Review > Joker (DC Universe Classics)

infantino_jokerMattel’s first Joker figure was way back in 2003 as part of their first comic-based Batman line. He was a rare non-Batman variation, which made him popular with collectors. But he also suffered from a common issue with Mattel lines of the time–scale. He was supposed to be a wee bit taller than Batman, but instead, he was too short and small (c.f. MOTU 200X Trap Jaw, who should have been larger).

Finally–after the Joker’s infamous depiction in The Dark Knight, his memorable, twisted turn in Grant Morrison’s “Batman R.I.P.” storyline and his recent bravura performance in the videogame Batman: Arkham Asylum, Mattel has seen fit to allow the Four Horsemen to resculpt everyone’s favorite clown-based psychopath.

The Clown Prince of Crime is Batman’s deadliest and most unpredictable foe. Rumored to be a failed stand-up comedian turned petty criminal who fell into a vat of chemical waste while escaping from the scene of a crime – that incident turned his skin white and his hair green. Batman knows the Joker is certifiably insane, which makes the end result of his action  that much more deadly.

Packaging: Nothing new here–it’s the same blister card they’ve been using since Wave 1. It does feature the Joker in a delightfully mad action pose, although I’m going to keep protesting having the weapons posed in the hands until Mattel stops doing it. While it actually turned out OK in this case, half the time it makes the grip too loose.

Design & Sculpt: We’ve seen much of this sculpt before on Gentleman Ghost, but it’s great to see it used here. As far as I can tell, the differences (aside from the head) include: the bolo tie, the lack of a cape, the flower, and the forearms (GG had much larger cuffs). Oh, and the neck-having, of course. The result is the classic Silver Age Joker look.

The head sculpt is great. I think it’s unquestionably based on the Marshall Rogers Joker of Steve Englehart’s celebrated 1970s run on Detective Comics (my own favorite run of Batman stories, and a source of much inspiration for Batman: The Animated Series). The head isn’t quite as long and narrow as we often see on Joker figures, and I think that helps make it distinctive. The result is a figure that looks classic, but not too retro. (And it’s ten times better than a Joker wearing elf-booties.)

One nitpick is the left lower leg. Either it was sculpted to be a bit bent (reminiscent of Rogers’ art) or it’s slightly warped–kind of hard to say, but it’s noticeable when he’s standing up straight.

Plastic & Paint: Some collectors have noticed that plastic and paint applications are areas that DCUC 9 and 10 seem to have improved upon, and that’s true here. There’s not much to comment on plastic-wise–the figure’s mostly molded in purple. The jacket is a separate piece, and there’s a filled-in rectangle in the back where GG’s cape was plugged in.

The plastic seems a bit stronger and sturdier than previous waves. Maybe Mattel (or its factory) is cutting back on the regrind plastic; that’s the practice of melting down and re-using plastic shavings and other bits. I can’t say for sure, but I suspect this cost-saving measure may be behind the loose, rubbery limbs we’ve been seeing on the last few waves of DCUC figures.

The paint work is also very sharp, with some nice matte paint used for the orange of the vest. Each button, including the two above the tails in the back, is individually painted in gold, and there’s a nice green trim at the cuffs. The pinstripes on the slacks are perfect.

The work on the head is sharp, for the most part–they missed my Joker’s philtrum when painting the lips, but it’s not something you’d notice unless you’re a toy reviewer taking a very close look at your subject. The only significant flaw is the paint on the neck. They went a little overboard on the dark wash, so it looks like the Joker’s neck is covered in soot.

Articulation: The Joker has the standard DCUC articulation: ball/hinge shoulders, H-hinge hips, hinged knees, elbows and torso, and swivels at the thighs, biceps, wrists, and waist. The waist articulation is severely limited by the shirt, and the thigh and bicep swivels are predictably ugly when used on a character in a suit, but that’s a cross we articulation fans have borne for a long time.

You’ll notice I didn’t mention the usual ball jointed head in there. That’s because it isn’t. It’s supposed to be, but in practice it’s just a swivel joint. This has already become the new Big Issue with DCUC: something about the way they’re doing the head articulation is ruining the ball joint. Therefore, my Joker can’t look up, and really can’t even look straight ahead, either–his face is angled downward slightly. It’s an annoying problem that appears to be getting worse, not better.

Accessories: Here’s where Joker is saved from the 3-3.5 raven score his head articulation might have earned him. It seems like it’s always feast or famine when it comes to DCUC figures’ accessories, and the Joker definitely gets a feast.

He comes with a big green mallet, obviously based on the Super Powers version. It’s sculpted to look like his face, and it was my #1 request as an accessory for the Joker. I’m very pleased here. The only downside is that it can’t be placed on his head like the original one.

He also comes with a set of cards (check out the tiny Joker image!), a laughing fish, and a cane with a golden Joker “jester” head. Here’s an odd thing about the cane: they didn’t just re-use the one that came with the original Joker, but made a brand-new one. It’s made from stiffer plastic and features a nice golden tip, but I have to say I prefer the original head. The new head has two extra “tassels” going backward from the jester’s cap, which means the Joker can’t really hold it in his hand properly. The original cane’s head has the two tassels to either side and only the one going back, allowing for a proper grip and therefore dapper poses like this. So while the new cane is stiffer and looks better, the original might offer some more unique poses–but I’m guessing it won’t make much difference to most people.

He also comes with Imperiex’s right leg.

Quality Control: Aside from the aforementioned neck articulation issue, no problems.

Overall: This was the last DCUC figure I really, really wanted, and as impatient a person as I am, I can say it was worth the wait. The sculpt is great, the colors are fun, and the accessories are fantastic.

While the neck issue is annoying, I have hope that this figure will be re-issued (perhaps with a purple trenchcoat, thanks to the Question) and the head will finally be free to direct its manic grin to the birds as well as the moles.

11110

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20 Comments

  1. Barbecue17

    I managed to get all of wave 10, and definitely am convinced this is one of the best DCUC waves ever!

    The Joker is a great figure and i LOVE the accessories. In fact, almost every figure in this wave has some really cool accessories….

  2. Dead Man Walking

    I really don't see much of an improvement in plastic. I have all of wave 9, and they seem MAYBE marginally better than previous waves. Maybe.

    And while I don't have this figure, just look at his shoulder in the pic where he's holding his cards. It has weird texture where it looks like it's wet in some places, dry in others. It looks like a piece has been scraped off, there's brown crud in the middle of it, and the mold lines are always very evident.

  3. Griffin

    @Poe: Glad to hear it, Man-Bat looks like he will be amazing. Oddly enough the only other figure I'm really tempted by is Robotman. The metalic paint they used looks amazing, plus the exposable brain is awesome.

  4. Poe

    @elvis8batman: I assume it was because that was where Gentleman Ghost's cape went on that figure. Rather than having to produce two different jackets (one with the hole for GG's cape and one without), they just used the same jacket for both figures.

  5. elvis8batman

    Anyone know why the back of his jacket is not one smooth piece and has a filled in peg hole? Why would it need it?

  6. JediCreeper

    *sigh* another awesome figure I'll never see

  7. Mario

    @Poe: Dang! Lucky you & PrfktTear!

    As I might have mentioned before, I'm from Montreal, so finding a Wal-Mart exclusive DCUC wave here won't happen, so I trekked down to Plattsburgh last week with high hopes.

    As I'm walking towards a surprisingly fully stocked toy aisle, my hopes seem to materialize, 'cause my eyes see DCUC packaging from afar, & plenty of it. Alas, it was a few leftovers of wave 9 (sorry Poe, no Green Arrow) & some other scattered figs from wave 6. Anyways, the lady told me they were expecting more (about 10) pieces within 7-10 days. God I hope they're the ones, 'cause Ebay right now is just plain stupid.

    That being said, if anyone can help me with Joker, Robotman, Forager & Power Girl, it would be greatly appreciated. I have the means to obviously compensate, but also have real good access to toys some of you may be looking for, as competition is less stiff around here.

  8. Poe

    @Mario: PrfktTear did. Although I think it required some cloak and dagger tactics.

  9. POWER GIRL!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Mario

    Did you actually find him at retail?

  11. De

    I may have to make a cast of his head and put it on top of one of the smaller bucks for a custom Ace figure from the Royal Flush Gang.

  12. I long for the day I'm able to get this figure.

    As a general rule I think thigh cuts are stupid.

  13. Poe

    @Griffin: If/when I find a Man-Bat, I'll definitely be reviewing him. He's the only other one I'll be getting, though.

  14. Griffin

    Man I need this guy. Movie Masters Joker is attempting to hold down his spot in my display, but he's really just a place

    holder for this Joker. I must have him.

    Great review, too bad about the head.

    Are you going to review Man-Bat or any of the rest of this wave? I know you are mostly cherrypicking now.

  15. MechaShiva

    The hunt begins…nice review.

  16. finkrod

    Thanks for the review Poe. You crumb-bum, yours has a normal left wrist. Mine's is so deep in his cuff/sleeve that it barely turns. Still a great figure, though it would be nice if he could look up.

  17. NIk

    Want.

  18. Nicholai

    Good luck in ever finding the Joker.

  19. Mark

    In all honesty I hate the thigh swivel on the DCUC figures. They would be better with a Marvel Legends hip joint instead or a swivel ball hinge like Star Wars or yet not have any thigh articulation at all like DC Direct.

  20. Dead Man Walking

    …and the thigh and bicep swivels are predictably ugly when used on a character in a suit…

    In all fairness ALL DCUC figures' thigh swivels look ugly when you move them. You just can't break up those big leg muscles and expect them to look good. Just check out your pic of Batman vs. Joker.

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