For quite a while now, Mattel's DC toys have been better than DC Direct's versions, which is why I've started only buying figures from DCD that I'm sure Mattel won't be making. But it sure does suck when I'm wrong!
Long ago, the Manhunters were secretly
programmed by Krona to destroy all life in Sector 666. All but five beings were massacred, and they became known as The Five Inversions. With Atrocitus as their leader, they sought revenge against the Guardians of the Universe, creators of the Manhunters. Atrocitus had already gained immense power through the darkest of magic, but it wasn't until he awakened the Red Lantern of Rage that he became a mighty beast and leader of the Red Lantern Corps, a commanding army fueled with rage and capable of mass destruction.
DC Direct released their Atrocitus in 2009, so at least this isn't a case like Arkillo or the Color-Coded Cavalry, where Mattel made their figures just late enough to be a big "screw you" to people who had ordered DCD's. We've spent three and a half years with that Atrocitus being the only Atrocitus, and it would be stupid of us to insist that some imaginary statute of limitations hasn't expired by now.
Atrocitus uses the medium male body, making him slightly larger than most of the other Lanterns he'll be fighting against. He gets the arms and waist that Skallox & Nite-Lik used,
so that he has the raised details on his gloves and the ribbed belt... but the belt is the wrong style. If you look at the comic art (or at DCD's figure), you'll see that his "belt" is actually three bent lines above his waist on each side. On the plus side, his hands are entirely new molds, sculpted not only with his long nails and the proper crater-like knuckles, but also a tiny, detailed Red Lantern ring. Nice! In addition to the mis-styled belt, he gets his large "shoulder pad/neckbrace" costume element as an add-on.
Compared to the DC Direct figure, Atrocitus' head is disappointing. He still has the weird hollows on his his cheeks and chin, but his teeth don't look as sharp and his skin is smoother. The old figure looked like his face had been flayed just minutes before you saw him, while this one seems... I don't know, "safer?" Less terrifying. Plus, it's pink.
All his skin is pink, in fact. The face and hands match, which is clearly better than mis-matched dermis, but still, it's lighter than it should be. The red portion of his costume on his torso is lighter than the rest, too - so basically, the skin should be the color the chest stripe is, and the chest stripe should be the color of the boots, gloves, belt and neck armor. All the paint apps are crisp, though the Red Lantern symbol on his chest seems to have been toned down a bit.
Unlike last month's Flash, Atrocitus gets an accessory - no, sadly, it's not a stream of vomit like Dex-Starr had, it's a Red Lantern battery. It's more detailed than the one DC Direct Atrocitus came with, but since both his hands are permanently balled into fists, all he can do is hang it off his forearm like a purse. That doesn't seem like him, does it? So, is it better to get an accessory the figure can't use, or to not have an accessory at all? Discuss.
The Mike Thompson art on the back of the card
is great. Atrocitus is flying towards us, with his black claws bared and streams of bright red spittle flying out of his mouth and pushing past his shoulders as he moves forward. His yellow eyes are glowing, and the teeth are just as sharp as they should be. While his skin is still fairly smooth in the portrait, it's a dark red and not pink, so that's nice too. Mattel should really be offering these back-of-the-box pictures as wallpapers or something - they're just that cool!
When DC Direct released their Atrocitus in 2009, it was a completely mediocre offering, right in the middle of their comfort zone. Now Mattel has released theirs in 2012, and we can say the exact same thing. DCD's had a more detailed sculpt and better paint, Mattel's has superior articulation, but neither of them is "oh my god must have" better than the other. A lot of fans were angry that such an important character was done as part of the Club Infinite Earths subscription, rather than being in one of the normal series, but he really isn't the huge draw they thought he would be. Pick whichever version gives you what you want, and don't worry about the other.