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El Diablo

Suicide Squad
by yo go re

When the first photo of the cast of Suicide Squad was released, it was mockingly called Homies: The Movie, because everybody's costumes looked like those old vending machine toys. None so much as Diablo.

His face bearing a tattooed skull, this one-time gang member can create and manipulate fire to do his bidding. But Diablo is haunted by the misdeeds of his past, and if he allows his temper to flare, there's no telling how much destruction he might cause.

This version of El Diablo is Chato Santana, who was created for a comic pretty much no one read in 2008. He was basically "luchador Ghost Rider," but not nearly as cool as that description makes him sound. Chato was an update of the El Diablo created in 1989, Rafael Sandoval, who was himself an update of the El Diablo created in 1970 (whom you'll remember as the Zorro-lookin' guy on that Western episode of Justice League Unlimited). Anyway, Diablo was meant to be a Walmart exclusive figure, just like Rick Flag, but if you'd asked me a week ago, I'd have told you without a doubt that he'd been cancelled. Then, a random trip to Five Below changed my mind.

The first two El Diablos [I believe you mean "Los Diablos" --ed.] wore black-and-red costumes, while the third went for black and white. Naturally, the New 52 reboot turned him into a tatted-up cholo, and that's what the movie went for as well. Looking to save money on the paint apps, Mattel sculpted him wearing his letterman jacket rather than just his tank top. The back has the logo of Thee Hillsiders [sic], and he's got his name embroidered on the breast - just "Diablo," since he apparently lost his "El" somewhere along the way. He's also wearing grey chinos and white sneakers, though the sculpt of the shoes has a ridiculously wide toe, and there's a black stripe painted in the side when the ones he wore in the movie were solid white.

Mattel can cover up all the body they want, but they're still going to have to paint the tattoos on Diablo's head. They... did their best. They got things right in broad strokes - the "DIABLO" letters on his chin, the scythe on his forehead, the seven hashmarks over his right eye, the HS13 on the back of his scalp - but he's missing the skeletal cheeks entirely, and skull tattoos that are there lack the proper kind of blending from solid to faded. This is a design that really called for the sort of printing technology that Hasbro has started using for its movie figures.

Diablo's articulation is no better than any other Mattel DC figure, but neither is it any worse. He has a balljointed head (which can actually move up and down a little bit for a change), swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, swivel wrists, a hinged torso, swivel waist, H-hips, swivel thighs, hinged knees and hinged ankles. His jacket hangs over his torso and waist, obviously, but it's soft PVC so it flexes out of the way. This is still disappointing, because that kind of let-down is precisely what we expect from Mattel.

And hey, speaking of which: to show off his powers, Diablo has alternate hands with flames shooting off them - or rather, he has alternate hands without flame shooting off them, because he's wearing the fiery ones in the package. They're molded from translucent orange pastic, then the skin is painted. But because Mattel is the Mattelliest company to ever Mattel, it's nearly impossible to pop them off the arms - that's why there isn't a single image in this review that shows him with the plain hands on. If I'd been able to find this figure at Walmart, then sure, maybe I'd have risked breaking it when I knew I could just return it for another, but the toy is too rare for that.

Actually, if I were a less scrupulous person, I might try it: Five Below sells the figure for $5; Walmart is the only major retailer that still doesn't require receipts for returns; if this was their exclusive, its bar code should still be in the computers; in theory, I could take this toy back there and get more money for it than I spent. But that's a lot of hassle for very little reward, and really isn't worth the effort. Diablo will just have to make do with never being "flamed off."

-- 12/07/17

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