Monday, October 21, 2019

LEGION TOYS: Lightning Lad (DC Direct 2001)

One of the 3 founding members of the Legion of Super-Heroes, instrumental in helping two other super powered teenagers foil the assassination of philanthropist R.J. Brande! Born on the agricultural world of Winath! Empowered with the electrical energy of the lightning beasts of planet Korbal!  The man who fought the Super Moby-Dick of space and lived to tell the tale, Garth Ranzz a.k.a. Lightning Lad!

  Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage hates that I put a 5-Year-Later Legion reference in this group shot.

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, Lightning Lad 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 Lightning Lad shares some parts with the DC Direct Cosmic Boy. The Chest, arms, one of the open palms, and the static crotch and legs have repeated use in this line. There are original lightning bolts incorporated into the chest area. The blue cape is rubbery, well sculpted and is easily manipulated if needed. The face sculpt is excellent. From the waves in the hair, to the gritted teeth and the challenging raised eyebrow, Lightning Lad is one of the stand-out figures from the first wave of this line. Lightning Lad comes with a few accessories, such as a sculpted Legion Flight Belt that can be attached to the waste with a square  plastic fastener. In addition, he comes with a swap-out bionic arm, which is the best part of the entire figure. The rivets, knuckles, joints and metal lines on the shoulder are all expertly sculpted! Finally, Lightning Lad comes with a gold 1:1 Flight Ring that you could place on your own hand if you so chose (actual flight ability not included!).

DC Direct figures are better known for their sculpts than articulation. This set of figures are less action and more staction (a portmanteau of statue and action figures coined by Four Horsemen artists to describe Masters of the Universe figures). Lightning Lad has a mere 9 points of articulation in total.  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 retain the 360 degree motion. Arms cannot move out to the sides, but there is a 90 degree elbow cut, so the arms can go from being straight to a 90 degree angle. The swap-out bionic arm also retains the 90 degree elbow cut, and can articulate from straight to a 90 degree angle. Lightning Lad's open palm can also rotate 360 degrees. The closed fist, however, cannot rotate at all. The closed fist on the bionic arm, also cannot rotate. There is a waste-cut that moves 360 degrees. The legs themselves have zero articulation at the waste and arm in a permanent lunge with the left leg in front and the right leg bracing the remaining weight of the figure. Finally the knees in a somewhat pointless fashion also articulate with a single joint from straight to a 90 degree angle.

For the most part, paint applications are good. The red hair is represented with some nice oranges and has a slight wash to bring out all the sculpted waves. The eyebrows, eyes and teeth are all well-done. The flat whites on the chest and arm cuffs is a little caked on and sloppy, but only upon extremely close inspection. The yellow on the lightning bolt emblems has a nice fade to it, but I'm not sure if that is just a happy accident. In whatever case, I like how the bolts are painted. The silver on the belt buckle is a nice square with no discernible bleed. The glossy blacks on the belt itself and the ribs of the figure have a good line of demarcation. The glossy blue on the boots and cape is a little darker than the blue on the arms and crotch area. The blue on those areas goes closer to the green spectrum of things. Lastly, the swap out bionic arm, I think is a shiny grey plastic, but I could be mistaken. Whether the piece is painted or plastic, it works well within the intended context of the figure.

While the sculpt is pretty nice, this is still a piss poor excuse for an "action" figure. It's really more of a pvc plastic figurine or as previously described a staction figure. If you're a fan of posing your action figures, there's not a whole lot you can do with this figure. However, with the inclusion of the swap-out bionic arm, this feature really helps to alleviate my disappointment with the static non-articulated legs and crotch.  Regardless of whether or not you adore the Silver Age interpretation of Lightning Lad (although I think I do, and I'm totally biased), this can be a fun figure to mess around with, so long as you have the right effects pieces. Lightning Lad still gets a recommendation from me despite his shortcomings in the articulation department.

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