DC Superheroes
Bruce Wayne to Batman and Clayface

Okay, I've been whining about not finding DCSH stuff anywhere.  And that hasn't changed - I still haven't seen Two Face, Batgirl, Catwoman, Nightwing or Clayface on the pegs any where around here.  And trust me, I'm looking.

But a very kind reader and friend, Travis, was nice enough to snag these two figures for me, and boy am I glad he did.

This wave is usually referred to as the 'Clayface' wave, because that's the figure everyone has been looking forward to.  Oh sure, there's the Bruce to Bats figure along with Catwoman, Nightwing, the black and gray Batman, and the Joker mixed in there too.  But Clayface is the one everyone is drooling over.  Ever since the prototype sculpts from the Four Horsemen were shown, folks have been anticipating his release.

Smart people actually ordered these from online retailers.  I didn't, because generally the online retailers get stiffed when it comes to the assortments and shipments of mass market toys.  It looks like that isn't the case, at least not for this series, and because I actually learn from my mistakes, I've preordered the new DC Universe figures that Mattel is doing online.

If you're luckier than me, you can find these guys at either Toys R Us or Target.  Expect to pay around $10 each.

Packaging - **1/2
They've stuck with the same package for this wave, and while I'm not leaping for joy over the general design, it does the job.  It's not the easiest thing in the world for MOCers to store, but at least the full length bubble on the front of the card makes it less likely to suffer from shelf or storage damage.

Sculpting - Clayface ****; Bruce ***1/2
We all know that the Four Horsemen do amazing work.  One of the best moves Mattel has made in the last decade is using them for lines where there might be collector interest along with the kid market.  Their work on the DC Superheroes has produced several exceptional figures to date.

But I have to say that I think Clayface is their crowning achievement in this line, and they'll have to work awfully hard to top him.  The head sculpt is somewhat generic to the character, not necessarily based on any one specific version.  And yet, it manages to convey the character better than any other version done to date.

The head sculpt is fantastic, with just the right expression and detail.  The articulation and sculpt work together extremely well, and even though this figure is very top heavy and has relatively tiny feet, he stands great on his own.

Let's talk about the arms for a minute.  They are made from a rubbery material that's probably more silicone than rubber.  The sculpt here is a bit softer, which isn't surprising due to the softer material.  Yet it's not as soft as it might have been, and does a nice job of both matching up with the rest of the body, and giving a ton of expressiveness to the overall appearance.  Adding the dangerous looking rocks protruding from the back of his right hand/arm was genius, and they avoided over doing the concept.  The sculpted hand positions are just about perfect, and will look appropriate in tons of poses.

The Batman isn't quite as exciting, but at least in the sculpt department, is still solid work.  We've seen the cowled head before, since it's the same general appearance he's had in most of his DCSH Batman incarnations.  The sculpted Bruce head has some nice detail within the constraints of the style of the series, and while the body is simple, it uses that simplicity well.

Bruce's head goes down inside his chest on a spring, and the cowled head snaps on over it.  All the Bat armor is actually removable, and yet when he's wearing it, it still looks tight and appropriate.  That's rare for one of these transforming figures, and they pulled it off better here than in the past.

He does suffer from having the head sculpted a little too far forward on the shoulders, and the plainness of the underlying Bruce figure might not be everyone's cup of tea.  He stands great on his own, and his hands work weill with accessories, and I'm betting that this basic body underneath is going to result in some pretty cool customs.

Scale-wise, both figures fit in with the rest of the line.  Clayface stands 7 inches tall, while Batman is about 6.5".

Paint - Clayface ***1/2; Batman **1/2
The use of the different material for the body and arms results in the most common problem in this situation - a slightly different color.  You won't be able to see it in normal lighting as easily, but bright light always brings this stuff out.

The beauty with Clayface is that it's more acceptable - he's clay!  An inconsistent color to the clay that makes up his body is actually sensible, and done correctly, makes him more realistic in appearance, not less.  You can tell that they actually went for that variation in the body, and it worked pretty well.

So the half star lost here has very little to do with the arm color, and more to do with just some basic slop.  It's not extreme, and for a mass market toy is actually extremely good, hence the well above average score.

Bruce doesn't fair nearly as well, and is much more in line with the usual, average mass market job.  The underlying basic suit has some texturing in the paint and a bit of a metallic look, but does Bruce actually own a metallic colored sweater vest?  Let's hope not.

There's some gloppiness to the paint, with dust particles (and some bigger junk) stuck here and there.  I also have a few scratches on mine right out of the package.  All this adds up to a pretty average mass market application.

Articulation - Clayface ****; Batman **
Rarely do I see something that surprises me, at least in a good way. Bad surprises seem to still be in out there, but good surprises are so very few.

Clayface is one of those good surprises, especially his articulation.  I had a pretty good hunch that the sculpt would kick all brands of butt, based on the prototype sculpt.  But when it comes to the articulation, you can never really be positive til the thing is in your hands.

Mattel has managed to make an extremely well articulated version of a character that doesn't really lend himself to articulation in the first place.  Most other companies would have simply said "Well, he's a fat, lumpy guy - there's no way we can make him very poseable!" and threw in a few cut joints and be done with it.  I don't know who is responsible for designing the final articulation, but whomever it was, they deserve a bonus.  Or at least a hug.

Clayface has a ball jointed neck, and even with the sculpted shoulders that seem tight to his face, this joint has a terrific range of movement.  He also has ball jointed shoulders and hips, which work much better than you'd expect as well.  I've mentioned the rubbery bendable arms, but I haven't mentioned how fantastic the bendy articulation is.  It's hard to explain, but these are the very best bendy appendages I have ever seen.  The internal skeleton is stiff yet smooth.  You can bend the arms in just about any way, and they hold that pose perfectly.  Even better, they tend not to bend oddly.  One of the common issues with bendy arms and legs is that they bend at weird angles, or at places that limbs shouldn't bend.  These arms seem to naturally bend at the shoulders, elbows and wrists, and while it's still possible to bend them at weird spots along the arm, you have to really work at it to screw up the appearance.

His chest joint allows him to tilt back and forward, and the cut waist works well.  There's single pin knees too, and even ball jointed ankles.  The ankles and knees are fairly tight, which is important to keeping the heavy body standing.

Bruce doesn't fair as well again.  He has wait is really the standard articulation for the Batman figures in this line.  A few have had more, but most of them have been fairly static.

Bruce lacks a cut neck, due to the spring action that allows his head to drop into the chest.  The shoulders are cut joints, as are the wrists and waist.  He has single pin knees and ankles, along with T hips, and that's it.

This type of figure really needs ball jointed shoulders and pin elbows.  Without them, his arm poses are extremely limited.  I can live with the articulation below the waist being a bit lackluster, but I really miss the arm joints.

Accessories - Batman ***1/2; Clayface *
If you're looking for a bunch of accessories, Clayface isn't the man.  He does have one of the backdrops, and it's a different city scene than Bruce's.

These diorama's go together easily enough, and make for nice photo backdrops...but I don't know that I'll ever use them on the shelf.

Bruce has plenty of goodies though, since his whole outfit is removable.  He comes with his funky looking grappling gun and flashlight doohickey, which you'll toss in a box.  He has the upper piece of armor that includes the cowled head, chest armor, and cloth cape.  The cape needs to be a bit longer, but I'm glad they went with cloth here.

The gauntlets, belt and boots all come attached in the package, but all of them are removable.  To get the boots off the first time, you'll need to take a knife and pop them free.  Look at the clips on the side to see which way is the proper way to lift them apart.  The paint might make them a bit sticky, so be gentle with him that first time.  And yes, there's a sex joke in there, but I'm much to classy to make it.

Fun Factor - Clayface ****; Batman ***
Any kid will have a TON of fun with Clayface.  The arms work great, and he's just such a well done, menacing villain for any figures in a 6" (or even 5") line.

Batman might have some issues with paint and articulation, but he's still a pretty fun figure.  The well designed armor is going to give kids something to do, but they might have trouble getting the boots off, at least the first time.

Value - Clayface ***; Batman **
These guys run $10 each.  While they did a nice job with the Bruce to Bats change, he's still not really a $10 figure.  At $8 you'd be hitting the sweet spot.

Clayface is a solid buy though, even without any accessories.  The arms couldn't have been cheap to produce like this, but they've now ruined me for any other bendy work.

Things to Watch Out For - 
Not much.  Take some care popping the boots off Bats the first time, and you might want to turn the gauntlets completely around before pulling them off over the hands.  I don't think the hands are supposed to come off the arms - I sure wasn't going to pull on them til they did.

I had no issues with Clayface, and of course we'll all be worried about whether the arms last or not.  They do seem more silicone than rubber though, and silicone tends to hold up much better.

Overall - Clayface ****; Batman ***
Clayface is going down as one of, if not THE, best figure for this year.  I love this guy, and it's so nice to see such a terrific rendition of a Batman villain. You'd think that after getting hundreds of action figures based on Batman over the years, they couldn't come up with something new, and yet they've created the definitive figure of this character.

It's worth noting that his arms might stink up your house after you initially open the package.  Don't worry, this dissipates after awhile.

Batman isn't quite as exciting, but how could he be? While this guy has issues with paint and articulation, he does have one of the best secret identiy to superhero transformation features that I've ever seen.  That's because the armor is well designed and fits him tightly, yet when it's removed the underlying figure is relatively normal looking.  I expect to see this base figure end up in all kinds of DCSH customs.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpt - Clayface ****; Batman ***1/2
Paint - Clayface ***1/2; Batman **1/2
Articulation - Clayface ****; Batman **
Accessories - Batman ***1/2; Clayface Bupkis
Fun Factor - Clayface ****; Batman ***
Value -  Clayface ***; Batman **
Overall - Clayface ****; Batman ***

Where to Buy -
Online Sponsors include:

- CornerStoreComics and Amazing Toyz has mixes of 6 figures for about $58.

Related Links -
I've reviewed quite a few figures from the series:

- last up was Mongul, who is also one of the best figures this year.

- before that was the Parasite and Steel

- don't forget the 12" version of the smaller Batman.

- 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.


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Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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