Monday, August 22, 2011
DCU Classics Mad Love: Harley Quinn & The Joker 2 Pack
Both of these figures are reissues, but this is the absolute best kind of reissue out there: the kind where I don't own either of the toys included. Sure, I've got other Joker and Quinn figures from DC Direct or tied to movies, but nothing from this line.
I almost bought the Joker's earlier releases once or twice, though I didn't really love the head (more on that later). It was almost worth it for the accessories alone. Not quite, seeing as he was often going for $20 or more, but the accessories looked really cool. Good thing they're all included here.
Harley Quinn sold out in a heartbeat when she was first released. I actually came across her at the time, and almost bought her. If there's a DC Comics fan who doesn't love Harley, I haven't met them. If it weren't for the awful blue paint sprayed on her face at the time, I would have picked her up (you can find some photos and a review discussing the paint here).
The Mad Love set is a Toys R Us exclusive released to cash in on the love fans have for these characters. I think this is actually the third time this Joker sculpt has been offered (albeit with new colors), and the second for Ms. Quinn. The packaging is fun, with subtle hearts embedded right in the clear plastic and a giant exploding heart behind them.
I mentioned earlier that I wasn't crazy about the Joker's head sculpt, which is actually a little misleading. For the record, I think this is a well sculpted, well executed head. It's just not the version I'd have chosen.
I don't have any problem with the Golden and Silver Age versions of the Joker, but when I'm collecting action figures I tend to steer towards more timeless and less dated designs. I appreciate that there are a lot of Batman fans out there who consider this THE timeless Joker, but I respectfully disagree. While I like this Joker, my favorite remains my DC Direct Unmasked Joker.
I also consider this an incredibly bizarre Joker sculpt for this box set. Ostensibly, this is suppose to reflect Alex Ross's famous painting of the couple, however his Joker was far more modern in appearance. Mattel wasn't about to spend the kind of money commissioning a new sculpt requires when they have a perfectly serviceable one already. Instead, they repainted the Joker's outfit (the original had been brightly colored) and released him with a corrected Harley.
Seeing as the alternative was not getting this set at all, I'm not about to complain. I'm thrilled to get a much needed Harley, a good Joker, and a huge pile of accessories. Speaking of which:
Unless I'm mistaken, I believe this includes everything released with both original Harley and Joker figures, minus the build-a-figure parts. And it turns out those two had some fantastic extras. The Joker comes with a beautiful cane (gorgeously painted, I'd add), a Joker Mallet, a laughing fish, and playing cards. Harley comes with her own mallet and a pop gun: not quite as large an assortment, but nothing to scoff at.
The sculpt on the Joker's mallet is really neat. In addition to oversized J's on the front and back (presumably to sign his victims), the handle forms the nose of a sadistic face. Here's a clearer view:
The only weak point here is paint: unlike every other accessory, this lacks a drop. The green plastic, while appropriate to the Joker's sensibilities, just feels garish. I might have to touch this up at some point in the future.
I already mentioned that The Joker's cane looked good. Mine was a little warped coming out of the package, but I was able to correct that with a dip in hot water.
Joker's next accessory is a handful of reversible playing cards. One side shows the card backs, and the other reveals, what else:
I love that Joker, but I wish they'd put some effort into the other cards. Only a portion is visible, but it should be enough to see some of the faces and numbers. It's not a huge issue: overall, this is a great accessory. Almost as great as his "laughing fish."
The laughing fish originates from a story from the 70's of the same name, where the Joker poisons Gotham's fish so they'll bear his likeness. This is ostensibly all part of a plan to claim copyright ownership of the image and claim a cut of Gotham's fishing industry. This sounds like a vintage Silver Age Joker plan, and to some extent it is. However, rather than dismissing this, the story delved into the madness of the Joker scheme: it didn't reflect actual copyright law, and wouldn't work at all. Ultimately, the Joker was interested in hurting and killing people, and the fish was just an excuse to achieve that end. The entire thing was a sick, convoluted joke: he was after pain, not money.
It intrigues me that Mattel more or less gave the Joker the same accessories the 13 inch DC Direct version had. Only the mallet is different. Given that these are all great choices, I can only applaud the decision on Mattel's part. There's no shame in copying so long as you choose the right things to copy.
Harley's two accessories are just about perfect; a mix of whimsy and violence that defines her character. Both are fantastically sculpted and painted, as it the figure herself.
Articulation on these two is up to this line's normal standards, which is to say really good. Actually, in the case of The Joker the joints are a little too good: the cuts interrupt the sculpt a bit more than I'd like.
This two-pack is a Toys R Us exclusive, so I'd look there to avoid paying a mark-up. At the Times Square store, which isn't known for low prices, I found this for $37. My guess is it'll be offered a bit cheaper most places. Honestly, I'd expected this to be more: the Green Lantern/Sinestro 2-pack there runs $41. Also, if you're hoping for a deal, be aware these characters are fan favorites. Unless Toys R Us ordered a lot of them (possible, but I wouldn't bet on it), they probably won't last to land on clearance.