DC Universe Wave 3
Robin, Deathstroke, Green Lantern, Sinestro and Nightwing
(with a Grundy BAF!)

DC Universe series 3 action figures

There aren't too many lines hitting regular retail these days that excite me.  The Indy line I was so looking forward to turned out to be much like the movie - mediocre.  I've long since stopped buying 3 3/4" Star Wars.  I should be excited about Mattel's Movie Masters, but the ridiculous chase figure scalper bait they insisted on including sucked the joy right out of me. And the Marvel Legends figures?  It's been weeks since I reviewed the first four figures in the Hulk wave, and I have yet to find a She Hulk anywhere. My poor Foom is still headless.

Most of my thrills these days come from specialty market toys, and yes, that's as pathetic as it sounds.  But there's still one mass market line that turns on my lights - DC Universe.  Wave 3 has just started hitting stores, and miracle of miracles, I came up with a full set of the five figures this week.

The series consists of Green Lantern, Sinestro, Deathstroke, Robin, and Nightwing.  There are also the seemingly required variants, and this time it's a modern suit Sinestro (supposedly packed 50/50) and an unmasked Deathstroke (supposedly packed 70/30).  I haven't seen either of these in person yet, but I bet I find them both before I ever see that damn She Hulk.

These figures are running $11 a pop at Target, but I have one retailer at the end of the review who sells them for $10 each in a case.
DC Universe series 3 action figures

DC Universe series 3 action figures
DC Universe series 3 action figures
DC Universe series 3 action figures
DC Universe series 3 action figures
DC Universe series 3 action figures
DC Universe series 3 action figures
DC Universe series 3 action figures
DC Universe series 3 action figures
DC Universe series 3 action figures
DC Universe series 3 action figures
DC Universe series 3 action figures
DC Universe series 3 action figures
DC Universe series 3 action figures
DC Universe series 3 action figures
DC Universe series 3 action figures
DC Universe series 3 action figures

Packaging - ***1/2
I like this packaging more every wave. The graphics have a nice retro feel, the bubbles and cardbacks tend to withstand peg wear well, and I love the addition of personalized background info for each character.  Mass market packaging is rarely going to be as nice as specialty market packaging, but these come close.

Sculpting - Deathstroke ****; Green Lantern, Nightwing ***1/2; Robin  ***; Sinestro **1/2
Years ago, the guy (or girl) at Mattel that decided to work with the Four Horsemen hopefully got a promotion.  And now, any guy (or girl) at Mattel that suggests they end this relationship should have their head placed on a pike outside corporate headquarters as a warning to others.

Deathstroke is a fine example of the beauty that can be had in the DCU series. The detail work on the 'scaled' areas of his costume is amazing, as are the small belt pouches.  Tiny details that could have been paint alone, like the buckles or buttons, have been sculpted in.  And whenever you can pull off a sculpt that actually makes me interested in a character that I otherwise couldn't care less about...well, that's talent.  Some folks may find the boot tops too big, but I think they look terrific.  Others may not like the size of the scabbard, but hey - he's got a big ass sword, and when you have a big ass sword, you need a big ass scabbard (and all the ladies love ya). Deathstroke stands (quite nicely on his own) at almost 6 1/4" tall.

My next favorite is a toss up between Nightwing and Green Lantern.  Both if these figures use the large superhero chest, and both stand just over 6 1/4" tall. Both head sculpts are nicely done, but the hair sculpts really set them apart. Considering the scale, the detail in the hair is quite impressive.

Nightwing does have a bit of a wild 'do, but I think it works well on him, and the figure is a huge overall improvement over the old DC Superheroes version.  His hands are sculpted to hold his weapons but the fit is a little loose. Unlike the 13" version from DC Direct, the cuffs on his boots and gloves are not ridiculously oversized, though they do seem a bit high on his arms.

Like the small details on Deathstroke, the ring on GL could have simply been painted on, but instead is sculpted on his finger. His other hand holds the lantern well, and both he and Nightwing stand great on their own in plenty of poses. The sculpt does not overtly interfere with the articulation in any way.

Nice, but not as eye popping as the other three, is Robin.  There's still plenty of detail of course, but there's a few minor issues as well. 

Robin is a bit of a sticky wicket.  I like the head sculpt, and the hair is once again very well done.  Small details on the costume, like the buckles and pouches, look terrific, and I like the use of the much smaller body (he stands just over 5 1/2" tall).  But I had enough issues with him to still be slightly disappointed.

The cape is sculpted to run all the way up his neck to his jawline.  It looks good as a design, but in practice that means the ball jointed neck is no longer usable.  It also means that he looks like he has no neck at all, since his neck is quite short and just as wide as his head.  This, combined with the shorter body and thick chest make him look a tad stubby.

Another issue is around the ankles (and actually the knees too).  Because all these figures use a rather soft plastic, the joints and thinner areas tend to warp. Robin is the smallest of the bunch, so this issue was the greatest with him.

Finally, his left hand appears bigger than his right. You'd think it would be the other way around.  It actually looks like the left is scaled down to this new body, but the right is a hand that would be used on one of the larger scale figures.  It's not a huge difference, but it is Weird, and mildly annoying.

The obvious problem with Sinestro that's been beat to death, resuscitated, and beat to death again, is his height.  Clearly, he's too damn small.  In fact, it's not just that he's short, but that his entire body, from his chest to his ankles, uses the smaller, thinner body parts.  This is NOT the Robin body, but rather an all new body that comes in between Robin and the Heroes. Standing with the other figures, Sinestro looks tiny.  He clocks in at 6 inches tall, but he looks much smaller because his entire body is scaled down.

I understand their desire to make him a bit smaller than GL. Really, I do. But perhaps a better idea was to keep a relatively similar height but slim him down a bit. He does have custom potential (it's always nice for customizers to get another scale body in any line), but he's not going to be anyone's favorite out of this line up.

Paint - Deathstroke ***1/2; Nightwing, Sinestro ***; Green Lantern, Robin **1/2
Again leading the pack is Deathstroke, with the others falling in a distant second.

The Deathstroke has more detailing than the majority of the rest of this wave, and yet he has the least amount of slop.  Go figure.  I love the work on his scale material, and even the cut line down his face is pretty clean on extreme closeup. And yes, keep in mind that the photos to the left are extreme closeups - you won't be able to see nearly that level of detail in person, nor all the issues that go along with it.

One of the issues the other three figures have is around inconsistencies in the paint or color on various body parts.  This is clearly because different parts are made from varying densities of plastic.  The harder and softer pieces tend to take the color in different ways.  This is most notable on Robin and Nightwing from the cut thigh joint down, at least in person, and at least for me.

With Deathstroke, this isn't an issue.  It appears that for him, the slightly unusual color of his costume tends to mask the difference in finish. On the legs, Green Lantern actually appears to have a coat of matte black added to his upper thighs to make him look right.  This additional paint op is something the other three really needed as well.  Too bad this didn't help with the green of his costume.

Now, I can't really tell that the greens are different on GL in person, but I suspect this is due largely to my color blindness around green - I have a tough time telling different shades.  I can clearly see it in photos though, where the light brings out the different colors so well even Stevie Wonder could see it.  I doubt GL's differences will be as obvious to anyone in person as they are in photos, but I showed the figure to a couple folks and they could tell the difference.

The weird thing is that in photos Robin doesn't look bad, but for me in person, he has the biggest issues.  I suspect that's because his arms, torso, and legs have the yellow background behind them (the interior of the cape), making the differences in these various body parts that much more clear to the nekkid eye. Robin's thighs are much darker and shinier than his lower legs, and his torso is also quite different than his arms.  This is quite noticeable in person, and is the kind of thing that screams 'mass market toy'.

Nightwing and Sinestro aren't quite as bad, probably because the black doesn't make it quite as obvious as the red.  It's still an issue for me, and they really could have had a matte coat on their upper thighs, but I'll live.

They do have a few slop issues though, although not as bad on mine as I've seen in photos of other folk's figures.  All the Deathstroke's I've seen look pretty good, but there appears to be way too much inconsistency in the paint application for the other four.

Articulation - Deathstroke, Green Lantern, Nightwing ***1/2; Sinestro, Robin ***
If you're a fan of the line, you won't be surprised that they are well articulated. They haven't gone insane here, but they've got almost enough joints to be perfect.

Deathstroke sets the bar.  He has a good ball jointed neck with a reasonable range of movement, ball jointed shoulders with joints on both sides of the ball, pin elbows and knees (with fairly sturdy pins), a cut waist, cut wrists, cut thighs, ab-crunch chest, and even pin ankles.  The thighs are an improvement over the double jointed thighs we've seen in this line from the beginning.  They've improved the engineering so that not only do them move outward well, you can also bring the legs together more closely than in the past. Gone is that goofy wide stance we had forced on us with some of the wave 1 figures. Unless you like that goofy wide stance.

Not only does he have plenty of joints, I was able to get very natural looking and feeling poses out of him.  The joints are well engineered, and the boy hangs nicely.

Green Lantern and Nightwing mirror this articulation as well as my experience with it.  I honestly don't think there's anything Mattel HAS to add, although a half foot pin wouldn't be terrible.

Sinestro and Robin suffer a bit from the thinner joints, particularly at the knees. These pins seem very soft to me, and I'm concerned with damage over time.  Robin has the added problem of reduced mobility in the neck, which I mentioned earlier.

All five figures would have scored a half star higher in this category, if not for loose joints.  While the amount and design of the articulation pleases me, there were too many loose knees, ankles, elbows, etc. to get the top scores.

Accessories - Deathstroke ***1/2; Robin, Nightwing ***; Sinestro, GL **1/2
All of these figures contain a BAF part to build Solomon Grundy. I have a separate category for him next, but suffice to say that if you want the Grundy, it's a great addition to each figure. If you don't, then the part doesn't add much to your overall appreciation.

In case you were keeping score, Sinestro and GL come with legs, Robin and Deathstroke come with arms, and Nightwing comes with the huge torso/head.

For GL and Sinestro, their only other accessory is their specific lantern.  While they are fairly basic, the scale is pretty good, the sculpt reasonably accurate, and they fit nicely in their hands.  The handles are also articulated, and turn where they attach to the lantern body.

For Robin and Nightwing, there's even more.  Nightwing comes with his two batons, and these fit either in his hands or in the holder on his back.  The fit in his hands is a bit loose, but they work pretty well on his back.  Robin has a full sized staff, as well as two identical batarangs. These are fairly soft plastic, and I almost tore one taking him out of the package - take care.

Finally, there's Deathstroke.  He comes well armed, with a large sword (which fits in his scabbard), a large staff (which fits in the shoulder strap in back), a handgun (which fits in the holster), and a machine gun (which can hang around his shoulders on its strap). It's not just that he has all these goodies that makes me happy, but that they have a home someplace on his person. I'm particularly impressed with how well the pistol/holster combo works, since in even much larger scales it's often tough to get good working holsters. Another point to note is that they could have cheaped out and given both Robin and Deathstroke the same staff, but did not.

Technically, you could also rule the ammo belt/staff holder that wraps around Deathstroke's shoulders as an accessory, since it's very easy to remove.

All the accessories use a soft plastic, but it was the most annoying in the case of the machine gun.  It was heavily warped by the package, and feels like you could rip it in half far too easily.

Grundy - ***1/2
Once you have all five figures, you can pop old Grundy together.  I've always thought Grundy was a cool villain, but then it's probably his more zombie-like tendencies that attract me to him.

This Grundy is awfully nice, although I do have two major issues.  The sculpt is gorgeous, especially the work on the head and face, but he is too large.  GL is supposed to be about 6' 2" tall, and in a six inch scale this version is almost perfect at about 6 1/4".  Grundy is supposed to be a few inches over 8 feet tall, so in the same 6" scale, he should be a bit over 8" tall, right around 8 1/4" in fact.  Instead, this Grundy is almost 9" tall, with all the bulk and volume that goes with a figure that big.  He dwarfs the other figures, and would actually look much more at home with the DCD 7" scale figures.

But if I'm given a choice between too big and too small, I'll pick too big any day. I'd include a male genitalia joke here, but I've already used up my quota.

The other issue that is actually more of a problem for me is the paint work.  Like the smaller figures, Mattel mixed and matched body parts that are dyed plastic vs painted plastic.  For example, Grundy's upper thighs and lower pant leg are painted with brownish color to simulate dirt.  But the section of his pants between the thigh cut and the knee joint is not, leaving it much shinier and cleaner. Similar issues exist on the arms and torso as well. These inconsistencies adversely effect what would otherwise be a four star build-a-figure.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
If you have kids looking for fun action figures, these are them.  Figures like Deathstroke and Robin are perfect for kids (even if they have no idea who DS is), and Grundy makes a great villain in any toy box.

The only reason they didn't get four stars is because of some of the slightly loose joints and weak pins.

Value - Deathstroke ***; Robin, Nightwing **1/2; GL, Sinestro **
At $11 each, they aren't cheap any more. And with figures like GL and Sinestro, where the only add ins are the BAF parts and the lanterns, you really are getting a weak value.

However, Robin and Nightwing add in a couple more accessories each, making them at least an average value on today's market.  Best of all, Deathstroke has not one or two but FOUR weapons of personal destruction, along with his BAF piece. How often do you get that many accessories with a superhero (villain) these days at this price?

Things To Watch Out For
You'll always want the best paint you can find of course, which might be tricky considering a) Mattel's troubles with distribution and b) the wild inconsistency in quality.

Once you manage to find them, take some care as you're pulling them out of the trays, due to the soft plastic of the accessories and some of the knees.

Overall - Deathstroke ****; Nightwing ***1/2; Robin, Green Lantern ***; Sinestro **1/2
This wave is a bit of a mixed bag, with one amazing figure bookended by a couple pretty mediocre attempts.

Deathstroke is easily my favorite, although the character means almost nothing to me. For that to happen, they really had to produce a winner, and from sculpt to articulation to accessories, I think they did.

Nightwing is damn close too. Robin and GL would have ended up in this same league had it not been for the inconsistencies in the suit colors and weird right hand, and if that's not something that bothers you, your overall appreciation of these two is likely to be higher than mine.

Finally, there's poor Sinestro.  Just like Deathstroke, he's not a character I am particularly excited about.  But unlike Deathstroke, Mattel did nothing with the figure to change that attitude.  I waffled around a lot on Sinestro, but in the end he's likely to be the one most folks end up passing on.

Overall it's a solid wave, with one fantastic figure, a couple solid figures, and a couple on the fence.  At $11 a pop, Mattel needs to work on getting the QC issues eradicated.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpting - Deathstroke ****; Green Lantern, Nightwing ***1/2; Robin  ***; Sinestro **1/2
Paint - Deathstroke ***1/2; Nightwing, Sinestro ***; Green Lantern, Robin **1/2
Articulation - Deathstroke, Green Lantern, Nightwing ***1/2; Sinestro, Robin ***
Grundy - ***1/2
Accessories - Deathstroke ***1/2; Robin, Nightwing ***; Sinestro, GL **1/2
Fun Factor - ***
Value - Deathstroke ***; Robin, Nightwing **1/2; GL, Sinestro **
Overall - Deathstroke ****; Nightwing ***1/2; Robin, Green Lantern ***; Sinestro **1/2

Where to Buy -
I found my set at Target, but some online retailers are carrying them as well:

- YouBuyNow has the singles for pre-order at $17 each, and the variants at $20.

- CornerStoreComics sells cases of 6 for $60.

-  You can also use the sponsor MyAuctionLinks to search ebay.

Related Links -
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.  If you're looking for reviews of some of the other figures in the earlier series of DC Superheroes:

- 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

- don't forget the 12" version of the smaller Batman, and the 12" Cyborg Superman.

- 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. 

- there's the guest review of series 3 Batman and Azrael.

- a guest review of series 2 Doomsday, and another of the series 2 Superman.

- 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.

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

Reader Ratings!
Here's your chance to weigh in! Select your rating for this figure(s) to the right. Yea, it's a five star system and not a four star system like mine, but it's the best I've been able to come up with so far. You can only rate once from any particular IP. It's a little tougher to do a straight comparison here with one overall score, since the figures scored in a wider range, but if I were forced to grade this wave as a single entity, I'd go *** out of **** overall, so for comparison, my Overall Score adjusted to a five star system would be: 3.75



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DC Universe series 3 action figures

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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