Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Toy Review: Justice Guild 4-Pack (Mattel)

The Justice League Unlimited line, somewhat forgotten in the shadow of the popular DC Universe Classics, continues to provide an unprecedented array of characters spanning all regions of the DC Universe. With its next JLU release, Mattel once again presents a first with action figure versions of the Justice Guild. No specific release date has been announced.

Based on the 2002 two-part "Legends" episode of the Justice League animated series, the figures comprise four of the five members of the Justice Guild, a Golden Age-styled superhero group created for the show. Missing is Cat Man, a Batman-type caped crusader with utility belt and pointy ears. Given the plethora of repainted Batmans we've seen over the years, maybe it's destined for solo release at a later date.

What we get are Tom Turbine, The Streak, Black Siren and the Green Guardsman. Tom Turbine's the only one who's not patterned directly off of a Justice Society character. I've read suggestions that have him pegged as the Atom, Superman, Mr. Terrific (I'm guessing that's because of the big "T" on his chest and the wrestling-like belt around his waist) or a combination of characters, but he appears to be a generic powerhouse hero - the kind that does the heavy lifting for the group. The Streak (the Flash), Black Siren (Black Canary) and Green Guardsman (Green Lantern) were certainly created with JSA characters in mind.

As with other JLU figures, this foursome lacks the articulation that makes lines like DCUC so popular. No knee joints, wrists or elbows to allow for a variety of poses. However, the trade-off comes in the form of clean lines that don't distract from the highly stylized "animated" look of the figures. While it's nice to have figures that bend all over the place, sometimes those joints stand out too much and distract your focus.

Since the Justice Guild was created for the animated series, it's a natural that they join the JLU line. The bright colors and cheesy grins work in providing an animated appearance of Golden Age greats. I'd be more excited about these if they were released around the time of the first-season episodes they appeared in, but it's always a welcome surprise to see new character releases - that's part of what makes me a collector of the JLU line. A DC fan has to love the variety JLU has provided.

The major drawback, however, is that these are tough to keep standing. Black Siren has to have a stand to stay up (one is included) and the weight of Green Guardsman's cape makes him a struggle to stay upright as well.

The Justice Guild is a perfect release for because hardcore fans will definitely want these, while I wouldn't expect these figures to have much mass market appeal. Mattel officials have said they will keep releasing JLU online as long as collectors keep buying. As long as they're producing new characters, it's a chance to build a DC Universe larger than you can get with any other toy line. I say keep 'em coming.

Roger Vozar
Staff Reviewer

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