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Review : Azrael, Gotham Select, Diamond Select Toys

Review : Azrael Gotham Select (Diamond Select Toys) Wave/Series : Series 4 Released : September 2017


Pros : the armour is well designed and some innovative joints to allow the shoulder armour to move fully

Cons : no fascial scarring on the unasked head, the masked head doesn't look quite right, the base is awfully warped and poorly designed

Series 4 of the Gotham Select figures by Diamond may be the last as both the show and the figure's popularity seems to be waning. This is a shame as the 4th wave, like the show, has started to move away from the "men in suits" releases to more recognisable super villains. The fourth wave is based on the Wrath of the Villains story-arc and is made up of Mr Freeze, Azrael and the mastermind behind Indian Hills - Hugo Strange

In this review we are looking at Azrael.

As with all Select figure releases, Freeze comes in the extra large blister packaging with wrap around side spine. The predominant colouring is dark, with the Gotham Cityscape as the backdrop. The Gotham logo is written up the spine with the "Wrath of the Villains" subtitle underneath. The triangular insert that expands onto the blister contains an actual shot of the figures head and confirms the character name as Azrael.

The side panel also features an image of the figure rather than the normal image from the show, and this will potentially frustrate boxed collectors as the first three waves did run with the wide panel showing the actor from the show, and not the figure.

Round the back we have quite an in-depth write up of Azrael, the history of the Dumas family and Theo Galavan. Another image of the figure sits to the side of this and below that shots of the other figures in the wave as well as an image of the diorama that you can build by picking up both Freeze and Azrael.

Azrael is strapped into the inner packaging by means of a quantity of black twisty ties. To the side sits the alternative head. To the other side are three versions of the Sword of Sin and a weapons case. Beneath this sits a second tray containing the various parts of the diorama base wie will look at a little later.

Azrael comes packed with the unmasked head of Theo Galavan in place. My earliest views on this when the promo pictures were released were not positive, but I am pleased to say that in hand the likeness is much closer to that of actor James Frain. It is not a perfect likeness, but I suspect Frain's features are not easy to capture and replicate in 1/10 scale. It is also one of those figures that ends up much better in hand vs any image we can take or show.

Paint on the head is neat, although the eyes are a tad cartoonish and lack realism. The beard is well done, but I appreciate when we start blowing it up in images it looks quite messy - trust me, it is fine in hand. The hair is sculpted swept back and is a single tone brown colour.

The disappointment is in the lack of scars or wounding on the face, something that was quite prolific on Azrael's face in the episodes once Galavan had been resurrected

I have said a couple of times now that it is pleasing to see some more outlandish costumes in Gotham, both on screen and then replicated in figure form. Azrael. alongside Freeze, brings some much needed colour to the Gotham collection.

The costume is very well executed with a grey under suit which is then embellished with brown leather armoured pieces, each themselves trimmed in a blood red paint. The chest section is an ornately designed cross strap piece, complete with bronze buckles and pouches. The figure is finished off with a back cloak which beautifully transitions to a deep red at the base.

As we begin to talk articulation, I am going to start with the shoulders which on first glance look to be pretty much trapped in position by the shoulder armor. Thankfully, Diamond have been pretty forward thinking for this issue and both shoulder pads are actually articulated, sitting on a very small ball joint that slots into the shoulder of the figure. This makes them fully articulate as the arms are raised up on the larger ball joints of the main shoulders. Very well executed.

The arms follow the standard setup with a single jointed rotating elbow that bends to 90 degrees, and pivoted wrists which both swivel and angle within the wrist socket.

The head too is a ball joint and this has a full range of movement. You will see also at this point that the hood section is loose to the figure as a separate piece, this therefore also rotates with the head if needed.

The torso has a ball joint built into the trunk of the figure, following the line of the armour. This allows Azrael some upper torso movement leaning forward or backwards.

Te legs are standard too for a Select figure, using the T-joint hips, thigh swivels, double jointed knees and ankle rockers. This gives the legs a full range of movement, but you will not be able to use much of it as the solid rubber cloak prevents any posing outside of a wider action stance. I am pleased to find that the ankles are a bit more robust on Azrael and so far there have been no issues standing him up and keeping him standing over a period of time.

Azrael comes with a second masked head, and this is easy enough to swap. The heads pop off the ball joint nice and easily and the hood section that we talked about earlier slides off too once the unmasked head is removed. The masked then snaps into position.

The masked head is well sculpted with a hood over the top of an armoured mask which is painted in a similar grey with red trim to the armour. Beneath the two eye slots we see the skin of he head and too ver wide staring eyes.

While I cannot put my head on it, there is something not quite right about this head. I can't decide if the hood is too square and angular, or if the mask ist too flat and couldn't possibly have a human head underneath - or perhaps a combination of the two. Certainly if you look at images of Azrael masked from the Gotham episode the mask protrudes much further out of the hood, and the hood is less bulky and doesn't have a lot of definition.

Azrael is packed with three versions of the Sword of Sin. The first is a full length sword which we will assume is the real Sword of Sin that is recovered in the episode Unleashed. The second a touch shorter and I believe this is the fake version presented by Hugo Strange. The third one is the broken "fake" blade which is a result of Azrael's clash with Nathaniel Barnes on the GCPD building roof.

Each blade is cast in a relatively hard plastic with cast detailing on the blade and the hilt. Te blade s are each painted a bright silver, while the hilt are a single tone gunmetal grey with the tiniest hint of bronze flecked here and there.

While the broken blade makes sense in terms of the show, Diamond could have probably got away with just including one of the full versions, and I am assuming this is to be screen accurate in letting Azrael have both his fake sword and the true version he later obtains from his family crypt.

The fake Sword of Sin even comes with the case that Hugo Strange presents to Azrael in Indian Hills. This is a sleek silver affair that is actually hinged ad clasped so it open and closes really well. Inside is a black plastic interior with the molded insert for the shorter full length sword.

You can slot this shorter blade into the void and close the case, The case can the be carried by Azrael in the left hand, sadly the right hand is sculpted closed and cannot hold the handle.

The right hand is actually sculpted purely to hold the sword hilt, of any of the versions, and while it is snug getting he circular pommel through the hand once in place it sits very well.

The arm articulation is not far reaching enough for a two handed sword pose, but some pretty decent dynamic shots can be achieved.

When it is not in use, the sword can be slipped into the sheath that is slung across Azrael's back. Any of the three versions work with the sheath, but there is a significant flaw if you use either of the full bladed swords. Because the sheath is cast out of a more flexible material and then slung across the figures back - it is actually bent quite badly. An sword placed in there for a period of time will end up bent and misshapen also.

The accessories and options included with Azrael do give you a few different options for posing and displaying. However if you are a stickler for accuracy to the screen, the case does present an issue as he was never given the case while wearing his armour. It does however look very cool, and creates a real contrast between a Dark Ages knight and a modern assassin, which is what Strange turned Galavan/Azrael in.

The accessories and options included with Azrael do give you a few different options for posing and displaying. However if you are a stickler for accuracy to the screen, the case does present an issue as he was never given the case while wearing his armour. It does however look very cool, and creates a real contrast between a Dark Ages knight and a modern assassin, which is what Strange turned Galavan/Azrael in.

The initial plan for the diomara piece with Azrael, and Mr Freeze, was a two part piece that would combine to build a cell from Arkham Asylum. After showing this off to tans in multiple promotional images, the cell was dropped sadly. In its place Diamond simply rehashed the alleyway and balcony that they first put out with the Series 1 figures of Gordon and Selina Kyle.

Azrael comes with the top section of this diorama, and the whole thing is pretty much useless unless you purchase Freeze as well.

We start with five parts that are packed behind the figure in their own tray. There are no instructions present, and while it is not difficult to work out assembly - anyone who misses the image on the card back that this is a two part set may be confused as to what they actually have considering they may not have the bottom section from Mr Freeze.

Taking the Mr Freeze alley scene as the base, we clip in the second section of red brick wall. We then attach the balcony, supported by the two triangular supports. Finally the ladder hooks to the side.

Design wise, Diamond have tried to differentiate this piece from the Series 1 Gordon and Selina diorama with the red brick paint job and the Joker inspired graffiti. Sadly, the aesthetics can't do anything for the badly warped balcony or ladder which just look and feel cheap.

The other issue is one of dimensions, as we saw with Series 1. The gap between the base piece and the balcony is dead on 7", not at all realistic to what you would actually find in an alleyway leading to a first storey balcony. Stick either of the figures underneath and it looks wrong and undersized.

There is also an issue with stability, with the whole piece being quite lightweight. While our image (and the promotional image) does show a figure in the balcony this is only because the figure underneath is supporting it with its head as well as acting as a weight on the base. Take this away and the whole thing topples over far too easily. I have no doubt that this diorama will end up, like mine has, in most collectors bits box or spares drawer.

So the base is all kinds of wrong and that is a shame, especially considering what Diamond first showed us and then withdrew. The figure is however half decent and had some innovative inclusions like the articulated shoulder pads and that working sword case. The masked head isn't right and while the unmasked head is a pretty good likeness, it is missing some crucial wounding and scarring that we associate with Azrael in the show.

That all adds up to a just over average score for Azrael at 3 out of 5. I would hope that should the Gotham series survive beyond Series 4 that Diamond take a look at the range and decide if dioramas are the way to go or if they remove that cost and reinvest into some better accessories and detailing.

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