Review > Orion and Lightray TRU Exclusive

(Click on any photo for a hi-res version.)

Don’t you hate it when you buy a DVD right when it comes out, only for the “super special director’s cut mega edition with a free puppy and a coupon for a bikini wax” to come out for five bucks more a few months later?

Wait, that needs some set-up.

Mattel’s DC Universe Classics two-packs are finally showing up at retail. They’re a Toys ‘R Us exclusive, but so far they seem much more plentful than Walmart’s borderline-mythical wave. The four packs are: Cyborg Superman and Mongul, Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) and Azrael, Hal Jordan (first appearance) and Abin Sur, and the subject of today’s review, Orion and Lightray. The first four are re-releases of DC Super Heroes figures.

This was the only pack I was interested in. I’ve got the first four figures and didn’t feel like I needed another Hal Jordan or a figure of Abin Sur, who was alive for about five minutes in the DCU before giving his ring to Jordan. But Lightray was a brand-new figure, and while Orion is mostly a re-release of the DCUC1 figure, he has a spiffy new removable helmet–hence my labored DVD metaphor that began this review!

Mattel and the Four Horsemen have been doing very well by the New Gods. We’ve already gotten Darkseid, and Mister Miracle and Kalibak are part of wave six, due next month. Big Barda and two different Parademons are also on the way.

Orion and Lightray hail from New Genesis and part of Jack Kirby’s short-lived “Fourth World” comic line from the 1970s. As members of the New Gods, they’re far more powerful than your average human. Here’s what the packaging biographies have to say:

Orion: When Highfather and Darkseid, the leaders of New Genesis and Apokolips, agreed to a treaty, part of the pact directed the leaders to trade their sons. Orion, son of Darkseid, was therefore raised on New Genesis, the planet of light. Ultimately, he jointed the Justice League and helped defeat his tyrannical father.

Lightray: Lightray is the shining star of New Genesis and a high-spirited New God. He is cheerful and optimistic, preferring to solve problems through compromise rather than combat. He uses the speed of light to his advantage in eluding foes. As Solis, his idea of fun is protecting New Genesis from Apokolips, Darkseid, and his minions.

The box these guys come in is enormous–it’s taller than the regular DCUC cards. The background art appears to be the same as the DCUC1 cards, so there’s no Lightray illustration. All the packaging does seem like a bit of a waste, and I wonder whether it could have been smaller.

However, I do like the dynamic way the figures are posed in the packaging, and I can’t deny it’s very eye-catching. The graphics definitely pop.

As mentioned, the Orion figure is mostly a re-release of the first figure, with one important difference: he now has a removable helmet. Underneath the helmet is the handsome red head of “O’Ryan,” the face he uses when going incognito on Earth or walking around New Genesis. As Fourth World fans know, this face is a lie; Orion’s true face is ugly and cracked, reflecting his Apokoliptian heritage.

While the Horsemen did a great job of capturing Kirby’s depiction of Orion in the original comics (note the way the hair curls back over the forehead–very Kirby-esque), it does suffer from RHS–Removable Helmet Syndrome, which is when a figure’s head is a bit narrow in order to prevent the removable helmet from looking too large.

The reason this happens is simple: a removable helmet on a 6″ figure is, proportionally, a lot larger and thicker than an actual helmet would be on a 6′ man, and so if the head were sculpted properly, the helmet would look huge. Since the Horsemen assumed–properly–that most fans would display Orion with the helmet on, they decided to make the head just a bit narrow. (He looks kind of like Prince Lir from The Last Unicorn animated film…but I digress.) Still, I like the look of Orion without the helmet, and would have no problem displaying him that way.

The good news is I like this Orion’s helmeted look even more than the DCUC1 version. There are a few notable differences: the eye slits are narrower, the wings are tighter, and Orion’s mouth is open a bit. All of these touches, while small, make the two-pack Orion look a bit more like the character as he was drawn by Kirby. Oddly enough, the helmet too seems narrower than the DCUC1 head, despite being a removable helmet.

The paint applications on the two-pack Orion are about as good as the DCUC1 Orion–meaning there’s probably a little too much of a black wash for my taste, although the wash does do a good job preventing the “toyish” look you get with figures molded in red plastic like Red Tornado.

Like the original release, Orion comes with his golden “Astro-Harness.” The harness appears to be identical to the one from DCUC1. It’s filled with Kirby-style details and even has a few movable parts; unfortunately, the shoulder-mounted Mother Box is still not removable.

And now, confession time: my two-pack Orion’s hips were very stuck, and rather than spend an hour on the freezer trick, I decided to just do a head-swap with my DCUC1 Orion. I suspect a good number of collectors out there will be able to do the same if necessary.

On to Lightray. This is a brand-new figure, and while he’s mostly just a repaint of the basic “large male” DCUC body, he does have some unique tooling aside from his head. His golden belt and gauntlets are new, as is his collar.

Lightray has the most Kirby-esque head sculpt I’ve seen this side of DC Direct’s recent New Gods series. Kirby’s characters always had a unique facial look, particularly during his 1970s period, and somehow the Horsemen managed to capture that while ensuring the figure still looked fine alongside the other DCUC characters. This is probably as close to an artist-specific sculpt we’ve seen from the Horsemen in this line.

But the sculpt wouldn’t be nearly as impressive were the paint applications just as good. While it’s common knowledge Mattel has had some QC issues with this line, my Lightray’s paint applications are excellent, particularly the eyes, hair, chest emblem and the black trim on his boots. There’s not much slop or bleed (although I notice some in the close-up of Lightray’s face–keep in mind, most figures don’t look as good when magnified that much).

Lightray has no accessories. It would have been nice to have gotten a new Mother Box for him to hold, particularly when this set goes for $22 at retail.

Overall, though, I’m happy with this set. I hope in the future we can get a TRU exclusive with not one, but two brand-new figures, but in this case I’m actually happy to have the new Orion.

(Quick question–do you guys prefer this sort of review, or do you like the “x out of five ravens” ratings? Just curious.)

Comments now closed (23)

  • I totally feel your pain with the DVDs. I've given up buying Army of Darkness because every five minutes they're putting out a new Directors' Cut, or "Bootleg" or "Bootleg Director's Cut Boom Stick Edition" etc with new footage of Bruce Campbell jumping on a trampoline!

    This set definitely looks worth picking up. My priority is the Az/Batgirl set, but this is a close second. I really like Lightray. Even if he is mostly just a repaint, he's more visually interesting than say Atom or Amazo from the as you so appropraitely called it, the mythical wave.

    I like this style of review. The red/black ravens always sorta threw me off. If anything, I'd stick to one color raven, cuz it is a nice touch.

    -x

  • As usual Poe, you the man!! I have coffee with you every morning…(and we have never even met)

  • @Vinman: And I raise my morning bottle of Coke Zero to you, too 😉

    @jimm: I'd probably have to see it in person at a store, but you may be right.

  • I need to get these. And catch up on DCUC entirely. I skipped Wave 1 cause it didn't interest me. But this I like.

  • Wave 1 not interest you? C'mon! 😉 You've got Batman, Etrigan, The Penguin, and Orion. Okay, Tornado isn't super duper, but he's still interesting to look at. Plus you get Metamorpho!

  • I hated that Penguin. Just didn't grab me. I liked Batman and Etrigan, but not enough to by them I guess.

    Then again, I passed on all of Series 2 but Aquaman and Black Manta.

  • Hi. Great review! Do you think its possible that DCUC hawkman gets a new version in the future with removable helmet/mask, just like orion did?

  • @Newt: To each their own I guess. Let me just say this, up until DCUC I've never collected any DC Figures, besides Zip Line Batman, but who doesn't have that!? 🙂

  • I don't.

    The only DCSH I ever bought was Scarecrow. Cause he reminded me of BTAS Scarecrow… From the first episode, when he looked best.

    I would have bought some others, but I never saw them or when I did I wasn't going to get a collection, etc.

    I have about a billion JLUs, so I'm more selective with my DCUCs. That said, I pretty much want all the new ones. If for no other reason than to get the C&Cs. Grodd didn't do anything for me cause of his goofy helmet, and Metamorpho don't impress me much. But Kalibaak and Metallo and Atom Smasher, I'm down for. Oh and Giganta too.

  • @PrfkyTear: Oh no, I love, LOVE Grundy. But I already have him (mostly) so I didn't put him on the list of stuff I want ahead.

  • Your review serves only to justify my interest in collecting the DCU classics line. If only my girlfriend would read your page or Oafe's.

    I live in Malaysia where the only stores that carry DCU classics are Toys R Us and a few specialty shops that charge cut throat prices. There are no Wal*Marts or Target stores here so i will never see wave 5 or Sonic Arm Cyborg.

    I hope Mattel would start concentrating more on the Asian market because there is an abundance of passionate collectors here as well.

  • I definitely prefer this sort of review, though I might like an x out of 5 ravens score summary at the end — whether you include all of the categories or just an overall rating.

    In any case, great review!

  • review review and review format. i look forward to obtaining it in trade soon. great stuff, bud. i wonder if New Gods Orion's head transfers as well as New Gods darkseid does with his DCSH counterpart? hmmm…..

  • A trip to my local TRU today yeilded interesting results, as usually its just a black hole filled with nothingness.

    I found ALL FOUR DCUC 4-Packs. They had FOUR of each, except for the BatGirl/Azrael, only two of those. I was really only interested in those two figures, but the paint apps on both Batgirls was pretty shoddy. I checked out the Orion/Lightrays, which I'm on the fence about. I did like Lightray though. I just don't know if I like him enough to pay $22 for him and a figure I already own, except its got a removable helmet.

    I had already picked up a few things which I didn't want to put back, so I resorted to tucking it away on the top of the shelf way in the back. If its there in a week then it was meant to be, if not, no big loss.

    -x