Review > Commander Steel (DC Universe Classics)

Due to the heavy re-use of body parts in DCUC, you occasionally get a really boring figure. Wave 5’s Atom, while an important character, was one example. And now, we have Commander Steel.

I don’t know much about the character, and even my attempts to find out more were fairly unsuccessful. Despite his Golden Age look, he was actually created in 1978 by Gerry Conway and Don Heck. The character, Henry Heywood, served as a superhero during WWII, where he was commissioned “Commander” by Winston Churchill, of all people. Eventually, Henry was replaced by his grandson Hank, who was then killed in action. Henry then went back into costume and died himself.

Another grandson, Nathan, then took up the mantle, but because he never served in the military, he’s known as Citizen Steel, and currently serves in the Justice Society of America. Enjoy him while he lasts, folks–given the family’s track record, I’m sure Dan “Deathbringer” Didio will get to killing him at some point.

For whatever reason, Mattel and DC seem to have decided to go with the Henry Heywood I biography.

Young Marine Henry Heywood was severely injured in an attack on his base during WWII. Heywood’s former biology professor saved his life with a series of surgeries, replacing his skeleton with a steel alloy frame and attaching micro-motors to his joints. Now with superhuman strength, stamina, speed and invulnerability, Heywood returned to wartime action as the costumed hero Steel, battling saboteurs at home before heading to overseas theaters as a covert operative.

Packaging: The Commander comes in the standard DCUC packaging–see photo.

Sculpt: The only newly-tooled part on Commander Steel is his head. The facial sculpt does have a lot of character.

I wish I had more to discuss here, but I don’t. Other than the head sculpt, this figure is composed entirely of parts we’ve seen many times before in DCUC.

Plastic & Paint: This is the one place where the Commander stands out. Mattel has done a great job with metallic paint on these figures, and the blue portions of CS are eye-catching. The white areas aren’t as sharp and have some uneven edging.

While he’s molded in the dreaded red plastic, he doesn’t seem to suffer from the toyish effect other red toys (such as the red parademon) get.

Both the Commander Steel and Citizen Steel have more or less identical costumes, and I believe Citizen Steel is better known for being shiny, so it’s really your choice as to who this is.

Articulation: Commander Steel has the standard DCUC articulation: a ball jointed head, ball jointed shoulders, hinges at the elbows, knees, ankles and abdomen, swivels at the biceps, wrists, lower thighs and waist, and H-hinges at the hips for ball joint-like movement.

Accessories: Just Giganta’s torso. As far as I can tell, there’s no particular paraphernalia associated with Commander Steel, so this is arguably no big deal, but since his sculpt is so dull already, it might have been nice to get something. I don’t have any suggestions for what, though.

Quality Control: Aside from some slightly uneven paint work, none.

[raven 2.5]

If Commander Steel didn’t have the blue metallic paint and the great head sculpt, I might have considered making him a two, but there’s really nothing wrong with him–he just doesn’t bring anything new to the table.


Any questions for Mattel? (6/1/09)


Pic of the Day


  1. Andrew

    I'm not really bothered by the re-use, because this basic body is actually really sound. And guys like him tend to all have the same body type in comics anyway.

  2. Megatherium

    Mattel makes the best custom action figures. Wait, you mean…?

  3. bigraj

    While I love my Commander Steel figure, I also thought he's pretty average. It's time for some new basic bodies.

  4. Tom-Tom

    I'm gonna go ahead and count this as Mattel's submission for custom of the month. Should I count it as May or June?

  5. griffin

    Maybe he could have come with an giant bolder or something, or a bendable steel beam, you know, something useful for any strong character.

  6. Jim

    Worse figure of dcuc

  7. Templar

    Personally, I have no serious problems whatsoever with this figure. Probably just that the Red color used on him is flat – imagine him with the same red shade as the Wave 7 Flash figure ??? I agree that the lack of accessories doesn't help, due to an even more boring background on him. If DCUC continues to entertain producing obscure DC characters, perhaps they can do the 70's version of Americommando (nemesis of the Freedom Fighters), who was obviously a reverse-colored Captain America ??? Just wishful thinking…….

  8. This is the problem with so many of the DCUC figures being the same buck repainted over and over me thinks. Had you not already seen a dozen of these come down the line, he's probably be a cool figure.

  9. finkrod

    Maybe even Crazy Quilt.

  10. finkrod

    Aside from the comic accurate-ness(?),this figure is mediocre at best. The face looks like it was sculpted in silly putty, and I can't really identify what color the main portion of the costume is(pomegranate maybe?). Worst figure of the line. I would've rather seen Rainbow Raider or Kite Man, which is saying something.

  11. Poe

    @Traie: To reiterate, I don't think he's a bad figure–he's just very average.

  12. Traie

    Too bad you rated him so low, despite the reuse of parts I have to say I love the ´old school´ costume especially punctuated with the metallic paint apps and am very much looking forward to adding this colorful figure to my toy shelf. I think it´s pretty cool that Steel was even considered and actually made it to toy shelves, that´s what´s so great about this line. And I confess that I was one of the very few that plunked down my hard earned .35 for issue one at age 8, so these kinds of moments are those weird little joys in life and look forward to finding him.

    Looks like he suffered the same fate as Captain Marvel face wise from prototype to production however. Not quite as sharp as I had hoped.

    I have to say that as much as I do enjoy and how great the sculpt is for the standard male bodies this line it's time to freshen it up with some all new parts so it's not just paint and a head that makes the character unique.

  13. outburst

    It looks like a good figure but I'll probably take a pass because I don't know much about the character.

    I'm surprised they didn't do a 50/50 split with the JL Detroit Steel. It would have been a slight repaint (might've gotten away with none at all and a new head). I probably would have picked up that version as I'm big into JLA members.

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