Review: DC Universe Classics: Hawkgirl
Hawkman is one of my least favorite major DC characters. I think it's mostly the design that bothers me. It's completely unfair, but every time I see him, I think of He-Man. And, as a kid, I hated He-Man.
Granted, Hawkman had been around decades before, but logic doesn't enter into any of this.
In addition, it's always irritated me that Hawkman's wings are supposed to be mechanical. Originally, the character was human, so I understand why they started that way, but I've never understood why that wasn't changed when he was replaced with an alien version. I'm not entirely sure why I find the idea of an alien race of winged hawkmen preferable to a race of aliens who have developed artificial wings... but I do.
Anyway, all of that is why I passed on the opportunity to own my very own Hawkman when Mattel made him. I'm not saying I'll never break down and buy him, but I don't plan on doing so now.
With that in mind, you might be wondering why I'm reviewing his wife.
Well, really it's Bruce Timm and Paul Dini's fault. The version of Hawkgirl appearing on the animated Justice League series was incredibly cool. Also, why I'm not a huge fan of Hawkman's design, I kind of like Hawkgirl's. The mask just works better on a female face, I guess.
I've lost count of how many DC Universe Classics figures I've reviewed. These are made by Mattel, which is really pushing the limits of mass-market toy production.
I'm actually having some trouble with this category, because Hawkgirl is a very uneven figure. Fortunately, nothing's all that bad: it's more a situation where some aspects are good, while others are great.
Lets start with the great this time. The two elements that really shine here are the head and the wings. The head, particularly the underlying sculpt, is absolutely fantastic, though up close the paint work is less than perfect.
The wings look very similar to Hawkman's (at least compared to photos I've seen), which should make a lot of collectors happy: I've been reading glowing reviews of his wings since he was released.
I can certainly see why. The sculpting work on the feathers is highly intricate and very effective. The scale also looks right to me, and I have to admit I find them impressive. Be aware they look far nicer from the front than back: the hinge is visible from behind, as are the joints holding the wings together. I do have one personal quibble, as well: I'd have preferred them a different color, say white or light gray, but that's just me.
The overall figure is also very nice, though the legs and torso could have benefited from some more detailing. While the head and wings are incredibly intricate, the rest of the figure is fairly simple: this comes off a bit uneven, at least in my opinion. I think this is mainly due to the choice of costumes: they've gone with a simpler one here, and it clashes a bit with the wings, which are anything but simple. The one exception is the belt buckle, which contains a very well done hawk symbol.
Packaging and Extras: +2
I've got nothing to say about this packaging I haven't said before: it looks fine, and I appreciate the blurb on the back. I'd appreciate it more if I cared about her background, but that's kind of incidental. You also get the requisite pictures of the other figures in this wave, which makes me wish I could afford to buy Gentleman Ghost. God, he looks cool.
I do need to mention that, due to her wings, Hawkgirl is a bit more embedded in her packaging than most of these figures. I ended up cutting up the plastic to avoid damaging the figure. It took some time, but I got her out okay.
I should also point out that the pose she has in the box is a bit misleading. The only way she's likely to hold anything in her left hand is if you keep using the rubber band she comes with. More on this in Play and Display below.
But Hawkgirl is a little different. Like The Flash, Hawkgirl comes with Giganta's stand, rather than part of the figure. This time, that's particularly welcome.
Why? Because while Hawkgirl's wings may help her fly in the comics, they have something of a reverse effect here. You may remember from the Flash review that these bases will work with most DC Universe Classics figures. Well, that includes Hawkgirl, who I'm betting needs the help more than Giganta.
What's more, they made these well. These are very dark in color, and it must have been tempting to leave off the paint. Well, they didn't: all of the weapons are at least two colors, a dark gray for the metal bits and a dark brown for the handles. The metal bits are chipped and scratched, as though they'd been used for years by superhuman beings to smash up invading spacecraft. Its precisely this kind of thought and detail that separate the great toy makers from the rest. The spear and sword may be going into my accessory case, but they'll be some of the nicer melee weapons in there. Including them at all went above and beyond what was required: making them this nice is almost unbelievable.
Including the stand and some weapons is worth a bonus point. But spending the time and expense to make those weapons right pushes her up to two.
Play and Display: +1
This category is far from a slam dunk: there are good and bad aspects here that need addressing, but the balance tips in Hawkgirl's favor.
Unfortunately, that's not the only thing that tips. Hawkgirl's wings prevent her from maintaining some poses. That said, she's far better balanced than I'd have thought possible. You can get her stand in a few simple poses, even without the base. She's most stable, of course, when you point her wings down and use these as supports, but this isn't the only way for her to balance.
Still, you're going to find your options limited unless you put her on a stand or base. The one she comes with works fine, though. The other option, which I'm leaning towards, is to use wire to raise her into the air. If there's ever been a figure who should be displayed off the ground, this is it.
Overall, the articulation is more or less what we've come to expect, with a couple of notable trade-offs. The largest disappointment is the head joint. The ball joint is still there, of course, but the sculpt is highly limiting. If you're careful, you can turn her head to the side, but I'd be careful not to do so too often. And you can forget about having her look up or down: that's pretty much out of the question. I can't really fault Mattel, because I think this is the logical price for the sculpt she comes with. Still, it's always a shame when a flying character can't look up.
The leg joints also feel a bit fragile, and I'd suggest taking care while posing her. Hopefully this is just me being paranoid, but something about the feel of the plastic here worries me. Also, I can't quite get the range of motion I'm used to in these figures.
By now, I expect you're wondering why I'm giving her a bonus point, at all. The answer is simple: the wings are awesome. The wings are connected to the body by a single hinge, which allow them to "flap." In addition, each wing is in two pieces, which are connected to a joint. This means you get a wide range of different possibilities. Pivot the tips down, and you've effectively folded them to Hawkgirl's body. Pivot them up, and it looks like she's in flight. In either case, you can them straight back, out to the sides, or anywhere in between. This is very innovative and very cool. And, when all's said and done, the exceptional wing articulation is earning Hawkgirl a bonus point.
Price Tag and Final Analysis: 10+/10
Hawkgirl is far from a perfect figure, so I'm not crazy about giving her a perfect score. Still, the areas she excels in - namely the head, the wings, and the accessories - are so amazing, the math works out in her favor. And, ultimately, she is a great figure. I wish they'd gone with a slightly more modern design and gotten the paint a little cleaner on the face, but I can't deny this is an awesome toy.
I pre-ordered Hawkgirl for $13 on Amazon, but I don't think they're offering that deal any longer. This actually seems like a fairly reasonable price for this figure. Sure, I'd like to get these cheaper, but it's a lot better than paying $17 or more - which seems to be what these are going for most places. If you can find them in stock for less at a Walmart or Toys R Us, more power to you, but around here Toys R Us never has them in stock and the New York subway doesn't go to any Walmarts. These figures don't seem to be showing up on clearance, so, if you want them, you have to look for the best deal available.
If the picture above makes you cry, it just means that you've seen the JLU episode, "Wake the Dead." In which case, you belong somewhere you're understood. Geek therapy is now available in The Middle Room.