Sometimes remakes really are the best thing ever. As originally designed, Mr. Freeze (aka “Mister Zero”) was a generic mad scientist with a freeze ray. He appeared in the comics a few times, showed up in the old Adam West Batman show, and vanished into obscurity. If I recall correctly, he got a cameo in Animal Man in the 1980s… among other abandoned, forgotten characters who no longer existed in DC Comics continuity.
And then came Batman: The Animated Series. Voiced by Michael Ansara (Star Trek, Gunsmoke, and a Charles Bronson movie), Mr. Freeze was reimagined as Victor Fries, a tragic figure trying to restore his terminally-ill wife. Driven by rage and vengeance, Freeze found himself at odds with Batman on more than one incident – in his debut episode, he tried to get revenge for the accident that left him in his current state by straight-up murdering the guy responsible. The series later saw Freeze’s wife cured but Freeze himself deteriorating until all that was left was an immortal, disembodied head, until he returned for a true final appearance in a tear-jerking episode of Batman Beyond. Both comics and movies have tried to reproduce the same quality as this old cartoon, but none have quite reached it.
In Arkham City, Mr. Freeze pretty much follows the cartoon archetype. He’s helpful to Batman until the bad guys hold Nora hostage, at which point he takes out his freeze gun and becomes an extremely creative boss fight. Batman can’t fight him face-toi-face, so it’s a stealth mission – only Freeze isn’t an idiot, and if you successfuly hit him with one tactic, he will change his behvaior to keep it from mhappening again. Sneaking through the vents? He’ll freeze ’em! Creep up behind him? He’ll shield hiself! Use a zipline? He’ll listen for the sound! And his design looked pretty cool, and even somewhat plausible as a containment suit, vaguely reminiscent of a deep-sea diver’s outfit or an astronaut’s space suit. It already has a $70 normal-sized figure, but now mattel has sneaked him into the new 4″ scale Multiverse line, too!
The Multiverse figures come in a fairly decent blister pack that shows off the figure and looks nice on a shelf. It has limited biographical information – you know, real name, list of equipment, and all that. It also shows some other figures on the back, and therein lies the problem. Some of the wave, not all of it, with no indication that there are any others. Great marketing, folks!
First things first: Mr. Freeze is about five inches tall. This fits the scale of the line, since he’s a pretty tall guy, but he does tower over Batman. It is interesting to note that, despite his increased size, certain parts like his arms are the same size as on the regular Batman figure. Remember when I said that figure was badly-proportioned? It works for Freeze.
As preciously stated, Mr. Freeze is wearing a suit reminiscent of deep-sea diving or space exploration. He doesn’t just have a simple glass dome covering his face, he has a whole rig. The unfortunate side effect of this is that the “glass” (read: plastic) is unremovable, and thus you cannot touch, fix, or move his head. It also leaves you with the problem of safely storing this figure, since the dome will be the first thing scuffed. It also reflects light sources, so GEE THANKS TAKE THAT PHOTGRAPHY UGH.
But the rest of the figure is awesome. Freeze’s suit is chock full of details, faithfully reproduced on the toy. It doesn’t look light, shallow, or waxy (like on Batman), and brings this figure’s appearance up a notch – or two, considering how it looks better than the Injustice toys. The figure manages to combine vintage old-school Sci-Fi with a modern design philosophy, still managing to keep some of Mr. Freeze’s retro look without leaving him out of place. I really, really like how this toy looks standing up.
Now, this is something interesting. Mr. Freeze’s paint job is already more complex than Batman’s – a side effect of his costume design. Mattel did not skimp on paint apps the way I had expected – I would have assumed something like the 1990s TMNT toys, which often had lots of unpainted sculptural detail on their figures. But no, even though he generally lacks things like gradient scales or washes, the various details and materials of his costume are well-done, even with some light gray for the cloth parts of his suit. Not to say that everything is painted, but more is than one would expect.
Most of the figure is molded in gunmetal gray plastic, which actually makes it look far more real than other kinds of metallic paint. There are ways to do realistic-looking metal colorationon plastic, and ways not to do it. Gold is a difficult color to reproduce, but dark gray is much easier.
Paint slop is very minimal, though I can see one little errant spot near Mr. Freeze’s goggles. His face can get away with being plain white apart from the goggles, so the same principle that ruined Batman’s head works perfectly well here. The red stands out wonderfully, too.
Mr. Freeze has Batman has swivel thighs, torso, and wrists, hinged knees and elbows, and combination swivel/hinged hips. His head is inaccessible behind the helmet, though it seems to be connected to his waist – turn him at the torso, and his head pivots just a little bit.
It’s funny. Mr. Freeze’s articulation is technically inferior to Batman’s – no head, and the shoulders are restricted by his armor – and yet he seems able to take better poses than the hero. This probably has to do with his better proportions, as well as the kinds of movements expected of Mr. Freeze as opposed to Batman. He isn’t a very athletic guy, and he is wearing a bulky suit.
Mr. Freeze comes with one item: His freeze gun! Now see, if he didn’t have this weapon, he would be ruined. At the same time, it’s the only thing he ever needs (except maybe a block of ice?).
The freeze gun is a big under-the-shoulder rifle with two separate grips, though he cannot hold it by both at once – one hand is closed. Even if that were not the case, he lacks the articulation necessary – Freeze would need bicep swivels or full ball joints in the elbows to pull his arms together enough to hold his gun by both handles. The one on the side is essentially a mystery, though you can sort of “plug” it into his back by forcing it between some of the doo-dads in his suit. But it fits in Freeze’s right hand, and he looks great holding it, so the gun does what it needs to do.
Mr. Freeze also has a backpack portion of his suit that comes as a separate piece in the package, but once plugged in it is permanent. I can’t really call it an accessory.
A $10 price tag is way more palatable than the Injustice figures, which average $20 each. And this toy isn’t as cheap as some of the others in the line!
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
That dome can get easily scraped, scuffed, or marred by paint. Be careful!
WHERE TO BUY:
These guys are invading retail right now – most of them seem to be showing up at Target, for what it’s worth.
This figure was the reason why I bought Batman. It looks surprisingly good, it’s a favorite character of mine, and it actually has some play value. Is it perfect? No, not by any means – you can’t move the head, the articulation is kind of stiff, and there are issues with the gun. This turns it into somewhat more of a collector’s figure than a child’s toy, but for what it is, it’s really great. Having Mr. Freeze in this scale should wreak appropriate havoc with all the GI Joes!