Tuesday, December 6, 2011

DC Universe Classics: Blue Beetle and Booster Gold

As I've elaborated upon previously, I'm a fan of Justice League International. They're a quirky team who make super hero comics fun and are a nice diversion from the very serious comics you get elsewhere. Even Batman cracks the occasional joke in the pages of JLI. DC Universe Classics, or DCUC for short, are a line of very nice action figures in which several JLI characters have found a place. I first discovered DCUC when I saw their awesome Captain Cold figurine at the comic shop. I snaffled that bad boy up and before too long I'd discovered that there was a wide variety of characters available if you knew where to look. It was not long after that I read about the humorous friendship of Beetle and Booster while investigating the origins of Watchmen characters, Blue Beetle being the inspiration for Nite-Owl, and not long after happened upon DCUC Beetle and Booster at a convention. You'd better believe I nabbed those guys too.
So before I start talking about them individually, let me just give a little background on DCUC. As I've said, these are really nice action figures. They're 6" figures so they're a good healthy size. I like having 3D models of the characters from the pages of comics so they're good representations. They also have a lot of articulation, so places where their limbs and extremities can move like a real human being. They're bright and colourful and they re-use pieces in an effective way to give a sense of continuity, like comic characters drawn by the same artist. The unique pieces do a good job of making them stand out. So without any further ado, let's check out Blue Beetle.

Blue Beetle

I love Blue Beetle. Dunno why, I just think he's cool. He's the guy who brought the bwa-ha-ha to comics and he's consistently one of the funniest and most loveable characters of the Justice League International. The DCUC figure is certainly a fitting tribute. The costume looks perfect with the details painted on so that they don't stand out, just like in the comics. He's got a little scarab symbol on his right glove, the yellow buckle/clasp on his belt and the antennae symbols above his eyes. The paint is slightly different on his upper and lower legs but otherwise it's a good paint job with the colours just right. There's the occasional lump or flash line here or there but nothing serious or prominent. If you can overlook these guys blatantly having hinges in their arms and stuff you can overlook that. One of the best bits are his goggles. They're a clear amber plastic and you can actually see his eyes through them. It's a satisfying level of detail and I think it's very reassuring to see that even a lesser-known hero like Ted Kord gets this much attention lavished upon him.
As far as accessories go, Beetle comes with his classic "BB Gun" in a holster on his waist. It's a neat little accessory that gives him more options for when you're posing him on your shelf or fiddling around with him in general. It can be a bit of a wrestle at times to get the holster to close when you put the gun away but it fits pretty snugly and stays in place. He's got a rotating neck and shoulders, swivelling waist, upper arms, thighs and wrists, and hinged elbows, chest, knees and feet, with combination swivel/hinge hips so he's pretty poseable. He can run, jump, hold his weapon or just flex. He's not too buff or anything, a pretty medium superhero build as they go, which suits the character. He has open hands for holding his gun in either right or left, with his finger on the trigger. His face below the mask is all one colour but that's pretty standard, and he has a small smile on his lips which befits such a humorous character. All in all he's a good figure and if you're a JLI fan or a Ted Kord fan, or you just want to bring the bwa-ha-ha back to your shelf or display case, I'd definitely recommend hunting him down.

Booster Gold
Booster's Ted's buddy, and while I'm a bigger Ted fan I do enjoy Booster. He's a showboat turned genuine hero and generally a good guy needing an opportunity to prove himself. His DCUC figure certainly captures the showy aspects of his character. He's painted in metallic blue and gold, with the various divisions and symbols in the right places. He has collared wrists with the power blaster things on the tops of his hands and his classic disco collar from the 80s costume design. One thing worth noting is that Booster, traditionally a bright blonde-haired guy, has hair of a more light brown colour in this figurine, with sort of beige highlights. It's a bit weird but it doesn't really bother me. He probably doesn't look as definitive without the very yellow hair but he's still recognisably Booster. Like his friend Beetle he has translucent goggles, and through these you can see his eyes and his eyebrows. It's a nice touch. The paint is a little sloppy around the hair but it's pretty much the only place and negligible compared to the clean lines on his costume. His face is one colour like Beetle but he does have a little bit of a wry smirk going on which fits his nature.
Accessory-wise, Booster Gold comes with his robot buddy Skeets from the 25th Century. Skeets is swooping over Booster's shoulder with a yellow trail which conveniently plugs into a little slot on Booster's back. This stays in place pretty firmly. You can't remove it from Skeets to have him on his own but that's no big deal. I don't know where else you'd put him anyway. At least you can have Booster on his own because he has a lot of adventures without him. There is another detail worth mentioning, too. Booster is sculpted with the Legion of Super-heroes Flight Ring he pilfered on his right middle finger. It's a nice touch. Originally, this was meant to be Superman's ring which he'd brought back from the 31st Century and donated to the superhero museum so it's a very time-paradoxy ornament once Booster takes it back to the 20th Century again.
There's a variant Booster in the more modern costume without the collar and with a Skeets which opens to reveal surprisingly dangerous recurrent Captain Marvel villain Mister Mind. He's clashed with Booster a few times in more recent comics so if you're a fan of the more contemporaneous Booster the option's there. I prefer the 80s/90s Booster with the collar and normal Skeets because it fits with the JLI design I like. Booster's as poseable as Ted with as many opportunities for whacky hijinks implicit in his build. Some of the joints are a little stiff on mine but I doubt that would be a universal problem. As with Blue Beetle, if you're a JLI fan I would recommend him. I myself knew that I couldn't get Ted without him.
These are both great figures. One day I'd like to assemble a "definitive" JLI from DCUC toys but it's not possible yet. While we do have Martian Manhunter, Guy Gardner, Batman, Captain Atom and Mister Miracle and Big Barda, we still need key JLI members like Rocket Red, Fire and Ice and, if you're into the corporate side of things, Oberon and pre-retconned-into-villainy Maxwell Lord. I suppose it's worth mentioning that, both being parts of DCUC Wave 7, Booster and Beetle come with the left and right legs of Atom Smasher. So if you're into big, extremely obscure Justice Society characters, well, you know where to look.

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