There is nothing that marks a better occasion to jump on or off a toy line than a scale change. That was my plan with Mattel’s DC Universe– with DCUC gone, I felt the line was complete (enough) that I’d leave the property alone for a while.
Even when Mattel revealed their new DC Multiverse line, featuring new 3.75″ scale figures based on DC movies, video games and other multimedia tie ins, my intention was to stay out of the game, when it came to DC toys. But when I saw the first assortment of Multiverse figures on the shelf at Target, they looked fun enough that I knew I’d give them a shot.
Mattel has definitely stepped up their game since their last venture into this smaller scale. While I respected the ambitious character selection, the DC Infinite Crisis figures were rough– poorly articulated and weirdly disproportionate. The DC Multiverse figures are a step up, with more detailed designs, better sculpts, more articulation and cleaner paint apps… for the most part.
This first wave is themed around the Batman: Arkham game series, and features Batman, Azrael, Mr. Freeze and Bane. Each figure features an all new sculpt, a new articulation model, and (for some of them) accessories. I haven’t played much of any of the Arkham games, so I’m not sure how accurate the scale is between figures here… Batman is the shortest and least good figure overall, so I’d guess he’s the one that doesn’t measure up? Bane and Freeze both tower over him, which is fine in my book, and Azrael even has a few centimeters and lots of quality on our hero.
The sculpting is what really piqued my interest, though. We’ve seen so many Mattel properties with rampant parts reuse, so there’s something very refreshing about a wave of new figures featuring all new sculpts, and there’s a level of detail here that we haven’t seen from Mattel’s DC output in a while. From the patterns on Azrael’s armor, to the folds of Bane’s biker jacket and the futuristic armor of Mr. Freeze, these figures do a great job of capturing the video game appearances of these characters, especially considering the smaller scale.
I think Batman is the only non-winner in the bunch. While the other three sculpts are very nice, Bats suffers from some bad proportions and the previously mentioned shortness. Batman’s head is small compared to other “standard” humans like Azrael or Freeze, and his legs are too short while his shoulders are too big. This makes him look off from many angles, and definitely not ready to strike that heroic pose he needs to. The rest of the assortment feels much more cohesive, and they look great on their own or all together as a group.
While not the most poseable figure on the market, the Multiverse figures find a reasonable amount of articulation. Each figure includes a ball neck, swivel waist, ball shoulders, hinged elbows and knees, swivel wrists and thighs, and DCUC style hinged hips. It allows for some variety of poses and makes the figures fairly fun to play with… although a few extra joints like ankles or an ab crunch would go a long way in getting lots more great poses from these guys.
Azrael and Freeze include accessories– a sword for the knight and a backpack and freeze gun for the icy villain– which are well scaled and fit in their hands easily, but have a tendency to bend and warp since they are made of a very soft plastic. I would have loved to see Bane and Batman also include some kind of gear, but considering Bane’s size, I guess the extra figure bulk makes up for the lack of accessories.
At $10 each, the DC Multiverse figures are a little steep (they feel like $6 to $8 figures to me)… but if you’re into the specific property of the assortment, they could be well worth the cost. See, the big appeal of this line is its theme will change wave by wave– while this launch set is based in the Arkham video games, the next waves will focus on the classic 80s movie heroes, like Batman, Penguin, Superman and General Zod. And I can say if those movie figures continue the same trend of good sculpting and clean designs like most of these Arkham figures, they will be another set of nice toys.