DC Direct Silver Age
Catwoman and Penguin

DC Direct has done a series of Bat-universe figures based on the silver age of comics.  They've released the Batman and Robin set, along with the Joker and Batgirl.

This week the third set shipped to comic shops - Catwoman and Penguin.  Similar to the previoius sets, they come with a roof top base that can attached to another base, foot pegs for the figures, and a hefty price tag.  Expect to pay around $40 for the pair at most comic shops.

Packaging - ***
The graphics and style of these boxes is extremely good.  They capture the feel of the silver age, have useful text, and show off the figures.  Unfortunately, they are also tremendously flimsy, and way oversized.  The two figures and flat base could fit into far less space, a gripe for any MIBBer.

Sculpting - Catwoman ***1/2; Penguin **1/2
In terms of detail and quality, I really like both sculpts.  The detail on the faces is excellent, especially the Penguin, but both capture the style of the area perfectly.

Catwoman is the better of the two, and is almost a perfect sculpt.  Proportion is great, style is right on, and she fits in nicely with the rest of the line in terms of scale. Her only issue is in the cheapness of the plastic.  Her legs and arms are soft, making it tough to break the elbow and knee joints free, and causing issues like my oddly bent right ankle.  And Catwoman's too.

So why the lower score on the Penguin?  Because I expect figures to stand on their own.  The Penguin has very limited lower body articulation - as in nil - and so his sculpted pose is crucial.  The poor guy is leaning so far forward, his entire center of gravity is well in front of his teeny feet.  Even with the stand it's tough to keep him standing, but without it, it's impossible.

You might think he could use his umbrella to lean on, but trust me, I'll explain why that's an issue when we get to the accessories.

Paint - ****
The paint ops on both figures are excellent, as close to perfect as you can get. I'm hopeful that mine are indicative of the overall quality.

There's tons of great details, especially around the eyes in in the costume.  Even the heavily used colors, like on Catwoman's dress, are clean and consistent.

Accessories - **
There are five accessories spread across the two figures.  The base is decent, and can interlock with another.  Since this is the third set though, we'll have to wait for a fourth set to put together another roof top.

Catwoman comes with two accessories - a black cat, and a cat o' nine tails.  Those of you into the bondage scene will recognize this toy quickly enough, although I have no idea what that means.

The cat is decent, although the paint ops are only on the eyes.  The pose works fine, and he (she?) stands great.  The big issue here is the whip.  I had a very hard time getting the soft rubber whip to fit inside her fist, and even when I did, I damaged the black paint doing it.

The Penguin also has two accessories - his hat and his umbrella.  I'm counting his hat, since it's removable.  It looks great, fits fine, and doesn't fall off easily.  The umbrella looks fine, but is made of a similar soft rubber, and can't be used to prop up his dumpy butt.

Articulation - Catwoman ***; Penguin **1/2
Catwoman has a great ball jointed neck, shoulders, elbows, hips and knees.  The lack of cut ankles or wrists was a little surprising, but not a major issue.  She stands fine on her own, and there's at least a few poses you can manage.

The Penguin isn't as lucky, and his lower score is again tied into the poorly planned pose.  He has neck, shoulder, elbow, wrists and waist.  However, he has such a tough time standing in any decent looking way, that the lack of lower body articulation really hurts.  With the pudgy body type, it's tough to give him much useful leg articulation, which is why the sculpted pose was so crucial.

UPDATE - after a reader from Big B Comics dropped me a note, I tried moving the rotund one forward and backward on his waist joint.  He does manage to tilt back some - but not nearly enough.  The leg and hip pose tilts too far forward to do much good.  Maybe you'll have better luck.

Value - *1/2
I'm not thrilled about spending $15 on a figure, even a specialty market release.  But I'm starting to tolerate it.  But I certainly wouldn't tolerate a single figure at $20.

So why would I tolerate a pair at $40?  I don't.  I bought this set because I'm a completist on Batman villains.  But even as a completist, I waited on the Super Friends sets til they came down in price on ebay.  These looked great in the package, but I wish I'd waited here as well.

Overall - Catwoman ***; Penguin **1/2
Even if you can rationalize the ridiculous price, both of these figures have some other issues.  The lean in the Penguins sculpt means he has a tough time standing, even with the stand, and you shouldn't have to fight the whip into Catwoman's hand.  Still, for the major Batman fan, it's unlikely you'll ever get a better version of these Silver Age characters.

Where to Buy - 
You should find a set at your local comic shop, but you might have a little trouble. That's because of the high price point - they've been burned by the other two packs from DC Direct.  They have lots of older sets still warming their shelves, so many shops are only ordering enough of these to cover their customers that preordered through Previews.  You might have better luck with one of the on-line shops:

- Alter Ego Comics has the set for $31, far better than the $40 most places are charging.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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