Review: DC Direct Hush Ra's al Ghul
Even after his appearance in Batman Begins, Ra's al Ghul isn't the Caped Crusader's best known antagonist... but he's one of my favorites. There's a depth to his relationship with Batman that's missing from some of The Dark Knight's other foes - even ones who have been around twice as long.
Batman and Ra's share a deep respect and admiration for each other. Neither wants to fight. Were the situation different, in fact, they might be family: Ra's has offered his daughter's hand in marriage to Bruce. But both characters are unwavering, uncompromising. Their differences are too great to be put aside, and so they must be enemies. More than that; Ra's is truly Batman's equal: if Batman were Sherlock Holmes, Ra's would be Professor Moriarty.
There are a few versions of the character available in a 6-7 inch scale, and I have to admit that the one I picked up is not the one I would have chosen. Why'd I get it then? It was cheap, dear reader, and I'm a sucker for a deal.
DC Direct produces a wide range of 'collectible action figures,' usually based on a particular artist or story. This version of Ra's is based on his appearance in 'Hush,' a story I read a long time ago and don't remember all that well.
I do, however, remember liking the art. But two dimensions don't always translate to three. This is, in my opinion, one of the main reasons that Mattel's mass market DC Universe figures are better overall than DC Direct's: by using a general appearance, Mattel can fine-tune a design that works for the character while DC Direct is stuck trying to inflate a picture into a figure.
I bought Ra's for eight bucks: about half of his original price tag.
If I was scoring Ra's based on how much I like him, this score would probably be a seven - maybe even a six. But that's because I have some issues with the design choices, not the execution.
While I'd much rather they had gone with a 'contemplative' Ra's, rather than an 'angry' Ra's, they did an excellent job with what they had. The sculpting is great, and, overall, the paint is applied well.
A few small issues let me justify not scoring him higher. I question the need for making the "anger" lines in his forehead quite so pronounced. The pictures actually conceal them a bit, but in person they really jump out at you. I'm sure they're based on the artwork, but that's no excuse: when you sculpt these guys you need to be able to compensate for changes in dimensions. I sincerely doubt the artist's original attempt was to make Ra's al Ghul look this much like a caveman.
The other issue is with the hair on his head: the paint work just isn't on par with the rest of him. But overall he's a great figure, and I'm awarding him eight out of ten points in this category.
Packaging and Extras: ----
DC Direct has a variety of different types of packages they use for different lines. Of these, the only kind of package that I've never opened to find an already broken figure is this, the box:
I really don't know why figures shipped in these boxes fare better than their kin: perhaps it's connected to the companies they contract with, or maybe it's just dumb luck and there are collectors out there with different experiences.
Of course, these boxes can be opened and closed, so you don't really know whether someone's already pulled yours out, looked it over, then put it back. Personally, I could care less as long as the figure's in good condition.
You get two extras with Ra's: a base and a sword. The work on the sword is good, but I won't be giving him any bonus points for it: this is an minimalist version of Ra's, and it would lose at least a point if it wasn't included.
The other extra is the base, which is cool but not exceptional. I like the look, and will probably use it for something, just not for Ra's. He doesn't need a base, in fact.
Oh, you also get four pegs, allowing you to connect these guys to their bases. Like the base, I don't need them for Ra's... but I've got a lot of DC Direct figures, and these are interchangeable.
Normally, I'd hand Ra's an extra point for giving us the base and the sword, but this time I can't: there's something missing. At this price point (well, the original, anyway), Ra's needs something more. Personally, I'd have liked to have seen a removable cape.
Play and Display: ----
Maybe I'm spoiled by all the DC Universe Classics figures I've been looking at, but I really feel like we deserve better articulation. The shoulders look like ball joints, but work like cuts - so you get very little movement out of them. Between that and the wrists - which give you NO articulation - your options for his sword are limited. You do get a few options with the head, but it's limited by the sculpt.
The knees are fine, but why don't his ankles have joints? It wouldn't have hurt the sculpt, and it would have opened up a decent range of movement. Of course, the real question is why DC Direct hasn't integrated a waist joint similar to those used in the DC Universe Classics figures. Maybe Mattel has a copyright or something.
On the other hand, the figure has some impressive balance. With or without the base, Ra's stands up straight, sword in hand.
The way I see it, the lack of articulation cancels out the balance. I won't add anything for being able to display him without the base, but I won't subtract for the missing joints. I think that seems fair.
Price Tag and Final Analysis: 8 out of 10
If you paid full price for Ra's al Ghul, he probably set you back between $14 and $17 bucks. Unless Ra's is your all time favorite Batman villian, he's just not worth it.
Actually - you know what? Ra's IS my all time favorite Batman villain, and this one still isn't worth that much cash.
But I got mine for eight bucks. That's more like it. This isn't a bad figure, and at this price I'm happy to add him to my collection.
This version of Ra's has a lot of pros and cons... and they all pretty much cancel out. What you're left with is a solid (though unexceptional) figure with a score of 8 out of 10. Like I said at the top: I don't actually like him as much as most other figures I've given that score. But that's more a reflection of my tastes than the figure: I think an 8 is what he deserves.
You can post questions and comments for The Clearance Bin over at The Middle Room, my blog dedicated to all things geek.