The Birds of Prey (BOP) 3 Pack from DC Direct, collecting Gotham's crime fighting ladies sets the new standards for female action figures in DC Comics' toy division. The set includes modern comic book versions of the wheelchair bound information gatherer Oracle, martial artist and Justice League founder and Black Canary II and the ever rebellious black sheep of the Batman clan, the Huntress.
DC Direct released this set in late February-early March 2003 to coincide with the Warner Brother's television series based on the Birds of Prey characters. Although the television series ended because of poor ratings, and networks politics, the success of the BOP set should make it a best seller for DC Direct.
Like all other Batman and Superman characters, producing action figures of the Birds of Prey was impossible for DC Direct because that license was exclusive to toy maker Hasbro. In 2002, Warner's merchandising and licensing division awarded the license to manufacturer Mattel. However, the new license is not exclusive. DC Direct can produce any action figure and toys about DC characters it wishes to.
This is a great thing for fans who have been asking for Batman and Superman related characters since DC Direct was founded. The modern Birds of Prey comic book is marketed as a Batman related series because Oracle is the former Batgirl. The Huntress, can be considered a part time character of the BOP team. Black Canary has had DC Direct action figures produced in the past. She is not a real bat-character.
The grooviest thing about the set, for this reviewer is the availability of an action figure in a wheelchair. The only character with a wheelchair has been Professor X, from the X-Men. Unlike Professor X, Oracle cannot function without her chair. Professor X, for all intents, is an action figure sitting on a chair. He can be removed. Oracle cannot. This is a bold move for a toy company.
The likeness of the Oracle is dead on. She sports short hair, a pair of jeans and a sweater with rolled up sleeves. Her glasses seem removable. In the comics, Oracle wears all types of clothes. Depending on the artist, she sometimes looks ugly or drop dead gorgeously. This figure strikes a pleasant balance. Her facial features are nice, she wears short pants, and she doesn't look like a total babe.
Oracle's sculpt is fair. The quality of her face's is not up to Tim Bruckner's standard. In fact, all characters in this set have the same basic face sculpt. Like many female action figures (bear with me guys), Oracle's chest is uneven. One breast is slightly bigger than the other one. Something lacking in this figure is a more rounded back. It is very flat.
The wheelchair's design is intricate and very realistic. It is also simple and less aesthetically pleasing than some of the dynamic models created for Professor X. The back of the wheelchair should have come with a sculpted backpack to suggest that Oracle is equipped with all sorts of gadgets, like other bat folks. It could also have featured some of Oracle's moulded fighting sticks.
The paint on Oracle is uneven. Though her hairs have some highlights, it could have used more variety in the colours. It looks stark red as if Oracle had tinted her hair. It does not look as natural as some other red heads action figures such as Hawkgirl. Her pants have a washed effect that mimics worn pair of jeans. Her sweater is painted with but one colour with no wash effect. The wheelchair is painted silver.
The figure's major problem Oracle is that she cannot stand upright. She is limited to looking down at her laptop. Because of this, imagining Oracle communicating with her fellow Birds is difficult. It seems that she can only talk to them through a computer. Some touches that would have helped would have been a bat symbol on the back of Oracle's chair and an Oracle logo in the laptop.
Oracle comes with a laptop. It is unclear whether it is a reused element for the Smallville Lex Luthor figure. A problem with the laptop, is that it always slides. Positioning Oracle's hand is possible as if she was holding it, but it is not enough. Since Oracle's wheels make her a very unsteady action figure, it increases the laptop's movability.
Oracle's build seems sturdy enough. Her seat is made from solid plastics. The rest of the wheelchair is made from lighter plastics. It doesn't appear the frame could support a bad fall. Oracle herself, is made from the standard soft plastics used on all DCDirect figures.
The articulation of the figure is one of its best assets. Her shoulders have ball joints that allow her to put her hands on the wheelchair's hand guides or her lap. Oracle also has swivel arms and elbow articulations. The articulations are tight. Although he legs and upper body consist of two pieces, Oracle cannot twist at the waist. Her legs are without articulations. Oracle's neck can turn.
Oracle, though, sitting, is proportional to the other Birds of Prey figures. Overall, it is a very good figure with excellent articulation, where it matters the most.
Update February 6 2005:
This figure has sold out from Diamond Comics, the exclusive distributor of this action figure.