Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Toy Review – DC Universe Classics: Red Arrow By Mattel

I honestly don’t know a whole heck of a lot about Roy Harper.
I feel like I say that an awful lot for a guy who claims to be such a big fan of comic books. But whatever. My ignorance is more out of a resistance to trying new things than it is anything else. I like Batman and the X-Men, so I tend to stick with Batman and the X-Men.
The sum total of my knowledge of Speedy/Red Arrow/Arsenal comes from the Teen Titans cartoon, the Young Justice cartoon, and whatever Chris Sims wrote about him back when that awful dead cat story was going on. Well, and the first several issues of Red Hood and the Outlaws, which I enjoyed, but not enough to keep buying it.

            What made me interested in the character was definitely the Young Justice cartoon. It has done an absolutely amazing job of characterizing every single character on the show – of which there are many – and Roy Harper has had one of the most interesting story arcs.
When we were out shopping at the discount stores the other night I found a Young Justice Red Arrow for ten bucks less than the outrageous $24.99 retail price. He was a really cool-looking figure and since I already had Artemis and Aqualad thanks to other discount stores I thought I might as well buy him.
I know that has nothing to do with the DCUC Red Arrow, but hang on – I want to mention something else first.
I loathe Mattel for many reasons. They have inexcusably poor quality control. They make terrible, terrible decisions about how to market movie-based properties. Their assortments are baffling and their distribution is worse. They killed the Green Lantern toy line. And yes – the movie was mind-wrenchingly bad, but toy lines have survived shitty movies before. Mattel also killed the Young Justice line by charging outrageous prices for toys that included things nobody was asking for and a character selection that betrayed a total lack of understanding of kids or collectors.
It seems like Mattel’s defense is always about how costly it is to make toys, but few other toys companies are doing things as cheaply as Mattel; yet those other companies are not charging near Mattel’s prices for comparable yet superior products.
Just so I don’t sound like too big an idiot for bitching about Mattel and yet still spending a large portion of my toy budget on them, there are good things about the company. They definitely have a knack for picking up the most exciting, cool licenses. They have the Four Horsemen to make the most of their supposedly limited budget. And while this does not negate any of what I complained about above, they do produce an awful lot of awesome toys.
Anyway, as we continued on our discount store shopping, we hit Big Lots and found a whole shelf of DC Universe Classics Wave 20. The only characters they didn’t have were Hawk and Dove. I passed on the rest, but I happened to need a new Green Arrow and decided I might as well get the accompanying Red Arrow so that he’d match the rest of my DCUC stuff. I told Lil’ Troublemaker he could have the Young Justice one. Artemis and Aqualad work on my shelf only because there aren’t DCUC versions.
First Glance: Well, this is a repaint of the old DCUC Green Arrow with an angry head. The Young Justice one is a million times better, but is just a bit too cartoony when I have an alternative. But honestly, I’m not all that excited about this guy.
Sculpt: Man, they could have at least given him Cyborg’s arm or something. Anything to not make him such an obvious repaint.
Red Arrow has ball joints at the neck and shoulders, swivels at the biceps, waist, and thighs. The elbows, abdomen, knees, and ankles have single joint pivots. The hips are the funky Mattel swivel/pivots. Finally, the wrists are also swivel/pivot ball joint analogs.
There are a couple of new parts here. The head and belt are new sculpts. The head is angry. It looks really good and has a great facial expression. I continue to be impressed that the Four Horsemen can sculpt so many different heads that all look unique. There really is an awful lot of detail in Roy’s face and it is certainly distinctive. I do, however, prefer neural expressions on my action figures, but that’s personal taste. I still can’t stand to look at the head on the Deadman that Mattel made. The belt is basically the same as Green Arrow’s, but with an “R” on the buckle rather than a “G”.
Visually, the costume is fine. This is a very well done figure and the details that are there are nice. The ties across the chest, the shoulder pieces, the belts and the quiver. It all looks very good. I think I do prefer this larger quiver to the one on the new Green Arrow. I just feel like Mattel pulled a fast one on us. I would have preferred a smaller Roy Harper and I think most people probably would have. One made from the teen-sized buck would have made a lot more sense.
Design: Roy does have a solid, if boring, paint job. The head looks great and the hair and eyes and mask are all tight with good detailing and accurate application. There’s great shading on the body – particularly the skin – and the armbands on mine are actually a bit cleaner than on my old Green Arrow. I like the shades of red that they used, but I have to say I’d prefer it if they had taken some license and thrown in some blacks or grays. The Young Justice Red Arrow is so much more visually interesting.
Accessories: Red Arrow comes with his bow and three arrows, as well as Nekron’s left arm.
The bow is the same crappy one that came with both Green Arrows. Both Artemis and Red Arrow from Young Justice came with far superior bows. Artemis has a cool compound bow, and Red Arrow has one with a loop at either end rather than molded string so you can string it yourself and not have an ugly piece of crap. They learned this lesson from Bow.
The arrows are actually really cool but useless, as they cannot interact with the bow or be stored in the quiver. I’m torn here, as I was disappointed that the new Green Arrow did not include arrows. At the same time, there’s no reason for these figures to come with arrows.
Packaging: Your standard DCUC blister.
Overall: This is a very good figure that is completely boring and too big. But not at all unacceptable. There aren’t any errors, just design choices I don’t agree with. The bow does totally suck though, and when you blow it with the one accessory the character is named after you kind of blow it big time. I wouldn’t judge so harshly if we hadn’t bought a better version with a better bow the very same night. Granted, that version retailed for almost twice as much originally, but that’s Mattel’s problem, not mine.
3 out of 5
Red Arrow isn’t a fail, but I can’t say I recommend him. I feel like Mattel could have done so much more to make this a worthwhile figure, even within their own cheap-o production guidelines. If you see one on clearance, he’s probably worth ten bucks or less.

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