Thursday, March 10, 2011

Toy Review - DC Universe Classics/Masters of the Universe: Aquaman Versus Mer-Man By Mattel

I’ve started a few articles off with this statement now, but it is always true:
I had no intention of buying these.
Or the other set that came out at the same time – Stratos and Hawkman. I mean, I already have Mer-Man, Aquaman and Hawkman. And Stratos has never been one of my favorite Masters, even when he looked a lot cooler in 2002. But as tends to happen, a number of disparate factors came together to gnaw away at my geek resolve and I finally gave in and bought both sets.

The first thing that made the two 2-packs seem more appealing was a sale at Toys R Us (the only place besides eBay you can buy these). They got marked down from the ludicrous $29.99 to a much more reasonable $19.99. This fact alone almost convinced me to buy them, given that the Masters are already $20 apiece when they are offered from the website. This was a penny less with no shipping and a whole extra figure (plus tax, though)! And the Mer-Man had a very striking new paint scheme. But I really didn’t need another Aquaman to have to sell on eBay. I felt I was pushing it by already profiting off of one extra Atlantean. And Hawkman and Stratos didn’t even figure in at the time.
And then I started watching the 2002 Masters cartoon again. I bought the full series off of Amazon a while ago, got through the first couple of discs and then my interest went elsewhere. But the other day I put the next disc in when the 1996 Doctor Who movie wouldn’t play for some reason (I hope to have a review up soon) and Stratos figured prominently in several episodes. And sounded exactly like Sean Connery. I’m not going to say I decided then and there that I needed that Stratos, but it did occur to me that I might at some point regret not owning a figure of a flying bird-monkey that sounds like James Bond..
So the next time we were in Toys R Us (we go as a family once every couple of weeks, sometimes more) I saw that the sets were still on sale and decided to perform the ultimate test: I presented them to Mrs. Troublemaker for approval. When I can’t decide whether or not to waste money on little plastic men, she always makes the right call. For reasons I can’t fathom (no pun intended) she likes Stratos more than Mer-Man, but she agreed that I should go ahead and pick up both sets while they were cheap.
So today we’re going to take a look at the one that I was probably going to buy on my own anyway – Aquaman versus Mer-Man.

First Glance: I love this Mer-Man’s colors. I’ve already decided that for standing on the shelf purposes he’s just a different member of Mer-Man’s species. I almost want to buy more and repaint them (actually I did buy another one), but I just don’t have time for customization anymore (but I’m gonna try). I still have a Toy Story/Star Wars project that’s been waiting on me since the beginning of January. This Aquaman looks fine. Not as exciting as my golden version, but still neat.
Sculpt: Aquaman sports the standard DCUC articulation and is the same as every other Aquaman figure Mattel has produced (well, except for gay Aquaman). This one doesn’t have any joint issues and can hold his trident just fine in several different ways. I’m still impressed by the scales sculpted on his shirt. I guess I shouldn’t be because that’s what it has to look like, but every time I look at one of these figures it strikes me.
Mer-Man is exactly the same as the Original Mer-Man. Mine does not have any joint issues, but his chest plate thingy seems a bit looser than the older one. His sword seems a bit looser in his hand, as well. Other than that, this is a fine sculpt.
I mentioned (mocked) a pretty noticeable size difference in my review of the Superman/He-Man 2-pack. For some reason it doesn’t seem nearly as obvious with either of these sets. As a matter of fact, I had to put Aquaman over by the Ghostbusters during the photographs and the size difference between those isn’t even as outrageous as I remember thinking. They still don’t appear to be the same scale, but you could probably stand them together and get away with it.
Design: One of the trademarks of the DC versus MOTUC packs seems to be sloppy paint. In this case Mer-Man is the victim. He has some spotting on his hands and his trunks. Other than that, his colors are super-vibrant and awesome. He is basically the same color scheme as the DCUC Blue Devil and it looks really good on this fish guy (I just thought of something – shouldn’t Aquaman be able to control Mer-Man telepathically?). Mer-Man’s face looks good and he retains all of the little details of the original – like the clasps on his greaves – but in different colors.
Aquaman actually looks pretty solid. There are no errors or bleeding of paint that I can see and, while I don’t like this one as much as the golden-shirted version that came with Black Manta; he does look nice. His colors are somewhat brighter and he fits with the comic book style of the rest of these 2-packs.
While Arthur sports a better quality paint job, Mer-Man just looks very distinctive and cool. He is the must-have of the set. Besides, yours may not even have the errors mine did.
Accessories: Aquaman has the same trident as the other releases, but in slightly different colors.
Mer-Man comes with the same sword as the original. It matches this figure’s different paint scheme. For some reason the date stamp seems much more noticeable on this one. I hate date stamps. This Mer-Man only has the one head, but I never liked the Stinkor version anyway.
The He-Man/Superman set included a comic book about the epic confrontation between the two titans. I reviewed it here. Sadly, this set does not include an Aquaman versus Mer-Man comic. It has a “poster”:
But I think I have a pretty good grasp on the relationship between Squidish Rex and Arthur Curry:

Packaging: It seems a little big, but I like this packaging. It makes this set seem more special than the standard DCUC two-packs. Also, it is bright and stands out very well on the store shelf.
Overall: I already knew I liked the Mer-Man, but I’m happier with the Aquaman than I expected. I’m currently evaluating which one to keep between him and the gold one. One must go on eBay. Mer-Man looks so cool – barring the paint errors – standing on the shelf behind the original. I am strongly tempted to buy another one of these sets just so I can make a Mer-Man in Troublemaker colors (and like I said, I did – don’t know when I’ll get around to it).
4 out of 5
If you see this for twenty bucks I’d say definitely get it. This is probably the best of the DCUC versus MOTUC sets so far.
Until next time, stay creepy

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