Review: McFarlane Toys DC Multiverse Animated Figures

McFarlane Toys rang in the new year with its takeover of the DC Multiverse line. Previously run by Mattel, and mostly hewing to comic-styled figures, the new iteration covers all DC character incarnations. Wave 1 includes specific artist-styled comic characters, Bruce Timm animated figures, and one CW TV-based character. Future waves will include toys based on Wonder Woman 1984 and the Arkham video games. McFarlane sent us a mix to review, but to simplify, we  divided samples into animated and non-animated. While all come in the same 7-inch scale, they’re not really fair to compare. So let’s look at the DC Multiverse animated figures.

Harley Quinn, curiously, is not labeled as an animated series figure, even though she plainly is one. Described as “classic,” she comes with a reference art trading card from Harley Quinn #15. Yet while that iteration wears the same outfit, it’s more detailed and has her head drawn in human proportions. The figure’s noggin is very clearly the Timm-style caricature. Though she does come with a “wooden” mallet so realistic looking it could be packed in with a Suicide Squad movie figure and be equally appropriate. The other three animated guys — Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern — come with reference art from their respective cartoons.

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Almost all McFarlane figures these days state on the package that they have 22 points of articulation, and indeed, most of the DC line are articulated like the Mortal Kombat figures. But I don’t think every one has 22 — Harley, for example, is the only animated one to include double-elbow hinges. The men have single elbows with ratchets, which unfortunately are quite visible when the elbow gets fully bent.

The only other joints that are a bit too visible are the wrist and ankle ball joints, a problem shared by Play Arts Kai and many of the Japanese-style figures I think McFarlane are trying to emulate. One thing more noticeable on more simple figure like Superman and Batman is the butterfly pec joints are actually ball joints, independent of the main shoulder ball. So on Green Lantern in particular, those butterfly joints can adjust many different ways without changing the placement of the arms at all. The outfit-heavy Mortal Kombat figures can’t achieve the same so easily, but these animated guys boast simple enough sculpts that all joints get utilized. And the dual torso ball joints particularly assist in flight or “looking up” poses. As does the fact that Superman’s hair, and Batman’s cowl, are flexible enough that they can lift their eyes to the sky.

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Bruce Timm’s designs can’t help but be top heavy. Even in a  7-inch scale that towers above DC Direct’s Justice League figures, however, the leg joints stay tight enough and the weight distributes enough that these can stand even without the standard McFarlane circular base that’s included. Thanks to the articulation, that’s far from the only pose possible, though.

Superman and Batman both have fist hands and grip hands. Clark’s accessory is a bent steel girder with one indent for a handgrip. Bruce includes grappling gun and Batarang, in Frank Miller Dark Knight shape. And while Batman’s cape looks huge and cool and painted with a blue lining, Superman’s has a really weird dynamic curly shape that works best in dynamic poses. Put them together and it’s clear which of the two characters Todd McFarlane prefers.

The main appeal of this Green Lantern figure is his massive hologram gun, presumably purchased at Liefeld’s Weapon Emporium. Instructions aren’t included, but the additional clip-on piece fits on the back of John’s head, while the gun works best if one fist goes inside and a holding hand grabs the handle on the top. For those curious, these can fit on the same-scale NECA John Stewart GL, though the gun is super-loose there.

Harley’s extra accessory is a gag gun that fits in animated and realistic styles. The mallet might be too realistic, and came with a warped handle, but hot water fixes that right up.

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Paint jobs overall are smooth, with an occasional weird detail like making the cleft in Superman’s chin black. But in general these have arguably the best balance between play and display value of any McFarlane Toys in a long time. While some of the torso joints feel a tiny bit tight — and deliver a fraction of that “Will it twist off?” anxiety — they mostly feel really sturdy. And at a price point of $20, which is now less than the Star Wars Black series, and may soon be less than Marvel Legends, they seem a good buy.

Check out the gallery below for more details and poses.