Points of Articulation
Mattel's reused DC sculpts
For four years, we've made fun of Mattel's DC Universe Classics for one thing: its stupid name. Its stupid name and the insipid "Collect-n-Connect" name. The two things we've made fun of are the name of the line, the silly name they came up with for the Build-A-Figures and the lackluster articulation. The three things we've made fun of are the name of the line, the name of the BAFs, and the articulation... and the heavy reuse of bodies. The four-- no. Amongst the things we've made fun of are such elements as the name, BAFs... let's start over.
Amongst the things we've ridiculed DC Universe Classics for are such diverse elements as the name, the BAFs, the articulation, the reused bodies, and the lack of accessories. Oh, damn! Look, we're trying to make a point here, and copying famous Monty Python sketches isn't going to get it done, is it? [Ni! I mean, no! --ed.] We've said over and over that DCUC relies too heavily on reused sculpts, but is that really true? We were determined to find out.
Researching this topic was a two-step process. Step 1: ask the Four Horsemen if they kept records about these things. Step 2: since they didn't, pull out every DCUC figure in our collections and divide them into great heaping piles, based on which torso they had. Science! Luckily, while the 4H couldn't just do our work for us, they could give us names for the different bodies, which gave us a starting point for dividing them.
Not too bad, huh? That's 140 figures that share 16 kinds of bodies. Sure, there may be some differences in the gloves and boots, but we're talking about torsos - you know, what people judge by when they say two figures share the same body. Some of them, like Cyborg and Magog could really count as unique bodies, but it's obvious they're built on one of the pre-existing torsos, so we included them there.
The Public Enemies men all share the same body, and when the figures came out we couldn't quite decide whether the sculpt was new, or just a minorly up-sized version of the Medium Male body - that's why there's an asterisk up there in their part of the chart. Well, after filling the OAFE office with every Mattel DC figure at once, we can finally answer that: it's actually a retooled version of the DCSH3 Batman! How about that, huh? So the bodies were technically reused, but they were still new to DCUC.
If you're paying attention, you may notice that there are a few figures missing from the table above. You know why? Because everybody who's not mentioned above has a unique body. Here's that chart:
The figures in that list with asterisks have molds that originated in DC Superheroes, but still, that's 63 figures that had unique sculpts - more original bodies than the most-used "generic" one - which means that about 25% of the line had a one-off sculpt. So why, then, do we think of DCUC as being all about the reuse?
Well, it definitely doesn't help that while one quarter of the line may be unique, another quarter is made entirely of the Small Male body. And to be quite honest, the Medium Male body doesn't look that different from the Small (until you get a couple dozen of them all together and compare them at once).
But then, that's why we did all this work: to see how perception compared to reality. I certainly never would have guessed that there were so many original sculpts in the line, or that the Small body more than doubled the use of its nearest competitor. DCUC will always have a reputation as a line that relied on a small pool of sculpts (and with a 3-to-1 ratio between old and new, it's not entirely undeserved), but it's probably not as bad as you thought.