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Professor Zoom

DCD Flashpoint
by Rustin Parr

Direct has been partnering with Graphitti Designs for several years now to bring us Convention Exclusive action figures. The pinnacle of despair offered by this Dynamic Duo was the ill-famed "Rainbow Hals" of 2009 which redefined "con drama" and is the the kind of headache-ery we have come to expect. Thus, when they let it be known that instead of White Lantern Batman and Flash (the exclusives offered at C2E2 and WonderCon in the spring) they would be bringing a new and different exclusive to SDCC, we all groaned in anticipatory horror. Then, a few weeks before the con, it was revealed to be Professor Zoom, a.k.a. the Reverse Flash, to tie-in with the Flashpoint event running currently through DC Comics and the world offered back a resounding shrug of antipathy. Therefore we ended up with a decent figure that was a pleasure to acquire.

This is not a dream... but it could be Barry Allen's nightmare! The world as Barry Allen knows it has changed. With humankind on the abyss's edge of a cataclysmic war, Earth's Greatest Heroes are nowhere to be found. It's up to Cyborg, America's last hope, to gather forces new and old across the universe. If the Flash can't find the villain who altered the timeline, the world may have no future at all.

Unsurprisingly the sculpt is identical to the Flash figure from Flashpoint Series 1, save for the head. It is a fine sculpt, but following the last few series of Blackest Night it is somewhat disappointing in that DCD has simply reverted back to its under-articulated days. That's not to say it's nearly as bad as Kingdom Come or lines of that era; in fact, Zoom has 11 points at all the usual places (knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, wrists and neck) but what is conspicuously missing is the bicep articulation they've been doing recently (not to mention waist or rib-cage articulation, which would add a lot in terms of realistically posing this runner). I didn't realize "how much I'd miss it till it was gone," and while I never thought the bicep joint was particularly great or subtle on the previous figures from DCD it's just... well, as I say it's just a conspicuous absense.

Beyond that though, the sculpt is a decent one but with some slightly odd proportions. For instance, the torso feels a little too long, especially in the stomach area. It also presents that inexplicable sculptural feature that must be a nice treat for sculptors but is just confusing and annoying to collectors - the subtle waist twist (as seen most famously and most pronounced on Blackest Night John Stewart). Regardless, the real rock star piece of this figure is, unsurprisingly, the head.

Not only is it the only sculptural difference to the upcoming Flash figure, the head has an incredible volume of character. This guy just looks like a bastard. His face is all bunched up in a dickish grin and scowly brow. It really is one of the more impressive portraits we've seen on any toy in a long time and a strong reminder of DCD's strength (the sculpting). Zoom's head has a perfect mix of realistic expression and exaggerated features to make him an ideal representation of an artist's drawing. Unlike any piece I can recall seeing recently it fully captures and exhibits the nature and attitude of the character in a way that is wholly recognizable. If you saw this face walking down the street you'd know immediately that this guy was a douchebag, and it has the same effect here.

Most times head sculpt "clicks" because we do half the work ourselves, overlaying our own knowledge of a character onto the sculpt making it more recognizable and filling in the emotion. That's exactly why, more often than not, we prefer faces to be in a neutral expression, just like the figure's pose, so that we can project whatever emotion or expression we'd like on to it. Part of that has to do with the ownership we feel over the characters and why rarely does any toy "get it right" for everyone - we each have our own individual "true" nature of the character. But a bigger part is that it is incredibly difficult to get across subtlty and true physical character at 1/12th scale. But Zoom here... man! He swings for the fences and delivers in every conceivable (sculptural) sense.

Other than the cranky-faced head, the paint is the other major differentiator by effectively reversing Flash's color scheme - red becomes yellow; yellow, red; white, black. In general the paint is really crisp and clean on the body. It's not until we get to the face that we encounter room for improvement. The head is cast in the semi-translucent fleshtone that has become DCD's standard, but with such specialized detailing and thin paint areas the mask/cowl gets rough around the edges and even a bit spotty here and there. It's not bad enough to be a real deal-breaker, but certainly knocks down the coolness of the head sculpt a few pegs.

The figure comes carded in the same packaging as the upcoming Flashpoint figures, so he'll fit right in. Sadly he doesn't have the "collector-friendly," resealable packaging seen on the White Lanterns, but like them he does have some stickers on the bubble denoting both the convention he's exclusive to and the production run, which in this case is a whoppping 4,000. That's right, they made over double of him what they did for any of the single Rainbow Hals or of last year's figures. They finally got it - drama decreases as supply increases to meet demand. However, though Zoom is a reasonably popular character and has been playing a larger role in the DCU of late, there just isn't a lot of demand for him, especially as a one-off exclusive (meaning, there's no sense of a "set" or companion, like what helped boost interest in the Lantern figures which came out in pairs or quads). The fact that he wasn't a major character or hero hurt his "passerby" draw as well, which no doubt helped helped the Hals, Batmen and Flashes of yore. As a result, unlike any figure DCD/Graphitti has released in the last two years, I was able to walk right up to the booth on Friday afternoon and buy the figure. Yet, though there was no line that doesn't mean there wasn't a hassle.

I picked up this figure 60% for the head sculpt, 20% because he was a hassle-free purchase and 20% in order to offer this commentary on the ever bizarre choices of the DCD/Graphitti union. He's not really worth the hassle presented by the previous years but without it, and as the first "proper" Reverse Flash figure (considering he could be just a straight repaint, it's surprsing how few Zoom figures there have been, and all have come from a line with a very specific aesthetic, like Total Justice spin-off JLA and DCD's own JLA: Classified), he's worth tracking down and adding to your collection. In fact, if he's not up now, I'd imagine shortly he will available directly from Graffitti's website (like White Lantern Sinestro and White Lantern Hal were last year after NYCC). This is a very strong figure and most of that comes from the incomparable head sculpt. I doubt anyone in any scale will come closer to capturing the face, expression and tone of this venerable malcontent.

-- 08/12/11

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