Justice League Unlimited – A Love Story
April 22, 2014

I don’t think any one of us predicted exactly how “Unlimited” Mattel’s Justice League action figure line would prove to be. Debuting in 2003, the line didn’t quit unit the end of 2012. Just about 10 years. That’s nuts. What started out as a line dedicated to “The Big 7” eventually delivered well over 200 figures.


I was immediately drawn to these stylized figures. Not having watched either the Superman or Batman animated series I was not versed in the “Timm” style. But I caught on quick. The Justice League cartoon blew my mind. Up until this point, however, I was just collecting Star Wars figures and was very hesitant to branch into another toy line. My toy budget was also being watched like a hawk by my ex. But somehow she sort of appreciated the look of these figures, too, and that’s all I needed in order to justify buying my first Justice League character: Attack Armor Green Lantern. There was just something cool about the enclosure construct John Stewart came with. As many of you acquainted with “the slippery slope” are all too familiar, this first figure quickly led to some additional purchases. I probably said something to myself like: “I’ll just get the main seven heroes.” Ha.


Buying these first Justice League figures coincided with a move from New Jersey to Arizona. I had been an active member of “The New Jersey Star Wars Collector’s Club” online forum but had a hard time continuing to participate on that board once I left the state. As I struggled to find an equivalent Star Wars community in Arizona my collecting focus began to diversify. I started poking around the web looking for info related to this new Justice League line I was getting into. I eventually found Action Figure Insider and felt at home quickly. I started to make some online friends and soon met a few of these folks in person here locally and at the San Diego Comic-Con. As it turns out, some of the closest friendships of my adult life came about, thanks in no small measure, to this particular toy line. That’s pretty neat. This fact dawned on my a couple years ago while we were all out at a restaurant one evening after a day at SDCC. We noticed that, seated at the table next to us, was a group of folks which included Bruce Timm. I think I said something like: “If it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t all be friends!”

So, to celebrate this amazing line and the awesome friendships it brought me, I created this poster recently. Now, its not every single JL/JLU figure. But, in my mind, it does depict every unique character that we got in the line, plus some significant variations of individual characters. I hope you enjoy it!


Its hard to look at a checklist of sorts like this and not challenge yourself with questions like:

– What is your favorite figure?
– What figure are you most surprised they made?
– What one figure would you have wanted that was not made?
– What was the hardest figure to acquire?
– Which figure is the hardest for you to stand?!

Yes, the Justice League line had its issues. One of my first blogs for AFi was a recipe on how to reposition JLU legs to help them stand better. That Dove is still a problem! But, in the end, its hard to look at this collection and not just be impressed at the sheer number of characters we received. The line is truly epic. And I’m damn glad I bought that sweet Green Lantern figure ten years ago.

Danny "CantinaDan" Neumann
Action figure anthropologist, Professor Cantina Dan Neumann has been a scholastic contributor to the online community studying the complex world of parumplasticus populus {little plastic people} since the turn of this millenium. His primary focus is the visual cataloging of species exhibits through photo-journalism.
Read other articles by Danny "CantinaDan" Neumann.





  • Ron says:

    That is an awesome image of the JLU collection. Bravo to whoever designed it. AFI should offer it as a poster (although I would place the AFI logo under the collage so as to not block the lower left corner faces).

  • Darren says:

    Great article! I miss this line so much. The thrill of the hunt was never so prevalent for me as it was in those years – storming every target I could find! The one figure I truly wish they did for all of us: Green Lantern Hal. I have an amazing custom now (thanks Spy!) but man, wish we could’ve gotten an official one. Other than that, pretty amazing we got what we did.

  • j1h15233 says:

    Favorite figure – For me, I think it’s classic Batman. There’s something about that figure that really stands out to me. Apologies to about 15 other contenders!

    Most surprising figure – I think it’s still Amanda Waller. I remember the day we got the first image of that figure and I was blown away that she was actually being made

    One figure I want that was not made – That’s a super easy question for me…Robin. Ever since I discovered the line existed, I wanted a Dick Grayson Robin from BTAS and we never got it. Close second is a BTAS style Riddler.

    Hardest to acquire – As someone who came in late to the game, it was a tie between Dove, show accurate Black Canary and Shayera Hol. I didn’t discover the line really until 2008 and those three figures were so hard for me to track down at a reasonable price. Even stalwarts like Grundy and Volcana were easier for me to find.

    Hardest to stand – Great question haha. The answer is Vixen (or any of the other females before the foot hole pegs). Their feet are so small that it’s a really tricky balancing act with them.

    Any chance we could get a copy of the picture without the giant AFI watermark? Maybe through email or something?

  • John says:

    JLU for me is the better line of all times!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • DB says:

    What is your favorite figure?
    Ok, not really answering the question in the right way, but… I love that they made the Justice Lords. I’ve always been a fan of alternate reality versions. And I loved the set of the big 7 that was a TRU exclusive if memory serves.
    – What figure are you most surprised they made?
    Amanda Waller and General Eiling. Seriously, they made a bureaucrat–a high powered one, yeah– and a military man.
    – What one figure would you have wanted that was not made?
    Identity figures…but that’s probably asking for too much.
    – What was the hardest figure to acquire?
    Oh jeez. The ones I still don’t own.
    – Which figure is the hardest for you to stand?!
    They are capable of standing? They’re like reverse Weebles.

    The reason this line was so terrific, beyond its unbelievable comprehensiveness, is the JLU show itself. One of the great TV shows (not just cartoons) in my mind.

  • guapoq says:

    wow Cantina Dan now looks old and tired

  • Howard the Duck says:

    – What is your favorite figure? Green Lantern Hal Jordan with the custom ‘true’ Hal head:)
    – What figure are you most surprised they made? Giganta, possibly because of the two-for-one deal.
    – What one figure would you have wanted that was not made? There’s a bunch…can’t really answer that easily.
    – What was the hardest figure to acquire? Still don’t have the single Volcana and Aquaman.
    – Which figure is the hardest for you to stand?! There’s a few of ’em:)

    Very cool poster, by the way. Makes you really appreciate the JLU line and all that Mattel did to keep the line going.

  • j.worm says:

    i always wanted to start collecting these, but then i’d catch a glimpse of batman’s dented in head. one side of his head was always smushed, and for that, i thank mattel for saving me tons of money.

  • DanMan says:

    Great article and great poster! To answer the questions posed:
    Lobo is probably my favorite figure, it’s a really perfect 3-D representation of the character as seen on the show. Amanda Waller was probably the biggest surprise, and it really showed Mattel’s commitment to making all of the important characters. I would have loved a Zauriel figure to round out my 90’s Morrison/Porter JLA. Those missing 6 packs that never hit the northeast and much of the rest of the country were the hardest to acquire, I still don’t have them! The Shade seems to give me more trouble than anyone else in standing.

  • ed case says:

    I’m just going to selectively answer some of the questions…
    I’m still surprised (and pretty delighted) that Etrigan was made. He’s a favorite and, although not perfect, looks great IMO.
    As far as who I wish they had made; my top two were Sgt. Rock (as you know, Dan!) and Ambush Bug. Thank God for customs!

  • toy critic says:

    Greatest action figure line ever made the day Mattel and scott nietlich anounced the end of this line was the first and last mistake mattel ever made.

Leave a Comment