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Zeeks
2009-03-05, 02:46 AM
got on this DC kick around September when the latest season of Smallville came out on dvd. Here's what I've been sporting since:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v322/kremzeek/Toys/DCUniverse1-14-09.jpg

Without going through every single figure, the general narrative is that it started with the JL/JLU Mattel Line, and kinda skyrocketted from there. I started picking up everything I saw at Target, since they are the only company who still puts out relatively fresh stuff for the JLU line. The Aquaman/Black Manta stuff was already in my collection, and I dug it out of the attic to join in with the rest of the DC family.
The figures I like the best are in the lower left slot- it's my ode to the Sinestro Corps War. Hard to make out, but I have a Hal, Salaak, Abin Sur, and JL teamates Bats and Wonder Woman versus Sinestro, Black Hand, Mongul, Hank Henshaw, and build-a-figure Grodd. Sinestro with his Corps suit floors me everytime I look at it. It's really just a great figure.

Aside from that, my other favorite is the DC Universe version of Black Manta- even though a "b" grade character, I always liked him for some reason. The sculpting is really exquisite- even over the Alex Ross Version with removable Helmet.

ganon578
2009-03-06, 01:45 PM
How is the Cyborg Superman? Always liked him from the Death of Supes/Reign of the Supermen storyline. I whittled down my DC Direct collection a few years ago, now I only have Hal Jordan and Superman from the first Superman/Batman wave.

Zeeks
2009-03-06, 02:56 PM
How is the Cyborg Superman? Always liked him from the Death of Supes/Reign of the Supermen storyline. I whittled down my DC Direct collection a few years ago, now I only have Hal Jordan and Superman from the first Superman/Batman wave.


Aesthetically, the mould is not bad. Very detailed. However, the figure has weight proportion issues- if it weren't for the cape, he wouldn't be able to stand correctly, which is something I've noticed on quite a few of the DC Universe figures in general- especially Cyborg. Harley Quinn is a disaster- my only option with her is to grab one of those mini-doll stands that I got when I was collecting Doom figures to prop her up (if you look real close, you can see her at the Superfriends Aquaman's feet).

Hank Henshaw came as a TRU exclusive package with Mongul (so did Hal and Abin Sur) under the DC Universe Banner. The only reason I bothered with them is that they were the original antagonists that perpetuated the Parallax virus inside Hal Jordan when Coast City was destroyed. I've seen Hank in his Sinestro Corps Uniform, which looks just as killer as the Sinestro you see in the picture.

Zeeks
2009-04-02, 01:54 AM
Comic Character Figure Spotlight: Black Manta

‘Ello, sports fans- just dropping by with a little retrospective on the DC character, Black Manta, and all his toy incarnations. Remember back in the day when Black Manta was perhaps the COOLEST villain on the Superfriends show? (At least he was to me). Visually, he was very interesting with the mask, and the voice, straight outta Darth Vader, added to the aura of a genuinely singular character, even with all the camp surrounding the show itself. I wanted to take a walk down memory lane with the Manta figures I have acquired over the years.

For those of you (shame!) not familiar with the character, Black Manta is probably the most recognized nemesis of Aquaman, although not in the realm of “arch” enemy, as there seems to be a few characters who clash with Aquaman a bit more frequently(especially Orm/Ocean Master). There are a couple of origin stories floating around about this guy, one being that he was raised near the sea on ship docks, the other being that he suffered autism and was institutionalized in Arkham Asylum. Unfortunately, his doctors didn’t know how to treat him. He later went on to become a sea marauder, and after several clashes, he killed Aquaman’s son. He has been seen in a variety of DC shows, including Superfriends, Justice League Unlimited (known as “Devil Ray” for licensing rights), and is currently a character in Batman: The Brave and The Bold. SO, that being said, let’s take a look at the plastic history of Mr. Manta….

First up is the Superfriends version- this figure was originally part of a two-pack with Aquaman. What was interesting about the set in general was that Manta came with accessories and Aquaman didn’t. Manta came with a blaster pistol, Superfriends base, and a miniature of the Manta Ship. This set was released with others that exemplified the very essence of the TV Show- the Hanna Barbera style of animation (simple is best) along with over-the-top dialogue. In the wake of Star Wars, Manta represented the more outward qualities of Darth Vader- hidden under a mask, a very peculiar voice, and a harbinger of evil. He certainly was the most singular character in the Legion of Doom, although the Spotlight was mostly given to it’s leader, Lex Luthor. The overall detail is practically non-existent- basic body, basic back-pack with breathing tubes connected to the helmet. I suppose the original artists were going for a non-complicated wetsuit. Curiously, though- his wetsuit was a dark purple- not much black for the namesake of the character. Articulation is standard- elbows, knees, hips, and shoulders. The head swivels slightly, and the blaster pistol can only be fitted in his right hand.

The miniature ship also has an optional display base, which is nice for kids who would rather play with the ship than display it for looks.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v322/kremzeek/Toys/th_manta1.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v322/kremzeek/Toys/?action=view&current=manta1.jpg)

Next up is the DC Pocket Super Heroes version- again, Manta came as a two pack with Aquaman. I believe at the time, this was supposed to be an answer to the Marvel Minimates (although DC eventually made it to the MiniMates line as well). Standing about 3 ¼” tall, the articulation is very basic- arms, hips, and a swivel head. Manta’s eyes are red, as per his original comic book interpretation. He has no accessories, aside from the permanently attached air canisters on his back, which have no visible difference from normal scuba gear. Come on, guys- a little imagination here!
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v322/kremzeek/Toys/th_manta3.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v322/kremzeek/Toys/?action=view&current=manta3.jpg)

To coincide with the Alex Ross-penned Justice series, Black Manta was envisioned solely as an African American in a wetsuit. Gone were the comic stories of him turning into an actual manta ray (and then back again). This guy is purely human. The best word I can think of to describe this figure is “exquisite”- just like Ross’ beautifully rendered realism in the comic world, this figure represents that realism to a T. For a very long time, this was my most favorite figure (until I found the Sinestro Corps Sinestro a few years later). Again, the body is very simplistic- just a black wetsuit, but what sets this figure apart from the others is the removable helmet. Yes folks, we actually get to see the “black” guy under the “manta” helmet. It was a first for Manta figures to date. The helmet and connected backpack (which took a step up design wise from the Pocket Superheroes version) are totally removable, and Manta comes with a curiously looking gun that reminds me of the Trade Federation Droid Fighters that doubled as droid walkers from Star Wars Episodes 1 through 3. He also came with a rectangular display base that was standard for the entire Justice line. Sacrificing articulation for likeness, the sacrifice itself was almost necessary to correctly pin down Ross’ interpretation of all the Justice characters. He has movable elbows, knees, hip joints, rotating wrists and head. The helmet also has a very snug fit around the neck area, so it won’t necessarily be knocked off during play. The plastic of the figure is very smooth and shiny, and there’s little to no detail at all with the exception of the neck band and air tank.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v322/kremzeek/Toys/th_manta2.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v322/kremzeek/Toys/?action=view&current=manta2.jpg)

The next figure is my absolute favorite version of Manta, and quite possibly one of my top 10 figures of all time. In the wake of the Marvel Legends success with multiple points of articulation and “build-a-figure” pieces, DC finally answered the challenge with the DC Universe line. They came out in waves, and each wave figured a build a figure. I personally could care less about the waves or figure builds, I just saw this in the store and wanted it. Period. Let me get the gripes out of the way first: no removable helmet like the Ross version, and no base. Now, let’s get to the good stuff: I counted 23 points of articulation, two really cool accessories (a very singularly designed blaster and trident staff) and a detailed helmet with air tank. Just checking out the helmet, you can see the detail sketching on the neck piece with what looks like mechanical gill slits, plus “repulsor” valves on the very back underside. The air tank is minimal, but has a much cooler design than its predecessors. As always, the body is simplistic- just your average toned human visage with appropriate musculature; nothing to really brag about there. I believe Manta was part of either the 2nd or 3rd wave of DC Universe figures, and this wave’s build a figure was Gorilla Grodd. Manta came with his left leg, and it wasn’t until a year or two later that I decided to get the entire wave just so I could make Grodd. For the record, fans should check out the Aquaman from the same wave- perhaps one of the best interpretations of the character as well (note: there are two variants on Aquaman- long haired and short haired). I think what I like most about this figure is the head sculpt- even though the helmet is non-removable, you can believe that a guy’s head could be under there somewhere, which is not a feeling I get with the SuperFriends or Pocket Super Heroes versions. And that blaster’s design would make George Lucas jealous.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v322/kremzeek/Toys/th_manta4.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v322/kremzeek/Toys/?action=view&current=manta4.jpg)

Lastly, we have a very recent release from the Batman: Brave and the Bold series. Whereas the Superfriends, Justice, and DC Universe versions are all within centimeters of each other in terms of height, this particular line takes the figure down a few inches to roughly 5 ½” sans the two air tubes running from the helmet to the back. Now this guy is total comic fantasy in design- no realistic visions to speak of other than it’s a human bipedal form. Also, the curious thing about this line is that there are multiple attachment points on the body (something on the other figures from the same line as well). Manta came with some kinds of skiff/rifle that can pretty much be positioned anywhere on the arms and legs as well as under each foot. This sort of “inter-changability” reminds me of the Micronauts from years past. On the upside of things, Manta finally gets a little more than a black wetsuit this time around- he has two pistol holsters, a chest plate, and very western-cowboy looking boots. As with every line except the Justice line, I bought the Aquaman as well- it seems Black Manta and Aquaman are quite inseparable.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v322/kremzeek/Toys/th_manta5.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v322/kremzeek/Toys/?action=view&current=manta5.jpg)

So that’s about it for now- if anyone knows of other officially released versions of Black Manta, let me know. I would love to add them to my collection.