DCClassics.Com Review:
Swamp Thing (SDCC 2011)

With Swamp Thing being available on Mattycollector later today, I figured I’d rush his review to the front of the line. I didn’t want to write a negative review about Swamp Thing, and I didn’t, but this article isn’t exactly glowing. Still, here it is, with the positives and the negatives.

Swamp Thing is one of the great DC Characters and like most of ’em, he can’t ever seem to carry a title anymore. He’s the 1971 creation of Len Wein & Bernie Wrightson, but most fans are more familiar with his 80s revival by Alan Moore. Both begin as Alec Holland, a scientist killed for his work, only to be revived by the swamp. Wein’s version was more of a horror creature – a man fused with the swamp – while Moore reimagined him as the swamp come to life, a planet elemental with only the memories of Alec Holland. Either way, they both went on to star in DC Comics, but the most interesting thing about this character might just be his notoriety outside of the comics. Think about your favorite DC characters (not Superman or Batman, but the other lesser knowns that you love) – do they have two movies? A television show? An animated series? A video game? His own self-titled toy line? Swamp Thing has all of those, though you’d never know it if you were watching the DC solicits over the last decade. The good thing is that he’s back in the DCU and a new series will be coming out of the Relaunch, written by Scott Snyder. It’s a good time to be a Swamp Thing fan for the first time in years. There’s even this new figure…

I’m just going to come right out and say what I’m thinking about this figure, the decision to make Swamp Thing this large (which at least partially is about accommodating his rubber skin) was a bad decision. I’ve talked about getting Swamp Thing into this line for two years. He was the runner-up in our 2009 Most Requested Figure contest (beaten narrowly by Mera). So many collectors have been waiting for the perfect Swamp Thing figure, a beautifully sculpted, seven inches or so tall, figure with great articulation – that’s all we wanted. But somewhere along Mattel’s development line, the decision to go above and beyond – to make him larger, to add this new rubbery skin – came forward and Mattel essentially over-complicated something that should have been very simple. I want to like this Swamp Thing, but the negatives just outweigh the positives for me.

We’ve seen some great scale shots online, but somehow I still wasn’t prepared for how big this guy was going to be. If you have any doubts about the figure’s size, they’ll evaporate once you see the box. It’s huge! I mean, I knew he was going to be big, but I was still taken aback by the packaging.

Like most SDCC items, this figure is encased in some cool trash. In hand, Swamp Thing is glaring at you from some die cut scratches in the outer box. Inside is an insert that’s a little replica of Alec Holland’s journal and an egg-carton-like inner tray that doubles as a Swamp Thing mask (did anyone see anyone wearing those at SDCC?). Pop that sucker open, and you’re finally to your Swamp Thing figure (and his base).

After you marvel at how big he is (it’s impressive when you’re not thinking about scale) and pull the figure out of the tray, you might notice that the rubber skin feels a little… tacky. I don’t know if that’s quite the right word. He’s not sticky or oily, he’s just the tiniest bit clingy. It has been well over a hundred degrees here nearly every day and he’s been less so the longer he’s been in the air conditioning, so it may just be the weather. Really, I’m not too concerned about how long the material will last, but I do worry about dust. My house produces tons of it and I’m worried that Swamp Thing here may be more of a magnet than normal (Enterprise figures and the Headless Horsemen’s horse didn’t fare well). I may have to keep him in his packaging if the skin turns out to like holding on to it. If anything can temper your excitement, it’s having to put a toy back in its box.

After you’re done being surprised at his size, and possibly washed your hands, you can start to appreciate the best thing about this figure: his sculpt. This is exactly the sculpt I’ve been dreaming of since the notion of a DCUC Swamp Thing first crept into my head. It’s gorgeous – the Four Horsemen stepped up to the plate and delivered a great figure. The detailing is fantastic right down to the flowers, fungus, and vines. It’s safe to say this figure is a little work of art, more in the vein of Fantastic Exclusive or their previous McFarlane work than the wonderful & accurate, but less detailed, sculpts featured in the DCUC & MOTUC lines.

Visually, the rubber skin looks great too. I don’t usually have a problem with articulation lines. I’m not a fan of Hasbro ball hips or some of the more complicated Toy Biz shoulders, but most cut lines don’t bother me. That said, Swamp Thing looks cool for not having them. Nearly every joint that Swamp Thing has is obscured by the material. The hips are the only joint immediately visible and, ironically, they seem to stand out more when they’re the only ones.

The only problem with the skin and articulation is that a lot of the articulation is gone because the skin wouldn’t have survived using it. When you realize that, you begin to ask yourself if this gimmick is worth the reduced articulation. This is going to vary from individual to individual, I’ve seen folks feeling both ways on the various forums. For me, it’s not.

Swamp Thing is still far from a statue. He has most of the basics. The neck is a ball-joint with good side-to-side and some nice tilt, but he can’t look up (which, I suppose the third tallest DCUC has little reason to do). There’s also ball shoulders, an ab-crunch, the Mattel hips, and hinges at the elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles. This articulation can accomplish some basic poses, but there are issues. The rubber skin brings with it a complete lack of swivel joints which is bad enough, but the rubber skin also really takes away from the knee articulation.

The easiest way to explain might be to use the ratcheting. The four internal limb hinge joints (elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles) are all ratcheted. The wrists have six positions, the elbows and ankles have five each, but the knees only have three. In other words, they hardly bend at all.

And then there’s the possibility of damage to the skin. So far, I haven’t had any issues other than a little white crease on his left elbow, similar to this picture on the Critical Mess forums.

There are some areas (I’ve found three on the front and one on the back) where I thought I might have caused tears, but they’re really the plastic figure underneath poking up to keep the skin in place. The skin will look like it’s separating around those, but it goes back to looking relatively seamless once he’s back to his normal position. I think the ratchet joints will protect his skin from tearing for the most part, but he still feels like a “be careful” figure. Continue to Page 2…

26 thoughts on “DCClassics.Com Review:
Swamp Thing (SDCC 2011)

    1. That’s why I love Noisy’s reviews. Anybody could just rail on it for two pages.

      Great job, Noisy. You hit all the right points, I think. Im still buying tomorrow because I’ve gotta have this guy, but like Rod said, I would be happier with a little hard plastic one.

  1. Swamp Thing is my second favorite DC character after Batman, and I’ve wanted a good figure of him for a long time. This figure is beautiful (in a gloriously ugly way)….but damn that scale issue really bothers me. I could never get past how big Lobo was, but this is ridiculous. Swampy’s size can vary, at least, so we can make a loose argument for the height…but still. Looks like he’ll be displayed solo, away from my DCUC…

    That picture of him with the Kenner Swamp Things is EPIC. The Kenner Swamp Thing line is highly underrated.

    1. I loved the Kenner picture!! Seeing Swamp Thing bust through the Swamp Trap was awesome.

      And I never realized it before but that Camoflage Swamp Thing would make an excellent Black Lantern Swamp Thing!

  2. Great pics, great review, too bad about the ridiculous scale. You’re absolutely right, Mattel did not think the advantages vs. disadvantages of this rubber skin thing through at all. It’s “amazing fishnets” all over again.

    Guaranteed almost every collector would’ve preferred a 7.5″-8″ hard plastic Swampy to this, which is essentially a beautiful standalone curiosity.

  3. Caution is always advisable when mattel gets ambitious…

    It’s a shame this was such a dissapointing figure, even by the (in my experience) unimpressive DCUC standards. I’m not 100% sure why they would even go for the rubber suit, since one of the reasons given for not using double joints across the line is for consistancy.

  4. Yeah I was sold on Swamp Thing, but meh, forget it. I’ll spend $30 on something else. He’s a giant mass of a figure, but the rubber skin and stuff, it’s just too much. If it just had one thing against it, that’d be okay. This has four or five.

  5. Looks like a number of collectors will be holding on to their DC Direct figure or seeking one out.

  6. Good stuff Noisy. When I unboxed mine it was all the way sticky and slimy, and I did just put it away and washed my hands. I haven’t picked it back up yet.

    This line cracked me up: “Like most SDCC items, this figure is encased in some cool trash.” So true. I’d take a lower cost with plain packaging every time.

  7. I wonder if they already planned to scrap the line when they started designing this toy… I was so excited about getting a DCUC ST, but when the reviews started coming in, his size alone put me off. He’s basically a Swamp Thing doll!

    I collect action figures, not dolls. Damn you, Matty!

  8. Great review, Noisy! I bought him today and I’m thinking I might toss him in the fridge for a bit to harden him up before I open him! LOL

  9. I just couldn’t buy this guy. He’s too big and too different looking to me.

    I’d totally forgotten that Sasquatch and Man-Thing had both used the rubber skin over the buck years ago so clever use of them in your pics even though you didn’t mention it. That would’ve probably been better – the rubber over the head and torso with regular arms and legs. Would’ve gotten me to buy it.

  10. Too big, and the rubber skin scares me. Fantastic review, Noisy; and you have confirmed all of my fears about this guy. I almost flipped out with excitement when I saw a DCUC Swamp Thing was coming out. Then I heard about the rubber skin and thought “not my favorite choice, but I can live with it, but the first review that showed me the scale killed my anticipation for him completely.

  11. One thing that is really amazing about these pictures is that it reminds me just how far ahead Toy Biz really was with the Legends line. That Man Thing is, IMO, a better looking figure then Swamp Thing, and it came out like six or seven years ago.

    My biggest problem with this Swamp Thing is not that he’s so tall, but that he’s not big enough. Yeah, Swampy can change his size, but this figure has the proportions of a normal man. If you were to see a 10 foot tall swamp monster, you would expect it to be bigger all around to support itself. If you could shrink him 20%, I think he would have been significantly better looking.

    1. i’ve said it before, and i’ll say it again, DCU will never be marvel legends. that line has really set the industry back about 15 years. not knnocking dcu fans, i understand it’s best lien they’ve been given, and they’re taking what they can get… but they deserve better. the dcu line has, to date, produced VERY few figs that properly iconic to the designated character, and none that have pushed the industry forward like legends did time and again.

      which is why, when TB had legends, i didn’t hesitate to plunk down my hard earned for any character i even marginally wanted… while today, i passed on one of my most wanted DC characters because they cast doubt in their construction methods. unlike some folks, i liked him towering (and really, he’s not THAT big… i had legends BAFs and compared to some of them, swampie is downright puny) but it’s their QC that kept me from getting on board.

  12. good review, I’m definately curious to get this fiugre in hand and check it out…but its all true isnt it?
    The size is OBNOXIOUS, like WHY?!?! why?!?! why?!?! Mattel KNEW damn well we were all taken by surprise by Lobo’s ridiculous height, so who the hell thought it would be a good idea to take another stab into the fanboy communities expectations??

    I always expected the Swamp Thing figure to be like Metamorpho witha ton of swampy attatchments….just knowing the ab crunch articulation isnt there breaks my heart too…I was really hoping to create some dramatic Swamp Thing scenes that would have involved the figures ability to hunch over, slouch on a tree stump, sit on the ground and look up at a tree……..

    this figure looks like its froma completley different and seperate toyline all together…..its kinda disheartening, but to be optimistic, it’s nice to have a Swamp Thing figure to keep me company while I finish Volume #6 of Alan Moores life changing Swamp Thing run…….

    …sooo glad they included the turnips on his back too!!!!

  13. I need to track down a Man-Thing figure, one of the few Legends I never got for one reason or another.

  14. No sale, and hat’s all I have to say on the matter, except to thank Noisy for confirming my opinon on this Statue and saving me a bundle.

    One day……sigh…….

  15. Those who knows Swamp Thing’s touch, shall know fear!

    Y’know, because he’s going to melt and turn to a fine white powder in a few years.

  16. Great review,

    Easy to gage how fans feel about rubber skin and out of scale designs, Swamp thing is and SDCC Exclusive, and he’s not even “almost gone” on Matty let alone sold out.

  17. I’m surprised how all these negative reactions were all what I found attractive about this figure. The recent comics shows Swampthing to be much bigger than previous. I guess that’s why the figure is big.
    The rubber skin is new and fresh to be used in a smaller 1:12 scale. That for one is worth collecting.

    I really like this figure. I have him displayed individually because as one of my new favorites he’s displayed on my desk and not the normal figures shelf.

Comments are closed.