Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Exceptionally Poseable, The Orange Lantern Lex Luthor From DC Direct Is Pretty Wonderful!

The Good: Cool sculpt, Decent accessories, Great poseability, Awesome balance
The Bad: Pops apart, Head articulation, Collectible value
The Basics: The Orange Lantern Lex Luthor action figure from DC Direct is one of the hidden gems of the Blackest Night toy line!

The best heroes, it may be argued, are offset by the villainy of their primary adversary. The Joker, for example, is a reflection of Batman; he is chaotic and afraid of nothing, whereas Batman is exceptionally organized and uses fear as a weapon. For a long time, Lex Luthor was simply the generic bad guy to reflect Superman’s naïve goodness. But some of the best writers, like Brian Azzarella in Luthor (reviewed here!), give Lex Luthor more depth and personality than that, which fleshes him out as a more complicated and compelling villain.

But, sometimes, the villain gets stripped down for plot purposes. During the Blackest Night event, Lex Luthor’s character complexities are stripped away as the Guardians deputize every major hero and villain in the DC Universe in order to combat the threat of the Black Lanterns. Thus, Lex Luthor, is given an orange power battery and ring and as an Orange Lantern, he both contributes to saving the universe from death incarnate and squabbles with the only other Orange Lantern, Larfleeze. Larfleeze remains one of the most elusive DC Direct figures yet made and I – like many a fan – am still kicking myself for not picking one up when they were originally released because now they are insanely expensive.

For those unfamiliar with him, Orange Lantern Lex Luthor is the Orange Ring infected (or empowered, I suppose, depending upon your perspective) version of Lex Luthor, seen very briefly in Blackest Night (reviewed here!). Only a background character in the story, Orange Lantern Lex Luthor is the set-up for Lex Luthor’s ultimate quest for a Black Ring of power.

It is Lex Luthor in his orange-ring construct costume that is the subject of the DC Direct figure! There is also a Mattel version of this figure, though it has a frosted orange appearance instead of the translucent orange version that DC Direct created.


The Orange Lantern Lex Luthor figure is exceptionally well-detailed, in both the sculpt and the coloring, though the latter gets cheated some! This figure is essentially Lex Luthor in the power armor he wore in the 1980s, completely recolored as a construct of the orange ring he wears on his right hand. The Orange Lantern Lex Luthor figure is 7 1/8" tall to the top of the extended collar that protects the back of his head.

This toy is a decent sculpt, especially for a character that has only had two-dimensional references; the Orange Lantern Lex Luthor looks good in all three dimensions. DC Direct included details like the Orange Lantern symbol molded on his chest and even details like the rivets on the armor. The tubes that connect Luthor’s breastplate to the collar are present, manufactured in soft plastic much like the “skirt” on the armor that descends from the character’s waist. The armod is all-encompasing and leaves only Luthor’s head exposed. The head has Luthor looking pretty maniacal with a creepy smile and angry eyes. It does, however, look like the popular villain.

The Orange Lantern Lex Luthor's costume is molded entirely in a translucent orange plastic, so you can see through him and see all the joints. The only piece of this figure with any coloring depth or realism is the head. The eyes are tiny orange orbs that have replaced his human appearance. The detailing for Lex Luthor’s lips and teeth is exceptionally well-rendered. This is one of the best-colored human heads in the DC Direct line!


The Orange Lantern Lex Luthor, greedy sonofabitch out for his own gain, comes with only two accessories: his stand and his orange lantern. The stand is an orange and white disk with the Orange Lantern logo. It is 3 3/4" in diameter and 1/4” tall and it features a small peg that fits perfectly into the hole in Orange Lantern Lex Luthor's right foot. This keeps him in exceptionally stable poses while on his stand, which can be helpful because the figure is so detailed that it has treads on the bottom of his feet!

The Orange Lantern is a pretty typical lantern made of a pearlescent orange plastic with a clear panel on two ends so one might shine a light through it (I suppose). 1 3/4" tall by 1 1/2” wide and deep, the orange lantern fits nicely in either of Lex Luthor’s hands and looks appropriate there. The handle only occasionally comes off this lantern.


The DC Direct figures were designed more for display than play, but the Orange Lantern Lex Luthor is pretty amazing for both. Even in outlandish poses, he has the balance needed to stand up. The treads on the sides of the feet even keep the Orange Lantern Lex Luthor standing when he is on textured surfaces!

The Orange Lantern Lex Luthor comes with an incredible eighteen points of articulation, which is pretty high, especially for a DC Direct figure! The Orange Lantern Lex Luthor has fully articulated ankles, knees, thighs, groin socket, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists, chest and head! The shoulders are proper ball and socket joints. The head is on a ball joint, which allows the villain to nod up and down as well as look left to right! Most of the joints on this figure are ball joints, giving Luthor exceptional flexibility.

The only issue with the joints (outside the plastic on this figure being uncommonly stiff when it is first pulled from the package) is with the ankles. For some reason, the ankle joints – which are a ball joint – are not held in as tightly as the rest of the figure’s joints. Thus, my Luthor’s feet popped off pretty easily when I was making weird poses for him. Fortunately, they pop right back in, but it can be unnerving considering how other DC Direct figures have simply broken with such articulation eccentricities.


The Orange Lantern Lex Luthor is part of the DC Direct Blackest Night Series 8 line which was fairly common and no one seemed to care about. Comprised of second and third string characters, none of the characters in the Series 8 line were vital to the Blackest Night story, save the Atom and that remains one of the least popular figures in the DC Direct line! Because the Orange Lantern Lex Luthor is an obscure character in an obscure corner of the story, I suspect this figure will not appreciate for quite some time. That’s too bad, though, because this is a remarkably cool action figure!


Lex Luthor has grown on me over the years as an intriguing villain and while he might have had a very minor role in the Blackest Night Saga, the Orange Lantern Lex Luthor figure makes for a pretty cool toy worth picking up!

For other Blackest Night figures, please check out my reviews of:
Wave 8 Black Lantern Black Flash
Wave 8 Indigo Tribe The Atom
Wave 7 Arkillo
Wave 7 Red Lantern Mera
Wave 6 Blue Lantern The Flash
Wave 6 Star Sapphire Wonder Woman
Wave 5 Black Lantern Deadman
Wave 5 Nekron
Wave 2 Indigo-1
Wave 1 Saint Walker


For other toy reviews, please check out my Toy Review Index Page!

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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