THE AFJ REVIEW: DIAMOND SELECT GOTHAM WAVE 2!
By Jarrett Kruse
Anything remotely related to Batman and I am usually in. So when FOX announced a few years ago that they were going to be doing an hour long drama about the origin of Batman with a focus on a young Jim Gordon, I pushed all my chips into the pot. The first season's strong following ushered in a second adding the tag, "Rise of the Villains" to the show. While very dark and pushing the boundaries of network TV, that is absolutely what I like about it. It very much reminds me of Tim Burton's Gotham City from his films in '89 & '92. The city is the shows biggest character where the sun literally never shines and almost everyone has a dark secret.
Now the good folks at Diamond Select Toys have sent over the second wave of GOTHAM figures for a complete breakdown. DST is having one heckuva 2016 with the company releasing something for everyone. They've got Muppets, Ghostbusters, Marvel Select, Minimates--DST is set on world toy domination and Junkies cannot seem to get enough. Their signature library book, oversized spines for easy reference along with the Build-A-Diorama piece or a standalone background prop really adds to the value to the retail $22-$25 per figure. And the likenesses seem to be getting better and better with each successive wave.
I was very excited for the GOTHAM wave 2 lineup because it includes three of my favorite characters from the hit FOX show. We get forensics tech/homicidal maniac Edward Nygma as a budding Riddler played by the enigmatic (get it?) Cory Michael Smith. Next is the scene stealer Donal Logue as the corrupt cop with a heart Harvey Bullock. Finally, we have the Alfred Pennyworth we have always wanted with Sean Pertwee playing an ex-British special forces vet who also happens to be Bruce Wayne's butler & guardian. Nygma's role has been expanded this season as he eases into multiple personalities, homicide and strangely, love. So the timing for this wave is quite prescient especially since the second season is coming to a close. Now, lets break down the second wave, figure by figure.
The casting of the aforementioned Smith was dead on and I cannot imagine anyone else nailing this role the way he has. And even though we all try to forget 1995's Batman Forever, where Jim Carrey played The Riddler, Smith reminds me quite a bit of the rubber-faced comedian. He is like Jim Carrey as the Riddler mixed in with The Cable Guy. The figure is really an outstanding sculpt and the facial likeness is second to none. In my opinion, of the six available figures in the GOTHAM line, this is the closest likeness. You can almost smell the pomade in his greased up hair and see the sinister monster behind those eyes. Nygma is also very orderly, and neat with purpose and here he is outfitted perfectly with his work clothes, a simple lab coat and slacks. He reminds me of Louis Skolnick from Revenge of the Nerds except he is a puzzle solving, homicidal maniac.
Smith manages to retain his comic book cred in his portrayal of Nygma and his descent into madness. I doubt we are going to see any kind of Riddler costume or green unitard for now but, this is Ed's look and DST really nailed it especially in the facial likeness department. I love the very basic and clean looking desk that he comes with as it lends itself to Nygma's orderly existence. He is a guy that never has a hair out of place and the creepy grin was an important aspect to nail down and it is far better than I expected. I can see this figure being made into custom jobs where Junkies will use the head and body of Nygma to make a "HUSH" style Riddler. I cannot wait to see what E. Nygma (get it) has in store for Gotham-ites next. For now though, this figure is a must have for the Bat-fan in your life.
I think it was in DC Comics big shot Geoff Johns' Batman: Earth One trade paperback where we got to see a seriously badass Alfred Pennyworth. So when Bruno Heller and the casting folks signed on Sean Pertwee to play an ex-British Special Forces soldier who is now guardian of young Bruce Wayne, they wanted to do away with the whole, "Alfred just hangs out at Wayne Manor all day" myth. No, no, this Alfred is awesome and he is in the streets knee deep in muck and mire, ready for battle. Their was one particular episode where Alfred & Bruce have to find a man named "Cupcake" who is 6 foot 5 and three bills and change. Cupcake says that Alfred has to fight him or he and Bruce cannot leave. Alfred then engages this giant and beats him handily all the while narrating to Bruce what he is doing to take down the mountain of an opponent. And Bruce even uses this information in a later episode to beat an opponent. Alfred is a wonderfully fleshed out character and one that you can really root for.
Despite his regal appearance, veteran actor Pertwee manages to add an element of being formidable in a three-piece suit. The Diamond Select figure really captures the look of Alfred, again with a fantastic facial sculpt and right down to the salt & pepper hair of the grizzled Brit who has seen and done it all. I love that they made the coat of his suit movable and if you really wanted to, you can take his jacket off if you know what you are doing. Right down to the high shine on the figures shoes to the old school pocket watch in his vest pocket with chain. I would love to see a "battle-damaged" version of Pennyworth done by a professional customizer. Al comes with a rather large backdrop piece of a fireplace and while in front of it, I even bought a small Shakespeare bust like in the live action Batman series just to add to the whole Wayne Manor feel to it. DST did not skimp on the detail on this piece either and it really is quite ornate in its design and functionality.
DETECTIVE HARVEY BULLOCK
Donal Logue has been one of my favorite character actors since my days as an intern at MIRAMAX Films in the late 90's. He was a hot commodity back then and has turned out to be quite the versatile and durable actors out there. From Sneakers to Blade to Sons of Anarchy, Logue was the perfect choice for the out of shape, somewhat corrupt cop with a heart that has been working in Gotham for as long as he can remember. The city runs through his veins and Bullock would not do well out in the country. Logue manages to translate Bullock's appetites for booze, skirts & shady dealings but does it from a good place. He is just taking any part of the pie that he can get but his city comes first.
The figure is brilliantly realized and captures the out of shape Bullock we see on screen. Logue's mug is perfectly captured and DST did a great job using a dark color pallet for the action figure. Bullock's go to leather jacket is perfectly done in plastic and again, like Alfred, you are able to move the malleable plastic that goes into his attire. Even his tie moves so I like that DST did not take the easy way out and make it all one piece. Bullock's signature fedora is removable and really a nice touch because it his hallmark piece of clothing. He also comes with a revolver that you can easily put in his hand or leave it aside. Particularly, I really liked the ab crunch on this set of three and it is really nicely put together so that it hardly noticeable with the flowing lines and dark colors emanating from each figure. Dark and drab is the key with the GOTHAM figures and DST pulls it off in easy fashion. Harvey's diorama piece is a backdrop of an alley that I believe can be put together with the scene from the first wave of figures that included Selina Kyle & Jim Gordon. I should note that the GOTHAM figures are available in the oversized DST package Junkies love but their is also the option of buying the figures at TOYS R US Exclusively without the diorama pieces.
THE FINAL WORD
If you are a fan of GOTHAM or are a Bat-fan of any kind, the new GOTHAM figures are a must have. The facial likenesses continue to get better and better and the articulation is not overwhelming and to be honest, it shouldn't be on boutique style figures like these. Its a tough call between Alfred & Nygma as my favorite of Wave 2 but I think the soon to be Riddler gets the final vote as my favorite. If you are not a fan of the extras or into diorama making, then definitely pick up the TRU Exclusives for a scant $12.99 apiece which is an absolute steal worthy of a Gotham criminal.