We’re a little behind on reviews because of the holidays, so we’re going with an Amusing Articulation / ItsAllTrueReview chimera. If we did this right the pictures will work as a funny gag while the text takes a more serious look at the toys. Or not, we’ll see what happens. Here at the outset, I’d like to take a moment to really thank Playmates toys and my past self for apparently just buying any toy that caught my eye. With the out of the way, I give you “Justice in the Jungle!”
Justice in the Jungle, or Animal Instincts as it was called for a bit, is the last MattyCollector Exclusive 2pk for now. I don’t think Mattel failed with the 2pks (I, for one, liked all 4 selections) so much as they couldn’t move the units they expected (which were likely larger than the MOTU expectations). On the one hand, I’m glad because it saves me from spending as much money on MattyCollector.Com this year as I did last year. On the other hand, I love the obscurity of the 2pk choices and will miss that avenue for their release. That’s life.
Justice in the Jungle included two animal-themed characters, Animal Man and B’Wana Beast. It’s a smart 2pk from Matty and easily my favorite of the four we saw this year.
Animal Man is easily the headliner of the 2pk. He’s only a couple years older, but he’s had hundreds of appearances including a near-hundred issue run of his own title, and recently, being a major player in DC’s 52 maxi-series. Animal Man is one of my favorite characters simply because he has a wife and kids. I love seeing the proper relationships in comics and Buddy and his wife have one of the best. His powers are pretty simple; he can mimic the abilities of nearby animals. In 52, that power was greatly expanded allowing him to be able to borrow alien animal’s powers as well.
B’Wana Beast is probably only known as being one of the more out-there DC characters. Recently, he’s appeared in JLU and the Brave & the Bold cartoons, but before that I doubt he even appeared in a dozen comics. And in those appearances, he was even replaced by his successor, Freedom Beast (who was recently added to James Robinson’s long list of casualties). B’Wana Beast crashed on a mountain and a monkey (his future butler, no less) gave him a mind-control helmet that works on animals and an elixir that made him super strong. It also allowed him to merge two animals into one creature with the strengths of both. I am fascinated by him, but like I said, he only had twelve or so appearances. You can probably imagine why.
Animal Man utilizes the basic buck with a new head, new jacket, and new arms (except the biceps, those are Mr. Terrific’s). I’m glad they spent money on new tooling to make the arms unique. I wouldn’t have cared so much if T’s shoulder ribbing were there or if Buddy’s wrist cuffs were absent, but it’s great that they made the changes. The jacket piece is unique too and has good detailing with the zippers and buttons. Unlike Terrific’s jacket, it’s molded out of hard plastic. It’s not coming off without removing the arms or doing some damage. Like most DCUCs, the head is the crowning piece and the 4H nailed Buddy Baker’s look. The hair, the expression, and the eyes (beneath a separate clear goggle piece) are spot-on.
B’Wana Beast utilizes the basic buck (no nipples!) with new boots, belt, and a head. I do lament the fact that he should have nipples since he’s naked (Hawkman does), but it doesn’t take away from the figure. There’s another nice touch here with the fur texturing on the boot cuffs. The belt is accurate (and a little loose, it can slide around). And again, the head is excellent. The stark contrast in color is handled by two different pieces. The mask also sports the same fur texture as the boots. Great piece.
Paint wasn’t an issue here. I’m starting to forget the last time I had a bad paint issue with DC Classics. Animal Man has solid lines on his symbol and good paint apps on the little details like the goggles, buttons, and zippers. His boots are painted to replicate that strange looping pattern. B’Wana Beast has airbrushing to replicate his suntan and it looks sharp. The lines on the loincloth were a little off here and there, but just barely. The lines on the boots and the spots on the fur areas were great. It gives me a lot of faith that the Cheetahs will turn out wonder-ful.
While paint is becoming Mattel’s strong suit, articulation is still an issue. Both figures suffer from the restricted necks and have only side-to-side action. I expected this on B’Wana Beast because his head is like a gumdrop, but there’s enough room in there for it to work had it been done correctly. My B’Wana Beast also has loose leg joints, both legs will rattle around and give easily in extreme poses. The rest of the articulation was fine on both figures.
What? You spent $25 on a 2pk and thought it would come with accessories? Silly collector, accessories are for kids! Accessories are the big glaring hole in this 2pk. You don’t get a single one. And while there may not be an obvious one, there are surely some ideas that could have worked. If this were truly a collector’s line, I’d have expected a removable helmet on B’Wana Beast or a vial of his elixir. Animal Man could have alternate arms for the classic, jacketless look. Including some animals would have been nice. I’m sure there were some Barbie animals laying around that could have been in near scale. Heck, we didn’t even get yet another version of that falcon/eagle!
Overall, character selection makes me the most pleased with the two-pack. Minus the larger articulation issue that’s plaguing DC Classics, these two figures are executed well, especially in the sculpt and paint areas. Some accessories would have increased the value of the set, but that doesn’t take away from the toys themselves. These are two guys that may not be the most popular, but you need them for a complete DC shelf and I’m glad Mattel was able to work them in the line. B’Wana Beast is really an instance of Mattel throwing down the gauntlet and letting us know they’ll make anybody (I want the Chief to complete my Doom Patrol, Mattel!). If you love these guys as much as Vault or I do, you can consider them front of shelf figures.