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First Look – DC Universe Classics Swamp Thing

Okay, so here it is: I have A LOT of neat stuff to bring you in form of upcoming Mattel DC/MOTU/GB/Voltron?etc First Looks. Several things are San Diego Comic Con exclusives, but some things are not and I am really looking forward to those as well. I started off with Queen Marlena last night but I quickly realized that if I am going to have even a chance and getting all of this stuff covered before I leave for the big nerd prom on Wednesday, I need to get my ass in gear. So, for now I am going to focus on getting as many pictures of as many things as I possibly can over the next few days. I know you don’t come here for the words as much anyhow so I will be making it kind of brief. But don’t worry, I promise to answer any questions you might have about anything featured, so don’t be afraid to ask.

Okay, now that the administrative mumbo jumbo is out of the way, I can happily announce that our next First Look at the next SDCC exclusive is for the DC Universe Classics Swamp Thing – with Un-Men! You know, I remember talking to Four Horseman sculptor Chris Dahlberg about how badly he wanted to sculpt a Swamp Thing figure… about four years ago. Well, the stars have finally aligned so that Chris has gotten his chance to make beauty from the very ugly, something that he does very, very well. So, aside from the fact that Swamp Thing has been a demanded character in the line for a long time, it is alway great to see the favorites of the guys that actually have to do the heavy lift to get these puppies made come to fruition.

I am excited to be getting him after all this time too. Mattel SDCC exclusives just seem to find a way of getting people things that they have been waiting for years to get, trotted out in stylish fashion at SDCC. Let’s see the list here, Lobo, The Wonder Twins, He-Ro, Swampy, Starro – the list goes on and on of being a who’s who of “never hads” or “not had for a long times”. So, Mr. Holland (thankfully not the one with the Opus) will be invading southern California next week and just to make sure he is not the ugliest guy in a sea of interesting pop-culture get-ups, he will be brining his gross little Un-Men with him. Let’s hit important points, see if he stacks up and get on with the pictures, shall we?

The Package: I think this a really well thought out design and overall, is in the running for best Mattel Con packaging ever. I is not the most glamourous, but the idea of making the outer box a swamp environment and the inner shell a likeness of Swamp Thing’s head is a pretty nifty. Couple that with the fact that the head portion is made of a highly biodegradable package, and it is very cool concept that works great with Swamp Thing, The funny part is though, of all of the packaging of all of the toys that ¬†normally discard (I do recycle) I am likely to keep this packaging because it is so neat. I am pretty sure this is another achievement from Frank Varela and I am not sure what I can say about the guy that I have not already gushed about: he is the master of his craft and he still finds ways to outdo himself.

Beautifully Gruesome

That is some serious backne. Ew.

The Height: Time to get this out of the way right now, he is tall. REALLY tall. I mean, he is every bit as tall as Imperiex. So, is he TOO tall? Could be. This has come to light in the past couple of weeks and I have been hearing that it is a deal-breaker for a lot of people and if that is true, that is fine – everyone is entitled to their opinion, but at the same time, I am kind of sad because everything else is so cool. I can argue that Swamp Thing can change his height, and that is most certainly true, but he is still pretty tall. For my DCUC collection, I need figures of all shapes and sizes to he can stand behind some of the more normal-sized figures. Really, I would have liked him about an inch-and-a-half to two inches shorter, but it is not a deal-breaker for me. I am a completist though, but even if I wasn’t I would still be getting the figure. If scale is an issue for you, check out the pictures and decide for yourself.

This could actually be a really cool team-up idea. Just saying.
Height Comparison. Swamp Thing has been eating his, um, whatever you eat to make a swamp man grow big and strong. Fear, maybe?

The Sculpt: Um, yeah. This is going to be really short because, even though Swamp Thing is pretty gross to look at, he is a gorgeous figure. In fact, he is one of, if not THE, most detailed figures in the DCUC line so far. No little divot slimy part of his body was left out and he is adorned with vines, fungus and even flowers all over his, ahem, person. I particularly love the head sculpt and his expression is both dangerous and sad at the same time. The paint is also very well done and adds a lot to the actual sculpt with not slopping or bleeding. In terms of sculpt, ST is a triumph and you can really tell a lot of love went into this figure from the Horsemen.

Easily mistaken for Big Foot

The Endoskeleton: Mattel is experimenting a bit with an internal articulation scheme with this figure. The house the Barbie built is actually using some like-movements in their boys line now. I guess it finally donned on me that since I don’t have any kids, I have never really even handled a Barbie Doll, which is kind of strange, but my wife assured me that the movement in Swamp Thing’s joints are not unlike Barbie’s. I can totally see it. It is a neat idea, and it preserves the great sculpt, but I have never really had anything against showing joints as long as they are not prevailing on the figure. Now, I had some issues with that with Marvel Legends in the past, but nothing in DCUC has gotten me up in arms with an “ugly joint”.


Swamp Splits! Yeeeeeee-uck!

I know another deal-breaker for people was perhaps the chance that the “skin” used for the figure would be weak and deteriorate over time, which is totally understandable. I have to say though, now having him, I don’t think it will be an issue at all. The skin is thick and tough and unless you have an agenda to try to destroy it, I don’t see it ripping or splitting and it is not going to melt away anytime soon at all. I would never put a figure of any king where it is in direct sunlight or under hot artificial lighting, just keep that same rule of thumb with Swamp Thing and you should be fine.

The Articulation: What he does have, elbows, neck, hips, knees and ankles actually work surprising well, but due to the tough exterior and the engineering, Swampy does not have a ton of points, especially those like biceps twists, wrist and thigh cuts that we have come to expect from a DCUC figure. I might be subconsciously making a point for sticking with the traditional figure construction for DCUC, but at the same time this could also be a work in progress. I think if Mattel keeps experimenting and keeps pushing the boundaries of making internal articulation work, they might have something very exciting on their hands. Swamp Thing is a start and his success is going to be judged by all that buy him so I will be interested to see what everyone thinks.

Un-Men packaging and Journal
Swamp Guys actually have decent penmanship

The Accessories: Swamp Thing has three accessories included with him, a swamp base and two Un-Men. The latter are exclusive to the actual SDCC 2011 show, so if you are ordering him on Matty Collector on 8/1, the Un-Men will not be making the trip. The base is nicely detailed and I think I will actually Swampy on it on my shelf, and that is something I don’t normally do. There are some rocks and remains of trees and people’s heads too with a foot peg for balancing. It certainly feels like a swamp to me.


Putting the Swamp in Swamp Thing
Un-Men: Cranius and Ophidian

Shakespeare in the Swamp only lasted two show before closing.

It would not be a year at SDCC with Mattel having something completely exclusive to the show and this year it two ugly little Un-Men critters. Like the Starro spores of last year, I think this was a good choice for something to be completely exclusive – they are cool to have, but unless you are a completist, they are not essential. They are fun little figurines though and I like the “brain-hand” guy the best, but I was also surprise by the fact that the eel-esque creature can stand on his own little tiny legs. The come wrapped in tissue paper in a poly bag at the top of the outer Swamp Thing packaging so if you are picking them up at the show, you can crack that box open in a jiffy to make sure they are there. There have been a lot of little pack-in guys of late in the DCUC line and I hope that trend continues.

Stay out' the Swamp!

Overall, Swamp Thing is a very satisfying rendition of the character that I am glad to have, especially since I sold off my old DCD version years ago (but I do regret doing that). The sculpt is certainly there and I think I can relieve some doubt about the skin as I think it is very, very tough. The articulation is more limited due to being an early try at internalizing it and if you think he is too tall for you, I cannot say that comparison pictures are going to change your mind. He does look great though and I think most people will be able to fudge him into their collections if height is a concern, but not a game-ender. I can confidently say that I do like the figure a lot, but I do wish he was shorter and I don’t have any worries about him being as biodegradable as his packaging. He makes his debut with his posse next week at SDCC and on August one flying solo on Matty Collector.

Having a Swamp Thing bigger than my Man-Thing is bound to give me a complex of some kind.
We stand here and make small talk while they have the time of their lives

*Again, thanks to the great DC team at Mattel for getting this to us so close to the convention – a lot more is still to come!

Additional Links

Four years of DCUC at Comic Con: 2008-2011

7 thoughts on “First Look – DC Universe Classics Swamp Thing

  1. Thanks, Steve! I can’t wait to catch up and talk – I know if I don’t find you before Thursday evening, we will meet up at the panel that I am sure will have some “shocking” revelations… Can’t wait!

  2. Beautiful figure-but correct me if im wrong, but doesnt he go on sale @ on the 1st not the 8th?

  3. Good review! Swamp thing is one of my favorite characters of DC for years and years, i have the figures of 90’S animated series and look nice, but nobody is more awesome that this Swamp Thing!

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