DC Direct: Crisis on Infinite Earths: Brainiac
The greatest of Superman's villains is, of course, Lex Luthor, despite the fact he's just a bald guy with a grudge. Second place, however, is a little less clear. Superman doesn't have the best rogues' gallery out there. Let's face it, when Toyman makes the top 10, you know pickings are slim.
I know there are fans of Bizarro and Mxyzptlk out there. There's no question that Zod deserves his due, as well. But if I had to pick the second most important Superman villain, I'd go with Brainiac.
Of course, this creates some problems. There have been many, many versions of Brainiac over the years, from the green alien who shrinks cities, to a Kryptonian computer program.
The toy we're looking at today is the version of Brainiac used in the 80's; specifically during Crisis on Infinite Earths. This was an influential version of the character which seems to have inspired the makers of Superman: The Animated Series.
The action figure is from series 2 of DC Direct's Crisis on Infinite Earths line.
Brainiac looks really good, but he's just shy of great. First the good news: the sculpt and design work here are both phenomenal. Up close, this figure looks exceptional. The face, in particular, captures that skeletal-robot look from The Terminator. The clear plastic case (reminiscent of The Alien movies), is likewise nice.
Robots are easy to capture in toy format, largely because ball jointed hips seem less out of place than they do on a human character (more on the joints later, of course). This is a nice figure, and overall I'm very happy with the look.
Here's the catch. The coloration is far too subdued to support the sculpt. Had DC Direct added some weathering or shading, this would be a dynamite figure. As it is, it kind of fades into the background from more than a few feet away.
When all's said and done, I'm awarding Brainiac a respectable score of 8 out of 10 for appearance. A little more detail work and he might have pulled a perfect ten.
Packaging and Extras: ----
The Crisis line has fairly dull packaging, not that I particularly care:
As you can see, the base is again used as the title. It's a simple gimmick, but still cool. The base, itself, is all you get beyond the figure. And as a base, it's a little mediocre. I can't complain too much, since it does duplicate the look of the title for Crisis on Infinite Earths, but I'm certainly not handing over bonus points. Especially when Brainiac could have come packaged with any number of accessories.
Play and Display: ----
This was a hard one. Brainiac has many, many points of articulation - far more than you'd expect - and they're all integrated in such a way that the appearance isn't harmed in the least. Why am I not pouring on the bonus points? Because for nearly every included point of articulation, there's something missing which makes it obsolete.
Take the legs. There are three (THREE) cut joints in each leg; one near the top, and two separate joints above the ankle. Yes, you can rotate his foot in a variety of ways. And they've given us a knee joint, too, along with the unobtrusive ball joints at the hips. And yet all that is wasted, because there's no pin joint for the ankle. You're left with a whole lot of articulation that does you very little. If they'd have included a pin joint above the feet, you'd have nearly unlimited options for posing. But, as it is, you need the feet flat on the ground to stand up and look good.
How about the arms? You get an unusual take on the elbows that adds to the appearance... but only gives you the slightest range of motion. The shoulders are better, though.
The joint connecting the chest to the body is also a nice addition, and the neck is fine.
The figure stands up well and - for what it's worth - you can fine tune his balance to your heart's content. You can use the base or not: it's up to you. But in the end you've really only got a few poses to work with. If they'd simply included ankle joints, this figure would have gotten 2 bonus points. As it is, I can't justify anything.
Price Tag and Final Analysis: 8/10
Brainiac started around $16, was marked down to $8, then was sold for 30% less than that on a Black Friday sale. I love New York Comic Shops.
Lets discuss what he's worth. At this level of design, he's at least worth eight to ten bucks, even without any accessories (which could have upped his value even more). He's not worth full retail, at least not in my book, but with the organic Brainiac making a comeback in comics, you might just see this guy on sale near you.
The figure comes with no accessories beyond his base, and his articulation isn't all that impressive... but then he does stand up and look good. The end score is entirely his appearance, which is certainly solid. I'm glad to add him to my DC shelf.
Questions about Brainiac? Head on over to The Middle Room and leave me a message!