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Ozymandias

Watchmen
by Monkey Boy

Hm. Seems like most everyone has already received this guy. Why are we so late to the game? Well, as your resident Watchmen reviewer (who has already abdicated once before when his Silk Spectre never materialized), I can tell you the simple reason is that I have only now received my figure of Adrian Veidt, world's smartest man.

While [Mattel's shipping partner] Newgistics is not known for having particularly expedient shipping, I became suspicious after a while when my tracking indicated that my Ozymandias disappeared somewhere around Atlanta, Georgia. With no activity for a couple of weeks, I contacted Mattel, who promptly turned the tables on me and asked if the shipping address I listed (where I had already received several previous packages from them) was equipped to receive packages. At this point I nearly lost it, threatened to file a fraud case with my credit card company, and here we are well past December and I have a replacement Ozymandias for the one I never got in the first place.

So all that waiting for... this. There are those who were against Mattel's Watchmen figures from the get-go, on principle, suggesting that it would cheapen the work of Alan Moore to render his immortal characters in plastic (despite the fact that we've already had crappy movie versions a-plenty). I was not one of those people. However, after the thrill of Rorschach, it became quite clear that we would indeed had been better off with no Watchmen figures at all. Not because they're not toyetic characters, but because Mattel took what should have been an easy homerun and totally whiffed it. I'm not big on baseball, but I think that metaphor makes some sense.

Tactical. Brilliant. Dangerous. The prodigal Adrian Veidt was born into great wealth, but his intelligence and ambition were even greater than anyone could imagine. After his parents' tragic death, young Adrian gave away his inheritance and initiated his self-imposed path to greatness. His plan was realized, becoming a successful entrepreneur and his own version of a God-like ruler, the mighty Ozymandias.

As recent TV shows like Mad Men and Breaking Bad have pointed out, the poem "Ozymandias" by Percy Bysshe Shelly is bittersweet at best, and a testament to the idea that no matter what you accomplish, time conquers all. The real "Ozymandias" was Ramses II, a pharaoh of Egypt who Veidt modeled himself after. I'm personally surprised Veidt hasn't been embraced with Ayn Rand level adoration by the hardcore conservatives of the U.S., as I'm sure a lot of the "1%" who inherited their wealth believe they could have totally achieved the same level of success if they'd started from nothing. But we're not here to talk politics, we're here to talk action figures.

Rorschach was decent, Dr. Manhattan was too short, Silk Spectre and Nite Owl were bland, and Comedian was all kinds of mess. Where does Veidt fit in? Well, he's not as big a screw-up as Comedian, but he's not great either. And he fails to achieve the "meh" level of mediocrity found in the Spectre and Owl figures. His sculpt is very nice, but the fact that his cumbersome outfit is sculpted around a fully-sculpted torso means he's bound to look too bulky in the upper areas. It's not quite at the lollipop levels of Pre-ternia He-Man, but he definitely feels a bit too weighted at the top. Of course, his sculpted upper piece also renders most of his upper body articulation functionally useless, but we'll get to that a bit later.

He's painted mostly in fleshtones, purple and gold, and by and large the work is simple but effective. His hair is the most complex area, and it has a nice use of multiple tones to bring out the detail. The same cannot be said about the folds of his "cloth" areas, which do get some darker airbrushing, but it looks a lot more haphazard in application. The edges of the mask on his face are particularly sloppy, and that's probably the one area they really should have focused on making clean.

As mentioned, upper articulation is severely limited by the bulky tunic. His shoulders suffer in particular, but his biceps are also affected, as is the abdominal hinge. His balljointed neck is pretty good though. The rest of him is standard Matty DCUC fare. If Mattel had taken a little bit of time to engineer the cloth that hangs down over his arms as a sculpted feature of the arms instead of a one piece, all-encompassing tunic, perhaps some articulation could have been salvaged. But nothing says "high end" like cuttin' corners!

Speaking of high end, the accessories are decidedly not. Hope you like the yellow circle base, 'cause here it is again. He also gets a separate, unmasked head, which you'll need because the masked head looks ugly thanks to the half-assed paint. Just for fun, let's run down the list of what our "ideal" Ozy would have featured:

  • Bubastis, obviously! Even as an unarticulated PVC figurine
  • an interchangeable bloody hand with a "caught" bullet
  • the "weapon" that was actually a remote control for his wall of TVs
  • a champagne flute
  • a tiny little action figure version of himself

HAHAHAHHAAH we get none of that. Obviously, asking for all of those things is a bit much, but this figure isn't cheap, and Mattel uses the word "high end" about as often as your average person uses the word "the." Of course, "high end" to Mattel means hemming and hawing until the last minute about whether or not they would even include the absolutely necessary alternate unmasked head, and we should feel damned lucky they decided to as far as they're concerned.

Really, holding this figure in my hands, it's hard to see how anyone could justify calling it "high end." Corners cut, accessories are light, paint on integral areas is sloppy. The packaging feels like the most well-engineered aspect of the figure. And when that's the case, something is seriously wrong.

I didn't subscribe to this line for the packaging. I didn't subscribe to this line so that two of the six figures could get lost on their way to me. I subscribed to this line because of what I was told it would be: a high-end line of Watchmen action figures. I knew it would mostly be recycled DCUC bodies. I was fine with that. There are DCUC figures with working holsters. There are DCUC figures with pack-in animal companions. There are mass-market, released-at-retail-for-about-half-the-price DCUC figures that pegwarmed for years at Wal-Mart that show more effort in their creation than any of Mattel's Watchmen figures. These are certainly not the Watchmen figures we need, although I suppose the naysayers would argue that they're the figures we deserve. Look on Mattel's works, ye mighty, and despair.

-- 13/08/13


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