Friday, August 16, 2013

Toy Review – DC Signature Collection SDCC 2013 Exclusive Shazam from Mattel

First – something about Shazam, who was once known as Captain Marvel.
I spent most of my life thinking his name was “Shazam” anyway. I don’t know exactly why and I can’t remember any specific media from my youth. But I would say I spent a good twenty years or so thinking of this guy as Shazam.

I like the idea of this character an awful lot. The concept of young Billy Batson uttering the magic word and transforming into Earth’s Mightiest Mortal is charming. Obviously it’s the kind of thing kids are going to latch onto. I’m not totally up on the mythology of Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family. All I know pretty much came from Justice League Unlimited, Batman: Brave and the Bold, and Young Justice. Given that these three unrelated franchises each have identical takes on the character, that leads me to believe that they are giving a fair representation of his origin and that he is also a character that is held with a certain amount of reverence.
I also like that he is based in magic and mythology, to the point where his powers are based directly on history and legend. If I remember correctly, Captain Marvel possesses:
Solomon’s Wisdom
Hercules’ Strength
Atlas’ Stamina
Zeus’ Power
Achilles’ Courage
Mercury’s Speed
Get it?
That’s a neat device that plays well into the wonder of the character.
Of course, I don’t know how much of the story I know applies to the New 52 Captain Marvel; who is now officially known as “Shazam”. People online have made a whole lot of stupid comments (!) about how he must change his form every time he says his own name. Obviously this is moronic. I’m sure the intent has to be there for the change to take place. And yes – I know these people aren’t serious, but they are resisting what I think is a logical change. As I said above – he’s always been Shazam to me, anyway. And why would you want one of your most powerful characters sharing a name with the competition?
I think the fact that was perfectly happy with New 52 Shazam as the SDCC Exclusive for’s 2013 offerings shows where my level of expectation is for the line in general.
Don’t get me wrong – I like Shazam and I like the look of New 52 Shazam. He’s one of the few redesigns that I actually think is an improvement. The shiny lightning bolt looks awesome and I like the new cape and hood design. Even the different cuffs and boots look cool. But this is a guy that should just be in the regular retail line. He’s a major character. The SDCC Exclusive should be something special and unusual like Plastic Man or Swamp Thing (not that that was a perfect release).
But I don’t own a Shazam figure and I thought I might as well get this one.
First Glance: Shazam comes in a special mailer and a shiny box. Other than that he is really no different than any other DC Unlimited or Signature Collection release.
Articulation: Shazam has the standard DCUC articulation. 
Head – ball joint
Shoulders – swivel/pivot
Biceps - swivel
Elbows –pivot
Wrists – swivel
Abdomen – pivot
Waist - swivel
Hips – swivel/hinge
Thighs - swivel
Knees – pivot
Ankles - pivot
While the head is on a ball joint, it only rotates from side to side. As many of you know, I have a massive problem with characters who fly that cannot be posed in a proper flying position. I’s bad enough on normal Mattel figures, but Shazam can’t look up even a little bit. Of course, since he’s using magic to fly rather than… uh… whatever Superman uses, I suppose Shazam could just fly around standing upright. I dunno. That’d look pretty dorky.
Side Note: Would you rather have the ability to be invisible for as long as you could hold your breath
Have the ability to fly, but you have to flap your arms really hard constantly and can only get about ten feet off the ground?
Despite the fact that the sculpt of the lightning bolt goes below the abdominal pivot, Shazam still has the same range of motion as any other DCUC-style male.
The waist on this figure is quite different. The swivel is sculpted underneath the belt. The eliminates the ugly overlap that usually occurs with these figures. I think it was a brilliant move.
The rest of the joints function as well as any other DCUC figure. I didn’t have any issues with stuck joints and none of them are too lose, either.
Sculpt: Shazam’s head looks awesome. He has a thick, powerful cranium with a noble-looking face sculpt. His jaw is massive and heroic and his facial features are suitably simple. My only issue here is that his eyebrows are painted on rather than sculpted.
I am extremely disappointed that the new lines on this Shazam’s torso are painted on rather than sculpted. I mean, it’s my own stupid fault. I should never be surprised to discover that Mattel – especially Mattycollector – have opted to use paint when a sculpt would be more appropriate. In my defense, it is especially baffling considering that the upper torso is a new sculpt. I do love the lightning bolt, though. It’s huge and the trim is actually raised from the rest. The sculpt on this logo is great.
I mentioned the waist above. Shazam’s belt is very large and was cleverly sculpted to conceal the waist joint. The design is awesome and I love the look of it as opposed to most of the other Mattel DC belts. It really has a presence and feels like a part of Shazam’s costume rather than just some extra piece.
The only other new parts are the forearms, lower legs, and feet. The wristbands and boots all match each other and look vaguely Roman or Greek or something. I like them a lot and feel like they add a lot of character to the figure. The sculpts on them are great and distinctive.
Coloring: Things are a little spotty here. And splotchy.
The paint job on Shazam’s face is pretty jacked up. There are scuffs on his hair and eyebrow, as well as little flecks of black paint all over his face. His eyes are great, though. I like the effect used on them.
The paint job on his cape trim isn’t the best in the world, and the left clasp isn’t even fully colored. The lightning bolt and lines on his upper torso and arms are tight and perfectly placed, though.
The rest of the paint apps look great. The boots, belt, and wristbands are a solid gold that is well-placed and looks great. The red of Shazam’s costume is a nice, deep shade and doesn’t spill over onto any other areas. The flesh tones are suitably dark and are applied well.
Flair: Shazam has a soft plastic cape with a new style of clasps on the upper torso. The clasps are big and cool and the cape looks majestic. It has a nice shape for hanging or flying. I dig the double layers and the fact that the trim is sculpted rather than just painted on. What I don’t like is the huge peg that connects the cape to the figure’s back. All of Mattel’s caped DC figures have this and I just don’t like it. It isn’t visible, but it bothers me.
Accessories: Shazam comes with a soft (but thick) plastic hood.
It sort of plugs into the top of his cape. It takes a little doing to get in there properly, but once it’s in it does stay and I think it looks pretty cool. The gold trim is just paint and not sculpt, but it looks fine. 
Every picture I’ve seen (including the ones I took) make it look like the hood sits too high. I promise that in person it doesn’t look like that.
Packaging: This figure comes packaged in a printed mailer box with Billy Batson on the exterior starting to say that magic word.
Inside is the DC Signature Collection window box, but with a ton of razzle dazzle. The lightning bolt graphics look great and the fact that the window is the bolt on Shazam’s costume is very cool. There’s the usual bio on the back:
It seems to mostly line up with the ones I’ve seen, but I’m not sure I care for Billy Batson being described as “troubled”
Value: This figure is neat, but is hardly worth almost thirty bucks. Even as an Exclusive, which I personally don’t think it should have been in the first place.
Overall: This is a fine Shazam. If you know Mattel's DC line, then you know what you're getting.
3 out of 5

I like this figure. I really do. But there was no reason on Earth for it to cost what it did. And for that price and its Exclusive status it really should have been flawless. Those paint errors just are not okay.
If you want this Shazam, just wait until Big Lots has him for $10.


  1. Yeah, he's a neat figure- unbelievable what they wanted for him though. Ouch

    1. I certainly wouldn't have paid near thirty bucks for him at retail. Online toy shopping is a chump's game. (I am a chump)