Though arriving a week after the impressive Super Friends' Green Lantern/Sinestro Two Pack, the Super Friends' Aquaman/Black Manta Two Pack is definitely not a let down. This set is great for fans of the Super Friends, proper, but also those who want to stock up on their regular DC Direct universe.
The Super Friends' Aquaman is the second figure of the character from DC Direct. It is not the last one. There's a modern Aquaman coming up later this year. The first DC Direct Aquaman was based on the Silver Age's (orange shirt) version of the character. So is the Super Friends' Aquaman.
Many fans dislike the first DC Direct Aquaman. At the time, he came in a Two Pack with Aqualad. He was the first major DC Direct figure to be released with his youthful sidekick. The complaints on the first Aquaman are based on the sculpt and the articulation. People despise his smile. Personally, it has never bothered me as much as his ball-jointed thighs. Those are not nice to look at.
As for Black Manta he has been the recipient of many petitions from DC Direct fans since the Silver Age Aquaman figure came in 2001. Of all the Aquaman villains, he is the most asked for. He is even is one of the most demanded DC Direct figures. For example, I can easily say that more people have demanded Black Manta than Wally West -The Modern Flash.
The demand for the two figures is very substantial. Many see the Super Friends' Aquaman as a possible apology figure to replace the Silver Age version. As for Black Manta, he may be the only Black Manta fans ever get from DC Direct, no matter how much he seems popular. Because of this, reviewing the figures from a Super Friends' and a regular DC Universe's perspective is very important.
THE SUPER FRIENDS' AQUAMAN
The Super Friends' Aquaman is evidently based on the Alex Toth design for the famed cartoon series of the seventies and eighties. The lines of his face are simple and as expected, he is smiling. Depending on the exact episode viewed, Aquaman's eyebrows may be too long. In several model sheets, he had stark, but shorter ones. His body is smooth with only his shape to suggest that the character is muscular.
The sculpt of Aquaman is very well done. If some see this figure as an apology for the first DC Direct figure, others might be interested in knowing that this figure is also a great apology for the Super Powers and the Toy Biz Aquaman figures from our childhood. The only complain are the scales on his shirt. He has but a few scales on his breast, arms and abs that are engraved, instead of being sculpted.
One of my pets peeves, regarding Aquaman action figures are his calves. Face it. They are the determining and unique thing about the character. Compared with the Silver Age Aquaman, the fins on the Super Friends' figure are longer and more aerodynamic. This is good. Aquaman is posed in a less symmetrical stance. He leans on his right leg. He looks light and ready for action. Again this is great.
The major sculpting problem with this figure is the jaw line and the neck articulation. Recently, DC Direct has not taken proper care to mesh that part of some of their action figure by using the hair line of the figures as the bottom of the head.
The Silver Age Aquaman masked that problem more effectively. Another concern for Aquaman fans, is that this figure cannot be posed in a swimming position. Oddly enough, Aquaman's right fist is opened, as if he could carry a gun or a trident. His left hand's sculpt is not as pleasant. It is stark and rough. It's not as smooth as the other hand. It reminds me of a Transformer's hand.
The paint job looks simple. However, because this is a figure made from a cartoon character, it can be forgiven. Thick paints cover the entire figure, hiding its original colour. Aquaman's arms, torso and belt are polished. One criticism would be the greenish hue of Aquaman's yellow hair. The polish should have been applied to the entire action figure. The skin's paint is very pale.
Aquaman is shorter than Black Manta, not just because Manta is sporting a helmet. Manta's shoulders are higher than Aquaman's. Aquaman is taller than the Super Friends' Green Lantern. The Super Friends' Green Lantern's shoulders are taller, but his head, smaller and leaning. The Super Friends' Aquaman is shorter than the Silver Age Aquaman. Yet Aqualad is short enough to fit. However, stylistically, they do not fit.
Aquaman has no problem standing up. However, he will fall easily. He is precarious. It is best to put the Aquaman on the figure stand that comes with the figure. The stands' width is large enough to counter the weight of the figure's large and heavy torso.
As a kid, this is the exact amount of articulation I would have wanted from my Super Powers action figures. The standard nine points of articulation (neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, knees are included. Aquaman's shoulders are ball-jointed. Aquaman lacks waste articulations. It would have been cool.
Since this is an Aquaman figure, being able to pose in in a swimming position like the Silver Age figure would have been fun. We can't. This figure was not designed for that. His neck cannot rotate vertically, like the Modern and Silver Age Supermen. His wrists cannot rotate horizontally. The cuts to the figure's gloves suggest otherwise. Fortunately, the figure has no troublesome ankle articulations.