The Good: Generally good sculpt
The Bad: Poorly assembled, Unposeable, Terrible balance
The Basics: Decent on the generalities, a closer look at the Silk Spectre II action figure reveals a toy riddled with problems, from a lack of balance to an inability to pose.
Those who follow my reviews know of my enthusiasm for the cinematic version of Watchmen and its revitalization on the DVD. So when there is a Watchmen product that I am not recommending, it truly says something. It says a lot, especially, when I am not recommending a product that is designed to capitalize on the sex appeal of the modern Silk Spectre (Silk Spectre II, Laurie Jupiter). So, when I fail to recommend the Silk Spectre II action figure (henceforth referred to simply as "Silk Spectre"), it's quite a crushing lack of endorsement.
Yet, that is exactly where I fall on the Silk Spectre figure, despite there being only two women in the Watchmen toy line (or, prominently, in the film). The Silk Spectre figure is plagued by poor balance, almost no articulation and my Silk Spectre figure was assembled such that the parts do not even line up correctly! Despite being a generally good sculpt of the cinematic version of Laurie Jupiter as Silk Spectre, this toy tanks for anyone who bothers to take the action figure out of the package!
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 fun and desirable characters in Watchmen to merchandise is Silk Spectre, who was played by Malin Ackerman in the film and is now immortalized in plastic thanks to DC Direct. There is only the one figure of Ackerman's Silk Spectre; there is another of her mother, Sally Jupiter as Silk Spectre for the classic Silk Spectre. Those looking for a figure of Laurie outside her outfit (why would anyone want that?!) will have to wait quite a long time or find someone who does custom figures. Of course, before we get a Laurie Jupiter figure, a decent figure of Silk Spectre II would be nice.
Standing 6 3/8" tall to the top of her head, Silk Spectre is a lightly coifed woman who seems to bank on men being surprised at seeing a woman fighting in pleather, high boots and a garter belt for protection. The DC Direct action figure features such details as the zipper down the front, the long hair and the high heel boots. 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 pleather and the almost invisible skirt poking out from the bodysuit. Silk Spectre's boots look kinky with their very high heels and her hands are molded into fists, ready to deliver quite a punch!
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 breastlength hair even includes accents so she looks like she has real hair, not a helmet! Unfortunately, though, the hair on the figure is attached with a slight raise to the back half, so it looks like she might be wearing a headband out of which more hair is flowing! The result is a figure that looks unfortunately ridiculous from the side.
It is equally unfortunate that Silk Spectre has obvious points where she was assembled which are not articulated. For example, below her bustline there is a seam that reveals that the torso and upper body are two separate parts, fused together. This is problematic when Silk Spectre has a zipper that goes down her front, but the parts do not quite line up. As a result, there is an inorganic break in my figure's zipper where the figure was poorly assembled and the otherwise good casting of the figure looks ridiculous.
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 disappointing, though to be fair she 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, elbows, and neck. The joints make for a decent range of motion, with the elbows being standard hinge joints. The shoulders are ball and socket joints, so Silk Spectre may make most of the poses she makes in the film, provided they did not involve her crouching, bending or sitting. Yes, this is terrible for anyone who has seen even the trailer of the film! Silk Spectre can not be posed sauntering down stairs or crouching after leaping into a burning building. She cannot even be posed to run away from the fireball in said building! At least the head is a ball and socket joint, so she may look in a great number of directions, but even that is limited by the stiffness of the figure's hair.
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 was one of the figures re-released, which is probably what depressed the market on these figures, which has once commanded significantly higher prices. Silk Spectre had been very difficulty to find, but now is more common and those who want this figure will be able to finally get one. Unfortunately for those who take the figures out of the package, it is hard to get excited about finally getting one when it is of such poor quality. This is not a great investment piece.
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:
Silk Spectre (Classic)
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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