DC Multiverse’s Suicide Squad Goals Should Aim a Little Higher [Review]
Mattel's DC Multiverse line was once merely home to 4" figures from the Batman: Arkham video games, with a few select film characters thrown in for good measure. After the disappearance of the DC Universe Classics, and its replacement DC Club Infinite Earths, it was nearly impossible to find 6" DC Comics figures outside of your local comic shop. With the arrival of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and the success of the CW television universe, the DC Multiverse line soon had a foundation for a new 6" and 12" figure line.
There have been a few waves of 6" Multiverse figures in 2016, with Mattel mixing things up with comic and Hollywood versions of familiar characters to keep things fresh. Of the latest lines to arrive this summer, Suicide Squad is entirely based on the film incarnations. It's also one of the largest, most diverse waves to arrive since the new Multiverse launched. It's also still very inconsistent.
Since the DCU Classics line vanished, DC Comics fans have been waiting for a mass market competitor for Marvel Legends to come back to retail. Though the smaller Multiverse line had a certain appeal, its singular focus kept it from matching the heights of previous DC toy lines. Shortly before the new 6" line was kicked off, the smaller-scale figure line was canceled, leaving Mattel with just this one series to focus all its attention on. From the start, the results have been erratic.
The Batman v Superman waves mixed some good design (Batman) with some awkward sculpting (Wonder Woman), and a very bizarre build-a-figure template. Rather than having all the parts available in one go, mutilple figures across different waves carried parts, making it a bit of a challenge to complete the "bonus" figure (or in the case of BVS, replica weapon).
Subsequent waves have improved on that model, including the Suicide Squad movie collection, which all hone in on you being able to build Killer Croc. Now, it will still take you some finagling to get all the parts for Croc, as there are variant versions of Harley Quinn and the Joker that offer different parts to give the BAF character different looks. You can work to build a jacketed Killer Croc or a shirtless one. For a figure that isn't drastically larger than the rest of those in the line, it's a decent way to give him a bit more weight in the line.
Now, we weren't given every figure in the line to build Croc, so we're not able to offer much insight whether one version is superior or not. However, we did dig into what characters we got, and found that Multiverse is still struggling to find that consistent line rival Marvel Legends has honed in on and that made the DCU Classics line such a fan-favorite.
The good news is Batman, Deadshot and Rick Flag all come out looking strong. The Batman figure is mostly identical to his previous release, save for the addition of a new re-breather head sculpt and slightly different accessories. The articulation and paint app are still right in line with what you've seen already from this figure, and within the Multiverse line, it's still one of the better releases.
Rick Flag and El Diablo are Walmart exclusives, and as such don't include any BAF parts. That's a blessing for collectors and a smart decision for Mattel. Having exclusive figures at retailers is an expected practice these days, and isn't so terrible when those figures aren't holding pieces of a BAF you can easily find the rest of at the majority of retailers. Are they still often too challenging to locate? You bet, but that's a problem with the hobby itself and not Mattel (or Hasbro or Playmates) at a distribution level. Toy manufacturers still haven't found the best way to satisfy veteran collectors, newcomers and casual buyers across the board, but I digress.
The Rick Flag figure is arguably one of the best in the Suicide Squad wave, and could easily find his way into the top of the Hollywood DC Multiverse figures this early into the new line's lifespan. Typically more generic military figures like this don't stand out from the rest of the crowd, but Flag's sculpt is detailed and has a close enough likeness to Joel Kinnaman that it's hard to find much fault with it. The guns feel a little too big for the scale, but otherwise, action figure Rick Flag is on point with his silver screen counterpart.
The same can mostly be said for Deadshot. As the largest star in the film, Will Smith's portrayal of the character brought a lot of attention to Suicide Squad. His head sculpt isn't quite there, but for a mass market figure, the likeness is on par with what we've seen from Multiverse's contemporaries. The swappable masked sculpt fares a bit better, and actually helps the character look much more like his comic book counterpart --- even if the sight is on the opposite side of original's costume. The armor came out well, and provides some nice detail.
The only real gripe is that this 6" version comes with just one pistol, which is molded out of plastic that is far too flexible, and no rifle. Were Deadshot not seen with the rifle in nearly every bit of promotion for the film, it wouldn't be a big deal. One additional weapon as an accessory would not have been a huge deal on the production level, but its absence makes a huge deal in the final product. I mean, even Flag came with two guns and he's just a guy not the world's most elite sharpshooter.
Things don't fare quite as well for Harley Quinn or Flag's exclusive counterpart, El Diablo. This Harley Quinn, which is one of three different Suicide Squad Quinn figures in the Multiverse line, comes with a bat and without her jacket. A jacketed version with a mallet is also available, and comes with different parts of Killer Croc's BAF. Later a gold dress Harley Quinn will be available as well. For the most part, the two costumed Harley Quinn figures are identical save for the accessory swaps.
While the articulation on both isn't bad, the sculpts on both fare far worse than the rest of the Squad. Her high heel Adidas make it almost impossible for her to stand upright without assistance, and the portrait is a miss. It's not as bad as the Wonder Woman Multiverse figure, whose hair was sculpted in such a way as to make moving her head impossible, but you expect more from a high profile line like this. It doesn't have to be Margot Robbie's exactly, but Mattel has to start doing better if it hopes for the Multiverse to have quite the same following as its predecessor.
El Diablo isn't a bad figure, he's just an unfortunately designed one. That's not any fault of Mattel's really, but a letterman's jacket is one of the lamest villain costumes to hit the screen in quite some time. It's a sad truth though that that kind of costuming doesn't translate well to action figures. The more plain a character is, the less interesting the action figure. It's why there are very few Lex Luthor figures with him in a suit and tie. It's not something that jumps out at a kid at the store. That's true for the jacketed El Diablo, who may have actually benefited for just being in his tank top. At least then, all the tattoos would have been something to make him more visibly different from the rest of the figures in the line.
Diablo's head sculpt is helped tremendously by these tats, and what would have otherwise been a bland bald head is transformed into a more engaging portrait. The effects hands included also give him a bit more personality than the rest of the Squad, who all lack visually interesting powers. The effects don't look bad, but the hands themselves are a bit oversized, and coupled with the large jacket, it makes him look like an anorexic, urban Uncle Fester. What may have worked on screen in the movie just didn't translate to El Diablo's miniaturized form at all.
Like Batman V Superman before it, Suicide Squad also offered 12" Multiverse figures, which Mattel has so far only rolled out for the Cinematic Universe characters. Joker joins Deadshot and Harley Quinn in this wave, and he comes prepared for a sleepover at Arkham Asylum. Deadshot and Harley have near identical sculpts to the 6" versions, though being scaled up to twice the size means there's more detail to take in. This Deadshot actually comes with his custom rifle (no alternate head though), giving you some posing options. Oddly, some of the guns on his back are sculpted into the holsters, which I'm not a fan of at any scale or price point. If you are sculpting accessories, they don't belong anywhere on the figure.
The articulation for the 12" figures isn't quite as great, but it's better than what most competitors are offering at this size and price point. I'm not counting the new (and more expensive) Marvel Legends 12" figures here, but compared to things like the Titan series or even the Star Wars 12" heroes, the Multiverse is very competitive from a sculpt and articulation standpoint. Joker gets the benefit of having all those tattoos to give his sculpt some attitude (whether you like this design or not), and is the counterpoint to El Diablo being clothed. Other smaller Joker figures have a few different costumes, but they also have the benefit of being the Joker, who succeeds virtually on name alone in figure form.
It's a shame these 12" versions are only used for the movie characters, as getting some larger comic book characters like Zero Year Batman, the CW Supergirl or Flash, or upcoming characters like Carrie Kelley, would be really great. These are characters that have never really seen that kind of attention before, and while that's also technically true of these Suicide Squad members, there's unexplored potential in DC's vast catalog that far surpasses what's been in the movies... so far. Next year with Wonder Woman and Justice League arriving, both the 6" and 12" lines should see some interesting releases. I just hope between now and then, Mattel is able to get just a bit more refined with its sculpts.
The DC Multiverse Suicide Squad figures are available at retailers now. These figures were provided by Mattel for review.