Cartoon Network recently started a brand spankin’ new Batman cartoon on Friday nights, with a lot of your favorite old time characters. Batman - The Brave and the Bold has a Super Friends look, with some witty banter and interesting relationships between characters like Aquaman, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Plastic Man and even Blue Beetle. The stories and writing style are very much directed at that 5 - 8 age range, but adults can enjoy the show as well.
Mattel has also released action figures based on the show, and they seem to be hitting the New Year hard with plenty of different characters. I reviewed the regular single pack Batman, Aquaman, Kanjar Ro, and Black Manta over at mwctoys.com just last week, and over the weekend picked up the single pack Red Tornado as well. Today I’m checking out the deluxe Aquaman and deluxe Blue Beetle, which come with a larger, action feature based accessory.
If you have any questions or comments, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, or swing by my site at Michael’s Review of the Week - Captain Toy.
Batman The Brave and The Bold: Deluxe Aquaman and Blue Beetle
You can expect to find these at mass market retailers, like Target, Meijers, or my least favorite, Wal-mart, where they’ll run you right around $8 for the singles, and around $11 for the deluxe sets. There are also a couple vehicles hitting right now, including the Batsub, and you should see quite a bit of the product as part of the new Target reset.
Packaging - ***1/2
I’m digging the packaging, largely due to two aspects. Yes, the design is attractive, and I like the retro feel to the graphics and colors, but those aren’t my main pluses. I really like the personalization on each cardback and bubble, with specific graphics and text for the character housed inside. Also, there’s no twisties or rubber bands anywhere to be found. They’ve used intelligently designed interior trays to hold the figures in place, making their removal a much easier process.
Sculpting - Beetle ***; Aquaman **1/2
The show has a very Super Friends feel to it, and Mattel has added to that some of the characteristics of their recent Super Friends line of figures, designed for that under 5 set. The larger, blocky feet and legs are obvious on most of the characters, but some (like Beetle) lack the huge honking feet.
Most folks will either hate or tolerate the accessory holes on the figures. Nobody over 8 (and probably not many under) are going to love them, at least from an aesthetic point of view. These holes are on the back, shoulders, forearms and calves of most of the figures, but interestingly, Blue Beetle does not have them on his forearms, and he’s the better looking figure for it. I don’t mind the one on the back of course, and the one on the shoulders actually looks fine on Beetle. It also helps that he has some cool looking armor pieces as part of this deluxe set that can snap on his shoulders. Had they dropped the calf holes, I may have even gone another half star on this figure.
Aquaman has that smart ass grin, and as voiced by John Di Maggio, he has that attitude on the show too. I love the chiseled head sculpt, but I’m less enamored with the standard body sculpt than in my first review. The longer I look at certain characters (like Aquaman and Batman) the less tolerant I am of some of the holes. The ones on Aquaman at the shoulders and elbows are way too obvious, while his calf holes are fine - completely different than Blue Beetle. I think it’s the rounded shoulders and skinny elbow joints that are doing it, whereas the more square shoulders (like on Beetle or Red Tornado) don’t look quite as bad with the holes.
These figures stand about 5″ tall, making them slightly shorter than The Batman figures. They are also stockier, so they don’t really work together, but I included a group shot that has the Batman figure from the eariler line in back for comparison. It will be the last photo in the review.
Paint - Beetle **1/2; Aquaman **
These are mass market figures, and they have very mass market paint jobs. Poor Aquaman also suffers from a rather dopey looking color scheme.
Blue Beetle looks good, although it’s a bit of a variation on his suit in the show. The suit tends to morph a whole lot though, so you can give them some leeway there. He has some overspray, weak cut lines, and the occasional rub mark, much like your average run of the mill big toy store figure. And by ‘big’, I mean the store, not the figure.
Aquaman has a sub par paint job, even for a kid’s toy. There’s plenty of slop between the green and gold, and there’s even inconsistent coverage with both colors. Cut lines are weaker than Don Knotts after a weekend bender, and there’s a fair share of stray marks. Most of these issues are on the body though, with the paint job on the face and hair a bit more similar in quality to Beetle’s.
I was very happy with the paint on the first four figures I picked up, so this is a huge step backward. What this really means is that the line is very inconsistent with the quality of the paint ops, so be careful picking them off the peg.
Articulation - **
The articulation is the most disappointing for me, but as a kid’s line, I can understand the decision behind some of the missing joints.
These figures only have cut neck, cut shoulders, pin elbows, and cut waists. Oh, and don’t forget those old school T hips. I’m not surprised they dropped the knee joints, as these tend to break a lot when kids get their hands on them. But ball jointed shoulders would have been nice, particularly with figures like Aquaman and Batman who already have rounded shoulders. Yea, those dopey holes probably made it impossible, but it’s still disappointing. I’m also disappointed that there are no cut wrists or ball jointed necks, as these would add a lot to both the playability and poseability of the figures.
Accessories/Action Features - ***
Ah, those goofy peg holes on the bodies might look odd, but they do serve a purpose. Now it’s time to break out the accessories and add them to the mix.
Beetle is the ‘bug zapper’ version. Generally he’s the only bug in the fight (unless we get to see a Blue Beetle/Killer Moth battle royale!) so having a ‘bug zapper’ doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, but I’m sure somebody was very proud of themselves when they came up with that name.
His zapper is actually made up of several interchangable parts. There are small articulated bug wings, two blade like side attachments, and the main zapper body that fires a small projectile. The entire attachment can be put together as a single unit (and worn on his back), or you can pop off the blades and attach them to his shoulders, put the wings on his back, and even have him hold the zapper body in his hand. Because of the multiple holes, you can attach these things in a whole lot of different ways.
Aquaman also has a fairly large contraption, called the “aqua pack”. It has a center backpack piece, as well as two fan blade like attachements, and two long sorta Trident looking front blades. When these blades are attached to the main backpack and the button on top is pushed, they spin menacingly.
Like the Beetle’s weapon, these can all pop apart and be reattached to Aquaman on any of his peg holes. I’m not sure why he’d want the fan blades on his shoulders, but I gave that a try anyway. These can also be used on any other version of Aquaman or on any other figure in the series for that matter, making the build/accessorize feature pretty cool.
Fun Factor - ***1/2
Sure, these aren’t exactly a collector’s line, but kid’s should have a lot of fun with the build/accessorize feature of the accessories and holes. They are also very solid figures, so breakage should not be much of an issue. They’ve aimed these squarely at the 5 - 8 range, giving smaller kids DC figures before they are old enough to enjoy and appreciate something like the DC Universe line.
Value - **
Eleven bucks for a 5 inch action figure with an accessory - even one that can be used as armor - is not a great deal. The regular figures are eight bucks or less, and the action feature of this slightly more complex accessory is not worth another three bucks.
Things to Watch Out For -
Of course, always watch that mass market paint, but otherwise, you shouldn’t have any issues.
Overall - Beetle ***; Aquaman **1/2
This is quite clearly a line - and show - designed primarily for kids. But just like Playmobil or Lego, that doesn’t mean they can’t be pretty damn cool. So far, I’m liking this line more than I’m disliking it, and I suspect it’s going to grow on me over time. If Mattel can get a nice healthy line up of figures on the pegs, that’s going to go a long way as well. It’s only been out a couple weeks, and I already have six different characters, and I’m on the hunt for that Batsub. However, if the distribution ends up being as crappy as their DC Infinite Heroes line, it’s going to die an early death with me.
Where to buy -
These are hitting mass market retailers like Target and Meijers right now.
Related Links -
As I mentioned earlier, I covered several of the single packs last week.
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