Friday, December 6, 2013

Toy Review Batman: Arkham City Sickle & Penguin from DC Collectibles

This two-pack is the obvious mate to yesterday’s Mr. Hammer & Harley Quinn, but it was less desirable to me because I already own a Penguin. Although I have no idea where his little cigar went, so at least I get a new one of those.
Plus, I never reviewed that Penguin because I was still didn’t want to admit that I was buying DC Direct figures again after being so vocal about how poorly made they were.
They’re much better now. Well, mostly.
I remembered the story of the Abramovici brothers from Arkham City – their separation and reuniting – but didn’t recall that one of them worked for Oswald Cobblepot. Thankfully, Mr. Cobblepot is a good bit more rational than Joker and doesn’t make his henchmen dress up like him. Sickle would have looked pretty silly with a tuxedo and a beak. Still terrifying, but silly.
The Penguin from the Arkham games is my favorite interpretation of the character. He’s mostly the arms dealing criminal from The Animated Series, but he also has a good bit of Danny DeVito thrown in. Not to mention a light dusting of any gangster from a Danny Boyle flick. It’s an effective combination of menacing influences that make it a lot easier to take this short, dumpy dude as a threat. Particularly after the chilling torture scene in Arkham Origins.
So despite the resulting double Penguin, I had to have this set. I was totally excited about pairing up Mr. Hammer and his brother, Sickle.
First Glance: Two more examples of perfect plastic adaptations of the trademark Arkham style.
How did nobody do a “Arkham Style” video back when all of the “Gangnam Style” parodies were going on? Let’s put Neil Patrick Harris in a Music Meister outfit and make this happen. He can dance through the halls of Arkham past all of the incarcerated lunatics. Harley Quinn can follow him around.
Heeeeyyyyyy, crazy laaaady!
Articulation: Both figures are articulated with the usual aesthetics this line puts forth – a smart combination of form and functionality.
Head – ball joint
Shoulder – ball joint
Bicep - swivel
Elbow –pivot
Wrist – swivel
Waist - swivel
Hips – ball joint
Knees – swivel/pivot
Calves – swivel
Sickle’s head has a decent range of motion in every direction. He can’t look up and down as much as I’d like, but he does alright.
All of the arm joints work quite well together. You can achieve most poses you might want to for a huge guy with a big ol’ sickle.
The legs do as much as you need from a guy this size that basically just needs to be able to walk around and whack things. I opened this set after the experience with Mr. Hammer’s foot tearing off, so when the exact same foot on Sickle wouldn’t move I just left it alone. Seriously, DCC?
Overall, though, Sickle is well articulated. There weren’t any wacky decisions to articulate him differently from his brother and everything except that damned right foot functions the way it should.
Head – ball joint
Shoulders – ball joint
Wrists – swivel
Waist – swivel
Mr. Cobblepot’s head has a great range of movement. The articulation is at the base of the neck rather than the top, so he actually moves a bit like a bird. I think this was mostly done to show off the thing on the side of his neck.
Penguin is minimally articulated, but what are you gonna do with such a squat little dude? It would have been nice to have some swivel/pivot elbows. I’m okay with the complete lack of leg articulation, though. It wouldn’t have been very useful and would have only served to break up a nice profile.
Sculpt: Sculpt-wise this is the exact same Penguin that was one of the waves of Arkham City action figures.
Penguin’s head is pretty hideous. His facial features remind me of Bob Hoskins somewhat. He has a device implanted in his neck that is thus far unexplained. All I know is that it creeps me out. He also has a cracked monocle seemingly permanently implanted in his face. His hair has the right amount of texture and is shaped like it is in the game. I’m not crazy about him being straight-up male pattern bald like this, but that’s what he looks like in the game.
Penguin’s torso has a vest with all kinds of sculpted detail and a cravat. It looks good.
The arms match the look and texture of the coat. The hands are awesome because they’ve got four fingers and a thumb but still manage to look like flippers. It’s a nice take on the BTAS and DeVito versions of the character. The bandage on his left hand looks really good, as it appears to be wrapped rather than just some blob of texture.
Penguin’s trousers just look like suit pants. His shoes have spats. Everything looks good there.
I like the way this figure was done. DCC didn’t go crazy trying to articulate him or give him extra features. He’s just a good, solid representation of Penguin as seen in Arkham City. And that’s all he should be.
Sickle is an all-new sculpt that almost perfectly mirrors his brother, Mr. Hammer. Also, HE IS KANE:
Seriously, if WB ever gets their shit together and realizes a movie based on the Arkham games would be way better than anything else they can do, they have to cast Glenn Jacobs as Mr. Hammer and Sickle.
Sickle’s face is definitely more beaten up than Kane’s, though. His lips are mashed and scarred, his teeth are totally jacked-up, and that nose has been broken a few times. I love the shelf of brow over his beady little eyes and the fact that the stubble on his jaw and head is sculpted and not just paint.
Sickle has the same big musculature as his brother, with well-defined muscles and a ridiculous shneck. There are some differences (aside from the reverse alignment) – Sickle has some wounds that have been stapled shut. It’s a little extra gross touch added to the scar from his brotherectomy. My guess is they’re from the steep learning curve of handling a big-ass bladed weapon.
From the waist down Sickle is a little different from Mr. Hammer. He has a big utility belt with some pouches and grommets and all kinds of neat detailing. I believe the lower abdomen and thighs are the same parts, though. The upper calves are just an extension of his fatigue pants and he does have different feet. The wrappings are slightly different and Sickle doesn’t have the distinctive big toes that Mr. Hammer does. But it all still looks great. The fact that his feet are so absurdly detailed is crazy. These figures look almost exactly like the character trophies you unlock in the games.
Coloring: Sickle’s flesh parts are molded out of a plastic that looks very much like human skin. I’m not sure how the effect is achieved, and the painted washes certainly help, but it looks amazing. His tattoos are just a bit too dark for my taste, but they do look great. The details are excellently done, especially considering all of the contours they had to be applied to.
It would have been very easy for DCC to use the same head for Mr. Hammer and Sickle. Not just because they’re twins, but because Hammer has the clown stuff. But they didn’t do that. While the faces certainly resemble one another, the facial expressions and detailing are different. Sickle has a wash over his sculpted stubble that really makes the effect look good. There are pink washes on his ears and mouth and under his eyes. The eyes themselves are centered and clean. His teeth are individually painted.
All of the staples on Sickle’s fresher wounds are silver and precisely painted.
His belt is a bit brighter than a military drab green, but it has dark washes to show wear. The silver grommets and buckle look great. Camo is always a tough sell on an action figure. There are all kinds of potential problems with camouflage – too much of the base color, splotchiness, looking tie-dyed, pattern repetition. Sickle’s pants aren’t the best camo deco ever, but they look pretty good. The pattern looks just a bit too painted-on, but the wash of grime on top helps. His foot wrappings are grey with a dark wash to highlight the details. They look less bandage-y than Mr. Hammer’s.
This is where this Penguin differs from the original release. His skin tone is healthier than the other one. The old one is pale and pasty and definitely leans toward DeVito’s portrayal. This one looks a bit more human and as a result resembles the in-game character more closely.
This one’s vest is noticeably brighter. The sculpted designs have a dry brush on them that looks great. The buttons are a bright gold that stays where it should – no bleeding out to surrounding areas. The wash on the bandage on his hand is a bit too dark, but it does bring out the textures.
Everything else is pretty much flat black except for his spats, which look good and are cleanly painted. The only issue here is that his arms don’t match his coat, but I’ll get to that.
Flair: Penguin’s coat is a separately sculpted piece of soft rubber. The sculpt is fantastic. It has fur trim on the collar and these amazing designs on the back:
I didn’t even notice those until I took pictures.
The way the coat hangs is great and I love the shape and depth of the pockets. But I can’t figure out what’s going on with the paint. There’s this weird splotchiness that could be a design choice and would actually look really cool if it carried into the sleeves. But it doesn’t . It looks like it’s intended to be wear, but given the lack of this look on the sleeves I think it might be some sort of paint degradation. I’m really not sure.
Accessories: This set includes Sickle’s bladed weapon and Penguin’s top hat, cigar, and umbrella.
You’ll notice I said, “Sickle’s bladed weapon” and not, “Sickle’s sickle”. That’s because that thing doesn’t really look like a sickle to me. It looks awesome and I would be terrified if somebody came running after me with it, but it isn’t very sickle-like. It fits fairly easily into Sickle’s hand and stays there.
Penguin’s accessories are made from a soft plastic. His hat has indentations to match his head so it will stay on. For some odd reason the Penguins can’t swap hats. Their heads look nearly identical, but the hats don’t fit each other. The umbrella has a wonderfully sculpted penguin head handle and the cigar has two indentations to accommodate Cobblepot’s thumb and forefinger so it will stay put.
Also the cigar really, really looks like a poo.
Packaging: Just a window box. I do like the uniformity of the DCC window boxes, though.
They are all designed to look like the stupid new DC logo, with the logo itself peeling down to reveal whatever the product or franchise is.
Value: Each of these three sets is the amazing low price of $29.99, which is ridiculously good for two great figures, one of which is oversized. GREAT value.
Overall: Same as yesterday – this set is a great deal for a couple of great figures. I doubt we’ll see a better Penguin from this line and you’ve just got to have Mr. Hammer and Sickle. I am mostly satisfied with this purchase. Just that damned foot again…
4 out of 5
Check with your local comic shop first. If you can’t find this pair there you can hit up Entertainment Earth, BigBad, or probably even Amazon.

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