Review > Ocean Warrior Aquaman (DC Universe Classics)

For some reason, DC Comics has an abundance of iconic characters they have no idea what to do with. So they subject them to reboot after retcon after reboot, never giving them a chance to build a full-fledged character and mythology before they’re off in another direction again. Hawkman is probably the best (worst?) example, but even the likes of Wonder Woman have found themselves subjected to major reboots.

In 1986, in the wake of Crisis on Infinite Earths (which would set DC on a course of obsessive preoccupation with continuity for more than twenty years, a process that’s still ongoing), Aquaman got a well-received four-issue limited series written by Neal Pozner and illustrated by Craig Hamilton. Hamilton’s distinctive redesign of Aquaman’s outfit, featuring a much more logical (if less iconic) color scheme of blacks, blues and whites, only lasts as long as the series’ brief run. However, it has remained a fan-favorite since, and now Mattel has given this version of Aquaman (which they’re calling “Ocean Warrior” Aquaman) his first-ever action figure.

Found abandoned, Prince Orin of Atlantis was raised in the ways of the surface world and renamed by lighthouse keeper Arthur Curry. But in the water was where young Arthur truly thrived. In adulthood, he took the name “Aquaman” and used his aquatic abilities to patrol the seven seas. The Aquatic Avenger’s renown soon earned him a place amount the newly assembled Justice League of America.

Sculpt: Aquaman is a straight repaint of the basic “buff male” body. Since this version of Aquaman didn’t even have gloves or fins on his calves, there’s not a single bit of unique tooling on him, and the head is just a re-use of the one from classic Aquaman. Boring? Well, kind of, yeah. How good you think the sculpt is will depend on how good you think the basic body is. And as usual, there’s that unsightly filled plug in the back.

The head sculpt is still great, though.

Plastic & Paint: While the sculpt is boring, I think the paints are well-applied. If you like the Hamilton Aquaman, you’ll be very happy with this figure. The wavy blends of blue, black, and white are so sharp and well-defined I’m wondering whether they’re really paint or were tampographed on.

Various parts of the figure are molded in the dominant color of that part of the body–black for the lower right leg, dark blue for the torso and so forth. Since they tend toward darker shades, there’s none of the toy-ishness that plagues brighter characters like Kid Flash.

Articulation: Aquaman features the usual DCUC articulation: ball joints at the neck and shoulders, swivels at the waist, wrists, biceps and lower thighs, and hinges at the elbows, knees, ankles, and abdomen, with an H-hinge at the hips to allow for a ball joint-like range of motion. However, watch out for serious problems with the neck joint, as I discuss in the quality control section below.

Accessories: Aquaman comes with an Atom Smasher piece and the same trident we’ve seen in the previous two variants. Given that he’s mostly a cheap repaint, it’s not surprising, but as nice as the trident is, I wouldn’t mind getting something–anything–else to give the figure a bit more added value. Maybe a sea-themed sword?

Quality Control: Here’s where Aquaman takes the biggest hit. I thought Mattel had learned its lesson with dynamic in-package posing…because of the odd way Aquaman is hunched in the package, my Aquaman’s head was completely locked in a “looking up” position. I ended up applying excessive force to try and get it moving and it broke at the peg.

I fixed it, after much Dremeling to get the stupid ball inside the neck out (and trust me, that thing was pretty much a part of the figure–it wasn’t moving at all), by sacrificing a Superman Blue for his neck peg. But the whole thing was very annoying, and killed what little fondness I’d been developing for the figure. Apparently this problem is fairly common, so if you pick up this figure (and you’ll probably have to, for his Atom Smasher part), be very careful with the neck.

Overall:

10000

I’m still mad about that neck joint, and it cost Aquaman dearly. Add to that the fact that he’s just a repaint–and not a particularly popular one at that–and having to buy this figure for the Atom Smasher part pretty much amounts to extortion.

The best part? This particular Aquaman–and not, say, the hard-to-find, mega-popular, iconic classic one who actually resembles the character shown in kid-favorite cartoon Batman: Brave and the Bold–will be the one reissued in future “Best of” and “World’s Greatest Super Heroes” re-releases. And ten bucks says they don’t even fix the dynamic in-package pose, meaning there will be hundreds of thousands of ready-to-break Aquamans out there.

Comments now closed (24)

  • They are going to re-release this guy? Damn that is frustrating. I have seen a modern aquaman once at a target near me and passed on him because I did not like the head sculpt, and have never seen the classic and for me iconic aquaman.

    I have seen plenty of this wave on the shelves so maybe their distribution is getting better, but mattel should at least consider putting some of the older popular characters on mattycollector for those of us who have yet had the opportunity to purchase them and refuse to pay scalper prices on ebay and online merchants.

  • Ahh, now I know why he didn't have the fins on his calves – strictly based on Craig Hamilton's art! Sorry to hear about your hassle with the neck joint snafu – I'm sure this personal experience really dictated your scoring in the end. Most DCUC collectors have gone through various QC problems, too. Personally, I agree this camo-costume just makes more sense to be worn by the King of Atlantis – no offense to the classics purists, of course. As bare is this figure is, I'm still impressed with the paint applications. But I agree that a different accessory should have been included……wonder if they'll do a correctly scaled Sea Horse for him????

  • I'm kinda appalled by the whole look of the figure myself…it's very…swirly. I vote we get a longhaired, harpoon hand Aquaman, stat – that design hasn't gotten much 6" love (there was a DCD version, but he was only available in a boxed set).

  • Also just saw that link the the BEST of DCUC collection – its gonna be a highly subjective debate among fanboys if some of these choices really deserve to be called the BEST so far in this line…….Like, where's HAWKMAN here? Too expensive to re-issue him, Mattel? Does Captain Cold or Dr.Impossible SOLIDLY deserve to be on this list? I'd take the obvious Nightwing & Flash anytime instead. Classic Firestorm may also be a toss-up, as I think the modern Jason Rusch variant would be more interesting. They should have put the classic short-haired Supes already, and this wave will probably sell out quick! Also classic Aquaman instead of the blue version…..Booster belongs here, no question…..I'm sure the debate will continue – different strokes for different folks.

  • Weird. Where did you hear that this would be the re-release Aquaman? That's some crazy decision-making.

  • On second look in this link to Entertainment Earth pre-ordering this Best of DCUC Wave 1, it seems to look like this is a collection of figures chosen independently by EE to probably help sell off excess inventory? And that Mattel may not be directly involved in the re-issuing or marketing of it ?? I could be wrong….will neeed further clarification on this……

  • Yuck. Clearly the guy who designed Aquaman's outfit had no sense of fashion. That thing is worse than paisley!

  • Every so often, this costume will turn up, usually because the continuity's been altered or it's a dream/alternate reality story. I think the hook-hand beardy version was wearing it, in a Dr. Destiny dream sequence that was Aquaman vs. Kevin Costner's Waterworld.

    I have to look this up, too: in a retcon about the same time as the blue suit, it was revealed Aquaman's traditional orange and green outfit, was a prison uniform! A very nice chainmail prison uniform, but a prison uniform nonetheless.

  • This was a wasted slot in this wave. I'll give you that I'm sure someone wanted this version of Aquaman, but it would have been better suited as the variant for the series 2 Aquaman instead of having the mullet head. It just seems like a crappy re-paint that you'd see in a Batman line a la "Street Luge Batman"

  • This is on my list of "do not buy" action figures. It would have been nice if they had given us someone cool; Ragman would have been nice. At least he would have been different.

    Has there ever been a Ragman action figure?

  • I wouldn't buy this figure for the C@C part, even if I had the rest of the wave or cared about Atom Smasher. I would just buy the part on ebay. So there is no way I would buy a rerelease.

    As far as the costume goes, camo just seems unnecessary for someone who is the king of the seven seas. Sneaking up on people isn't really his MO. He is more of a summon a brace of whales and charge in kind of guy to me, but I am biased by the cartoon incarnation and nastalgia.

  • The only upside is that he reminds me of the delightful Ween song "Ocean Man."

  • I have got to say that is one of the most awful super hero costumes ever….it is so bad, if Aquaman actually went to the local costume maker and planned out this design he must have been high or out of his mind. Or maybe its just a case of …it seemed cool at the time.

  • I love this figure! I'm so glad it has finally seen the light of day! I would love to see a zombie Aquaman in the future. Check out dccomics.com for the Aquaman teaser from "The Blackest Night" storyline! Even a water hand Aquaman would be cool. I hate the hook hand!

  • I actually liked this repaint, even though I had already gotten scalped for a classic Aquaman on eBay. If you get lucky you can find the DCD Hook hand Aquaman on eBay for around $15 once in a while. I ordered one right after this one came in the mail.

  • How do you know that this uniform "has remained a fan-favorite since" the mini-series in 1986? Have you polled most DC fans?

    Seems to me, based on what I have read on some of these action figure forums of late, that not too many fans are familiar with this costume at all.

  • Well, in my experience the phrase "fan-favorite" doesn't necessarily mean that the majority of fans prefer that costume (at least, not in entertainment media parlance). It's often used to imply that something enjoys a kind of cult status–in this case, particularly around the Aquaman character's fandom (not DC fans in general). And I think that's an accurate way of assessing the Hamilton outfit.

    As for fans liking the suit, here's an example of what I'm referring to. In any event, I understand what you're saying but I still think my comment is accurate as I understood it. I recall a few threads on Fwoosh with fans requesting this outfit.

  • EVERYONE PLEASE READ! OFF TOPIC but answer me this riddle…

    What do you get if you display these figures in order?

    1) Superman

    2) Alexander Luthor from the Matty Collector two pack

    3) Ultra Man from the Matty Collector two pack

    4) Red Tornado

    Hint: Give me an S…Give me an L…give me a U….lol

  • @Mark:"if Aquaman actually went to the local costume maker and planned out this design he must have been high or out of his mind."

    LOL

  • The only complaint I have about the Aquaman figures in the classics line is the cheap paint on the trident. It flakes off very easy!

  • Being an enourmous Aquaman fan, i like the look of the costume, despite the fact that the 'camo' bit doesnt work in real life. It's a shame that the neck is screwed, i wanted to buy one for my Aqua collection, or at least paint his hair black and make him a blue Tempest

  • Great review Poe! Definitely gotta give Mattel props for the paint apps in this Wave. Both Aquaman and Blue Beetle have a lot of detail and it sounds like the majority of those figure's paint apps are very crisp. And not all the Aquaman figures have permanently stuck necks. Mine was a little tight at first but moved with hardly any pressure applied.

  • If I buy this figure it will be the third Aquaman version I'd own. Its not that great and he looks like he's a mascot for Oceanspray Cranberry juice. The best version hands down is Kingdom Come Aquaman. Not a regular version but a pretty imposing figure by himself.

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