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REVIEW:
ANOTHER JUSTICE LEAGUE THREE-PACK
By Thomas Wheeler


Another new JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED three-pack turned up recently, this one consisting of BATMAN, METAMORPHO, and WILDCAT. Although Mattel is still putting already issued characters into these three-packs, at least there's no shortage of
new faces.

I'm not going to get into the BATMAN figure to any great degree. If I have to explain HIS origin to anybody reading this, well, that's just a bit pathetic. The figure is decent enough, and has the greater range of articulation that some Justice League figures have, elbows and knees along with the usual head, arms, and legs. Unfortunately, the plastic cape makes the figure so back-heavy that it's impossible to get this figure to stand up worth a darn, a problem that is plaguing more and more of these JLU figures, and not just because of capes. I'll deal with that situation in a later paragraph.

METAMORPHO - A character with a lot of history in the DC Universe. Metamorpho's real name is Rex Mason. In the animated Justice League series, Mason was exposed to a chemical compound as part of an experiment on the part of one Simon Stagg, which transformed him into the eerie Metamorpho being. His comic book origin, which I prefer to relate here, is a little more involved. On an archaeological mission in Egypt, Rex Mason was left to die. However, he was exposed to a meteor which transformed him into a multi-colored freak with the power to transform his body, in whole or in part, into any element or compound found in the normal human body. Encouraged by his love Sapphire Stagg (whose father had arranged for Mason's intended death), he became a hero and adventurer, albeit a reluctant one, since he is unable to transform himself into a fully human form, and would just as soon not have
his powers.

Metamorpho first appeared in DC Comics' "Brave and the Bold" #57, in early 1965. He turned down an offer to join the Justice League, not wanting to be seen as a super-hero and not much of a team player, but in later years joined the original OUTSIDERS team, and later on worked with several incarnations of the Justice League.

The figure is a good animated-version likeness of the character, with either side of his torso and each leg representing a different elemetal compound. Technically, this is not a costume. All Mason is really wearing is shorts. The rest is what might as well be described as a "default" setting for his body.

The sculpt is fairly basic, with all of the details either painted on, or molded as the color of plastic. I believe Mattel has come up with several of these "basic" body sculpts for use on multiple heroes as the line grows, wherein all they have to do is mold and paint the body in a proper color, and attach a unique head. It's a reasonable enough strategy given the cost of casting molds, and it's not too much of a cheap shot from Mattel (no worse than some, really.)

WILDCAT - This guy's been around forever. He first appeared in Sensation Comics #1 in January, 1942. Here's his origin: Inspired by the original Green Lantern, ex-boxer Ted Grant became the crime-fighting Wildcat in 1942,. He was a member of the war-time All-Star Squadron, worked with the Justice Society of America once in 1945, and then functioned as a JSA reserve until permanently joining the team in recent years. Thanks to having gained nine lives (under still unrecorded circumstances), Wildcat seems to be in his early middle age today, even though he is over 80 years old. He is still active in the JSA, and also worked briefly with Guy Gardner's gang at Warrior's. Wildcat has trained several younger heroes, including the Batman, Black Canary II, Catwoman, Wildcat III-IV, and Starman (Jack Knight). Wildcat is a kinda rough hero, a brawler, who enjoys using his fists and drinking beer.

No specific animated origin for the character has been related, so we'll assume that the comic book one is reasonably valid, even though the Justice Society has never appeared in the animated series.

The figure is very decent, if a little plain looking. Wildcat's costume is basically a very dark blue one-piece bodysuit with a cat-like cowl. Always has been. The figure mold used is fairly bulky, which makes sense for the character.

I'd like to give proper credit to the Web Site "www.dcuguide.com" for their alphabetical access to the characters of the DC Universe. The Web Site calls itself "The Unofficial Guide to the DC Universe", but they do strive to be as accurate as possible, basing many of their character profiles on actual data published by DC, and it's a great way to look up information on characters that aren't as prominent as the Man of Steel or the Dark Knight.

Now, a general comment about the toy line. As much as I truly enjoy the JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED series, and as much as I appreciate the fact that Mattel is bringing out as many of the secondary characters as they are, they have GOT to start paying more attention to the sculpts. Neither Metamorpho nor Wildcat would have been able to stand up on their own had their legs not been made out of a semi-flexible plastic, and had I not bent their legs waaaayy back, and snapped the pictures while the plastic was returning to its original form. In short, these figures are utterly incapable of even standing up on their own for any length of time, and I encountered the same problem with the last three-packs I bought, which included characters like Sinestro, Hawk, and Dove (see previous review). The only one that could stand up by himself was Aztek.

This is utterly inexcusable sloppy molding, and Mattel should be ashamed of themselves for it, and sooner or later, it's going to hurt the line. I suspect Mattel believes that the line is only good for another year or so, with only one more announced season of the series, but that is still no excuse for such completely careless workmanship. I've seen quality control problems in a wide variety of toy lines in recent years, and it's a problem that's getting worse, but I've never seen a line where so high a percentage of its representatives COULDN'T EVEN STAND UP!

COME ON, Mattel -- you've got a very decent line here. You've essentially got access to the entire DC Universe, some of the most classic and best-known pop-culture characters on the face of the planet! START TREATING THEM WITH SOME RESPECT!

Anyway, this newest three-pack should be readily available at either your local Toys "R" Us or Target. Wal-Mart doesn't seem interesting in Justice League for some reason. And I do recommend them to any fan of the Justice League -- with the aforementioned commentary as an advisory.