Tuesday 2 February 2016

Toybox REVIEW: DC Collectibles 'Batman: The Animated Series' Harley Quinn

When DC Collectibles first announced their range of screen accurate Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures figures, it seems to fair to say that Harley Quinn was one of the most anticipated. Not only is she arguably the DC Animated Universe’s biggest export, but thanks to the likes of the recent Arkham series video games, the forthcoming Suicide Squad movie and her own ongoing comic series her popularity is at an even bigger high right now. But right now we’re looking back at where it all began – the 1992 B:TAS episode Joker’s Favor and the iconic red and black jester costume that still remains her definitive look even to this day.

Once again there’s very little to say about the card and blister packaging these figures come in, especially if you own one already or have checked out any of my previous reviews on the line. As a Batman: The Animated Series figure this figures features a red and black cardback which features the series logo on the front and back, while all the specifics are printed on either the clear plastic bubble or the small card insert pressed against it.

If there’s one thing these figures can never be faulted for it’s how cartoon-accurate they are. The old Kenner figures were far from bad (other than in the articulation department they’re still pretty fantastic even today) but these really nail the proportions of the characters – be it for better or for worse. From a purely aesthetic standpoint Harley looks great, though I do wish DC Collectibles would do more with some of these facesculpts. Harley’s expression, while admittedly a pretty big smile, just feels very generic – I had a similar problem with the Joker but for some reason it was easier to overlook there. It isn’t a terrible expression, but if the Batgirl can get a beaming smile then I don’t understand why Harley can’t get something a bit more expressive – and far more fitting. 

Of course being a DC Collectibles product Harley is of course prone to all kinds of problems when it comes to build an articulation. While these first two issues may not be a widespread problem, they’re a definitely worth mentioning as it just goes to show the kind of quality you can sometimes end up with on these figures. Firstly Harley’s right leg is slightly longer than her left, which really doesn’t help balancing when you already have spindly legs and tiny feet to deal with. Secondly bending the left leg at the knee resulted in the upper leg splitting apart at the seam, as if the knee joint was too big for the mould and pushing the pieces apart when moved. Not a great start to a figure that’s also victim to the usual articulation woes of this line, along with some of her own unique ones. Barely any upwards articulation on the head means Harley is permanently stuck in a state of looking slightly downwards, while no boot swivel on the legs leaves you to solely rely on poorly-conceived ankle tilts for support. This figure looks pretty good standing up straight (especially if you’ve got the stand supporting her as well), but don’t expect to ever get any other decent standing poses out of her.

Next we come on Harley’s rather poor selection of accessories, which include an additional two pairs of hands (open and item-holding to go along with the closed fists), a small cork pistol and a laughing fish – which seems like an odd choice because according to the flyer insert this figure is based on her appearance in The Man Who Killed Batman – which is a GREAT episode but hardly the first one my mind would go to when I think of Harley Quinn. This is the problem with figures that are based on single episodes – it severely limits your accessory options. Harley has one of the most varied and fun selection of weaponry in the entire series, and none of it is utilised here.

One thing that is at least consistently good with these figures is the stand, or to be more specific those wonderful bases that feature turnaround line art of each character. Like all of the non-caped characters Harley’s stand arm has a depth slider, which would perhaps make a lot more sense if the bases themselves were bigger. As it stands the extra length on the arm is more a space waster than anything else, given that these figures aren’t exactly capable of extravagant poses so all the stands need to do is keep them balanced upright.

My relationship with the DC Collectibles animated Batman figures has been rocky to say the least, but Harley Quinn is undoubtedly the first one I feel really let down by. It’s accuracy to the onscreen model can’t be faulted, but the lifeless expression, limited articulation, uninspired accessories and general DC Collectibles flaws are not things that can be overlooked easily. Honestly I’d go as far as to say my old 1997 Kenner version is better than this, and that only had five points of articulation. Thankfully a different Harley based on a TNBA appearance is due later this year (and as very little changed between series, the appearance will be almost identical), which hopefully will come out considerably better than this disappointment.

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