Parademons, Kalibak, Darkseid - Justice League
following is a guest review. The review
and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford
or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the
|Disneyboy checks in tonight with a
look at some recent Matty Collector JLU figures - take it away DB!
It’s pretty darn awesome that there are still Justice League Unlimited
action figures being made. Through several incarnations, the
Mattel line has delivered many fan-requested characters that Kenner’s
previous Batman and Superman lines never even touched. Most
recently, Mattel tried to cater to their JLU fans by releasing an
awesome Lobo figure online through their Mattycollector
website. Fans scooped up the 20 dollar figure and Mattel was
so impressed that they opted to release these guys through their
website as well – the Parademon two-pack and the Darkseid/Kalibak
two-pack. There’s a bit more to the story there (okay – a LOT
more), but before we get to that, let’s review ‘em!
I should probably say up front that I’m not a MOC collector.
I take my toys out of their boxes, and would probably feel better if
they were packaged in some bland, easily recyclable box with just the
basic information stamped on the front. For those of you who
like packaging, however, these look just fine. Both have
attractive images of the lead Leaguers and villains on their sides
without obstructing your view of the figures themselves. The
back of each box has screenshots of the characters and a small
explanation of what they’ve done in JLU episodes. In the case
of Darkseid and Kalibak, however, the little paragraph states that
Darkseid invaded earth (during the JLU series finale “Destroyer”) with
Kalibak in tow. In actuality, Kalibak never appears in the
episode. Small goof there.
Sculpting - Darkseid ****,
Parademons **, Kalibak ***1/2
Darkseid is a new version of Mattel’s original figure, which is fine
since it’s still one of the best sculpts in the line.
Essentially, they’ve added a glued-on shoulder piece, given him two new
hands (definitely a nice touch) and repainted the rest of the suit to
reflect his redesign in “Destroyer”. It works well, though
some might argue that his boots should be thicker, as they were
on-screen. A minor qualm over what is still a terrific figure
and unlike your usual Mattel JLU figure, he actually seems made of
decent plastic. Matty has a track record for making figures
with legs that bend like string cheese left in the sun.
Case in point – the parademons. They look pretty much
show-accurate, with great snarling faces and pointy claws…but try
holding one of these guys by their claws or wings and you’ll
immediately want to put them down. Though their torsos and
heads are firm, the extremities of these figures are not.
The demons’ sculpt is based on that of Mattel’s Etrigan
figure. I found the scale too small and squat for Etrigan
(especially when you consider how much larger he was in The New Batman
Adventures), but this size works better for the demons, who are
essentially attack dogs anyway. Credit must be given to the
work of customer extraordinaire Cason Pilliod (of Inanimate Objects),
who first resculpted Etrigan into a parademon several years ago, and
likely inspired this official Mattel version.
Though most of the Mattel figures are sculpted in “model sheet” poses
(standing at attention with their arms at their side), this doesn’t
work quite so well in the case of the demons, who are always seen in
full-on battle mode whenever they appear. You can’t really
pose these figures to look like they’re flying at Superman, or clawing
at the Flash with those tiny rabbit legs permanently bent.
They just sit there like gorillas resting on their knuckles, which is
unfortunate for such dynamic characters and bumps their sculpt down a
peg in my books.
Finally, the character we’ve all been waiting for – Kalibak.
Unlike his papa Darkseid, who was first made by Kenner and then remade
by Mattel, this bruiser makes his first Bruce Timm-styled appearance
ever in this 2 pack. I’m happy to report that he’s a sturdy
lug. No bendy extremities here, folks. You can pick
this guy up by his toes or his fingers, and they won’t bend.
Mattel definitely used a different plastic on him than on the demons,
which is good…but annoys me a little because I recently participated in
a Mattel Q&A, where I asked what it would take for them to use
stronger plastics across the board. Their answer:
“PVC 95 is the ‘hardest’ PVC we can use for JLU figures.” The
disparity between Kalibak and the parademons proves otherwise, in my
He’s also a rarity in the JLU line for having details sculpted onto his
body. Those dots are actually elevated and the Kirby design
work on his chest is also similarly raised. This figure is
almost like a small sculpture in that respect (much like
Lobo). Fans who have been waiting for this character since
the days of S:TAS will not be disappointed by the quality of this
sculpt. The only drawback is that it’s nearly impossible to
see his eyes until you tilt the character backwards. Given
that he’s not quite as tall as Darkseid – who he looks up to – it might
have been better for them to position his head a little further back on
her torso, or change the shape of his brow a little. Also,
his arms really don’t allow for him to appear as though he’s fighting.
Since that’s essentially all he ever does (like the demons), I feel
this holds the sculpt back.
I’m happy to report that none of these figs have any visible paint
blotches or smudges. The quality control at Mattel has
improved, at least in that department. (Although now that I
take another look at Darkseid, one of the white details on his boots
appears scratched. It’s possible that occurred while I was
- Darkseid ***1/2, Parademons *, Kalibak *
Darkseid was one of the few figures to get 10 points of articulation
(neck, shoulders, waist, elbows, legs and knees) back when Mattel
briefly considered going that route with all their JL
figures. The others in that wave didn’t turn out so well
because of loose joints, so unfortunately, the idea was
abandoned. This Darksied, unlike the first edition, has loose
joints in the crotch area. His legs wobble back and forth a
bit…but I still feel the 10 POA make this figure a standout.
Thanks to them, he can raise his hands in a threatening manner during
speeches, just like he would on the show, or twist to glance over his
shoulder. Heck, he can even break-dance if you want him
to! The shoulder piece and skirt do limit his pose-ability a
bit, but it’s a minor issue. You can do a lot with this
action figure, as it should be.
The parademons get the more standard 5 POA. Their heads spin
around, which makes for some fun Poltergeist-style poses, but should
you attempt to lift their arms, you run the risk of throwing off their
center of gravity. So, essentially, you can’t really do much
with these guys at all. Kalibak’s arms can be placed in
various positions because he’s overall much more sturdy, but like the
demons, rotating his legs serves no real purpose. Unless you
want it to look like Superman broke them, of course.
Kalibak’s massive head is also stuck firmly in place, so he’s limited
to 4 POA, two of which are essentially useless. It’s a shame
his arms weren’t sculpted more like his father’s, with a joint at the
elbow and one hand in a fist, at least.
The parademons on S:TAS often flew around with simple
blade-on-a-stick-like weapons. Would it have been so hard for
Mattel to sculpt one and include it in the pack for the demons to fight
over? More upsetting is the absence of Kalibak’s Beta club,
his trademark weapon in both the shows and comics. First
Mattel skimps out on including Lobo’s chain…now this. No
wonder Kalibak looks so mad!
- Double Demons *, Darkseid/Kalibak **
Here’s where things get nutty. Plain old nutty.
Apparently, Mattel was going to release a six-pack featuring Darkseid,
Kalibak, the two demons and Superman and a repainted Orion to Target
stores. Then, it was decided to cease production on
six-packs, and the exclusive figures were redistributed to fans via the
horrible shopping experience known as Mattycollector.com.
Previous six-packs, from what I’ve heard, ran somewhere in the 15-20
dollar range at Target stores. These two parademons, however,
cost a stunning 25 dollars, plus shipping and taxes. Told you
it got nutty. Fans have been clamoring for “army builder”
type figures in the JLU line, and these were ideal candidates…but
pricing two at 25+ bucks when a recent Target three-pack has Green
Lantern and two brand-new-sculpt Manhunters for 15 bucks just leaves a
bad taste in one’s mouth.
Those hoping to ease their credit card debt by taking advantage of
Matty’s Cyber Monday sale – which offered a discount of 10% for
purchases over a hundred dollars – were further infuriated when Matty
pulled these parademons from their site just days before the
sale. Now, they’ve done it again with
Darkseid/Kalibak. Mattel has responded to fan’s complaints
with their own – they’d expected both releases to sell out as quickly
as Lobo, and never had any intention of including them in an online
Perhaps the two-packs would have sold better if they’d been priced in
the 15-20 dollar range? Or included a third
parademon? Or a Desaad? No matter which way you cut
it, 25 bucks is steep. If things had gone as planned, you
would have been able to scoop all these figures up, plus two more, for
15-20 dollars at Target instead of 50 plus shipping. We all
applaud Mattel for making them and getting them out to the customers,
but the way they’ve done it has left everyone dissatisfied.
In a final painful twist, just this week at Toy Fair 2011, Mattel’s
“Toy Guru” announced that the JLU line is coming to and end in the next
twelve months, largely because the parademons didn’t sell
out. According to him, Mattel had hoped JLU would be as
successful online as their Masters of the Universe Classics brand,
which is an absurd expectation given how huge He-Man was in the 80s and
how JLU has been, by and large, a retail brand. So, there you
have the whole depressing story. Still glad we got the
Double Demons **, Darkseid/Kalibak ***
You’ll notice I scored the three figures separately even though they
came in two packages, so tallying up the points here is a bit
tricky. At the end of the day, I think the Darkseid/Kalibak
pack is a better value, because Kalibak looks so darn great and Mattel
really put some effort into making this new Darkseid worth picking
up. The demons are nice, but just not as well-made and
decidedly too pricey (and possibly cursed).
Where to Buy
These were all originally sold through Mattcollector.com. Now
you’ll have to browse eBay
or try to purchase them second-hand from collectors. Expect
to pay a little bit more.
This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer.
Photos and text by Disneyboy.