Thursday 12 January 2017

Toybox Review: DC Collectibles The New Batman Adventures Mr Freeze

In some respects DC Collectibles’ range of Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures figures are the Batman toys fans have always dreamed of. Articulated and accessory-laden cartoon-accurate depictions of one of the most renowned pieces of Batman media – what’s not to love? However at the same time this line has proved to be an absolute nightmare, with multiple figures subject to delays, quality control problems or both. But thanks to the draw of these characters, fans keep coming back for more. Here we look at one of the earliest releases in the line – fan-favourite Mr Freeze, as he appeared in The New Batman Adventures episode “Cold Comfort”.

Mr Freeze comes in the standard New Batman Adventures carded packaging, which features a generic series logo on the front and back of the card without any additional information. Any info about the character is instead printed on the plastic bubble or front card, including the name, number designation and (as a particularly nice touch) the designer. Open him up and you’ll find the figure and his accessories spread across two trays – the main one housing the figure and a smaller one behind for the hands and stand.

Although the character’s been around since the 60s, as most fans will tell you it was Batman: The Animated Series that defined Mr Freeze, reimagining him as a tragic villain who simply wanted to save his dying wife. With the B:TAS version being so iconic it’s a little strange that DC Collectibles opted to release the New Batman Adventures version first, which gave the character a sleeker black redesign as well pushing him over the edge character-wise. This figure is a very nice representation of the animation model, hitting all the right notes as far as sculpting and proportions go. These figures have done a great job of capturing that DCAU aesthetic and Freeze is no exception, his skull-like headsculpt with sunken red eyes a particular highlight.

Admittedly articulation hasn’t been a strong point of this line, and though Freeze has his flaws he’s actually one of the better pieces to come out thus far. According to DC Collectibles themselves he boasts 26 different points of articulation including ball joints in the neck, shoulders and torso. One particularly good feature is that the helmet is removable to allow the head to be repositioned accordingly, something that was sorely lacking with the original Kenner figure back in the day. The only major flaw is that the elbows don’t have full range of motion so can’t make a full 90 degree (or lower) bend.

Freeze’s accessories include three pairs of additional hands and his signature Freeze Gun which in this incarnation boasts a fairly generic black design. Some sort of ice effect to make it look the part might have been nice, but then this line doesn’t really deal with effect parts. In regards to the hands the joints seem to all work as intended (rather than being stiff to the point of breakage like with other figures) but the usual paint rubbing is just as bad as ever. Placing the Freeze Gun in the designated hand result in pretty much all of the blue paint on the inside rubbing off on contact, leaving the hand with barely any paint and the gun handle smudged blue. Suffice to say the gun won’t be ever coming out of the hand again.

However there is one big thing that sets this version of Freeze apart from his B:TAS appearances. By this point Freeze’s body has completely decayed due to his condition, leaving him as a disembodied head on a robot body. The head can be removed and travel independently on four spider-like limbs, so of course it wouldn’t be right if the figure couldn’t replicate this as well. However this is where bigger QC problems come into play other than just the usual flaking paintwork. Getting the head off the body is simple, but attaching the legs is another matter entirely. The sockets in the bottom of the head simply aren’t big enough to fit the spider legs into, resulting in me having to take a chisel to the figure just to get them to attach. In addition to that not only are the legs unarticulated, but they’re also made of a soft grey plastic that’s extremely prone to stress marks. Given the amount of force it takes to fit the legs into such poorly conceived holes, it’s almost inevitable that one or two of the legs with end up with unattractive white stress marks by the end of it. Once they are fitted though Freeze’s disembodied head does look pretty neat, even though the legs can positioned at their connection points.

Finally as is the case with all the figures in the line Mr Freeze also comes with a basic display stand, with a unique base featuring turnaround line-art of the character. Of course the small, space-conserving size of the stand is completely ruined by the pointless depth slider included on the arm which doesn’t offer anything more than a fixed version would. Why these arms have been included with all the non-caped figures is a complete mystery, since the figures aren’t well-articulated enough to pull off any dynamic poses anyway. Instead you just have a much thicker display stand taking up valuable shelf space.

Mr Freeze is yet another classic DC Collectibles example of something that could have been a great figure, but is spoiled by the kind of shoddy QC that really shouldn’t be happening on a collectors line like this. As usual the sculpt itself is wonderful and even the articulation is passable for this line’s (admittedly low) standards, but this kind of sloppy paintwork and flimsy plastic is just poor. As has been the case with most of this line, Mr Freeze is a figure worth picking up on a discount but at full price would be a much harder sell. Especially since the vastly superior Batman: The Animated Series version seems almost inevitable.

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