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DC Signature Collection
by yo go re

What's this? Two months in a row with not only a major character who had never been done by Mattel, but a woman, to boot? Why do things start getting good only after we learn that the line is being cancelled?

Despite being raised in polar opposite situations, Huntress and another Gotham City orphan wound up having a lot in common. The daughter of a notorious criminal, Helena Bertinelli declared war on the underworld after witnessing the mob-ordered slaying of her entire family. Armed with her crossbow, Huntress enforced justice in Gotham City. And though Batman sometimes found her to be too violent and unpredictable, Huntress always proved herself and even saved the Dark Knight's life. Batman eventually embraced her as a reliable member of his crime-fighting family.

He didn't really "embrace" her so much as he "tolerated" her. Slightly. In that he didn't actively threaten to physically throw her out of town if she didn't leave willingly. As far as Batman goes, that's about the best reception you could hope for, though. Huntress has always seemed like a girl trying to get her father's approval - which makes sense, since pre-Crisis, Batman was her father.

Huntress is wearing her Jim Lee-designed "Hush" costume, which is a bit disappointing: it wasn't too long after the design debuted that artists figured out how dumb it was and redid it, covering up her stomach and legs (pretty much just like we suggested). The costume remained pretty consistent right up until the Flashpoint reboot - and even looks functionally identical in the New 52! So Mattel could have covered up her bare skin and had a figure that worked for either pre- or post-reboot collections, but instead opted to limit her to one outdated look. Oh well, it's an easy fix: a little black paint and you can customize her to look right.

Continuing the DC Signature Collection trend of "way more newly sculpted pieces than you'd expect," Huntress has way more newly sculpted pieces than you'd expect. In the 1990s, a Jim Lee design meant "straps and pouches"; by the 2010s, it meant "armor plating." Falling exactly halfway between those points, his Huntress design has straps, pouches and armor. She gets new feet and lower legs, so that all the detail of her boots can be shown; the same goes for her hands and forearms, which are covered with intricate plates. Her right upper arm is new, since it's molded with a pouch strapped to it, and though you'd probably never notice them, her thighs are new, too (they have cutouts molded in, where the straps above her knees get glued into place). Her fancy little multi-belt thing is obviously new, as well.

And so is the head. The mask is one of the strongest parts of Lee's redesign, harking back to the Earth-2 original and making her look like part of the Bat-family. Just like DC Direct's Huntress, Mattel's has a single lock of hair falling over the front of the mask, which suggests it's on some official model sheet somewhere.

One area where Mattel has it all over DC Direct is the articulation. Huntress has a balljointed head (mostly unencumbered by her long hair), swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, swivel wrists, hinged torso, swivel waist, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, hinged knees and hinged ankles. Her purples are matte, for the most part, but the raised lines on her gloves are metallic, to give them a better contrast. She gets a little bit of gold for the belt buckle, the crescent-moon clasps on her cape, and the snaps on her pouches. Her lipstick is dark, keeping it from being overpowered by the color of her mask and her hair.

Huntress comes with a purple crossbow, but it's really goofy. She generally uses small, handgun-sized crossbows, but this is a full-sized weapon. It looks fake, and she doesn't hold it well. Everything else about this figure may be nice, but her accessory is a letdown. If it were half the size (and she came with her staff too), things would be better.

The crossbow Huntress is holding in the Mike Thompson portrait on the back of the box is much more realistic - it's larger than the ones she's normally shown using in the comics, but it looks like something that would exist in the real world. Though she's still wearing the belly shirt and hotpants, the design of her cape matches the "fixed" version of the costume - the crescents point the other way, and the cape comes in front of her shoulders. You have to wonder if she was originally painted in the more modest costume, then redone to match the toy. The entire presentation says "confidence," from her ready-to-kick-your-ass pose to the smirk on her face. The face is very cute, by the way: she looks like actress Meghan Markle (Rachel on USA Network's Suits).

The original Huntress was the Earth-2 daughter of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, which is why her costume was like a blending of Batman and Catwoman. But when DC lost its multiverse, that was no longer possible, so she became Helena Betinelli, a mobster's daughter. Now in the New 52 reboot, she's back to her original story: she comes from Earth-2, and her parents were Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle. Innovation! Whatever her origin, she was one of the major characters Mattel had never touched, so it's nice to finally get her, even if her paint and her accessory are less than ideal.

-- 09/25/13

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