Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Superstars of the DC Multiverse!

By Dave

In 1995 I had a dream.

This was not a noble dream that would change the course of human history, nor was it an ideal of hope and peace for the future.

It was a literal dream and not only was it stupid, it is one of many indicators that my toy obsession is probably even unhealthier than I think it is. I mean, who has dreams about upcoming toy lines?

I can’t remember exactly when this dream occurred, I just know that it was early enough in the year that we had not yet seen Kenner’s new Star Wars or (more important to this post) Batman Forever toy lines. My dream involved walking into KB Toys (or possibly Circus World or even Lionel Playworld if they were still around) and finding a massive display of both lines.

I didn’t picture the beefy, action-posed figures that both lines offered. What I saw was more along the lines of the aesthetics of the original Kenner Star Wars line with the articulation of 80s GI Joe. The packaging that my mind came up with was bizarre for the time – small blister cards barely taller than the figures and just over twice as wide. For both lines they were rectangular in shape, but with wildly different graphics.

This was one of those dreams that was so real I woke up wanting to go to the store to find the toys, so vivid that even decades later I recall the imagery.

Once the toy lines did hit I went all-in on Star Wars despite the questionable aesthetics, but I passed on anything Batman Forever thanks to the whole line basically looking pretty lame. Not to mention Val Kilmer immediately being my least favorite Batman of all time.

I’ve had a complicated relationship with Joel Schumacher’s Batman movies over the years. Batman Forever and Batman & Robin have both been on my shitlist, but I’ve also been able to find redeeming qualities in them over the years. Far more in the latter than the former. But regardless of my feelings about the quality of those movies, I do love the looks of them. Everything about Schumacher’s chosen aesthetics scream out for toys. And far better toys than what we got back in the day.

Fortunately for us, Mattel is doing something a little wacky and offering a line of twelfth(ish) scale action figures based on the DC media properties of yesteryear. The first wave includes Val Kilmer as Batman, John Wesley Shipp as Flash, and Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman (though she will apparently ship later because Mattel):

I’ll be honest – Wonder Woman is the only one of those three I really want.

Early reports suggest that these figures will be either $24.99 or $30, which is either ridiculous or outrageous, despite these being slight upgrades over standard DC Multiverse figures in that they all have double-jointed knees and elbows and include multiple hands. Slight upgrades. Or not really, even, if you consider that they don’t include build-a-figure pieces or accessories other than multiple hands.

On top of those silly possible price points, it looks like Mattel has made another boneheaded scale decision, along the lines of its Movie Masters; except they’ve gone in the other direction – these figures are slightly larger than the existing Multiverse line.

Now, I haven’t seen them in person yet so I don’t know for sure, but if this is the case WHAT THE F**KING ASS MATTEL?!?


Having said all of that, for the first time in a long time I am seriously considering supporting a toy line just because of the future potential of said line. DC has decades of media that has gone unrepresented in collector lines and there are some characters that I need on my shelf in forms more advanced that 5 POA lumps. Like MISTAH FREEZE.

If you’ve made it through this long-winded intro, you must be curious about who these figures are that I would want badly enough to buy a figure of the worst Batman ever. I’m going to hook you up. As a matter of fact, I’m not just doing some Top Ten list, I’m throwing out FIVE WAVES of figures, complete with build-a-figures and everything.

I know a ton of these choices are unrealistic for various reasons, chief of which are probably likeness issues. But I still think it’s fun to take a look at the history of DC on TV and in cinema to see which character designs pop enough to warrant being immortalized in a collector-oriented line.

This is only the old stuff, not current shows or movies. I considered doing themed waves – all Batman Forever, for example – but decided to challenge myself and do the mix-and-match stuff that Mattel does to lengthen a line’s lifespan.

Side Note: I had to stop myself at five waves before I descended into weird shit like Nuclear Man and Michael J. Pollard as Mr. Mxyzptlk. Although I would absolutely buy those.

Wave 2

Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze (Build-A-Figure) – You want it and don’t tell me you don’t! This was a fantastic design aside from the lack of a helmet, and even then I still love all of the lights and translucent bullshit on his suit.

Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy – The only question here is which Ivy? Uma has several costumes in Batman & Robin and they’re all over-the-top great. Personally I’d go with the above design because it has a cape and we just don’t see enough of Poison Ivy wearing a cape!

Michael Keaton as Batman (Batman Returns) – We’ve had some Keaton figures thanks to NECA and Mattel’s smaller-scale offerings, but we need a good 6” scale figure of Keaton in the superior Returns costume. Ideally he’d have an alternate unmasked head and a huge, comical bomb with which to murder clowns.

Keanu Reeves as John Constantine – HEAR ME OUT. Yes, Constantine sucked as a Hellblazer movie. Reeves is a terrible John Constantine. But don’t we all like Keanu Reeves? And wouldn’t it be cool and silly to have this Constantine on your shelf holding the Holy Shotgun? I think so.

George Reeves as Superman – I wanted to reach further back and show just how long DC media adaptations have been around. I don’t think you start with a Lewis Wilson Batman, but I think most people – certainly people buying these toys – know George Reeves.

You could even do a black & white chase version if you really wanted to.

1990 TV Series Swamp Thing – If it were up to me we wouldn’t even bother with the crappy-looking movie Swamp Things. The TV version is where it’s at. I have a soft spot for this show, especially since it’s on Heroes & Icons – the best TV station ever – every Saturday now. Don’t think I won’t work Mark Lindsay Chapman as Anton Arcane into this line at some point. Maybe as a mail-in exclusive or something.

Wave 3

Margot Kidder as Lois Lane (Build-A-Figure) – Absolutely essential, but likely a tough sell as a single-carded figure on the pegs.

Jack Nicholson as The Joker – An all-time holy grail figure. So far the only good 1989 Joker we have is the one from Hot Toys, which my dumb ass had preordered, but then decided to cancel because I just couldn’t spend that much on a figure (two figures – I had the ’89 Batman preordered as well). I’ve been wanting a great action figure of this Joker since 1989. I love this Joker design. And Nicholson owned that movie.

Tracey Walter as Bob the Goon – Okay, I recognize that this is one of the least likely figures on the list as far as Mattel saying, “Yeah, we believe we could sell enough units”. But you guys, Bob is essential. He’s a huge part of action figure history. Even non-collectors remember Toy Biz’s “Bob the Goon” languishing on pegs for years. Heck, there are probably some still out there!

Here’s how you counteract the negative stigma attached to Jack Napier’s Number One Guy: include multiple goon heads! I want Joker’s whole gang! Ninja Guy, Sunglasses Guy, Rat Face Guy, Guy with Handlebar Mustache and Large Radio! I want them all! Fans would buy entire cases of just Bob the Goon!

Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor – With removable hairpiece.

Christopher Reeve as Superman – Yeah, we’ve got NECA’s, but it’s their 7” scale. These might be too big, but at least they’re not way too big. Besides, we need a smiling Superman.

Helen Slater as Supergirl – It’s been a long, long time since I’ve seen this movie. I saw it with my mom in the theater in 1984, so it’ll always be somewhat special to me. I have no idea if it’s any good (probably not), but Slater looks great and is in an excellent Supergirl costume. I can’t imagine not wanting a figure of this version of the character.

Wave 4

Wonder Woman’s Motorcycle (Build-A-Figure) – This is the only item on the list I’m unsure about. I definitely want Lynda Carter in the motorcycle suit, but if we’re getting that, I want a motorcycle. It can either be in a separate box set or it can be a build-a-figure. But for my completely fictional exercise I felt that Wonder Woman was too strong an anchor for a wave to do as a one-off exclusive somewhere, which is what the box set would likely be.

Here’s the problem – you might not remember this, but Wonder Woman’s motorcycle was just some dumb dirt bike. It wasn’t a cool superhero-themed thing like Batgirl’s. This is where making the decisions gets tough, because as a theoretical toy line director I don’t know if you anger the fans more by releasing a boring green motorcycle or by gussying it up in a way that defies canon. I think I’d probably lean toward the same basic design, but with Wonder Woman-centric colors.

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman (Motorcycle Suit) – Obviously the standard Wonder Woman costume that’s part of the first wave is the best look to release, but when I was a kid I preferred the blue motorcycle suit for reasons I won’t get into other than to say to this day I like tight, shiny things.

Jim Carrey as Riddler – However people may feel about Batman Forever, there’s no doubt in my mind most collectors would want this one. Aside from the stupid hair he looked so good and gave such a memorable performance that I think everyone sort of begrudgingly loves this – admittedly off-spec – version of Edward Nygma.

This would be the standard green leotard version. The suit and white sparkly Ultimate God Riddler would come later.

Tommy Lee Jones as Harvey Two-Face – Not as popular as Carrey’s Riddler, but still a fantastic character design. The package would say “Harvey Two-Face” because that’s what the dumb idiot movie called him.

George Clooney as Batman – I love Clooney’s Batman, even if he doesn’t. He’s Adam Westing the heck out of the role and I adore him for it. While I’d love to get to other versions of the Batsuits from Batman & Robin, this would be the basic one from the beginning. With removable tactical ice skates, of course.

Chris O’Donnell as Robin – I genuinely like O’Donnell as Robin, despite the fact he’s too old. I think he did a great job with making Dick troubled yet likeable and he plays well with Kilmer and Clooney. Heck, he’s probably the high spot of Forever.

This would be his costume from the end of that movie.

Wave 5

Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth (Build-A-Figure) – Another must-have that would be a tough sell as a single figure. He’s the R2-D2 and C-3P0 of the first four Batman movies. He deserves better, but at least we can immortalize the mighty Mr. Gough at last. He’d come with a serving tray and a bowl of Vichyssoise (it’s supposed to be cold).

Jackson Bostwick as Captain Marvel – We’d need a fan poll for this one because I honestly don’t know if people prefer this guy or his successor, John Davey. I remember watching this when I was a kid, but I sure don’t recall anything other than the costume and some bad flying effects.

Don't tell anyone, but this image was doctored.
Dina Meyer as BatgirlBirds of Prey was a short-lived show and Meyer's time in the Batsuit was even shorter, but this remains such an iconic costume design that basically the same suit was used for Arkham Knight. I think it's an excellent translation of Barbara's comic book look.

Danny DeVito as The Penguin – Even though he’s not as visually exciting or as reminiscent of the character Penguin as we know him, I want disgusting sewer-dweller Oswald. We can get Mayoral Candidate Cobblepot in a future wave, likely alongside Catwoman.

Christopher Walken as Max Schreck – You might be wondering how I could choose Max Schreck ahead of Catwoman. It’s because there are hundreds of Catwoman figures and zero Max Schreck figures and I think that’s a crime against toymanity. Walken as Schreck is one of the most fun, memorable villains in comic book movie history.

“Bruce Wayne – why are you dressed up like Batman?”

Mark Hamill as The Trickster – And finally, rounding out my initial waves of this line that will likely never be, a nemesis for John Wesley Shipp’s Flash! Mark Hamill deserves to have as many action figures made of him as possible and obviously we need more villains in this line!

Exclusives/Box Sets

Two-Face with Sugar and Spice – Personal preference. I had monster crushes on Debi Mazar and Drew Barrymore, and their team-up as Dent’s molls in Batman Forever was almost too much for me to handle. This set will never happen, but I’d preorder ten if it did.

Oh... uh, either this one or the single pack would be a costume variation. Maybe the single carded one could be the ringmaster getup.

General Zod, Ursa, and Non – Essential, but Ursa and Non are for-sure peg warmers. Heck, the 3.75” General Zod was clogging pegs by the dozens and he’s one of the best-known comic movie villains of all time! I think these Phantom Zone escapees have to be packed together, and this set accompanies Wave 4.

Ultimate Batman & Robin 3-Pack – Clooney, O’Donnell, and Silverstone in their final costumes from the movie.

Riddler Throne Room Box Set – This is where we get the sparkly white leotard, along with the throne, his cane, and The Box.

Shazam!/Isis Hour Box Set – A-HA! This is where the John Davey version of Captain Marvel fits in. This would include him and Joanna Cameron as the Egyptian superhero Isis.

That’s enough!

I went on far longer than I intended to with this thing, but once I started looking things up I got all excited.

In reality there’s no way Mattel will pursue likeness rights for most of these, let alone actually obtain them. And even if by some crazy chance they do, I can’t imagine retail is going to support a line of twenty-five to thirty dollar action figures that aren’t in scale with anything.

But it’s fun to dream and even if none of these come to fruition with this line, maybe someday DC Collectibles or Funko or some company that doesn’t even exist yet will make it happen.

For more on toys, catch Needless Things LIVE at Days of the Dead Atlanta February 2-4!

You can follow Dave as Phantom Troublemaker on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for all the latest on pop culture!


  1. I pretty much hate the Schumacher films with every fiber of my being but that Two-Face with Sugar and Spice set would absolutely be mine. To be honest, while I dislike those movies I still do have quite a bit of nostalgia for them so I'd probably buy all of them anyways. Now, how about a Shaq as Steel figure? yeah? Yeah?

    1. Ha! Steel is on the list that didn't quite make these waves along with quite a few others. I might get to them in a future post.