DC Universe: Justice League Unlimited Fan Collection

DC Universe: Justice League Unlimited Fan Collection is an action figure line based on the highly popular Justice League and Justice League Unlimited animated series. Though it was based on the show(s), the line has continued well beyond it, and has been re-branded in 2008, as a Target exclusive (in the US). Mattel announced in February 2011 that the line would come to an end later in the year with the final figures being released on the Mattel website including the final two three-packs, a seven-pack as well as the three exclusive Con three-packs being made available to the public.

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. . . DC Universe: Justice League Unlimited Fan Collection . . .

The line itself has gone through many name changes.

The idea for the figures began as DC Direct sculpts by sculptor, Karen Palinko, which were later handed over to Mattel. They were then released under the Justice League line. They all sported nearly the same look as the original sculpts. Later on newer sculpts were made for all the heroes (except Hawkgirl) to add articulation and accommodate large accessories. Aquaman was later added, making the total number of heroes eight. Three villains were also produced, Lex Luthor, the Ultra-Humanite and Darkseid.

As the show moved onto newer territory, so did the figures. The basic concept was to sell smaller packaged collectible single figures (with repaints) and then a sort of quick-builder’s 3-pack featuring three original characters with one or two of the original seven members included. The single figures were packed in with an accessory and a collectible card. The number of villains in the line were still few however, as only Sinestro, Amazo, Bizarro, and Brainiac were released. Justice League Unlimited, released in blue cards, as it is, lasted for two series (as Series 1 and 2). The rarest figure in the line is that of Green Lantern Hal Jordan. 100 copies of the figure were made and then the molds were destroyed. The figures were packaged on a special green and red card and autographed by Bruce Timm. The figures were given as a Christmas gift in 2005 to employees of the animation studio who worked on the show. Mattel has definitively stated, in multiple published reports, that there will be no Green Lantern Hal Jordan figures made available to the general public.

Re-branding the 2003 Batman toy line and creating a new Superman line in DC Superheroes, Mattel decided to take Justice League Unlimited into the new brand as well, effectively creating three sub-brands within one umbrella brand. The new packaging mirrored both Batman and Superman in design. The collectible cards in singles were removed and variants of figures that are not accurate to the show were dropped. This line basically offered original Batman, Superman and Flash for new collectors in original suits with various accessories and certain themed 3-packs such as three collectible Justice Lords packs, two Green Lantern Corps packs and a Martian Manhunter 3-pack with faithful character representations. The number of villains also began to increase to include characters such as Mirror Master, Copperhead, Lex Luthor, Star Sapphire, Volcana, Deadshot, and Joker; however, many of the villain figures (most notably Deadshot, Star Sapphire, and Volcana) suffered shoddy distribution by Mattel, making them among the rarest of the mass-marketed figures.

The yellow carded figures also lasted for two series, before DC Superheroes lines revamped their packaging into new purple cards with DC Comics inspired stars and dashes visible on the packaging. However the sixth series marked the return to non show-accurate repaints in single figure packs. The sixth series also marked the expansion of the Justice League Unlimited line slightly beyond its previous limits within the show, by introducing a more comic-accurate repaint of Bizarro, a Black Canary in fishnet stockings, and a Joker figure with a removable Red Hood mask accessory.

With the re-branding of DC Superheroes into DC Universe, the JLU line followed suit beginning with series 7. The future of the line was finally announced around the 2008 International Toy Fair in New York City. After most brick and mortar retail outlets abandoned JLU, Mattel and Target partnered up to bring the line out as an in-store exclusive. Outside the US, JLU has had only the one wave of 2009 singles surface at Toys r Us in Canada. These same single pack figures have also been showing up at discount in Big Lots stores throughout the USA.

The line continued with their comic-inspired repaints (such as Black-suit Superman, Classic Batman and Elongated Man), paint corrections (Red Tornado, Booster Gold, Dr. Fate and Zatanna), a continuation of Batman villains (from The New Batman Adventures, such as Bane, Scarecrow, Harley Quinn etc.) and brings to the table new lead characters (such as the Question and Captain Atom) and more background characters (from the Justice League and the Secret Society). By mid-2011, all of the expanded Justice League were made into figures except: The Creeper, Crimson Avenger (both costumes), Dr. Mid-Nite, Gypsy, Johnny Thunder & Thunderbolt, S.T.R.I.P.E. (both armours), and Speedy. Characters who were mentioned but didn’t appear in any DCAU episodes such as Plastic Man and Cyborg started appearing in late 2009. Non-show characters to appear in the line include Superwoman, Firestorm, Ryan Choi Atom, Ultraman, Omac and the Doom Patrol.

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