Monday, May 16, 2011

The Lesser Of Two Doctor Manhattan Figures, The Standard Watchmen Manhattan Figure Flops.

The Good: Incredible sculpt, Decent enough accessories
The Bad: Low poseability, There's a better variant figure
The Basics: An almost-animated version of Doctor Manhattan, the standard-release action figure from DC Direct disappoints Watchmen fans.

Variant action figures have long been of interest to me. After all, there may be quite the pleasant surprise for fans of action figures and collectors when they discover that what they thought was one action figure turns out to be something else; a limited variant. But sometimes, variants are made the way the figure should have been mass produced. In the case of the Watchmen action figures, this is how the Doctor Manhattan figure should have been made. There was a limited edition variant (reviewed here!) that differed from the original action figure only in that it was translucent. This better captures the concept of the character than the standard version.

The standard Doctor Manhattan action figure is identical to the variant in every way, save that it is cast in an opaque powder blue plastic that looks horrible unless the figure is stuck under a blacklight. Cast in the same molds, graced with the same accessories and with the same details, the mass-produced Doctor Manhattan action figure looks more cartoonish than realistic and those who love the film version of Watchmen will not want this version in their collections.


To support the film Watchmen (reviewed here!), DC Direct released two series of Watchmen action figures. Apparently, in the late 1990s or early 2000s, there was a planned series of figures which were based upon the graphic novel, which never got off the ground. With the film's release, though, there was a renewed interest in the line and an ability to create a higher caliber of action figure. DC direct opted not to miss out on the option and they created eight figures based upon the cinematic representations of the essential Watchmen characters.

Arguably one of the most important is Dr. Manhattan, who was played by Billy Crudup in the film and is now immortalized in plastic thanks to DC Direct. The standard-release figure is the same sculpt as the variant Dr. Manhattan figure, save that this one was cast in opaque blue plastic, which is not quite how the character looks in the movie, but is more faithful to the comic book version of Doctor Manhattan.

Standing 7" (or 7 5/8" if one uses the other legs) tall, Dr. Manhattan is a near-naked, well-chiseled man who could be virtually any comic book super hero. The DC Direct action figure features such details as the eyes without pupils and the tiny symbol he carved into his own forehead. The symbol, essentially a hydrogen atom on his forehead, is a decal or painted detail and is not molded into the figure, but it looks good and stands out appropriately. Dr. Manhattan comes with two pairs of legs and, no, he is not naked with either pair. In the movie, Dr. Manhattan is a floating blue man who frequently does not wear clothes because he does not need to. As a result, he is frequently seen floating around with his penis hanging out. One assumes that Dr. Manhattan is immortalized with his occasional briefs because there is some sort of action figure code that presents him from being cast with full anatomic realism.

That said, this is a pretty cool figure which features two sets of legs which pop out at the waist so they can be easily exchanged. Dr. Manhattan may stand bowlegged (or sit on the edge of one's desk, watching you as you type a review) or may be posed with the legs together legs levitating in a Christlike fashion on his special base. The action figure is light on shading or coloring details, having only a monotonal blue flesh tone to it.


Doctor Manhattan has the ability to change matter with his thoughts and as such, the interchangeable legs are mostly all the accessory he needs! However, Dr. Manhattan still comes with the standard Watchmen 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 Dr. Manhattan's standard legs have a hole that fits the peg in his right foot. The other two holes may either be filled in or left unpegged. The base also comes with a simple connector which latches together Dr. Manhattan's base with the base of any of the other Watchmen figures; all of the bases seem to be identical.

Dr. Manhattan also comes with a special base for the variant legs. The legs that have the feet together, pointing downward would otherwise not stand. As a result, DC Direct included a 1 1/2" tall clear plastic stand which plugs into both feet and the base when one uses one of the peg plugs. This both supports the figure perfectly with the variant legs and looks cool, like Dr. Manhattan is levitating upward!


Let's be honest; Watchmen is an adult film. 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 Dr. Manhattan, come with are designed for support and display, as opposed to play.

Still, with his standard legs in, Dr. Manhattan is a pretty cool action figure. Gifted with nine points of articulation, Dr. Manhattan is adequately poseable for those who do put him on display. He has joints at the knees, groin socket, shoulders, elbows and neck. With the variant legs, he loses all poseability below the waist. 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 Dr. Manhattan 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.


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 Doctor Manhattan figure was re-released, but the variant was not. The standard Dr. Manhattan has therefore devalued below the $15.00 range and is likely to be the pegwarmer (alongside Ozymandias) in the re-release.


Intriguing, but not as cool as the variant, the standard release Dr. Manhattan action figures is easy for fans of Watchmen to pass by.

For other figures from Watchmen, please check out my reviews of:
Silk Spectre (Modern)
Silk Spectre (Classic)
Nite Owl (Modern)
Nite Owl (Classic)


For other action figure reviews, please visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!

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