Thursday 9 August 2018

Toybox REVIEW: DC Collectibles "Batman: The Animated Series" Zatanna

Release Date: August 2016 
RRP: $25.99/£22.99

Of all the Batman: The Animated Series characters you'd expect DC Collectibles to release in their highly anticipated yet also highly repeatedly delayed and widely criticised line, Zatanna probably wasn't one of them - until you remember just how much of a fanboy Paul Dini is when it comes to her. What's perhaps stranger though is the fact Zatanna was a single card release, while far more characters and designs would later be shunted off into highly overpriced collectors' sets (looking at you especially B:TAS Mr Freeze and Poison Ivy). Still, one of the main charms of this line has been some of the more left-field choices there's been when it comes to releases, and Zatanna is definitely one of the best among them. Appearing solely in the episode "Zatanna", this version of Zatanna has no apparent magic powers (until her reappearance in Justice League Unlimited that is), but goes back a long way with Bruce Wayne/Batman. Or as she knows him, "John Smith".

Zatanna comes packaged in blister-style packaging with a generic Batman: The Animated Series logo card. All the information pertaining to the figure itself is written on the front card inside the blister itself, which includes the character name, it's numbering within the line and the name of the sculptor. Unfortunately as is the case with most blister packaging, it's very hard to open without damaging the card or removing the bubble cleanly. Inside the figure is stored on a plastic tray, with a smaller one tucked away underneath holding the display stand and alternate hand parts.

Sometimes it's just as well these reviews kick off with looking at sculpt, because in the case of DC Collectibles figures things usually fall apart (sometimes literally) after that. As usual though Zatanna is a pretty great looking toy and incredibly faithful to her appearance in Batman: The Animated Series. Personally I don't think the look is quite complete without the fishnets, but it's completely accurate to how she looks in the episode so I can't fault it there. The face sculpt is also nice but a little limiting, since any pose you put Zatanna in will have her in a default "generic Bruce Timm female grin" expression that only really works in certain circumstances. But honestly it's clear these figures are mostly intended for static posing anyway, because there's no way Zatanna is balancing well on those tiny, high-heeled feet. She can just about manage a neutral pose, so anything more than that she's really going to struggle with. Her ankles also weird bent out at either side, making the distinctly B:TAS proportions look all the more unnatural.

Unfortunately articulation has never been this line's strong suit, and even with that in mind Zatanna isn't one of the especially good ones. Altogether the figure has a ball-jointed head, ball-hinged shoulders, hinged-swivel elbows and hips and hinged wrists and knees. There are no waist swivel or foot swivel/ankle joints here, which the figure could have really benefitted from. Even if you take into account the limited motion you can get out of the figure, a lot of it doesn't mean much when you remember it's pretty much incapable of standing in anything but a neutral pose without a display stand. There are a couple of good poses you can get out of what you've been given to work with, but not really anything elaborate and/or action-orientated.

Zatanna's accessories include two additional pairs of hands (closed fists and a pair of accessory holding hands) and her magic wand/cane. There isn't really a whole lot to say about this though, since it's essentially just a thin rod of soft black plastic without any detailing whatsoever. The fact it's made of soft plastic also means it's incredibly prone to bending, so expect it to wilt from even the smallest of pressure.

Rounding off the accessories is a scaled, cardboard replica of the signed "goodbye" poster Zatanna gives Batman at the end of the episode, complete with the handwritten message left to "John". It's a nicely printed piece, but the fact it can't stand up on its own, is printed on fairly flimsy cardboard and that neither Zatanna or Batman can hold it very well make it feel pretty useless overall. I get the desire to throw in accessories that really capture the episode in question, but there are much better things that a Zatanna figure could have come with – like an alternate hatless head for example. If The New Batman Adventures version of Harley Quinn can come with an extra head, why can't Zatanna?

Rounding off the accessories is the obligatory personalised display stand featuring turnaround line art of the character on the base. The base itself is lovely as usual, but those static display arms with a cumbersome depth slider are just as obnoxious as ever. These figures don't need those depth sliders so could have easily just been packaged with standard arms like most of the caped figures seem to be.

DC Collectibles Batman: The Animated Series Zatanna is a decidedly average figure in a line that deserved far better than it got, but the fact it's an animated Zatanna figure definitely makes it worth the purchase if you can pick it up a lower than retail (which shouldn't be too hard by now). If DC Collectibles ever get around to making a Justice League Unlimited version then that should always take priority, but given the state of releases these days and the fact that the main Justice League members are (for the time being at least) exclusive to a subscription service I don't think there's all that much hope. But hey – it's Zatanna in a line of Batman figures, sometimes it's best to take what you can get.

1 comment:

Ewan Whittaker said...

Zatanna is so beautiful and cool, I want to buy one.