Sunday, 5 February 2017

Minifigures - Watchmen

Zack Snyder's misguided, redundant and awful cinema adaptation of Alan Moore's superb Watchmen might have been like watching a loved one attacked by a hyperactive moron with a Stanley knife but it did at least raise the comic's profile. One of the most recent trickle-downs is is a Chinese set of Minifigures based on the six main characters; naturally the film's violence (it seems something of a misstep to refer to Snyder's output as 'mature') meant zero chance of official Lego product but again come the bootleggers. Actually, fair's fair, the set are quite heavily based on some customs made by Penzora; there are some small tweaks and obviously there's going to be some overlap as both are based on the same source but it's clear that the bulk of the work was already done. Morally that makes for a weird grey area; the custom designer's been nobbled to a certain degree but they were based on an extant property anyway. To be honest the financial choice made my mind up for me - I love Penzora's customs and they're my guilty treat when I have the funds but at ~£10 a figure compared to under ~£2 for a bootleg (and having the money to then spend on a Penzora figure that doesn't have a bootleg equivalent) made my choice for me.

The six main characters (I am never, ever, ever going to call them The Watchmen) are the subject of the set - the vigilante Rorschach, government superbeing Dr. Manhattan, retired crimefighter Nite Owl (the second Dan Dreiberg incarnation), retired crimefighter the Silok Spectre (the junior version, Laurie Juspeczyk), business magnate and former adventurer Ozymandias and late government headcase the Comedian. It's a good choice; another six covering the likes of Hollis Mason, Captain Metropolis and Dollar Bill would have been cool but these six get it done.


One of the good things about the film was it got three of the costumes right by largely just copying the comic designs and the crucial Rorschach was one of them. Thus it doesn't make any difference that the set seems to be film-orientated for this nutter. The use of extant Lego parts means he's got more of a cowboy hat than a fedora which is a slight shame, though to be fair official Lego gangsters have the same deal. The tampographed suit and mask are absolutely spot-on and very sharp, then only real flub being the matching between the plastic and the fabric trenchcoat, which is a shade darker. The trenchcoat is probably the ideal colour with the main plastic being slightly redder; I'd have settled for either if the matching was spot on by it's not a hammer blow. And winningly he comes with his grappling hook gun thanks to Lego having already done the right parts, probably for Agents or a similar line.


While Roschach was nailed his semi-reluctant partner in crimefighting and then plain old crime got screwed a bit by the movie bods, Dan Dreiburg getting to dress like a nineties Batman. Sadly the figure follows this closely with a simplified take that's largely one colour. It doesn't help that Lego's parts catalogue doesn't really offer a way of doing the avian head design nor does it include a cape. The former is represented by a few paint applications; it's on my to-do list to have a look at some Chima figures to see if there's anything which might be salvaged but I'm torn on putting much effort into realising such a bland costume compared to the marvellous (if admittedly near-impossible to do in Lego) comic costume. There are of course brown capes out there but it seems like doing half a job. So Dan, sadly, is a miss.


Dr Manhattan was another who looked largely the same in both the proper and barely literate moron versions of Watchmen. The figure is based on the only occasionally glimpsed phase where he actually wore undercrackers, which is fair enough and skirts around the whole weirdness of trying to paint a small Lego-styled penis on the chap. It's probably the best of the set with the blue about right, some nicely alien eyes and his hydrogen atom forehead mark but it's less dramatic than the others because it's basically a light blue guy with a moderately memorable head - though this would make him a decent base for any light blue customs of your own.


Laurie of course went from Silver Age sauce to modern PVC-coated slut for the film to give the movie crowd something to wank over in lieu of Gerard Butler's pecs. Missed the point of the character pretty massively there Zack, but never mind, crack on with Suckerpunch and just do a whole film of this crap. Sadly while the top half of the figure is about right the bottom half makes clear that she's got three-quarter length hooker boots on. Aside from that the hair's only about the colour of the comic version, which is odd. Overall though the figure gets across the high-kicking eye candy of the film rather than the smart, funny comic character and that's a shame; there are already plenty of supertarts and Minifigures thereof out there.


Adrian had arguably the most dramatic redesign of all the cast but while the Minifigure is clearly more influenced by the movie it ends up not particularly looking like either version. The use of heavy shoulder armour actually goes too far when painted detail would do and the paint applications that are present make it look like black plates rather than the metallic ones used. Also unfortunate is the use of the classic Ye Olde Hairpiece; while Adrian did indeed rock the sideparting the more modern 'combed' version would have fitted better. While this has to the best of my knowledge yet to be made in this colour this obviously isn't a problem for bootleggers recolouring parts as they go; for buyers it's left to decide between this and the scraped back style, which I plan to try out. No idea what that grin's all about, though.


Eddie benefits again from being kept close to his comic conception and the basic look is spot on, with his combat vest and even a cigar painted onto the face - not going to get that with actual Lego, are you? Sadly it's one of the only ones is the set where outright corner cutting hurts it - while the Comedian's patriotic sleeves are kept the blue and red is painted straight on the flesh arms rather than surrounded by white, which really makes the figure look cheap. Another missed opportunity is not giving him greying temples. Oh, and originally the figure came with a Stormtrooper rifle - I've switched that out for an assault rifle, that sort of weaponry being easy to find in the various unlicensed modern combat lines.

Overall the set is a missed opportunity; Roschach and Dr Manhattan are solid successes and on the rest your mileage will vary according to acceptance of the film's designs. The bottom line is it's likely to be the only set of Watchman minifigures ever made, so you've basically a choice between settling or not getting. Considering with a bit of hunting on ebay you can find the lot for less than a tenner on ebay they're worth a punt.

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