SHOWCASE PRESENTS: SERIES 1
Intro by The Rev.
It's hard to believe that it was almost year ago -- ten months ago, to be exact -- that my colleague Jim Beard and I were exclusively made aware of one of the more historically ambitious action figure lines in DC Direct's ten-year history. The paint was barely dry on the Karen Palinko sculpts before Georg Brewer, Vice President of Design & Retail Product Development for DC Comics, was gracious enough to share with us the first four of what we hope is many more figures based on the publisher's Showcase Presents trade paperbacks. They were never described this way in any official capacity, but DC Direct's Showcase Presents action figure line is almost like the next generation in First Appearance figures. While not strictly based on certain characters' first comic book appearance in this instance, it can be argued that in almost every occasion that the figures are based off the designs of the artists most identified with putting them on the map. Just hitting comic book shops in June, the figures are a well-balanced assortment of DC's finest from the 1950s, 60s and 70s.
Superman: I've read a lot of divisive rumblings over this figure since it was previewed last summer. Some fans feel that it is a questionable at best representation of the art of THE Superman artist of the last century, Curt Swan. Wanna know what I think? That DC Direct could conceivably produce more than one figure based on Swan's take on the Man of Steel. This figure, to me, represents roughly the first decade or so that Swan illustrated Superman's adventures, nothing more. Great for some, disappointing for others, I favor the former. I actually think this opens the door for a Superman figure or two that embodies the character more in the 1970s as a GBC anchorman through Alan Moore's 1986 masterpiece, "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow." This figure is definitely on the barrel-chested stockier side, but that apparently wasn't a deterrent at my Chicago-area retailer as their entire order didn't even have a chance to fly off the shelves as they never even made it to display before selling out completely. In terms of scale, it's more comparable to the "Last Son" figure than the Silver Age version from 2001. Of the four figures released, Superman leads in the amount of unique and quirky accessories. Featuring three alternative heads (and two of those having the hands to go with them), the wackier instances when the Silver Age Superman was exposed to Red Kryptonite are available for old school fans to utilize. Cheers to anyone with enough cash and shelf space that they could get more than one Superman to indulge even more in this cool series of accessories.
Jonah Hex: That we get this figure at all is a triumph in the era of all things Superman and Batman, but I do have to say that this is as good as any of the fringe figures we've gotten since the early days of DC Direct (i.e. Enemy Ace; Vertigo characters like Preacher, Death, Swamp Thing, Sandman). The relative success of this character's series, going on three years running now, speaks to its inclusion among the likes of Batgirl and Superman. DC Direct was wise to play it straight with Jonah Hex here, just base it off of virtually any Jonah Hex book from the 1970s, especially the works of quintessential artist and co-creator of the character, Tony DeZuniga. The gunslinger's hat, not surprisingly, is removable, the only thing I wish is that it fit a little lower on the figure's head. He also comes with two six-shooters that easily fit in both hands. An excellent all-around action figure that captures the spirit of this very non-powered, non-costumed DC Western comics icon.
Hawkman: When it's all said and done, this was my favorite of the bunch, and I dug them all. Based off the Silver Age reinvention of the character by writer Gardner Fox and artistic scholar and educator, Joe Kubert, this figure to me is the one they most "got right" in terms of replicating an artist's distinctive style for a three-dimensional action figure. I missed it in subsequent solicitations, so it was a pleasant surprise in more ways than one that this Hawkman is packaged without his mask on to show off Carter Hall's (Katar Hol, to the Thanagarians out there) unique facial characteristics by way of Kubert. They nailed Carter's coif perfectly, along with the wingless helmet to sit atop it, and I so appreciated the extra detail in the paint work on the Winged Wonder's red shorts inspired by Kubert's pencil and inks. You have to love that DC Direct rarely if ever reuses the wings for their various versions of Hawkman and Hawkgirl, and it looks like they held to that here. As is the case for all of the figures, the articulation is kept to basics, but it's refreshing, since they are so clearly basing the figure designs off the work of specific artists, that they stuck with basic poses allowing them all to stand the best. That can't always be said for the figures inspired by the artistry of Alex Ross and Jim Lee.
And I brought in "guest critic," feature regular Kirk Cekada, in to offer his take on the new Batgirl from this series...
I purchased the Silver Age Batgirl/Joker two-pack a few years back -- even though that sculpt seemed to portray Babs more as the young teen she was on Batman: The Animated Series than the full-grown woman she was in the Silver Age comics. So I was quite pleased when the Showcase Presents figure was announced – and even more pleased when I first saw the final product.
First of all, I love the packaging. The Showcase Presents line seems to be somewhat of a deluxe concept -- and the custom packaging is an indication of that. I'm very pleased that DCD chose the illustration of Batgirl from her first cover appearance -- and not the campy depiction from the actual Showcase Presents: Batgirl volume. It's also a nice bit of nostalgia for those of us who remember the Mego line of the 1970s -- as this was the illustration featured on the back of that line's Batgirl figure. The sculpt is flawless in its portrayal of Carmine Infantino's original design of the character. The facial expression and the costume details are perfect, although I would have preferred a more vibrant shade of red for the hair.
As a non-opener (for now), I can't comment on articulation, but I must confess disappointment with scale. The size of the figure pretty much guarantees that Batgirl must be posed alone. If you're a huge Barbara Gordon fan like me, that's not a deal-breaker. On the other hand, if you were planning on posing this version with the Silver Age Batman/Robin set -- forget it! Even worse, the figure is too large to fit with DCD's current modern age scale. At this point, I can only hope for Showcase Presents versions of the Dynamic Duo and/or Catwoman (as shown facing off against Batgirl on Batman #197). So compliments to the sculptor Karen Palinko, but Boo to final production for not correcting the size.
And now, a brief look at a couple of press releases (and picture, above) for a Wizard World Chicago Exclusive . . .
From the Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THE SCREAM FACTORY DEBUTS MASSIVE LIMITED EDITION
BUMP STATUE AT WIZARD WORLD CHICAGO 2008
THE SCREAM FACTORY will be appearing at Wizard World Chicago, June 26-29 in booth 933, and will unveil a truly unique, amazingly massive and EXTREMELY limited collectible!
The ‘Treehugger’ statue is based on the monstrous characters from the hit mini-series BUMP, featuring a terrifying three dimensional recreation of one of the cannibalistic minions of supernatural serial killer Eddie Dill, shown in all its bloody glory.
The statue was sculpted, cast, individually hand-painted and completely produced by Special Effects legend Robert Kurtzman and his 'Creature Crew' effects team (who also handle the special effects for the film), based on designs from BUMP creator Mark Kidwell. The piece is an imposing 22" tall by 12" wide and 12" deep, and features a scalp with real hair!
This is a Wizard World Chicago 2008 debut, and is available in EXTREMELY limited quantities. These are not "mass-produced" works, Every statue has been completely hand-crafted by Kurtzman and his team in preparation for the film’s special effects sequences.
GO HERO AND BLUEWATER COMICS JOIN FORCES TO CREATE TOY LINE
Go Hero and Bluewater Productions are boarding a ship and setting forth to discover all new collectibles of MYTHIC PROPORTIONS! Take up your swords and grab your guns, as you venture into uncharted worlds of fantasy and science fiction, starring the iconic characters of visionary master Ray Harryhausen and the Bluewater universe! The collectibles and apparel are based off of Bluewater’s titles as well as the "Ray Harryhausen Presents" series.
Bluewater unearths the beloved stories, heroes, and monsters including Vincent Price, Perseus in "Wrath of the Titans", "Sinbad: Rogue of Mars", "Jason and the Argonauts: Kingdom of Hades", "Back to Mysterious Island", "20 Million Miles More", "Flying Saucers VS. the Earth" , "10th Muse", "Isis" and more!!!
The all new voyages begin with:
1:6 Sinbad w/ Homunculos - from Sinbad "Rogue of Mars" & "Merchant of Ages"
1:6 Perseus w/ Bubo - from "Wrath of the Titans"
1:6 Skeleton Warrior- from Jason and the Argonauts: Kingdom of Hades
1:6 Cyclops - from "Wrath of the Titans" (Think about it…yes, that bad boy is HUGE!)
1:6 10th Muse - from "10th Muse"
1:6 Isis - from "Legend of Isis"
All new collectibles and apparel abound from the inspiration of Ray Harryhausen, the secret lab
of Go Hero, and the pages of Bluewater’s Comics! On top of the Harryhausen properties look for collectibles on other Bluewater titles such as "10th Muse" and "Legend of Isis." For news on apparel, more collectibles, comics, sneak peeks, and exclusives, visit: www.gohero.com and www.bluewaterprod.com
"I am so excited to be teaming up with Go Hero on these. This partnership is going to be really amazing. I have seen what they have done with the Buck Rogers figure and can't wait to see the final products on the Bluewater universe." - Darren G. Davis, Bluewater Comics publisher.
“I am thrilled to be teaming up with Darren and Bluewater, another company who strives to pay homage to the best of fantasy and sci-fi! Ray Harryhausen is a genuine national treasure and shaped my love for monsters, heroes, and superb character design. Ray Harryhausen has defined the cinematic visions of the greatest tales, myths, and legends. It is a dream to be able to reverently partake in this iconic institution.” - Steve Forde, Go Hero owner and designer.
The prototype of the Sinbad figure will be available for viewing this weekend at Wizard World Chiacgo in the Go Hero booth. Learn more about the fantastic worlds of Ray Harryhausen at www.rayharryhausen.com
That’s all for now, kids. See you soon with the latest of your favorite icons of plastic.