I've been hoping for a DCUC Swamp Thing for years now, eagerly checking out every news article I could get my hands on, reading the Q&A's to see if the Vertigo embargo had been lifted, and waiting... waiting.
Then, about a year ago, I heard that it was finally happening. With the "Brightest Day" story line, Swamp Thing was finally rejoining DC proper, allowing Mattel to produce a figure. Almost immediately, they announced they were making one as a con exclusive which would later be offered through their website.
"I'll buy it," I thought. "No matter the cost, no matter the wait... I must have it."
Then I got the details.
In an attempt to make something exceptional, Mattel covered his arms and legs in a soft rubber, concealing his joints.
Ah... okay. That's cool and all. It's just that... that's not going to hold. Anyone who collects toys knows rubber deteriorates and falls apart. Eventually, it's going to tear and break down.
On top of that, I saw pictures and wasn't impressed. Sure, he looks cool, but concealing knee, ankle, shoulder, and wrist joints while leaving the shoulder and hip joints visible just draws attention to the flaws.
So I didn't buy him. I've actually passed up a few chances to get one since. Apparently, I wasn't the only one who felt this way: these weren't quite the hot sales item Mattel (not to mention scalpers) were hoping. These showed up on Ebay, Figure of the Day, Amazon... you name it. And the price seemed to be hovering around the forty dollar mark, which is about what it cost initially (I think it started at $30 plus shipping, but you get the idea).
Then, in November, I actually saw one in person and started having second thoughts. Sure, it's not perfect, and it'll require upkeep, but I had to admit it was pretty awesome.
Well, on Black Friday I got another chance, and I jumped on it. Matty Collector was hosting a massive sale on their website. They were selling an unprecedented number of different figures from Ghostbusters, the DC Universe, and Masters of the Universe. Due to the volume of toys, things weren't instantly selling out. Plus, it was possible to buy several figures at once and pay one shipping charge.
So that, right there, is the saga of how I bought the Swamp Thing. Let's talk about the toy itself.
Actually, we'll start with the packaging. It comes in an extremely large, very cool box pictured above. In the box, you'll find a tray shaped like Swamp Thing's head.
Mattel's trying to make it a selling point that this is biodegradable. I appreciate the effort, but the sentiment feels a little hollow given that it comes with a giant plastic toy that isn't. But that's a sin all of us toy collectors share in, isn't it?
Nevertheless, it's creative packaging with at least a tip of the proverbial hat towards the comic's environmental themes. Now, let's get to that toy.
Okay, let's get this out of the way. If you're looking for photos of detailed poses, you'll have to look elsewhere. I'm a tad paranoid about that rubber, so I'm not even testing the covered joints. You can find video reviews elsewhere that go over the full range of motion, but - for my purposes - I'm pretending the arms and legs are sculpted pieces. I like how they come posed, and I want them to stay that way.
In addition to the covered joints (wrists, elbows, knees, ankles, and abs) this has ball-jointed shoulders and head, and those swivel/hinge waist joints I usually like so much. In this case, I'd have been just happy with a sculpture, since that's how I'm basically treating it.
The rubber covers just about everything other than the joints you see. The toes and fingers lack a skeleton at all, so they're incredibly loose.
Visually, the figure's absolutely gorgeous. The amount of detail Mattel got out of this material is incredible. But ultimately the fact there are still visible joints defeats the point. Striking the balance between reality and action figure is tough, but I'm of the opinion Mattel got this about perfect years ago when they started this line. I appreciate the attempt to experiment, but I'd have rather this done as a "conventional" DCUC figure. I think it'd certainly would have fit in better on the shelf beside other toys in the line.
Let's move onto accessories. The version sold at cons included a pair of "un-men," which are bizarre mutants. I'd have liked those, but not enough to drop an additional twenty bucks on them on Ebay.
This does still have the Swamp Thing's stand, which is extremely cool on its own. It's nicely detailed, and it looks like an extension of the figure (as is appropriate).
I like that they've sculpted a skull and some bones here. I'm operating under the assumption those are the remains of Alec Holland (if you've read Alan Moore's run, you know that the Swamp Thing isn't actually Holland).
There's one more extra, though it's not all that impressive. You also get a "replica" of Holland's journal. The term "replica" might be an exaggeration, unless the original only had one page.
Yeah, it's not much, but it's cute and it's free.
For those of you wondering, this cost me $30, plus shipping (about another four bucks, after dividing the total three ways for the three toys I bought). It's a long way from an ideal Swamp Thing, but I do think this is an exceptionally nice piece - I just hope it stays that way. And at the price I wound up paying, it was certainly worth it.