Call me a sucker for these things, or maybe something even worse, because when they first announced the Battle for Earth 3 two-pack, I swore I wasn’t going to get it. First off, I want, no, I need a modern Crime Syndicate. This Ultraman is based on the classic design, and as much as I like the classics, the modern designs are much cooler. And Luthor, where to begin? This version of Luthor was featured for a couple of panels in Crisis on Infinite Earths, a couple of decades ago. Talk about digging deep, Mattel.
Still, June 15th came around and there I was, waiting for the Mattycollector.com site to refresh – the ordering experience on a heavy day, because of MOTU Classics Hordak sales, was much improved. And a couple of days later, this set is in my hands.
The outer packaging, which I did not bother taking pictures of, is a plain white box with the DC Universe logo and some product disclaimers on it. Mattel started shipping with these outer boxes to protect packaging for mint on card collectors. Inside is the actual package, a clear box window on cardboard. It seems overly tall but that allows both figures to be completely displayed. The cardback is standard stuff, featuring shots of the figure prototypes and biographical information for both characters.
One thing I did find odd is that the card art featured on the side panels and inside tray are from DC Universe Classics series 1, featuring Batman, Etrigan, Metamorpho, etc.
As far as the contents, what you see is what you get. Two figures – Ultraman and Alexander Luthor, and nothing else. This wasn’t a surprise, as the previous two-pack of Starfire and Adam Strange came with a pistol for Strange but no other accessories.
The figures themselves leverage the planned body reuse that’s prevalent in this line. Please don’t ask me to identify them, because I’m horrible at it, but I think Ultraman uses the big buck while Luthor uses the medium one. This allows Mattel to fabricate the unique pieces at a lower cost than a fully sculpted new figure. Ultraman’s head is new, as is the chest piece and cape combination that is reminiscent of Eradicator in the last Walmart wave. Luthor sports a new head, chest piece, gloves, and belt.
While reuse is probably the biggest factor that makes a set with relatively obscure characters possible, it can sometimes lead to odd results. On Ultraman, I can see why the separate chest piece was necessary, although comics purists will find that it’s not the cleanest representation of the classic costume. What does bother me a bit is the reuse of gloved hands with clothing folds simply recast in flesh color.
Here’s another example of reuse that I just found curious. Luthor’s butt cuffs (maybe the entire lower legs, but I can’t tell) are clearly from Red Tornado – but they’re upside down. I don’t know if this was intentional or a manufacturing error. I think this is also an example of mixing and matching parts from different figures, because I don’t think the Luthor shares Red Tornado’s buck. Let me know if I’m wrong on that.
Overall, I’m more pleased that Mattel was able to make and sell this set (the first allotment on Mattycollector.com sold out within a couple of hours) than I am with the figures themselves. That’s not a knock on the figures as much as my desire for a modern Ultraman and Crime Syndicate over the classic version. I think the success of this set will enable further obscure choices down the line, and now that I’ve started down this path, I am hoping Mattel will complete the classic Crime Syndicate, even despite Owl-Man’s goofy owl cowl.
And yes, I need a classic blue and red Superman, and am looking forward to the Superman and Braniac two-pack for that.
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