Last year's ToY winner for Best Line was a surprise - even to us. In 2004, Mattel earned one of two special Lifetime Achievement Awards in the Worst of the Year category for their treatment of He-Man, Batman and the Justice League. In 2005, the Justice League managed to even beat out the fan-favorite Marvel Legends for the top spot. What was the secret to their success? Variety.
Fans have been customizing animated-style figures of DC characters ever since the first Batman cartoon line debuted, but it's Mattel that's finally giving us official versions. And it's not just folks who haven't had animated figures before; Mattel is doing a great job giving us characters that have never had any figures before. Characters like Starman.
Originally Prince Gavyn of Throneworld, Starman was ejected into space after his sister Clryssa was named to the imperial throne. He was saved by an entity known as M'ntorr, who taught him how to convert stellar radiation to bio-energy. Now he uses his abilities to right wrongs and fight for his home world and the crown itself.
"Starman" is one of those names DC loves to recycle. There have been a dozen of him, not counting various crosstime counterparts and Elseworlds versions. Basically it's a name that's generic enough that anyone could use it for anything, which is why DC makes sure there's always at least one Starman bouncing around every few years - if they let the copyright slip, someone's going to pounce on it in an instant.
In the early '80s, writer Paul Levitz and artist Steve Ditko (yes, he of Spider-Man fame) created this version (number four), who only lasted about 12 issues, then mostly disappeared before getting offed in Crisis on Infinite Earths. So why's this the version seen on Justice League Unlimited? Because he's got the best costume.
Well, "most visually interesting" costume at least. He kinda looks
like Ronald McDonald's evil doppelganger. He's got red boots, yellow tights, a red body and a yellow star on his chest. This is broken up a bit by black outlines, and black wristbands with yellow dots. His head would make for a good Booster Gold if we didn't already have one - his hair sticks out the top of his red mask, he's wearing yellow goggles and he's got a slight bit of a smile on his face.
Mattel has said that their attempts to add articulation to the JL figures didn't work out well, and so except for the characters who already got the upgrade, we shouldn't expect to see any more of it. Sadly, that means Starman moves only at the Big Five: neck, shoulders and hips. The addition of knees and elbows isn't a major one, but it did help those who got it. Shame that Starman isn't one of them.
Originally available in a three-pack with Superman and Amazo,
Starman was later released single-carded. As is usual in these cases, Mattel has given him a new accessory. It's a yellow staff, hooked at the end and featuring a few odd-shaped embellishments. It's not something he ever used in the cartoon (or in the comics, for that matter), but it does suit him: it's an animated representation of the cosmic rod carried by the '90s Starman (he's number seven, if you're counting). That's a very cool idea on Mattel's part - play to the fans by playing to the history and connections of the comics. There's an indentation on the staff sized for the figure's hand, so he can hold it, even if he can't hold it in very many different poses.
Considering that this Starman only existed for about half a decade - just a few weeks, in comicbook time - no one but hardcore completists would want a figure of the guy if DC were to produce one. But by just standing in the background of a few scenes of Justice League Unlimited, he's earned plastic immortality thanks to Mattel.
Do you think we'll ever see the other Starmen in JLU form? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.