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Green Lantern Origins

Justice League
by yo go re

In 2005, Mattel got the Justice League Unlimited collectors' panties in a bunch by releasing a Hal Jordan Green Lantern figure. Well, maybe "releasing" isn't the right word - they made a Hal Jordan Green Lantern figure, and then they gave it away as a holiday gift to 100 Mattel employees who had worked on the JLU toyline. Yes, only 100 copies of the figure, and then the mold was destroyed. Despite the fact that Hal never really appeared on the show (and isn't much of a character anyway), some fans got royally pissed, with our own Rustin Parr declaring that Mattel had sunk to a new low.

The figure immediately began selling in the low four digits on eBay, and Mattel made it clear they wouldn't be doing a "normal" release of this figure. Ever. And true to their word, they never have. Imagine how much it would suck to be the guy who paid $3,500 for the first "Holiday Hal" offered online, only to turn around and see the same mold show up in a six-pack for $40. But in a rare moment of insight, Mattel recognized that fans wanted an animated Hal Jordan they could put with the rest of their JLU figures, and found a way to do it at SDCC '09.

While on patrol Abin Sur was attacked and forced to crash-land on the planet Earth. Mortally injured, he commanded his power ring to seek out a fearless and honest Earthman.

Ah, the mentor who dies, setting off the hero's journey. How very Joseph Campbell. Abin Sur has always been a part of Hal Jordan's origin, but he's recently been subject to a retcon tying him in with the "Blackest Night" crossover. Abin comes from the planet Ungara, which is apparently populated by mostly humanoid, pointy eared, light pink people with and no hair. At least, in the DCAU - the comics showed his skin darker, and his ears were round. Minor change, but since the pointed ears make him look slightly more alien, it's for the better.

The JLU figures use a limited number of generic bodies, which is probably why Mattel thought they could get away with the same thing in their DC Universe line. Abin Sur uses the "medium" body, and moves at the Big Five. His uniform is painted on, and is the style where the green part is restricted to the torso, rather than continuing onto the shoulders. For the record, this isn't the same uniform he was seen wearing in his Superman appearance.

Without warning, test pilot Hal Jordan was suddenly transported to the crash site of an alien spacecraft. The fallen pilot passed on to Jordan his power ring, lantern and uniform. Now a member of the Green Lantern Corps - Hal Jordan fights evil with the mighty power ring of Green Lantern.

Ah, Hal. Boring-ass, personality-free, child-loving Hal. Greatest Green Lantern of all time, because the Guardians of Oa apparently have super-low standards. This figure is actually fairly interesting, bcause it offers us something we've never had before: a civilian Hal. Mattel said they'd never release a GL Hal Jordan, and they lived up to that - he's wearing his orange Ferris Aircraft jumpsuit, which is made from the same arms and jacket as the recently released Mr. Terrific figure, and all-new legs (nobody has worn baggy pants like this before).

One thing that's sure to get the JLU fanboys up in arms is the head. Why? Because this isn't Hal Jordan. At least, not the DCAU version of Hal. The character showed up briefly on one episode of Justice League Unlimited due to a time warp, but while he was there he didn't look anything like this figure. Rather, this design, with the swept-back hair and no spit-curl, comes from the New Frontier cartoon. So while it is an animated Hal Jordan, it's not technically the JLU Hal Jordan. Will that matter? You'll have to decide for yourself.

Utterly fearless and a master tactician, Sinestro was chosen by the Guardians of the Universe to train fledgling GL, Hal Jordan. Having turned his homeworld of Korugar into a police state, with himself as its ruler, the Guardians stripped Sinestro of his power ring and banished him to the anti-matter universe.

This is far from the first Sinestro we've had in the JLU line. He was first released in his blue costume, and later in his yellow Sinestro Corps uniform. Sure, finding one with good paint was tough, but just getting a Sinestro was easy. This set, though, gives us Sinestro in his GL uniform, which has never been released before. The body used is the same as Abin Sur's, so that means the same articulation and the same endemic tendency to fall over. Seriously, why can't Mattel find a way to not have the figures' legs warp to an unusable extent? It's been happening for years, you'd think they would have corrected it by now.

The only substantial difference between the Sinestro and Abin Sur figures is that the green of Sinestro's uniform extends out onto his shoulders - Sinestro isn't even wearing his ring on his left hand, as he usually does. The DCAU version of the character lacks the distinctive "fivehead" he's always had in the comics, so the toy looks somewhat microcephalic. His skin is darker than Abin's, and he's painted with his thin David Niven mustache.

So those are the three figures in this SDCC exclusive "Green Lantern Origins" set. But since this is a Mattel exclusive, you know we have to talk about the packaging. Rather than a plain blister card, the three figures are sold in a huge - lifesized, even - cardboard replica of a GL Power Battery. The card measures 14" tall, 9¾" wide and 3¼" deep, and is held shut by plastic tabs that allow you to get the figures out, but still keep them sealed when you're done playing. It's nice work, and definitely gives you a reason to hold onto this, instead of just throwing it away.

Did you notice anything missing in our review of the figures? Something important? Go re-read, see if anything jumps out at you. Know what it is, yet? None of the figures come with a power battery accessory. Like Monkey Boy said, Batman needs to have a Batarang, and Green Lantern has to have a battery. None of these guys do. Hopefully you have a few extra Lanterns hanging around that you can hand out to everyone.

However, that's not to say that the set doesn't have any play features. In fact, it has what may be the best play feature: all three figures' heads pop off the necks, and can be swapped back and forth. Why would you want to do that? Well, it's obvious, isn't it: when Hal first became GL, the ring gave him a copy Abin Sur's uniform; later he changed it, so it looked more like his trainer, Sinestro's. Swap the Hal head onto whatever body you want, and you've got yourself a Green Lantern Hal Jordan! Brilliant! There's no mask, but consider him only partially on-duty. The joints are sturdy, but easy to swap. Hal's neck is long, to allow his head to clear the collar on his jacket, but on the suits that makes it look the wrong size.

This set is a really good exclusive. It's a ton less hassle to get than the other SDCC Hal Jordan exclusive, and offers a lot more play value. Mattel has stuck to their promise to never re-release the "Holiday Hal" figure, but still went out of their way to put a Hal Jordan in your collection. That's really smart, and considering we're talking about Mattel here, shows a remarkable desire to give the fans what they want.

-- 08/27/09

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