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Attack from Apokolips

Justice League
by Rustin Parr

Target is a great supporter of toy collecting. Its an odd thought for sure, but many times they'll be the only retailer to take on certain toylines or be the only to keep them on. I personally feel this is driven more by being fans themselves (the infamous and illusive "Buyers" and/or People in Charge), or at least understanding fandom, than by greed. When other chains like Toys Я Us (or, more famously, Wal*Mart) ask for exclusive series of figures from an established, successful toyline, it seems more of a greed or business motivated decision, but Target (who has done the same recently) has several times been the sole chain to carry a series that the other chains have dropped.

Palisades' Muppets line is a perfect example, target is dropping the line at one point only to give it a second chance later on. Another example, more important to myself, is their twice-shown support for Star Trek, first keeping the Playmates line floating for an extra few series' and then later for Art Asylum, being the only Big Box store to carry things like Minimates and Borg: Assimilation. But now Target has done it again and pulled Mattel's popular Justice League Unlimited line from the fiery pit of cancellation, carrying it as a multi-format store exclusive. That's right! Not only did they save the line from oblivion, they are carrying single-packed figures, three-packs of figures and six-packs of figures! If that's not dedication, I don't know what is!

The six-packs will be released in waves of two with the first being a repainted variation on last fall's "The Secret Society" (with Batman, Superman, Flash, Joker, Lex Luthor and Gorilla Grodd) which is great for collectors like myself who cold never find the initial release. The second set is the more exciting one. "Attack from Apokolips" features two hard-to-find figures and three all-new figures exclusive to this set!

Once brainwashed by Darkseid, Superman holds a powerful grudge against the evil ruler of Apokolips.

Superman is a straight re-release of the commonly used figure with elbow and knee articulation giving him an appreciable 10 points (neck, shoulders, elbows, waist, hips and knees). Why they don't use the articulated limbs for other characters isn't beyond me (cost issues?) but I'll don't see why they wouldn't work them in from time to time... if you collect JLU then the odds are you already have five or six of this figure, and you're probably six to death of him. If you've somehow managed to avoid that fate so far, then this is effectively the best Superman figure you'll get from the line.

Scott Free was raised in the dungeons of Apokolips by Granny Goodness. He escaped and fights along side the Justice League.

Mr. Miracle has seen release once before in a hard-to-find three-pack, so his inclusion here is greatly appreciated, not to mention his yellow and red bring much needed color to this otherwise-drab affair. Scott is built off the standard "big" JLU body and therefore has the standard five points of articulation we've all come to know and love tolerate: neck, shoulders and hips. He features a unique head and cape, the later is made of a soft PVC and is glued on at three tab points on the torso (two on the chest and one on the back). The "buttons" that are meant to hold the cape in place are painted on, rather than sculpted, which is kind of disappointing but still is within the realm of this line's conservative aesthetics. The paint is nice and clean considering the general issues found on the multipacks and blurs only at the edges of the yellow.

A "bug" who lives on New Genesis, Forager meets up with Batman and Wonder Woman and helps them save many of his friends from attacks by Darkseid.

Forager is built with the "medium" body (as seen with Batman and John Stewart, for example) and features a new head, skirt and that most rarest of all - an accessory! Again, considering this line and what it is, the skirt works surprisingly well, it's a firm PVC piece including both the belt and the skirt. The effect would be nicer if the skirt under-hung from the belt a bit more, but beggars can't be choosers, I s'pose. The head sculpt is nice and fairly accurate to the show, even including some line detailing common of Kirby's art and designs. The lone accessory is a yellow shield with a dark blue sticker on it featuring a design in black which can clip on to the wrist of Forager (or virtually any other JLU figure). Unfortunately the blue is so dark, the black is hard to make out, but rest assured the pattern is there. He also features some black patterns on his right arm and both legs, but like the shield the maroon plastic is dark enough to keep them from really differentiating as much as one would hope.

Ruler of Apokolips, Darkseid carries on a never ending quest for the anti-life equation.

Darkseid is the third and final re-release and, like the included Superman, he dates way back to the comparably early days of the Justice League license (hailing from the same series, I believe, that gave us mid-limb articulation for the first time). Sadly, though, he remains conspicuously inaccurate to the JL/JLU design for the character, having proportions that make him more like the version seen on Superman: The Animated Series (which is a de facto part of the continuity, I guess). He's a decent figure with 10 points of articulation, the same as Superman, and even has a soft PVC skirt. The head is the highlight of the figure with lots of deep crags, each filled with black paint. This is, I believe, the fourth time this figure has been available (once many years ago, once in a not-all-that-common 3-pack [also with Mr. Miracle] once in a metallic four-pack, and now here) so this is a great chance to pick up a major villain for the DCU and a crucial character in the Fourth World.

Mantis, an evil resident of Apokolips, decides to lead an invasion of earth after the apparent demise of Darkseid.

Mantis, like Forager and Lashina, is exclusive to this set and is probably the most "exciting" of the figures simply because of his bright color and cloth cape. The cape is lime green and is sewn to five green clips that attach to the ankles, wrists and neck. However, the piece is not removable as its glued to high chest. I'm sure this was done to maintain the proper shape in both arms-down and arms-up poses, and the character is never without it, but the five removable clips still suggest I should be able to take this thing off and I feel a bit cheated that I can't. The figure uses the same "big" body as Mister Miracle and, from the neck-down, features very solid paint. This particular figure has good head paint, but it took some searching to find the best one. The issues are generally with the fine work, in this case the inverted green "V" on he forehead and the four-layer eyes (black base, white eye, black pupil, white highlight).

A member of Granny Goodness's female furies, Lashina fights in the name of her master, Darkseid, against all who oppose him.

Lashina is the last of the three new/exclusive figures and by far the one with the most problems. Like the troubles mentioned with Mantis' head-paint, Lashina rarely, if ever, received a passable paint job. While seemingly one of the more simple heads, I've never seen a good paint job on her. Again, the most common issue are the eyes, but as you can see, few if any of the sculptural lines are adhered to. Her head is the only unique piece to this figure, though it does use two pieces (the hair/poyntail is a separate piece glued into the back of the head), which is uses the standard female body for the line. Because the body is so "dainty" and thin, included is a clear oval base with a single peg to ensure her standing. So I guess she too has an accessory... kind of...

In general this is a nice set that gives a much beloved spotlight to Jack Kirby's Fourth World. There are three previously released New Gods characters from JLU released that help fill out this set: Orion (formerly available single packed and in several 3-packs), Lightray (only available in one three pack), and Big Barda (only available in a very hard-to-find 3-pack, though Mattel has said they have plans to reissue her). However, it suffers from the same quality control issues that most Mattel DC product has suffered of late, predominantly in terms of very sloppy paint, which means finding a set you want to own can be pretty tricky. Add to that that there are six figures which means you have to find six good-to-decent paint jobs to be happy. This set is a perfect example of the necessary trade-off - I ultimately went with one that had a good Mr. Miracle, a decent Mantis and a passable Lashina.

But if you can find a set you're pleased with, $20 is a good price for six figures (especially when the same company and retailer charge $16 for an Infinite Heroes three-pack, a line run effectively the same as JLU). Sure we all have tons of Superman, you may even have Darkseid and Mr. Miracle, but three exclusive figures, especially such comparably low-tier ones, just makes this set irrestible to JLU and New Gods fans alike. The paint is a major pain in the behind but, (New) God willing, Mattel will work that out with future sets, but the set is still a very welcome addition to the collection. Especially considering that each purchase is proof to both Mattel and, more importantly, to Target that they've made the right decision to support the fan base and the collectors and that they should continue to with this, and every, line on the market.

-- 02/03/09

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