THE AFJ REVIEW: BATMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES & NEW BATMAN ADVENTURES!
By Jarrett Kruse
There is no better feeling for me than when a new company becomes part of the AFJ family. And that is exactly what is on display here with DC Collectibles and the virtual sampler platter that was sent here to AFJ Headquarters. We put out the proverbial Bat-Signal for help, and our DCC contact Sara answered the call. Finally we have some solid DCC product to wade into as the expansion of AFJ continues.
I have been a huge fan of Batman: The Animated Series (Hereon "BTAS") & The New Batman Adventures (Hereon "TNBA") and these new figures in the art style of what became absolute iconic "cartoons." Although calling them "cartoons" is unjust considering its tremendous influence in the Batman canon. When word got out that DC COLLECTIBLES was making a new action figure line in the highly stylized look of the groundbreaking TV show, Junkies scrambled to get their pre-orders in STAT so that they could relive their youth or at least their resistance to adulthood! Still, I always thought BTAS was geared more towards adults to begin with and Bat-Fans are a unique and loyal breed. So when I opened up the package to reveal a virtual sampler platter of figures with Robin, Harley Quinn & Killer Croc, I was wowed and immediately enthralled with the easily recognizable art style of Bruce Timm & Eric Radomski.
These figures are works of art and frankly, do not belong on the pegs at all the big box chains. They are too damn nice for that! These figures deserve to be on the walls or pre-ordered at the finest upscale comic book shops around the world. Or you can always go to Amazon which carries pretty much everything that humans consume! These figures absolutely define what a "boutique style" action figure is with its complete and total brilliance in the sculpts, paint apps and articulation. Right away, the consumer knows that they are getting a high quality product as Robin was sculpted by the formidable and brilliant GENTLE GIANT Studios. Harley & Killer Croc were sculpted by the amazing Irene Matar who continues to astonish me with her talent. The more I researched her, the more amazed I became with this fangirl's limitless talent. So, lets dive right in, figure by figure, starting with the Tim Drake Robin from The New Batman Adventures.
The most famous sidekick in the world gets the Bruce Timm treatment in this most recent iteration of the Boy Wonder. What I loved most about this figure is how fluid everything is from top to bottom. Nothing is too overwhelming on this piece where their is really no wasted space. The card-stock on the package has a thick, corrugated feel to it which I really like because I am constantly dropping or dinging my figures whether I open them or not! Basically I am a klutz.
I really love that sculptors extraordinaire, GENTLE GIANT are behind the sculpt here on Robin. It is just a really terrific looking piece with bright vibrant colors while still maintaining a bit of Gotham City darkness to it. This particular iteration is sans the green we are used in Robin and instead focuses on the red. This was interesting because at the time when the program aired, the comics also had a no-green Robin. The "smirk" on Tim's face is unmistakable and clearly the sculptors were having fun while putting this figure together. While their is articulation, it is not overwhelming and frankly, it does not need to be. I do not think that a 32 POA Robin figure would work here with the film noir style that the Batman cartoons created. I really love that they give you a base that has a "sculpt sheet" or "turnarounds" that show the front, side and back views of the figure. As if that was not enough, the base connects to a couple of plastic pieces so that you have no problem standing the figure upright. I wish more companies would take this measure because it is really a nice bonus. Robin also comes with a plethora of extras in the shape of several different sets of hands, handcuffs & a Batarang. The paint apps are absolutely dynamite with fluidity and while I looked for any errors or scuffs, there were none. You just get the feeling this was a figure that was made with a lot of care. Overall, this piece is an absolute winner.
It would be hard to argue that their has been a more popular character in the Bat-Verse of the last quarter century than Harley Quinn. The good doctor Harleen Quinzel made her first appearance on September 11, 1992 on the BTAS. The detached doctor soon falls for "Mistah J" aka The Joker and a frightening new villain was born. The excitement around seeing her on the big screen for the first time this summer in SUICIDE SQUAD has been palpable with fanboys and fangirls everywhere rejoicing that bombshell Margot Robbie landed the part of the femme fatale. Choosing the red hot Robbie to play Harley was a stroke of inspired casting that Junkies cannot wait to see. However, HQ really owes her origins to BTAS for without their may never have been a Harley.
The figure is completely eclectic with all of the extras that we could want in a Harley figure. While she is a Cosplay favorite for women at Con's, you don't really get to see a lot of the original costume of Harley anymore as their have been countless versions of figures produced since she cemented her status as a real big bad in the Bat-world. The Jester-style red and black onesie is Harley's calling card and she makes bad look so good. The facial sculpt done Irene Matar is a cause to rejoice as it truly is a sight. If you cover up her head where her Jester's hat is, you can almost see Joker's face in hers and the influence from the Clown Prince of crime. Again, the paint apps really are impressive making it a very solid addition to your Bat-collection. The aforementioned stand and turnaround base is included as is her gun, Joker fish and extra set of hands. Its really just gravy on top of a figure that does not even need extras.
The Killer Croc figure from The New Batman Adventures is an absolute monster. And I say that both literally and figuratively reason being that the figure is just a beast in its stature at about 8-inches and even bigger if you put his lanky arms up. Another sculpt from Irene Matar here throws down the gauntlet in one of the best sculpts I have seen this year. I have been a Killer Croc fan for many years and am really looking forward to his appearance in SUICIDE SQUAD in August. The other bonus in this fantastical figure is that it includes the super creppy Baby-Doll from the cartoon. She creeped me out in the 90's and still does so today! Plus I have never seen such an ornate version made before for consumption by Junkies.
The massive body of Killer Croc is perfectly captured in Timm's signature style that lends itself to both darkness and a bit of black humor. These are serious villains but they are playing in a cartoon landscape which I think is what makes them so appropriate for DC COLLECTIBLES. They manage to combine the playfulness with these monsters adding to their intrinsic value as toys. Croc comes with a cartoon style turkey that looks like it was pulled right out of a Tom & Jerry episode (Cartoon food always looks so tasty) along with a ball for Baby-Doll, a bottle, some cash and an extra set of hands. That is what I call value for a high end yet affordable figure.
I am completely gushing when I say that I now want to collect the entire series of figures from both BTAS & TNBA. They are so well made and so vibrant without being overwhelming and cramming down extras that are not needed and usually unnecessary. Here every extra has purpose and is tailor-made for the Action Figure Junkie. The design and instantly recognizable style makes both of these lines a wonderful pick up at an affordable price point. If you are a hardcore Junkie, and have a reserve of funds specifically for your "toy tooth," it would be easy to drop $40 a month on two figures at a time and build up your collection swiftly. And if your LCS does not have them in stock, head over to Amazon or ask your friendly neighborhood comic shop owner to order some from PREVIEWS. Another coups for DC COLLECTIBLES who seem to be really hitting their stride in 2016. Yes, these have been out for a while but it is AFJ's first chance to really take them out for a test drive. Tune in again to AFJ for all your action figure needs, same Bat-time, same Bat-website!