Now for something a little, well...extreme. In 1996, Kenner took the main cast from the Justice League comic book series and dressed them up in something called "fractal techgear" and the heroes were now locked and loaded, ready for battle in the TOTAL JUSTICE line!
This line was pretty strange. On the one hand, the dynamic poses and detailed sculpts were great interpretations of the DC Comics super-heroes. But on the other hand, the fractal techgear was rather odd. While DC did publish a comic book series to tie into the toy line, I usually just took the gear off and displayed the figures without the extra gear. The selection was a great mix of the main characters from the comics, plus some cool villains. While it only lasted for 3 waves, this line inspired several other DC toy lines afterwards (more on that later).
This first assortment included Batman, who was still riding high on the DC pantheon thanks to several hit movies and toy lines. Many regard this as a type of "Batman & Friends" series, but really it's a nice follow-up to the old Super Friends line and a precursor to the Justice League series.
The King of the Seven Seas has undergone some changes since the Super Friends era...longer hair, a beard, armor, and of course the permanent "left hook". While I'm not a big fan of the extra armor, it at least had an "Atlantean" look to it.
Naturally, there's a Batman in this line. However, this isn't a great figure, mostly due to the extra gear, but even without it, this figure suffers a bit because he doesn't come with a cape. Instead, he has these strange wings that plug onto knobs coming out of his back. This gave him a traditional look if viewed from the front, but at other angles, it's just awkward
The sculpting on this bad boy is top notch! Too bad the claw arm attachment is permanent, as it's not needed, and makes Darkseid somehow less menacing than he should be.
Here's another example of a figure that looks great without the extra gear. Why would someone who runs fast want to carry all that extra weight? I mean, can he really even move with all that armor on? Not to mention the giant rear stabilizers! Yikes!!
One thing to note: there is a "Reverse-Flash" (Professor Zoom) exclusive that was available through ToyFare magazine, but I haven't unpacked him yet.
Kyle Rayner was the one, the only Green Lantern in the 1990s, and you know....this armor actually makes sense for this character! In the comics, Kyle was always coming up with cool uses for his power ring to create, so I just pretended this was his power ring in action.
The final figure for this wave is one that doesn't really belong in this line, other than he had a movie out at the time. Robin wasn't a Justice League member, but he was part of the Teen Titans and Young Justice comics...and most people still think of "Batman & Robin" together. Besides, once you take off the armor, the figure is actually pretty cool!
The second wave of Total Justice wasn't as ambitious as the first wave. We got another Batman (of course), plus a main character, a vilain, and a second-tier character who was getting some attention at the time. A pretty well-rounded wave really, although the techgear still left a lot to be desired.
Batman (Fractal Armor)
This is one of the only figures where I left the gear on for displays. This is because if you take it off, then Batman doesn't have a cape! Although this version of the Caped Crusader (see? he NEEDS a cape!) is clearly more inspired by movie costume, the only drawback is that the armor is actually sculpted onto the body, and therefore not removable.
Another hit for the bad guys! While this is supposed to be Despero from the comics, there was a time when Despero was an ally of the Justice League (his mind was possessed by an alien robot...no, seriously), this is the "big bad" of this wave, armed with a huge honkin' rifle and a sword. Both weapons could be stores on the figure, which is a pretty cool feature.
Another figure that looks amazing...without the armor! At the time, there was an attempt by (one of many) to merge all of the versions of Hawkman that had been published in the past into one definitive version. While this was a popular character for a while, this storyline didn't really take (personally, I blame the mullet), and DC finally got it right years later. I think this is the only figure for this particular costume ever made, and that alone makes it cool...but the detailed sculpt also goes a long way in that regard.
Ah, we FINALLY get to the Man of Steel! A solid anchor character for this wave, there's one thing that bothers me about him...why does he have a Kryptonite weapon? I mean, this is the ONE thing that Superman is hurt by, and yet it seems that nearly EVERY figure made includes a Kryptonite accessory? I don't get it. But, since this version has the long mullet hairdo from the comics (which he grew while he was recuperating from that whole Doomsday thing...more on that next week), it was a big hit with fans.
It seems that DC ran out of character ideas for this next wave, because man, these guys are pretty obscure. There's not a A-lister in the bunch, so instead we got some really odd choices. While they did look great, kids had no idea who they were...which may explain why the line ended after this wave. Kind of (more on THAT below).
Although not the most popular super-hero ever, this figure really captures the costume details accurately, even if this outfit didn't last very long. Once again, the added armor is distracting....so I just took it off.
Now HERE's an interesting character...he's the son of the original Green Arrow, and he's a skilled archer. Other than that, there's really not much to say. Unless you were keeping up with the comic at the time, you don't know who this guy is. But again, his figure is nicely done, although the pose looks silly without his bow.
It's interesting that the Huntress was made for this line instead of say, a certain Amazon. Once again, most people had no idea who she was, and although the figure nicely captures the costume (sans armor of course), she's kind of a mystery.
Easily the most popular character in this wave, Parallax was of course once known as Green Lantern Hal Jordan. Because of events in the "Return of Superman" storyline, Hal went insane and killed off the entire Green Lantern Corps, the Guardians of the Universe, and absorbed all the energy from the main Power Battery on Oa into himself, becoming Parallax and threatening the entire DC Universe (as well as a cameo in the Marvel Universe, but I digress..). But then he returned to save the DC Universe and after a very convoluted storyline involving The Spectre, he's now back where he belongs as Green Lantern. This figure is one of the best in the entire line, not only because of the detailed sculpting, but the accessories even make sense because of the whole emerald energy thing. However, once again, most kids had no idea who he was...
While this was a popular line of action figures, and the sculpts were very dynamic and incredibly detailed, it didn't continue past the third wave. Kind of. (I said I'd get back to this).
While there were several variants and store-exclusive repaints galore, what was interesting is that the line took on a new name from a new company when Kenner became part of Hasbro and they launched the JLA: Justice League of America line. This line used the same sculpts as many of the Total Justice action figures shown above, just repainted slightly and WITHOUT the fractal armor. In addition, they also came up with some clever ways to create some new super-hero characters that were missing, including that certain Amazon I hinted at earlier.
Check back over the weekend for several of the JLA figures, as well as a few other related action figures.
See you next week!