In a summer filled with convention exclusives, leave it to Mattel to take things to new levels of annoying insanity. Two years ago they were the ones who invented the screamingly asinine lottery system that SDCC now insists all exhibitors use. Last year, realizing that everyone would be used to the lottery, Mattel needed to find a new way to piss people off: thus, one exclusive with two chase variants. It'd be pretty hard to find a worse idea than that, but Mattel? Totally stepped up to the plate!
Since they managed to turn He-Man into a failure, Mattel could only make Batman exclusives. And since they ruined the comic line, they only had Batman Begins and cartoon licenses left. The movie exclusive (and its, yes, variant) was unimpressive, but the animated offering actually looked pretty good. Can't go wrong with Bat-villains, and Mattel was giving us The Batman's version of Catwoman.
Catwoman, a.k.a. Selina Kyle, is Gotham's greatest cat burglar. She gets her name not only because of her profession but also because of her cat-like qualities. Cunning, stealthy and mysterious, she is neither superhero nor arch villain. Unlike most of The Batman's foes, Catwoman is not out for mass destruction or domination of Gotham. She's in it for the money...and the thrill of the hunt. She has even been known to do the occasional good deed – when it's in her best interest. Despite The Batman's efforts to capture her, Catwoman seems to enjoy her encounters with the Dark Knight, proving to be a flirtatious rival.
While the vast majority of fanboys piss and moan about the redesigns Batman's foes have received for this new series, they didn't really have anything to complain about with the show's interpretation of Catwoman. This is still Selina Kyle, she's still a burglar, and her costume is based on the one she currently wears in the comics.
At a glance, Catwoman looks pretty impressive. Her pose is taken directly from Jeff Matsuda's character sheet, with one hand on her hip and the other flashing its claws. Unfortunately, since she started life as a drawing and not as a sculpture, her contrapposto is quite exaggerated, so she will not stand on her own in any way, shape, or form.
To keep her form looking its best,
Catwoman is articulated only at the Springfield Four: neck, shoulders and waist. Her bodysuit is sleek and black, save for the red claws, paws and ears. She's got kind of a turtleneck thing going on, but it still looks sexy. The ears are a bit oversized, making Selina look more like a bat than Bruce does. Her goggles are larger than the comic version, but that's just an effect of the animation style.
The goggles can be removed, but it's not clear whether that's an intentional feature: doing so leaves Catwoman with divots in her temples and a hole in the bridge of her nose. It's like she went to Joan Rivers' plastic surgeon or something. If you really want an unmasked Catwoman, Diamond Comics will be delivering one to comicshops in a few months.
Catwoman has her whip, of course, though her hand's not really molded to hold it. In the package, the handle's rubberbanded in place, and that's the way I intend to leave it. The body of the whip is a thick string, rather than plastic. She's also got a translucent orange disc base, to keep her vertical. It would have been better if she didn't need it, but there you are.
The finaly accessory is Mattel's crowning achievement with this exclusive, the one that puts all others to shame. In her first appearance, Catwoman was trying to steal a jade idol, so it makes sense that Mattel would include it with their figure.
And after their shenanigans last year, it makes sense that they might want to create a variant of the idol. What doesn't make sense is that they would make nine different versions of it, eight of which have nothing to do with the show!
Here's the story: each day, atendees could line up at the Mattel booth for a raffle ticket. If their number was drawn in the raffle, they could purchase one blind-packed figure. When they opened the figure, they'd find out which idol they received. While early reports suggesed three versions, the final number turned out to be three times that. The golden version is the rarest, followed by the antique wood, and then equal numbers of jade, obsidian, ruby, silver, gray, American flag and pink flocked. I'm sorry, there's just no explaining those last two, and to anyone who bought a Catwoman and got one of them, we'd like to offer our sincerest condolences, and apologies on behalf of Mattel.
The lion idol is 1 3/4" tall, and is rubberbanded in place in the package. Like Catwoman's whip, you'll be better off to leave it that way. One thing mattel really did right with this set is the packaging. The exterior box, intended to conceal the idol, is a lovely purple, with a gold leaf The Batman logo on the front and subtle claw marks on all sides.
The package inside the is the same angular window box that all Mattel's exclusives seem to come in - even their Collector Edition Batman is in a version of it. But Catwoman's box has the best design seen yet, better even than the Batcave printed on last year's exclusive: it's her own play-ready bank vault.
The front, top and sides of the box have the look of brushed steel, complete with huge rivets,
while the clear window in the front is criss-crossed by thin red lines representing the complex laser sensors that all fictional bank vaults have to have these days - thanks, Mission Impossible. The rear of the interior cardboard tray presents the vault door, and there's a raised representation of a rope ladder leading up to the lid, which is patterned like an open skylight. The idol rests on a pedestal on the left side of the display, and a plastic bubble holds Catwoman and her base in place on the right side.
The back of the box features a picture of Catwoman, having escaped the vault with the idol, though the shadow of Batman looms over her. Overall, this is one great piece of design. It's not often that you'll hear us tell you to leave your figure in its package, but this is one of those times: between the excellent packaging, the minimal articulation and the poorly balanced pose, your Catwoman will be better served inside her vault than out of it.
In true Mattel style, this figure is overpriced and way too hard to get. It's definitely not one for the average toy collector, but if you know someone who's a Batman or Catwoman nut, it'll be right up their alley. Just make sure they have a good place to display it.
Seriously! Mattel! WTF? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.