Tag Archives: Superman

Dear Mattel: Your New DC Figures are Super Ugly

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By Nick Saunders
9/12/13

I still can distinctly recall my glee while reading Toyfare Issue 68 back in 2003, and discovering that Mattel had chosen to leverage the DC license into a line of 6-inch figures to compete with (or in my eyes, complement) Toy Biz’s (now Hasbro’s) Marvel Legends line. I had been an avid collector of Marvel Legends since its inception, and had been dying for a comparable line to be released for DC. Sure, there were DC Direct (now DC Collectibles) figures available of many characters, but their wonky 6.75” scale, minimal articulation, and cherubic, china-doll paintjobs made them stick out like lepers on my otherwise immaculate (and disease-free) shelf of awesomeness.

Then came Mattel’s Batman line in 2003. Recently off their stint with the Masters of the Universe 200X line, the Four Horsemen came in ready to take names and chew bubblegum. This line, while a vast improvement over any major release Batman series to date, still had a way to go in competing with Toy Biz’s quality, articulation and detail.

This soon gave way to Mattel expanding the line into DC Super Heroes in 2005, which is where they truly began to shine. They debuted their S3 sculpt that remained the base template for this line into the following decade. Some of my favorite figures and molds came from this series, including S3 Batman, S3 Superman, Lex Luthor, Doomsday, and Mongul, amongst others.

The branding eventually shifted to DC Universe Classics in 2007, and 20 assortments of figures were released until the line ended at the end of 2012. Some great, some obscure, and some downright awful characters were given life, but the quality was always there, both in sculpt and in manufacture.

For 2013, the line has been re-branded once again as DC Unlimited. Some figures are re-paints of prior DCUC or DCSH figures. However others, namely the abominations being targeted in this article, are all-new molds. The primary catalyst for this catastrophic decline in aesthetic appeal is the cross-marketing with the Injustice: Gods Among Us game produced by Netherrealm Studios. I can barely put into words how abhorrent the figures based on this game look. Batman and Superman in particular are hideous, and nothing that even a paper bag could remedy. This type of cosmetic monstrosity couldn’t even be fixed on The Swan.

Even the New 52 sculpts weren’t immune to this rampant design travesty-in-progress. Please see New 52 Darkseid, aka one ugly duck. I think half of the plastic used on this figure went to the head and shoulders. Especially when compared with the amazingly-crafted DCSH S3 Darkseid, this new figure is nothing but a wet, laughable flatulation after a hearty meal of franks ‘n’ beans.

In case I haven’t quite made my point clear, I am saddened and disappointed that one of my favorite toy lines has deteriorated so badly. I truly do wish that the quality of designs reverts back to previous levels, because at this point I think I would rather display My Little Pony on my toyshelf than a DC Unlimited figure.

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Batman and the Daredevil of Hollywoodland (aka Affleck was the Bomb in Phantoms)

affleck west batman-picsay

By Nick Saunders
8/28/13

I love being a geek. It allows me to hold dearly onto childhood passions under the guise of being idiosyncratic, fun-loving, intellectual, and different. The truth is I just never grew up, and while most men of my age get all hot and bothered about the latest Callaway driver or the rising value of their diversified stock portfolio, I on the other hand get my jollies from the latest Transformer, Action Figure, or Superhero film to be revealed.

Which brings me to today’s topic, the casting of Ben Affleck as the new Batman. Why are all these people foaming from their collective rabid mouths with such embittered nerd rage? The backlash has been so immense from the fan community that there currently is a petition on Change.org with over 85,000 signatures on it to reverse the casting decision. Something tells me that the individuals who founded this website weren’t considering the protest of superhero movie actors to be the kind of sweeping public policy reform they were hoping to invigorate.

But back to the lecture at hand. From this young G’s perspective, before trashing Affleck we should take an objective gander at his career thus far. Yes, during his meteoric rise to fame he made some awful films whilst firmly nuzzled up to J-Lo. The usual suspects come to mind- Phantoms was garbage, Reindeer Games wack, and Gigli is an everlasting example of the pitfalls encountered when a power couple drinks too much of their own Kool-Aid and believes their hubris alone will translate into cinematic gold.

However, Good Will Hunting was a very good film, one for which his contribution tends to be severely overlooked, despite winning an Oscar and a Golden Globe for co-authoring the screenplay. He was compelling in his portrayal as the embattled Superman actor George Reeves in Hollywoodland. He showed he has directorial chops in Gone Baby Gone. The Town was tight. In Argo he acted and directed his way to a Best Picture Oscar. This guy hasn’t had a misstep in over half a decade.

Even Daredevil catches him an inordinate and unjustified amount of flack. I went back and rewatched it recently, and it is not a bad film. When I think of terrible superhero movies, I think of Spawn, Ang Lee’s Hulk, Ghost Rider, and Spiderman 3. Daredevil was better than all these stink nuggets combined, which is an empirical fact because I just published it on the interwebs.

Let’s keep an open mind here people. Michael Keaton, who initially appeared to be horribly miscast in Tim Burton’s Batman films, was a surprisingly good fit for the tights. George Clooney, who I initially thought was a perfect choice for the role, almost killed the franchise by coating it in an impenetrable veneer of fail. I figured Val Kilmer would suck as Batman, and I was right. And Christian Bale, well I didn’t know who the heck he was to even have an advance opinion. But he was pretty dang good.

The moral of the story is that social justice should not be intermingled with fanboyism of any sort, and that history dictates that unconventional casting has worked for Batman films in the past.

All this whining over a broken neck (Man of Steel)

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By Nick Saunders
7/1/13

If you are reading this post I will make an educated assumption that you have seen the film in question. If not, go see it first so I don’t have to receive death threats for spoiling your experience.

I want to throw my humble opinion out there regarding this most recent addition to the Superman mythology.

At the end of Superman’s climactic battle with Zod in Man of Steel, he over-torques the villain’s spinal cord and reluctantly ends his life. A family of humans is spared a country-fried death.

Many would have you believe that this is a travesty and that Zack Snyder ran our beloved hero into the dirt by having him break a cardinal rule.

This is not Batman. Superman’s psyche was not molded by the murder of his parents and does not possess the dark, damaged nature of his Gotham City contemporary. Superman has killed when absolutely necessary. Heck, in the comics he killed Doomsday at least two times that I can recall, Hank Henshaw a couple of times, would have killed Darkseid in Final Crisis had his own temporally-displaced bullet not done it first, and the list goes on. Even in that miserable film Superman IV, he threw the golden mullet-adorned Nuclear Man in a nuclear reactor and destroyed him. That’s right, even Christopher Reeve did not believe in the rehabilitation of super-powered homicidal maniacs.

This leads to my next point- this is not 1978 and Christopher Reeve has passed on. If the idealized, “aw shucks Lois that blouse really looks swell on you” characterization still resonated, why did everyone crap all over 2006’s Superman Returns? Brandon Routh should be a household name if that held true, yet instead of making more films as Superman he became Dylan Dog.

Snyder took a risk and presented a conflicted, yet relatable Kal-El to the audience. One who will do what is horrifyingly necessary to protect the people and planet he loves from virtually omnipotent would-be decimators. He did not do so lightly or sans remorse.

Killing is sometimes needed to defeat unspeakable, unrelenting evil. Some 70 years ago, staunch pacifism would have turned our country into a happy little place called the United States of Germany.

Superman has grown up, perhaps we all should follow suit.