DC Universe Classics
$30 sale day / $30-$50 Aftermarket
SDCC had a lot of exclusives this year, but I don’t know if any company could out-shine Mattel. In my opinion, their releases this year were the most impressive and affordable figures of the whole show. Making them available afterwards to non-attendees was just the icing on the cake.
To really show you how good this figure is you have to experience him in his native terrain. To that effect, Katastrophik and I went to beautiful Bernheim Forest here in Kentucky over the weekend to snap some pics. I brought her along because I knew she would have some great ideas, but I have to be honest. Almost every picture in here is hers. I did most of the posing, but she pointed where she wanted the figure and set up all the shots.
I present to you the long-anticipated DC Universe fan-favorite…
This year, Mattel ditched the white mailer on its DCUC offering and gave us something quite different. From the outside of the box, you can see the makings of eerie red eyes staring back at you from within, creating a beautiful illusion of the Swamp Thing watching you. The back has a short little bio of Alec Holland and a little pat on the back for using recycled pulp in the making of its interior box.
Interior box? By George, whatever for?
Yeah, you’ve probably heard about it a million times over, but the interior box is designed to look like the big green monster’s face. The red eyes are actually an insert that holds the figure and base in place and they even tossed in a little glossy “journal” with some fun tidbits about the character. Nifty.
To open the box, use the Kardashian technique. Lay it face-down and go in from the rear. There are three tabs to unhook which will remind you undoubtedly of the older-style paper egg cartons. Inside, you can see Swamp Thing with his base underneath him. No ties, no rubber bands, just an amazing looking toy. Getting the carton closed again after you’ve replaced Swampy can be difficult, as he has to be maneuvered just so or his hands or toes will press against the box lid.
I’m going to touch on the base briefly here, because for the most part it doesn’t affect the rest of the review. It’s well-painted, well-detailed, and generally just well-done. The scale of the skeleton seems a bit off, but the tree bits look really nice and the whole piece is textured with cracks and pocks so that it really feels like a piece of that world.
Swamp Thing is a sculpted rubber suit over an articulated armature. Because of that design, he has very little in the way of obvious joints and the sculpt is simply phenomenal.
When I opened this guy up, I messed with him for a minute and put him back almost immediately. To have a toy that looks this good and not play with it outside is criminal.
The sculpted vines, flowers, and various growths on him are just stunning. If you put him in your yard for more than a few minutes, I have to assume he’d either take root or pick up and walk away. The sculpt has gone beyond excellent into the realm of the imaginative fantastic. The paint only highlights how perfectly the sculpt was executed.
Bright colors for the flowers and greens, washes for the textures, and those piercing red eyes just draw you right into the toy. He matched the color of the forest so well that in some cases he had to be re-posed for fear that you’d lose him in the undergrowth surrounding him. That shot on the right really makes me think of the old Kenner Swamp Thing toys. I had the one with the retractable hand on a string trick. Awesome.
I can’t imagine what else I can say that Katastrophik’s pictures don’t capture. The Four Horsemen nailed the look of this figure. Monsters have always been their strong suit, and they wore it threadbare when they made this guy. He’s simply stunning.
As mentioned, the body is basically an armature with a rubber coat. The apparent joints are as follows: ball neck, swivel-hinged shoulders, and swivel-hinged hips. Underneath the suit, he features ratchet-like joints in the elbows, wrists (inward/outward movement), ab crunch, knees, and ankles.
The shoulders and legs have excellent outward movement, while the forward movement on the legs is limited because of the sculpt. In fact, very early into the day I tried to push the left leg forward a bit to see if we could create a sitting pose and it snapped off at the hip. My heart sank as I saw the leg hit the floor of the creek bed. Luckily, the joint is designed similarly to that of the Collect-N-Connect oversized figures, so it was able to be replaced, thank Caprica. Unfortunately, that leg is now prone to popping off with little force and we had to be very careful for the rest of the day.
Also limiting is the lack of biceps swivels. It’s not a deal breaker, but it will affect how well Swampy can interact with his environment. The first picture above shows our attempt to try and depict him climbing the rocks. Without the swivels, it looks like he’s casting the Thinner curse on the stone.
Fortunately, the ankles and feet are nothing short of fantastic. Granted, the Jolly Green isn’t striking wide poses here, but I really don’t have any reason for him to. The plastic of the armature in both the feet and hands only extend about halfway into the mold, leaving the rest as rubber. This means that the toes and fingers are pliable, and the toes can be bent a little for balance or just allowed to form naturally to the ground.
The result is very secure and natural footing. The ankle joints I found so easy to use that I rarely spend more than a few seconds to get him in position; be it on flat earth, elevated rock, or even in water.
The knees and elbows don’t have a lot of ratchet positions on their axis, but for a hulking guy who seems to mostly walk back and forth like the Sasquatch, I think it works.
The only other negative I really had was the neck joint. I really feel that they could have pushed that joint a little further for better tilt and up and down movement. He’s not bad, but he’s also not particularly good, so if you want him interacting with other toys or are counting on the neck to bring all the character out, you might be a little disappointed.
In much better news, however, I found that my figure so far has experienced no cracking or tearing of the rubber skin. This was my biggest concern with the figure and, to my surprise, it so far has proven very sturdy. I thought for sure that in the forest with the sharp sunlight, the water, and the stones I would have gotten some kind of wear, but nope. He looks good as new.
But Is He Worth It?
I can’t believe I’m saying it, but yes. My goodness, he’s probably got the best cost-to-value ratio of any toy from the show. He’s simply fantastic! A figure this large would be very successful at retail for 25 dollars. At 30 dollars it’d be more difficult, but I think it’s possible. Remember that DC Direct figures are starting to command 20 dollars apiece in all their 6” glory. This guy is about 9 or 10” tall. I’m not going to harp on scale because I don’t care. He’s big. And worth it.
Absolutely 100% worth it in every way.
Right now, Swamp Thing is still hovering around on eBay for anywhere from 28 to 50 bucks. I wouldn’t spend more than 45 after shipping, personally. But I really encourage you to give this toy a shot if you can find it at a price you can manage. If the rubber holds up long-term, I can’t see his value going anywhere but up if you decide that you don’t like it down the road.
Mattel shocked me with its low prices across the board for SDCC exclusives this year, but I think Swamp Thing is very much at the top of the list for impressive figures. Don’t let him get away.
And In Closing…
This sort of figure is a once in a year kind of opportunity, where a company used to re-using bucks not only breaks out of their mold but out of their genre, producing a figure that is more interactive statue or work of art than mere toy. The use of the rubber suit was risky, ballsy. But in my opinion, they pulled it off. I don’t expect this kind of work at retail, and for an exclusive to hit this mark and only set you back 30 dollars is nothing short of amazing.
Swamp Thing breaks down the barrier of what we as fans expect from DCUC and breaks into the world of what we as fans should expect from toys. It’s not perfect, but risk-taking in the toy industry has gone the way of the dodo, and when a company has the cajones to take a shot on something that’s not a proven money-maker, I’ll be there to support them.
Great work, Mattel.
Thanks for reading and as always, it’s just a toy. Open the darned thing.
As an aside, I would like to say big up to Mattel and DC Universe fans for getting Club Infinite Earths to work out. I hope it turns out to be everything DC fans have always wanted!