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DC Signature Collection
by yo go re

It's time for another round of "let's imagine the design meeting," with our favorite strawmen, Mike and Jerry!

"Okay, Mike, time for DCU Classics Series 2. Who should we put in it?" "Aquaman, Jerry. The kids love Aquaman." "Perfect! I trust we're talking about his '90s look, aka 'the only time the character's ever been interesting'?" "No, Jerry, the original suit. 'Classic' is in the name of the line, so 'classic' is where we're going to start." "Fair enough, Jerry, I can get behind that. Will there be a variant of the figure?" "Sure will, Mike!" "And that will be the '90s version?" "No it won't. It'll be the modern version everyone's already forgotten." "Even though he never dressed like that, Jerry?" "Even though he never dressed like that, Mike." "Okay, well, what about the future? We've got another Aquaman coming in Series 7 - that'll be the '90s version, then?" "No Mike, that will be the wave camo suit that he wore for four issues." "Will that figure have a variant, Jerry?" "No, but we'll be sure to reissue it twice, with zero changes." "Wow, okay. And after that, Jerry?" "A gold repaint of the first figure, in a two-pack!" "And after that?" "Another two-pack, Mike, one that takes that first figure and does nothing but change the belt from yellow to gold!" "I see, Jerry. And after that? Will we put Aquaman in the subscription line?" "No, Mike, we need the space for Batzarro. The kids love Batzarro!" "Okay, how about one of these directionless retail lines that no stores are ordering? Can we put Aquaman in one of those?" "Yes, Mike! Yes we can!" "The '90s Aquaman, Jerry?" "New 52, Mike."

Found abandoned, Prince Orin of Atlantis was raised in the ways of the surface world and renamed by lighthouse keeper Arthur Curry. In adulthood, he became Aquaman and a member of the Justice League. Things looked dire when the villain Charybdis destroyed his left hand, but the Aquatic Avenger rose above the loss and fastened a harpoon in its place, giving him another tool to fight villainy and patrol the Seven Seas.

The head on this figure is really impressive. To keep his new, longer hair from interfering with his neck joint, it actually sticks out behind him instead of hanging down - you know, as if he's underwater. But the really impressive part is behind the beard, where (accounting for the angry eyebrows and big scowl) this Aquaman's face is the same as this Aquaman's face. This is something we've talked about before: if the character is meant to represent the same person, it should look like the same person; not a lot of toymakers seem to think about that, but the Four Horsemen did, and we like it.

Given the design of this costume, Aquaman is almost entirely new molds. He's going topless, but the scale pattern that used to be on his shirt is now moved down to the outside of his legs. The pants should technically be grey, not green, but that can be attributed to bad reference material. He has silver armor covering his right shoulder and pec, which gives him a very "gladiatorial" feel - and since the comic at the time cast him as something of a barbarian king, it's quite appropriate. It's even covering the side of his body that isn't carrying a weapon, as it should! Unlike a lot of shirtless characters, he's even got a nipple.

Of course, the major feature of this design is that he has a hook for a hand. Originally it was just a harpoon, but this is the more advanced tool he picked up at STAR Labs. It's not articulated at all (in the comics, it could spin like a drill or be fired off on a grappling line), so he only moves at the ankles, knees, thighs, hips, waist, chest, right wrist, elbows, biceps, shoulders and neck. The fact that his stylized A belt buckle rises above his waist means the torso rubs against it when you turn him. His chest hinge has almost no range, and doesn't allow for a full crunch. And like so many Mattel DC figures before him, his neck balljoint functions more like a swivel.

Year 3 of the DC Signature Collection did not receive enough preorders to go forward, so rather than a full year of figures, we're just getting four quarterly offerings. It's nice that we finally get the only Aquaman who matters, but the price is too high for what you get, meaning this is one casual collectors might want to avoid. What a shame.

-- 04/03/14

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