Hello to all you connoisseurs of fine action figures and lovers of overly-gritty 1990s-era comics! We’re back with a review that should get you excited, or curiously intrigued… we’ll settle for either. Today we’re continuing our look at Wave 16 of Mattel’s DC Universe Classics with everyone’s favorite replacement Batman (besides Dick Grayson, of course) – Azrael! For those of you not in the know, or for you that have chosen to block all of Knightfall from your consciousness, here’s Az-Bat’s bio from the back of his spiffy package:
Jean Paul Valley was trained from birth to become the assassin-enforcer Azrael. While investigating his father’s murder, he crossed paths with batman and learned a better way to fight evil. When Bruce Wayne’s spine was broken by Bane, Azrael stepped into the role of Batman; however Az-Bat grew increasingly violent, forcing Wayne to battle back from his paralyzing injury and take down the frightening vigilante.
The sculpt for this gritty s.o.b. is almost 100% original. In fact, as far as we know, his lower torso, waist, thighs, and feet are the only pieces that could have possibly ever seen the light of day before now. Azrael is so covered in distinctive armor that re-use just wasn’t possible – and we’re cool with that! The basic uniform is overlaid with the upper armor and cloak/blade/things. While the “wings” (as we’ll call ‘em from here on out) are made of a stiff plastic, the harness and shoulder pads are constructed from a much more pliable rubber. This allows for Azrael to achieve way more movement than you’d think just by looking at the guy! All of the details, from his automatic batarang delivery system to his tri-bladed calf muscles are represented here in perfect fashion. Speaking of fashion, just check out that sweet buckle-less belt! That’s got 90’s written all over it! Our favorite part of the sculpt by far are Azrael’s gauntlets. They are actually made up of two separate pieces in order to achieve the proper overly-complicated look. It’s like he’s wearing the best parts of Wolverine AND Freddy Krueger -- with just a splash of early X-Force Cable! Amazing! Watch out for some warpage when purchasing your figure. We had a couple of problem spots on the right gauntlet spikes and wings, but nothing a hairdryer can't fix.
Unusual to the DC Universe Classics line, Azrael has been almost completely painted. Only his waist and legs are molded in the correct colors, and even then they have been airbrushed with a darker hue to show off the detail in the sculpt. The rest of the figure benefits form the use of metallic paints for all of the blue and gold armor pieces. The paintwork on our figure was great, for the most part. There were a couple of trouble spots on the helmet around the edges of the lenses and the infrared node. Other than that on gripe, he looks very nice and we have to applaud Mattel on this one, especially when considering the nature of metallic paint and the number of paint apps used on the figure.
When it comes to articulation, Az-Bats gets to benefit from Wave 16’s use of added joints. He has a ball-joint neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel/hinge elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, hinged torso, swivel waist, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, and hinged ankles. For the first time that we can recall, swivel/hinge elbows have been executed on a DCUC figure and they work really well in this instance. While normally we’re not fans of that kind of elbow due to limited upward movement; with Azrael’s gauntlets, this was a great idea. His swivel/hinge wrists allow him to be posed as if he’s shooting his batarang launchers, while his double-hinged knees give him much needed crouching options. The added articulation is a breath of fresh air in this line, and although that has meant breakage for some of the figures, Jean Paul comes through with flying colors.
Azrael comes packaged with Bane’s right leg. Yep, just a Collect & Connect piece for Jean Paul, but that’s only because his armor is already so covered in random weaponry. Of course, we’ve already covered that leg in our review for Bane, so looks like we can start wrapping this review up!
All in all, Azrael is a pretty cool action figure. While the storyline that spawned him may have just been an excuse to cash in the era’s love of death and reboots (some things never go out of style!), the interesting look of his armor makes for a welcome addition to our DC Universe Classics collection.
Stay tuned to MTV Geek! for all your Batman and DC Universe Classics coverage!