REVIEW: DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS BEAST BOY
Some time back, Walmart offered an exclusive assortment of Mattel's very excellent DC Universe Classics figures. Dubbed "Wave 5", this assortment proved -- elusive. To put it mildly.
So it was with some concern when I heard that Wave 10 of the DC Universe Classics line was also destined to be a Walmart exclusive, especially given the extremely impressive character line-up. Fortunately, this particular wave is proving somewhat easier to obtain -- as easy as any of the waves are, anyway, which isn't saying much. Nevertheless, I did come across the majority of Wave 10!
Included in the series was a character that has been a longtime favorite of mine. He goes by the name of BEAST BOY, which was his original name, even though when I first encountered him, he'd changed it to CHANGELING, and had signed on with the 1980's incarnation of the New Teen Titans, under the creative guidance of Marv Wolfman and George Perez.
Beast Boy is the DC Universe's poster boy for Kermit the Frog's legendary saying, "It's Not Easy Being Green". He's had more than his fair share of tragedy in his life, but still manages to maintain a generally good nature, a sense of humor, and a more heroic attitude than he even gives himself credit for most of the time.
Let's have a look into the history of this character, with a little help from WikiPedia:
Garfield Mark "Gar" Logan, known as Beast Boy or Changeling, is a superhero appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. The character was created by Arnold Drake and Bob Brown, and first appeared in Doom Patrol #99 (November 1965).
As a child, Garfield contracted a rare illness called "sakutia", by being bitten by a green monkey, during an exploratory expedition on the part of his parents, to Africa. His life was saved by his parents who used an untested serum on him.
This serum has the unintended effect of turning his skin and hair green and granting him the ability to metamorphose into any animal of his choice. His parents later died in a boating accident, which to this day, Garfield believes he could have prevented.
Garfield was subsequently adopted by the chief of a native tribe with whom Garfield's parents were friends. However, a member of the tribe despised the green youngster, and attempted to arrange his death.
Later, after he is saved from two kidnappers that beat him and force him to use his powers to help them in their crimes, Garfield is left under the care of a court-appointed guardian, the soon-to-be-despised Nicholas Galtry.
As young Logan enters his teens, Galtry realizes that his embezzlements from the estate would be exposed when the lad reaches maturity and takes control of his inheritance, so he plots to kill the youngster. The various villains he hires to kill young Logan are impeded by the Doom Patrol.
Doom Patrol member Elasti-Girl and her husband, Doom Patrol associate Steve Dayton, eventually expose Galtry's embezzling to the courts and adopt Garfield Logan. In the interim, he allies himself with the super-hero team, wearing one of their uniforms, and taking the name Beast Boy.
In his days with the Doom Patrol, Garfield has a romantic relationship with a girl from his high school named Jillain Jackson. After he saves her from Galtry, who makes a return in an armored battle-suit and was calling himself "Arsenal", the relationship dissolved.
Beast Boy spent some time with a rather short-lived West Coast incarnation of the Teen Titans, but didn't really come to the fore again until the Teen Titans were revitalized in 1980 by Wolfman and Perez.
At this time, Garfield took the name Changeling. While this change in names is not explained at the time, in a later flashback it was revealed that Gar's ex-guardian Nicholas Galtry, as Arsenal, mocked the "Beast Boy" name so much that he ruined it for him for a long period of time, and so he adopted the name Changeling. He remained with various incarnations of the team, and formed a close friendship with Cyborg.
During his time with this incarnation of the Titans, the young man fell in love with Terra, a girl with earth-manipulating powers and eventual fellow Teen Titans member, who turned out to be a spy working for Deathstroke, and who died in the final conflict against the Titans, in one of the more epic storylines in the title.
Despite all his hardships, Garfield is friendly and upbeat, although he often comes across as the comic relief of the team, sometimes to the annoyance of his fellow Titans. Following the death of Terra, which Garfield blamed Deathstroke for, refusing to see Terra for what she really was, Garfield confronted Deathstroke, intending to kill him. Ultimately, the two called an uneasy truce, and Deathstroke himself told Garfield that he was a better hero than he thought he was, and that he should stop playing the clown if he wanted to be taken more seriously by the others. Interesting individual to get advice from.
In the years since, Beast Boy's life has hardly been uneventful. When his friend Cyborg was affected by an alien computer of some sort (I don't recall the specifics of the story and at this point I am off the WikiPedia entry), he followed his friend into space. He returned, as did Cyborg, although it took the combined efforts of the Titans and the JLA to help Cyborg regain his humanity.
He tried to resume an acting career, which he had held for a brief time as an alien officer on a TV show called "Space Trek: 1999", but this didn't work out. He has been involved with several incarnations of Titans since that time, as well as at least one reformation of the Doom Patrol. He has had a romantic relationship with fellow Titans member Raven, although this relationship has since at least somewhat concluded.
Most recently, Beast Boy has returned to Titans Tower and has once more assumed the role of leader for the Teen Titans, although it remains to be seen whether the current team will accept him in that role. He also has confessed to an unconscious Raven that he is still in love with her & may never stop loving her, no matter what their difficulties are.
As to his powers and abilities, Beast Boy has the ability to morph into any animal that he has seen himself or has seen in an illustration (as is the case when he shapeshifts into an animal such as an extinct dinosaur). These transformations take only a second and Beast Boy has demonstrated that he is capable of rapidly changing his form with little or no effort expended.
As a corollary to this power, he can transform back into his default form if an external force like magic transforms him into an animal.
His power enables him to completely alter his body mass, being able to take the shape of animals far larger and heavier than himself, such as an elephant, a hippopotamus, or a Tyrannosaurus Rex (though until recent stories, such larger forms would physically exhaust him), or smaller and lighter animals such as mice and insects. However, he cannot change or return to a form if the space he occupies is too small and he cannot normally break the confines (as seen when he attempt to transform into a Tyrannosaurus Rex underneath a bridge and hits his head, instantly aborting the transformation).
His power also enables him to radically alter his body structure and take forms of animals without limbs, like snakes, or those without skeletons like a jellyfish. In two notable instances, he has even taken the form of multiple individuals simultaneously (once as a swarm of fireflies, and again as a mass of barnacles).
While as an animal, he gains all the physical abilities and characteristics of said animal, such as great strength (a gorilla), speed (a cheetah), and durability (a turtle), and abilities such as flight (various birds), and aquatic breathing (various fish). He can even gain the specific poison produced by specific snakes.
While in animal form, Beast Boy retains his human intellect, memories, and the ability to speak. No matter what form he takes, his skin, hair, and eyes remain green, making most of his animal forms easy to distinguish from real animals of that species.
Beast Boy has also shown the ability more than once to transform into alien beings, including sentient species such as the Gordanians, and once transformed himself into one of Darkseid's shock troopers, a Parademon, although since these forms are not strictly animals per se, they cause a far greater physical exertion on him.
As of late, he has demonstrated the ability to transform into animals many times larger than their actual forms: among others, he's been seen transforming into a human-sized tarantula and a giant snake. Whether this is a progression of his abilities or a new power altogether is unknown.
There have been Changeling and Beast Boy action figures before, if not many. The first was produced by DC Direct as part of a Teen Titans set, and featured an excellent Perez-based version of Changeling, outfitted in his red and white Doom Patrol-like costume. I have this figure and am very pleased that I do.
When the Teen Titans animated series arrived on Cartoon Network, Beast Boy was dressed in a purple and black costume. Bandai had the action figure license for this animated series, and produced several figures of the cartoonish Beast Boy within the line.
Interestingly enough, within the comics, Beast Boy adopted a costume very similar to his animated counterpart, although I have recently seen the red-and-white return.
The DC Universe Classics figure, perhaps to differentiate itself from the DC Direct figure, even though that one goes back quite a few years now, uses the purple-and-black costume. That's fine -- it's a perfectly capable costume.
The Beast Boy figure stands distinctly shorter than average, about 5-1/2" in height compared to the more standard 6-1/2" in height for most figures. This is doubtless intended to portray Beast Boy's younger age, and it puts him in the same size range as the Kid Flash and Robin figures, which isn't inappropriate. Additionally, Beast Boy has always been shown as a bit younger and shorter than the average super-hero.
The bulk of the body, except for the lower arms, lower legs, and of course, head, could readily represent a new standard "teen male hero" body mold, that could probably be used for a number of teenage characters from the DC Universe past and present. Aqualad, anyone?
Beast Boy has an excellent headsculpt, and it's very up to date. The skin is green, a sort of medium green, with mildly unruly but rather trendily-styled dark green hair. The face appears to have been molded in green, rather than painted in its skin color, as seems to often be the case on many DC Universe Classics figures. I'll take molded-in-color as my personal preference every time, as it removes the possibility of paint glitches.
Mattel also remembered one little modern detail about Beast Boy, which I was very glad to see. In recent years, the character's ears have been somewhat pointed. Whether this is something Garfield is doing just for fun, or if it's a recent reflection of his powers in some fashion, I really don't know. But it's an interesting touch, and I'm pleased to see it on the figure.
Beast Boy's costume featured a dark reddish purple front and back, with black along the sides, mostly black sleeves, purple trunks, black leggings, and purple shoes that look like very fancy sneakers. The detail on the shoes is excellent, right down to visible stitching. Most impressive.
The sleeves of the costume end just below the elbow, leaving Beast Boy's lower arms bare. Arm hair has been sculpted onto the arms and the backs of the hands. This is more than likely a reflection of Garfield's abilities, as he's likely a little too young to be quite this hairy. It's probably residual fur as much as anything.
The costume also has a silver belt around the waist, with ridges and hinges on it, and a circular buckle. I'm honestly not certain if the belt has any practical purposes, or is merely decorative.
Of course, the figure is superbly articulated. Beast Boy is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, and ankles. All of his articulation points are designed well within the design of the figure itself. The figure's articulation points all move well. Some are a little on the loose side, but I've seen worse, and I'll certainly take that over "It's stuck and if you try to free it it'll probably break" -- which I've also had happen.
On the whole, overall quality of the figure is excellent. The DC Universe Classics line was plagued with various problems early on, mostly relating to assembly, with parts either being stuck or not even assembled correctly, but I see continuing signs of resolution with regard to these matters.
As for accessories -- well, Beast Boy isn't in the habit of using weapons. He pretty much IS the weapon. And since action figure technology hasn't quite reached the point yet where a convincing-looking human can transform into a convincing-looking animal, about the only thing that can be done is to include an animal or two -- painted green -- for pretending that Beast Boy has transformed into that animal.
Although one of Beast Boy's frequent forms seems to be a monkey -- which was included with the DC Direct Changeling figure and there's no reason that someone owning that figure couldn't use it in conjunction with this figure -- Mattel has chosen to include a bright green eagle with Beast Boy -- or maybe it's a falcon? A hawk? Something along those lines, anyway.
What's more than a bit amusing is that the bird is a recoloration of the same bird that was an accessory with the recent Masters of the Universe Classics TEELA figure, and in that instance I believe it was meant to represent Zoar, the bird-like form that the Sorceress -- Teela's mother -- could transform into when she wished to leave Castle Grayskull for a limited period of time.
It's probably not all that surprising, since many of the same Mattel personnel, as well as the Four Horsemen sculptors, that work on DC Universe Classics, also work on Masters. And, what the heck, it works, and it's a very nicely sculpted bird, with astounding detail on the feathers. And it even has a certain amount of articulation! The wings are poseable, and the feet rotate.
But I do find myself wondering just a bit which intended use came first -- Teela or Beast Boy? Or was it somehow simultaneous?
So, what's my final word here? I'm seriously impressed. I've always liked the character of Beast Boy/Changeling, and this DC Universe Classics figure of him is the most impressive since the DC Direct, is probably a bit better than that one in some respects, and is also more up to date! And it's an excellent addition to the growing pantheon of DC Universe Classics figures.
Granted, he may not be that easy to find. I would hope that distribution of Series 10 to Walmarts will be better than it was for Series 5. But that's pretty much up to Walmart. Nevertheless, if you are fortunate enough to see Beast Boy, and really anybody else in Wave 10, don't hesitate. Snag them immediately!
The DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS figure of BEAST BOY most definitely has my highest recommendation!