Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I can't even have an action figure.

I ordered a set of toys. I wanted the DC Animated Universe Kyle Rayner, who came in a set that included an animated-style Katma Tui (which you all know I wanted the second I realized it existed) and an Arkkis Chummuck. I got the set in the mail and opened them to find that there was a small clear plastic stand with a peg and the DC logo imprinted on it.

A single display stand.

In a set of 3 figures.

Interestingly enough, my John Stewart, Kilowog, and Tomar Re set had not come with a stand at all.

Figuring the major character was the one to be displayed, I flipped Kyle over and looked at his feet. Neither left nor right had a hole for the display stand's peg. I picked up Arkkis, a character I never had much interest in, because he was closer and checked his feet. No hole. I found the hole in Katma's right foot.

It seems that the manufacturer (whatever mysterious division of Mattel and/or DC Comics is in charge of fucking up the female action figures, I don't keep track of such matters) felt that the only toy that needed help standing was Katma. So I tried and sure enough the only toy that will not stand on its own is Katma Tui.

Can anyone hazard a guess why that is?

Give up?

High. Fucking. Heels.

I suppose I wouldn't mind the high-heeled action figures if they could find a way to make them stand up with the high heels. But look there! They even filled in the plastic between the heel and the ball of the foot, and she still doesn't stand on her own. They know the toy can't stand with feet like that. That's why the stand is there. They prepared for the toy not to stand like that. But they didn't fix the design of the toy so that it doesn't need a fucking stand!

Would it fucking kill them to give her flat feet? What's the harm in giving a female action figure sensible boots? Wasn't in the original costume design? Its a toy, for fuck's sake! Its not like you're using a sharpie to put eyebrows on the Mona Lisa here. This is something to play with. Adding a little practicality would be a plus in this department.

Maybe this is not all in the heels. Maybe there's a way to redesign the body so she's poseable and has the high heels. You might have to make less spiky heels, thicker feet and legs, less of an hourglass figure, and an overall sturdier figure but it can be done.

But no, its more important that she look all pretty and feminine than be able to fucking stand up!

As it is, I now have to set up a little clay planet for all of them to stand in if I want to make a scene or a diorama (because that stand doesn't work unless everyone has one).


Oh, and as long as I'm talking about these figures -- why the hell can I make out the line over Kyle's belly-button? That's a strange detail to throw on an animated-style action figure. Was that muscle area visible in the cartoon?


  1. Yeah, I have all 6 of those JLU GLs on my desk at work and I agree. As cute as it is to have figures of some fairly obscure characters, the no-frills JLU molds are almost always crappy and ridiculous. Kilowog can't stand unless you position him in a permanent pelvic thrust. Although I think Katma's problem is that her legs are on their way to a full split, moreso than the heels.

    Add to that the laughably small body on Kilowog, Chummuck's undersized head, and the fact that most of the Power Rings are simply dots of paint on a fist, and you don't have much in the way of awesome.

    Still, they'd get my $10 all over again if they did a Salaak / Arisia / Guy set.

  2. Damn sexist Chinese toymakers!

  3. I think if you fiddle around with the Katma figure you'll be able to get her to stand on her own. I've got the Zatanna figure and finally got her to stand on her own. Maybe put her in hot water for a minute and gently squeeze her legs to get them to stand better.
    As far as Kyle's belly button, all the DCAU figures share the same body with minor re-tooling. I think he shares the same body as the Flash.

  4. My favorite part of that set is the box. They spelled Kyle's last name "Raynor." That's some respect right there.

    I'm surprised you didn't say more about Katma's outfit. Shouldn't she like, wear more green? And shouldn't she be pink?

  5. Pink? Katma is red, the same shade of red as Sinestro. In this photo she looks more African-American.

    I've never had an action figure that would stand by itself. The best I can say for some of them is that they can be balanced upright.

    Obviously, Katma can't stand because her heels are round. Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week.

    My head begins to hurt when I try to identify the generations of unreality we're dealing with here. A toy representation of an animated design adaptation of a character created for comics. You're luckyy you can tell who she's supposed to be.

  6. Like everyone else has said, it's a common problem with the JLU figures - all of the female figures since the Superman/Green Arrow/Black Canary set have included those stands because their feet are too damn tiny to stand up (since Mattel is re-using the same three or four body molds for most of the line). This is compounded by the rest of the line's engineering problem.

  7. I ordered a bunch on clear plastic stands from the Spawn store and I use those for all my figures. I also drill a new hole in one of the feet with a small bit and a hand chuck. You don't need an actual hand chuck. I use it because I have one. You could instead just wrap a bunch of masking tape on the end of the drill bit to give you something to hold on to while you twist away on the foot of your favorite hero.

    I don't have any of the DC Animated figures as I most collect the DC Direct figs, but I think you could use the clear bases they sell for Star Wars figures. I think they are about the same size as the DC Animated figures.

  8. My son and I fell off the JLA/JLU toys when we couldn't find a single-carded Booster Gold; but I like the Legends-style figures better anyway.

    Try putty. Office supply stores will have that stickum-putty stuff for people who want to put up pictures without a bunch of tack holes. A little of that, and problem solved. A problem that should never have happened, but problem solved. I'm going to give Mattel the benefit of the doubt and assume bad design work, not institutionalized sexism.

  9. I wish they'd include stands for all the figures; some of the female figures are hard to stand up, sure, but I can't get the alternate-universe J'onn to stay on his feet for more than ten minutes at a time. I've always been disappointed in the JL figures, from the poseability to the availability to the size and lack of accessories.

    Incidentally, the main reason I haven't bought that set (besides the misspelling of Kyle's name) is Katma's coloration. Brown? Even in the show she was magenta.

    At least, it looks magenta to me. Maybe fuschia? I really wouldn't call either her or Sinestro "red."

  10. Out of curiosity, what do you plan on using your Rit dye on?

  11. Shouldn't heels add structural support to the base of an action figure's foot?...

  12. Before I spout off about the matter of Katma, let me say that this line is really a mixed bag and mixed joy.

    On the plus side, it has certainly come along way from its humble roots as upteen variations of the big four "marketable" JLA cartoon characters - Superman, Batman, Flash and Green Lantern - with a few variations of the other characters and one "other" character (Darkseid, Ultra Humanite) rare-packed for good measure. The three pack idea (and corresponding individual pack figures - which often overlap but for the accessories that come with the singles) has allowed for a vast inexpensive expansion of characters, both obscure and not-so-obscure. DC Direct's recent efforts aside, the last time we've seen even an attempt at this kind of variety was back in the old SuperPower days, and even then there was exactly one woman character who was vastly outnumbered.

    So, I believe you'll agree that the line is a really is a great opportunity for collectors to get a really first rate assortment of a pretty collectible size of figures without breaking the bank.

    The downside, of course, ties into the comments about the difficulties with Katma. Mattel is able to put out all these wonderful figures for cheap because they recycle their moulds to mixed effects. With specific reference to Katma, she has heels because she's a Wonder Woman repaint - so while we can argue about the appopriateness of Wonder Woman in heels, it is less to do with the Katma figure precisely and more to do with Mattel's unwillingness to pony up for a new female mould.

    More critically though (and of course adding to the cheap factor), the plastic resins are not particularly good. The story of the Martian Manhunter reminds me of my twin Green Lantern stories. The first was the first all-GL three pack, a present for my nephew, for which the John Stewart's left leg had to be surgically glued back on after it broke off on first opening. The second was from my collection and the first John Stewart from the beginning of the line. Sitting on my shelf, he litterally bent at the left knee, a neat trick for a figure that had NO KNEE ARTICULATION at the time. The plastic was buckling under the long-term weight of the pose and the relatively tropical weather of Ottawa. (As an aside, I assure you with winters that get routinely to -20 C (-4 F) and summers that don't get higher than the low 30s C (-mid 80s), we are hardly tropic - so I wonder how much plastic melt figures must be in a place like Hot-lanta. Do they melt on the store shelves?)

    And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the poseability. While they've gotten better with the addition of knee joints on some figures, there isn't a lot here. So while I hark back to the SuperPower days above, I must say that those figures were tough, sturdy and articulate.

    Don't get me started on the weirdness of the 10" line for this series...

    Back to Katma, Mattel has made a design and marketing decision that this is a boy's figure collection. So while we are fortunate that this does not equal only Wonder Women figures, it does not mean we are blessed with a lot of effort put into the women figures. Personally, while I may not like or agree with this marketing focus or its practical execution, I accept it because at least we're getting something on the shelves that (as noted above) differs from the usual 18 Superman and 21 Batman figures that have warmed pegs since the Animated Series of the early 1990s. So I'm more upset about the miscolour of Katma's face and the mispelling of Kyle's family name than Katma's ability to stand.

    The problem with the stance is also escasorbated by the "V" design of her leg joints. Rather than the "U" design of the men, that allow the figure to walk and sit down, the "V" design allows for a little hip movement but, frankly, is useless. And it is a common feature of women figures and something that toy designers should get a clue about and move away from.

    Lastly, on the subject of stand, my suspicion is that this is more to do with a "bonus" feature of the three packs (probably affordable because of the repeated use of the Wonder Woman body) that allows for a clever use of the DC logo than a response to Katma (or any of the other heroine)'s standing issues. I say this with some confidence because:

    * The original three pack sets did not have such stands -

    * The original figures that started the line (including the Green Lantern of which I spoke) did have stands as part of their assortment

    There probably is some corporate realization that the mould has issues, but I don't think the stand is there primarily to deal with them.

    In sum, it's a pretty line. But sadly I think better left mint on card. We'll have to see how Mattle does with the upcoming DC Classics lines, both in terms of quality of plastic and variety of characters (so far so good), number of repaints (too soon to say) and number of women characters (vastly outnumbered to date so we'll have to see).


    (Please note I am not affiliated with BBTS in any way. I just shop there and find they have the easiest access to pictures in question than other sites. Mmmmm, figures...)