History of the DC Universe

Batman History of the DC Universe action figure by DC Direct

One of the series that piqued my interest at this summer's San Diego Comic Con was the "History of the DC Universe" from DC Direct. It's been awhile since I picked up many (any) DCD action figures, but there was some interesting variety to the new series, with a promise of more articulation and a ton of classic characters.

The title comes from the two issue comic book of the same name, illustrated by George Perez. After the Crisis on Infinite Earths, they put out this summary of what the history and landscape of the new world of DC looked like.  It only took a couple months for much of it to become invalid, but they tried.

The series is very tempting, because it is intended to span a wide range of characters in a single style and scale, something DCD has had a little trouble with in the past.

The first wave of figures hit a couple weeks ago, and included Green Arrow, Blue Devil, Manhunter and Batman, who I'm reviewing tonight.  The next wave of four should hit in September, and includes the Creeper, Aquaman, Flash and Black Lightning.

Like most DC Direct product, you should be able to pick these up at your local comic shop, but the price you pay can vary pretty widely.  You might get lucky and find them as cheap as $15 each, or pay as much as $18 or even $19.

Packaging - ***
There's nothing exceptional about the packaging, but the celestial theme that was present in the book is repeated here for consistency. The package is even a bit collector friendly. Cut the tape holding the plastic flaps on the sides and bottom, and you can remove the inner tray without completely destroying the cardback. There's a few annoying twisties of course, but we've come to begrudgingly accept their inevitability, much like reality television.
Batman History of the DC Universe action figure by DC Direct
Batman History of the DC Universe action figure by DC Direct
Batman History of the DC Universe action figure by DC Direct
Batman History of the DC Universe action figure by DC Direct
Batman History of the DC Universe action figure by DC Direct
Batman History of the DC Universe action figure by DC Direct

Sculpt - **1/2
If you're a fan of Perez' artwork, then you won't be disappointed with the general style of this figure. They've done a decent job of capturing the look, particularly what you saw back in books like Batman Year 3. There are some minor quibbles - I think the ears are a little too long, and the bat symbol on his chest is a bit too small - but you'll know just by looking at the figure who's artwork it's based on. As long as you're a big enough bat-nerd, of course.

My issues are with other aspects. Starting with the head, I'm not keen on the set of the mouth. While the eyes and cowl are set in a grimace, the mouth isn't quite there. It's not quite a wry smile either, so he ends up looking a bit like a mouth breather with very white teeth. They should have kept the same shape, but closed the lips.

The cape is made from a very thick, heavy rubber, and makes it tough for poor Bats to remain upright. Even with the pathetic stand, he still tends to topple over. I don't mind rubber capes, but they need to be thin (or less dense) to avoid this problem.

The overall body sculpt is good, with the exception of the oversized hands. I don't remember big hands being a Perez standard, so that is probably not a defense. The right hand is sculpted in a very specific gripping pose, although he comes with no accessory that he can hold with this hand. The left is a more traditional fist.

The very smooth parts, along with the slightly glossy look, does make these look more toyish than the usual DCD figure. Compare it to something like the Batman and Son Batman, and you might see what I mean.

The figure stands about 6 3/4" tall without the ears, making him a little too short compared to some past DCD lines (but dead on with others - we all know the problems they've had with scale). It also makes him a little too big to go with Marvel Legends and DCUC figures, but not so much that it's a huge issue. I'm not going to deduct any for scale at this point, because this line is really it's own beast, and I'm hoping to see the future waves remain true to this size. If they do, it will make for a great looking overall display. Just don't expect that you can cherry pick a few characters here and there and they'll fit in perfectly with other lines. They might, they might's going to depend on the character.

Paint - ***
This is a specialty market figure with the price point that goes with it. You expect zero slop, and that's pretty much what you get.

There's a little around the eyes, and the cut line between the cowl and face could be a bit cleaner, but it's pretty much in line with normal expectations.  The symbol is on straight, and even the tough yellow color of the belt is consistent and covers well.

The glossy nature of the plastic and paint might not be to your liking (it's a little too much for me), but fans of the blue and gray costume will be happy enough.

Articulation - **1/2
Perhaps my biggest disappointment here is in the articulation. It's not that they didn't throw enough at the figure, but that it's poorly thought out and engineered.

The one shining star is the ball jointed neck. It works quite well, even with the cape and cowl, and adds plenty of personality to any pose.

The ball jointed shoulders with the post bicep are fairly standard, and these work well enough. There's also pin elbows and knees, also pretty standard.

There's also cut wrists, cut forearms, cut shins and a cut waist, all pretty unusual for DCD. There's a forward and back swivel at the torso, and T style hips.

Clearly, someone told somebody that these figures needed more articulation than the standard DCD figure. Unfortunately, not a lot of thought seems to have been put into what they really meant.

The pluses are the ball neck, cut wrists, ball shoulders and cut waist. The pin elbows are decent, but the pin knees, cut forearms, swivel chest and cut shins are pretty much a complete waste, since there's little you can do with them to improve or gain any new poses.

The T hips restrict the legs just like always, and make the knees and shins moot. With all this articulation, about the only decent pose I could get was standing straight up with his arms in a couple different positions. I could have succeeded in doing that with far fewer joints, and had a better looking figure without them as well.

The lesson to be learned here - add articulation to improve posability. If it doesn't do that, then don't do it.

Accessories - *
I almost gave him a bupkis here, but he does have his stand. It's only big enough to fit under one foot though, forcing him to stand at a slight lean. It helps a little with the heavy cape...a little.

Fun Factor - **1/2
Kids could actually have a lot of fun with this figure if he could stand better on his own. It's always a frustration for kids when they can't keep a figure upright - how can you knock him down again?

Value - **
While some aspects of this figure are higher quality than DCUC (slightly better plastic, slightly more consistent paint), the overall effect is one of a lesser value. For $11 or $12 I can get a better articulated figure in the DCUC line that includes cool accessories and a BAF piece. For $5 - $7 more, I get...not much.

Things To Watch Out For
You'll want to watch the paint if you're picking them off the shelf, but that's about it.

Overall - **1/2
I can almost hear the conversation at DCD now. Sales have dipped over the last couple years, and its due in part to DCUC. Why are collector's buying them? Must be character selection and articulation (very true), so let's do the same thing! Unfortunately, the articulation angle ends up a major fail.

I'd really like this line to be outstanding, because getting s consistent scale, high quality, well articulated, wide ranging line from DCD would be the dream of many collectors. Unfortunately, from the limited look I've taken so far, I'm not feeling the love.  I'll be picking up some more though, including the Creeper in the next wave, and this might be one of those situations where the positives of the larger whole (having a huge group of DC figures in a similar style) outweighs the negatives of the individuals.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - **1/2
Paint -  ***
Articulation - **1/2
Accessories - *
Fun Factor - **1/2
Value - **
Overall - **1/2

Where to Buy -
If your LCS is either too expensive or out, you have online options:

- Entertainment Earth has a great price on the single Batman at just $15.31, and the set of four is $60.

- Urban Collector has wave 1 (four figures) for $50.

- Alter Ego Comics has the full wave for $56.

- Things From Another World has the Batman figure for $18, as well as the other singles.

- YouBuyNow has the single for $18, and the set for $68.

- Mike's Comics and Stuff has the set for $60.

Related Links -
Some other related items:

- DCD did a great Black and White statue of a George Perez designed Batman as well.

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Batman History of the DC Universe action figure by DC Direct

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

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