Thursday, July 12, 2012

Toy Review – DC Signature Collection Metron By Mattel

If you keep any kind of track of what goes on here at Needless Things then you know that I had said I was going to discuss Matty screwing up my shipping in the Atrocitus review and today I was supposed to talk about my knowledge of Jack Kirby.
But then I went off on this whole other tangent about how much DC has fucked up Atrocitus since the New 52, and I can get the Kirby stuff out of the way pretty quick. So here’s the deal with Matty’s idiot business partner, Digital River, and how they screwed up. This time.
Last year after San Diego Comic Con Matty was desperately trying to convince people to subscribe to their various online-only toy sales services. Masters of the Universe Classics, Voltron, Ghostbusters, and the supposed continuation of the company’s mostly-successful DC Comics franchise - DC Universe Classics.
I’m not going to get into all of the details of the various subs or how hilariously badly some of them were handled. I’m also not going to delve into the multiple deceptions Matty utilized to cajole “fans” (Matty’s word for “customers”) into obligating themselves to a year’s worth of toys; only a tiny percentage of which were disclosed.
No, I’m just going to hit on one of the promises Matty made that they seem to have actually followed through on. Sometimes.
We were told that any subscriptions we purchased – regardless of when we purchased them – would ship together in their second shared month, as long as they were paid for with the same credit card and used the same shipping method. This was a good move and quite frankly a surprising one. Matty – wisely – is always hesitant to offer any kind of administrative promises that rely on Digital River. But this time they did and it probably paid off for them. I know it convinced me to buy a DC sub after I had already bought my Club Eternia in July. And no – of course I didn’t believe it would go off without a hitch. But it was enough that they were trying, I guess.
So obviously my DC and MOTUC subs did not ship together in June. Otherwise I wouldn’t be writing all of this.
I have never had to call Digital River’s customer service for any reason, though I have read an endless number of horror stories about them. Scot Nietlich has been telling us for several months that big, important things were being done to improve DR’s processes and customer service. It was time to put that to the test. I called and spoke to a lady who did not sound like she was based in a call center in America (this was one of the improvements that was promised). She was very nice, though, and did not seem to have any trouble understanding what I wanted or how to handle it. This was already a major improvement over almost any other customer service I have ever dealt with. She told me that DR would refund my shipping expense for the DC figures and that I should expect an e-mail from the Escalations Department in five to seven days.
Uh, oh. I’d heard that number before. Many miserable stories of lost shipments, funds, and uninitiated cancellations start with that number.
But three days later I received my e-mail stating that my shipping had been refunded and it had. I’ll have to wait until next month to find out if they have actually combined my shipping now. I’m not even going to get into the fact that I chose UPS when I subscribed and am getting everything via this awful fucking Newgistics company.
So there’s that. I was also supposed to mention Jack Kirby.
I first became aware of Jack Kirby thanks to a one-off issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It was the first issue penciled by Michael Dooney and it was in its entirety a tribute to Jack “King” Kirby. In it, Donatello meets a comic artist who is basically a struggling Jack Kirby, right down to his style and his name – Kirby. Stuff happens and Kirby’s drawings come to life and he and Donatello save the day. It’s a good little read and one that I strongly recommend, along with all of the other Mirage Turtles stories.
Of course, when I read that I didn’t know anything about Jack Kirby. I just knew that there was a little dedication to him at the end.
I wasn’t aware of Kirby’s involvement in creating Captain America, the Fantastic Four, and half of Marvel’s original superheroes. I certainly didn’t know that Kirby had created so many of the bad guys from that old Super Powers line I had when I was younger.
I think Kirby’s style and designs are really cool and I certainly respect his contributions to the art of comic books, but I haven’t really experienced a whole lot of his work. Actually, most of what I’ve seen has come by way of the one man who seems to have been more vilified than any other over Marvel Comics’ supposed mistreatment of Kirby and his family – Jim Shooter. If you follow Shooter’s blog – and you should – he frequently uses Kirby’s artwork as examples of storytelling and how to do it.
So anyway, Metron is a creation of Jack Kirby. He’s a guy who flies around time and space in a chair and observes. He’s like what Doctor Who would be if the Doctor was totally boring. I guess that’s not fair – I haven’t ever even read a story with Metron in it other than Final Crisis; that’s just my take on the guy.
First Glance: The chair looks fantastic. Metron’s head looks awesome.
Sculpt: How can I express a sigh without typing “sigh”?
Metron has a new head and hands. His body is a regular DCUC average male. There are ball joints at the neck and shoulders, though his head doesn’t have much up and down motion. Metron has swivels at the biceps, wrists, waist, and thighs. His abdomen, elbows, knees, and ankles pivot and he has the swivel/pivot joints for hips.
All of the joints on mine are tight and move well.
The new hands are pretty neat. His sleeves go down to cover his hands slightly, so they look more distinctive than a guy whose sleeves just happen to end at the wrist joint. The fingers are in a sort of “resting on the controls” pose that looks good but would work better on pivoting or ball-jointed wrists. As it is Matron’s hands don’t sit quite right on the armrests of his chair. It isn’t bad by any means, but it could be better; which is how I would describe his interaction with the chair overall. But I’ll get to that.
The head is tremendous. The detail in the sculpt of his costume is awesome, with the signature Kirby tube-things looking great as raised portions. Metron’s eyes seem slightly larger than the average DCUC figure’s, making him a bit otherworldly. In all, this is one of the better costumed heads I’ve seen in the DCUC line. I like it an awful lot.
Which makes the rest of his body even more of a tragedy. Rather than sculpt a costume for Metron so that it matched his head, Matty (and I blame Matty, not the Horsemen – you know this was a “budget” call) simply painted the costume on his body. In my opinion, this is utter crap. I’ll discuss the quality of the paint job below, but it is extremely jarring to have the same costume elements – the white tube things - represented in different ways on the same figure. Never mind the problem of the Yellow Lantern Corps having different shades of yellow – this single figure doesn’t even match.
Design: While I completely and utterly disagree with the decision Matty made regarding Metron’s costume, the quality of the paint applications can’t be denied.
Metron’s head looks very good and all of the various sculpted elements are defined further with tight and clean paint. The alien look of his large eyes is enhanced by the paint job, which has given them an intensity that suits the character.
The details of his costume are captured very well, if in a way that I find lazy and wrong. The various parts are very clean and bright. There are no errors or drips or anything and the colors are distinctive and accurate.
Accessories: Matron’s chair was a obviously a critical piece of this figure. 
The Four Horsemen pulled it off very nicely. The top portion is a hard plastic and the bottom is a softer, more pliable material. This works fine and doesn’t present any continuity issues within the toy. 
All of the colors and textures match up and this makes it very easy to fit the two pieces together.
The actual sculpt is very nicely detailed and looks like it came straight out of an original Kirby panel. The lines and patterns are done in Kirby’s inimitable fashion, the control panels have a perfect amount of detail and are placed well enough that Metron’s hands can rest on them. The large, green dial on the back spins and looks like a Muppets storybook 45 I had when I was a kid.
Metron can almost sit in the chair very well. Don’t get me wrong – he looks fine. But he’s just a tiny bit awkward. His feet can’t quite sit flat, his arms don’t quite rest naturally on the armrests, and he kind of rattles around in the chair if you move him. 
I know it sounds like I’m being nitpicky and I probably am, but the mismatched design elements of the actual figure kind of set me off.
Packaging: It’s a larger version of the DCSC window box. I have another problem, here. Metron’s packaging has foil on the logo and the other figures I have received do not. It’s just irritating.
Overall: Okay, here’s my problem – Metron should have been all sculpt or all paint. My issue isn’t so much with Matty being cheap bastards as it is with the formats not matching. Now, obviously an ideal Metron would have had a sculpted costume over his entire body. That’s how he should have been, particularly in a premium “Signature” line aimed at collectors. But if Matty had to be the way Matty is and restrict the amount of sculpting that went into their “Deluxe” “Club Exclusive” figure, then Metron’s head should have been painted as well. I find the disparity unacceptable.
2 out of 5
I almost gave him a “3” because the chair is so darn good, but the chair is an accessory. The figure and the character that it represents is what really counts here and I feel that Matty blew it on this one. Sorry, guys.
I haven't hung this thing from the ceiling yet because I'm not sure I want to keep it. So rather than a shelf picture, please accept some shots of guys who deserve that awesome chair way more than this blue suckass:

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