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Catwoman

DC Superheroes
by yo go re

We're currently 10 series into Mattel's DC Universe toyline, and fans are still leveling the same complaints at them that we've been hearing since the 2002 Masters of the Universe relaunch: terrible distribution and heavy-packing unwanted variantions of the "name" characters. And of course, the longer the line goes on, the harder each subsequent series is to find. That was certainly the case with DC Superheroes, the infamous forerunner of DCU.

Selina Kyle was a child of the streets, growing into a beautiful and criminally skilled young woman. She became Catwoman, the most successful cat burglar Gotham City had ever known. Catwoman and Batman share a strange relationship, part adversarial, part flirtatious. Catwoman finds herself attracted to Batman... so much so that she sometimes finds herself working with him on the side of the angels.

Catwoman was part of DCSH Series 8, alongside Clayface, Bruce Wayne, and repaints of Batman, Joker and Nightwing, which means you never saw any of it. Only reason I managed to find the series was that it hit shelves the same day as a local toy show, so all the scalpers were over there with their tables set up instead of prowling the aisles at TRU that early Sunday morn in November '07 - two months after she was due. Serendipity, thy name is Catwoman!

The Four Horsemen sculpted Selina in her modern costume: the one designed by Ed Brubaker, which is basically a combo of Emma Peel's iconic fetish fuel catsuit, with an aviator's helmet and goggles instead of a mask. There are very few wrinkles in the material of Catwoman's costume, just around her narrow waist. That doesn't mean she lacks detail, though, because the sexy front zipper (with its '70s chic giant ring) is intricately detailed, right down to the real sculpted teeth. The gloves and boots are anything but skin-tight and smooth, and her belt looks like thick, heavy leather.

Selina's face is okay, but not great. Her jaw is rather square and mannish - not unlike Supergirl in that regard. Her lenses are clear, allowing you to see the eyes beneath, but unlike the "Hush" version, the goggles are permanently glued on - wonder if a headswap would work? Her hood has (sculpted) seams suggesting the way it was assembled, and the center panel is more wrinkled than the outsides. Finally, like Harley Quinn, the paint on her face could really be improved.

While Harl's problem was a blue wash that smeared all over her white face paint, Selina's kinda got the opposite: for the most part her skin is dark, but there's a pale patch right around her mouth. It seems likely these two apps were meant to blend, not have a harsh edge - unless Mattel was trying to make Selina look like she's got a really weird suntan. Her lips are dark red, and the eyes behind her goggles are just as detailed as anyone else's. The body of her suit is matte black, while her gloves and boots are gloss for contrast. The belt buckle and zipper are silver.

Catwoman has the usual DC Superheroes articulation: balljoint head, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, swivel gloves, hinged torso, swivel waist, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, hinged knees, swivel boots and hinged ankles. Thankfully, nothing stuck, but that wasn't as big a problem with DCSH as it is with DCU. As always, things would be a lot better with double elbows and knees, but the addition of swivels at the boot tops is a neat bonus.

Selina's accessories are quite nice, as well. She has the most important piece, her whip: it's entirely a sculpted piece, rather than a handle with a string in it; the wrapped leather looks really swanky, and the tip has three unbraided strands to really do some damage (or at least make a louder noise). Her right hand is posed perfectly to hold the handle, while her left seems to be in more of a "clawing" pose. The figure comes with a string of black pearls, and there's a gap the precise size needed to drape it over her left hand and make her look like she's dangling the necklace from her fingers. She also has a removable backpack, seemingly sized for a Japanese schoolgirl, and a fancy black cat statue with golden jewelry - no wonder she wants to steal it!

Mattel is the largest toymaker in the world, which is why it's perpetually disappointing to see them making the kinds of mistakes that even a first-year company wouldn't be foolish enough to duplicate. Catwoman, a popular character who hadn't hd a figure yet? Yeah, by all means, bump her out of cases in favor of Knight Shadow Batman. And then re-release that same lame figure as a convention exclusive. Recently, though, Mattel has taken a page from Hasbro's playbook, re-releasing some of the hard-to-find DCSH figures, including Catwoman. If you're lucky enough to stumble upon the new DCU Gotham City five-pack, Selina's been repainted purple (a halfassed attempt to make her '90s costume) and included therein. Of course, her only accessory is her whip, and this costume has never been that color, so from a pure toy standpoint, the DCSH release is still a better offering.

-- 10/30/09


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