Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Pinup Who Is Barely Able To Stand, "Silk Spectre" Is An Unsatisfying Action Figure.

The Good: Generally good (accurate) appearance
The Bad: Massively overproduced, Poor articulation, Poor balance
The Basics: Looks good, but the Silk Spectre (Classic) action figure falls down when out of the package (literally!).

There are few things in merchandising that depress me as a feminist as much as substandard figures of female characters in a toy line dominated by generally excellent sculpts of male characters. Unfortunately, that is where I find the Watchmen toy line with its heroic men easily outstripping the two anemic, unbalanced versions of Silk Spectre made in the line. Unfortunately, after checking out the first series Silk Spectre (Modern or Silk Spectre II) action figure, I bought the second series Silk Spectre and found myself equally disappointed.

The second Silk Spectre figure is the embodiment of the Classic 1940s Silk Spectre character from Watchmen, Sally Jupiter. The character in the film was little more than a 1940s Pinup who has an unfortunate encounter with The Comedian and ultimately retires, but pressures her daughter, Laurie, to become a costumed vigilante years later. Unfortunately, just as the first figure had its flaws, the less-recognizable Silk Spectre action figure is unfortunately unposeable and unbalanced, making for a poor toy and collectible.


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. The second collection of figures featured the Classic Silk Spectre action figure as one of the four figures released simultaneous with the film.

Arguably one of the least desired characters in Watchmen to merchandise was Silk Spectre (I, henceforth simply "Silk Spectre"), who was played by Carla Gugino in the film and is now immortalized in plastic thanks to DC Direct. There is only the one figure of Gugino's Silk Spectre; there is another of her daughter, Laurie Jupiter as Silk Spectre II. Those looking for a figure of Sally - for those looking to have alter egos, an aged Sally in the nursing home would be cool - outside her outfit will have to wait quite a long time or find someone who does custom figures. This is highly unlikely as the older Sally Jupiter - and a younger one outside her costume - was a support character and her purpose was far more in the realm of dialogue as opposed to conflict.

Standing 6 1/4" tall to the top of her head, Silk Spectre is a lightly coifed woman who looks like a 1930's/40's Pinup girl complete with ruffled skirt and a garter belt. The DC Direct action figure features such details as the fishnet stockings, painted on garter snaps, and meticulous button details down the figure's chest. Silk Spectre is cast with pretty extraordinary casting details, so her outfit looks precisely as it did in the film, including the gloss of the leather breastplate that protects her heart and waist. Silk Spectre's boots look kinky with their very high heels and her hands are molded open as if to entice or slap her fellow figures.

All of Silk Spectre's face is visible, as she does not wear a mask and it looks well-sculpted and generally well-colored. The lips are thin and red and her eyes are a sharp blue; she is even detailed with painted on eyelashes. As well, her cheeks bear rouge and her pupils are appropriately black. Her short red hair even includes accents so she looks like she has real hair, not a helmet! In fact, given the somewhat elaborate hairdo with the swept back hair and then shoulder length back, it is astonishing how well DC Direct got the sculpt of Silk Spectre's head.


Silk Spectre 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 Silk Spectre has a hole that fits the peg in her 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 Silk Spectre's base with the base of any of the other Watchmen figures; all of the bases seem to be identical.

The lack of accessories for Silk Spectre is predictable and on par with the other figures in this line. Sally is not seen using any accessories in the film. At least the figure isn't ruined by accessories that don't fit her!


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 Silk Spectre, come with are designed for support and display, as opposed to play. The fundamental problem with the Silk Spectre action figure is that it is virtually unposeable.

On the principles, Silk Spectre is a pretty cool action figure, but once she comes out of her package her extreme weaknesses become easily apparent. Granted only seven points of articulation, Silk Spectre is poseable in incredibly limited ways. With one of the joints being utterly pointless - the thighs have a swivel joint that essentially allows Silk Spectre to point her toes to the sides as opposed to straight ahead - Silk Spectre is low on poseability and likely to disappoint even those who put her on display. She has joints at the thighs, shoulders, wrists, and neck. The joints make for a decent range of motion, but the lack of elbow joints is especially disappointing. The shoulders are ball and socket joints, so Silk Spectre may flail straight-armed. The lack of leg articulation means Silk Spectre can not be posed sauntering down stairs or crouching or even being bent over by an abusive vigilante. She cannot even be posed to run away! Instead, she may be posed to look like a Pinup girl standing somewhat seductively. At least the head is a ball and socket joint, so she may look in a great number of directions.

Also lame is the fact that Silk Spectre has absolutely terrible balance. Her feet may not really be moved, but she only stands up when her foot is in the foot peg. Sadly, there is only one foot-peg to prevent those using this as a display piece from knocking the figure over very easily. This is annoying, as when Silk Spectre actually was one of the most flexible characters in the film!


DC Direct seemed to gauge about the right amount of interest in the Watchmen figures and with the DVD release, they re-released most of the figures again. This Silk Spectre is one of only two figures not to be returning to shelves with the re-release of the toy line. This is unsurprising as many of the initial run remain at the stores as this was one of the pegwarmers from the toy line. Silk Spectre is incredibly easy to find and one suspects that those who want one already have her. In other words, this is a terrible investment piece and only die-hard fans will want one.


One need not have high hopes for an action figure to want it to do such simple things as stand and be posed in more than one interesting pose. Unfortunately, the Silk Spectre figure fails with that basic litmus test and may easily be avoided by fans of the cinematic Watchmen.

For other figures from Watchmen, please check out my reviews of:
Nite Owl (Modern)
Nite Owl (Classic)
Limited Edition Dr. Manhattan


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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