Monday, November 5, 2018

LEGION TOYS: Mon-El (DC Direct 2002)

So I'm pretty sure that my Heroes Con 2017 Celebration photo using various action figures as stand-ins for all the great Podcasters and Bloggers I met there is what got me the "Articulated Lad" gig here at Legion of Super-Bloggers in the first place. Also, it probably doesn't hurt that I already owned the Matty Collector Legion of Super-Heroes Box Set.

I remember thinking that there was no doubt that I would use a Legionnaire action figure to represent our very own, Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage. But which one to choose? The answer was simple. I would ask him who his favorite Legionnaire was, and fates willing, I would have an action figure representation of that very same character. To cover my bets, I asked about his Top Five Legionaries, and one of his Top Five characters that came up in chat was the figure we're about to discuss, Lar Gand a.k.a. Mon-El!

While most DC Universe Classics are around 6.5 inches and fit within the 1/12 collector scale, typically adult-sized DC Direct (and now DC Collectibles) figures fall into more of a 7 inch scale. Having said that, Mon-El is more of a teenage-sized figure and comes in exactly at 6 inches. Although the Mattel practice of buck re-use doesn't always come into play in these lines, you can see that Mon-El shares some parts with the DC Direct Brainiac 5 and Invisible Kid.

Like those figures, Mon-El had a closed fist on his right hand and an open palm for his left hand. There is a rubber overlay piece that represents his yellow belt and red shirt tunic dress. The blue cape is also a separate and somewhat rubbery piece that is glued on to his shoulders and a peg in his back. The head sculpt is fairly original, containing a red collar piece at its bottom, along with nicely sculpted hair and wide-eyed smiling facial features that scream Silver Age.

DC Direct figures are better known for their sculpts then articulation. There are 11-points of articulation that I count on Mon-El.  The head is on a swivel joint and can move 360 degrees. It cannot tilt, nor move up or down. Arms can only rotate at the shoulder, up or down, in a circular fashion in 360 degrees.  The cape can get in the way, but is malleable enough to still move the arms past any cape impediment. Arms cannot move out to the sides, but there is a 90 degree elbow cut, so the arm can go from straight to a 90 degree angle. The hand and fist can also rotate in a 360 degree circular fashion. There is a "T-Crotch" which allows for only forward movement of the legs at a  90 degree angle. If not for the rubbery cape, Mon-El could be seated. Finally, the knees also articulate from straight to a 90 degree angle.

These types of Action Figures tend to be the missing link between your limited 5 point of articulation figure from the 1980's and your highly articulated (20 or more points) figures from the new century. They can be posed, but the sculpt almost pre-dictates and limits the amount of positions and poses you can place the figure in, while retaining its center of balance. In addition, the center of balance can be skewed with the addition of the cape Mon-El's costume design requires him to have. Basically, this is just a long-winded way of saying the figures are only easy to balance if you don't overly pose them. The articulation is still more focused on the play value of a child's toy line, even though this is a dedicated adult collector line. You can put Mon-El in a standard flying pose, but unless you hold that pose in your hand, don't expect it to hold of its own accord on any kind of modern flight stand. Maybe hanging the figure from wires might be the best option for display in a flying pose.


The paint job is well-done and does not have any noticeable bleed between the four-color reds and blues on the costume. Nor does the yellow on the belt bleed over into the red tunic dress.  If you want to nit-pick, the yellow Cape Button/Holders do have a blue paint outline around the edges which looks a tad sloppy. The raven-colored hair and  eyebrows are strong and well done. The flesh skin tone on the face as well as the white on the teeth are equally well done. The only thing that looks a little weird are the eyes. I'm not sure if this is the fault of the sculpt itself and the paint job is just adhering to the wide-eyed nature of the eyes, but the face can't seem to decide if it has an expression or not. It's somewhere between a static non-expressive face and an overly crazed expressive face. My take on the intent is that it's supposed to be a bright-eyed, smiling teenager from the Silver Age of Comics, but rather than natural innocence - - instead it sort of looks like a forced fake smile for one's high school yearbook photo.

I really got to know Mon-El well following the Eclipso: The Darkness Within event when they gave the character his own title Valor set in the then-present day DC Universe. With him being a Daxamite with many of the same abilities as Superman, I would make my own fan-fic comics where I had Valor and Superman's rejected paramour, Maxima, start a relationship. I figured, if Mon-El could be a substitute Superman in the Post-Crisis "5 Year Later" Legion Era, the young version of him could maybe make Maxima happy.

Sadly Mattel never made a Mon-El for their DC Universe Classics line, so at the very least, I am glad that I have the DC Direct representation of him in action figure form. I think for some of my more modern era action figures, the DC Direct Superman: New Krypton Series Mon-El fits in better with the action figure aesthetic I've become used to.

However, if you're a fan of the classic Silver Age Legion of Super-Heroes, this is a accurate and well done representation of the character. It not for some of the pre-posed nature of the sculpt, I would say it has a nice sculpt, but some antiquated articulation. As a display piece as part of a larger set, it does its job admirably. If you're looking to dynamically pose the figure and take awesome action shots....well...good luck!

1 comment:

  1. There were four Legionnaires in that wave. I believe that Colossal Boy was the fourth. They were smaller in scale from previous DC Direct figures, which was hugely disappointing to me, because they were shorter than the 3 founders issued earlier.