing, but I just wasn’t impressed. I cancelled the villain pre-orders. I still kinda want the car and the two heroes in it, but I’ll have to buy another Robin or pay someone to repaint the face. :/

      And I want that Ecto… but $200?? Sheesh. I can almost get a whole Castle for that price.

      • 3B

        The issues I had with them were related to me moving before my subs kicked in. After speaking to them and getting things cleared up with my Voltron sub, they assured me BOTH my subs had been updated. Of course, they didn’t update my DCIE sub and I missed GA Flash. That led to more calls, then e-mails and I was assured on two separate occasions that I would receive a replacement figure. Both times I had to call them to follow-up and was informed they were cancelled by a supervisor. At that point I got the BBB involved and finally received my Jay Garrick figure and requested they cancel my sub. I think I had just received Rocket Red at that point. Needless to say I was NOT a happy “adult collector” and swore off making purchases from MC.

  • clark

    I actually think the new 6″ line looks very cool. I really like the animated style, and they look like they’ll have enough articulation to be fun.
    I lost interest in DCUC once they hit $16 each at retail, but I still picked up the dark knight rises batman when I saw him on the pegs.
    Despite being worn out on DCUC, I am very excited about Doomsday. Until I read this article I didn’t realize that it was a one or the other thing. I want both versions, and I thought the Bound version was a club exclusive and the Unleashed version would be available as normal.
    I don’t understand the idea of getting a less-demanded version that is mostly new tooling if they only get so much money, or the much-demanded version with the same amount of new tooling if they get more money.
    I just have to accept that I don’t understand the inner workings of Mattel, but it seems that there are people there who think they’re very clever with how they market subscriptions.

    • clark

      I just read that mattel says that the unleashed doomsday will require additional production resources, so I will have to trust their expertise that he would be more expensive to make than bound.
      So, Doomsday, either version, is only available if you subscribe? That’s what the $35 subscription fee is buying?

    • The new 6″ line has some appeal to be sure. I love DC figures and I do kinda like it – I’m just not going to start over. Not gonna do it. LOL

      I’m not sure how the tooling costs work out. To the untrained eye, the unleashed one does look more expensive, but the contained one has a good chunk of new parts too. Maybe the Tier 1 / Tier 2 gap isn’t that big, I don’t know? It could just be that Mattel sees this as an experiment to move more subs, and really I’m fine with that too.

  • Tim H

    hi noisy, i ragged too much on the subscription. was playing with my Freddie Freeman last night. the figures are good, and i’m in. just wish matty gave us a little more info. example: if i knew for certain there’d be two women figs, i’d not even hesitated.

    next month’s huntress looks fantastic.

    • It would be cool if they could give us a male/female breakdown or any little kind of bone, but there have been a ton of last minute little changes that it’s probably best they don’t promise any specifics. One, because the collectorbase would get out of joint and the Mattel lawyers would have a collective heart attack.

      • Tom

        I’d almost bet we’ll see Damien later in the CIE 2014 line. Just like we saw Larfleeze show up after the line he was going to be in was scrapped. Damien is to popular of a character not to use and he’s already been tooled.

  • Tim H

    OK truth comes out—

    DCUC has been the best superhero line I’ve ever seen. I got into collecting with Terry Dodson’s Wonder Woman Line (DC Direct), moved to DCUC Wonder Woman, then the rest of the fems and a handful of male figures.

    DCUC has been consistently high quality. And for $15 – $20, it offers fantastic articulation and sculpts. The Japanese premium figure lines make DCUC seem less articulated, but the Japanese toy line figs also cost $40 – $60 a pop.

    For the variety that Mattel has given us, for the reasonableness of cost, DCUC is and a masterpiece. (Pound for pound, Marvel Legends (original run) had better articulation, but the sculpts were a train wreck more often than not).

    Losing DCUC, if it fails to renew, will be a tragedy. While Mattel does obliquely reproduce DCUC figs through other lines (example: the 1940s Catwoman who was a 4-Horseman scultp all the way, but not technically branded DCUC), those other lines can be hit or miss (like the infamous Batman Rises line filled with nothing but men in suits).

    So, yes, I’m a subscriber. And, yes, Toy Guru is an artiste. And artistes are supposed to be annoying. If Toy Guru wasn’t annoying, I’d despise him.

    • That artiste comment on the forums was brilliant, btw! 😀 I was stuck between writing this and not trying to plagiarize my myself on the forum (the cheese & pajamas thing slipped through), but I was cracking up.

  • LV

    All I want to know is where my Power Attack Scarecrow is. Seriously, Mattel, he was on that stand-up target in like the second wave of Deluxe figures. Why are you doing this to me? I never hurt you.

    • LOL Is that for the “Batman” line. That line has some fun designs in it. I’ve not seen the Scarecrow design though.

      • LV

        Yeah, a bunch of the Deluxe figures had 2D dudes to hit, and every villain on them ended up being made as a toy except for this guy. They’ve released or announced a bunch of villains since, too.

  • Andy

    Allright, let’s get trurtorial on this one…

    It’s well established even in this article that DC is a fractured fandom. More so than Marvel because of their more pronounced resets over time. So people are going to be more turned off by figure X or Y because it doesn’t jive with “their” DC. What gives the complaints merit is the fact that you have to commit to all these figures at times even site unseen. If it was back in the era of Toy Biz X-Men, you could pick and choose who you liked on the shelf. But now you’re forced to shell out nearly $30 for a figure you don’t want, who may loose accessories, change fist shape, or loose sculpt detail between the time you see the reveal and by the time their at your door. What makes it worse is that there are plenty of other companies out there that can function perfectly fine without resorting to an all in model. It makes a massive company like Mattel look greedy, even if that isn’t the actual case. You’re all correct, DCUC was a fantastic retail line. It’s also 5 years old and instead of seeing new innovations, we’re losing details and accessories and paying more. The Doomsday move is foolish, the sub barely made it through last year and was nowhere close to a second tier. They should have just produced the unleashed version for production if the sub goes through.

    I expected all that from the sub, but the DC at retail was a crushing disappointment. It also follows a series of crushing disappointments with the DC brand (52) over the past several years. If they barely have enough DC fans post new 52 willing to continue their massive DCUC collection, why would they assume there’s a market at the 4″ scale especially after Infinite Heroes? I have a perfectly fine Arkham Asylum/City display in the 6″ scale. The Keaton Batman we all asked for was 6″ not 4″! The Batman animated toyline brought me into this fandom, how can they not get a solid YJ, GLTAS, or Beware the Batman product out there at the time of a show’s debut? Noisy said it himself, the amalgam of 6″ classic costumes aimed for kids is baffling.

    I agree, there’s a lot of negativity out there. But in this case I think both Mattel and DC have earned it.

    • I don’t think there is anything wrong with the subscription model in-it-of-itself. I do hold Mattel accountability for poor-decision making (either through forced cutting of costs or just lack of understanding of it’s consumers) that results in the figures not all being spectacular, because a subscription of spectacular figures would go over much more smoothly. (Though we would still go online and incessantly be negative, it is our nature. “How dare they not make Zatara! F#$% Batzarro! F@#% Mattel.”) The perfect line of toys still couldn’t please a group of 10 collectors.

      As for Doomsday, my only disappointment is that the unleashed one has likely been placed out of reach. I still think it’s a great idea to put one of the most requested things at the top of the thermometer though.

      And, yeah, retail. I’m pretty much done there. I wish Mattel & DC well though.

  • Steve Ledyard

    Cheese pajamas.

  • Brainlock

    Most of the DC reveals fell flat for me.
    As you note, most if not ALL of the offerings shown have already been done by DCD, and within a certain time frame, too. Batzarro? he’s had TWO, maybe THREE stories where he’s featured that I know of.

    yes, I’ve already got PADiator Aquaman from DCD that works for me, but passed on the JLI Ice because I wanted a more “neutral” look. this one seems to be more Noel Fielding’s platinum blonde sister (sorry, it’s the hair) than the ‘pixie cut’ version I was hoping for. then again, my favorite costume of Tora’s is the dark blue with white fur cape one she was wearing when she was killed, so…? I guess like James said above, if this was retail, I would snap them up not question *BUT* as far as an online Sub goes? Not so much.
    (and yes, I’ve driven as much as, if not further than you for Toy Hunts, and we’re only now getting Ross stores up here, with Warshington store mid-construction to open sometime next year?)

    Doomsday worried me because they quote him as “six inches”, which is exactly what the DCSH version is. There only seems to be a bulk body issue being the main difference. He really needs to be 8-9″, imo. I am kinda annoyed that the “containment suit” is tier 1, while the “classic” look is Tier 2 for sales, but that IS why they call it an incentive, isn’t it? On the bright side, both DD versions (AND AQUAMAN!) look to have great tooling.

    Superboy – I heard early chatter that this was to be the cancelled YJ figure, but it looks like he’s got Jack Knight’s legs and that head sculpt is definitely not the same style as the YJ mold. (I have the white suit version thanks to ebay.) Still no word on the YJ Conner or M’Gann. 🙁

    Poll figure – I’m not sure what was going on here, but I did see shots of the ballot and…Terry won? I thought we were getting a “matte black” re-release of him, already? I would have preferred the “custom your own” figure, tbh.
    (side note: there have been attempts before about creating “customizable action figures”, from the 5″ ToyBiz Marvel line to a more recent offering thru BBTS, but neither has seen the light of day, afaik.)

    4″ line – anyone dreading a re-hash of DCIH? I’ve sold off most of my small collection on ebay recently, to some surprising results. So there IS some market out there for these, apparently?

    “Animated” Bat-perennial line – I was more excited to see some reveal for THIS line than the “main” ones. Except Injustice, and that “armor GL” figure (seriously, just STOP DC.) which looks like it was based off the DCAU Crisis on Two Earths’ Power Ring. (….!!!! CUSTOM!)

    • I do note that DCD has done many of them, but to reiterate that I noted it with the caveat that DC Direct having made them doesn’t matter in the slightest. That whole line of thinking is as weird to me as saying they should skip Killer Croc because Hasbro did a nice one of him in Knight Force Ninjas. It’s just weird.

    • Other notes…

      Doomsday will be oversized. I’m not sure where the 6″ thing came from, but TG squashed it.

      Superboy being the YJ sculpt was just weird fan speculation. I’m not sure why that got off the ground.

      The poll figure was for the Total Heroes line, the new 6″ deal. I think that Batman Beyond figure in Batman Unlimited is DOA at this point? Good Ask Matty question though.

      • Brainlock

        DCD- I do agree that after innumerable B/S variants, this shouldn’t be an issue, but when you have characters (or known variants like Aquaman) that barely have a chance to get made into figures, then copy the company’s direct market look with most of them, then YES, people are going to complain. PADiator Aquaman is more realistic than the McG version DCD did, so no argument on his inclusion there, but Ice and Ocean Master (which DCD did in purple) will be a sticking point, esp if some stores still have DCD Orm gathering dust. Granted, we all assumed early on that PADiator Aquaman had a better shot in the line than “Aqua-camo” version, and look how that turned out! LOL
        Meanwhile, still no sign of VIXEN, who made it to DCUC 2011 card art. sigh….
        (and yes, while J’emm was in his FA/classic blues, while the card art featured his updated black outfit. go figure.)

        DD- yeah, Matty just posted some SDCC comparison pics with both DDs flanking nu52 Supes, and they appear larger than even Brimstone? or at least, definitely built around the Brimstone/Kilowog buck.

        SB- because Scott/Matty “promised to find a way to get these out” before, so the rumors probably started with a slip of the tongue before the reveal or before some people saw pics of the actual figures? Like I said, I’m pretty sure those are Jack’s legs. on the bright side, he’s easy “civilian” fodder! 😉

  • Adam Hardy

    Heh! I think I’ve made most of the arguments you’re taking issue with.

    I wouldn’t want to see you lose your enthusiasm for toys, whether they’re Mattel’s DC offerings or anything else. After all, you run a website dedicated to toy-related enthusiasm. This is a good thing, and we like it.

    I have trouble separating the DCIE figures that were revealed from the context that you have a buy a subcription, which is, as many have observed, handing Mattel a blank check. I’m not sure anyone is REALLY comfortable with that.

    When DC stuff was still at retail, when a figure I didn’t want would be announced, I’d just shrug and disregard it. When Mattel showed Batzarro, all I could think was, “Wow, I don’t want that. And I’ve already committed to buying it.”

    But I have concerns lots of fans don’t: I have a serious space issue. I need to be increasingly picky about what I purchase across all toy lines, and I need to figure out how to get rid of the pile of unwanted Mattel figures I already have.

    In addition to that, IAT introduced me to things like S.H. Figuarts. Suddenly, my standards for what I consider a high-quality action figure have DRASTICALLY changed. A few years ago, I thought MOTUC were super-deluxe. Now, I’ve been introduced to DURABLE hyperarticulation, swappable pairs of hands, etc., and the thing is, I’m not paying THAT much more for these imports than I am for MOTUC. At the same time I discovered companies that offer adult collectors more value for their dollar, Mattel was claiming poor sales and using it as an excuse to cut accessories, etc. (To be fair to MOTUC, I do think it’s a fantastic line.)

    I’d like to see Mattel genuinely try to shoot for the adult collector demographic for its DC properties. I don’t think DCIE is that, mostly due to circumstance; it was a reaction to DCUC being suddenly cancelled at retail, and so essentially retail offerings were moved over to the sub.

    (In retrospect, what I wish they’d done is bump up their price point by $5 or whatever, and use the money to aim for more accessories and newly-sculpted parts. Maybe try out swappable hands, expressions, or effect parts.)

    Anyway, I don’t necessarily think anyone should share my lack of enthusiasm. People who have the funds and enough space just aren’t going to share my concerns, and good for them! Lots of people are comfortable just putting an unwanted figure on eBay.

    I won’t subscribe again, but I’ll happily read your Batzarro and Hook-Hand Aquaman reviews next year. I’ll certainly try to pick up Ice as a day-of sale in February. Maybe I’ll hop over to another thread and enthuse about the Masters of the Universe items shown at SDCC.

    • No worries about my enthusiasm. There are just certain sites & forums I should know better and avoid when I’m feeling good about stuff. 🙂

      There are a ton of great reasons not to buy toy subscriptions. Two years ago, I stuck my neck out for the DC Sub mostly just to counter the negative perception the MOTU sub had due to a mix of some fans with genuine bad experiences and a lot of bellyaching by others. Last year and this year, I don’t feel that need because I think we all know how it works by now and can make the informed decision ourselves.

      Like you say, maybe there’s not enough room for thirteen more DC figures (I have that problem too… ugh), maybe there’s not $350 to spare in the toy budget, maybe someone’s just a crybaby that only wants action figures from the DC Comics that shipped in June 1978. I don’t know.

      I think they’re at the upper limit of what we’re willing to pay. The Watchmen figures aren’t overall better for being $25 (which I do hold Mattel accountable for in the reviews), but they supposedly sell less than the DC sub. It’s got to be a tricky thing if you sell 10,000 subs at $20 a pop (the prices did go up this year) or if you sell 8,000 subs at $25 a pop. Raising the prices will result in less sales per units which also causes the cost per unit to go up. It’s gotta be annoying – and I love math.

      But yeah, the figures could be better, that would be the salve to heal some wounds. But, y’know, I’m not hearing too much about making the figures better. I’m mostly hearing where Mattel can go shove it for not making some random character or another.

      Oh, and it’s not a blank check. The Mattel lawyers are very clear about it being a set amount. 😀

      • Griffin

        I know exactly what and where you mean. I felt like this line-up was really solid top of the wishlist material for most people but it went over like a lead balloon in some circles. Can’t help but feel like if Batzarro was maybe Weather Wizard or Vixen things would have gone better, but you never know. There is the whole Doomsday debacle to fixate on.

  • Tanglevine

    I just don’t know what to do. I told myself I was done subscribing after this year. My wife will kill me if I re-up. But hook-hand Aquaman, Ice and jeans and T-shirt Superboy are all high on my DCUC want list. This is gonna go down to the wire for me. Decisions, decisions…

    • It’s a tough decision. Vault was for sure he was going to be out this year too*, but they’ve already pulled him back in with the reveals.

      * – It’s funny, he & I are kinda opposite on the subs – he’s tired of DC and I’m more tired of MOTU.

  • j1h15233

    I do hope the line continues with the 2014 sub but I can’t be a part of it this time. It’s just too much money to pay when I know I won’t want every single figure they announce. The 2012 sub (which I bought 2 of for some stupid reason…oh right, Starman) had 5 figures I didn’t really want and had to turn around and sell. 2013 will have 6 now that we know the rest of the year. I also have no desire for a tier 1 Doomsday so I’m out.

    • I know I have it easier just because the list of characters I wouldn’t care about is very, very small*. And, heck, most of those are because of some creator or agenda they represent instead of the toy themselves. The toy might even still be cool, like Red Hood. The only ones I didn’t like have been really out-of-scale or bad costume choices.

      From 2012, I’d say that 7 were great, five were just okay for one reason or another (usually design choices), and just one (Rocket Red) was annoying to have to buy.

      For 2013, I’m at 7 that I was really happy with and six that are just okay for one reason or another. No real morts in 2013 for me personally.

      * – Small in terms of pre-nU. I don’t want any nU figures… even though some do look like cool toys…

  • Rod Keith

    Sensible article as usual, Noisy.

    I don’t understand all the complaining myself about character selection. There’s no three figures they could’ve announced for the first quarter of ’14 that would’ve made any majority of DC fans happy. If they’d shown Shining Knight, Dawnstar and Composite Superman, you can be guaranteed a certain selection of people would’ve wished it was 90’s Aquaman, Ice and Connor Kent. Or Rima, Super Powers Kalibak and Hitman. Or ____, ____, and ______. Everyone seems to know better and the ire raised because any given selection isn’t anyone’s personal wishlist is completely at odds at the idea of getting a DC Universe. I’d *prefer* getting certain things, sure, but we have to accept that we’re all riding on this same raft together. This is the only way we’re getting ANY DC figures at this point, that will go with the 300+ already available or in your collection.

    Most importantly, everyone who complains that the offerings shown aren’t ‘this’ or ‘that’ seem to be missing the point that there are nine more slots in ’14 that COULD be ‘this’ or ‘that’. Just because Ice is coming in February doesn’t mean that Aztek can’t come in April. (I can only imagine the reactions some would have had if Aztek was shown and Ice wasn’t!) It also means that Ice is off the list, making it more possible that Aztek, or any other major want, will be on the way.

    • Thanks, Rod!

      I think you’re spot on. There’s no group of three that everyone would be okay with. We have readers that love most of the JLA but can’t stand Batman or Superman. Or readers that really don’t what DC published before 97 while others don’t care much for 83 onwards. It’s impossible to find three. (You have some great choices though, I’d kill for Shining Knight, Composite Supes, Rima, SP Kalibak, Dawnstar… maybe not Hitman, but I certainly wouldn’t decry him).

      And, yes – hope springs eternal for the other 9. I just posted that, for me personally, Rocket Red has been the only misfire. And that was more about scale than anything else.

      Great post. And I enjoyed your posts over at the Mess too. You should write Truetorials.

    • Brainlock

      obviously, your “missing three” should be Ambush Bug, Will Payton Starman, and Lois Lane!

      We’ve only seen Lois in the 50s/60s era 2pk from DCD, and the RARE STAS version from…Kenner? Hasbro? who had the DCAU retail license then? pretty sure it was pre-Mattel.
      TWO figures in 75 years and they still skip her in the post-anniversary year. yeah.

      (fwiw, I had the original DCD Black Canary with brunette head standing in for a long while as Lois. Too bad she couldn’t stand on her own!)

      • I find it to be indefensible that Mattel did not make an Amy Adams Lois Lane figure for Man of Steel. She might not have scratched everyone’s itch for a Lois figure, but I would have loved to have had that in my collection.

  • Tim H

    One note: buying the quarterly sub options asks for $112 up front ($35 + $20 * 3 + $16 posting).

    Anyone tried it to confirm you actually only get charged the $35?

    I’m not criticizing the upfront payment (Mattel likely needs part of that money to put the downpayment on the warehouse space….)

  • So, my take. (and an excellent, reasoned essay, Noisy. Full marks. 🙂 )

    I have no dog in this fight. I’m not subbing, I’m not looking at retail, there’s nothing here for me at all. Zero. Zip. Nothing.

    Given how ass-tastic the recent Batman Movie, Green Lantern Movie and Superman Movie 4″ figures have been (read “Oh, we buy Happy Meal toys at retail now?”), I’ll have to see what the new line actually looks like. The character picks give me nothing to look forward to, however. I laugh, as this clearly says Mattel is competing with 2010 Hasbro.

    As to DCU and whatever evolution it takes. Meh.

    See, I was avoiding these figures for a long time. LONG time. I’d see them in the store and go “huh. Well, that’s $15 (18) that stays in my pocket. Then I started reading IAT, and the passion, the fun, the excitement of Noisy and Vault was catching. Kamandi sealed the deal. I loves me some Kirby 4th World. Found a banged up, partially opened (but complete) Kamandi at Walmart for $8 and I bought it. Then I went and bought a few others (Had to have ‘wall eye’ OMAC). Been thinking about hunting up some of the older 4th World figures. I spent money I really could have used for other things, but it was FUN, for a while. Then I started feeling that ‘collector’ need, and got bummed because I couldn’t find a figure in a store. No Metal Men for me except Mercury (if I want him), I can forget the Legion completely, and I came to realize I will NEVER see a Paul Kirk Manhunter.

    And now it’s all Nu52 and video game crap. Batman ’66 turns out to be crap (or mainly crap). I will never see that big Batmobile on the shelf at my Toys R Us.

    Mattel doesn’t want my money. Fair enough. Japan can have it. God knows there’s a ton of new plastic model kits from Space Battleship Yamato calling out to me, and a 30 CD massive music release program I’m way behind on. I picked up the Revoltech Thunderbird 2 and eagerly hope they do at least Thunderbird 1. Bandai is making a Monsterarts Godzilla that’s MY Showa-era Godzi and by god I need that bad.

    I think Mattel is just getting tired of serving ‘our’ community. I haven’t heard one thing about cool SDCC goodies, nothing on a par with Plastic Man (with a bonus gimmie suitcase) or Starro in a light up talking box (with bonus little Starros to put on your figures) or even the Wonder Twins. There used to be SOMETHING that was “Awww, mannnn, wish I was THERE” and I’ve not heard word one about something like that this year.

    Am I wrong?

    • Tim H

      On the idea that Matty didn’t put much effort into SDCC–

      Matty created the Shazam exclusive. And, frankly, the figure is very good looking.

      Yeah there weren’t nearly as many goodies as recent years, but with the lines running on small margins, there may not be the $$$ to create the extra stuff.

      TG has a vested interest in seeing CIE and all his subs succeed. If his adult collector lines go under, he’ll be making the kids toys that individually are probably less “fun” to make. TG seems legitimately passionate about his CIE and MOTU work. He has a plum job provided the customers keep it alive.

      • OK, be honest. Is Captain Marvel nee Shazam as cool as the Starro set? Does it have the same kind of ‘wow’ factor? When they did Starro they also did these neat masks they handed out. I would have loved one of those goofy masks. I bet people talked about Starro all that weekend. Anybody talking about Shazam?

        It has been stated in the past that the budget for SDCC items is separate from the other lines. I assume they can write off the costs as advertising/promotion. Lord knows they aren’t advertising many other places lately.

        I have a funny hunch that Toy Guru is angling for a job with Stan Lee’s company. Mattel’s subscription effort seems on life support.

        • Brainlock

          I totally forgot that they were selling SHAZAM! this weekend, and haven’t seen one single comment OR pic of the figure!

          What does that say?

          • dayraven

            even swamp thing managed to get more press.

            • And wasn’t much of the press about the scale of Swamp Thing and the fear about the flexible covering’s lifespan?

              I believe my point has been made, thank you gentlemen. 😉

              • Lee in MI

                SH, you’re right. This years exclusives were ho-hum at best. The ’66 Batman one was kinda fun but i bought Shazam and didn’t even look at it. I only bought it to further complete the nu52 set I already have.

                While a lot of the past years publicity was based on the extreme vitriol from fans about the exclusivity of the exclusives, your point is a very valid one.

  • Sandman

    Noisy, I hope you’ll forgive me for ranting a bit in return. I think your article and analysis is very spot-on.

    I’m old enough that I honestly don’t care about buying toys at retail, or at flea markets. I turned 35 this year. I can do what I want with my money. Someone gives me a snide remark or look sometime? Their loss. And I would LOVE to be able to buy these toylines I read so much about online at retail.

    But I can’t.


    Well it’s not because they have been canceled at retail, like in the US. It’s because toy stores in my country, for the most part, do not import ANYTHING related to what I’m interested in. For reference, it’s been at least 10 years since Marvel Legends were phased out of all toystores here. Transformers has just been movie lines for almost as long (we only got the first wave of Classics, and never a single Masterpiece). Marvel Universe we got in two Spider-Man related two-packs, and nothing else whatsoever. GI Joe? We had the movie toys for the first movie, before that it had been over 10 years since we had a Joe at retail. 25th/POC/30th/Renegades? Nope. DC Universe Classics?

    Nothing. Never a single release.

    DC vs MOTU 2-packs? Forget it.

    For me, every toy is a luxury. I have to import it, find someone who can buy it overseas and ship it to me, or deal with an online retailer like Mattycollector or HTS. As such, for me it’s almost inconceivable that collectors in the US can just go into a a toystore, supermarket or sometimes even a discount chain and actually buy toys that aren’t movie toys, or baby stuff. I think that’s a great luxury, and I hate that so many toylines are forced (or choose ) to go online-only. I love the toy hunt. I just can’t get around to do it most of the time, because what I want just doesn’t exist here.

    So let me just say as a summation: “I understand your reluctance to every line becoming a sub-only, online-exclusive line”.

    As a result of this. the only line I collect with any regularity is MOTUC. I’m running fairly well on that, but I am losing some steam recently. The price increase is very harsh for me, and the fact I can see no reasonable way to get a figure I consider to be essential (Shadow Weaver) made some of the fun go out of the whole thing. I’m right now feeling like I’ll just go through the motions and try to get the best ones in the remaining assortment.

    As for DC and their future, I have to say DCUC has had a good run. They have put out a staggering amount of more or less obscure characters over the years, most of them in one of their most iconic costumes (if sometimes slightly off the mark). As such, it’s hard for them to keep going even without the support of Warner Brothers and DC; who want to market the N52 versions hard. I don’t blame them, but I do lament some things will likely never be made in that scale and style now (where art thou DCUC Johnny Thunder and Thunderbolt). The sub may be limping around for a bit longer, but let’s face it. The line is on its last legs because of simple attrition. The collectors who are still “in” already have most of their favorites. The ones who aren’t face an insurmountable problem in trying to get older product, or only want new 52 designs.

    As such, I sadly must say that I think Old DC is on the way out. I’m not a fan of how the New 52 has been handled at all, and the quickly lost market shares to Marvel seem to agree. Not that DC doesn’t still do excellent cartoons, games and sometimes movies. They just seem to have picked the absolute WORST people to try and fight for the comic reader’s love.

    Anyway, to not sound entirely negative, I think the reveals look nice for DCUC. Doomsday is fantastic, Ra’s is nice, and Ocean master rocks. Hopefully the sub sales will be boosted by the strong lineup, and fans can get a bit more of what they want.

    Anyway, sorry for ranting again. Hope your vague feeling of discontent mellows and you can enjoy the future sub as much as you have in the past.

  • Nicholai

    I’m not here to complain just be happy that we (may) be getting more figures. I love my almost complete DCUC collection. It rivals Marvel Legends (to me DCUC is better but you could call it either way), and I do think that the fractured fanbase of DC and the various historical eras is a problem for collectors. No wave or subscription year will have all “hits” for anyone. To some the New 52 is DC (I doubt many here..), to others it is Crisis on Infinite Earths to Flashpoint, to others it is the Silver and Bronze Ages, to others the Golden Age, and to even others a mixture of all of them. When I look at my collection of DCUC and count the number of unique figures and the fact that characters like OMAC got a figure all I can think is that I’m happy with the line. I’ll sub in for next year without question though I am, of course, terrified that it won’t go through and I won’t get Ice to go with Fire, but largely I’ve moved on to statues from DC Collectibles and I may try the Keaton and West NECA 1/4 scale figures. I can’t quite “collect” Hot Toys or Sideshow stuff because of the cost, but I can follow a line like the Superman: Man of Steel statues (I want Curt Swan Superman!), or the DC Bombshells without too much pain.

  • J. Lee

    I guess I am a mix bag on my DC collection. A JSA shelf all its own, a DC hero shelf that is mixed with the 5 mainstays, villian shelf (Batvillians one spot, Flash Rogues another, etc.) Though no nu52 at all. If they did Catwoman I probably woulda bought.

    On the reveals, happy with all with just minor tweaks. The Doomsday issue, don’t see why couldn’t do both since the suit is how he started (year start) then at end of the year the look we know from say fighting the others to appear. Sounds like a plan to me anyway.

    Just happy went with classic Ice and not say the guardian costume she wore in a Halloween special. Conner looks like he’s rolling his eyes about how long it took for him to get done right. The Aquaman, eeh could live with it. Be a funny image to do with him next to nu52 “This is your futue, kill yourself now!”

    Ocean Master, gets a mini fig at retail and this not. Sense this does not make. I won’t go into Ras and now I expect Damian in the sub.

  • TwoFisted

    There is alot that can be said about the “DCD did it!!” arguement. Especially if you’ve been collecting DC figures for as long as I have. It makes me sound old and douchey…but I bought the first offerings from DCD and have been collecting DC figures ever since. Mattel isnt my line so much as DC is my BRAND. If you go back far enough….you’ll find that DCD has done a huge ammount of characters that Matty has. I do like having more articulation in my figures….but at the end of the day, I love collecting DC characters…period.

    As far as the reveals go….if you’re going with the “DCD did it” slant, pretty much all of them have been done before. The only 2 figures that come to mind that havent been done by DCD are the Young Justice Superboy and the containment suit Doomsday.

    And I am not complaining about any of the reveals at all. I’m excited to hopefully get a larger scale Doomsday and more articulated hook handed Aquaman. I’m all in for the 2014 sub. I’m a little disapointed in Matty using that same damn suit buck for Ra’s. I would have been happier with a bare chested Ra’s with a sword for dueling in the desert. The rest of the reveals are exciting. Even tho I already have DCD Fire and Ice on my JLI shelf….I’m happy to add the 4H sculpted counterparts. I collected the Young Justice 6 inch figures and am happy to add Superboy to my shelf. I’m hoping Miss Martian will be not far behind.

    Batzarro was a little bit of a head scratcher. BUT I understand the need Matty has to put out something Batman related. I do get annoyed to see characters from one off stories or cameo appearances get figures before long established ones….but oh well. I always try and be optimistic about DC figures.

  • MST3KFan

    Before DCUC I was a hardcore Marvel Legends junkie, but things changed…

    If there was one thing the DCUC line had Marvel Legends didn’t, it was that all the figures looked like they belonged in the same universe. Marvel Legends was all over the place with sculpts based on different artists’ interpretations rather than give them all one universal look.

    I love that we’ve gotten most of the Satellite Era Justice League, a good amount of the JLI team, same with JSA, and obscure teams like the Metal Men. Even the SuperFriends characters were an awesome surprise.

    However, when the line went Subscription mode I just couldn’t afford things anymore as I was already dealing with the MOTUC sub and it basically came down to which line I enjoyed more and MOTUC won.

    I still love the DCUC line though. I went to great lengths just like Noisy in searching for the many waves all over my state. Even breaking down and using ebay despite paying higher buck. Heck, I even got people in the past to get me the SDCC exclusives complete with the extras (Gleek and the Plastic Man suitcase)when they went to it.

    I have almost every single figure Mattel put out in the line up to wave 20, and I would love to get Poison Ivy, Jay Garrick Flash, Fire, Huntress, Lead, Platinum and Tin, and Wally West Flash, but it comes down to money.

    I have so many other things right now I’m interested in. The S.H. Figuarts of the Power Rangers, my continuing MOTUC sub, NECA Predator and Aliens, Marvel Minimates… A guy has to have a budget for oneself or you end up broke and I’m working on making sure I’ll have enough for the things coming out in the months to come, including Castle Grayskull *gulp*

    I do kind of hope though the sub goes through with enough to get that huge Doomsday many (myself included) wanted and that other version. 90s Aquaman, Ice, and Ra’s Al Ghul look really good as well. I’d have to imagine 90s Kyle Rayner would be in next year’s sub as well… If anything, down the line I will maybe try to get the figures I’d like somehow.

  • Sebastian

    Man, I wish either doomsday had a normal release. While I would like to buy the sub, its just too expensive, and has characters that I dont really know. But I really would love a well articulated doomsday figure, for the price thats right. Really, just f@&ck mattel… 🙁

  • Tim H

    Wow, this bites. Matty shows that CIE subs are barely reaching Doomsday’s ankle.


  • Lee in MI

    In reality, it just sounds like fans have moved on to other things. If you were a completist for waves 1-20, you were likely spending MORE money on DCUCs than we spend on the sub, so the expense argument only works when those dollars have been allocated elsewhere…which is understandable. Mattel has given many fans many reasons to spend their dollars elsewhere.

    I hope the sub makes it cause I am a completist, but I hold no hope for it unless Mattel just decides to go through with it regardless.