DC Direct Looney Tunes Series 1
The Scarlet Pumpernickel and 
What's Opera Doc?

As a kid, my favorite cartoons were the Looney Tunes.  I related the most to Daffy Duck, and always considered Bugs a bit of a smart ass.  There were plenty of other cartoons to watch, but none had the intelligence, violence, and good old fun of the Looney Tunes.

We've gotten our fair share of action figures over the years, although none have been spectacular.  DC Direct picked up the license last year, and showed off some very cool concepts at SDCC.  Now the first series is hitting stores, but are they all they could be?  Let's see!

This first series includes four figures, with a pair each matching up to form a scene from a classic cartoon.  There's Bugs and Elmer from "What's Opera Doc?", and Sylvester and Daffy from "The Scarlet Pumpernickel".  You can buy the figures individually and display them on their own, or pick up the pairs and put them together to form various scenes from the old episodes.

You can find these for $10 - $15 each, depending on the retailer.  Your local comic shop may have ordered them (they came in last week), or you can try one of the online options I have listed below.  These won't be hitting major retailers.

Packaging -  ***1/2
Oh my God - mark this date down.  I actually really, really like a DC Direct package!  They aren't perfect, but the good outweighs the bad, and shows real progress.

The packages aren't collector friendly of course, with lots of twisties and tape.  Oh, you could probably fight the figures back into the package if you really had to, but the effort isn't probably worth the reward.

However, the colors, graphics and text are fantastic.  On the back are various photos of the figures in poses just like the cartoon, and there's some great, detailed text on the specific episode in question.  Nice work!

On the downside, the package for Sylvester and Daffy lies, never a good idea.  It claims they come with extra arms, and they most certainly do not.  Elmer and Bugs do, but not Daffy and Sylvester.  Some of the photos of Elmer also show him with the legs swapped around, and had they actually been the other way, posing him on the stand would have been much easier.

Sculpting - Elmer, Sylvester, Daffy ***1/2; Bugs ***
Most kids know who Bugs, Daffy and other Looney Tunes characters are.  The cartoons still run on television, and since they've hit DVD, parents that group up loving them are sharing them with their children.

But let's not be silly here - they aren't Spongebob, Dora, or Jimmy Neutron.  The cartoon selection that kids have today is amazing, and cartoons designed for their generation are going to be what they gravitate towards, especially when it comes to licensed goodies. 

That's why Warner Brothers teamed up with DC Direct to go with a smart idea - develop a specialty market nostalgia line of figures.  These aren't intended for kids, but rather for the millions of adults that loved these cartoons as kids, and would like to have them displayed on a shelf in their classic episodes.

The concept is to go with some of the best known, most loved episodes, and produce the best known figures in beloved costumes.  This first series pairs Daffy and Sylvester from one of my favorites as a kid, The Scarlet Pumpernickel, and Bugs and Elmer from another golden oldie, What's Opera Doc?

I'm not at all surprised with either of these choices.  What's Opera Doc? is considered by many to be the greatest work of animation ever produced by Warner Brothers, and the high point of Chuck Jones' career.  It also has two very trademark looks for both Elmer and Daffy, easily recognizable by just about anyone.

While the Scarlet Pumpernickel isn't quite so critically acclaimed, it did star almost all the series regulars minus Bugs, and was a great vehicle for both Daffy and Sylvester.  It's one of my favorites, since I've always loved Zorro, Robin Hood, and other hero stories.

Finally, on to the actual sculpts.  These are done very pre-posed, although they have more articulation than you'd expect.  All the sculpts are drawn right from the episodes, and are designed to give you dynamic, interesting displays.

Sylvester's action pose looks good, and the head sculpt is excellent.  Both his and Daffy's expressions are wonderful, and playing the pair together looks great.  Unfortunately, the length and style of Daffy's cape interferes with your ability to get him to stand on his own, and should have been designed with that in mind.  You can still manage it, but it does detract slightly from the overall sculpt.

Elmer is another top notch piece of work, caught in mid-song, early in the cartoon before he figures out Bugs ain't quite who he says he is.  That makes sense since Bugs is sculpted still in disguise, wearing the head piece and golden tresses.  Again, the expressions are wonderful, with just the right amount of detail, and great internal proportions.  The sizes of heads to arms to legs to torsos is right on, making them appear like they just stepped out of the cartoons.

There are a few issues, like seams.  On several of the characters, especially on Daffy's head and Bugs' nose, the seams have gaps, making them quite apparent.  Other seams, like those on the torso's of Elmer and Sylvester, are a little more obvious than I'd like.  Still, the highlight for me across this entire line is the overall quality of the sculpts.

The scale of these figures to each other is quite good as well, although Daffy seems a smidge large.  That might just be my perception though, as these guys tended to vary in size slightly with relation to each other from cartoon to cartoon.  Bugs is the tallest, since he's upright and Sylvester is not, at 5.5 inches.

Paint - Elmer ***1/2; Bugs ***; Sylvester, Daffy **1/2
DC Direct has paint quality issues on their superhero figures for years.  They've just started to make improvements there over the last year (although there's still been a set back or two), but they'll need to focus that same attention on this line for future series.

There's enough slop to be annoying and obvious, in places like the band on Sylvester's hat, and there was some of the most inconsistency in colors here that I've seen in some time.  The blue of Sylvester's tunic, the dark blue of Daffy's tunic, the colors of their hats, and several other areas had very inconsistent colors, with some splotchiness and even thicker areas of paint.

Elmer had the fewest issues in my set, and his face looks extremely even and clean.  Bugs was pretty good too, especially with the wider variety of colors.  It was really Sylvester and Daffy that had the most trouble, but if this is anything like DC Direct's earlier issues with paint, it's going to be inconsistent across the entire run.

Articulation - **1/2
These are really intended to create scenes, and don't have a ton of articulation.  However, they aren't just straight statues either, and the amount they have might surprise you.

Sylvester has a waist joint, cut ankles, cut wrists, cut neck, and ball jointed shoulders.  The arm articulation is the most helpful for posing, but the waist and feet joints are critical to get him to stand on his own, especially in the hat.  Oops - and let's not forget the cut tail!  It actually helps to turn it upward to push the cape out of the way if you plan on having him wear the scabbard.

Daffy has a cut neck, cut wrists, cut waist, T crotch, cut ankles, and ball jointed shoulders with limited movement.  He's not going to take a lot of poses, and just getting him to stand is a real trick.

Bugs has a ball jointed neck, with a pretty good range of movement.  That's nice, since those seductive head tilts were so important to this cross dressing rabbit.  He also has ball jointed shoulders, cut wrists, a cut waist and a T crotch.  Since he comes with a second set of arms, they pop off at the ends of the sleeves, but these aren't articulation points.  They use sorta square pegs to hold them in place, so the arm can't turn at that point.

The same is true for Elmer, who has swappable arms.  He has a cut neck, cut waist, T crotch, cut ankles and ball jointed shoulders.  To bring his hands together in front and actually claps the hands requires putting a lot of strain on the arm pegs, but it can be done.

Of the four, Elmer stands the best on his own.  Once you find the exact spot to get his feet, legs and torso, he'll stay standing without any trouble.  Sylvester is next, but you really need to twist his legs to the left to get his center of gravity over the front leg, especially if you plan on having him wear the hat.  Check out the last photo for an example.  Both Daffy and Bugs can stand, but you'll have to get things *just* right, and then don't bump the shelf.

Be careful with many of the joints.  Mine were painted tight on just about every figure, especially wrists and ankles.  I managed to free them all but one ankle on Sylvester, which snapped and had to be glued.

Accessories - Bugs, Daffy ***1/2; Elmer, Sylvester ***
There's a nice healthy assortment of accessories, but there were a couple minor issues in the execution.

Bugs comes with the display base, with an attachable backdrop and lounge chair.  All the bases come with the cardboard backdrop, with two scenes from the cartoon printed on it, one on either side.  The backdrops fit nicely, and the one for Bugs works particularly well.  All the figures also come with a small easel, and the title card from their specific episode.  In the case of Bugs and Elmer, it's What's Opera Doc?, and in the case of Daffy and Sylvester, it's the Scarlet Pumpernickel.

Bugs also has swappable arms, which work fairly well.  It gives him four pretty distinct looks, and they go on and off easily without being loose.

All four bases have peg holes, as does one foot of each character.  However, there are no pegs included.  I'm not sure if they just forgot, but you'll have to dig up some of your extras from other DC Direct figures.  They really do need them to stay stable.

EDIT:  I've just heard from a reader that he found clear plastic pegs inside his package, taped to the inner tray.  I sure couldn't find any, but keep a very careful eye out for them!

Elmer also has the backdrop/display base, and his has two peg holes to place Elmer.  One is down on the grass, while the other is up on the rock.  You'll need to dig up one of those extra pegs to get the high ground location to work.

Elmer is one of two of the figures - the other being Sylvester - in which the base is simply too small for both him AND the background card.  You can finagle it if you try hard enough, but the horns of his helmet are always going to hit it, and in 99% of the positions will make it impossible for him to stand on the base.  Again, with lots of adjusting of the waist and legs, you can manage it, but the execution on the bases just wasn't as good as the concept.  This inability to really use the bases as intended hurts their two scores the most in this category.

Elmer also has his spear and his lightening bolt, which eventually struck Bugs dead from the skies.  The bolt doesn't really fit in his hands, but the spear does.  It's a tight fit, and you'll want to slide it in slowly to avoid snapping it, but it does fit.  A little soapy water will help get it in place if it feels too tight.

There's a little reuse when it comes to Daffy and Sylvester, but since it's sensible to the particular episode, it's forgivable.  Both have the same sword (and these fit easily in their hands), the same candle, and both have identical bases of course.  Both sides of their cards are printed to match up, but are not identical.  They also both have the same title card and easel.

Sylvester also comes with a  knife for his other hand, a scabbard for his sword which fits in a hole on the left side of his hip, his very cool hat, and his little buddy, Henery Hawk.  The chicken hawk comes with his own hat, a quill pen that fits in his right hand, and his roll of paper that can fit in his left hand, but not particularly well.  I had to carve out the excess paint to get it to work, and even then it's pretty iffy.  Henery Hawk is articulated at the shoulders and neck, but he has a very tough time standing up.  If I used the extra long right arm to support him, he stands (even with the hat), but if you place that arm in the air at all, you'll have to lean him against something.

I mentioned that Sylvester's hat was cool - that's because the feather is flocked with a soft red material.  It gives is a feather like appearance while remaining solid.

While both Daffy and Sylvester lack the extra arms advertised on their packages, Daffy has something not mentioned.  He comes with the 'ye little Olympic high jumper'.  This is a pin inside a yellow box.  The pin is a separate removable piece, and is a great little touch.

Daffy also comes with his hat, and the heroin of the story, Melissa.  Like Henery, she's articulated at the shoulders, but lacks the hawk's neck joint. The arms can either be up in a scream pose, or down on the hips in any angry pose.

Daffy's hat fits nicely on his head, as does Sylvester's, and doesn't through him off balance quite as much.

It's worth noting that all the bases open up.  I thought they just might not have been glued in the case of Bugs', Daffy and Sylvester, and it was a happy coincidence, until I noticed that there's a tray engineered into the base of Elmer as well.  It's handy for storing the extra accessories.

Fun Factor - **1/2
These aren't intended as toys, and the various issues I had (not standing up well, weak joints, easy to break accessories) will just be frustrating for most kids.

But for the 'big kids' that fondly remember these toons, they make a great shelf piece.

Value - ***
I bought the full set and only paid $10 for these, which even with the issues is a solid price.  Great toys with lots of accessories on the specialty market for a ten spot are getting few and far between.  If you pay $12 or more each though, drop another half star here.

Things to watch out for - 
Far too many, I'm afraid.  Watch out for those tight ankles and wrists, because you can easily break the peg when twisting them.  Be careful fitting the spear into Elmer's hand, because the plastic is stiff enough to snap on you.  And make sure you have the pegs lined up correctly on the swappable arms to avoid damaging the pegs.  You shouldn't have to force them!

EDIT:  As mentioned earlier, a sharp eyed reader found some clear plastic pegs taped to the inside tray.  Watch for them!

Overall -  Elmer ***1/2; Bugs, Sylvester, Daffy ***
In the package, I was almost sure they'd be four star figures.  Once I had them out though, some disappointment set in.

I love the poses, and I love the show selections, and the sculpting is mighty fine.  There's more articulation than I expected, and the accessories stack up nicely.

That being said, shooting these was an exercise in frustration.  Without the foot pegs (I did dig up some extras eventually, but I can't believe they forgot to include them), they topple over at the slightest move.  The mismatch of size between Sylvester and Elmer and their bases was frustrating.  And minor quality issues like the gap on Bugs' nose or the sloppy paint work peeved me off.  These could have been fantastic, but ended up just good.

Daffy was a tough one for me.  He almost squeaked into the ***1/2 range because I just love the character so much, and this was one of my favorite episodes. But that damn cape kept getting in the way, and getting him to pose standing up on his own and still have the cape at a reasonable angle got to be too much of an annoyance issue.

Of the four, Elmer is my favorite.  That's odd, since he's not my favorite character (I believe I mentioned Daffy), and of the two episodes, I prefer the Scarlet Pumpernickel.  But in everything in life, it's all about execution, and they executed almost flawlessly on Elmer. I can almost here him singing "Kill the Wabbit!  Kill the Wabbit!"  BTW, for your daily dose of trivia, did you know this short was one of the very few times that Elmer actual beat Bugs?

They've already announced plans for two more series, and they have some terrific choices in the mix.  I'm hoping we see them work out some of the quality issues, because if they do, this line will rank in my top five of the year.

Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - Elmer, Sylvester, Daffy ***1/2; Bugs ***
Paint - Elmer ***1/2; Bugs ***; Sylvester, Daffy **1/2
Articulation - ***
Accessories - ***
Fun Factor - **1/2
Value - ***
Overall -  Elmer ***1/2; Bugs, Sylvester, Daffy ***

Where to Buy -
Your local comic shop may have stocked them last week, or you can try one of these Sponsors:

- Alter Ego Comics sells the full set for $40.

- CornerStoreComics has the full set for $44, or the singles for $12 each.

- Amazing Toyz has the singles for $12 each, or the set for $44.

- Time and Space Toys has the full set of four for $60.

Related Links:
Amazingly enough, although there have been a handful of toys based on the cartoons, I've never reviewed a single one.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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