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Dr. Manhattan

DCD Watchmen
by LotN

Seeing as this is my first review for the new female-branded OAFEnet, I think it best to introduce my self in terms of what I look for in an action figure. I collect toys primarily because I think they look good. "Playability" doesn't matter to me as I'm no longer six and thusly don't play with them (no offense to seven-year-olds, but grow up already!). I also collect based on interest in the property.

Of course I like Watchmen. But then, try to find someone aside from Rustin "Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey is the greatest movie ever" Parr who doesn't like it. And of course when I say I like Watchmen, I'm referring to the book, not the movie so visionarily adapted by the visionary director of the ages, Zack Snyder (may we be thankful that we are alive to see his visions in their own historical context, amen). But when it comes to getting toys based on the book, looks like we're crap outta luck (thanks, Alan Moore! [or is it DC?]). So we've gotta take what we can get, us Watchmen/Moore fans (and oh how we apparently like to take it).

Wait, I think I'm supposed to be writing about a toy. Right.

"The photograph is in my hand... In twelve seconds time, I drop the photograph to the sand at my feel, walking away. It's already lying there, twelve seconds into the future... Ten seconds now."

So begins the single greatest issue of a comicbook ever. Dr. Manhattan, formerly mild-mannered nerd John Osterman, sits on Mars pondering the series of events that have led him to this point and the relative nature of time. I'm sure I can speak for everyone here when I say that since reading that, I've always longed for a Dr. Manhattan figure so that I, too, could send him to Mars to ponder. Or, perhaps becoming bored with that, bring him instead to Vietnam to blow up some Viet Cong. With his mind.

Thank goodness the wait is now over.

While DC and Moore could never quite get it together to get a toy out (despite a valiant attempt), visionary human and all-around god among men Zack Snyder has come along to once more make our dreams come true, as he has so many times in the past (praise Zackallah). It's like he's the modern-day Dr. Manhattan, using his visionary mind powers to take images which sit still in a book and somehow give them the gift of motion and sound and a terrible unsubtle soundtrack blasted right into my ear holes ("Hallelujah"!).

Right... the toy.

So a Dr. Manhattan figure can now be purchased for your mind-control pleasures. Assuming you're into that sort of thing? Me? I just like looking at it.

As I was writing... somewhere back there... I'm not one for playing with action figures. In fact, I'm not one for posing them, either. I like ripping them out of the box, making sure they stand up (typically in the poses they're pictured striking on the packaging), sticking them on the shelf, and there letting them gather dust until it looks like they're all wearing furry Russian hats. It's how I get my fun. Which is normally fine, 'cause most figures have a rather generic "check me out, I'm standing still with my arms at my side like a good kindergartener during a fire drill" pose that looks decent enough. But then there are those that are meant to strike more spectacular poses (and have you noticed these are the ones most likely having tight joints which cause the hands to pop off thusly nullifying the whole thing? End rant).

I think we can all agree that Dr. Manhattan's a pretty spectacular guy. Perhaps not the sort who would stand still like a good kindergartener. Perhaps even the sort that would hover when standing with a group of "normals," just to prove he isn't a mere human like the rest of us punks. Show-off. He even knows what happened in the past. Most people just call that "memory," but not Dr. Manhattan!

So in a kind move, DCD included two sets of legs with the Dr. Manhattan figure: a standard set of "standing" legs and a bonus set of "showing off his awesome extra-human powers by hovering a foot above his quote-unquote comrades (though not actually "Comrades" because we're fighting the bloody Reds in this story)" legs which plug into a clear base which helps with the whole floating illusion.

The best part about the sets of legs is that they actually come out at the waist, at the top "v" of his super-human (because what human could pull off that look?) underpants. (And speaking of which, just how cowardly is DCD for not giving us the good Doctor in his "I'm so beyond human I don't even care if my batch is hanging in the breeze" full-gloried nuclear peen state? It goes to show that truly they don't "get" the book in the way that almighty visionary Lord Snyder does.)

Oh right, easy plugged legs. So the legs come out as a pair with an easy pull and go back in again with another simple push. No struggling with sharp plastic until your fingers bleed only to have the durn things fall out again twenty seconds later. *coughMcFarlaneDragonscough* Once in, the things are rooted quite nicely.

And because some people out there care about this sort of thing, the standing pair are nicely equipped with articulation at the knees and a v-crotch at the base of the man-panties. As for the rest, he's got elbows that'll let him go from holding his arm out straight to bent at about a 45° angle, balljointed shoulders with such limited movement they may as well be swivels, and a ball neck that doesn't quite allow him to look loftily up at Mars, but does let him look down on us lowly humans quite nicely.

So altogether not too impressive on the articulation front. Which leads to the biggest problem. His arms are held out a bit from his body, in a sort of "Jesus at the Last Supper" pose (and isn't that ironic?). Which looks great when he's hovering. And why would you want to pose him otherwise?

Well, because if you're like me, you have your shelves set at 8", giving most action figures plenty of head room. Only when hovering, Manhattan stands at nearly 8½" high. So either you've got to re-do the shelves, or Manhattan has to stand on his own two feet, just like that lowly Rorschach jerk.

Which is fine. Only, without bicep articulation, his arms are still held out at that odd angle. And what looked to be a stance of power and command is now just a silly offer for a hug or perhaps a showing off of the stigmata... which he doesn't have. Though he could. He's all-powerful like that.

The figure is otherwise generally good-looking. The plastic is appropriately blue and the speedos are aptly black. He's got his logo decal'ed onto his forehead, and the black circles painted around his eyes convey the weight of the power and knowing that rest upon his shoulders. The likeness is decent enough, looking as much like Billy Crudup as the glowing CG cartoon in the film does. The sculpting's fine and the proportions are good, but to play Rustin for the moment, it would have been nice if a wash had been added (perhaps of another blue color) to bring out more of the sculpted detail.

He stands firm on his legs, but it can be a bit tricky to get the distribution of weight correct for the hovering pair. Since he comes with extra legs, he's the one figure who does not come with a base. It would have been nice if the bottom of the clear hovering "air" had been extended a bit more for strudiness' sake, but I'm ultimately glad (given the shelving) that hovering isn't the only way to display him.

I'm also not entirely sure why the hovering legs and air weren't all sculpted in one piece. Instead, one must plug the legs into the base. Seeing as he's got his feet pointed in a downwards direction, there's no way he could stand without the base, making those legs quite pointless otherwise (unless one wants to reenact his brief stint as an Olympic diver - I'm sure that's somewhere in the supplementary material. Look it up). But perhaps making them two separate pieces is some logistical or cost-effective thing that my precious little girl mind can't quite comprehend without a man's help.

Who is LotN? Find out here!

-- 04/01/09

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