Captain Toy/Michael's Review of the Week

Review of Hawkman, Captain Marvel, Kalibak
DC Universe Classics wave 6 action figures

Date Published: 2009-01-30
Written By: Michael Crawford
Overall Average Rating: 3 out of 4

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DCUC Hawkman action figure by Mattel

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Mattel is driving me nuts. As much as I love how they are handling the MOTUC line (and I really do like it, I'm not being sarcastic here), I hate the handling of the DC Universe Classics line. This company leaves me feeling more and more like my mother-in-law just drove my new car off a cliff. You know, mixed emotions.

I have still not found a single wave 5 figure at any Wal-mart (as you'll recall, that wave was a Wal-mart exclusive), and I only have a Riddler and an Eradicator on the way due to the kindness of others.

Wave 6 started popping up a couple weeks ago, but our stores were a bit slower. Still, I managed to snag the whole wave this week, and I'm going to break up the 6 figures (five figures and the BAF) into two reviews.

Tonight I'm looking at Kalibak, the BAF, as well as old timer Captain Marvel and one of my favorite characters, Hawkman. On Sunday night, I'll cover Killer Moth, Superman and Mr. Miracle.

There's a Superman variant to watch for as well. The Superman you see in the package to the right is the 'regular' release, wearing the black costume. The one that's the variant (which is the one I'll actually be reviewing), is wearing the standard blue suit, but has that same long hair.

The other variant in the wave is Dr. Impossible, a figure I haven't found yet. He's basically an overall repaint of the Mr. Miracle, so be on the lookout. Hopefully he won't turn into Dr. Impossible To Find.

These will cost you around $12, depending on the retailer.

DCUC Kalibak action figure by Mattel

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Packaging - ***
Six waves in, and I still like the packaging design on this line. They could stand to trim down a little, considering the lack of accessories in general, but maybe the next BAF will be a bit hunkier than this one.

I do wish they'd show any intended variants on the back, like the Marvel Legends figures did for awhile. For example, the average person might like to know that there is both a blue and black suit Superman in the wave without having to hang out at the action figure boards.

DCUC Superman action figure by Mattel

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Sculpting - Hawkman ****; Kalibak ***1/2; Captain Marvel **1/2
If you get a Hawkman that is without major quality control issues, you'll agree that this is easily a figure that will be in the top 5 (and perhaps win) for Best Figure 5" - 11" in the Poppies next year. He really is that cool.

Of course, it helps that I'm a big fan of the character. Not the stories themselves, which have always been rather weak, and often overly convoluted, but of the basic character and his uber-cool design. To be fair, I haven't read much Hawkman in the last decade, but in the 80's and 90's, I got into a huge Hawkman craze...and was generally very disappointed by the story writing that has followed him since his introduction in 1940.

But the outfit - damn that's a cool outfit. And Mattel has done it proud, with lots of small details and a beautiful feather texture on the wings. The wings are just about the right size too, impressive when folded out, but not so huge or unbalanced that poor Carter can't stand.

The wings are also well designed for maximum articulation. The attachment on his back isn't overly unattractive or bulky, yet works quite well.

He stands about 6.5 inches tall at the top, fitting in just fine with the rest of the line. The large wings give him quite a bit of presence on the shelf.

Kalibak is the son of Darkseid. His mom, Suli, didn't look like a baboon's butt, so I'm not sure where Kali got his looks. I suspect his dad actually had a fling with someone a little lower on the primate family tree, but that's just speculation.

Including Kalibak in the line is great for your display, since you already have his dad, and his half brother Orion was in the first wave. Give us Tiggra and Desaad, and we've got a Jerry Springer episode!

Kalibak's minions, the Parademons, will be coming along in wave 8 as well, so his inclusion was a great idea. Making him a BAF works fine for me, even if he isn't all that huge.

He's stout, but not all that tall, coming in at about 7 1/4 inches. He fits in pretty well with the rest of the gang, although I do wish they'd made Darkseid bigger for this line. That's not Kalibak's fault, but his presence does make Darkseid's height more of an issue on the shelf.

The detailing on Kali is great, especially the head sculpt. You can't deny that the Four Horsemen are some of the best designers and sculptors in the business.

And then there's Captain Marvel. In the spirit of full disclosure, I've never like the character - way too goody two shoes for me. It also doesn't help that the character was non-existent to me during my comic book formative years, the 60's. If you need any further proof of copyright infringement lawsuits gone bad, look no further than poor Captain Marvel.

The iconic golden age look of the character is well captured here, but I have a couple basic issues. First, the puny head really stands out to me. Sure, lots of comic book characters tend to have pinheads, but they've gone with the very square shoulders, and this extra width across his upper body just accentuates the itty bitty head. Add in a very thick plastic chain around his neck for the cape, and you end up with a real proportion problem.

And let's talk about those shoulders - they too big and square as well. I think that his trademark 'cape over one shoulder' look ends up making this even more obvious, since the bare right shoulder screams "look at me, look at me". I think the regular rounded shoulders would have been just fine here as well.

If you're a big fan of the character though, I suspect you'll be much more forgiving of these two issues than I.

DCUC Hawkman action figure by Mattel

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Paint - Hawkman ***1/2;  Kalibak ***; Captain Marvel **1/2
Marvel ends up with the short end of the stick once again. Red and yellow are always tough colors to work with together, and unfortunately, things didn't go so great on the one I bought.

The work on the head is good though, with clean lines around the hair, caterpillar eyebrows, and goofy grin.

The gold edging on the cape has some slop though, and the application of the gold is a bit gloppy and inconsistent. The gold arm bands suffer from some of these same issues.

There's some bleed and over spray on the yellow bolt symbol and belt, but the biggest problem is with the yellow boots. Obviously, the plastic body is cast in red, with the boots painted on. The coverage is not consistent, and when you're putting yellow on anything, especially red, it has to be consistent and even to avoid having the darker color show through. It's not obvious in photos, but in person the red comes through like crazy, making both the inside and outside of the ankle very pinkish looking.

Both Hawkman and Kalibak are much better than Captain Marvel, but neither is close to perfect. There's slight blips and over spray on the yellow and red sections of their outfits, and in a number of places the cut lines are quite uneven.

Hawkman's wings are what manage to pull him up a half star higher than his colleague. While he does have some paint issues, I have to give them props for doing an excellent job with a wash on the wings to bring out the feathers and texture, without going overboard.

Unfortunately, the key take away here isn't that if you buy Captain Marvel you're going to get a crappy paint job and if you buy Hawkman you'll get a great one. No, it's that you could get a great paint job - or a crappy one - no matter which figure you buy. The quality of the paint operations on the last couple waves has been pretty poor, and that shows up as inconsistencies across the figures and the wave as a whole.

DCUC Captain Marvel action figure by Mattel

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Articulation - Kalibak ***1/2; Captain Marvel **1/2; Hawkman SHOULD be **** but ends up **1/2
For a BAF, Kalibak is very well articulated. He has all the trademark DCUC joints, including the nifty swivel pseudo ball jointed hips that work extremely well. The quick rundown is ball jointed neck, ball jointed shoulders with joints on both sides of the ball, pin elbows and knees, ab crunch, cut thigh, wrists and waist, swivel hips, and pin ankles. 

I wish his neck wasn't quite so restricted by the beard and hair, but that's not something you could reasonable expect. He has cut wrists, and pins would have allowed more hand poses, but I think I can live with what's available. I've heard some complaints that his limbs tend to fall off, but this seems to be an issue of making sure you get them ALL the way in. When I first assembled him, I had some trouble with the arms and legs staying popped in with some poses, but I reinserted them until I got the loud 'click', and didn't have any issues afterwards.

Captain Marvel has a good ball jointed neck, ball jointed shoulders, swivel hips, pin elbows, knees and ankles, cut wrists, thighs and waist, and ab crunch. While the elbows and knees on the DCUC figures are only single pin, they've been designed well enough to allow for a good range of movement.

I'd have scored Marvel higher, except for the permanently stuck right shoulder. I am going to give the freezer and some hot water both a try eventually, but for now, that right shoulder is glued in place straight from the factory - it doesn't even budge.

You'll notice that on Hawkman, I say he SHOULD be a four star figure in this category. Here's why. First, his ball jointed neck works great. All his other standard joints - ball jointed shoulders, swivel hips, pin elbows, knees and ankles, cut thighs, waist and wrists, and ab crunch - work great. In fact, I've noticed even further improvements in the swivel hips with this series, and you can get the feet very close together. In the past, you were forced to stick with wider stances, but that's been corrected as well.

Hawkman has all that terrific standard articulation, and then he gets extra points for his well designed wings. The wings can swivel on his back, moving outward from him, or coming in very close to him. There's also a single pin joint at the top edge of each wing, allowing them to fan out wide behind him, which looks quite impressive. The wings don't cause him to topple over backwards in normal stances, implying that the center of gravity for the figure was taken into consideration when designing it (or they got pretty damn lucky). With all that extra goodness, Hawkman SHOULD be getting four stars here.

And yet, he's not. Why? Because his damn right thigh broke! It didn't even feel stuck. Nope, it seemed to be turning fine, and you can usually tell when it's stuck and can tear, or when it's turning on the peg. It felt fine to me, and than all of a sudden - rip! - there goes the pin. Now my favorite figure from the line is laying here in pieces. I'm not pleased, since now I'll have to hunt up a new one at the store and return this one. *sigh*

I'm not the only one, either. I've heard lots of reports of broken joints on this wave, as well as other recent waves. Mattel has GOT to get this quality control problem under, well, control.

DCUC Hawkman action figure by Mattel

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Accessories - Hawkman ***1/2; Kalibak ***; Captain Marvel **
There's quite a bit a variation in this category when it comes to these three figures.

Hawkman does it up right, and that's great to see. He comes with his most critical extras, including his shield, mace and sword.

The mace looks great, and is about the right size, but both the shield and sword are on the small side. Both also include some battle damage, which isn't unusual for a shield accessory, but is very unique for a sword. This extra detail in the sculpt helps me forgive it's shrimpyness, and the inclusion of a loop sheath for it on the back of his belt makes me even happier.

Hawkman's weapons fit nicely in his hands (or on his arm, in the case of the shield), even if they are a bit small. However, as I mentioned in the sculpt section, only his left hand can hold a weapon, so he can only brandish the mace or sword at one time.

Hawkman also has his Kalibak piece (an arm), necessary to complete the sixth figure.

Kalibak gets a whopping three stars for having only one accessory, but the fact that he's an accessory himself - he's the BAF! - is what makes this so unusual. For a BAF (or "CNC" - Collect and Connect - as Mattel likes to call them) to have any accessory is really unique and worthy of extra points.

His Power Mace is his most recognizable weapon, and he pretty much never leaves home without it, so it made perfect sense to include it here. It can fit in either his left hand, or in a slot on his belt. I suppose the belt itself could also be considered an accessory, since it is removable, particularly prior to putting the arms on.

Then there's Captain Marvel. He comes with his Kalibak part (a leg), and that's it. If you're looking to build Kalibak, that's pretty critical - if you're not, you'll feel pretty ripped.

DCUC Captain Marvel action figure by Mattel

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DCUC Captain Marvel action figure by Mattel

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Fun Factor - ***
The only thing holding these back from being four star fun for kids (other than the obvious lack of character recognition with some) is the joint issues. The online only, collector aimed, specialty market MOTUC figures have great joints that could stand up to sand box abuse any day. The mass market MOTUC line, sold right next to other kid's lines, have joints that break with simple posing. Not good.

DCUC Kalibak action figure by Mattel

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Value - **1/2
At around $12 each, these are going for what amounts to a pretty average mass market retail price right now.

Things to Watch Out For -
Breakage issues are plaguing this line right now, and the weak joints are going to have to be addressed by Mattel. You'll want to watch for the best paint possible as well, since the quality of the paint ops seems to be very inconsistent.

DCUC Hawkman action figure by Mattel

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Overall - Hawkman ***1/2;  Kalibak *** Captain Marvel **1/2
I love the DCUC line, but it's kind of like loving a super model who's also a consecrated virgin and just happens to have brittle bone disease. Sure, she's sexy and hot, but if you aren't getting any, what's the point? And if you do get any, the odds are good her leg will fall off.

I love the concept of DCUC. I love the sculpts. I even love the character selection. But the quality of the joints and paint, along with the distribution issues that continue to plague collectors, are not to be loved.

Hawkman might have a few paint issues, but if I can find one that doesn't end up in pieces, I can easily see him being in my top 3 for best figure of the year come next December. I can't wait for Hawkgirl!

Kalibak is a solid, well done BAF. And even Captain Marvel, while not my favorite character, is a good iconic representation. In fact, if not for the paint issues and joint issues, all three of these figures would have scored another half star higher.

Score Recap (out of ****):
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpting - Hawkman ****; Kalibak ***1/2; Captain Marvel ***
Paint - Hawkman, Kalibak ***; Captain Marvel **1/2
Articulation - Kalibak ***1/2; Captain Marvel **1/2; Hawkman SHOULD be **** but ends up **1/2
Accessories - Hawkman ***1/2; Kalibak ***; Captain Marvel **
Fun Factor - ***
Value - **1/2
Overall - Hawkman ***1/2; Kalibak ***; Captain Marvel **1/2

DCUC Hawkman, Captain Marvel, Kalibak action figures by Mattel

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Where to Buy 
You can try the local mass market folks like Target, where these are just starting to hit. It's worth pointing out that they have reduced the price there as well, for at least a week or so, down to $9 each. Or you can search ebay for a deal.

Related Links -
I've reviewed quite a few of the figures. Well, other than wave 5 *grumble*.

- last up was wave 4 which I also broke into this review, and this one.

- of course, prior to that was wave 3.

- I covered wave 1 in two parts, one here and one at here. It took me so freakin' long to find them, I never did review wave 2, but if you're looking for one, Kastor's Korner has what you're looking for.  

- last up in the DCSH figures were the Clayface and Bruce to Bats figures.

- before that was Mongul, who is also one of the best figures this year and Parasite and Steel

- in this smaller line, the fourth series was Superman themed, with Brainiac and Darkseid. There's also the Batgirl and Superman from the two packs.

- my review of the series 2 Bizarro and Supergirl.

- my review of the Batman and Killer Croc from wave 1.

- and finally, my review of Bane and Scarecrow that were released internationally as part of the old Mattel line, and then re-released with wave 1 of the DCSH.

You should also hit the Search Reviews page, in case any other applicable reviews were done after this one was published.

Want to chat about this review?  Try out one of these terrific forums where I'll be discussing it!

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DCUC Kalibak action figure by Mattel

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This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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