Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Mattel DC Signature Batzarro

My wife isn't nearly as interested in action figures as I am. She's very tolerant of my hobby and appreciates that I tend to budget shop and dig through bargain bins, and in return I try not to bother her too much with my talk about it. One topic we do talk about, and she finds interesting, is the tendency of Mattel to make idiotic decisions with their action figures. Mattel makes its money from Barbie and Hot Wheels, make no mistake. The action figures are very secondary. Still, one could suspect that they are secondary solely because of Mattel's amazingly bad decisions. After all, the have the DC Universe characters, Masters of the Universe, and... uhm.. well, actually that's pretty much it for its boy line. They were once making a killing on Frozen toys, but that license is going to Hasbro now. Sometimes, I suspect the only reason Mattel still has the DC license is because Hasbro makes Marvel toys. The fault for this lack of licenses, however, lies squarely with Mattel. It's not magic that causes other companies to get more licenses. It's good decision making.

Bear with me, I do have a point here. Today, we're talking about Batzarro, an action figure made by Mattel that marks the very last figure released through subscription for their long-running DC Universe Classics line. Batzarro is a fairly modern comic invention, and has appeared in 24 comic issues. 24. Not exactly a well-established classic. In fact, there were a number of far more iconic DC characters that were never created in the DC Universe Classics (DCUC) line. We were given the gift of poo-covered Batman (No, seriously) but we didn't characters that fans love like Stephanie Brown, Oracle, or essentially anyone else that had unique costumes that would have required extensive tooling. When DCUC was canceled from store shelves, it was able to continue for two years through an online subscription service. The hope was that this would allow them to make all of those fan requested figures, and it was able to get a few of them. Others, however, were utterly insane choices, such as Batzarro here. Anyone who subscribed to the "DC Signature Series" did so blind. They knew what three or four of the twelve figures would be, and were locked in for all the rest. In other words, when people subscribed for an entire year of figures, they had no idea that some of their money would be spent on Batzarro.

I really had no interest in Batzarro until he was offered during Mattel's Black Friday sale for $6. For that price, and since I was ordering other figures anyway, I figured what the heck. I had been done with DCUC for a while. There were too many shared parts, and the same sculptors were used for the entire line which led to a cohesive line, sure, but also an incredibly boring one - especially when those same sculptors are entirely incapable of making attractive-looking female faces. Still, you drop the price enough and even I start to become interested!
Batzarro is every bit as bizarre as his name sounds. The entire concept is that he's the opposite of Batman. He killed his parents, instead of his parents being killed by a criminal. He kills criminals instead of just arresting them. He wears a futility belt that has all of the pockets open and absolutely zero gadgets. Also, oddly enough, he has no eyes. Because he is meant to be a bad copy of Batman, it makes sense that he would use the same body as Batman - for once, I don't blame them for using shared parts. The paint is much brighter than the usual Batman figures, with an almost white outfit and much lighter colors used inside of the cape. As near as I can tell, the only new parts are the belt and the head. The batarang he comes packaged with might be new, but I highly doubt it.
It is a decent body, with well-working articulation, but it's also dated. Using the same body for six years will do that to a figure. Articulation in toys is always evolving, and it's important to keep up. Still, it does allow for some dynamic posing, and a bit of personality when placing it on the shelf. The most personality comes from the head, however. That big grin is just impossible not to like, and the smooth cowl over the head does seem very distinct. Thanks to a functional ball joint, you can get a lot of expressions out of it.
Unfortunately, there's just not a lot to say about this figure. He's visually striking and incredibly unnecessary. If I went my entire life without having this figure, I probably would have been quite content - especially when it's already been released by DC Collectibles on a non-recycled body and includes the chain that he's well-known for using.
Not only was Mattel late to the game in releasing this figure, they also pissed off the last, most die-hard fans the line had by releasing it in the first place. This is a perfect example of why I don't do blind subscriptions - for every three figures you get that are appreciated, there are at least one or two that are absolute wastes. No, I will always be a cherry-picker and make sure I own as few regrets as possible. I don't regret buying this figure, but I absolutely would have if I had paid $20 plus $10 shipping to own it.


Eric Stettmeier on December 17, 2014 at 7:52 PM said...

I love the Batzarro concept, and have the McGuinness DC Direct version and absolutely love it (BTW it did re-use body parts - all the male McGuinness based figures had the same body styles and shared parts.) Also, adjusting for inflation, the DC Direct figure was probably cheaper than this guy yet had real metal chains to set him apart.

I agree that this one is typical Mattel. They couldn't repaint a couple handguns and toss them in? No chain, not even a plastic one? Basically a VERY basic Batman variant to swan-song their way out of the line. LAME! Also, this guy was most likely six bucks because they are sitting on thousands of them - look for him at a Big Lots near you real soon!

Sad, because I want to like this figure. And honestly, I might pay $15 if I saw him in store. But $30 (with shipping) is a slap in the face.

Wes Grogan on December 17, 2014 at 8:13 PM said...

I do stand corrected, Eric. I should have stated that the body wasn't reused a thousand times over. Still, it does make sense to use the same body for DCD, since McGuiness only really draws one body type.

You're absolutely right that this was a slap in the face to people who spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars supporting a line that went out of its way to pee on its fans.

Thanks, Mattel.

Eric Stettmeier on December 17, 2014 at 8:28 PM said...

It's true - the McGuinness consistency made way more sense. Also, the line didn't go on for years and include dozens of characters.

Worse than all this, though, is the 'classic' Robin variant, and the Damian Wayne Robin, which put 10 year olds' heads on 17 year olds' bodies.


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