DC Minimates Series 1
Batman and OMAC, Star Sapphire and Green Lantern,
Superman and Lex Luthor, Harley and Joker

It's been a long time coming. Ever since the very first block mini-figures hit the pegs, DC fans were wondering where the love was for their favorite characters. Art Asylum took a shot at it with their C3 line, but you had to buy Lego-like building sets that could be quite expensive to get the DC block figures. This extra cost forced many collectors to pass them up, but a year or so ago, the announcement of DC mini-mates was great news. It's been a bumpy start though, with the figures getting pushed back quite a bit from the original plan. 

The a friend of mine (and probably yours) had a hand in designing these -  Matt Cauley, better known as Iron-Cow. It's great to see someone with so much talent, and who's a nice guy to boot, making it big. The first wave includes four two packs - Joker and Harley, Supes and Lex Luthor, Batman and OMAC, and Green Lantern with Star Sapphire. The sets shipped to comic shops this week, and run around $7 - $8 for each two pack.

If you're looking for longevity, this line had the first five waves announced, covering a ton of characters. They are also not going with the annoying variant concept that the Marvel minimates beat into the ground. I'm going to review these as two packs, rather than individual figures, since you have to purchase them that way, but you'll get the general idea of which individual figures are the best.

Packaging - **1/2
The packaging is rather bland, but that's not a huge surprise coming from DC Direct, where packaging tends to be as simplistic as possible in most cases. These are a bubble/cardback design, and the graphics and text are all identical, with no character personalization. The only thing that distinguishes one set from another is the name sticker on the bottom front of the bubble. I prefer the boxes we have gotten with the Marvel mini-mates, but these packages are servicable.

Sculpting - Batman, Lex, Joker, Harley, OMAC ***1/2, Superman, Green Lantern ***; Star **1/2
There has to be a disclaimer when ever you discuss anything about block figures - if you don't like the basic design, the basic theme, the basic concept, then you aren't going to like these. If you're comparing them to realistically sculpted, large scale action figures, you're going to be disappointed. But if you like the basic design of block figures, you'll be far happier with these.

All eight look terrific, and there's more sculpting detail here than we've seen in most instances with mini-mates. For example, the Joker's coat has epaulets on the shoulders, a nice collar in back, and even a sculpted fold on the bottom left, as though the wind is blowing the back of the jacket. The cowls on characters like Batman, Harley, and OMAC are entirely one piece, including the faces, and they fits over the head underneath. That makes the face and ears much smoother than had they tried to have the face underneath (which is there as well) show through. If you don't believe there's more small detail sculpt work here than in the majority of the Marvel line up, look no further than Batman's utility belt. 

There's more small detail sculpting in areas like the gloves and boots as well, especially with Lex Luthor. Lines and patterns that COULD have been simply painted on have actually been sculpted in, really improving the overall look of the figure. Lex is the best example of this, with nice work on his boots, gloves and armor, but Harley sports some cool add ons as well, and OMAC has completely unique upper legs, with hips that wrap around the torso on the sides. Another nice detail is the sculpted hanging cowl on the back of Batman.  Oh, it doesn't quite look right if you're paying attention when he has the cowl on, but it works great for the cowl off look with the included hair.

If there's one figure that left me a tad cold, it's Sapphire.  Her hair and mask allow the face underneath to show through, and that hair is mighty big.  There's something about the huge looking head with the poofy hair that just doesn't do it for me.

These are done in scale with the Marvel mini-mates, so you'll be able to add them to your comic book based block figure display and they'll blend right in. Now you can have Batman battle Magneto, and the Joker have a drink with Iron Man.  The parts are swappable as well for the most part, with the exception of some of the hair.  The characters that have hear or masks also have a hole in the top of their head, with a matching peg in the hair/masks.  Characters like Lex, who do not have anything on their head, do not have a hole, so swapping around any hair on him is out of the question.

Paint - ***1/2
The paint work on these is quite good for the scale, and the tempo printing/painting is outstanding. There's still a little slop in some areas, like the thin lines on the Joker's pants, or the small details on Lex's armor, but considering the scale and price point, they're surprisingly well done.

And just like the sculpt, the paint ops have increased over the average Marvel minimate. Figures like Lex and the Joker are very colorful with some very fine details, and even characters like OMAC and Superman, who are pretty standard in terms of color, have excellent work on they're small symbols. OMAC is a translucent blue, which looks terrific in person. And yes, Supes has his trademark "S" on the back of his cape as well.  

Articulation - ***
The box proclaims "the world's greatest heroes crammed into a 2 inch body with 14 points of articulation". Let's see if we can come up with the 14 points.

There's the neck joint of course, which is really a ball joint. The hips and shoulders are also ball joints, but they aren't going to give you a huge range of movement out from the body. There's pin knees and pin elbows, along with cut wrists and cut ankles. Oh, and don't forget the cut waist - that's 14! That's about as good as you can get in this scale, and the joints are generally well done.   I did have some issues getting them to stand at times, and the pins in the knees and ankles can be a little weak on some figures, so it's always a good idea to take some care freeing them up right out of the package, They're sturdy enough in general for regular play however, similar to other mass market block figures.

Accessories - Harley/Joker ***1/2; Batman/OMAC ***; Superman/Lex Luthor,GL/Star Sapphire **
One of the greatest annoyances with most minimates is the lack of accessories. With all the cool little goodies that could be included, it's always disappointing to get next to nothing.

In this first wave of DC minimates, that doesn't appear to be an issue. Superman and Lex are a little light, with just a hunk of Kryptonite between them. The Green Lantern and Star Sapphire also only have one accessory, the lantern. It's a bit bigger and more substantial than the hunk of Kryptonite though.

Batman and OMAC have several items, including a regular set of translucent hands for OMAC, a hair piece for an unmasked Bruce, and a pair of bat-cuffs for capturing the bad guys.

Harley and the Joker take the prize in this category, with four cool accessories between them. Harley has an extra set of hair, for an unmasked (blonde with a pig tail!) appearance, along with a big clown-like mallet. The Joker has his trademark gun with 'bang' sign sticking out of the barrel, and his classic cane with the sculpted gold top.

I'm probably the most surprised - and pleased - by the inclusion of all these goodies with the figures. I hadn't expected it, based on the past history of minimates, and I certainly hope we'll see it continue.

Fun Factor - ****
These are great for kids - they can fit in with Legos, other mini-mates, or even Mega-bloks to some degree. Kids don't worry about scale as much as adults do, and they'll have no problem having Batman board their pirate ship to battle Davy Jones.

The articulation, scale and style will be a big hit with the under 8 crowd, but with only a specialty market release, it's up to you to get these into a deserving kids hands.

Value - **1/2
At mass retail, mini-mates have been around $6 a pair. These are running around $7 - $8 a pair, depending on where you pick them up. Since these aren't seeing a mass release, but rather a specialty store release, where prices are always going to be slightly higher. The price point is pretty average in this market, and certainly not much of a surprise.

Things to Watch Out For - 
Not a thing, other than keeping the cat from eating those small parts.

Overall - Harley, Joker, Batman, Lex Luthor ***1/2; Superman, Green Lantern ***; Sapphire **1/2
Now, if you've looked at the photos, and read the review, and are thinking to yourself 'Yea, but they're dumb ass little block figures', then it's a pretty safe bet that these aren't the product for you. But if you love horses, it's not fair to say cow's suck because they aren't horses. These are cows, not horses. They aren't 7", highly detailed and uber realistic little plastic statues. They're toys designed to be fun and a bit quirky, but the issues of quality still remain. And I'm here to tell you that the quality is excellent. If you love cows, these are a mighty fine heifer.

And if when I said "loves horses", your mind went someplace else entirely, shame on you, you pervert.

If you look at these on a more individual basis, I think that Harley and the Joker are easily my two favorites, and it's great that they come as a set.  My least favorite is obviously Star Sapphire, but the GL figure is good enough to overcome any second thoughts around picking up the two pack.

Score Recap:
Packaging - **1/2
Sculpt -  Batman, Lex, Joker, Harley, OMAC ***1/2, Superman, Green Lantern ***; Star **1/2
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - ***
Accessories - Harley/Joker ***1/2; Batman/OMAC ***; Superman/Lex Luthor,GL/Star Sapphire **
Value -  **1/2
Fun Factor - ****
Overall - Harley, Joker, Batman, Lex Luthor, OMAC ***1/2; Superman, Green Lantern ***; Sapphire **1/2

Where to Buy -
Comic shops got these in just this week. Online options include:

- CornerStoreComics has the set for $28, or the two packs for $7.50.

- Alter Ego has the full set for $29.74.

- YouBuyNow has the individual two packs for $7.50 each.

- for the U.K. readers, Forbidden Planet has the two packs for about 8 pounds each.

Related Links -
Check out the C3 stuff as well:

- here's some of the C3 mini-flyers, along with reviews of the mini-Javelin with Flash and the Martian Manhunter, and the Chemical Warehouse set with Batman and Joker.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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