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Justice League
by yo go re

Last week we reviewed a 2006 San Diego Comic-Con exclusive, Fat Bat & Little Bird. Today we leap two years into the future, to SDCC 2008! Guess I'd better start going through the backlog and see if there's anything waiting from 2010.

Originally a member of Gorilla Grodd's Secret Society, Giganta gains great strength when she uses her powers to grow to superhuman size. When Gorilla Grodd reformed his gang into the Legion of Doom, Giganta followed, becoming a key member in his army of villains.

Giganta's packaging is not as fancy as some of Mattel's Comic-Con offerings, but it's nice. The box is vertical, measuring 11¾" tall, 4½ deep and 5½" wide. The entire thing is clear plastic, not cardboard, and there are four jagged, die-cut holes intended to make it look like Giganta has been trying to punch her way out. The backdrop behind the figure (which has shiny, metallic printing) depicts STAR Labs. A thin flap of plastic between the figures is printed with hazy red outlines to create a "growing" effect. Nice presentation!

Justice League Unlimited Giganta retains the character's Golden Age origin - she's a gorilla who was somehow turned into a human woman - but gets the size-changing powers that were invented for Superfriends and later adopted by the comics. But come on, this kind of era-blending streamlining is kind of the DCAU's stock in trade. Think about how many characters got revamped by the Timm/Dini cartoons and were made better in the process. Giganta's no different.

Giganta first appeared in the Justice League Season 2 episode "Secret Society," which I somehow had never seen until writing this review. How did that happen? No idea. It (technically "they," since Justice League episodes were all two-parters aired back-to-back) aired November 22, 2003, the week after "The Terror Beyond" and the week before "Hereafter," and I definitely saw those. Way to be a bad fan, yo.

In the cartoon, Giganta was a very large woman - she drove a Hummer with a license plate that read "BIG BONED," and stood a full head taller than all the other characters even when she wasn't using her powers. This toy, sadly, uses the standard JLU female body, though her poofy hairdo does help with the illusion of height.

The body may be standard, but she does have a few things to set her apart. For instance, her feet are painted gold, to suggest her boots, and rings are painted around her neck to show off the necklaces she wore. She should really have a bracelet on her right wrist, but there isn't even one painted there; if they had molded a new one, they could have used it for Gypsy four years later. What they did do, however, was mold a soft PVC dress for her, rather than just trying to paint on her costume. It's a pink, one-strap dealie that only comes down to mid thigh. There's a slit up to the right hip, and her golden belt is a raised element.

Mattel knew there was no way they could get away with just selling a 4½" tall Giganta as a convention exclusive, so they opted to show her powers in action by including a second figure that's four inches taller. Okay, in the show she could grow so large that normal people could be held in a single hand, but there's no way that's possible for an action figure - it would end up being six feet tall! The only thing Mattel could have done would be to sell a pink dress and a red wig for you, your girlfriend, or your mannequin/RealDoll to wear, and nobody wants to think about that.

The weird thing is, Mattel was making 10"-scale rotocasts of the entire Justice League team as soon as they were making the normal figures (though the only one I ever bought was a Batman to go with Ace the Bat-Hound). So with that in mind, you would expect this is just one of those figures with a new head, right? But no, it's an entirely new sculpt (and a traditional injection molded toy rather than a roto). In a toyline as repaint-focussed as Justice League, why would they go to the trouble of tooling something they would only ever get to use once? It's just weird. Its one thing when you've got a very distinct character like Lobo, but a generic body like this? It's out of character for them.

In the comics, Giganta has always been kind of an angry brute - even when her post-Crisis origin made her a brilliant scientist, she was still one butch bitch (to put it tactlessley). The cartoon version was more feminine and flirty, which made for a more stark contrast with her massive size and power. The sculpt on both figures' heads is identical, so it's likely that the big version is the original two-up that was shrunken down for the standard-sized figure. They should have painted her eyes looking down at the ground instead of straight ahead, though, to help sell her relative height.

Like the little figure, Big Giganta only moves at the neck, shoulders, and hips. She's got the same painted costume details (including the missing bracelet), and wears a larger version of the PVC dress. Some people have reported the material the dress is made from cracking and falling apart, but I've had this figure for... good lord, for six years now, and she's not showing any issues. It's a good thing, too, because the only paint beneath the dress is a pair of pink panties - without her garment, she'd be topless. Good thing she's not like her "real" counterpart, who canonically goes commando. The set includes bases for both figures, because "making sure your product can stand" is for lesser companies than mighty Mattel!

What's most amazing about this JLU Giganta exclusive isn't that it was made, but when it was made: remember, this was an exclusive in 2008; the JLU cartoon was cancelled in 2006. There was still enough support for the toyline two years after its tie-in show ended that Mattel felt confident enough to bring a big exclusive to San Diego. There may not be much to the toys, but there's no question that their fans loved them.

-- 07/30/14

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