Review: These Watchmen action figures trade action for good looks

DC Direct's long-awaited Watchmen line is finally in my hands. I'm no kid, but I've never waited more than 20 years for a movie to be made. Except for Watchmen.

Loved the book when it first came out, and loved it repeatedly since. I think I'm on my fourth copy, having lent the others to people and lost track of them. I'm a bit of a Watchmen evangelist. So even the first images of the movie got me all excited. But when I saw what DC Direct was doing with the figures, I was over the moon and on my way to Mars.

First, they've released most, if not all, of the main characters, including the original Silk Spectre and Nite Owl, along with their modern counterparts, Ozymandias, Rorschach and, of course, the Comedian and Dr. Manhattan.

The boxes alone get it right. They're Watchmen to the letter. Inside, the figures are sparely equipped but gorgeous to look at.

That's the thing about this line. Gorgeous to look at. If you're looking for action poses, look elsewhere, but you won't find them because these are the only game in town. The figures have elbows that bend, but not much. Wrists rotate, but not much. You'll get the point if you try to move Rorschach's head. It's on a tilt that's just slight enough to make you want to set it right—but you can't. No ball joint.

Doc Manhattan has elbows that bend, but not much else. His arms are set apart in that godlike pose, but he comes with two sets of legs. One allows him to stand, but the other puts him in a more iconic hovering pose, mounted on a clear plastic "wind" gust. You won't get much more than this out of the figures if you're looking for "action."

But they are beautiful! Each figure is loaded with fine-modeled textures from the scales of Nite Owl's suit to the ridges of the Comedian's armor. Molding and paint are stellar. In fact, the original Silk Spectre's silky top actually looks like it's semi-transparent, and you can see the black leather corset underneath. This is a trick of paint, and a darned effective one.

One cool thing about this line is the exclusive variants. Doc Manhattan comes in a solid blue color, but his variant is translucent, and looks like it contains a universe of stars. Rorschach's variant comes with not only his grapple gun but an arrest booking sign for his neck, and he's maskless (faceless, according to him). The Comedian's variant is maskless as well.

Buy these not for the action, but to look at.

Who watches with the Watchmen? The answer is me. And it should be you.

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