If asked to name my favorite DC Heroes, Plastic Man makes the cut. He’s been a favorite of mine since I was a wee tot, largely because of his cartoon & Super Powers, but I appreciate the comic character too. I couldn’t wait to see him as a DCUC and I’m ecstatic that he’s finally here.
The first time I remember seeing Plastic Man was in a guest spot in a particularly awful episode of Super Friends. Some numb nuts professor had automated the world successfully until a cartoon mouse crawled in his computer and, presumably lots of people died. Plastic Man showed up for 30 seconds, mangled his arm through the computer components and removed the cartoon mouse which Wendy surely kept as a pet for years. I almost hate admitting it, but that sequence is imprinted on my brain and it got me hooked on Plastic Man. Plas would go on to get his own cartoon as well as a Super Powers figure. The figure is what really brings it home for me as I would’ve had to see all the cartoons in reruns. I’ve had the figure for nearly twenty-five years and it’s still one of my favorite toys.
When I got older and started digging into comics, I didn’t find Plastic Man at first.
He was an older character, created in 1941 by Jack Cole for Quality Comics. Formerly a petty criminal, Eel O’Brian had been shot “on the job”, doused with a strange acid, and abandoned by his cohorts. After being nursed back to health in an oddly-placed monastery, Eel – now with the power to stretch and mold his body into any shape – left his criminal past behind and became the hero Plastic Man.
Like many of the heroes of the 40s and 50s, Plastic Man found his way into DC’s hands and he appeared here and there over the next few decades – with some particularly difficult bits of continuity to reconcile among multiple Earths and multiple versions. It’s not pretty. Post-Crisis, things were cleaned up a bit, but Plas didn’t see heavy use until Grant Morrison added him to the JLA in the late 90s. The character has enjoyed a small renaissance ever since – including his own Eisner Award winning series and numerous guest appearances.
Normally, I don’t bother with packaging in these reviews – I throw it away. Er, recycle it. Yeah. Anyway, I can’t do that this time. I love Plastic Man and his packaging speaks to me because it is Plastic Man! For $20, this figure came boxed with the current DC card art printed on both sides (with PM crashing the party). The real gem is on the inside. Plastic Man comes in a standard package, but all the art is faithful to if he were being the package himself. This includes some chip art hair that covers the top of the package and removable “goggles”. That’s a keeper. I’ll cover the figure pieces in a minute, but the set also included a small D.E.O. case file (someone at DC actually remembers the D.E.O.?). The file contains some images and biographical info on Plastic Man (which replaces the normal bio that would be on a traditional card back). Personally, I’d like to have been getting these the entire time. This figure is $5 more than a standard release and while it has a ton more accessories, I think it’s the packaging that really helps take the edge off.
Plastic Man appears to be a 100% new sculpt. He’s a tall, lean figure – perfect for Sinestro (with a new torso, of course) and other figures that should be tall without the bulk of the PE buck. While I like the buck system – I appreciate the uniformity it gives the line – I’m not always happy with how Mattel administrates it. The Public Enemies buck, perfect for characters of 6′ 6″-6′ 9″ hasn’t been used once in the main line (Blue Devil & Martian Manhunter could have benefitted from it). With more than a few characters using bucks that didn’t quite fit, I’m overjoyed that one of my favorite characters got this treatment. He wouldn’t look right with one of the other bucks, but he looks great this way.
In addition to the reusable pieces, Plastic Man has a unique torso with lacing, his trademark belt, and his head. These raised details knock the figure out of the park – there’s literally nothing missing on him and his head sculpt perfectly captures his character from the comics as well as the Super Powers figure. I couldn’t have asked for a better sculpt on Plas.
The only paint issue I have on mine is the shade of red and that’s not that big an issue in the scheme of things. As you can see in the selection of PM figures above, he’s the odd one out based on costume color. I thought this would bother me, but it really hasn’t. He may look dark in that comparison shot, but on my desk, standing next to Blue Devil, Drift, some Glyos, & Prince Adam (my desk is an odd place) he looks just fine. Other than that, I had no paint issues on Plastic Man. Most of the pieces are molded in the appropriate colors and the lines on his chest and belt are all well done.
On the standard figure, all the articulation we’ve come to expect is present, right down to the lack of range on the neck. I have one complaint on this figure and this is it. He has a unique neck joint because of the removable head and that joint doesn’t allow for up and down movement. The peg itself has some, but the long neck traps it and blocks the range.
Plastic Man’s true value is in his accessories. His ability to change his shape made him an ideal candidate for an SDCC exclusive. Plas came packaged with six attachments. The first one you notice is the alternate spring lower torso. It attaches at the waist (above the belt) and is a real metal spring coated in plastic. As such, it has no poseability, but it looks great on him and its fun to play with. Continue to More Accessories, the Suitcase, and Starro Spores…