Mattel Justice League of America
Series 1

One of the big events for 2003 is the release of new Batman and Superman toys under the new ownership of Mattel.

Hasbro had the license for many years now, well over a decade.  People loved some of it, hated quite a bit of the rest, but constantly wondered what it would be like if another company snagged the license away.

Now, we get to see what happens.  Mattel has picked it up, and have released the very first in what is likely to be many, many DC superheroes - The Justice League.

The cartoon has been fairly popular, certainly enough to justify a line by now.  But Hasbro had other things on their mind and their plates, and it never happened.  Mattel is using this show as their very first foray into the license.

There are initially four figures - Batman, Superman, Green Lantern and Flash.  Two more are pictured on the back (and necessary for the overall base - more on that later), Wonder Woman and Martian Manhunter.  Hawkgirl is likely at some point, and Aquaman would be another obvious choice.

These are hitting Targets first, retailing for $6.99.

Packaging - ***
The card backs are fairly small, only about half the size of the old Hasbro style.  The graphics are great though, very eye catching and distinct.  Using images of the animated characters, along with a psuedo-embossed Justice League label at the top, Mattel has managed to put together a nice looking, easy to store (for the MOCers), sturdy package.

Sculpting - ***1/2
The style of these are very much like the maquettes - static poses.  Each of the four stands on his own, even though the animated style of the JLA show means small feet, tiny ankles and huge torsos.

The sculpting is solid, with the characters matching the source material, with an appropriate amount of detail.  I'm particularly happy to see no sign of any ridiculous, constipated action poses or face sculpts.  I like the style of the maquettes, so for a first offering, that's fine by me.

Of course, once we get through the initial figures, you'd assume they style of the sculpt would alter as necessary.

The scale is also fairly close to what we're already used to.  They may seem a little smaller to you at first, but much of that is due to the smaller card back and the thin legs and ankles.  In reality, they are very close to the same scale as previous lines, particularly when you take the style of the JLA show into account.  The figures look great on the shelf along side previous lines.  I've included some photos at the bottom to give you a comparison.

Paint - **1/2
Mattel appears to be using the same people on their paint ops as Hasbro.  While they aren't as awful as that last Batgirl Hasbro put out, they are certainly sloppier than the competition seems to be capable of.

There's at least some bleed and fuzziness on the lines on every figure.  I looked through a whole case, and while some were better than others, it's clear that getting the lines straight wasn't a top priority.  Flash has the most problems, with the yellow and red having co-existence issues.

The colors themselves were consistent however, both on the bodies and on the capes.  Large expanses of red, black and blue can be tough to keep even in tone, but they've done a decent job here.

Articulation - **1/2
Again taking a page from the Hasbro bible, Mattel has provided five points - neck, shoulders and hips.  Perhaps we'll see some cut elbows, wrists and other joints on future releases, but for now you'll have to be satisfied with the same articulation you've had since Super Powers.

Accessories - **
I suppose you could argue that these figures don't need accessories, but I'm not buying it.  There's certainly plenty of items from the show they could provide, and even giving them some pieces to build a larger diorama (other than these silly foot stands) would have been great.

Instead, we get zippo in the accessories department, except for a foot stand that spells out Justice League across the front when all the figures are together, and a small motion card that attached to the base as well.  Since without Wonder Woman and MM, you can't even put the entire name together, it seems like a pretty silly idea.

Value - **1/2
Hasbro DC Superheroes have been $5 - $7 for some time, depending on the retailer and the line.  Therefore, the $7 price tag on the new line isn't particularly surprising.  However, it's a far worse value than we've been accustomed to.

Why?  Because of the lack of accessories.  Sure, Hasbro didn't always do a very good job of figuring out appropriate accessories, but at least they took a shot at it.  Kids like extras, and so do I.  Without them, and with such a steep price, Mattel seems to be targeting collectors with these, and I'm not sure that ignoring kids is a wise move.

Perhaps we'll see some decent accessories once we get past this first series and the silly foot base.

Overall - ***
Some people have been treating the Mattel acquisition of the DC license as the second coming of Jesus Christ.  That was expecting far too much.

Mattel and Hasbro aren't all that different, at least when it comes to the bottom line.  As huge companies, they are going to treat the license in a similar manner, and it's not surprising to see what Mattel is doing.

Still, it's absolutely wonderful for the big DC fans to see these figures back on the shelf.  After years of repaints and re-issues by Hasbro, with only the occasional new figure, it looks like we'll get a resurgence in animated figures from Mattel, at least for a little while.  I'm going to be picking them up, and I can't wait to see how they do with Hawkgirl and MM, two of my favorite JLA figures.

Where to Buy - 
Target is the first store to pick them up, although I'm betting both Wal-mart and TRU will be carrying them soon.  I haven't found an on-line retailer with them yet, so let me know what you see!

I've got some photos down below that show the group together, and with other animated style figures.  Enjoy!

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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