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Watchmen: Club Black
Freighter: Nite Owl II Review

Sometimes a figure I’m not too keen on reviewing gets overlooked. It’s rather easy to do – my review backlog feels like its miles long sometimes – but I tend to get to the Mattycollector reviews fairly regularly for two reasons. One, they’re insanely popular regardless of what figure I’m reviewing (even the Ghostbusters reviews got tons of hits) and, two, they show up every month and I’m always… “oh crap, I didn’t review last month’s yet”.

That is precisely the case today with this figure: Nite Owl from Mattel’s Club Black Freighter. Comedian arrived late last week and since the Watchmen figures are bimonthly, that means Nite Owl has been sitting in his box for two months. Oops!

Part of that is due to my interest for the character – he actually highlights one of the differences between the comic and the film for me. In the comics, I don’t much care about Nite Owl. He’s part of the ensemble, he’s important and I root for him, but I just never really had an affinity for him. Skip ahead to the movie and Patrick Wilson did such an amazing job as Dan Dreiberg (& Nite Owl) that it made me fall in love with the character.

And so naturally, my desire for a Nite Owl figure increased tenfold. I skipped all the movie merchandise (that year wasn’t really a financial boon for me), but my desire for comic figures was (& still is) a big part of my want list. And I’ve enjoyed, to varying degrees, Mattel’s stab at the comic-based figures so far, but Nite Owl has kinda me realize that I’d rather have a movie Nite Owl than a comic one. Hrm.

Now, what I’ve been mulling over, apparently for two months, is if I would rather have a movie figure because of Nite Owl was portrayed in the film or if because Nite Owl isn’t really on the stellar side of Mattel’s figure output. I really can’t quite decide.

I don’t entertain most of the complaints about the Watchmen line. I think it works. It’s a line of six characters that we would naturally want to fit in with our DC Classics and do thanks to the reuse of the buck bodies from DCUC. Rorschach has been on the high end & Dr. Manhattan the low end of how well the figures turned out, but I’m a universe builder. While I love finding a diamond in the rough (hello, Batros!) I’m also okay padding my shelves with figures that are good, but not exceptional.

And that’s Nite Owl. There’s little doubt. The gist is here. There the new pieces we needed: the head, the cloak, the belt that get the details right. And Mattel also did a new, non-ripped torso because Nite Owl was a little past his prime during most of Watchmen. That’s pretty cool. And the new pieces are pretty much all elements of great sculpting. I love the dour expression on the face. I love the belt. I love the ponch. It reminds me of me!

And I like the cloak too. I mean, it’s accurate… but it’s also not functional for an action figure. His arms are pretty much locked in there. He can get into some poses that stretch the clock a bit, but then the cloak is stretched once you take the pose down. It’s kind of annoying. I love that they went for the aesthetic. The precedent for this line was set by Rorschach, but I like my figures to be able to move. I’ve seen a few online mods where they trim the cloak down and it still looks good while increasing the figure’s range. I may try it. Continue to Page 2…

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17 comments to Watchmen: Club Black
Freighter: Nite Owl II Review

  • Zed

    I do wonder if the grappling hook gun Rorschach came with was deliberately oversized as an homage to the grappling hook gun the Rorschach action figure is shown holding in the original Watchmen comics (you can see it in the “backmatter” portion of Chapter 10). Also, has any toy blogger written at length about the absolute irony of the existence of Watchmen toys?

    • dayraven

      to my knowledge, no, no one has noticed the seeming irony of watchmen action figures, just as most miss the fact that the third atlas shrugged movie is turning to kickstarter to get made… the comedian had it right. 🙂

    • Lay ze-man

      I’ll tell you this: Watchmen action figures make a helluva lot more sense than the slick, sexy-cool action movie acraptation we got with its lovingly crafted scenes of violence.

      Yet fanboys didn’t really seem to care much about that…

    • Actually, not enough said. Great review and funny comics, as always. Okay, I’m done, now.

    • I think a better solution than soft goods would have been two capes. This one, and then a second one that was pulled back.

      Kind of like how the SW Black Darth Maul has two heads, one with the hood and one without. Sure, they could have just made the cowl removable, but then it probably would have floated above Maul’s head like every other cowl does. That’s the kind of detail I wish Mattel had put into these figures.

  • Noisy, I don’t think it was so much that the movie *character* was cooler as much as I think the movie *costume* was cooler. Therein lies my disappointment with the figure.

    As for the owl-arangs, I like that we got accessories with him, I don’t like that there really is no point for packing three with him because he can’t hold them all at once and there’s no place on the figure to store them.

    • Has anyone tried wedging all three into his hand at once? Maybe that’s the key.

    • Brainlock

      The lady who designed the movie costumes is married to the former head of props on Heroes, James Clark (@JamesProps), and when he posted on twitter about her work, he got mad when I reminded him she was working off existing designs by Gibbons. Dude, credit where credit is due, right? I never said they were bad or disliked them (I do like them), just that they weren’t completely original designs, even for that story.

  • Forgot… Just opened my Comedian and I think he’s the winner of the line. Tons of personality in the face sculpt and the new bits just make him perfect. Only complaints are the lack of a second gimp-masked head, the bloody smiley, the flesh colored shoulder disks and the lack of his cigar (which now that the 66 Penguin includes his cigarette holder is all the more maddening).

  • CopperZeus

    Great review. I have mixed feelings about the cape. I do like that it looks like he stepped right of the page, but it would have been nice for the cape to be a little more open. Owlman pulls it off pretty well, and a similar design would have been nice for Nite Owl.

    I also really like the new torso. When I first got Nite Owl, I was really hoping we’d see this re-used on some other characters. Aside from customs, it seems like that’s not going to happen though.

  • Brainlock

    So the rubber cape is too thick? Why didn’t they use the same type they used for CSA Owlman’s cape? sigh….
    I like JayT’s idea about two capes, but if they did, I’m sure a lot of buyers would then demand the second be his “Arctic Owl” cape.

    I have to wonder if the torso wasn’t also used for ’66 Batman? Adam wasn’t in the best shape there, either, or at least, what we think of as “best shape”, post-80s exercise boom. Neither were the steroid-ripped 6-pack abs associated with “in shape” these days.
    (I now have to wonder if Adam’s paunch wasn’t an influence on Dan’s design?)

    Otherwise, I’d say they did a pretty decent adaptation of the character, cape aside. He’s one that was going to be tough to get, regardless, and they could have really fubar’d him worse than just the restrictive cape.

    I saw the Comedian this past wkd at Project:ComicCon up here and thought he was pretty good. can’t wait to see his review. ($50?? LOL NOT.)

  • Truth

    There is quite the contrast between this figure and the Marvel Select Wolverine. The Wolverine is larger, has slightly more articulation, three heads, is cheaper, and is actually poseable. It’s no wonder Mattel is quickly becoming a non-factor in the action figure market.

  • Great review! The best part of Watchmen figures for me is YOU KNOW they piss Alan Moore right the hell off….which is a noble cause in my book.