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Silk Spectre (classic)

DCD Watchmen
by Artemis

As I write this, Watchmen is making its debut in Australian cinemas, and I'm not there. As alluded to in our previous Silk Spectre review, I don't really care that much, although the main reason I'm staying home is that I've just come out of four solid days of jury deliberations on a complex criminal case, which is pretty draining and not the kind of thing you really want to follow up with an evening in a crowded opening-night cinema packed with teenage idiots who idolize Rorschach because he's badass or something. Still, there's one pang of regret, and that's the fact that right now I could've been seeing Carla Gugino in this costume.

DC Direct's just gone with a standard Watchmen blurb on the back of the box, so we can't tell you anything much about Sally Jupiter, the original Silk Spectre, that you don't know already - she changed her last name from Juspeczyk to hide her Polish ancestry and took up crimefighting as the Silk Spectre in order to gain notoriety to promote her modeling career - but I do know who Gugino is: she's the reason I have no goddamn idea what was being discussed in that scene in Sin City when Marv turned up at her place in the middle of the night. This woman, slipped into a Bettie-Page-meets-Alberto-Vargas outfit (her description)? Oh hell yes!

Sally and her daughter Laurie didn't always see eye to eye on the whole heroing business, I gather, but at least one bone of contention between them can't have been "No daughter of mine is going out crime-fighting dressed like that!" - at least, not unless Sally was annoyed at the lack of bare skin. Her vigilante heyday ensemble is the kind of thing you'd find a burlesque performer in half-way through her act, pin-up lingerie with a side-order of fetishwear: a pale, gauzy yellow dress plus collar, corset, fishnet stockings and kinky boots; criminals must've been lining up to get captured by her.

The dress is the trickiest element, from an action figure point of view, semi-opaque and very thin - rather than go with frosted clear plastic (a la McFarlane's Mrs. Claus), which could have been a disaster had quality control dropped the ball even a fraction, DC Direct have opted for a standard painted sculpt - soft plastic for the skirt - with a fade from full yellow to pale yellow-grey to suggest the black of the underlying lingerie showing through where the dress is tight against it, around the abdomen and hips. The shading - a difficult task given the colours, and the desired effect - is quite well done, both in smoothness and distribution; they even bothered getting the outline of the bustier right, where the top edge of the bra cups shows slightly, both in colour and as an outline, through the dress as is runs up her chest.

Moving from the dress to what's inside it, Sally's physique is a knockout - luscious hips and thighs particularly, but also good shoulders front and back, and a nice flash of cleavage. The costume is sculpted well at all points, but the paint (dress aside) is unremarkable around the top edge of the corset, where the yellow of the dress shows too much at the border between them - the same problem you always get with imperfect edge painting, but the wrinkles in the dress magnify it somewhat. The laces on the corset, front and back, and on her collar, are also a bit plain, with no paint picking them out, but on the plus side there's good colour work on the fabrics of her lingerie, most visibly the smoky greys of her underwear, and also effective use of finishes, with the boots and glove nice and shiny.

Carla is well-cast as a pin-up goddess, and hair and makeup didn't let her down in augmenting her natural beauty to turn her into Sally. Thankfully DC Direct didn't falter - her face is all kinds of lovely, and quite expressive besides. Her shapely lips are picked out in glossy red, with a wash to darken the mouth line between them, and her green eyes have a good shine to them, looking up from beneath her brows; she's not turning on the sex appeal exactly, more using it as a controlled method of staring down whatever she's staring at. She's got one of those elaborately controlled '40s/50s glamour hairstyles (along with a vague similarity in the face, it reminds me of [Doctor Who companion] Ace from The Curse of Fenric), sculpted cleanly, and with a restrained wash letting the primary colour show through rather than darkening it too much.

Sally's only accessory is her base, the same steel walkway segment her daughter got, which lets me try out the joining feature they have, with the clip (each base includes one) fitting over the middle of the curved lower strut to hold them side to side. It's a good tight fit, but - probably inevitably on a production line - the silver highlight isn't quite the same on both bases, with Sally's being brighter, rather ruining the effect. All other comments for Laurie's base apply to Sally's, the three sockets for the two included pegs (leaving one vacant) and so on; although Sally's default pose is with one leg forward, both feet are flat, and the peg fit in the right is tight, so I don't imagine stability will be an issue unless her pose is dramatically changed.

Suggesting that articulation isn't hereditary, Sally manages quite a decent range of mobility - nothing hugely dramatic along the lines of Street Fighter or Marvel Legends, more geared towards fine-tuning her pose, but offering far more in that area than DC Direct generally provides. Of course there's the balljoint neck, which her hair leaves quite free, then peg shoulders (for low visibility), pin elbows, and a swivel on each arm, the right at the glove top at the bicep, the left at the wrist beneath her bracelet. She has the usual peg hips and pin knees, both hidden to some extent, the hips by her skirt and the knees by her stockings. Of course there are joints that would've been superb had they been included - a swivel or even ball waist, beneath the skirt, for one, and of course ankles of some sort - but for a DC Direct figure the arm swivels, and the ability to utilize the hips and knees without worrying about aesthetics overmuch, is quite satisfying.

It's natural to compare Sally to her daughter, and I suppose I have to give Laurie a slight edge in costume practicality - not much, with the stiletto heels and PVC corset, but at least she's not just gone out crime-fighting in her underwear. But I'll take eccentric and gorgeous over vaguely-plausible and boring any day, and in every other respect, Sally kicks her kid's ass. If you only buy one Silk Spectre, make it this one.

-- 03/09/09

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