Finite Heroes?
August 9, 2010

DCIH Trinity"I can’t see buying many of these."

"With only a couple of exceptions, this line looks really cheap, like some Lanard The Corps! figures."

Those were my initial reactions upon seeing the first Toy Fair images of Mattel’s DC Universe Infinite Heroes line back in 2008. I was less than impressed, to say the least.

The worst part about the line for me was the hands on the male figures. Those huge, giant hands were bigger than some figures’ heads, and they were more than enough to keep me from buying any of them. It was a shame, too, because I would have loved to love the line. The DCU is my favorite fictional universe, and 3¾" is my favorite scale. I own over a hundred DC Direct figures and around 130 DCAU toys (including B:TAS, Justice League, JLU, and my Static figure from Subway). Despite my devotion to DC, though, I own twice as many G.I. JOE and STAR WARS figures. Aside from a few characters, I’ve never been much of a Marvel fan, but I started buying the Marvel Universe line that Hasbro first showed in San Diego later in ’08 the first chance I got. No, I didn’t have as much of a connection to the characters, but there was enough nostalgia for Mattel’s old Secret Wars line to hook me. But really, the bottom line is the toys were fantastic. Unfortunately, I couldn’t say the same about Infinite Heroes, or really even anything nice at all. And like I said, I’m an enthusiastic fan of 3¾".

I didn’t buy a single one until I saw the Gotham Knight three-pack, but I still wasn’t very impressed. It was $5.99 at TJ Maxx, and I bought it as much for the packaging as for the toys. I thought it would display nicely boxed. When the Public Enemies figures were released, I didn’t pay enough attention to the characters to notice the new construction style or the lack of giant hands. I barely even glanced at them. I thought Monsieur Mallah and the Brain looked really good, but Arsenal and Cyborg made me put the set back on the shelf. I don’t know how many times I’ve picked up the single Black Lightning – one of my favorite DCU characters – in a store, only to hang him back on the peg. How great would it be to have a 3¾" Black Lightning? But those hands…

Cut to June of this year. That’s when I saw the new Batman single at Target. I finally took notice of the v3 construction style, the better hands, and the overall improvement of the figure. I thought about buying him, but I decided against it. The next time I was in Target, it was Deathstroke that caught my eye. I couldn’t deny it; this was a nice action figure. "Okay," I thought. "I’ll buy Batman, and Deathstroke can come along so he’ll have an adversary." Then I saw Mr. Terrific. Hey, Batman needs at least one superfriend, right?

I bought those three on June 21. I immediately began checking online to see which figures had the updated construction styles and articulation (and thanks to those of you who helped with some of that information), so it didn’t take long to see that I actually did want some of those Public Enemies packs. A 3¾" Black Lightning with hands appropriate for a human? Captain Atom? Superman? Sold. Booster Gold and Maxwell Lord? Sold. Hal Jordan, Firestorm, Sinestro, and Animal Man? Sold. Even the new Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl figures look better than the originals with the new paint applications. Seven weeks after buying Batman, I now have 39 DCIH figures, with a few more already on the way. That’s not including a few duplicates and grande-hands figures I gave away or tossed in a box. The only figure with the old, huge hands that made his way into my display is Bizarro, and that’s only because such a deformity makes sense for the character. I even bought a DC Universe Classics Atom Smasher on eBay to display with them. Many collectors have mentioned DCUC reminding them of Super Powers, but I’ve certainly never seen them that way. While his size makes him look cool with the 3¾" figures, Atom Smasher mostly reminded me of why I don’t buy the DCUC figures. And the more DCIH characters I acquire, the more this line reminds me of Super Powers. The Batman figure also makes me think of my old Mego Pocket Super Heroes version of the character that I had long before the days of The Super Powers Collection. Talk about nostalgia.

That’s not to say I’m as thrilled with them as I was with the Super Powers Collection as a kid, or anything. Do I love them? No. Are they on par with Hasbro’s Marvel Universe line? No. I do like these improved figures, though, and they’re fun. They’re a lot of fun. If I want to really dork it up, I can carry Batman around in my pocket and take him wherever I go. A comic-style DCU line in this scale is such a great plan, but the execution just wasn’t there in the beginning. It’s still not where it could be, but Mattel has implemented drastic changes that make the more recent offerings so much better than the first several waves.

So when San Diego Comic-Con came and went without any real news for the line, I was once again disappointed with DCIH, but for different reasons this time. I wasn’t really hoping for anything specific, except perhaps revisiting characters like Green Arrow, Hawkman, Question, Atom, Captain Marvel, Blue Beetle, and others who’d only seen "gigantor hands" releases. I was hoping for something, though, but Mattel only said the line would focus on Green Lantern in 2011. Considering the latest three-packs were shipping straight to discount retailers, the Big Box stores – the ones who matter and decide the fate of such lines – had obviously lost interest, so this really wasn’t all that surprising. Going heavy with the Green Lantern theme next year makes the most sense. Retailers will want it with a summer blockbuster to drive sales, and that kind of media support will help get kids interested. It could be just the shot in the arm DCIH needs for its eventual return to the DCU (fingers crossed!). And let’s face it, for a line called Infinite Heroes, it still has so much of the DC Universe left to explore.

I obviously wasn’t as disappointed as the collectors who’ve been with this line since the beginning, as I only have a few weeks invested in it. I also have some figures I missed that I still need to track down, and pretty much everything about it is new to me. That leaves me with a different perspective, too, as I seem to be more excited than most about the Green Lantern focus for next year. I’m looking forward to seeing what Mattel has in store for DC in the 3¾" scale, and it seems like they’ve learned quite a bit during these last two years. A few more things they should keep in mind:

· Keep working on improving the figures. While none of the ones I’ve purchased have broken, I do have a couple of stuck wrist joints that will snap if I attempt to turn them. Too many people seem to mention broken joints all too often. Don’t just "test" the toys; play with them. Better yet, have your kids or your friends’ or relatives’ kids play with them. Let them sit in a room full of toys and work out battles with their imaginations. See what survives and what doesn’t, and take what you see back to the designers. Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water, though. This line has come a long way, so don’t feel like you have to start from scratch to get it off life support.

· And speaking of kids, it wouldn’t hurt to concentrate a bit more on play value. Collectors aren’t the only ones who like accessories. The fist construct packed with the SDCC Green Lantern repaint is a great one, as is Wonder Woman’s lasso. A Batarang is something that could be used again and again w

ith Batman, Robin, Batwoman, and (hopefully in the future) different versions of Batgirl. The packages don’t need to be loaded with accessories like G.I. JOE figures are, but one or two would be great.

· Look at what your competitor is doing. Don’t try to copy STAR WARS, Marvel Universe, or G.I. JOE, because you’ve started your own thing in its own scale. Do pay attention to them, though, and see if they give you any ideas. Hasbro has so much success in 3¾" for a reason, and there’s no shame in looking to that success for inspiration. Elbow articulation on slender female arms is possible without big, clunky joints. Once again for emphasis, don’t imitate; innovate! Do things others will want to copy.

· Finally, if you can win me over after the way I felt about these when you first introduced them, then you can win over other collectors as you continue to expand the character selection and improve the designs. If you can get retailers back into the game, I’ll buy every DCU character you release with the newer body styles, including rereleases of Green Arrow and the others I mentioned. Just give them the normal hands treatment. As far as adult collectors go, I was your target market for this line. I rejected you at first, but now you’ve lost weight, gotten rid of the braces, and stopped letting your mom pick out your clothes. You’re attractive now, even sexy at times, so you’ve won my interest.

And for those who were left with disappointment after SDCC, try to remember that Mattel would be cranking these out if Big Box retailers would place orders for them. Yes, Mattel has made mistakes with the line along the way (like going into production with those gargantuan hands in the first place), but the progress shown over the last year is substantial. Matty doesn’t want to dump you; he just needs to take a break. They obviously want to continue the 3¾" scale, especially considering what they’ve invested into it. I know it wasn’t the update for which we were hoping. All the negativity in the world, however, won’t ever get another figure released. But more on that next time.

For now, the UPS web site says I have a package from Matty out for delivery today, so I’m going to go wait on Brown.

DC Universe Infinite Heroes
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Jon "Caped Crusader" Edwards
Born in April of '77, Jon quite literally grew up with STAR WARS. His mother took him to see it barely two months later and started buying him the figures before he was even old enough for them. G.I. JOE and Super Powers came along in the '80s, and an action figure addict was created. The moment he decided he was "too old" to play with his toys, he started to collect carded figures, beginning with Super Powers. No longer in possession of the toys or comics of his childhood, he rediscovered collecting with The Phantom Menace, and has moved on from STAR WARS to JLU, DC Direct, G.I. JOE, Marvel Universe, and various characters from movies, television shows, and comics.
Read other articles by Jon "Caped Crusader" Edwards.

 

 

 

6 Comments »

  • CantinaDan says:

    Great line:
    “I rejected you at first, but now you’ve lost weight, gotten rid of the braces, and stopped letting your mom pick out your clothes.”

    Lots of good stuff there, Jon. It certainly is a good thing that Mattel is stepping up their 3 3/4″ game. I’m so spoiled being a Star Wars collector I often get kinda impatient with other companies who just don’t come close. But more on topic: I’ll give DCIH a second look. I’m not their market but I will pick and choose characters now that the figures have improved.

  • demoncat says:

    nice post. i passed on the line for seeing the dcu done star wars size is good but most of the figures mattel seemed to come up short for the only one i got from the line is the spectre.otherwise the line i never touched.

  • Chip Cataldo says:

    “I rejected you at first, but now you’ve lost weight, gotten rid of the braces, and stopped letting your mom pick out your clothes. You’re attractive now, even sexy at times, so you’ve won my interest. ”

    Absolutely brilliant. I love reading your stuff, man! :-)

  • Eric Qel-Droma says:

    This line is a lot of fun, but make no mistake: Mattel made several painfully bone-headed decisions with this line. The box stores didn’t want them because they left pegs full of crap and then there was nothing new coming out. That’s not negativity–that’s just how it was.
    .
    I hope you’re right, that Mattel’s just giving the line (or more importantly, the SCALE) a break, and that we’ll see a return to rebranded pan-DCU greatness next year. That said, Mattel certainly could have been a little more upbeat about the scale at SDCC. “Revamped 3.75 figures will return *starting with* with a GL-centric line in 2011 and more to come after” would not leave me with this sinking feeling in my stomach that I have now.

    • Jon Caped Crusader says:

      I’m not talking about realistic, constructive criticism, but rather the Mattel sucks and they’re all morons kind of commentary. That stuff doesn’t accomplish anything. If they had concrete plans, they would have announced them at SDCC. Toy manufacturers have learned over the years that it’s better to play your cards close to the chest and keep your mouth shut than to announce something and fail to deliver. People felt the same way about JLU when they didn’t have anything for that line to show at SDCC in 2007, but it’s seen some of its best days in terms of character selection since then. They won’t announce that anything is coming for sure until they have retailer commitment, but we should see something Lantern-related in February.

  • Magog says:

    Agree in so many points. It was really cool to red. I started to collect this line later too, but now I have almost all of them (big hands too). Allways loved this scale and hope that Mattel keep them coming next year, and come back to full Dc universe after the GL centric figures.

    A few days ago Toyguru told me that if we show enough interest, they would love to offer Infinite Heroes Team packs thru mattycollector.com.

    Don`t forget to post in Mattel forum to let him know about it ;^)

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