The Good: Good sculpt, Good coloring detail, Generally good accessories, Articulation
The Bad: Terrible balance, Rough edges, Utter inability to stand!
The Basics: The Justice Zatanna action figure falls down, literally, so consistently, that it is impossible to recommend or be impressed by.
In one of the Alex Ross books, I was greatly amused to read a joke he wrote about what his next project was going to be. In the commentary to one of the books he did the artwork for, he made the quip that he was going to work on “Black Canary & Zatanna: Legends Of The Fishnets,” which, frankly, sounds a lot better than some of the DC Comics graphic novels I have read lately! But, as a big fan of Ross’s book Justice, I came to like the character of Zatanna and when I found the figure of her from Justice on a recent trip to my favorite comic book store (cheap, to boot!), I had to pick her up.
Sadly, now I find myself wishing I had waited for DC Direct to make a new, better version of the character.
For those unfamiliar with Zatanna, in Justice (reviewed here!), when the main heroes of the DC Universe are incapacitated, Zatanna is part of the second string of heroes that rise to try to foil the plans of the villains. Using her magic, she becomes a powerful asset in rescuing the imprisoned heroes of Earth.
It is Zatanna in her classic magician’s outfit with tails and fishnets, that is the subject of the Justice Zatanna action figure.
The Zatanna figure is very well-detailed and is a pretty incredible-looking sculpt, despite having a painfully obvious seam on her neck. The artwork of Alex Ross translates nicely into the Zatanna figure as this Zatanna is leggy, busty and undeniably cool. The figure features well-molded aspects like the bow tie and collar which are raised and the open jacket, through which Zatanna’s bosom strains. The magician stands 6 1/2" tall to the top of the figure's head, without her hat on. Her skin is visible only on her face and below her fishnet stockings on her legs. The fishnets are made of cloth and the jacket’s tail is made of a very soft, flexible plastic that is reminiscent of rubber. The rest of Zatanna is mafe of hard plastic. The Justice rendition of Zatanna is from DC Direct, though there is a fairly new DC Universe version of the same character.
This toy is an excellent sculpt; for a character that has only had two-dimensional references, Zatanna looks good in all three dimensions. DC Direct did not make the character more busty than she already is, so she does not tip like a lot of the Marvel figures of women. DC Direct cast Zatanna in hard plastic and she is solid. Zatanna is molded with her white gloves on her hands and shiny black high heels on her feet. The sculpt forces the character to pretty much always look up and the head is just a little smaller in relation to the rest of the figure than it ought to be. As well, this version of Zatanna seems to have unnaturally long legs! Even so, DC Direct did a pretty awesome job of getting a lot of detail into the mold for Zatanna. There are buttons on her shirt, vest and even on the wrists of her tuxedo coat!
This Zatanna figure has great coloring details as well. Zatanna's eyes are a surprisingly energetic brown that is instantly recognizable to fans of Alex Ross’s works. DC Direct painted this Zatanna well with light rouge to her cheeks giving her realistic skin tones and depth. As well, her lips are a pink that is not overwhelming and the single tones of the rest of her outfit make her look very sharp.
Zatanna, heroine of the DC Universe that she is, comes with only her stand, top hat, and magic wand. The stand is a black and silver square that looks like a piece of flooring. It is 6" by 4.5” and 1/2” tall and it has a pair of peg holes spaced 2” apart. The pegs come with the figure and plug into the base and then into the hole in the front of Zatanna’s right foot. Why there are two holes/pegs for a figure with only one foot hole I do not know. She not at all stable, even on her base.
The top hat is a monotonal black hat that is 9/16” high and is not entirely hollow in the middle. Instead, the inside of the hat is molded with the contours of Zatanna’s hair so that it (theoretically) fits on more snugly. No matter how I try, it never stays on terribly well, though it can balance on the head just fine. Unfortunately, though, the moment Zatanna tips over, the hat falls off.
The magic wand is a delicate (less than 1/16” in diameter) cylinder that is 1 1/8” long. It is black with a white tip and it fits fine in Zatanna’s left hand.
The DC Direct figures were designed more for display than play. This Zatanna is even pretty terribly for for display, though. Zatanna actually has more articulation than most of the DC Direct figures from this era. Despite that, Zatanna has absolutely terrible balance on her own. She is wearing high heels and they are not enough to support the busty figure. Ironically, when the figure is posed as flatfooted as she can be, she tips over to the side, not back and forth! On her stand, she is even more tippable. How is that possible? Quite simply, the peg that goes into the base of her right foot is longer than the hole in her foot is deep, so she cannot stand on her base flatfooted!
Zatanna comes with twelve points of articulation, evenly distributed between simple swivel joints, hinge joints and ball and socket style joints. Zatanna has joints at the knees, groin socket, shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist and head. The elbows and knees are both hinge joints, the shoulders, waist and head are all ball and socket joints. Unfortunately, the head articulation is at the base of the neck (not at the head) and as a result of Zatanna’s hard hair, she is not able to move the head all that much. She can move her head in about thirty degrees in any direction. As a result, even when Zatanna is not looking down, her head is pushed forward, like she is straining her face forward. Posed with her head up, though, for the few moments she stands, she looks very good.
Rather annoyingly, the right hand is molded to be able to hold her hat by the brim, but she is not manufactured with the grip tight enough to actually keep ahold of it!
Zatanna is part of the DC Direct Justice Series 4 line which was fairly uncommon, largely because it was mostly distributed through comic book shops. Zatanna was the only woman in the wave and she represented the best Zatanna figure made at the time. Originally available in the $15 - $20 range, she has leapt to the $30 range and held her value there. The Solomon Grundy figure was the chase figure from this series, but Zatanna remains popular, arguably because she had not been made into many action figures! Even so, with the figure’s defects, I suspect that her value will not readily increase from the $35 range and she is a tough sell at that price!
Zatanna looks good, but her inability to stand makes her unworthy of your fan dollars. And, believe me, it pains me to write that!
For other Justice action figures, please check out my reviews of:
Justice Wave 3 Wonder Woman figure
Justice Wave 3 Poison Ivy figure
Justice Wave 1 Cheetah figure
For other toy reviews, please check out my index page!
© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.