#1538: Nite Owl

NITE OWL

WATCHMEN (MATTEL)

“Awkward, shy, and unnaturally obsessed with masked vigilantes and ornithology, Dan Drieberg was a surprisingly good fit to inherit the mantle of Nite Owl.  He is a talented engineer with a tragic childhood that feeds his needs to help the helpless and fight the good fight.  However, the world is not a perfect place and Dan is forced to constantly question his own morality.”

I’ve now made it through a full week of my post-Christmas reviews, and now we’re kind of nearing the end of this whole thing.  For today’s review, I’m switching over to a property that I’ve covered a few times on this site, Watchmen.  I was pretty huge into Watchmen a few years back, especially around the time of the film adaptation.  In the years since, my fixation has sort of waned, probably due to the overabundance of grimdark super hero stories in the last several years.  I still appreciate it for what it is, and there’s no denying that the story has lots of exciting designs, just ripe for toy form.  The comics designs are somewhat rare in the toy world, but Mattel put out a set of them a few years back, and I’ll be taking a look at the Nite Owl figure from that set today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Nite Owl was the fourth figure in Mattel’s “Club Black Freighter” subscription, released back in 2013.  He’s based on the comics Nite Owl design, of course, which is a more simplistic look than his more sculpted look from the film, but I feel a slightly more polished and to the point design.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall 23 points of articulation.  The whole Club Black Freighter set was designed to fit stylistically with DC Universe Classics, and a lot of this was done via parts re-use from that line.  For Nite Owl, this means he uses the standard mid-sized arms, legs, and pelvis, along with a new torso and head, as well as add-ons for his cape and belt.  The legs are the end of DCUC legs, meaning they’ve had the rocker-ankles removed.  It’s definitely an annoyance, and it means he can’t really ever keep his feet flat on the ground, which looks rather goofy.  On the plus side, all of the newly sculpted pieces really do look cool.  The head’s a solid piece of work, and replicates Gibbons’ take on Nite Owl quite nicely.  His hard plastic cape, though very cool looking, effectively renders his arms motionless from the elbow up.  The end result to all of this is a figure that’s not really good for anything but standing around.  But at least he looks good, I suppose.  The paint work on Nite Owl is decent enough, and certainly better than a lot of Mattel’s output.  It’s clean and matches well with the art from the book.  It’s not the most thrilling color combination, but that’s true to the character, so one can hardly complain.  Nite Owl is packed with a display stand, three owl-arangs, and a grappling gun, as well as big novelty card thing with an art-deco sort of illustration.  The stand’s fine, but he has some trouble successfully holding any of the other extras.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Nite Owl was another Christmas gift from Super Awesome Girlfriend.  By the time the Club Black Freighter set came along, I was kind of done with Mattel’s whole subscription model and past my Watchmen fixation, so I ended up passing on them.  I almost bought Nite Owl a few times from Matty Collector during a couple of their year-end sales, but never got around to it.  Jess spotted him at the GameStop she works at and grabbed him for me.  He’s sort of an interesting phenomenon, a “super-posable” figure that doesn’t work as much more than a statue.  Ultimately, he’s not a bad figure, but he sort of fails at what he’s supposed to be.  I guess he’s rather par for the course when it comes to Mattel, though.

Advertisements

#1403: Silk Spectre & Ozymandias

SILK SPECTRE & OZYMANDIAS

WATCHMEN MINIMATES

“A second-generation crimefighter, LAURIE JUSPECZYK followed in her mother’s footsteps as SILK SPECTRE.  Although she was never close to with the super-intelligent hero OZYMANDIAS, their paths would cross again when someone begins a campaign to kill or discredit former vigilantes.”

You know it’s a bad pairing when even the bio on the back of the box describes the characters as “never close.”  The last two days of Watchmen Minimates perhaps haven’t been the strongest partnerships, but at least they all had one or two key scenes together.  Today?  We got the left overs.  Without further ado, Silk Spectre and Ozmandias!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The prior two sets were made up of characters shared between the specialty four-pack and Toys R Us-exclusive assortment of Watchmen Minimates.  Silk Spectre and Ozymandias, on the other hand, are both exclusively available in two-pack form through TRU.  Why these two ended up as the exclusives is kind of hard to figure out; I personally would have swapped out Comedian and Laurie, but at the end of the day, it’s not a huge deal, I guess.

SILK SPECTRE

Laurie Jupiter (It was Juspeczyk in the comics, but the movie never explains Sally’s changed  surname or has Laurie correct Rorschach’s use of “Jupiter” when he meets her, so it sticks) is patterned loosely on Charlton Comics character Nightshade.  Really, though, the only similarities the two share are a partnership with Captain Atom/Dr. Manhattan.  Beyond that, they’re rather different.  For the purposes of the movie, Silk Spectre’s look was rather changed.  The basic spirit of the original look is still there, I guess, but it’s more generic catsuit now than it was originally.  Meh.  The figure is about 2 1/4 inches tall and she has the standard 14 points of articulation.  Her only add-on is her hair, which is borrowed from Marvel MinimatesNew Mutant Magik.  Given it’s a near perfect match for her hair in the movie, the re-use is certainly warranted.  The rest of the work is done by the paint.  It’s all pretty solid.  She’s probably got the best paint in the series, to be honest.  The colors are sharp and bold, and there’s very little slop.  She includes a clear display stand and…that’s it.  Seems a little light, but I don’t really know what you could give her.  Maybe a more interesting character?  Oh wait, they did!

OZYMANDIAS

Jokes at Laurie’s expense aside, I can’t say Ozymandias is really a favorite of mine either.  He does at least get to be the villain (spoilers?).  He was originally meant to be Peter Cannon…Thunderbolt (yes, the ellipsis is part of his name) who never amounted to much on his own.  Ozy’s design in the film looks rather different at first glance, but the only truly major change was making the main bodysuit dark grey instead of gold.  It’s still the most easily distinguished of the designs, though.  Like Laurie, he’s built on the standard ‘mate body.  He gets add-ons for his hair, cape, and belt.  The hair and cape are new pieces.  They’re a little soft on the details, but look decent enough overall.  In terms of paint, Ozy’s okay.  Nothing truly amazing.  The pale, non-metallic gold isn’t the best look, but the application’s fairly solid.  The standard head sports his mask (seen only in flashbacks), but there’s also an extra head without the mask.  That’s more than the DC Direct figure gave us!  He also includes the usual clear display stand.  Fun times.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Well, those reviews kind of went out with a whimper, didn’t they?  Sorry guys, I’m not trying to be a downer on this set at all.  Neither ‘mate is bad or anything, but neither one is as strong as the other four.  I really feel like splitting up this pair would do a lot to help both of them.  With that said, once you’ve got the whole set together, it makes for a pretty sweet display.  I’ve been waiting a long time for Watchmen Minimates, and while maybe I would have preferred comics-based ones, these are definitely a great set of ‘mates to have.  Now, to hold out hope for a second series with some Minute Men!

#1402: Rorschach & Dr. Manhattan

RORSCHACH & DR. MANHATTAN

WATCHMEN MINIMATES

“ERNIE KOVACS has a troubled mind, and will go to great lengths to protect the innocent as RORSCHACH.  When someone kills an old colleague, his investigation into the death brings mysteries to light and puts him back in touch with the world’s only known super-powered human – DR. MANHATTAN.”

On the plus side, this bio does at least do a better job of working in both characters than yesterday’s set did.  Unfortunately, Rorschach’s name is WALTER Kovacs.  Ernie Kovacs would be this guy.  And, while it’s still up for debate as to whether or not Ernie had a troubled mind, he most definitely wasn’t going around as a costumed vigilante…I think…

Right, the actual review.  I should get to that!  Here’s some more Watchmen Minimates!  As noted by the bio, it’s Rorschach and Dr. Manhattan.  Alright!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Like yesterday’s set, Rorschach and Dr. Manhattan are one of the “shared” pairs of Watchmen Minimates, available in both the specialty four pack and as a two pack in the Toys R Us’s assortment. Mine are the two-pack version, but they’re functionally the same.

RORSCHACH

Rorschach is the closest the story gets to a main character, and is probably the most popular character contained there-in.  He was originally intended to be The Question, and is honestly the least changed character in that respect.  Rorschach’s design in the movie was completely unchanged from the comics, resulting in a ‘mate that can easily work for either version of the character.  The figure stands about 2 1/2 inches tall and has the usual 14 points of articulation.  He’s built on the basic body, with add-ons for his hat and coat.  Both pieces are new to this figure, and they work pretty well.  The coat’s a little on the bulky side, but it’s decent enough, and the hat’s one of the better takes on a fedora in this style.  Rorschach’s paint is about on par with the pair I looked at yesterday.  It’s pretty decent overall, but there’s some slight sloppiness on some of the base paint.  The detail lines are also minimal on this guy, so it’s a bit less of what DST’s good at, but what’s there is pretty solid.  Rorschach is packed with his grappling hook (a standard Rorschach accessory), as well as an unmasked head and hair, and a clear display stand.  The extra head is definitely cool, and my favorite extra.  The grapple is okay, but I can’t say I get why every Rorschach has it; I find it to be a rather minor piece.  I would have much rather had the aerosol can he uses to escape the cops, or his journal.  Also, the lack of extra heads with differing expressions is a little annoying.  Still, not a bad selection.

DR. MANHATTAN

Dr. Manhattan is the story’s one true super human, originally planned to be Captain Atom.  Visually, Manhattan is one of the story’s most memorable characters, and as such, his design remained essentially the same when they adapted the comic to film.  Structurally, Manhattan is just a plain Minimate, with additional parts or anything.  It’s certainly well suited to the character.  It does mean that all of the heavy lifting is handled by his paint work.  He’s done in a semi-transparent blue plastic, which, fun fact, is also glow-in-the-dark.  It’s surprisingly powerful, provided you give it a little time to charge up.  The detail paint on this guy is phenomenal.  All of his parts have detailed musculature, and his face is a spot-on recreation of how he looks in the film.  It should also be noted that this is the first Dr. Manhattan figure to forego the usual black shorts seen on all the merchandise.  I mean, they still Ken-Doll-ed him; he’s still got to be decent and all, since he’s being sold at retail.  Should you want him to be more modest, though, he does include an extra pelvis piece, molded in dark blue, thus replicating the shorts.  In addition, he’s also got the standard display stand, as well as a flight stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like yesterday’s set, I picked this pair up from Toys R Us on my birthday.  This pack is more comic-compatible than the last one, which is pretty cool.  Manhattan’s just plain awesome, especially for being a ‘mate that could have been super simple and boring.  Rorschach’s overall pretty decent, though I’m not sure he translated quite as well to the style.  Still, not a bad set, especially if you’re a fan of the source material.

#1401: The Comedian & Nite Owl

THE COMEDIAN & NITE OWL

WATCHMEN MINIMATES

“Secretly the vigilante known as THE COMEDIAN, EDWARD BLAKE continued to work for the government after his crimefighting career, performing various classified and unpleasant tasks.  When the highly dangerous killer is himself killed, his old colleagues NITE OWL and RORSCHACH are driven to investigate.”

Sometimes, I like to remember back when I didn’t totally hate everything Zack Snyder touched.  His adaptation of Watchmen was just as divisive as anything else he’s done, but I was actually on his side of that one.  Anyway, a whole eight years after its release, the film’s gotten a set of Minimates.  I’m taking a look at the first pair, The Comedian and Nite Owl, today!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Comedian and Nite Owl are one of the “shared” pairs of figures for Watchmen Minimates.  They were available both in the specialty four pack and as a two pack in the Toys R Us-exclusive assortment.  Obviously, mine are the TRU versions, but there aren’t any real differences between the actual figures.

THE COMEDIAN

Though he may be dead at the story’s start, the Comedian is perhaps Watchmen‘s most central figure.  He was originally supposed be the Charlton Comics character “Peace Maker,” before DC forced the change.  Shame, since it would have been perhaps the only noteworthy thing ever attached to the character.  Oh well.  Comedian’s look was largely unchanged when going from book to movie, so this guy will work pretty well as either version of the character.  The figure stands roughly 2 1/4 inches tall and has the standard 14 points of articulation. In addition to the standard base body, Comedian has add-ons for his hair, shoulder pads/suspenders/belt, and the holsters.  The holsters are the same basic pieces that have been in service since the Avengers Black Widow ‘mate, but the other two pieces are new to this figure.  The new pieces are generally pretty solid additions.  They could possibly have been a little sharper in terms of detail, but the work here is still pretty great.  In terms of paint, Comedian is pretty decent overall.  The best work is on the detail lines.  The face capture’s not only Jeffery Dean Morgan’s likeness, but also his cocky Comedian personality, which is pretty cool.  This is obviously a slightly older Comedian, though he does seem to be using any hint of his facial scar.  I guess it was pretty downplayed in the movie.  The base paintwork is a little sloppier than the line work, but still fairly decent.  The biggest issue with the paint is actually something that was beyond DST’s control.  He lacks Comedian’s signature smiley face button, due to rights issues associated with that particular image.  DST has opted to drop the button entirely, rather than giving us just the blank yellow circle that other companies have gone with.  I think I might like it better when it’s just not there; less distracting.  Comedian is packed with a pair of silver handguns and a clear display stand.  It’s a shame he didn’t get a few more weapons, and possibly an extra head and hair piece for a younger look, but what’s included is fair.

NITE OWL

Nite Owl is my favorite character out of the main Crimebusters in Watchmen (though, it’s actually his predecessor Hollis Mason that is my overall favorite character in the story), and it’s actually Patrick Wilson’s portrayal of him in the movie that helped me form that opinion.  I find his book counterpart to be a little bland, but Wilson added a nice sort of lost everyman aspect to him that was endearing.  Nite Owl was originally intended to be the Ted Kord version of Blue Beetle, another favorite character of mine.  The movie design for Nite Owl was one of the more drastic changes, largely due to the simplicity of the original design; that sort of thing doesn’t tend to work so well on a large screen.  Like Comedian, Nite Owl is built on the standard ‘mate body, with add-ons for his mask and cape.  Both pieces are new to this figure, and are likely to stay unique to him, since I can’t really see them being of much use for any other characters.  They’re both pretty decent pieces, though, like with Comedian, I think the details could stand to be a little sharper.  The paint work on Nite Owl is pretty great.  The work is all pretty sharp, and unlike Comedian, he’s not missing any essential details.  The mask is removable, and reveals a fully detailed Dan Drieber head, glasses and all.  I can’t say it’s a fantastic likeness of Patrick Wilson, but it doesn’t look unlike him.  I guess he’s just got one of those faces that doesn’t translate well to the style.  In addition to the usual display stand, Dan includes a spare hair piece for unmasked display.  I think the piece is a little too suave for Dan, to be honest, especially if this is meant to be a “present” day Dan; it should be a little longer and more comb-over-y.  It’s not awful, though.  I do wish he included an extra mask with the goggles up, since he has that look several times during the movie.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Watchmen Minimates snuck up on me.  At the time of the movie’s release, I was all over the idea of Watchmen ‘mates (in fact, I even made a custom set for myself, albeit a comic based one), but by the time they actually happened, I had largely moved past Watchmen.  When the boxed set hit, I wasn’t sure about getting the ‘mates at all.  But, I was out on my birthday, and I stopped at Toys R Us, and they had a full set, so I went for it.  Getting the ‘mates even got me to sit down and watch the movie again for the first time in several years, and I enjoyed that quite a bit.  This is my favorite pair of the ‘mates, and while there are certainly improvement that could be made, I’m very happy with them both.

#1118: Rorschach

RORSCHACH

WATCHMEN (DC DIRECT)

rorshach1

Hey, remember back when Zack Snyder wasn’t totally divisive, especially in regards to comic book fans?  Yeah, me neither.  It’s worth noting, though, that there was actually a time when I was on the opposite side of the divided fans (that is, those siding with Zack).  Back in 2009, when he directed the film adaptation of Watchmen, I was actually pretty happy.  I went through a phase of being super, super into Watchmen, and the movie hit sort of at the crux of all that.  In retrospect, I can still enjoy the movie, but I certainly see it’s flaws, as well as the early warning signs of what he’d end up doing with the rest of the DC movies he’s directed.  One of the definite plusses about the movie (and one of the few things everyone can agree was a positive) was that it meant we finally got Watchmen action figures, after having them cruelly snatched away from us just a few years before.  Today, I’ll be looking at perhaps the most popular character to be spawned by the franchise, the Question Rorschach!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

rorshach2The Watchmen figures from DC Direct were divided into two series of four figures each.  Rorschach was released in the first series, alongside Nite Owl, Silk Spectre II, and Ozymandias.  The figures were all based on their movie designs, but fortunately in the case of Rorschach, his movie design was a pretty direct lift from the comics.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and has 9 points of articulation.  At this point in their run, DCD was mostly producing plastic statues, so the articulation doesn’t really amount to much.  You can sort of move his arms up and down a little, his head can rotate maybe 45 degrees (and even then, it really only looks good in the one pose), and there are swivels at the tops of his legs to aid a bit in keeping him standing.  There’s really one pose for this figure, and that’s all you’re gonna get.  At the very least, it’s not an awful pose, so there’s that.  In addition, the sculpt on the body is actually pretty solid.  The coat in particular is really nice, and looks appropriately broken in.  Rorschach was available with three different heads: masked, unmasked, and unmasked prisoner.  Masked was the standard figure, available pretty much everywhere.  Specialty stores with qualifying orders of Series 1 got the unmasked figure, and the prisoner version was a TRU exclusive.  The masked head was clearly the best way to go.  It’s pretty straightforward.  The actually head lacks any real details, but that’s pretty accurate, and the hat definitely makes up for it.  Both exclusives had the same head rorshachunmasked2sculpt, with slight tweaks in paint (the prisoner version has taken a bit of a beating).  It’s a decent head, and captures Jackie Earl Haley’s likeness pretty well.  In a perfect world, the normal version probably would have just included the extras from the other two.  I myself skipped the basic unmasked version.  The paintwork on Rorschach is pretty decent.  The base work is clean, and he matches up with the source material.  The jacket makes out the best again with some nice weathering.  The masked head seems a bit too clean.  In the movie, the mask was never really pure black and white, but rather grey around the edges, since the black was always in motion.  Also, that one face was all we got.  He was originally solicited to include different face plates with different “expressions” but those never materialized.  The prisoner head is alright.  It’s clean, but really too clean when you get down to it.  He also looks a bit too friendly, if I’m honest.  He’s not awful, though, certainly on par with the rest of DCD’s output from the time.  All of the Rorschach figures included his grappling hook gun, a hand to hold it, and one of the interlocking display stands all of the figures had. The TRU version also included a plate with his name and prisoner ID, which hung from a chain around his neck, but the chain broke on mine, and I’ve since lost it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Believe it or not, I was ecstatic beyond belief to buy the basic Rorschach when he was released.  He was the very first Watchmen figure I got (picked up from Cosmic Comix, of course), on the very first day they were released.  I picked up the TRU version about a month later, and figured I didn’t really need the basic unmasked version (since he’s never actually seen unmasked in costume without the injuries in either the movie or the comics, and I’d already bought two figures).  As an action figure, Rorschach kinda sucks.  I mean, the sculpt’s great, and the paint’s not bad, but all he’s good for is just standing there.  He’s certainly not a bad investment, and I don’t regret getting him at all, but if you want something you can actually play with, there’s far better options out there.