Mr. Freeze rules all. He is most likely my favorite Batman villain of all time, for two reasons. One, he isn't a villain. He isn't motivated by greed, anger or psychopathy, just love; love of the wife he is constantly trying to cure. Things just got in his way, and when they did, he dealt with them. And two, he looks really freakin' awesome!!!
As soon as Mattel picked up the Batman license and we all knew
the Four Horseman would be taking a crack at the DCU, Mr. Freeze shot way up to the top of my list of hopeful figures (along with Joker, Scarecrow, Mad Hatter [long shot, I know] and maybe Clayface [when he looks cool, he looks really, really cool, and when he doesn't... he really, really doesn't]), but he's always seemed kind of second-tier to me, so the odds of his getting made seemed very slim. Especially with the soulless conglomerate bastard corporation that is Weyland-Yutani... I mean "Mattel" doing the line. Thus, imagine my shock when he was unveiled at SDCC '03. Unfortunately, I think he was chosen mainly for the fact that his "freeze gun" could be easily translated into a childish water-cannon toy (which makes no sense to me because he's so damned short-packed no kid will ever get their hands on him because if we don't get them then the flippin' scalpers will and... the logic of Mattel astounds) rather than as a cool character that could be made into an impressive toy, and it shows in the design.
Mr. Freeze comes with either one or two accessories, depending on how you look at it.
There's the big backpack and then the freeze gun, but they are permanently connected via a black hose. This is for the water to flow forth from the pack and out through the gun, recreating Mr. Freeze's Freeze Gun's Freeze Ray. Except it's just water... but it could be chilled water, so I guess it makes sense. Oh well, it is just a kid's toy anyway, right? Not like anyone over the age of eight would want one of these, right, Mattel? The pack is solid plastic with a rubber stopper in one "chamber" to allow for water to be loaded in, and a plastic button in the middle of the pack. This is kinda neat because finally we don't have to squeeze a rubber pouch to shoot the water; all we have to do is press the button. However, the result is an oversized backpack that looks awkward at best when worn. It hangs pretty far off from Freeze's back, which not only looks weird but also makes him back heavy. The two chambers on the pack also seem too far apart and too squat to be particularly good looking and the whole contraption just looks bizarre when viewed from any angle other than head-on.
On a side note, the pack reminds me of Nuclear Spawn, so its girth and design oft makes me think of it as some sort of lame-o nuclear reactor rather than freeze-ray-producer. The gun and backpack are cast in a really lame gray plastic with glitter in it, so basically they both just look really cheap and tacky. The gun I can't decide if I like either.
It's based on the familiar design, but very stylized; it has a sort of head on it that looks like some sort of targeting gear, and thusly needs some red paint for laser sights and the like. The only really hip thing about the accessories are the icicles hanging from the nozzle of the gun and pretty much anywhere else that the freeze-ray chemicals could leak. But, of course, the effect doesn't work that well since the icicles aren't painted. Hooray for more Mattel half-assery! There is also a pair of soft plastic cords that come out of the backpack and can be plugged into Freeze's gauntlets.
Mr. Freeze is perhaps the most articulated figure in Mattel's Batman line yet, or daresay ever. He comes with a whopping 12 points: knees, mid-torso, neck, ball-jointed shoulders, biceps and forearms. The boots are perfect for swivel joints and the ankles are clearly designed with points of articulation in mind, but, when you're the biggest toy company on the planet mass producing a figure from the proven second or third biggest toy franchise ever, those little bits of cost really can hurt... especially when you're trying to gouge a 900% profit on every figure. But that's neither here nor-Mattel sucks!
What's actually kinda neat though is the neck articulation. The "fishbowl" is not removable. Let me repeat that again, cause that's what I'm sure people are curious about: the "head jar" thing is not removable.
Thusly, how is there articulation at the neck? Well, there appears to be a series of gears, or what-have-you, that basically keeps the head always looking forward, in terms of where the feet are pointed. As you turn his upper torso, the arms, etc., turn, but the lower torso, legs, and head stay in place. Now, I'm sure some might assume that the lower torso simply has an elongated pole that the head is fixed to, and thusly, the upper torso and "fishbowl" just turn around it. But this is not the case; there is a jerkiness and non-perfect-alignment with the head that makes the "gear" solution clear. Perhaps these pointless inner mechanics are what ate up the articulation budget... not!
Mr. Freeze has the same very marginal and lackluster paintjob that has become synonymous with his company of origin. Basically he's just cast in dark blue and has some silver thrown on him to "mix it up" a bit. There's also some bizarre light, light blue "frosting" that really just kind of confuses. Why that? Why not a wash or dry-brush? That would have helped to show off some of the detail in the sculpt. Again, I am met with befuddlement at Mattel's complete lack of interest in quality product (will, that's not true, at least they have the Horsemen pulling their sculpts).
There's some metallic blue on the "nuclear reactor" and a very cool metallic blue used for the "belt buckle" and a thing on the gun. Both of these could and should have been used in more places to just basically help the figure all around. Oh, Freeze's fingers are painted the same color as his head and on the fishbowl there's a tacky "snow line" around the base. Good idea, bad execution; it follows too even a path to be enjoyable. As with all Four Horsemen sculpts, this figure needs a good wash to bring out all the detail, and without, the figure only seems half done.
Mr. Freeze looks awesome at first. But the more I look at him, the more mediocre he becomes. Everything south of the belt looks really good but the lower torso is simple and has very little intricate detailing. Thusly it either needs to be painted a different color or detailed some more. It's blocked by the gun most of the time, but still doesn't seem to mesh with the rest of the figure. Same with the biceps: on a figure with so much sculpted detail, the areas without it stick out and seem very lacking and halfassed. The biceps are weird, too, in that they never line up with the shoulders at the joint, which is weird because you can usually find a point when the sculpt matches up, but not here. The upper torso has a series of vertical lines that remind me too much of the old-timey, black & white prison outfits for me to like. I would have preferred the lines to either be angled or replaced with the sort of techno-detail the Horsemen are famous for.
A curious addition is the icicles all over Freeze. Sure, they're in keeping with the spirit of the name "Freeze," but they don't work nearly as well on his body as they do elsewhere and they really seem to hinder the figure rather than help it, especially since they are not painted separately (so some are gray, some are dark blue, some are silver, and so on).
But certainly the biggest disappointment with the sculpt is that the head - which, remember, we can't get at - is permanently sculpted to be looking down. The "base" of the head is angled to that when you turn the torso, he does end up looking straight, but again, can only do that when the upper torso/arms are turned. Sure it's a very cool, contemplative pose for the character, to be facing forward and looking down, but I would far more prefer him to be looking up and "staring down" his opponent! The whole head thing simply turned out to be nothing more than a bad gimmick.
Mr. Freeze is, all in all, a pretty good figure. He has a bunch of little flaws like the other Mattel Batman figures, but overall ends up being worth having. However, the whole line is still overpriced, and those little flaws do count, especially in today's market of quality sculpting and painting. Competition is much tougher these days, and Mattel's answer seems to be to simply aim for the youngest demographic and do just barely enough to get us collectors to buy the product. Buying Mattel product makes me feel dirty and cheap, because I'm whoring myself for mediocrity.
That being said, please note I never once referred to Mr. Freeze, the character or the figure, as "cool." There are so many bad jokes to be made with that (i.e. "pun intended! Ba-Zing!") that I figured I'd just let it go, but then had to bring it up here, so that you, the loyal reader, can know that, yes, those terrible musings had indeed crossed my mind. Also, note that every other paragraph begins with the words "Mr. Freeze." What does this mean!? Is it genius or madness!? Can your puny brain comprehend the glory!? And doesn't this remind you of when you were in the boat, and then, later that night, you were lying, looking up at the ceiling, and the water in your head was not dissimilar from the landscape. And you think to yourself, why is it that the landscape is moving but the boat is still?
What pipedream Batman characters do you sadly know that Mattel will never get around to giving us? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.