BTAS Catwoman Is On The Prowl

By bill - December 2, 2014

BTAS-Catwoman-featBruce Timm’s take on Catwoman kicks off DC Collectibles’ Batman: The Animated Series collection.

With their Bruce Timm inspired animated collection, DC Collectibles is actually rolling out two lines in one, with figures based on both Batman: The Aminated Series and its follow up show, The New Batman Adventures.  Last week’s Batman was inspired by the latter, making the newest figure in the series, Catwoman, our first from the incredibly influential original animated series.  I just wish I could say this figure measured up to the high benchmark of her source material.

Here’s the thing– I’m very conflicted about the new Catwoman figure.  There are things to love about her… the sculpting, the accessories, the alternate parts, paint apps and display stand are all stellar.  But this figure suffers from quality control issues even more extreme than Batman and his brittle ankles.  Part of these shortcomings fr Catwoman are based on the stylized proportions of the character design, but many are simply a mystery… and one that has a tendency to cause some serious damage to your figure.

Let’s start with the good, though.  The sculpt, once again by Irene Matar, is outstanding, a perfect 3D adaptation of Timm’s artwork.  Selina Kyle’s portrait is fantastic, with clean, concise paint work around her red lips and green eyes.  The rest of the figure is equally nice, with a great sense of proportion that matches Timm’s artwork, and works with the articulation to ensure the figure’s silhouette remains streamlined and definitive.

BTAS Catwoman 011Just like Batman before her, Catwoman comes packing a lot of cool accessories, as well.  In addition to her whip– which is made of rubber and packed rolled up, so she can hold it either rolled or unfurled– Selina also includes her pet cat Isis (articulated, no less, at the neck and all four legs!), a necklace that was likely her latest score, binoculars and two alternate sets of hands, to help her use her various accessories or to bear her clawed fingers.

The figure also includes a display stand with Timm’s design turn around key art printed on the base, and a clear plastic armature to help keep the figure upright… even though the excellent sense of design allows Selina to stand fairly well on her own, even with her small feet.

So obviously, there is a lot to love here… which is why the design issues feel all the more frustrating.  The biggest culprit here are the arms, which are very, VERY tight in their joints.  The shoulders, elbows and wrists are all so snug in place, they become practically fused together, and the pegs and pins that hold them in place are small enough that one wrong move can snap the part clean off.  On my figure, I had one frozen shoulder, one frozen elbow and both wrists locked in place, rendering the extra hands useless.  I spent quite a bit of time heating my figure under a lamp to soften the plastic, then gently working each joint free.  For the wrists, I popped the hands off the figure before trying to free up the hinge joints.  Eventually it worked, and my figure is now fully poseable, but the joints remain so tight I’m still nervous about breakage.

I’m not alone in these arm issues, which have plagued every Catwoman purchased by collectors I know, so my best advice is to be incredibly delicate with your touch when you’re trying to free up Catwoman’s articulation… take your time and try heating the figure under a heat lamp or in hot water to give yourself more leeway in terms of clearance.  It will be forth it in the long run,if your end result is a non-broken toy.

BTAS Catwoman 023My particular Catwoman also suffers some major assembly issues– she’s got two left calves, and two left biceps.  I’m not sure if this was a fluke, or if there’s a whole run with these mixed up parts, but its fairly obvious when you look at the outline of the figure.  This isn’t necessarily a deabreaker for me, especially on a figure this nice otherwise, but it’s another thing you may want to look for in the store, before you make your purchase.

I understand that QC issues are an ongoing struggle, especially when a toymaker attempts to do something out of their norm.  The unique, stylized proportions of Bruce Timm’s artwork certainly present some design challenges for figures as detailed and highly articulated as DC Collectibles tends to release, so I get where they are coming from with these weak joints and shortfalls.  I appreciate their efforts, and what they’re getting right, they’re getting completely right– the sculpts in this line have been stunning, truly next level work in terms of adapting 2D designs into the third dimension, and the numerous accessories and alternate parts have made these figures feel truly worth their $25 price tag.  I am hopeful that DC Collectibles will learn from the few mistakes in these early releases, and make this line even better in future assortments.  They’re off to a great start, and with a few small tweaks in terms of design and QC management, this series could wind up being one of the best in the history of these great toymakers.

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