Friday, March 26, 2010

Retro-Action Dolls! Uh, I Mean Action Figures!

At last! The DC Retro-Action Superheroes are on store shelves!

For those of you who don't know, the DC Retro-Action Superheroes (...I just typoed that as "Superherpes") are new toys made to look and feel and... well, pretty much BE the old toy/dolls put out by the MEGO company back in the 70's. In fact, if I recall correctly, they were actually designed by some of the people who designed the original MEGOs. These new ones are manufactured by Mattel, and the first wave -- Superman, Lex Luthor, Green Lantern Hal, and Sinestro, are available right now at Toys-R-Us. There's also a Green Arrow, but he's only available as an exclusive through (and is currently sold out). I also saw some on the pegs at several of my local comic book stores this weekend, so if your Toys-R-Us fails as badly as mine usually does, you can check there instead.

Of course, I bought Hal and Sinestro -- Sinestro a couple of weeks ago, and Hal just today. Now that I have both, I thought I'd give a little review!

These guys are roughly 8-9" tall -- or about a head taller than the Blackest Night figures, which are supposed to be 7". This puts them out of scale with pretty much every single other thing on my shelves, but I find that I don't mind too much. They're something special! I haven't broken either of mine, but I wouldn't rate them very highly if I was rating for durability. The packaging says they're suitable for ages 6 and up, but a 6-year-old would absolutely DESTROY these things in less than a minute. They're constructed exactly like the MEGOS, which means that their bodies seem to be hard plastic, their heads are kind of rubbery, and their joints really shouldn't be forced much if they stick, because they'd probably break. Pose carefully!

Like the original MEGOs, their weak point is in their torso. I'm not entirely certain, but I'm pretty sure that the articulation there is supplied by a rubber band inside the torso. Their poseability is good, and they stand up just fine on their own, but trying to get them to stop slouching is frustrating. The rubber band almost always forces them to either slouch or bend a little backwards, and it takes quite a bit of fooling around to get them to find a happy, normal medium. They have good articulation considering that they're retro toys -- the head turns, shoulders, wrists, and legs have full (if occasionally a little sticky) range of motion, elbows and knees bend, torso tilts and swivels -- but honestly, I don't care what the fanboys say, these things are more like dolls than they are action figures. And, while I was definitely not a girly-girl as a child and hardly ever played with Barbies, I had friends who did, and you know what the first thing a child does when they get a Barbie doll is? That's right -- they undress it. I undressed Sinestro post-haste, and I was impressed by what I saw. ("That's what Arin said!") They didn't just stick a purple head and hands on a generic body. He's actually purple all over. And the musculature on these things is way beyond what you would expect from a toy that, at first glance, seems cheaply-made. Their muscles are accurate, and heroically-proportioned without looking like they've been shot up with steroids (yes, I'm looking at YOU, JLA Classified line!). In fact, the Sinestro is almost perfect in that he's fit but skinny... sort of what I'd expect him to look like in real life. Unfortunately, as Hal's body is exactly the same size, Hal looks a little bit too slender to fit my mental image of Hal, but it works very well for Sinestro.

But the best part is the COSTUMES! They're real cloth - sort of like bathing suits, actually -- and I am very impressed with both their details and construction. One of the Hals I saw at the store had a few loose threads, but neither of mine do, and I have played with them a LOT. Both of them have what feels like vinyl bracers, and Sinestro's neck ruffle and belt are of the same material. They fit the figures perfectly, showing off that nice musculature without looking ridiculous. Both costumes fasten in the back -- Hal's has two snaps, and Sinestro's has three. I try to be careful with the snaps, because its easy to imagine them tearing loose from the cloth. The boots are rubbery, and are by far the hardest costume piece to get off, and even harder to get back on. I don't recommend taking them off. I'm serious.

I did notice one interesting thing about the boots, though...
Yes, Hal appears to be wearing green cowboy boots. It's hard to tell from the pictures, but while Sinestro's boots are perfectly modelled after his Silver Age costume, and have flat heels, Hal's have a curious little... well, I don't know the word for it, but they definitely look like cowboy boots. And they have a rather thick heel on them. Maybe he borrowed them from Guy's closet and painted them green?

And because the butt is the most important part of a Green Lantern (their brain is #3), I had to be strict in my butt review: neither of them has a very good one. This might be forgiven on Sinestro, who has not had his hiney ogled in many years and has perhaps given up on his daily glute workouts, but it definitely detracts points from Hal's score.

Shake 'em, boys!

Hal is one with the least amount of detail. As pretty as he normally is, he's still a rather generic-looking guy, so it's hard to capture his proper likeness in cheap plastic/rubber. He does have his trademark hair wave, but it's pretty flat. We can't see his eyes because of his creepy mask, and his expression is ALMOST, but not quite, a smile. It's like a Mona Lisa smile. Yet somehow, it fits. I guess because it looks like a smirk when you look at it in a certain light. The paint is applied pretty cleanly -- not perfectly, but you won't see the flaws unless you look really, really hard. His ears stick out juuust a little. I actually think he sort of looks like a young Sean Connery as James Bond, in a weird sort of way.Sinestro is a much more distinctive-looking character, so his details are easier to appreciate. Receding hairline? Check. Slicked-back hair? Check. Truly dapper moustache? Check. Evil-looking thin brows that he CLEARLY tweezes and waxes to make perfect? Check. He even has little wrinkles in his forehead that the pictures don't quite capture. He's not quite frowning in the same way that Hal is not quite smiling. His ring is properly placed on his left hand (details count!) and it's not just a molded copy of Hal's GL ring -- it's his classic yellow ring that looks sort of like a dome. His ears are pointy, his skin is not red, but PURPLE, and his eyes are quite a lovely blue (and they're painted very nicely, which the pictures don't really capture properly). In short, this is Silver Age Sinestro, just as he used to be portrayed back when he had silly Silver Age schemes like trapping Hal and Ollie inside a gemstone, going back to medieval times and wreaking havoc, and pretending to be his own dad. His old look works perfectly on a retro toy like this -- he looks like something a kid could have happily bought back in say, 1972, and then exploded with firecrackers. Contrast that with his modern look -- red skin, scary wrinkles, black eyes with yellow pupils, NO pointy ears, and half-shaved head.

My final verdict? I LOVE these toys. There's something about them that just screams "Play with me!" (and not in the Chuckie way, either). My other figures feel less like toys and more like little statues. These feel like something I want to play with until they absolutely wear out., though I'm trying hard not to do that. They just feel... fun when you hold them in your hand. My other toys are on my shelves, but these two sit on my computer desk, and I put them in all sorts of poses, and smile when I look at them.

And I make them hold my cookies while I surf the net.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Brightest Day

(Minor spoilers for Green Lantern books beginning in April. Nothing beyond what the solicits say, but if you don't like reading solicits, then go no further.)

I'm not here to talk Blackest Night. No, that's being talked about everywhere now that #7 is out, and some people have already provided some excellent analysis of the happenings in there.

I haven't been sure what exactly to expect from Brightest Day, because so much depends on how Blackest Night ends, and we don't know what's going to happen there just yet. Obviously certain people are coming back to life, certain people aren't, and some of the people I feared might die are going to come through hale and hearty!

Guy is getting his own book, so that means he'll make it through in some form or another. Ice will be featured in Generation Lost, so she'll make it through somehow. I would still be worried for Sinestro, given his current state (I predicted ages ago that Johns would have him die a hero at the end of this somehow), but the solicits for Green Lantern in the coming months have revealed that he'll make it through alive, too -- we just don't know what he'll be wearing.

But I've decided that, from what little the solicits have revealed, the storyline in Green Lantern after Blackest Night is over has the potential to fulfill one of my geekiest dreams: apparently the "New Guardians" are going to be forced to make Earth their new home, for reasons that will apparently be revealed in the May issue of Green Lantern (assuming the solicit doesn't lie, which they often do).

In addition to Hal and Carol, that's Atrocitus, Larfleeze, Saint Walker, Indigo-1, and Sinestro living on Earth.

I'll admit, this sort of thing is one of those cheesy, ridiculous storylines that often plays out in my head, but I've never actually written it because it's very hard to write something like that to its full potential while keeping it from turning into... well, a cheesy, ridiculous storyline. Maybe it's because Earth and its customs are what's familiar to us, but putting characters like this into a context where they can be forced to deal with things that, to us, are mundane, is something that's just fun to imagine. And

It reminds me of the old GLC of Earth days, when they had their pretty headquarters that Guy got banned from after he spiked the water and made Salaak see pink elephants. Maybe they'll bring that old place back, and rebuild it nicely, as I think the last time we saw it, Guy and Kilowog had destroyed it in a fistfight, and it collapsed on Arisia's head. Wouldn't it be awesome to see that place again?

Please, please, please tell me that they will all live together in this same house, like a Rainbow-Colored Brady Bunch -- and that Dex-Starr will be their cat and claw the curtains and spray all over their furniture, resulting in fights between Atrocitus and Sinestro because Atrocitus won't neuter his kitty and Sinestro is VERY meticulous about his housekeeping! And Larfleeze will take up residence in the basement, because no one else can stand his stench or his fleas, and he watches them through the floor vents and covets their possessions.

Honestly, picture it:

Sinestro: "Don't any of you people know how to fold laundry? My pants have to be re-dried and creased all over again! And... WHY IS THAT CAT IN MY ROSE BUSHES AGAIN?"
Pizza Delivery Girl: "Uh, yeah, who ordered the seventy-five fully loaded pizzas?"
Larfleeze: "MINE!"
Pizza Delivery Girl: "Whoa, dude, come back! You have to pay for those!"
Indigo: "I'm sorry, I can't help you. My deus ex machina power is depleted."
Pizza Delivery Girl: "..."
Hal: "Oh hey there. Want to see my cockpit?"
Pizza Delivery Girl: "..."
Hal: "You've never flown with me before."
Carol: *sigh* "Here, Pizza Girl, this should cover it. And for God's sake, don't step on the begonias on your way out. Sinestro will have a stroke."
Sinestro: "Silence, you walking venereal disease. Your very presence in this house gives me a burning sensation where one ought not burn."
Saint Walker: "All will be well!"
Carol: *facepalm*