Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Toy Review – DC Signature Collection Ocean Master from Mattel

I remember reading an Aquaman comic book in my youth and being very disappointed. I thought it would be about Aquaman palling around with dolphins, fighting undersea monsters, and maybe high-fiving Superman at some point. I don’t remember what the story was and I have no idea which issue it was – I probably wouldn’t recognize the cover if you showed it to me – but I remember being very bummed out after I read it. As a result, I didn’t read Aquaman comics for a long time, despite the fact that he was one of my favorite Super Friends (I have always had an affinity for anything with an aquatic theme).

I have read some as a result of various DC crossovers through the years, but I am no Aquaman aficionado. This helps to explain why I had never even heard of Ocean Master until I saw him on Batman: The Brave and the Bold, which is a cartoon that made every character it used seem like the most awesome character ever made. Even Music Meister.

While this iteration of Ocean Master doesn’t have a squid on his head, he still looks pretty awesome.

I can’t quite explain it, but Ocean Master manages to look both plain and zany at the same time. His colors aren’t all that exciting, but he has the look of a crazy Silver age villain. And that may not be a squid on his head, but it sure is weird.

I may mock Matty for packing so little into these spacious, nice-looking window boxes that were supposed to create an all-new paradigm for 6” scale action figures; but this is some nice packaging. The art has gotten a lot better since the first few releases and if I were going to display these figures in the packaging I’d be happy with the look and uniformity.
That’s one great thing about the lines offered through Mattycollector – they don’t ever have to update the packaging so it all matches.
I knew Ocean Master was insane, but I didn’t know he had sold his soul for the trident. This bio glosses over a lot of the character’s history, but that may be because nobody knew what his history was going to be when this figure was produced.

 Ocean Master is mostly made up of the plain DCUC body. Normally this would be a point of contention for me, but the guy is wearing what basically amounts to a wetsuit, so no boots or special overpants were necessary. He does get a new belt, forearms, cape, and head.
I feel like there should be an all-new designation for the thing that Ocean Master has strapped to his back. The terms “cape” and “cloak” just aren’t majestic enough to describe something with a collar this massive. I mean, what the heck is going on here? Is that thing to keep him from gnawing on a wound? It’s nuts. But that’s why I love it. It really makes this guy stand out from all of the other caped DCUC figures. I wish it weren’t all uneven, but not enough to run hot water over it, apparently. 
Side Note: I’m not real big on fixing figures myself. If one comes with an arm, leg, cape, or whatever that has been warped by the way it was packaged, I just get pissed off and leave it. I don’t feel that I should have to perform any post-opening maintenance on my action figures. Particularly ones that I am spending over twenty bucks on. 
The little chain that serves as the clasp for the cape looks good and the paint on it is clean and doesn’t bleed onto the cape. The cape itself is all one color. I love the shape on this thing. I like that it is a bit shorter than is normal, but that there are a lot of folds suggesting that it’s quite wide. Maybe when Ocean Master unfurls the whole thing it’s shaped like a manta ray?

The head is just as fantastic as the cape. When you look at it, it just screams “ocean life”, right? It kind of looks like a fish, but not really. Whatever the case, it’s great. The gold fins on the head and the face are just a little bit bigger than seems reasonable and that’s great. I do wish the eyes were a little bigger – more goggle-like. But that’s just me. As far as depicting what this guy looked like in the comic, everything is spot-on. I’m very impressed with the paint apps on his head. Everything is clean and the paint covers everything it is supposed to. Mattel (and other companies) haven’t always done a good job with masks and hair. Oftentimes the paint doesn’t extend all the way to the borders of each layer – a flesh tone might go into the hair sculpt or the color of the mask might bleed into the eyes. Not the case here. Everything is bright and clean.

Aside from the belt and forearms Ocean Master’s body is totally plain and that’s fine. The blue used works well with the gold, lavender, and red of the rest of the figure.

The forearms are like Batman’s, except more fin-like to match the business on the head. They look really good. The hands are both open fists so that Ocean Master can grip his trident two-handed (which he can do).

The new belt is something different. It’s a series of circles overlapping one another that looks neat but kind of plain. I think maybe a different-colored buckle would have helped here. 
The insignia on Ocean Master’s chest looks a little plain. While I would always prefer that these sort of things be sculpted, I understand that isn’t reasonable. But I think this thing could have looked a little better. I’m not sure how, mind you. But it looks kind of like a kid drew it on with a marker.

Ocean Master comes with the mighty Trident of China. I know that because it has “China” stamped on the haft just as plain as day. I don’t know when the Chinese got into the business of exchanging souls for powerful, mystical weapons, but I think it’s safe to say that the West might want to look into this.

I hate, hate, hate all of these stamps and manufacturing IDs stamped and printed on my action figures. In all honesty, this one is more subtle than some; but I still hate it.

Ocean Master has enough articulation to be fun and since his lower abdomen is all the same color those hideous hip joints don’t look quite as awful. Like almost all DC figures from Mattel his elbows, knees, and ankles don’t pivot as deeply as I would like. I don’t even necessarily want double joints, but I think we could get much deeper single-jointed bends than what they’ve been giving us.

Once again, Ocean Master was fun for about as long as it took me to photograph him. I was compelled to take a couple of extra photos just because of how zany he looks, but functionality-wise he’s nothing special.

Ocean Master looks fun but cheap. If I saw him at retail I wouldn’t even consider paying twenty-four bucks for him.

But I will say that as far as the figures I have ended up with from my Club Infinite Earths subscription, he’s one I don’t mind having. I wouldn’t have requested him or sought him out, but I won’t be putting him on eBay, either.
I think it’s pretty cool that we have another foe for Aquaman. For a heavy hitter, Aquaman’s signature villains are pretty much Black Manta and this guy, so it’s good that Mattel decided to cover their Atlantean bases. As somebody who is partial to aquatic-themed stuff I’m glad Ocean Master made the cut before the Signature Collection (and the DCUC style in general) went down in hilarious, predictable flames.

4 out of 5

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