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Most Requested: DC Classics
Ball-Jointed Necks – UPDATED 11/22

Click here to jump directly to the update with images of the interior of the figures

I didn’t want to write this article. To turn the Most Requested feature into yet another referendum on the DC Classics neck articulation seemed like overkill. On Monday, we had plenty of comments about the lack of articulation question in our Ask Matty. On Tuesday, our very own Mr. Rant shared his opinions on the matter. On Wednesday, we poked a little fun at Mattel for removing the articulation. I went to the list of possible Most Requested figures and some caught my attention: a Lou Ferrigno Hulk, a good G1 Arcee, a Thundercats line. There are plenty of things on the Most Requested list, but right now, this week, the neck articulation is being talked about across the internet. If there was ever a time to rally and try to get the point across, it’s this week. So here it is. I don’t think there’s a DC Classics fan out there that would disagree that this is one of the biggest requests we need to ask for right now. Mattel, it’s time to fix the ball-jointed necks.

We’ve asked Mattel twice, as have other websites, about the missing neck articulation for wave 9 and 10 figures. All of the answers seem to indicate that Mattel thinks this is a special articulation issue. They liken it to the Green Arrow wrists – a case where they went above and beyond (which we appreciate) to make a good figure better. But fans know – fans can universally agree – that the up/down/tilt movement on the heads of DC Classics is not an instance of special articulation. First and foremost, though the range varies, nearly every figure from Wave 1 through Wave 8 has proper head articulation. Some figures have better range than others, but it’s there. Second, the figures from waves 9 and 10 are almost all blocked. From Wave 9, only Guardian has good range of movement. From Wave 10, only the repaints don’t suffer from this problem. Something somewhere has gone wrong.

Take a look at these two pictures:


First, a selection of figures from the first eight waves:


And now a selection of figures from waves nine and ten:




First, there’s a representative from each of the initial eight waves in the top picture, but most of the figures could have filled in for whichever figure we chose. Second and this is the important part: the figures in the bottom picture cannot replicate the movement of the figures in the top picture. Worse still, take a close look at the alignment of the heads on Joker, Wildcat, and Deadshot. Those heads are all tilted or posed off-center, you say? They’re not. They’re stuck that way.

Basically, DC Classics figures are now relegated to only having a swivel joint when it comes to their neck articulation. The most frustrating part is that all the parts are there for a working ball-joint. The figures should be fine. Mattel is spending the money on these figures to have ball-joints, but on the end product, something is causing the heads to block the articulation. Some of the more DIY collectors have removed the heads and sanded/dremeled the inside of the head down and made the articulation work, but I don’t want to do that for every DC figures from now on. I want to know why it’s happening. I want to know if something is happening when the heads are being sculpted. I want to know if something is happening when the heads are being tooled. I want Mattel to know too – so they can fix it for wave 13 and beyond. (Wave 11 is already shaping up to have these same blockages and 12 is probably coming too soon to make changes).

We’ve asked Mattel about its removal. They said it was special articulation that will be included when it makes sense. We’ve asked Mattel if this articulation was limited as part of an overall theme. They said it wasn’t. We asked Mattel if this was an error. It doesn’t seem to matter how we bring it up, we’re not getting through.

What else we can say or do? Maybe we can talk money. If removing plastic from the heads will help the articulation, then we should tell Mattel that’s the case. They’re paying for that plastic after all. They’re spending extra money on extra plastic to block the articulation on figures. The same articulation they’re paying extra for the figures to have. If nothing else, that should be motivation enough. If the plastic that has to be dremeled off to make the head’s work was never there in the first place, how much money would Mattel be saving? Sure, it’s a tiny amount of plastic, but spread across hundreds of thousands figures? It will add up. A few years back, Coca-Cola saved millions by shaving five millimeters of aluminum off their cans.

I don’t know what else we can do to get the point across. We’ve asked the question twice and been rebuffed both times. We can keep posting on Facebook. We can keep submitting questions about the articulation in the Ask Matty editions. We can post about it on the various toy boards. If enough of us are talking about it, let’s hope that someone at Mattel will hear and get the upcoming figures to be as well-articulated as the earlier figures. They need to be.

UPDATE:

One of our readers, xrmc20, posted an image on a thread at AFI about the removed articulation. While customizing a Romat Ru, xrmc discovered that a change has been made to the interior portion of the ball joint. It’s been changed from a double “barbell” to a triple “barbell”.

After taking a look at his picture, I needed to see inside the chests of the figures to see what was happening. For customs, I had a spare Mr. Terrific and a spare Robotman from waves eight and ten respectively. I decided to crack them open and see how the interiors of the chests were designed. Mr. Terrific, who has good range of motion, had a double barbell. The portion in the neck fits snug and allows for poses where he’s looking down, up, and with a slight tilt. Inside Robotman, there is the triple barbell and a small rectangle of plastic that keeps the entire barbell straight and eliminates its ability to tilt.

Now, while sanding down the bottom of the head has worked for some customizers, the real problem is inside the chest. There’s no easy fix for this. You can’t simply remove the lower pendulum portion of the barbell (or the piece that holds it in place) because the middle ball isn’t snug with its cavity – the head will flop around and be unable to hold any pose. But I did want to try one thing. I placed Mr. Terrific’s head (double barbell and all) on the Robotman torso…


As expected, he has the same range as he does on his regular figure – up/down/tilt. There’s no obvious reason for why Mattel has switched to the triple barbell – had the older version been used on these newer figures, we’d still have that same articulation we’ve come to expect. While we can’t say with certainty that all of the non-repaint figures from wave 9 & 10 have this triple barbell (save Guardian), it’s likely. We can confirm this ball-joint is in use on Romat Ru, Robotman, & Icicle – all figures that have lost range of motion on the heads. I’m confident enough to say that we have our culprit.

But, we’re left with more questions. Namely, why? What was wrong with the original joint that caused this triple barbell to be developed? At what stage of production was this changed? Are they really deciding to switch between the double and triple barbells on a “figure-by-figure” basis? And if so, why was Guardian spared? We may not know more than we did before, but this information can only help us to be more clear when we ask Mattel about this change and allow us to be precise in what we’re requesting – going back to the double barbell or redesigning the triple barbell to do whatever it is that it’s supposed to do without the trade-off of blocked articulation.

83 comments to Most Requested: DC Classics
Ball-Jointed Necks – UPDATED 11/22

  • dayraven

    good luck w/ this idealistic crusade, obi-wan…

    • I know, I know… It just seems to be such a simple/easy fix. We’re not even asking for the others to be redone – just to quit blocking that articulation in the future.

  • Ebonhorn

    Fix it now matty, before it’s too late and the great cataclysm of 2012 finally hits us…..

  • TomB68

    I think you should keep it up. I truly believe that once they realize the issue, they’ll correct it. We just have to get the point across.

    The Ask Matty’s don’t work, but maybe something like this will.

    • That’s what I think. I don’t even need an “oops” or any type of admission.

      I just want to open a wave figures, see that their heads move and pronounce this solved.

  • Hank Henshaw

    I think they already know, but I guess the more obvious we make it, the less they can deny it and brush us off with Green Arrow’s wrists.

    • It’s the standard answers that give me hope. That maybe the question was read as a special artic question and now we’re on the wrong track. That’s probably naive though.

  • Jack Roberts

    I completely agree. Return the ball joint!

  • Hudson

    Yes. This is the second biggest problem after distribution. I hate opening these up and having that neck frozen.

    They should all be like Aquaman from wave II.

  • Haljor

    Please, fix the ball jointed necks. This should be standard articulation not “special” articulation.

  • TPTBeyond

    There’s no question that Mattel knows that there’s an issue with the ball joint, and that they want it. As much as we’d all like to think of Matty as some stupid kid glossing over our questions, it’s really a team of adults who look at each question and come up with the most company-positive response. That’s why they continue to bring up Green Arrow’s wrist. Their response can’t be “Yeah, we know you want them. We want them too. But the big bosses are jerks and won’t let you have them.”

    Bottom line is that there’s nothing we can do to make Mattel more aware of this problem, because they already fully know about it. If they were going to do anything about it, they would have.

    • Hudson

      I disagree.

      I mean, not about the adult part and all that.

      But it’s what he said about the money that struck a chord with me. They are spending money on putting a functional ball joint in the figure and don’t gain anything by blocking it.

      I can see that they’re not owning up to a mistake, but there’s no bigwig insisting they spend money on extra plastic in the base of the head to block the joint.

  • Ou Sooner 1997

    Mattel needs to fix this. I see no reason to move away from the more articulated Ball-Jointed Necks.

    • The figure-by-figure basis answer would indicate they’re deciding on each figure that he didn’t need the ability to look up and down. They won’t even say it’s a “movement”. LOL.

  • FinFangFoom

    In the words of Oscar Rogers…

    FIX IT!

  • Ripken

    They really need to fix this. It took me forever to find the figures from these two waves and it SUCKED when the heads didn’t move right.

    Are the 4H sculpting the heads with too much junk on the inside? Is Mattel adding the junk later? I don’t get it.

  • Wildfire

    I hope they get it fixed before we get to the Legion. I’m going to need those to be perfect.

  • Hoi Polloi

    A ball jointed neck is the single most important point of articulation to me. I actually purchased the Superman/Batman DCIH 6 pack at target simply on the merits of some of the figures having this articulation added (although limited in range).

    To say I have been disappointed with the lack of articulation in the newer DCUC offerings is an understatement. I’ve actually started skipping figures because of it. Mattel needs to buy a clue and fix this. I’m really starting to think that matty has some learning disabilities.

    • I agree with you on the importance.

      Most of the figures are standing on the shelf anyway, the ability to pose the head anywhich way is the quickest source for variety.

  • AdventureVault

    Definitely needs fixed.

  • 3B

    Fix it, damn you!

  • Lay Ze-Man

    Fiiiiiiiix iiiiiiiiit . . .

    Seriously, get on it, Matty.

  • I think this has gotten to the point where we want Matty to SAY outright, that there was a mistake… fixing it is likely going to happen (well, the optimist in me likes to think so) but we want Matty to man up, as it were, and say “hey, you’re right, something got screwed up, but we’re working on it..” and we’ll be happy(ish). bottom line, I think the denial of the problem (which sounds more and more like jon lovitz to me the more I read it… “the necks? yeah.. ah we WANTED them to have less movement.. turns out its better for the kids, and uh.. my wife, morgan fairchild.. that’s the ticket”) more so than the actual problem which is frustrating us.

    • I really don’t even need them to admit or blame anything.

      I just want it repaired and we can move on.

      But, it would be nice to get frank answers like you’re talking about.

  • Crazylegs

    Fix this, please.

  • WilfordBrimley

    It wouldn’t be an issue if it was one or two figures, but it’s the new status quo. And Matty’s answers about it suck.

  • jasonahurley

    In this day and age, there’s no reason for a $14 figure to not have such a basic articulation point. None.

  • Sector1014

    Keep banging the drums. Post a link to this article everyday on Matty’s Facebook.

  • Rod Keith

    I love this campaign. I say we all just keep at it until they ‘get’ it.

    Maybe we need to hit multiple message boards with similar discussions. I haven’t seen anywhere that it hasn’t been brought up; it just needs to become more of a hot topic for Mattel to become unable to dismiss it.

    • We have a good one on AFI. On Fwoosh, it’s been in the Ask Matty thread mostly. If you (or anyone) would like to start a thread at a place that there isn’t one, feel free to use my the above images in your post. Every little bit would help.

  • I definitely think this needs to be brought to Matty’s attention. I’m all for linking this article on Matty’s Facebook page. That third “ball” on the neck peg AND the extra plastic used to hold it in place inside the torso use a little extra plastic that wasn’t being used before. The cost has gone up slightly per figure to make the figures less poseable, and therefore less awesome than they were before. Should be enough to convince a business to revert back to what had been the standard.

    • I’ve seen it pop up three times today on Facebook. It’s gotten some mild support, but it’s the weekend there. Hoping to see it pop up in the morning, if not, I’ll put it there myself.

  • Hagop

    Well done. Here’s hoping your specificity will be the key to getting Matty’s attention on this matter.

  • Reverend Ender

    I just posted this on the Facebook page. I think I will keep doing it with a different message every 8 hours or so.

  • Rod Keith

    Great investigative work!

    Does this mean that we could take the double barbell, and use it in both Robotman’s head and body? I realize that would be a bit of work, but for figures I really like, like Cliff, it might be worth the trouble…

    • Reverend Ender

      I wish I had a Robotman. Or ANY of wave 10.

    • It’s hard to say. The Robotman head has been giving me trouble, so I haven’t been able to check on that yet (the slot for the ball joint is ridiculously small). I’m going to have to open it up a little with an exacto to get the head back on the peg for the final custom.

      It would definitely be better then it is now, but shaving down the underside of the head (it’s a little flat)might still be needed. I’ll get to work on that custom and I’ll be sure to mention any head modifications in that post. 😀

  • SilntAngl5

    Wow…. that seems like such a simple mistake. Mattel should get on that. Wouldn’t using less plastic save them some serious money? And Mattel does like to save money…

    … so snap to it, Mattel!

  • dayraven

    i can’t wait to hear the cover story for this intentional cornholing of fans. i’m going to guess “we were trying a new neck articulation would would provide a more stable neck joint over time/ we here at matty like to tell it like it is, and that extra plastic will keep those heads tight longer than that old joint w/ it superior range of motion and expressive posability.”

    bet me.

  • 3B

    Dude, wear a bulletproof vest when you ask! They’ll have their snipers ready as soon as you say “triple-…”

    God speed, good sir!

  • Honestly, I’m starting to lose that last bit of faith I have in humanity. Really? The folks at Mattel seriously sat down to talk about this and decided to spend more money to remove useful and invisible articulation? What the fuck is wrong with you people?

    • I think there’s a general lack of interest in how the toys are produced that’s leading to folks not being sure why/what has happened here.

      I’ve been trying to let folks know, as Emerald did just below here, that the factory has some free reign over the internal parts of a figure, but I think most people assume the factory works like a Burger King.

      HA. Which based on the fact my Whopper is never made right, maybe it does!

  • Emerald

    I wish more people read Poe’s site. I’ve mentioned this at least twice at his site way back when 9 first hit. Here’s the deal.

    1. You won’t get a straight answer from Matty on this because they are not aware of this stage of the production. They are not cracking open sample product chests from the factory to see if its the same. To them nothing has changed, thus the misguided answers to the numerous Q&As. They are not trying to deceive you or pull a fast one. They don’t have nearly as much control over their factory’s goings on as you’d think.

    2. This happens at the factory, involving the second half of the tooling piece for the chests. Most likely the tooling either had to be replaced (probably worn out by now) or a different factory’s set of tooling had to be produced. The sculptor, in this case the Horsemen, have no control over the inside engineering of the pieces. A Chinese engineer, using CAD refigured the inside when the new tooling was created – probably in his mind for stability.

    3. This is the most important point: With Wave 12 finishing production and 13 starting up, expect not to see a change in this even by Wave 14. Why? The money has been spent on the tooling – thousands of dollars worth. Even if Mattel gets the hint, they are not likely to direct the factory to make a new tooling piece at great expense. Granted, it does depend on their relationship to their factory liason, whereby they could eat the cost of the “error” but most likely not.

    My guess is that this happened just as production on Wave 9 had begun. Some of my Wave 9 figures do not have this problem (ala my Deadshot — his factory date stamp is pretty early), others do. Every figure needing new tooling from then on has had the problem. I can’t find wave 10 but it looks like they are no different.

    So bear the brunt my friends, this problem is going to be here for quite a while.

    • I edited some line breaks into your post so people could read through it a little easier.

      Most of what you’re saying is what I also suspect to be the case, but I’m not ready to make those assumptions entirely yet.

      1) I don’t think Mattel is trying to pull a fast one at all. I think they’re giving us the standard articulation answer instead of looking into what we’re asking. And you mentioned that they won’t crack the chests on the product samples, but if the samples heads didn’t move, that’s where Mattel needed to step in.

      2) I agree the likelihood that the start point for this is a CADD worker at the factory, but again, I’m not ready to go on record with that. I don’t feel that I can say it as adamantly in my article as you can here in the comments.

      3) That’s the sad truth, isn’t it. Still, there’s going to be a point where the heads can be fixed and I’m going to start asking now. Plus, there’s a ton of extra material going into these “new” chests. Hopefully, that will help motivate Mattel to switch back when they have the first opportunity.

    • Hank Henshaw

      I enjoy Poe’s site regularly. I don’t recall seeing any images of the chest cracked open to let fans know exactly what was going on before yesterday.

      What IAT has done is provide a detailed description of what’s going on with visual aids to explain the problem and some propaganda to help get collectors motivated to pressure Mattel. That’s a lot more than a couple posts in Poe’s comments section.

      I wish more people read this site.

      • I don’t think he meant it that way, Hank. LOL

        I do check in on Poe’s site daily – it’s one of the best toy blogs out there, but this needed to be escalated past comments and thread posts.

      • Emerald

        To Hank — yes pictures speak louder than words. Obviously I enjoy NoisyDvL5’s site or I wouldn’t be here spouting off. Like most things if you mention something enough times it will begin to sink in. So, of course “Noisy” making noise is appreciated.

    • DrNightmare

      Yeah, I don’t go to Poe’s site anymore, it’s always MOTU every time I visit, blegh. Too bad, I used to like it when the posts were about other stuff. 😛 If anything vital does pop-up there, I’m glad there are other sites like this one to let me know about it.

      That sounded kinda rude, but oh well.

      And lol, so this neck problem is all the fault of one lone Chinese worker? I hope we never find out who it was, I fear what DCUC fans will do to the poor guy!

  • Great job!

    This has gotta get someone at Mattel to sit up and take notice. And even if nothing comes of it for the next few waves, then at least we know what the problem is and what we are buying. We can all now make mor informed choices on which figues to pick up. So thanks for the great sacrifice of Robotman! 🙂

  • Doc Schrute

    Yes, Mattel…I IMPLORE you to fix this issue. As someone who likes to set up his DCUC figures in action poses the original neck articulation is ESSENTIAL to maximizing my enjoyment of this line.

  • Dorkcraft

    Thanks for the pictures and breakdowns. It makes a lot more sense. I hope Mattel reads this and does something about it. Even if it’s nto for awhile, I’d hate for them all to be this way from now on.

  • Grasier

    Hopefully, now that the holidays are over, we can get back to plastering this all over Facebook!

  • Maybe it’s being done on purpose so they can sell us “fixed” versions of the same figures later?