Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Toy Review DC Universe Classics/Masters of the Universe: Bizarro Versus Battle Armor Faker (SDCC Exclusive) By Mattel

If I’m going to be honest – and that’s what I always try to do here – the DC Universe Classics versus Masters of the Universe Classics Toys R Us Exclusives have kind of been bags of crap so far if you’re a conscientious collector of both lines.
None of the concepts have been outright bad and people who don’t frequent have certainly benefited; but if you’re fully invested in both lines they’re kind of a waste and directly take advantage of the mint-in-box collector or the minor variant collector.
First we got Superman/He-Man and Lex Luthor/Skeletor. Both are good combinations from a pure marketing standpoint. DC’s heaviest hitter and his most famous nemesis (in his most dynamic look) combined with the two Masters figures that almost any toy collector are certain to want were excellent choices for an initial retail offering. The only problem there is that we’ve gotten 800,000 Superman repaints and that Luthor has shown up several times now, as well. He-Man and Skeletor both had minor variations in paint scheme. Otherwise, these sets were brilliant. The heroes one is how I filled my MOTUC He-Man slot and prompted me to produce one of my personal favorite posts.

Next were a couple of equally inspired but significantly less mainstream releases: Aquaman/Mer-Man and Hawkman/Stratos. Combining fish people and bird people was so obvious that I (and pretty much everybody else) called it before it was announced, but obvious doesn’t always mean good. Once these sets finally showed up at retail, stores were positively deluged with them. Or bombarded, if you will. To the point where shortly after their arrival they were marked down by an unheard-of thirty percent (TRU is notoriously stingy with markdowns). I had already bought the fish people set because I love that Mer-Man repaint, but I picked up the birds and an extra set of fishy folk during the sale. I am in the midst of what is apparently going to be a years-long process of repainting that Mer-Man. So for twenty bucks a set, that second series of releases were fair enough.
The third pair of releases gave us matchups that were still reasonable but less obvious. The first is the eighty-third straight re-release of Hal Jordan versus Zodac (both are Galactic Guardians of a sort) and the second is Ugly Supergirl With Bangs versus She-Ra (both are… girls. And blond! And wear miniskirts! And profitable knockoffs of tentpole male characters!). I probably won’t buy wither of these sets, but may pick up the ladies if I can get them for twenty bucks. I’ve got an extra Supergirl head that would look fine on that body.
But today – today we’re going to be taking a look at a first. A DCUC versus MOTUC two-pack that includes something that is (sort of) ENTIRELY NEW!
BATTLE ARMOR FAKER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Granted, regular Faker has already been offered, but fans have been requesting this previously-unrealized variant for a very long time. And while I felt fine about not having a standard Faker in my collection (he was released before I got so thoroughly sucked in), I loved this version as soon as I saw it. I had to have it. The problem was that it was going to be a San Diego Comic Con Exclusive. And not one from Matty (which are comparatively easy to obtain) but one from Toys R Us. I have a whole post about that debacle.
But luck was with me for most of the SDCC releases this year and I got my Bizarro/Faker set thanks to some careful monitoring of The 2-pack arrived mere days after I placed my order, but a bout with strep throat delayed my opening and enjoying of it. Seriously – I didn’t even go down to the Man Room for four days I felt so crappy. Normally it’s fine, but the climate down there is not conducive to recovery from illness. I also had Batman Legacies Series 2 awaiting my camera (thanks, Evil!) and couldn’t find the will to get down there and open them.
But now I’m back at work and miserable so let’s talk toys!

First Glance: Faker looks awesome. The blue/purple/orange combo is striking and visually pleasing. Bizarro is pretty impressive, but I think I like the darker colors on the old figure more. But considering I didn’t even have a Bizarro until now I’m cool with this one.
Sculpt: Bizarro is a more standout figure than I had realized. He has a crazy big upper torso that sets him apart from Superman – or any other DCUC figure – nicely. His hands look great and that head is just fantastic. Another thing I hadn’t noticed until I opened this set was Bizarro’s tattered cape. It looks really good. Probably my favorite from the DCUC line. The figure has the standard DCUC articulation. While the cape is a little long and does interfere with crouching; it looks so good that I don’t care. Also, my figure does not suffer from any stuck or overly-loose joints.
I don’t have the regular Faker so I can’t compare, but this one just has a great look. Obviously it’s just the standard He-Man body sculpt-wise, so we’ll get into the details in a minute. Naturally the figure features standard MOTUC articulation. All of the joints on mine move the way they’re supposed to – none are stuck. The side-to-side motion on the rocker ankles is way loose, though. It isn’t really a problem since it’s the front-to-back that carries the weight. As a matter of fact, posing Faker is a little easier since those loose rockers make him just settle into position. I’m not saying I wouldn’t prefer solid joints, but it’s an interesting benefit to one of Mattel’s many signature flaws. Speaking of flaws – there are a couple of extremely minor ones in that Faker’s right hand is a bit too open to grip his sword tightly and his Battle Armor (that should be capitalized, right?) prevents you from lowering his arms all the way. But honestly, the latter seems to be a problem for many real-life muscle-bound dudes who don’t even wear solid metal vests.
Bizarro is extra-tall thanks to his unique torso so the height difference between MOTUC and DCUC figures is barely noticeable. I’m not worried about it since I keep those collections separate, but it might be information you want.
Design: Faker is a lovely shade of blue. He has as much detail as any other MOTUC figure. The brown hair has great layering of color and his red eyes stand out nicely. The detail on his bracers, belt and boots looks so good he could easily have been a single release and nobody would have thought twice. I would have preferred it if his chest circuitry had been sculpted rather than painted, but I totally understand why it isn’t. And the deco that represents it does look very good. Some complained that Faker’s lower torso should be color matched to his Battle Armor like He-Man and Skeletor’s, but I disagree. He-Man and his nemesis are meant to keep their Armor on pretty much all the time, so you never see the oddness of their lower torsos sitting below (relatively) flesh-colored ones. Faker, on the other hand, has a feature that is integral to his character. The chest circuitry is meant to be seen and is an important part of the figure. This means that he needs to look good with or without whatever chest piece he may have. So I’m good with the color choices.
This Bizarro is in more Supermanly colors than the other one I have seen. His blues and reds are brighter. While not nearly as bright as Superman’s, they definitely stand out more than the regular Bizarro. His hands and face feature very nice paint applications that add to the already great sculpting. His costume is tightly done and doesn’t feature any bleeding or spatter.
Both figures are equally well done in this instance. Neither has any significant flaws.
Accessories: Bizarro comes with his trademark “Bizarro #1” necklace. It’s awesome. If this were a new figure, I’m confident that the nameplate would be made of rubber and the characters would be painted on. The chain might still be metal, but it wouldn’t be nearly as impressive. As it stands, this is a great little piece of merchandise. The solidity of the plate and the fact that the letters are sculpted make it such a better accessory than it could have been.
Faker comes with a comparative cornucopia of goodies. In addition to his Fake Power Sword he also has the Battle Armor with three different chest plates. The Power Sword is very nice – a metallic orange blade with flat orange hilt and trim. The Battle Armor is a solid, sturdy plastic. The front and back pieces fit together perfectly with no difficulty and the chest plates pop right into place and stay there.
Feminist Batgirl – “I see we have another male-dominated entry today. Shocking. Really. But then, I guess we’ll get to the strong, female, miniskirt-wearing set at some point, huh? With their perfectly sculpted thighs and huge breasts?”
Faker – “To be fair, miss; it’s not easy being a male action figure either. I mean, look at me. I have to maintain this physique to fit into the toy world. Look at my waist in comparison to the rest of me – I look like I could barely pass a grape (with respects to ToyFare).”
Feminist Batgirl – “Right, but there are millions of male figures with thousands of different body types. Female figures come in exactly two varieties: hyper-sexualized porn star body and weird GI Joe/Star Wars bodies with that uni-boob.”
Bizarro – “Purple Batgirl ugly boobies make Bizarro sad.”
Feminist Batgirl – “What the f…
Faker – “No! Wait – you know how Bizarro works, right? He says the opp…”
Bizarro – “Bizarro think Purple Batgirl eat too much. Purple Batgirl want to stay here and not eat food with Bizarro? Or maybe Purple Batgirl make Bizarro dinner?”
Feminist Batgirl – “Motherfu…
Bizarro – “Here we stay! Down, down and here!”
Feminist Batgirl – “Aaaaaah!
Faker – “Those two are adorable. Wait a minute – am I supposed to lie about everything or something?”
Me – “I have no idea.”
Anyway, the paint on Faker’s Battle Armor looks great. The detailing is fantastic and the damaged pieces show a tremendous amount of attention paid to how this piece was done. The silver of the damage is perfectly aligned to where it needs to be.
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: This is the first truly awesome set of its kind. While DCUC completists are going to end up with an extra Bizarro; he is different enough to make you happy (I think).
5 out of 5
This 2-pack is everything I wanted it to be. I can’t think of how it could have been improved other than maybe including an orange battle ax; and that probably would have replaced the Power Sword. I’d rather have the sword in this instance.
These sold out a long time ago on I’m not sure if they’re supposed to show up at retail or not. I think that a lot of TRU’s SDCC Exclusives merely show up at the Con first and then make their way to stores. I know the Lion-O and Rodimus are supposed to. If you know you want this, I’d say go ahead and order one from the usual suspects.
Until next time, stay creepy

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