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Rorschach

Watchmen
by Monkey Boy

Somewhere Alan Moore is rolling over in the gothic coffin I imagine he uses for a bed. It's finally happened - action figures from the greatest graphic novel of all time! Forget those crappy DC Direct figures from the film; we're finally, at long last, getting comic-based Watchmen figures! As much as you may want to respect Alan Moore and his anti-commodification stance, this is something Watchmen fans have wanted since the book came out.

With all the furor over whether or not Mattel's Masters of the Universe Classics and DC Signature Collection subscriptions would hit the numbers they needed, everybody seemed to forget the other sub Matty was offering for 2013... you know, the important one. And finally, at long last, Rorschach showed up at my door in his beautiful packaging.

Resourceful. Righteous. Unpredictable. He was born Walter Joseph Kovacs into a world that abused him. His mother, a prostitute devoid of any maternal love, was prone to fits of violence against her young son. Children bullied him, but he fought back with a terrifying ferocity. As he grew older, Kovacs focused on the immorality he saw in the world around him as a disgusting plague. He set out to savagely cleanse the befouled city, becoming the masked vigilante Rorschach.

So now, finally, we get to the figure itself. I've heard many people say this figure is basically Mattel's Question figure from their DC Universe line, but that's not really the case. Yes, his pants, shoes, gloves and upper arms are from the Question, but you know what's not? His head. The Question had no facial features, like Rorschach, but he also had hair and ears. Rorschach's head is entirely covered by his mask, and Mattel's figure follows suit.

He gets an overcoat piece that covers his entire torso and most of his upper legs, and it's completely new. It's not super detailed, but it features Rorschach's trademark missing button and ascot. His lower sleeves are also unique, with the left cuff unbuckled. Rorschach wasn't known for being terribly concerned with appearances, as long as his mask was in place. And while his hat is similar to The Question's, it's not the same sculpt; it's smaller overall, the crown is not as pointed in the front, and the fold on the top is shallower. This is clearly a new piece of work.

The paint, like the sculpt, is simple but captures the character well. The head and ascot are a grayish off-white, and the black Rorschach test tampo is clean and crisp. There's a subtle brown airbrushing on the reddish-brown coat, and it brings out the details nicely. Same with his hat and shoes. His gloves, pants, and the band of his hat are purple, and his pants are pinstriped. A simple paint job, but one that is handled quite well, and he fits right in with the aesthetic of the comics.

Since he uses DC Universe parts, it makes sense that he's in that scale, and he has the same articulation you'd expect from a DCUC figure as well. His head's a balljoint, but the coat and ascot render it little more than a peg. (He possibly has the same problematic "triple barbell" that Question suffered from.) He's also got peg and hinge shoulders, peg biceps, hinged elbows, peg wrists, peg waist, peg and hinge hips, hinged knees, and hinged ankles. Though it's covered by his coat, Rorschach also features a torso hinge. His hips, like his head, suffer from the heavy coat, and are somewhat restricted in their movement.

Rorschach comes with two accessories: a Watchmen base that I'm sure we'll see with all future releases, and his grappling gun. The gun is all one piece, with a solid plastic coiled rope and a non-removable grappling hook. The gun gets a ton of paint apps though: the main body is gray, but the grip is black, the hook is copper, the rope is brown, and there are silver and gunmetal accents all over. The base is nice, with a yellow circle that evokes the smiley face behind the word "WATCHMEN". It's a bit wobblier than I'd like, but it still works very well.

These figures have been a long time coming. Watchmen figures are themselves alluded to in the graphic novel, and when DC Direct teased (and then canceled) comic-based figures more than a dozen years ago, it only fanned the flames of desire for these toys. DCD's eventual movie figures were pretty blah, with a nearly statuesque Rorschach and designs that deviated from the graphic novel. As much as I despise Mattel, I have to give it to them... this time, they've given fans exactly what they wanted.

These figure isn't cheap, considering the final result, and Lord knows why Mattel charges almost $10 for ridiculously slow shipping, but the figure itself almost makes up for all of that. It does Rorschach right. This figure makes me giddy. The brilliant packaging (which should be a shoo-in for 2013's ToY Awards) just makes it even better, and actually makes the price a bit easier to swallow.

-- 02/06/13


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