Thursday, October 31, 2013

My Fan Art: Werewolf By Night!

Happy Halloween! For this post I wanted to share my latest piece of comics inspired art, Marvel's Werewolf By Night!  I recently picked up the second Marvel Essential volume of this title at a local Comic Con, and have enjoyed it thoroughly. As a kid I was fascinated by werewolves, and while there are some goofy moments in the book, it's been a fun read  for the month of October! Werewolf By Night first appeared in Marvel Spotlight back in 1972, soon thereafter getting his own book, running 43 issues up until 1977. The anti-hero has since resurfaced several times in limited series, including a 90's stint in Morbius the Living Vampire. I'm an old fine art painter, so this was done with acrylic & brush on 14 x 20" watercolor paper using the book only as a reference, the drawing completely original and not directly copied from the Don Perlin work within. I tried to make it as close to Marvel "house style" as I could in this method, and though I'll never be a comic book artist, it's fun to revisit my childhood fantasy as such. Check out the Spider-Man I painted last January.

*Read more about Werewolf By Night at at MarvelWikia.Com!
More Later- Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Spooky Six Inches!

After my last post on the Batman Unlimited Vampire Batman, I started to think about who he may go trick-or-treating with, and decided Sinestro Corps Scarecrow, The Spectre, and Deadman would be likely candidates! Enjoy some random shots of these creepy DCUCs in my collection...

 More Later-Make It FUN!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Batman Unlimited Vampire & Beware the Batman

I picked these Mattel Batman Unlimited figures up a month ago, and since I've been on a Dark Knight kick recently, I thought I'd go ahead and photograph them. Many DC characters are a natural fit for a Halloween post, Deadman and the Spectre obvious candidates, but Batman shouldn't be left out of the conversation.  True, he's not a ghoul or ghost, but his shadowy dress and spooky essence make him a perfect subject around this time of year. First the Beware the Batman...

I love the exaggerated anatomy of this Batman and his new utility belt design- he looks just as he appears in the new Beware the Batman animated show...

Beware Batman has a lanky, stick figure physique reminiscent of Tim Burton's Jack the Skeleton King, which is an interesting interpretation. I happen to have liked the only episode I've seen of this show, the main cast tweaked ever so slightly with Alfred as Bruce Wayne's bodyguard and Batman's behind the scene mission support, and Katana as Bruce Wayne's driver and Batman's sidekick. It's fresh and fun, and the change-up among the Rogue's Gallery is appealing to me.

I love a re-imaging of a popular character, and while this isn't anything new, it's presented in a new way. I admit this is reminicent of the '89 Batman, also Tim Burton's movie, and contributes to my nostalgia as such. The paint & finish are unevenly applied, splotchy and marred on mine- unfortunate as there's much potential here. The success of it's simple deco is dependent on clean production. Quality control was out to lunch that day.

Beware the Batman has some difficulty standing due to his small feet, heavy cape, and somewhat limited joint range in areas. The elbows, knees and ankles have swivels at the hinges, a swivel at the abdomen and wrists, and Batman's head is on a hinge-swivel with good vertical range. The hips have great lateral range, decent dorsal, and limited forward range. The ankles on mine struggle against the weight of the cape and the figures's overall top heavy buck. That said, I really like the design visually, in spite of it's flaws and Mattel's refusal to give us an accessory or stand. 

Beware Batman is like the All-Star Batman, my first and favorite DCUC Batman, in his all-black outfit. The slender limbs and long ears remind me of the DC Direct First Appearance Batman from my last post...

Batman's clandestine nature lends itself well to the Dracula treatment in his darkly cloaked outfit, so this Vampire Batman seems completely natural to me. The open, fanged mouth is really great, as is the overall sculpt and paint. There are great highlights and shadows throughout the head, cape and body! The more sinewy DCUC buck is used, accentuating his undead state. And we get double-hinged elbows and hinged wrists like the Sinestro Corps Scarecrow

The cape has a unique sculpt made even better by the paint highlights, under which the detachable wings fit into peg holes on the figure's trapezius. This works relatively well, and allows for some positioning of the detailed, purple wings. Really fun!

Vampire Batman also has gold highlights is his belt buckle and storage compartments, which like the red eyes, is a small detail that adds dimension along with all the rest of this figure's generous Paint apps- he looks killer!

Vampire Batman reminds me of Azrael Batman in that he is winged, and like the Beware Batman, was unique enough to warrant my purchase. We are given a stake with handle and hilt sculpted in the shape of a Bat, an accessory I appreciate- it's cast in red plastic with great shadow paint apps. Nice.

The Vampire Batman is superior to Beware Batman in some aspects, but they are both welcome additions to my Batman collection. While Vampire Batman has an accessory, better deco, and more articulation, I applaud the deviation from Mattel's standard DCUC buck with the Beware Batman.

Pictured below are most of the 6" Mattel Batmen I have: DC New 52 Batman Unlimited, Beware the Batman Unlimited, Vampire Batman Unlimited, Legacy Edition Golden Age BatmanBatman Unlimited Dark Knight, and DCUC All-Star Batman

A few of these occupy the quickly crowding Batman shelf in my glass cabinet, which isn't even a third of the Batmen in my collection. And yes, I'm looking forward to more when DC Collectibles drops the Capullo and Earth 2 Batman figures next year. For whatever reason, I've passed on the new '66 Batman & Robin, Batmobile, and companion figures- they just didn't grab my interest. I would like the Funko POP! '66 Batman & Robin vinyl figures coming out though, and I just saw a Sofubi Batman & Joker 9 3/4"  vinyl figure set by Medicom that is sweet vintage goodness- I'd love to have those!

More Later-Make It FUN!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

DC Direct First Appearance Batman

I've had this sweet DC Direct First Appearance Batman for nearly three years, out of package on display the entire time, but never got around to posting about him. But having immersed myself in more Batman comics recently, and the character lending himself so suitably to the Halloween season, I felt it would be a good time to give him the royal treatment he deserves. Crazy people ask a  hefty price for him often it seems, but I got him for around twenty bucks on eBay. DC Direct released this figure along with Jay Garrick Flash, Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel in June of 2004, the introductory wave in the First Appearance series figures. One could argue that some of the characters chosen for later waves strayed from the portrayal of their original designs, the core theme of the series, but DC Direct nailed it on the first swing, especially in the case of this killer Batman that faithfully pays tribute to Bob Kane's classic Batman from Detective Comics #27 from 1939.

There's a lot to like about this figure, but those traits are hard to focus on due to the tremendous cape DC Direct put on it! Lined with metal wire, the cape can be posed in a variety of positions, adding undeniable flair to this "weird figure of the dark". Blue on the inside and black on the verso, the cape is made of layered spandex, the wire armatures double-stitched into place, scalloped down the back. Though one of the wires on mine is poking through, it works pretty well at emulating a flowing nature to the iconic garment- a tool of function and fear for the Caped Crusader.

While he's limited in articulation in the way that DC Direct figures generally are, particularly of this vintage, Batman has an impressive hinged ball-joint combination under his head that allows a great deal of expression. Typical of DC Direct figures, the joint tension is inconsistent in my figure, some so stiff they could easily be snapped, and a couple that seem precariously loose. These DC Direct figures are more delicate that a Mattel DCUC, and need to be handled carefully- I've snapped a couple. That said, I enjoy these figures for their variety in styling among their lines, often based on different story arcs/artistic representations in the DC Universe- a tradition the company continues now as DC Collectibles. 

DC Direct nailed the character's physique from those early issues- the figure isn't as muscularly exaggerated as a DCUC, with long, slender limbs as he was rendered by Bob Kane during the Golden Age, purple gloves and all. I love retro-looking action figures, so this Batman is interesting to me. Among my collection, this DC Direct looks most like my 9" Masterpiece Edition Batman by Hasbro, another faithful homage to Bob Kane's Batman that also has a wired cape for posing...

Batman came with a tiny reprint of his first appearance in Detective Comics, an issue that changed comics forever. It's hard to believe Batman is 74 years old, but something about him is compelling- his mysterious, dark nature is identifiable to us all somehow. Many great artists have rendered him over the years, likely none of which haven't looked to his roots as inspiration. Most all of us having never known a world without Batman, it's hard to imagine how bizarre he appeared to people back in 1939.

More Later- Make It FUN!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Imaginext Lex Luthor Mech Suit

I passed on this guy in the clearance aisle, like four times, in the last couple months- when I discovered it to be under fifteen bucks, which didn't really seem like that much of a discount (typical of Wal-Mart). Still, I like the design, and I wanted another villain worthy of my Imaginext Superman. For seven bucks I could have picked up a variant Imaginext Lex and black/silver Superman I didn't care about, and no chunky mecha that fires a missile either, so here we are   :D

This is a fun toy! The power suit has limited articulation, but it's there: hinge swivel shoulders, independent leg swivel legs, a gripping claw, and missile launcher mounted to the left wrist. It can't stand on it's head or one leg, but there are parts for a small child to build motor skills with, and that's what these are for- playing with.

The Lex Luthor included has some great surface texture, and mischievous smirk- great detailing! His body doesn't fit well into the mech suit well with his hands down, but his swivel wrists and hinge-swivel shoulders help him grip the windshield nicely. And Fisher-Price gave Lex a swivel neck, unlike some of the Imaginext figures, which lends some expression to even the simplest action figure. 

In the 6" mechanical suit, Lex towers over my New 52 Superman! It's claw can easily grip other Imaginext figures at arms length, but the projectile fires somewhat meekly- probably as a result of safety standards, though I have other Imaginext toys that fire with higher velocity. The toy's deco is simple but nice overall- I like the yellow-green tinted windshield and rocket, but not the decal within the suit's navel. Though again- there's a lot of play value here, the "vehicle" in the set being a big robot with moving parts, and it's a cute toy. Fischer-Price released an even larger Superman Exo-Skeleton mecha that lights up and makes sounds for about $25.00, which seemed a little steep for my tolerance- the Black Manta Sub and Wonder Woman Invisible Jet, and a couple Batcopter sets I've seen for fifteen bucks that seem like a better value. So far, I've resisted the temptation! 

Ultimately, we get the best of both with this Imaginext set- Lex in his bandoliered jump suit, like my 8" Mattel Retro-Action Lex, and in his power suit look, like the DC Direct "Crisis" Lex and the Mattel Lex.

Group Shot! DC Direct Crisis on Infinite Earths Battle Armor Lex, Mattel Retro-Action Lex, Imaginext Lex Luthor Mechanical Suit, Mattel Kryptonite Chaos Lex, and Mattel DC Super Friends Kryptonite Blaster Lex Luthor...

More Later- Make It FUN!