There are a lot of Looney Tunes shorts that are considered classics, but when fans, historians and critics alike talk about the best of the best, there's only one winner: 1957's "What's Opera, Doc?" It makes sense, then, that when DC Direct started a line of figures based on Warner Brothers' cartoons, that "Opera" would be in the first series.
Premiering on July 6, "Opera" was directed by Chuck Jones, and even he considers it his masterpiece.
In just six minutes, the short manages to parody or lampoon five operas, Disney's Fantasia, the then-current style of ballet and even WB's own Elmer vs. Bugs formula. The cartoon has over 100 cuts (extremely high - that averages out to a scene change every 4 seconds or so) and Chuck's team of animators worked two weeks' of overtime to pull this all together. Everybody put a lot into it, and the work paid off. "What's Opera, Doc?" was the first cartoon deemed culturally significant by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
The short begins with the shadow of a large, impressive viking cast upon a stony cliff as he summons lightning - but when we pull back, it's not mighty Siegfried we see, but little Elmer Fudd, singing about his desire to "kill da wabbit, kill da WAbbit!" Awww, so cute!
The figure is wearing the iconic armor - a golden tube top and the stereotypical horned helmet. He's in a very operatic pose - his feet set wide, and an arch in back to let his chest expand so he can hit those high notes. The stance means that his center of balance is all wonky, and you really have to work to get his feet level enough to have him stand sans base for more than a few minutes, but they really captured the look of the character. The face, for instance, is dead-on, with those recognizable Chuck Jones Cheeks.
The Looney Tunes Golden Collection figures are actually bigger than you might expect: Elmer, for instance, stands 5" tall - even with that pose of his. When you see these in person, prepare for a bit of a surprise, there.
The package describes this as a "Create-A-Scene Figure," which sounds like code for "doesn't move for squat." Surprise! Elmer has better articulation than most DC Direct figures. Let's lay it out. Head? Swivels on a peg. The shoulders are balljointed. Unlike most DCD toys, he's got a waist. Both his hips move, and pegs in his ankles let his feet pivot. The notion that articulation on a cartoon-based figure will ruin the design just got blown out of the water (or maybe blasted in the beak with a shotgun). The shoulders are those weird ones that DCD always uses, so they don't have the best range of motion, but a range it is.
Elmer has no elbows, but he does have extra arms. One set is spread wide, while the other is designed to have his hands clasped - you know, while he pwofesses his wuv fow the beautifuw Bwunhiwde. Heh. The arms pop out at the sleeves, so there isn't even a hint that he's not solid up to the shoulder. He's also packaged with his spear and a translucent yellow lightning bolt.
Since the figure can't stand by himself for long, DC included a display base. Or maybe that's the other way around - DC included a base, so they didn't worry about making him stand on his own.
Elmer has a patch of green grass with a blue stone on one side and a brown rabbit hole on the other. A few black pawprints lead over the stone and into said burrow.
To help set the scene, you get a cardboard backdrop printed with two of Maurice Noble's great background paintings: one side is pastoral, with more bunny tracks, while the other is the large viking shadow on the cliff. There's space for a the included footpeg either on the grass or on the stone, and Elmer's lightning bolt fits into a small hollow in the rock. Each figure also includes a small brown stand and a reproduction title card from the cartoon that inspired them.
The base is 5" x 3", and actually features a small storage tray underneath - you can dump the extra arms and whatnot in there. The larger accessories won't fit, but it's a nice unexpected gesture on an already great toy. DC Direct is really doing well with these - can't wait to see what the future holds.
What Looney Tunes characters do you want to see DC Direct make real? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.