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Silk Spectre (modern)

DCD Watchmen
by Artemis

Are you one of those people who automatically hates anything that becomes mainstream? You know the ones - they complained about Megatron not being a gun in the Transformers movie, and couldn't believe Tom Bombadil wasn't in Lord of the Rings, and threatened suicide when Wolverine didn't wear yellow spandex. Well if you are one of those people, and you're busy pre-hating Watchmen and everything to do with it, stick around - you're going to love this review.

Laurie Juspeczyk is the daughter of Sally Jupiter, the original Silk Spectre. She was born shortly after Sally Jupiter quit the Minutemen for a career in advertising. Sally regretted giving up the life of a costumed adventurer and encouraged Laurie to take up the Spectre identity when Laurie was young and so she fought crime for ten years before the Keene Act banned vigilantes. Laurie is a skilled combatant and has been trained from birth in gymnastics and the martial arts. However, she has neither the drive nor the enthusiasm for crimefighting her mother had.

That's from a Watchmen RPG sourcebook published in 1987, since DC Direct skipped their usual perfunctory bios in favour of a single blurb for Watchmen in general. Now, in the interests of balance, I should preface this by saying that I'm not much of a Watchmen fan, nor ever was. I don't really dislike it - there's a more than ample supply of comics far more deserving of my vitriol - but I'd still say that Watchmen may think it's all that, Kim Possible, but it's not. While we're standing up and doing the AA thing, though, I'll counter that by saying that, unlike a significant segment of the toy-buying fanboy public, I do like DC Direct - oh, I may bitch about articulation, but basically I buy figures to stand on my shelves looking pretty (by whatever standard they're supposed to - "pretty" isn't exactly the word I'd choose for Szaltax), and if a figure does that, I don't care if it's made of nothing but balljoints, or just a statue. So for my money, a good DC Direct figure is a good figure, end of story.

This one? Is not a good figure.

The first optimistic Tommy to go over the top and get ripped to shreds by machine-gun fire is her costume, but I'm not holding that against the figure on technical merit, since it's more or less supposed to look like that. I just find it awkward that you can put a well-built woman into a costume with black PVC, thigh boots, suspenders, opera gloves, a corset and visible nipples, and have her look un-sexy, but she does. Mind you, fans would argue that it's a subversive dig at the hyper-sexualised glamour-fetish costumes of early pulp superheroines, and that may well be the case, but bite me, it's still unflattering. I certainly wouldn't wear it; it doesn't show off the legs, for one thing.

It's sculpted well, though, with sufficient fine detail around the suspenders and zipper and belt, the boning and laces on the corset, tiny fabric stretches in the PVC, and even tiny stuff like the design of the seams on her boots. The paintwork isn't quite up to the same standard, though - in broad strokes it's sufficient to pass muster, with glossy black and nice bright yellow. The zipper's good too, but the belt is a problem area, with some messy delineation where it meets the black PVC around it, and silver mess on black stands out like Iron Man in a Justice League story.

Her face isn't bad work - I haven't paid a great deal of attention to the actor playing her for the movie, but my impression is that it's a fair likeness. Unfortunately she's got the world's worst eye shadow, a blue ink application above her eyes all the way up to her hairline - well above the brow line - that's pooled at the corners, as haphazardly-applied ink will do. Good gods, people, I've painted better eye shadow on Warhammer 40,000 figures smaller than this figure's head. The shadow has the effect of taking her interesting features - a sharp nose, discontentedly pursed lips, slightly heavy cheeks - and accentuating them into the stratosphere, making her look like a disgruntled brothel madame. For what it's worth, the drybrushing on her hair is pretty decent - rich brown over a dark base, and a shallow sculpt, not an easy task.

And now we come to articulation, where DC Direct traditionally takes it up the freckle, and for once I'm inclined to agree with the whinging fanboys. She's got a balljoint neck at the base, hidden within her collar like several of the Art Asylum/Diamond Select Star Trek figures of late - it's not as flexible as a high neck joint would be, but it's effectively invisible, so I'm inclined to like it in the case of display-oriented figures. The usual swivel/pin shoulders and pin elbows round out the arms, and then for the rest there's... swivel thighs. That's right folks, if you want to display Silk Spectre with her legs in exactly the same pose as they are when you unpack her, just with the foot facing sideways and the mid-thigh obviously out of alignment, now you can! What the hell were they thinking? Presumably some simian at DC Direct's design hovel looked at the suspenders and thought: "Ug, makes hip joint difficult. No hip joint! Job done, me want banana reward!" and that was that. I never expected her to be especially poseable, knowing what DC Direct are like, but this is just appalling design.

Since she's incapable of standing on her own she comes with a generic Watchmen base, a square segment of walkway designed to join up with the bases of the other figures. The base comes with a trapezoidal clamp to hold it to its adjacent base, if you have one, but instead of having pegs built into it, it comes with two peg pieces, which fit through two of three molded sockets in the base from below. On the one hand, okay, that lets you put the pegs where you want, within reason (though since Silk Spectre only has one peg hole, in her right foot, that's of limited use), but on the other, it means that no matter what you do you're going to end up with a hole left over in the base.

So in conclusion, this is quite a bad action figure, even if, like me, you're happy to accept DC Direct's usual shortfalls. The articulation is useless for even the subtle posing tweaks you can normally achieve with these figures, her pre-set pose is very boring, and her face is wrecked by that stupid watery eye shadow. Avoid.

-- 01/30/09

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