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Red Tornado

DC Universe Classics
by Poe Ghostal

Of all the characters in the first DC Universe Classics series, this is the one I knew the least about (well, aside from Metamorpho). I still don't know much about him, other than he's apparently some sort of android imbued with the elemental spirit of wind (?). Something like that. I've been trying to find out more, but DC comics are notoriously complicated these days. Good thing there's a clear, concise bio right on the back of the package then, isn't it?

Red Tornado came into being when a living cyclone, originally called Tornado Tyrant, from the planet Rann, was fused to an adroid body by the scientist T.O. Morrow. Although he was originally created to destroy the Justice League of America, Red Tornado instead disobeyed his programming and defeated his master, thus earning the android membership in a grateful and forgiving JLA.

Wait, that just raises even more questions! Sounds familiar, too.

Red Tornado provides the new "default" body type for the DC line. This is the body that will be used for generic, well-muscled characters - in other words, Mattel's equivalent of the Marvel Legends Bullseye body. There will also be a more slender body type used for characters such as Black Manta and Nightwing, starting with the second series.

Reddy has a fairly simple sculpt. The Horsemen's sculpts tend toward the more muscular side, particularly on their cartoon or comic figures. Their trademark "look" seems to be large, angled shoulders, and those are present here. They're probably slightly too buff for the character, but it's not something worth dwelling on. It's one thing when a superhero action figure is a little buff - it's quite another when it's Luke Skywalker. The only significant sculpted details on Red Tornado's body are the flaps of his buccaneer boots and gloves. RT also features a sculpted cape with a large collar, pretty much making him a sure bet for a Martian Manhunter retool.

Of the entire series, Red Tornado suffers the most in the paint department. He's obviously molded in red plastic and it shows; he doesn't look like he has a red suit on, or red skin - he looks like he's made out of red plastic. This is where a mass market figure often suffers. On a DC Direct figure, the red paint would probably have been applied, giving it a flatter, less toyish look. To save money on its huge production costs, Mattel simply molds the figure in red plastic. Though maybe that's not a mistake: as an adroid, Reddy doesn't have red skin or a red suit; he really is made out of red plastic (or whatever space-age material). It's not a flaw, it's a feature! Yeah, right.

The figure has a wash that minimizes the toyishness somewhat, but it's countered by the bright, thick paint applications on the yellow stripes. Again, they tend to make the figure look a little too much like a toy, particularly since they appear to have been put on after the wash had been applied. The paint work on the cape is actually a bit sloppy, and finding a Tornado without red splotches on the yellow stripes can be nigh impossible.

Fortunately, the plastic used in this line feels good to the touch - solid, and of high quality. I admit this one is hard to explain - you have to hold one in your hand to get it. However, there have been quite a few complaints about quality control on this line, so buyer beware - if you find these figures in a store, inspect the paint and joints closely before you pick them up. The only problem I have with all my figures is a slight deformity in the plastic of the right hip of my Batman - it's not very noticeable and poses no problem to the articulation. But others have found Batmen with the right leg completely detached, or with a large gap. Other common QC problems appear to be two of the same foot or two of the same thigh on Orion, and two of the same foot on Red Tornado. So give them the once-over.

Red Tornado comes with Metamorpho's left leg, a piece that fades from silver to clear and has all the usual Mattel DC articulation. But Reddy also comes with his own accessory: a little clear orange mini-tornado that can snap onto his hands. Since Red Tornado's powers, on the back of the card, indicate he's "able to generate powerful cyclones [and] fly at great speeds," it's a good choice - the other option would have been a tornado large enough to fit over his legs and hold him aloft - too big and expensive.

This is the "classic" Red Tornado; there's also a modern variant that is supposed to begin shipping in February or March. Since he won't have gloves or boots, there will be even less sculpted detail on him. For whatever reason, the picture on the back of all the cards is the modern Red Tornado, rather than the version that's actually been released. With five figures in the line and six figures in a case, you'd think including the variant would have been a given, but Mattel chose to pack two Batmen in the first shipments. If you want the modern Red Tornado, just be patient, and let's hope future series' variants are handled better.


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