In September 1943, Don Cameron and Ed Dobrotka needed a new threat for Superman to fight, and introduced Winslow Schott, the terrible Toyman, in Action Comics #64. By the Bronze Age, though, the silver-haired eccentric wouldn't cut it anymore; Toyman needed an update, so a new version, named Jack Nimball,
appeared in 1974's Action #432. That's the Toyman who was active when Challenge of the Superfriends came on the air, so that's also the Toyman Alex Ross paid homage to in the 12 issue maxi-series Justice.
Winslow P. Schott expresses his anger against the Justice League through the Toyman robot he's built.
Yes, Ross found a really nifty way of tying the "real" Toyman - a portly, inactive schlub - to the cartoon's thin, spry loon: robots! Schott makes wildly complex toys, so why not just push that one small step further and have him create a robotic avatar to do his dirty business for him? It's simple, it's clever, it fits entirely with what we know of the character... it's perfect. So perfect, in fact, that a similar solution was just introduced to the "real" comics, effectively absolving Toyman of his worst crimes.
Anyway, since just creating a humanoid robot
wouldn't live up to the "Toy-" part of the name, Toyman designed one that would. Though clearly inspired by the "maniacal jester" version of Toyman seen on the cartoons, this one is also blatantly inhuman. It's meant to resemble a marionette, but just as Brainiac's scalpel looked like an X-Acto knife, Toyman looks like a poseable wooden artist's mannequin. Remember, Alex, Dick Blick is a catalog, not a reference book. Still, the idea is sound - is the execution?
Mike Locasio handled the sculpt, and Toyman looks appropriately... toyetic. He's more than 7" tall thanks to the spike on his jester's cap, and has a very limited palette: the black and tan. His "shirt" is smooth, but the rest of his body has a nice wood grain. If things don't look exactly real, that can be attributed to the toy representing a metal robot, not something carved from wood. His fingertips are wood, as well, but the medial sections look like metal.
Toyman's face is rough and blocky - as it should be.
These Toyman robots came in all sizes in the pages of Justice, but they all had the same unchanging countenance. The figure has a square jaw that even the animated Batman would envy, and white crescents for eyes. His mouth, permanently molded in a creepy smile, stretches all the way back his cheeks to where his mask begins. The top of his head is smooth and yellow.
The figure has a cool look, make no mistake, but what really makes Toyman stand out is his amazing articulation.
He's designed to look like an artist's dummy, which means lots of visible joints. And unlike some companies, DC Direct didn't cheap out: everything on this figure that looks like a joint is a joint. Okay, I take that back - the fingers are solid, and just molded to look mobile. Everything else works. There's no point in us listing them all, since you can see them all plainly. Just know that they're all fully functional balljoints. Nearly any pose you could ever want, you can get. The "screws" holding his joints together are just molded in the plastic, so don't think you're going to disassemble him.
Toyman has no accessories, unless you want to count the standard Justice display base, but to help complete the marionette look there are nine 8" strings hanging from various points on the figure's body: calves, back of the hands, triceps, shoulders and the top of the head. They're all real string, and they all hang loosely - they did that in the comics, too, so don't feel you need to find a way to affix them to an overhead source.
Toyman has never really been much of a threat in the comics - not even when they tried to make him "edgier" in the '90s. But in Justice, the Toyman robots were a big menace, so adapting this design was a good choice. Hell, it may be the only way Toyman ever gets some justifiable plastic love. This figure is not only a great addition to the ranks of the Justice line, but also one of the best DC Direct has ever put out. If you like toys, you owe it to yourself to bring this one home.