Monday, March 7, 2011

Two Little Details Rob One Of The Coolest Watchmen Figures Of Perfection: Nite Owl (Modern)!

The Good: Awesome sculpt, Decent poseability, Fine accessories
The Bad: Terrible balance, Belt ornament detaches!
The Basics: Wonderfully poseable, but poorly balanced, Nite Owl II (the Modern Nite Owl in Watchmen) makes for a pretty cool display piece!

For all of my love of the cinematic Watchmen, which (as heretical as it is) I enjoyed more than the graphic novel (reviewed here!), it is surprising it has taken me so long to collect and evaluate the action figures. Indeed, up until now, I've only managed to review a handful and this was largely because the initial release price of these figures (most outlets had them for $19.99!) seemed steep to me. Sure, I loved the film, but was I truly ready to decorate some shelves with figures from the movie at that price?! My answer, until I snagged some great eBay deals, was "no."

Now, though, as the prices on the Watchmen figures plummet (owing largely to the manufacturer re-releasing the generally limited toys), I've picked up enough to make it worth my while to open them up and review! One of the figures I was especially happy to snag was the Nite Owl II - officially called "Nite Owl (Modern)" - figure. Sure, it looks most like the traditional superhero film costume, but it was pretty cool and this one seemed harder to find than most of the Watchmen figures.


To support the film Watchmen (reviewed here!), DC Direct released two series of Watchmen action figures. DC Direct was tapped because they had the ability to create a higher caliber of action figure, based on the film characters. DC Direct created only eight figures based upon the cinematic representations of the essential Watchmen characters.

Arguably one of the most empathetic characters in Watchmen is Nite Owl II (henceforth referred to as "Nite Owl"), who was played by Patrick Wilson in the film and is now immortalized in plastic thanks to DC Direct. There is only the one figure of Wilson's Nite Owl; those hoping for a Dan Dreiberg character will have to wait until this cult-classic gets its second or third wind (like the way Scarface figures popped up on the market a few years ago).

Standing 6 3/4" tall to the top of his finned helmet, Nite Owl is a heavily-armored, well-protected man with the traditional superhero mask and cape. The DC Direct action figure features such details as the goggles which obscure the eyes, the crescent moon belt buckle and the segmented portions of the armor which allow Nite Owl both to move and be protected. Nite Owl is cast with pretty extraordinary casting details, so his armor looks like it is downy (like an owl) which was the intent of the actual costume. Nite Owl's boots look heavy and solid with the molded texture to the top and the fist Nite Owl's right hand is in looks ready to deliver a whollop of a punch!

The lower half of Nite Owl's face is visible under the mask and it looks well-sculpted and generally well-colored. The lips are thin and pink, but that seems realistic and the figure looks quite precisely like Nite Owl.


Nite Owl only comes with the standard Watchman base. The base is a 2 1/2" plastic square that raises the figure 1/2" off the display surface and most closely resembles a section of suspension bridge. The base has three holes in it, through which one of the two pegs that come with the figure may be placed. The peg is designed to go into a hole in the figure's foot and Nite Owl has a hole that fits the peg in his right foot only. The other two holes may either be filled in or left unpegged. The base also comes with a simple connector which latches together Nite Owl's base with the base of any of the other Watchmen figures; all of the bases seem to be identical.

While the lack of accessories might seem irksome, Nite Owl II did not use any weaponry or tools in the film (well, not that could fit into the package. . .).


Watchmen is an adult film and as a result, most everyone who picks these figures up will be using them for display, not play. DC Direct seemed to figure this out well in advance and the bases that the figures, like Nite Owl, come with are designed for support and display, as opposed to play. This might also be why the figure has a disappointing fault; the crescent belt buckle falls off the figure remarkably easily, especially if Nite Owl's left leg is raised.

Still, Nite Owl is a pretty cool action figure. Gifted with eleven points of articulation, Nite Owl is adequately poseable for those who do put him on display. He has joints at the knees, groin socket, shoulders, elbows, wrists and neck. The joints make for a decent range of motion, with the knees and elbows being standard hinge joints. The shoulders are ball and socket joints, so Nite Owl may make most of the poses he makes in the film! As well, the head is a ball and socket joint, so he may look in a great number of directions. This is a pretty cool figure that makes use of the medium quite well.

Unfortunately, Nite Owl has terrible balance. His feet may not be moved out of a flatfooted position and the fact that there is only one foot-peg prevents those using this as a display piece from knocking the figure over very easily. Moreover, it must be posed flatfooted! This is annoying, as when Nite Owl topples, the belt buckle frequently falls out!


DC Direct seemed to gauge about the right amount of interest in the Watchmen figures and with theDVD release, theyre-released most of the figures again. This Nite Owl is one of the figures re-released, which is probably what is currently depressing the market on these figures. Nite Owl had been very hard to find and had appreciated to over $25.00, making it seem like it might be a strong investment piece. With the re-release, one suspects demand will be met and these will hover at or below their original release price.


The Watchmen figures are all right and Nite Owl is a wonderful addition to that collection that fans will want to get (far more than the first generation Nite Owl figure, which has been a pegwarmer and is reviewed here!).

For other Watchmen figure reviews, please check out my takes on:
Dr. Manhattan (limited variant)


For other toy reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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