The Flash, Kid, and a Couple of Rogues

Hi there! My name is Dan, and I am the guest reviewer this time around. I currently hail from Mobile, AL, although some of you may know from the RTM/RTAF newsgroup back when I posted regularly as dapeck. In any case, I want to thank Michael for this opportunity, since I have been dying to do a review....

DC Direct can no longer be called "new" to the toy field, but I am relatively new to them. While I absolutely *love* DC characters and cherish my Super Powers and Batman figures--one thing has kept me away: price. If these suckers were set at a price point between $5 and $10, I'd probably have them all. As it is I have 2 deluxe sets and 6 single figures.

One of the things I really love about the DC characters are the villains--especially the ones that came up in the Silver Age. There is something about the cheesy design of Count Vertigo that I find much more appealing than the cheesy design of Kang. Care to take a guess which figure convinced me to buy my first DC Direct figure?

While the Hawks tempted me big time, and I did ultimately cave to them as well, the figure that set me into DC Direct territory was.... Ares. A beautiful rendering of a beautiful George Perez design!

As a current JSA fan, my goal was to set up a JSA set....but my inability to find the Golden Age Green Lantern or Flash at this stage of the game squashed that I figured I would stop there...until I saw the prototypes for Captain Cold and Mirror Master. I saw those and loved that they were actually making figures of them--I had to have them, which then meant I had to have the Flash! What you'll find here is a double review: one score for Flash and Kid Flash (F/KF) *and* a second score for the Flash's Rogues Gallery: Captain Cold and Mirror Master (CC/MM).

Articulation - FF/KF***,CC/MM**
With the Flashes, DC tried. Articulation for both includes a swivel at the neck, ball socket shoulders, elbow, hips, and knees. The neck swivel is nice, but far too limited in range to be fully effective. While the hip joints look like they would be ball joints--they aren't, which is disappointing

The biggest problem here is the lack of ankle joints. I know some will disagree, but I usually find knee joints to be pretty useless without ankles joints since people usually don't bend their legs with the foot at a perfect 90 degree angle. Since the Flashes are running it works a little better here than on most, but still the addition of ankle joints would have gone a long, long way. It is very difficult to pose either Flash in a running position without the Cosmic Treadmill.

The Rogues are far less poseable with simple shoulders, legs, elbows, knees and neck joints--although they do include wrist joints. Since these fellas don't run, they are a perfect example of how knee joints are useless without ankle joints. Cold's stance works fine as it is, but it would have been nice to be able to alter the way Mirror Master stands.

Paint - FF/KF***1/2, CC/MM**1/2
The paint ops on all four figures is good, but they really stand out on the Flashes. With flesh on red and yellow on red, the Flashes were a recipe for disaster, but overall they came off without a hitch. The faces could have been a little less peach colored, but overall the paint is great--especially on the insignias.

One problem is with the shininess of the plastic. It is very noticeable when you stand a Flash next to a flat-toned figure such as Hawkman and really makes the figure look more like a piece of plastic than a sculpture. This knocked the Flashes from 4 stars to 3 1/2 stars.

Once again the Rogues don't live up to their counterparts. If you look at the prototype for Captain Cold, you see a pretty dramatic difference--all because of one change. While the sculpt didn't change, the white on the costume is far less bright than on the prototype. It looks as though they added a gray wash to the white areas to help the folds stand out....a nice idea, but it just doesn't work. Instead, it looks like they just didn't apply enough white paint.

Mirror Master's paint is ok, but not great. The orange seems a little pale and stands out as clearly being paint. I'm not sure why they decided to paint orange over green, rather than the other way around....

Similarly, the face color looks very fake and seems like they had to use a thick layer to make it cover the green---again, why not paint green over flesh tone plastic?

Packaging - F/KF ***1/2,CC/MM**
The Flash and Kid Flash come in a nice little window box. The box is made of rather thin cardstock, and seems like it would easily dent. The graphics are very attractive, if a bit plain. For once the yellow stripe works since the package colors are already yellow and red. A nice touch also is the placement of the Flashes inside a cut out of the Flash insignia. Perhaps the nicest part of the whole package is the ability to reuse the package. There are twist-ties only around the treadmill, and the figures are easy to get in and out of the package.

The Rogues Gallery figures are set against a backdrop of a bank. While I like the concept--this use of realistic photos just doesn't look right and is not an eye-appealing presentation. I would have much preferred a simple drawing of the characters in action against the Flash--or even a background of the Flash insignia. You have to give DC credit for trying, but when you compare the boxed set without a photo with the Rogues with the photo--you realize which looks better! Also, the bubbles are simple rectangles with a lot of empty space. Boring!

One final note: one thing I *really* like is that the cardbacks on all these figures give you the name of the sculptor. I think that is a wonderful idea that I have not seen very often.

Sculpting - F/KF****, CC/MM***1/2
The sculpting on all of these figures is very good, and certainly one of the strong points of DC Direct in general.

Starting with the Flashes, these are really near-perfect sculpts. The bodies are proportioned well, not too-beefy and of a "realistic" nature--rather than the comic-booky style of Max Mercury and Impulse. I am much more of a fan of the realistic style, and only wish al the speedsters were this way.

One especially nice touch is the sculpt on the insignia--on both Flashes the lightning bolt is actually raised above the white circle and painted separately. This attention makes the symbol really stand out, rather than looking like a printed symbol as with previously released Flash figures.

The Flash also has a great sculpt where the legs join the crotch--most figures look "boxy" here which really distracts from the realism. With Flash, there is a nice curve--very appropriate for a runner! Kid Flash unfortunately suffers from the more typical box=crotch fate.

The downside here is that both Flashes are sculpted in pulses that really look best standing still. Yes they have enough articulation to put them in running poses, but they don't look quite right running. In addition, I am just not a big fan of the Flash's head sculpt--it's not bad, just a little odd. Sculptor Tim Bruckner really did a great job with these.

Now lets move to the Rogues. Captain Cold is particularly cool. While a simple sculpt, there is a great deal of detail in the folds of the costume and the fur in the trim. I love the separately sculpted eye piece and the stance of Captain Cold is a realistic pose--not standing straight up, but poised to aim his gun. CC is a 4, but ol' Mirror Master drags the score down.

Mirror Master is a good sculpt--just not great. The legs are in too wide of a stance and the head sculpt is just a little too cartoony. Considering the character design is pretty plain here, sculptor Derek Miller did a pretty good job.

In terms of scale, the Flash and Kid Flash are very much in scale with each other and Hawkman (see below), but seem a little small against the Rogues--especially Mirror Master. The pose that MM is in also makes him seem even bigger than he is!

Accessories - FF/KF***,CC/MM*
The Flashes come with 2 accessories. The first is a nice little replica of the ring Flash uses to carry his costume in. A very cool idea, it is big enough for an adult to wear and even includes a clasp that you can open to see a little sculpt of a Flash costume--just like in the silver age comics.

The second is the "Cosmic Treadmill"--something I remember well from the Crisis on Infinite Earths. It is a great sculpt, and even includes a nice clear clip to connect a leg to the treadmill in a running pose, but is this thing supposed to be pink and purple?!?! uggh.

While these are nice accessories, I want to know why they did not include two of the Flash stands included with the other Speedsters....Only one Flash fits on the treadmill at a time, and it would have been nice to have the stands for use in a group display. Heck, they already have the suckers molded! As mentioned above, it is very difficult to pose these fellas in a running mode, and the stands would have gone a long way towards that.

Here the Rogues *really* lose out. Cold has a nice gun, but it is rather small and doesn't even fit in his closed holster. What I REALLY would have liked to see is a few clear plastic ice accessories: a few ice spears or balls, or a cool little stand that you could stick a Flash in to simulate being "caught" in ice.

Mirror Master has a gun which, in my opinion, blows. It has 4 "mirrors" sticking out of it--but since they used metallic paint, they really don't look like mirrors at all. Plus, why not regular mirrors? How about a couple of palm-sized mirrors for the Master? Sigh.

Value - F/KF*1/2,**1/2CC/MM
As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, DC Direct's biggest problem lies in value. Individual figures would be great values at $6.99, and more appropriately priced at $7.99-$9.99. Instead, they run $12-18 typically, usually on the higher end of that range. The two packs are an even worse value in general, since they typically run $35 -$49--usually more than the price of two single-pack figures. I am going to base my Value score on the typical price for these: $15.99 and $35.99.

I got my Rogues at the $11.99 pre-sell price at New Force Comics, which is a little better....but still too much. When you look at these suckers in their empty bubbles, they cry out to be cheaper.

I have trouble weighing the Flash pack because the figures are very well done sculpts, but I really didn't even want the Kid Flash figure. The yellow and red version sculpted as well as this one, sure--but a mini version of the Flash is just not something I really ever wanted--and I think that is true for most folks.

Overall - FF/KF***1/2, CC/MM**1/2
Overall these are all really great figures in terms of sheer quality. The plastic quality is solid, the sculpting is great, and the paint-jobs pretty good on all 4 of the figures. I am really stoked to have figures of the Mirror Master and Captain Cold--figures I never would have thought would see the light of day just 2 years ago, and the Flash and Kid Flash are both just about as well done as they could possibly be. Thus, with the quality of the characters and the execution, these scores should be pretty high. But when you throw in that factor of cost......well, we see why I am not a DC Direct completist.

Where to Buy:
Local comic retailers are the only place to go other than on-line. Since comics dealers in my town are pretty hard to deal with, I chose on-line. New Force Comics has the best overall prices I've seen on the internet, and are the only ones I have bought from, so I cannot comment on the others. I believe the current price is around $33 for the 2-pack and $13 for the singles.They are also really good on shipping costs: I got the 2-pack, both Rogues, and 2 other figures shipped in a large sturdy box for just $5.50. It is worth saving up your purchases to ship in bulk!

New Force Comics.


Figures from the collection of Dan Peck

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