DC Universe Fighting Figures Series 1

In all the much deserved hubbubaloo over the DC Universe Classics line, folks may have forgotten about another DC line planned by Mattel for 2008 - DC Universe Fighting Figures.  I'll be calling them DCUFF from now on.

This line was originally planned as a game.  Mattel called it 'battleauge', they were to be their answer to Attacktix.  However, those plans were scrapped, and the figures renamed 'Fighting Figures'.  Each has one of four possible action features - an 'attack throw', 'power punch', 'battle blaster', or my favorite, 'flick flight'.  Sounds like something off page 327 of the Kama Sutra.

There are five two packs currently hitting stores that I know of, all reviewed tonight.  There is Superman vs Darkseid, Batgirl vs. Joker, Batman vs. Two Face, Robin vs. Two Face (he gets around), and Batman vs. Catwoman.  There are actually 6 sets in a case, with an extra Supes/Darkseid.

On the back of the card are several more waves that are planned.  While the game didn't survive, big Attacktix fans have plans to incorporate these figures into their games.  Almost makes you want to play Attacktix!


The price on these will vary of course, depending on the retailer, but at Toys R Us they were $8 for a set of two.  I have a hunch Target will carry them as well.

A question for my readers: There was supposed to be a SDCC exclusive of these guys last summer.  Did they make one?

Packaging - ***1/2
I can't quite put my finger on what it is, but I really like the cardback designs for all the DC Universe stuff.  It is partly due to the terrific city scape graphics behind the characters, which I used extensively in the close up photos.  It's partly due to the size, which is fairly easy to store and keep MOC for those into that. And it's partly due to the inclusion of the little photos on the back of the upcoming figures, a feature I always appreciate. There's also no twisties and only one rubber band holding in any of the ten figures. But there's also just an artistic appreciation for the overall appearance, from the logo to the text, that comes together in a very powerful way.

And let's not forget that there's none of the moronic blind packaging.  When the game idea got scrapped, it was important that they scrapped any thoughts around blind boxing too.

Sculpting - ***1/2
The sculpts were done by the Four Horsemen, who are getting a ton of work from Mattel these days.  Smart move on both their parts, as this kind of quality sculpting will only improve the sale of the figures, and the reputation of 4H.

The scale here is small, with the figures standing around 3" tall.  Some, like Darkseid (at about 3 1/2") are bigger of course, while others are a hair smaller.  Supes and Catwoman are suspended about 5" off the ground.  It's important to consider the scale when grading both the sculpt and the paint categories, as smaller scales are harder and harder to do well.  It's also harder to see issues in this scale with the nekkid eye, but the camera can be truly unforgiving.

All ten figures are done in a dynamic pose, as you'd expect from a line with the word 'fighting' in it.  Some of these poses work better, and I think the only two I have any real issues are the Batman and Robin carrying the big honkin' guns.  It's not so much the guns, which are not removable, but rather the pose of the capes, particularly Robin's.  I'm assuming he just jumped down into this momentary pose, but I've never been a big fan of overly dynamic cape poses.  His hunching over doesn't do a lot for me either, and the poor Boy Wonder is my least favorite of the line.

I is actually tough for me to select my favorites from the rest.  I like the basic black and gray Batman, as well as the Batgirl, Catwoman and Supes.

The action features interfere with the sculpts with the Attack Throw and the Battle Blaster.  The issue with the firing feature should be obvious: the big ass guns aren't removable, and are quite cartoony and silly.  For the Attacktix fans, that won't be an issue, but other casual collectors may find them less appealing.

For the figures with the Attack Throw (Darkseid and one Two Face in this set), there is a large 'lever' sculpted off the back of one foot.  This lever can be quite distracting from a side view.

But overall, I'm quite pleased with the sculpts, and find them vastly appealing to the goofy Attacktix.

And just in case you are wondering, no, the figures can not be removed from the base without surgery with the obvious exception of Superman and Catwoman.

Paint - **1/2
Unfortunately, the paint doesn't quite do all it can do to win this one.

The photos actually make them look worse then they are to the nekkid eye, since it shows details you can't see.  Still, these are your basic mass market quality paint ops, with bleed, rubs, missing spots and poor cut lines between colors.

On the plus side, the figures are all very colorful, with more small detail work than I expected.  Thinks like the buttons on Two Face's shirt or the Joker's spats could have easily been skipped, and it would have been hard to notice.  Also, the tampo areas, like the symbols on Robin, Supes, Batman and Batgirl, are very well done, and quite straight and clean.

There are also words printed on the base of each figure.  It's a little blurb about that particular character.  It sounds like a carry over from the game, but it's amusing at least.

Unfortunately, it also means one more thing that can get messed up.  My Robin actually has a line about Two Face...

Articulation - ***
These aren't just little PVC's - they have articulation!  I was surprised since they don't have to have any joints to do what they were intended to do. But having four points (a cut neck, cut shoulders and a cut waist) meant that I could adjust them to get the pose I wanted for the photos.

The waist and neck were particularly useful, since it allows you to put the upper body at different angles to the viewer.

Accessories - Darkseid, Two Face **1/2; the rest Bupkis
There aren't really any accessories per se with this series.  Darkseid and the one version of Two Face do have something they throw, so I'm giving them at least a little appreciation in this category for that, but the line isn't really built around the concept of accessories (considering the scale) so this won't have any real effect on my overall score one way or the other.

And yes, Two Face's coin is scarred on one side and not on the other...and he can hold it with either side up.

Action Feature - Power Punch, Flight Flick ***; Attack Throw **1/2; Battle Blaster **;
As I mentioned earlier, there are four action features.  One is designed to punch, one to fire a projectile, one to throw a projectile, and one to actually 'flick' the character themselves.

I hate action features on figures.  They are much better on vehicles and playsets, but on figures, they don't do a whole lot for me. I'm grading these not on how much play value they add (that's in the next category), but rather on how little the negatively impact the figure itself. If they can do that AND actually work pretty well, that's terrific.

The only one of the features to do both is the Flight Flick. It has little negative impact on the figure, and the Supes and Catwoman that have it here are both great looking.  There is the slot in their chest of course, but having them suspended on the clear stand looks terrific.  That's because the sculpts are well designed for the feature.

The flicking works well too, by either pulling back at the middle of the clear bar or by pulling back on their foot.  They fly a fair distance, certainly farther than the average spring projectile.  And yes, there's a spring mechanism in the base that makes that possible.

In fact, all the action features are spring powered.  The punching feature has almost no impact on the visual attractiveness of the figure.  Here, one Two Face (with the machine gun), one Batman (black and gray) and Batgirl have a punching action.  There are actually TWO different spring mechanisms for the punch.  Batman and Batgirl are pulled backward, and they pop forward to smack the bad guy.  Two Face is turned, and he snaps back throwing the punch from the side.  Both mechanism work, but because the base keeps any one figure from standing too close to another, getting them to actually strike another character means tilting them in, or using Two Face's gun as his striking surface.

Slightly less appealing for me is the Attack Throw.  One of the Two Face figures and Darkseid have this ability.  They are holding something over their head in both hands, and by pressing backward on the lever on their foot and then releasing, they throw it forward.  While this attack action works better than the punch when trying to take out an opponent, the large lever on the foot is very distracting.

The least attractive is the firing or "Battle Blaster" feature.  The large guns carried by the Joker, Batman and Robin are not removable, cartoony, and oversized.  The Joker's is the best looking and most sensible though, and they all fire their projectiles well.  The spring is strong enough to take out another DCUFF at close range, even with the large blue base they stand on.

Fun Factor - ***
Some of the figures lend themselves to play better than others, but overall I think kids will enjoy them.  In fact, the action features that I ranked lowest are likely to be the ones kid enjoy the most, since they involve actual projectiles.  The Power Punch is fairly lame for play value, and the only one kids and I would probably agree on is the Flight Flick.  They'll enjoy launching Supes or Catwoman at the other figures (or their siblings), and I think that action feature doesn't take away from the appearance at all.

Value - ***
It seems like regular PVC figures are running around four bucks a pop these days, particularly when they are in this scale (3") and if they have some articulation.  Getting these at that price, along with some action features (as lame as they may be) is an above average value.

Things to Watch Out For - 
Take some care pulling these out of the bubble.  There isn't any twisties - thank God - but some of the limbs are inserted through the tray, and the thinner, softer ones (like Catwoman or Supes) could tear.

Overall - ***
One line summary -
nice sculpting with mediocre paint and hit or miss action features.

These do allow for some solid play value, probably more so without the game than even with.  Kids can still use them to battle, without any restrictions or rules.

Also on the plus side is that while they aren't as goofy looking, they will fit in with the Star Wars and Marvel Attacktix, giving those folks another set of figures to add to their arsenal.

I'm not sure the longevity is there with this line, considering the failures that similar lines have had.  I might end up picking up the whole series, as I never was sucked into Heroclix or Attacktix.  They certainly aren't going to have the popularity with collectors that the DCUC stuff does and will, but hopefully sales will be strong enough to get a few waves out - along with that originally announced Batmobile!

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - ***1/2
Paint - **1/2
Articulation - ***
Accessories - Darkseid/Two Face **1/2; the rest Bupkis
Action Feature - Power Punch, Flight Flick ***; Attack Throw **1/2; Battle Blaster **;
Fun Factor - ***
Value - ***
Overall - ***

Where to Buy -
I picked these guys up at Toys R Us.  You can search Ebay for them as well using MyAuctionLinks.

- Related Links -
I've covered the larger DC Universe Classics series 1 in two parts - part 1 and part 2.


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Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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