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Alfred Pennyworth

DC Multiverse
by yo go re

You rang, sir?

Butler. Medic. Soldier. Friend. There's nobody more important to Bruce Wayne than Alfred Pennyworth.

That may be true, but it shouldn't be. Alfred is, in every way except biologically, Bruce's father. From age 8 on, Thomas Wayne was nothing more than a painting on the wall - Alfred was the one who was there raising Bruce and teaching him how to be an adult. But while it's fine for your parent to be the most important person in your life when you're a child, by the time you're an adult, you should be making your own relationships. That, however, just speaks to how broken Bruce Wayne is as a human being; he's got friends work proximity associates, he's got adopted sons, he's had women he loved in his life... and yet, there's nobody more important than Alfred? He really is just an angry 8-year-old, isn't he?

This is the first of two Alfred figures released in short order, though it's hardly surprising that they're dressed almost exactly alike. What is surprising is that this Alfred doesn't use that one suit sculpt Mattel forced onto everybody. His tuxedo is a new sculpt, with a long-tailed jacket and a nice vest and pants with sculpted pinstripes. Even his spats are sculpted on, not just painted! It never ceases to amaze us how Mattel is managing to reach a level of basic quality right when it stops mattering.

The same goes for the articulation. Not only does the figure have siwvel/hinge rovker ankles, double-hinged knees, swivel thighs, balljointed hips, swivel waist, hinged torso, swivel/hinged wrists, double-hinged elbows, swivel biceps, swivel/hinge shoulders and a balljointed head, he's also got a neck hinge that allows him to look up and down. Again, this is something Mattel couldn't even see fit to give characters who can fly, but here it is on the man who buttles. If their action figures had moved like this for the past decade, Mattel's DC figures could have been as successful as Marvel Legends.

This is a comic-based Alfred, so his face looks like the art in the books. He's got a very narrow face, with a thin, pointed nose and a pencil mustache beneath. The photo on the back of the packaging his him with gray hair, though it's darker on the final product - it's sculpting to look like it's receeding, and he's even got a bald spot in the back, but it hasn't faded in color yet.

Ah, but we're not done yet! Mattel knew this would be the last Alfred figure they'd ever release (and, since McFarlane is getting the DC license next, it may be the last one anyone releases for the foreseeable future), so they went all-in, giving us three Alfreds in one. We said it was based on the comics, but that's only partially true, because the first alternate head is Alan Napier - Adam West's Alfred! It's a great likeness, with a playful smile and light gray hair. He wears glasses, which are a separate piece permenently attached.

The second head is Michael Gough, the '90s Alfred who buttled for Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, and George Clooney. His face is more squarish than the other two Alfreds, and his hair is a medium color. His glasses have round lenses, setting him apart from the older Alf, and again the likeness is very good. It's great fun that this one figure works with so many different lines (as long as you're willing to overlook some scale issues).

If that weren't enough, he also comes with a fourth head, totally hairless and with a chalky white skin and slightly inhuman mien. That is the oddest inclusion of them all - it's seemingly meant to be "The Outsider," the villainous alter ego Alfred developed when a scientist brought him back to life. Like Shadow King, the back of the head remains pink, so it will blend into the existing neck well.

Alfred gets to perform his caretaking duties thanks to the inclusion of a silver serving tray, a drinking glass, and a flattened version of Batman's cowl. Making them separate pieces from the tray means you'll have to balance them pretty carefully, but it also means you can have him serve Bruce whatever you feel like. Pizza? Milkshakes? The head of John the Baptist? It's all fair game!

There's also a Build-A-Figure piece: it's Killer Croc, it's the right arm, and it's a modified version of the King Shark mold, so it's way too big. Mattel never met an idea they couldn't do wrong.

Just doing one of these Alfreds by himself probably would have been an interesting and desirable figure, but putting all the heads and thus all the various incarnations into a single package means he's one of the best DC offerings Mattel ever made.

-- 12/19/19


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