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Silk Spectre

by yo go re

Hi, folks. If you were hoping to read Monkey Boy's take on Silk Spectre, well, blame Mattel's comically hit-or-miss shipping department. I'm filling in this month.

Laurie Juspeczyk, the ethereal beauty also known as Ms. Jupiter, begrudgingly took her mother's place as Silk Spectre. Seemingly lost in a world of righteous masked heroes, Laurie was a powerhouse without a purpose. But when truths involving her mother are revealed that send her world into a tailspin, Laurie emerges from it having found solace and her place in the world.

The Watchmen line started strong, coming out of the gate with Rorschach, a figure with a ton of newly molded pieces and a spot-on design. Yeah, he's got his flaws, but he's still a great toy. Dr. Manhattan, however, was a big step down - a totally mediocre release without even a glimmer of inspiration in his execution. (Seriously, was blue-tinted GitD plastic really that hard to think of? We came up with that in two minutes!) And now we've got Silk Spectre, who has an interesting character arc, but turning her into an action figure works about as well as the Invisible Woman.

It's not a problem with her powers or anything - like most of the Minutemen Crimebusters, she's just good at physical violence. No, the problem is her costume. It's a sheer dress worn over a black, French-cut unitard with a deep V neck: the type of thing that works great in art (and in real life), but is murder on an action figure. How do you take something that's essentially gossamer and turn it into solid plastic? Well, if you're Mattel, you do exactly what DC Direct planned to do in 2000: create a translucent plastic shell that fits over the figure. Of course, DCD was going to use stiff ABS plastic, while Mattel used a softer, more flexible PVC, but it's still a sheath over the figure. Since the only other option was a softgoods dress (which would have had its transparency ruined by giant seams), this was probably the best way to go. Her arms are new sculpts, since putting a rubber sleeve around the normal arms would have been too thick - instead, the baggy lower edges are sculpted. She also gets Black Canary's high heels, because girls love it when they can share shoes. [Sexist. --ed.]

The figure's head definitely has a resemblance to Dave Gibbons' artwork, but there's also an undeniable "Four Horsemen-ness" to the sculpt. This is the first plain human face we've seen yet, and it seems to be splitting the difference between the comic art and the DCUC figures' style. She has her S earrings, but her choker is just a golden blob rather than the tiny skull she actually wore. And why doesn't she have her mole? She's supposed to have a little mole just under her right eye, but it's missing. And judging by the comics, her eyes should be purple, not blue.

Speaking of the paint, there's one area that's really neat. Because her arms are solid, they aren't going to look like the rest of her dress, right? So Mattel faked it by airbrushing a hint of pink paint around the elbows and near the shoulders. It's very subtle, and easy to overlook, but it creates the impression of the thin fabric pressing against her skin. Well played, Matty; well played. Not even Rustin could hate it! The color-matching between her arms and her dress is very good, too. The black straps of her shoes are painted on her ankles.

Silk Spectre has hinged ankles, hinged knees, swivel thighs, swivel/hinge hips, a swivel waist, swivel wrists, hinged elbows, swivel/hinge shoulders and a balljointed neck. You may notice that's a smaller assortment of joints than Mattel's already sub-par standards: she doesn't have any biceps swivels, nor any sort of torso hinge. The chest makes sense, since the dress probably wouldn't flex well enough to accommodate it. It does flex out of the way of the legs well enough though, and the entire thing turns when you twist her waist.

The figure has no accessories, other than the standard WATCHMEN base. It's not like she uses anything regularly in the comics, but this is just endemic to Mattel's halfassery and wasted potential on this toyline. Every character should, at minimum, come with at least one accessory. Give Laurie the gun she uses to shoot Ozymandius. Give her a "floating" display stand for Dr. Manhattan, since he for some idiot reason didn't come with one. Give her a bottle of Nostalgia (with a swirl of perfume spilling out of it) to throw at the glass palace on Mars. Hell, give us a tiny glass palace! This is a premium line, but aside from the fancy packaging, the execution is bare bones.

Mattel's Silk Spectre toy is a better representation of the character than their Dr. Manhattan was, but she's still disappointing. Not because there's anything wrong with her, but because this is a 30-some-odd dollar toy, and Mattel couldn't be arsed to sweeten the deal by including any clever pack-ins.

-- 07/03/13

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