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First Look – Young Justice Series 1

The current First Look train is finally pulling into the station, and as we have gotten older, we have actually gotten younger. Our last Look for this round is at the first assortment of single and two-pack figures in the brand new JLU-ish Young Justice line. If you have been able to catch the show on the always-unreliable Cartoon Network, it is already heating up to be a real winner. It has action, great characterization, fun plotlines and even some vague cameos. Oh, and Batman and pals show up sometimes too. Mattel is banking on the success of the show as well with a full product offering. We have already looked at the six-inch Robin figure, as well as the SDCC Superboy in Cloning Chamber, but the four inch is getting ready to drop any second now so JLU fans, you might have a second life after all. Right now there are three, four figure assortments planned for this year and the best part is that each figure comes with a piece of the Hall of Justice façade. It is our very first Build a Façade! Doesn’t really have a ring to it, but it looks like it is going to be really cool.

So, in the new cartoon Robin, Superboy, Speedy, Aqualad, Artemis, Kid Flash, Miss Martian and pals are taking their youthful exuberance to the super villains on the DC Universe. It kind of makes for a JLU crossed with the Teen Titans feel with plenty of guidance from the elder statesmen (for popularity’s sake to be sure). It is a mishmash of eras as Dick Grayson is Robin, but the new Aqualad is, well Aqualad and so forth. The show is establishing its own continuity though so if it works it works and thus far it has been a lot of fun.

The first assortment of single figures from Mattel features Kid Flash, Speedy, Aqualad and villain lil’ Icicle. More of the main cast will be along later this summer and into the fall, but with the two-packs including Robin, Batman, Aquaman and a repackaged Aqualad, you can start having adventures with a pretty solid line-up right out of the gate. For an overall aesthetic to the line, the figures match up well with their celluloid counterparts, much in the same way the JLU line succeeded in that regard, and while the design style is a little more involved, the figures manage to pull off the “clean” look while still accentuating the traits that make the designs unique. Some of these traits include the long and spindly limbs and larger feet, but also the sharp geometric notes in the faces. Oh, and Aquaman and Aqualad have bare feet. I know that makes sense but I have never owned or thought about that before. I’m just throwing it out there, for the sake of being thorough of course.

 

Two-Pack Groups

Starting with the two-packs, these appear to be the main resource for getting some of the more high-profile elder Justice League members. After all, the show focuses on the kids (duh), but from a marketing perspective any time you shoehorn Batman into a retail line, you are going to do it. Both of these sets come with two basic display stands, but they are designed specifically for the characters. Batman and Aquaman both have high profile protégés on the show in Robin and Aqualad and it already appears that those two characters might be getting the biggest push from Mattel. Robin has already shown up in the six-inch line, in this two-pack and will be out as a single figure in the four inch line later in the year; similarly, Aqualad is in this two-pack, as a single figure in the first assortment, in series two of the six-inch line and, according to the card backs, he will a “Stealth” costume figure later in the year.

Aqualads

All four of the figures in the two sets capture the feel of the characters in the show (especially Robin since he is the smallest of the group) but my favorite figure in the group is probably Batman. That is probably because he has the most going on from a design aspect, he is the most visually interesting and since he probably has more media representations than any other DC Comics character, it is interesting to see how he has evolved over time. To me he feels like a cross between the JLU/BTAS, The Batman and the Under the Red Hood Batman, but is still unique enough to be instantly recognizable as wholly Young Justice. Like all of the figures featured here, he has the standard Mattel animated body articulation scheme of a twist neck, cut shoulders and hips. I know there are some out there that would prefer to have more articulation in the line (for those I say see: the six inch line) but for the sake of the aesthetic and the clean lines included therein along with the scale, I would rather have this set up than going overboard. And that is coming from someone that usually requires a lot of articulation in his action figures. Aquaman on the other hand looks just like his classic incarnation but with two very apparent differences: he has a beard (a trait showing up more and more with him) and bare feet. I have always been a fan of the look and color scheme of Aquaman and this figure keeps the pace with that, but with the exception of the Brave and the Bold Aquaman, I have never cared much for the beard. Ever since the poor 90s attempt to butch him up with a hook hand, beard and long hair was put into play, I have been pretty adverse to all of those features. Long hair and a beard seem so counterintuitive for a guy that spends so much time underwater, but that was the 90s for you.

Batman Stand

Of the two kids, I prefer Robin over Aqualad, again due to his more interesting design. Aqualad makes sense from a costume design standpoint, he looks like he wearing a finned wetsuit and that is fine, if not a little drab. Robin keeps a lot of the more modern Tim Drake red costume, but with some more functional features like “sneakers” over boots. Mattel got the feel of Robin better here than in the six-inch figure in my opinion, he is a kid after all and his arms are appropriately skinny (the larger figure has some raging biceps) and his face is more on-model as well. As I mentioned before, both sets come with character-specific stands, but I would have liked to have seen a couple accessories in the packs as well, there is certainly enough room for them.

The two-packs are really accent sets though to the single assortments and this is where Mattel has really put some solid releases with a VERY cool new Collect and Connect initiative. Kid Flash, Aqualad (same figure as the two-pack but with a different deco and sheathed matche), Speedy and Icicle Jr. are featured here and while the blister cards seem a little on the large size, they have to be in order to accommodate everything that is included. As I said, Aqualad is the same figure but he come with his water machete thingees this time around. Kid Flash has a bag of “fast food” (get it?) and that is actually a nice inclusion since Kid Flash is not really known for having implements of any kind; Speedy comes with the requisite bow and Icicle has a little ice blast/spear thing. I really hope that the line carries accessories (at least one) for every single carded release. It is getting more and more important to collectors (and maybe kids and moms too) to get as much bang for the buck and having a little something to along with your new figure is always a good thing.

Aqualad Water Machete
Aquaback

Of all of the figures, I think that Speedy and Icicle are my favorite, but overall I digging the style of Young Justice and I think the designs, while still clean and streamlined, are even more toyetic than the JLU look. I am sure there will be Timmenites™ that will be calling for my head for that, but there are some details of costume and textures that you just do not get in the Timm style (though there are some very strong basic similarities). Take for example Icicle’s iced-out arm: there are little jagged points and details up and down from elbow to wrist that add a lot of dimension to the figure. He also is constructed from a translucent blue plastic that adds to the ice effect, but while his jagged arm is soft, he legs are not so he does not have any difficulty standing up. Kid Flash’s boots are another good example of this, his shoes are probably the most important part of his entire get-up and they are well defined in the figure rather than being the basic ballet slipper-shaped feet. Speedy has a lot of costume detail too, in paint and sculpted detail. His hat, quiver and tunic make him stand out from the rest of the pack, which makes sense as his (and Green Arrow’s) costume has always been more Robin Hood than classic superhero.

Where the YJ really shine, especially in comparison to JLU is in the construction and materials. These feel like much more durable action figures that won’t be so prone to on-shelf warping. Now the proof is in the pudding and we will make real assessments a year from now, but I believe the figures will still be standing with no need for added support. The legs are made of a much more solid and firm plastic and while they are longer, they are also thicker, especially in the weight-bearing areas. The figures themselves can stand without assistance, their posing might cause the hips to jut out from the body just a touch on Aqualad and Icicle. The overall shape of the figures due to the design is what really saves them in terms of balance and durability though; Young Justice most certainly has its own style but the characters do not have bird legs and linebacker chests so they have a much more natural center of balance.

Series 1

Finally, we come to what I consider to be the best part of the line so far, and while I know there has already been some complaining about the size of the card for these figures – trust me, they need the space. The big seller for collectors in particular for this line is going to be the Collect and Connect Hall of Justice façade. When I first heard about this execution I thought it was a cool idea and something that I have been wanting for a long time, but man, I am REALLY stoked about this. Now, to get this out of the way, even at this smaller size, an in-scale HoJ is just not possible. It would be huge. However, as base backdrop I can already tell it is going to be awesome, and I am only a third of the way there. Now, I do not, nor have I ever thought of this execution as a “play set” when considering collectors. It just doesn’t work to that effect as it really is just the flat front of the building with some steps. Kids should have a great time with it though reenacting battles on the front porch. For collectors though, it is going to make a great display piece/back drop, especially if you are not a Scale Nazi.

Young Justice, Brave and the Bold, Young Justice, JLU, Infinite Heroes, Young Justice and The Batman Comparison

For what we are getting, this thing is actually going to be pretty big. If you are still in a twist about the size of the blister, it is time to get over it because the moment you get the things open, you are going to want it completed NOW. The inclusion of the steps makes it a perfect scene builder and there is going to be PLENTY of space to display all of the figures that it will take to make this up. Some of the figures come with one large piece while others have two smaller portions so there will be more than 12 pieces total for the construction, but you will only need 12 figures to do it. The packaging says that series 2 is “coming soon” and that the third series will drop in Fall of 2011 so I hope that everything is being produced right in a row and Mattel got retailer commitment for the whole year so the Hall will be easy to complete.

Hall of Justice Pieces
Snap Together

The pieces lock together snugly through a system of tabs, snaps and bolts. It looks like everything has been fabricated so that you cannot assemble the parts incorrectly, but there is a diagram included with each figure. I am not convinced that it is the intention that you can take the thing apart once you start to snap it together, but it can be done. I more prudent collector might have been able to wait to piece it together, but I went right for the gusto to see just how big it is going to be. The detail and design of the thing is actually much more in line with being a realistic interpretation, even if it does take its adapted design cues from the show. As it stands, since I am a DCUC collector first and foremost, I will be using the HOJ (once completed) as a backdrop to my JLA display. No, it is not to scale BUT it IS big enough to look like a really neat display piece.

Under Construction

If the Young Justice show picks up and gains steam, the toy line shall inherit the aisle from JLU. I think fans for the Timm-verse should find some happiness in this figure style continuing on in an adapted degree, and if you are not the biggest freak for 100% pure continuity, you might be able to share shelf space between the two lines. Again, my favorite part about this line so far is the Hall of Justice Collect and Connect. It is going to rule to have this completed and I hope it is a resounding success for Mattel as I would love to see a similar execution brought over to other environments and to other lines… Dare I say DCUC? I dare. These should start hitting all the online and brick and mortar stores any second if they have not done so already so be on the lookout. I am already stoked for the next assortment as my Hall of Justice cannot come together soon enough.

HoJ Comparison
DCUC Facade

*Thanks for hanging with us through all of these First Looks and a giant thanks to Toy Guru and team for making it all possible. See you soon!

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13 thoughts on “First Look – Young Justice Series 1

  1. What figures do I need from the young justice line to get the justice row to build the hall of justice? Its the second to last row to the right. Thanx

  2. Looks like there are only two bodies: adults and teens. I’m surprised to see that which leads to so many painted-on details. I hope the pricing reflects this budget approach.

  3. Thanks for the viewing, but I think I am gonna past on this set. I’m like Ben here…they made a weaker looking figure to match the cartoon, while a closer DC classic figure would of sold More.

    Your report is TOPS as always Matty!

  4. I wish Mattel would’ve let Young Justice stand on its own with toys that are designed as actual action figures instead of these semi-articulated maquettes. I just don’t understand why they continue pandering to the JLU collectors when that cartoon has been off the air for like 5 years and can’t maintain any retail support anymore.

    I know Mattel thinks kids don’t care about articulation so that’s how they excuse the lack of it but do they think kids want the front doorstep of the Hall of Justice?

    And the packaging is completely laughable compared to something like G.I. Joe where along with a nicely sculpted, highly articulated action figure there are a ton of accessories packed into a blister on a fairly small card.

    Weak effort, Matty.

  5. @ Brian: Looks like the other two for fall 2011 are; Aqualad Stealth and Kid Flash Stealth

  6. this line is absolute snot,crap,trash,garbage. young justice sucks! Mattel and DC comics along with Warner Brothers canceled justice league unlimited and Batman the Brave and the bold for this crap they must be on some serious drugs or something.

  7. The figures are kinda disappointing (though Batman looks pretty cool), but that HoJ display is really nice.

  8. The packing is really crappy. The figure only takes 1/3 of the total packing space. A very non-environmental friendly move from Mattel.

  9. What are those 4 figures on the card back that says “Coming Fall 2011”? It looks like Sportsmaster, and Robin, but I can’t tell who the other 2 are.

  10. Oooh. The HOJ is looking like a pretty cool display stand/backdrop for these figures. Tempting…

  11. these figures are garbage…. the HOJ is worth it though….. ugh it sucks i have to buy something i dont want to get somehting i do 🙁

  12. Alright, that backdrop is pretty sweet. It’s pretty crummy as a toy, but a thin backdrop with steps is really cool for display. I think it’s a nice addition and a clever way to provide an environment in this age of no playsets.

    I’m still going to call out the 2 packs for being a hilarious waste of space. There may be some logic in having the 2 packs look larger than the blisters, but it still looks funny to me with the figure stands proudly on display to occupy some space when they would typically be hidden beneath a figure.

    The figures look pretty nice, though. I like the animated look combined with a more natural posture than some other animated figures. The upturned hands kind of kill it for me. Aqualad still displays pretty nicely with his sword, but Batman just looks strange.

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