Happy Meals and pinball: Playing with Plastic Man!

Here’s something I haven’t said since I was nine years old — I can’t wait to get a Happy Meal.

Believe it or not, it’s not because I’ve got a hankering for a handful of chicken nuggets or an aching need for strangely warm pickle slices. Just like when I was a kid, what I really want is the toy inside that box.

Specifically, I want the new Plastic Man figure being released today (Sept. 20th) at McDonald’s.

OK, OK, there are other figures and masks being released to promote the new Cartoon Network show, Justice League Action, as well as a set of “girls” toys with characters from DC Super Hero Girls. (Just a quick aside — seriously, McDonald’s? We’re still doing the “boys” toys and “girls” toys. C’mon.) So, in addition to Plas, the toys include:

  • Superman, Batman, Hawkman, Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, Bumblebee, Katana, Batgirl, and Supergirl figures;
  • Batman, Batgirl, Hawkman, and Green Arrow masks;
  • a Supergirl headband;
  • and a Wonder Woman tiara.

That’s a lot of cheeseburgers to choke down. Luckily, that Plastic Man fig obviously rocks your face off, so let’s ask questions!


Do Plas’ arms bend or stretch? Or do they just swivel back and forth?

Does the neck pop up? Judging by the way the neck sits on the torso, it sure looks like it does. That would be fantastic.

Will Plas be one of the first heroes to be featured when Justice League Action premieres in October? That would also be fantastic.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was some sort of online game to go along with this figure?

That last one is easy, because there is — specifically, a McPlay pinball game designed by none other than friend of the blog, Luke Daab! Daab designed pinball games for all of the JLAction and DC Super Hero Girls characters, but Plastic Man really seems like a natural fit.

Just look at this guy.


I’m looking forward to seeing what Daab and his creative co-workers have come up with; as senior art director at Creata, Daab was the sole visual designer of the game, working with programmers and the company’s internal digital team to develop the gameplay. And, he says, there is plenty of gameplay.

“You win the game by defeating Mr. Mind, which is done one of two ways,” Daab says. “The first is by slowly eliminating the lights in his health meter. This is done by hitting the silver button with the ball. The second is if you’re lucky enough to hit the ball through the small INSTANT WIN tunnel! But you have to beware. What you can do to Mr. Mind, he can do to you!”


Of course, this is a Plastic Man-themed game, so things are a little less rigid. As a character, Plas always seems to be on the move, and his pinball game is no different.

“All of the bumpers in this game move around the board. Unlike regular pinball, the gameplay is much more random. Among the moving bumpers is a giant red ball which may or may not be Plastic Man himself. I left it ambiguous in order to stay consistent with the other games,” Daab says.

He also had some tips for would-be gamers. “By hitting the red ball in conjunction with the other two bumpers, you trigger a FREE SAVE in which Plastic Man’s hand stretches into frame and saves your ball! You can also activate defended game play. During this, Plastic Man’s arms stretch across the bottom corners of the board. For five seconds, you literally can’t lose!”

Take a look:



I’m not going to lie — I laughed out loud with delight (delight!) when I saw those arms stretching and bending across the field. Daab understands that what makes the classic superheroes, especially DC’s superheroes, appealing is a sense of fun. That really comes through with this game design.

If this whole Happy Meal campaign — from the figures to the online games — is meant to get people ramped up for the shows coming in October, well … mission accomplished.

So, how many nuggets come in a Happy Meal nowadays, anyway?

A brief break for Darwyn Cooke

From “Justice League: The New Frontier,” art based on Darwyn Cooke’s original designs.

I’m taking a brief break from celebrating Plastic Man’s 75th anniversary to send best wishes to Darwyn Cooke.

Earlier today, his family released the news that Cooke is dealing with an aggressive cancer and is now undergoing palliative care. Cooke is an exceptionally talented writer and artist, and I’ve enjoyed his work for years; I’ve also heard nothing but good things about him as a professional and as a person. There haven’t been any other details about his condition, but I’m crossing my fingers that there is some hope for recovery.

In the meantime, go to your shelf and pull out one of his books, or put your DVD of Justice League: The New Frontier into your player. And if you don’t have any of his work on hand, please consider buying some of his stuff — you won’t be sorry, and it will hopefully help Cooke and his family in their time of need.

Alex Toth brings Plastic Man to the Super Friends

There are, maybe, a handful of comic book artists whose careers could be described as impeccable. Whether it’s the growing pains of the early years, or a slow decline in the artist’s twilight, even the most revered comic book illustrators tend to have periods where their work is not quite their best.

Alex Toth is not one of those artists.

One of my absolute favorite artists, Toth set the bar in every field he worked in. His clean, graceful style brightened several comics for years, and he brought that same sensibility to animation, most recognizably with his character designs for Hanna-Barbera. (Space Ghost? Herculoids? Pure Toth.)

And those two career paths crossed at least once when he worked on a little show called Super Friends. When the cartoon debuted on ABC in 1973, it was based on character designs Toth did for all the featured DC heroes and villains, as well as three guest stars — Flash, Green Arrow and …

… Plastic Man!


There are some great notes on this character sheet, and I think Toth’s affection for Plas is obvious — after all, he is “the one and only original ‘Plastic Man!'” A few of the more interesting notes include those saying Plastic Man is wearing flesh-colored tights (imagine the runs in those stockings), and that there shouldn’t be any prominent muscle definition (which makes sense, and has been a hallmark of the character’s design since the beginning).

My favorite, though, is the note at the bottom of the left-hand column: What erroneous model sheets is Toth talking about? Which was the wrong comic book art used? Did Elongated Man somehow nearly sneak his way onto the Super Friends?! That Dibney, man — anything for attention.

While the character sheet includes some wonderful shapeshifting moments, I’ll be the first to say that Plastic Man’s first animated appearance, and his only one in Super Friends, doesn’t really add up to much. Showing up briefly toward the end of “Professor Goodfellow’s G.E.E.C.”, Plastic Man is called in to take care of some … technical difficulties … in his own imitable* way. And then that’s it, at least until he’d get his own cartoon with The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show six years later.

Still, it’s always fun to see Plas doing his thing, and he always seems especially well-suited for animation. Plus, I love that Plastic Man and Superman refer to each other as “PM” and “SM.” Check out the final result!

*”Inimitable” in the way that every other stretchy hero has pulled the same gag since.

Plastic Man graduates to DC Super Hero Girls

Earlier this month, DC Entertainment officially launched DC Super Hero Girls, an initiative designed to welcome younger girls into the DCU in all its alternate realities, namely toys, clothing, digital platforms, animation, and — oh, hey — comics and graphic novels.

This is, of course, a good thing, and way overdue. The character designs look great, and the Super Hero High School concept is an always-popular setting. And while the large cast, reflecting most real-life high schools, has both boy and girls in attendance, the focus is rightfully going to be on characters including Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Katana, Bumblebee, Harley Quinn, and others.

Most importantly, though, is who shows up at the 1:00 minute mark in the first episode:


Eeyow! Plastic Man is back on screen! Does this mean Plas is a graduate of Super Hero High? Is this just a cameo, or will he be making more appearances? Is that Liberty Belle back there? And how awesome is Mortar Board Sandman?

I don’t know the answer to any of these questions because I’ve only watched the first episode, but there are three up already that you can watch at the DC Super Hero Girls site. All I know for sure is I’m glad the WB Animation folks haven’t forgotten about Plastic Man, even if it seems like the DC Comics people have.

Plasticity: Gobble gobble … gobble?


Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

LEGO loves Plastic Man

While we’re still waiting for our favorite pliable policeman to return to the DC Universe (I’ve got my fingers crossed for a return during the “Convergence” event), it seems as if Plastic Man is becoming a welcome fixture of the LEGO world.


Planned for release on Feb. 10, 2015 (just a day before my birthday *ahem*), LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League Vs. Bizarro League will be Plastic Man’s next appearance in the LEGO Universe following this month’s release of the LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham game. I’m not sure why other folks — like LEGO and DC Nation — seem to do more with Plas than DC Comics, but I’m not complaining; maybe DC can get some pointers on how to handle the character when they eventually bring him back. (You, uh, will be bringing him back, right, DC?) Plus, the movie looks like a lot of fun!

Plastic Man only has a brief, brief cameo in this trailer for Justice League Vs. Bizarro League, so I’m hoping that he’ll have a larger role to play in the rest of the story. After all, on top of featuring a gaggle of Bizarros this will also be Darkseid’s first LEGO appearance — and who else are you going to throw at the iron-fisted ruler of  Apokolips? Watch the trailer closely, and you’ll see Plas in action as he takes his seat at the famed Justice League meeting table:

Like I said — brief. But it’s still nice to see Plastic Man taking his rightful place in the League, and hopefully we’ll be seeing even more of him in the near future. I wonder what a Bizarro Plastic Man would be like? An accountant?

A no-nonsense librarian?

That chump, Dibney?!

Plastic Man joins the Teen Titans (sort of)

So, my wife and I found ourselves in a hotel room for a few days last week, and you know what that means. That’s right — cartoons!

I’ll admit, this isn’t much different than when we’re at home; we obviously know a thing or two about luxury. In any case, one of the shows I caught was an older episode of Teen Titans Go! and imagine my surprise when I caught a glimpse of Plastic Man! Granted, it wasn’t really Plas, just a quick glimpse of an image on a T-shirt, but it’s still nice to see him represented, even in a cameo. Take a look:


See it? It’s tough to spot, but click for the bigger image and there he is, grinning on the blue T-shirt hanging in the upper right. Some other notable cameos popping up in Beast Boy’s room include Animal Man and even Nite Owl II from Watchmen (look for the posters), with a few more to spot in this clip from the Teen Titans Go! episode “Ghostboy”. Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for Plastic Man at around 0:26!

Alive and well in the DC Nation

While Plastic Man is continuing to be ignored in the current incarnation of the DC Universe, he’s luckily still getting love from DC Nation – which I didn’t even realize was still going on!

Now being wedged in somewhere with episodes of Teen Titans Go!, DC Nation has kept producing animated shorts that feel more like DC comics than DC Comics, with the latest featuring our favorite pliable policeman.

Or DOES it?

Follow along with the bad guys and see what a master of disguise (and a little criminal paranoia) can do in “Untouchable!”