Val’s Toy Chest- The Year of the Canary

First things first: My intel was wrong about the next Marvel Select “Avengers: Age of Ultron” figure shipping this week, when I find out the new release date I will pass it along. Marvel has been busy making movies for characters both big and small and with that being said: “Ant-Man” is coming to theatres in July and there is sure to be plenty of associated merchandise for the film. Coming out this week is a comic-based Ant-Man bust bank from Monogram that joins the already large lineup of Marvel and DC characters immortalized in this form. Deadpool will also be getting his own feature film in the near future and merchandise of the character has always been extremely popular and sells out immediately. Kotobukiya is releasing an affordable new figurine of Deadpool in the Marvel Now ARTFX line of statues that is sure to be just as wildly popular as other Deadpool merch.

DC Collectibles will be switching gears on their main action figure line in the near future and the new series, Icons has a different aesthetic than the “New 52” line they’ve been doing since 2012. Icons won’t see release until late 2015 but until then DC is churning out the last of the figures from the “New 52” line and we have two out of four of them arriving this week. First off is the new Harley Quinn Roller Derby version based on the look popularized in the current hit series by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti. Harley comes decked out in her trademark red and black colors and is accessorized with a mallet, gun and roller skates and is fully articulated. Next up is Harley’s frequent partner in crime, the mistress of plants, Poison Ivy. Ivy is dressed in her New 52 black and green body suit and is also fully articulated. There will be two additional figures to close out this chapter of DC Collectibles history but neither are expected til sometime in the summer.

Speaking of everyone’s favorite lunatic- Harley Quinn originated on the classic “Batman: The Animated Series” cartoon that originally aired from 1992-1995 on Fox. DC Comics is releasing a new printing of the second compilation of their 90’s comic series “Batman Adventures”(based on the TV show) this Wednesday which will reprint issues 11-20. Significantly, issue 12 was a Batgirl story that also featured Harley Quinn in her first print appearance(though out of normal DC continuity.) DC has shown a lot of love for this era in Batman history with their gorgeous Animated Batman figures which cover the BTAS years as well as “The New Batman Adventures.” The plan for the line is to do as many looks as they can especially if the character had two vastly different designs. We currently have Robin and the Joker based on the original 1992-1995 Animated designs in stock.

Regarding the DC Collectibles Icons series, the figures for that line will draw from all eras of DC’s publishing history including the New 52. The scale will be a little bit smaller than the standard 7″ and the articulation scheme makes these figures more compatible with Mattel’s much-missed DC Universe Classics line that ran from 2007-2012. A good portion of DC’s heavy hitters have been announced for the series already including a gorgeous Green Arrow figure that looks to be based on Mike Grell’s “Longbow Hunters” artwork. Harley Quinn, Batman, Aquaman, Superman and more have also been shown and they will all come with character appropriate accessories. There will also be an Atom three pack that features three different sizes and eras of Atoms including a full-sized Atomica from the Forever Evil storyline, a 2-3″ scale Ryan Choi Atom and a mini Ray Palmer Atom figure. Icons, as I said before is expected to start sometime in late 2015, possibly around December. I’m personally hoping for some new comic-based Black Canary figures to add to my collection.

Still a few months away but FINALLY unveiled after being teased by Kotobukiya for several years now is the newest figure for their long-running Bishoujo line of vinyl statues and that brand new reveal is of my favorite sonic siren, Dinah Laurel Lance- the Black Canary. Canary is not due out until November. I never imagined when I was a kid that I would see as much Black Canary and DC Heroine merchandise as there now is. Black Canary has been my favorite character since Peter David wrote her in 1988’s “Secret Origins” which found her taking Wonder Woman’s place as a Justice League founder in Post-Crisis continuity. Many DC toy lines came and went throughout my youth(Super Powers from Kenner, DC Comics Super Heroes from Toy Biz, Total Justice, JLA, the short-lived 6″ DC Super-Heroes series from Hasbro) and Black Canary was never a part of any of them. The first Black Canary action figure would not come out until DC Direct made one in 2000, long after I had become an adult. In fact I bought that figure at Forbidden Planet when they were still at their previous location. The first mass market Black Canary figure was the Mattel Justice League Unlimited figure which came out in a three pack with the Joker and Batman in 2008, so she’s not been a character to get much exposure until more recent times.

It is a good time(and probably an expensive time) to be a Black Canary fan in my opinion- this year and next has seen or will see the following: “Arrow” Canary Sara Lance and Black Canary Laurel Lance Action Figures from DC Collectibles;Sara Lance Canary POP and ReAction figures from Funko; the aforementioned Kotobukiya Bishoujo Black Canary statue; the blind-boxed Black Canary KidRobot vinyl figure which I still need to track down and a beautiful Green Arrow and Black Canary statue from DC Collectibles based on the Cliff Chiang artwork for the Judd Winick penned series from many years back. There’s also been numerous products based on the Bombshells look that Ant Lucia designed. PLUS: The new “Black Canary” monthly written by Brenden Fletcher of “Batgirl” and illustrated by Annie Wu is coming from DC Comics starts this June which I am highly anticipating.This was also the season we saw Laurel Lance take up the Black Canary role on “Arrow.”

After a disappointing season finale, I started rewatching “Arrow” from the beginning just to remind myself why I fell in love with the show in the first place and it was a different animal back then. Oliver was the lone hero in Starling City and no one was in on his secret except for Diggle and Helena(The Huntress) Bertinelli at the point I am at right now. Moira Queen was definitely the most intriguing character with her secrets and lies. I also see tons of chemistry between Laurel and Oliver both in and out of his Hood persona despite what others might allege. Felicity was perfect in season 1 as she hadn’t overtaken the show yet and she was mostly interacting with Walter, Moira’s husband. Overall the series seemed more balanced in the way they used all of the characters and no one was missing for episodes at a time like they have been this past season. The presence of older characters like Moira and Walter also helped the show not be your typical CW teenage angsty romance drama. I will continue thru season 1 and occasionally write about it and when the time comes, season 2 in this column. I won’t be able to talk about the Flash until I get caught up with the series in the fall and I am cautiously optimistic for CBS’ “Supergirl” series.

DC Heroines are definitely getting more mainstream exposure since the days when I was a kid and the only heavily marketed DC woman was Wonder Woman, with Catwoman only gaining in popularity after Michelle Pfeiffer played her in “Batman Returns.” Now Mattel has a brand-new line of DC Female Super Heroes product including action figures mainly geared towards young girls which should  arrive late in the year going into 2016. No prototypes have been shown yet but the character lineup is pretty sweet with Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Supergirl, Katana, Bumblebee, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn in the initial promo art.

Add Black Canary to the lineup and I will be ecstatic.

Catch you guys next week!

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