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Judge Dredd

Legendary Heroes
by Poe Ghostal

Though it may be hard to believe, not every major comicbook icon was created for American comics. There are isolated instances where people who don't love apple pie or pick-up trucks with "hemis" have managed to make a lasting impression on the industry. One of the most prominent examples is the UK's favorite fascist, Judge Dredd.

(For the purposes of this review, we are going to pretend the Stallone movie doesn't exist. Agreed? Good.)

Who's Judge Dredd, you ask?

Mega-City One, 2129 AD. This vast urban nightmare is situated along the eastern coast of post-apocalyptic North America, with the irradiated wasteland known as the Cursed Earth to the west and polluted Black Atlantic to the east. Home to 400 million citizens, crammed into gigantic city-blocks, overcrowding is rife, unemployment endemic and boredom universal. Tensions run a constant knife-edge, and crime is rampant. Only the Judges can prevent total anarchy. Empowered to dispense instant justice, these lawmen are judge, jury and executioner. Toughest of them all is Judge Dredd he is the Law!

That about covers it. OK, so there's a lot more to Judge Dredd and the British comic he appears in, 2000 AD. But what's great about Judge Dredd is how much his writers have been able to do with the concept, from Dirty Harry-style crime stories to classic comic-style battles with supervillains and thoughtful examinations of fascism.

Dredd was created in the late '70s, and his design has that distinctive, Heavy Metal-inspired look of the period. The ostentatious eagle-shaped epaulets and other complicated (and unpractical) uniform accoutrements predated Rob Liefeld's Cable by more than a decade, but the Judge Dredd tales always had a certain tongue-in-cheek mentality that made the design seem fitting.

To make their Judge Dredd figure as part of the Legendary Heroes line, ToyBiz resorted to some pretty significant mold re-use. Dredd's upper legs and torso are on loan from Longshot. The torso is a bit thin for the traditional depiction of Dredd, though he was relatively lean in his early appearances. But for the most part, the re-use is forgivable thanks to the extensive use of new parts: Dredd's head, gauntlets, epaulets, knee pads, belt, boots and badge are all brand-new, and they feature the same great sculpting that can be seen on most of the line. Though Dredd's face has never been shown in the comic, there is a face beneath the figure's helmet - now that's dedication to detail! Of course, he has the trademark Dredd sneer.

The ornamentation also goes a long way toward making Dredd appear bulkier (and may be part of the reason for using the slender Longshot torso - with a bulkier body, the ornamentation might have looked cartoonishly huge). The belt in particular has a lot of detail. I'm not sure how tall Dredd is supposed to be in the comics, but here he's just about 6⅛".

A great sculpt is often worthless without good paint apps, and again, ToyBiz does pretty well here. I like the blue-black wash gold over the uniform. The epaulets are molded in golden (though not chromed) plastic, and have no wash so as to preserve the shiny look. The belt has a good wash, as do the knee pads - basically anything that wasn't molded in gold looks quite good. The lack of a wash on the epaulets and the badge is accurate to the comic, where they gleam like new, but it does throw off the look of the figure somewhat.

Even non-superheroes need super-articulation. Dredd has balljoints at the neck, house arrest shoulders and hips (though the neck articulation is somewhat limited by the large helmet and shoulderpad). He has double peg joints at the elbows and knees, which are largely hidden by his knee pads and elbow pads.

All the Legendary Heroes include a part of the inaugural Build-A-Figure, Pitt. Judge Dredd has the big guy's right leg, which is tall enough to reach Dredd's armpit. There's a hinge joint for the toes, a rocker ankle, a swivel at the shin and a single ratcheted knee joint. The chains which wrap around the ankle are a separate rubber piece, which you slide in place after opening the package. Why? I don't know.

Unlike most of his fellow series one brethren, Dredd comes with more than just one of Pitt's limbs. He has three accessories: two pistols and a knife. The pistols are based on the "Lawgiver" weapons from the comics, though neither of them is quite identical to the classic designs. All the weapons can be holstered on the figure, which is a nice touch. They're silver with a light wash and some black detailing, and while they're not quite as realistic-appearing as, say, one of the rifles from McFarlane military line, they're still pretty good.

Judge Dredd and a few of his 2000 AD compatriots already had one figure line in the 1990s from a company called Re:Action, but it's great to have them in Marvel Legends scale and style.

-- 09/30/07


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