DC Designer Series: The Joker by Brian Bolland statue review

KillingJokeGordon

The Joker. His body count is pure fantasy, so it’s socially acceptable to pay tribute to his crimes with a statue proudly displayed in your home or office. Sure, his fictional deeds are abhorrent, but at least he never forced a baby to choke on a ping-pong ball or something awful like that– that’s The Riddler. Simply put: if you have a statue of Riddler, you’re sick.

Anyway, you want a Joker statue and there’s really no shortage of options out there with your pick of Letos, Ledgers, Hamills, and Romeros. But DC Collectibles just released a figure based on one of the most iconic Joker covers of all-time! The Designer Series: The Joker by Brian Bolland is a hand-painted polyresin work of art that will put a smile on the face of any fan of The Killing Joke and famed artist Brian Bolland.

Review

Joker arrives in a clean white box that features both distant and close-up photos of the figure printed on three of its four sides. The back panel foregoes any Joker imagery and instead advertises recently released Wonder Woman statues. Its lid showcases a simple “J” with purple edges, which as far as lids go is pretty nice. Inside is a two-piece foam container that’s heavily taped where the two seams meet to seal in your new statue. Cutting the seal and pulling both sections apart reveals the statue of Mr. J and his separate base wrapped in plastic and fitted into molded compartments for safe shipping.

I like the simplicity of the base, it’s all black except for a colorful, retro Joker logo. There’s nothing here to distract from the figure itself. It’s there to say “Yes, this is obviously the Joker, now look back at the statue. I’m just a base.”

The company Kotobukiya has had two similar The Killing Joke statues of their own hit shelves over the past few years, but each has included a foundation with distracting accents like a bright Red Hood helmet, a crate of dynamite and one of those dwarfs in bondage attire and angel wings. By the way, if you’re here and you have’t read the source material, you’re probably terribly confused right now and that’s okay. You should leave now and go read the book (skip the movie), but that’s okay.

As for assembly, attaching our DC Collectibles statue to its minimalist base seems easy, but will take a little finagling. In theory, the metal pegs beneath Joker’s left foot should slide into the peg holes atop the base to give you an extra-stable icon for easy viewing. However, it’ll take a few attempts to get it just right because the holes are quite snug. And be careful to only clutch Joker by the legs during this process! If you grasp too high you may squeeze and break the belt of his coat, which extends beyond the body of the statue and is delicate enough that it could break under the pressure.

The 13.71 in. statue is quite nice. Sculptor David Giraud did a fabulous job capturing Bolland’s Joker’s facial features and recreating the iconic pose in a 3D model. Perhaps even more impressive is that the transition from cover image (chest up) to a fabricated full body pose is absolutely seamless. It just feels right. Joker has these knees that are somewhat hyper-extended and he’s thrusting his hips forward so his whole body arches slightly as he moves the camera lens to that perfect position to get all of you in frame. It’s incredibly natural and not over exaggerated. He doesn’t have to put his knee up and rest against a prop like in the Kotobukiya statues to be an eye-catching display piece. The cover of Joker taking a picture is iconic. All that the statue needs to be in order to pay homage to that is Joker. Taking. A picture. Rather than waste time and energy on accents for the base, Giraud  pays extra attention to the Joker’s clothing. I love the individual folds of the coat and vest, how his belt is flailing in the breeze and the coattails are billowing behind him as well. The only portion of the sculpt that disappoints me is the hair. If you’ll look at the cover (both versions) the hair curls and hangs over his forehead. The DC Collectibles statue fails to capture that small detail, but Kotobukiya nailed it.

Paint is immaculate. Instead of a solid purple for the coat and mustard yellow for the vest, Joker features varying hues subtly applied to create shading and a sense of texture to everything from hat to splat. The shading technique is applied to the face as well, where you’ll see light grey accentuating the stretch of his grin and wrinkles at the eyes. Even his teeth have been stained with a faint brown wash along the gum line to make this diseased maniac appear all the more frightening.

However, while all of this sounds great it needs to be addressed that anyone who has only read the original 1988 The Killing Joke will spot some differences in coloring. That’s because the Joker by Brian Bolland statue is pure Bolland. See, back in 2008, Bolland re-colored the whole comic book himself with a darker, more somber palette replacing the vibrant hues John Higgins incorporated back in 1988. That said, the Bolland cover is actually brighter than the Higgins cover–crazy, huh? So you’ll notice that compared to the 1988 color scheme, this figure’s hat is a lighter tan and the tie is rich green.

Overall

If I’m going to have a wrap up paragraph, I prefer it to be multiple choice!

A) The level of detail is outstanding! Sculptor David Giraud expertly captured the look of Brian Bolland’s iconic comic cover (Joker’s hair being the only noticeable difference) and skillfully elaborated on the original art’s close-up view of Joker to create a full body statue that remains true to Bolland’s art. Also, the paint job is a flawless representation of Bolland’s coloring in the 2008 remaster and features minute details that lend texture and a greater sense of realism to the villain’s skin and clothing. Those who prefer Higgins’ original colors may be disappointed and the piece’s 1:6 scale may be too small for some collectors, but the $150 price tag seems appropriate for a work of this size and quality so most fans of The Killing Joke should be very pleased.

B) The statue simply hasn’t been that good since the season two finale. Sure, things looked to be getting better in season four, but they keep trying to make the statue about Frank AND Claire when really we’re all here for Frank.

C) Hershey’s milk chocolate is typically bottom tier for me, but thanks to DC Collectibles cashing in on nostalgia by reviving the mint chips variety we haven’t seen in over 20 years, I’m telling everyone to go buy this statue. You’ll love the contrast of melt-in-your-mouth creamy sweetness with the satisfying crunch of chips that explode in flavorful minty freshness. Excellent statue. Even Alan Moore would approve. Shame you can only buy it at Wal-Mart, though.

D) One part brilliant pastiche of noir tropes, one part polyresin.  Never did I think that Brian Bolland and Elmer Fudd would (or even should) ever cross paths, but oh my was this a phenomenal figure.  DC Collectibles’ work on the statue is so good that it would get high marks even if it weren’t such a perfectly executed high-concept.  The base is a little more loose, but it’s still a grand time with some big laughs.  It’s twuwy memowable.

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