Continuing with our end-of-the-year celebration, we have an extension of the “DCUC Class of” feature that we began last year. This time we have a more indepth look at the year that has been for our favorite line of DC superhero action figures; we will hit the highlights, the struggles, the outlook for next year and everything in between. We might even get a little input from Toy Guru himself. Plus, we have some pictures for you to enjoy too. Can you believe that we got six(!) waves of figures out this calendar year? Coupled with boxsets, two-packs, exclusives Collect and Connects and variants, that makes for a healthy grand total of 76 figures! That is a lot of plastic collecting we have been doing over the past twelve months.
The 2009 Year in Review
This first section will serve as a bit of a timeline for 2009. It might not be a wildly exciting or currently informative portion, but I wanted to archive the year so we will be able to look back at it in the future. I suppose you have to start somewhere with an article like this, so at the beginning of the regular assortments seems like as good of a spot as any. Reaching back a full year (seems so long ago now), it is funny that the first real “get” for series six on the Fwoosh was January 1st. I know we all throught that series six would sneak in in the waning days of 2008 but you have to admit, Kalibak was a great way to start the year.
You know, he was not alone though and series six was not only a bit of a watershed wave, it was also the end of an era in DCUC. The first year of the line hummed along nicely and we got a very respectable amount of figures featured in five waves of five figures each, but series six would be the last of five figure assortments. We all knew by that time that series seven would be the start of the seven figure assortments (plus variants and Collect & Connects, of course) but I don’t think we could have had a better collect of five characters in series six to end the small waves.
The aforementioned Kalibak is still one of my favorite Collect & Connect figures and Toy Guru and the Four Horsemen made sure he was not alone, we also saw the ramp up of more New Gods goodness (that would countinue throughout the rest of the year) with Kalibak’s least-favorite stepbrother Mister Miracle and the still-elusive Doctor Impossible. Add to them two Superman figures (both with a ’90s flair), the Cornboy favorite Captain Marvel, er, I mean Shazam! and the impressive Hawkman figure and you have a jam-packed series. I remember when the line-up for series six was just a rumor and many speculators claimed that it could not be true as there were just too many big-hitters in the series. But that did not even include the last figure of the assortment, the fantastic Killer Moth. Oh yeah. Can you believe it? We got Killer Moth (not Charaxes or whatever) in DCUC and better still, he came as early as series six. He really was the first “way out in left field” pick for the line and thankfully, those character choices are still going strong.
The one downside of series six however was that over time, (and like the subsequent series seven) some of the figures began to pile up on the retail pegs. People have said it was over-produced, or some product was held back, I am not here to speculate on that, but several saw the potential for future assortments to be scarce because of this. Over time most of them cleared out and thankfully, series seven showed up right now schedule.
Oh yeah, and in the hub-bub of it all we got our first of four www.mattycollector.com exclusive two-packs in January in the form of Starfire and Adam Strange. Another outlet for getting more figures? I say bring them on.
Then there was series seven. Ah, series seven. Do you ever get the feeling that somehow, some way a specific assortment of actions figures was planned just for you? Kinda? Sorta? Well, I kind of got that feeling when series seven rolled out. Like I mentioned before, series seven was the first seven figure assortment in the line and man, it hit on all cylindars for me. First of all, I finally got the Blue Beetle I had been gushing/championing for since the inception of the line (I had to wait a little longer for him though as this series was split into two assortments, a fact that caused some collector panic early on, but seemed to even out) but I did plenty of that over in the previous Fwoosh Staff Best of 2009 article. The cool part about that is that we also got his very best pal and hetero-lifemate Booster Gold in both his classic and modern duds. The New Gods continued as well with Mister Miracle’s missus Big Barda (who was not quite big enough for some) and we got another Arthur Curry Aquaman (despite the series two Arthur being close to perfect) in the obscure yet cool ocean cammo deco. Then there was the Flash Family. Seven series into the line and people started asking “Where is the Flash?” Well, not only did they send us one Flash but two, and a major Rogue to boot. Barry Allen appeared in his classic togs with Wally West was set in his Kid Flash deco, all the while Captain Cold led off the Rogues Gallery (and we are still waiting for another to join him). Finally we got our first real member of the Justice Society of America in the Collect & Connect Atom Smasher. A great way to get the most storied team of the DC Universe rolling, but he would not be alone for long.
Joining the big man in the JSA ranks would come not one, but two Doctor Fates, Mr. Terrific, Commander Steel and the long-anticipated Hawkgirl. Series eight, the series that no one (at the time) thought possible and many still today do not believe it exists. By far one of the more scarce series at retail, even eight months after it’s initial release, a lot of collectors are scrambling to find all of the figures. Indeed, the etherial Gentleman Ghost (yes, we have Gentleman Ghost!) seems to be the hardest to catch, probably due to that whole being a ghost thing. Or it might be that he also included a pint-sized Ray Palmer Atom. For me personally though, what made series eight so much fun was not only the overall choice in mostly not-well-known characters, but also the fact that we got the first female Collect & Connect figure in the line in the form of Giganta but we also got our first army builder. Not just any army builder either, we got Parademons! Not just one Parademon but TWO, both in the classic Kirby styling as well as the Super Powers visage. As a huge fan of the Fourth World, I was stunned and joyful when I got the news of them. My army is at twelve strong and still growing. Finally, rounding out the wave, Matty went even further into DC lore and brought us the fully-armed and suicidal Vigilante to futher flesh out the Titans corner of your shelf.
Whew! Are you still with me? Remember all this stuff? I know it has been less than a year since most of it happened but there was so much DCUC stuff going on it is hard to keep track! After the release of series eight, there was a bit of a gap before we saw series nine show up (again, very briefly). But in that time we also got some more exclusives to help keep us satiated.
In June Matty Collector brough us the second two-pack in the form of the classic Earth-3 Ultraman and Alex Luthor. If fans thought they were going deep before, nothing could prepare them for the Luthor factor. While this was certainly a fun way to start off the classic Crime Syndicate one of my hopes for the near future is that Mattel will go back and bring us the other four members: Owlman, Super Woman, Johnny Quick and Power Ring. This is one of those instances where the team factor is greater (to me) than the parts so I would really like to see the team finished. Hint, hint. Nudge, nudge… Also around this time we saw two more Toys R Us two-packs that featured a much desired re-issue figure in Clayface, as well as an all new Brainiac in is classic short shorts and tennis shirt along with new decos of Superman and Batman.
Hmm… after June I am not sure that there was really anything big that happend. July is usually a slow month, right? Pffft. I know you are laughing at that. July. The biggest nerd month of the year centers around a lovely beach town in southern California. San Diego Comic Con, the prom. Each year we get the big news of what is to come in the toy world and see all the new prototypes and sculpts. Toy Guru and Matty put on their galas in the form fan panels for DCU and Matty product and everyone has a gay old time. Well, for the most part.
Like in years past Mattel offered up a DCUC item that was exclusive to the convention. Now, I know you are saying, yes! The Wonder Twins! But I say no. See, they were made available on Matty Collector after the show. The real exclusive was a little blue monkey that broke the internet in half (take that, Bendis) Gleek. Gleek. Gleek.
In what had to be the most controversial toy-based decision of the year Gleek was only made available to SDCC visitors, and even then, he was tough to come by. What started off as a little figure that not a whole lot of people were thrilled about turned into the most desired and one of the most scalped figures of the entire year. Still a sore spot for a lot people, many people thought that this would be the thing most remembered about this year in collecting. Is that holding true? I don’t know, I suppose time will tell but things have a way of being outdone, makes me wonder what will be the hot issue for 2010.
Not long after SDCC the highly anticipated series nine began to hit the shelves and, much like series eight that came before it, it’s life there was fairly brief. Ever since it was unveiled at New York Comic Con, series nine had been the most anticipated series of the year, and with good cause. The line-up probably still remains the strongest overall for any series thus far.
We got the amazing Green Arrow figure, probably one of the best DCUC figures ever and his lady love Black Canary to join him. Canary featured real fishnets but her outward hip articulation was sacrificed for them, many are wondering how that will affect the eventual Zatanna figure. We also got JSA stalwart Wildcat (in black and blue decos), the Jack Kirby Guardian, Black Adam to take on our Shazams and an amazing Deadshot figure. Flyod was a great place to start the Secret Six team, but he is already getting lonely. Matty – Catman. CAAAAAAATMAAAAAAAN! The C&C for the wave was the massive Chemo; one of the most unique figures in the entire line, he is one giant shell of translucent green plastic filled with bubbly goodness; those that got the torso piece included with Wildcat after a running change got even more bubbly goodness for their shelves.
Hitting Wal-Marts just about the same time as series nine was showing up was the Gotham City Five pack. This one had a little something for everyone as we got a classic deco of the extremely hard-to-find DC Superheroes Two-Face figure, a purple repaint of Catwoman and FINALLY a short-haired version of Superman in his classic costume and a black and gray Batman without any of those pesky mud-splatterings. The gem of the set though was the exclusive Bronze Age Lex Luthor in his purple and green jumpsuit. To many comic and Super Friends fans alike, this is the definitive version of the former President so it was a nice get for lots of people. The set seemed to sell fairly briskly so we hope that means we will see more five packs in the future.
Series ten was the penultimate series of the year and ever since series five in 2008, people were bracing for it as it was the dreaded Wal-Mart wave. The anxiety was thick around the internet waiting for this wave. Series five still remains the most difficult of the waves to come by and represents a dark time in the filled with ill-memories from many that were never able to acquire the whole set. Matty promised us that Wal-Mart ordered more heavily with series ten and that it should be much easier to find than five was. Well, collectors are a fickle bunch and we need to get the proof in the pudding so the wait was on to see how series ten would actually show up. While it did get off to a somewhat slow start I am happy to say that overall, it has been much easier to find than five. Indeed, still shipping to many Wal-Mart stores, it has turned out that this exclusive wave has been even easier to find for many than series eight and nine.
For the figures themselves, there were no variants this time around so we just had the basic figures and the Collect & Connect. Keeping up with the New Gods we got a very nice version of Forager, Power Girl (who just might be the nicest female of the whole line so far) and Beast Boy in his Doom Patrol cum modern Teen Titans deco complete with green eagle for him to transform. Joining Gar on the Doom Patrol team was the awesome Robotman who included removable dome so you can see Cliff Steele’s brainpan. The Bat-Family was also represented with a 1990s version of Batman himself (complete with Battop) and a pitch-perfect Joker that made the long wait for him totally worth it (complete with laughing fish!). The collector for this series was Imperiex, the guy that nobody really wanted but after having him in hand, most were thrilled to get. One of the most detailed figures of the line he can beat up on Superman for now, but I think a lot of people want some Legionnaires for him to antagonize.
November brought the third Matty Collector two pack and it was the best selling set to date. The Color Fear set featured Sinestro Corps members Romat-Ru and Karu-Sil and with the Blackest Night story the current hottest thing in comics, people were all over these to help flesh out their Yellow Corps. Also, the set gave customizers lots of possibilities to create other Yellow Lanterns with two multi-purpose base bodies. A month later the final Matty Collector pack was released and it featured two cult favorites – Animal Man and B’wana Beast. I say last because Toy Guru has let us know that this Justice in the Jungle set will be the last two-pack slated for Matty Collector. We have been promised other surprises but I will be sad to see these go and I can’t help but think if they would have lead with slightly stronger sets they would be continuing into 2010. C’est la vie.
The final full wave, series eleven started to hit the e-tail, and now retail shelve in in the last two months of the year. While it is clear that we have not had any “theme” waves in DCUC so far, series eleven came about as close a we are probably going to get in a Green Lantern wave. John Stewart and Katma Tui (complete with cool constructs) were joined by GL villains the Shark and Cyborg Superman in his Sinestro Corps duds. Not only those, but the C&C was Kilowog and he might just be the coolest big figure yet. I remember thinking that a DCUC Kilowog really wasn’t needed for me because I like the DC Direct on so much at the time. Ha! How wrong I was. The Lanterns were joined by the DCU’s favorite deadhead Deadman and the BADASS Steppenwolf in his superior classic Kirby and still-cool Super Powers looks. Finally, came the long-awaited winner of the first Fan’s Choice poll in the Vic Sage Question. You would think a guy with no face in a suit would not make for an overly-exciting figure but man, this figure has a ton of personality.
Whew. Seriously? That much happened in one year? How in the heck did everyone keep up? The result though? 76 figures. SEVENTY-SIX! And here they are (makes 2008 look like a baby step):
The Best of 2009
For a little self-indulgence, this was really hard to do, but these were my Ten Ten DCUC figures of the year:
10. Giganta. The first female Collect and Connect turned out beautifully and has some pretty good size on her. She is kinda the centerpiece to my main villains display.
9. Robotman. Heck yes we have started the Doom Patrol and I absolutely love this figure of Cliff. You can see his BRAINS!
8. Kalibak. I LOVE the Fourth World and Kalibak is the figure of this character that I always wanted.
7. Green Arrow. Ollie is a step up from the rest of the normal assortment figures in terms of engineering, everything works great and he has added wrist articulation. Add to that a spot on sculpt and I don’t think I will ever need another Green Arrow.
6. Joker. Perfect. The exact version of him that I wanted and his sculpt, paint and accessories are all PERFECT.
5. Deadshot. I love Floyd Lawton so much and the figure is so dynamic and colorful. I want more Secret Six though.
4. Wildcat. Ted Grant is my second-favorite DC chacter (after another certain Ted) and I really love the version we got- what can I say, I like the taped fists. The head sculpt is also a thing of beauty.
3. Kilowog. Man oh man. The detail. The bulk. The Lantern Goodness. He is perfect and I want a Collect and Connect of Arkillo based off of this figure.
2. Classic Steppenwolf. From a figure standpoint, I think he is the best of the line. He is also my favorite of Darkseid’s denizens. Yay me!
1. Blue Beetle. This is the figure I have wanted for my entire life, he is my number one no matter what and I am glad that the Horsemen and Mattel did him such justice.
An Update from Toy Guru
Even though much of Scott Neitlich’s (Toy Guru) efforts will be directed toward the 2011 Green Lantern movie line, he will still be very much involved with DCUC and he wanted to drop a few words for the end of the year and into 2010.
“What a sophomore year it has been for the hottest DC collector line of all time! Not only did we get 5 amazing waves out this year, but we had 2 packs, 5 packs and much more. Sure there were bumps in the road, but we are working closer then ever with our retailers and out fans to deliver better product and actually get it into the hands of collectors.
I think my favorite figure this year was Green Arrow. The wrist articulation really just makes him a class act. And that Chemo Collect and Connect figure is out of this word!
Next year we have even more surprises in store as we raise the bar even higher. We’re experimenting with new materials, stretching character selection to new heights, while still making sure we keep the big guns on shelf for new and ongoing collectors. Everyone’s collections should start to feel pretty solid now, wait until you see what we have in store for 2010!”
Thanks Scott, and thanks to you and the whole team and Mattel and the Four Horsemen for making this my personal favorite line for 2009.
Can I start a wish list? I have some EXTREMELY high hopes for 2010 and beyond. The first series of the year (twelve) is starting to trickle out and we get our first Metal Man in Iron (woo!) and our swan song New Gods figures in Desaad and Darkseid. That is something I REALLY hope they will move back to (the New Gods) in the future. I want more, more more! Forever People, Metron (with chair!), High Father, Granny Goodness and the Furies – bring them on. We are also going to see the Super Powers theme continue into 2010 and series thirteen keeps up the pace with Cyclotron. We do not have much confirmation past series thirteen at this point but look for the unveiling at Toy Fair and Toy Fare in February. Personally, I hope we continue to flesh out the JLI (Fire, Ice and Guy!) JSA (both modern and classic – Liberty Belle!), Metal Men, Doom Patrol and Secret Six and get started on teams like the Freedom Fighters. We will see Raven as the second Fan’s Choice figure in series fifteen and the highly anticipated Martian Manhunter has been rumored for next year as well. I also want to see more of the Kirby love continue maybe with guys like Kamandi and OMAC and hopefully the New Gods won’t go away for too long. Oh, and more villains and more females. Whatever we do get though, I am sure some will be expected, some will be major surprises and all of it will be a lot of fun.
*Thanks for reading and see you in Multiverse in 2010!