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Watchmen Update: Toy Collectors Get Their Day In The Sun
Posted by D_Martin on February 1, 2009 at 10:34 PM CST:

Even though the first nine issues of the comic book series were amazing, it was the last few pages of the tenth issue that planted the seeds of desire in the minds of many action figure collectors. As anyone who is familiar with the story can tell you, the short appendices at the end of every issue brought the reader knee-deep into the world of the Watchmen in a way the epic main tale of the comic never could. Each appendix focused on a real world concept as it pertained to the people living in the story's troubled times.

In the case of the tenth issue, released in July 1987, the appendix was a four page collection of memos from the desk of Adrian Veidt, the former crime fighter known as Ozymandias and now President and C.E.O. of Veidt Industries. The fictitious memos show the reader a little bit of the day-to-day business he dealt with, and to toy collectors, the second page was a masterpiece. As if pulled out of their subconscious, the page in question showed a mock up for additions to the Ozymandias action figure collection. The reader is to assume that the first wave was a single figure release of the hero in his full costume, and due to its success, the toy division of Veidt Industries wanted to a second series with a gallery of his allies as well as his nemesis. The proposed collection would have given kids in the Watchmen world figures based on Rorschach, Nite Owl (Dan Dreiberg), Ozy?s pet Bubastis, and the villainous Moloch. Also proposed was an appropriately scaled Owl Ship and a role-play scaled version of Rorschach?s Grappling Gun.

While this was all make belief, toy fans had nonetheless drooled at how cool the line would be if it were real.

Fast forward thirteen years. DC Direct revealed prototypes for the first wave of figures in a proposed ongoing series of Watchmen action figures. The first wave would have included a ?modern? version of The Comedian, The Silk Spectre (Laurie Juspeczyk), and a semi-translucent Dr. Manhattan. They brought the three prototypes to the 2000 San Diego Comic Con and the fan reaction was exactly what one would expect. On a personal note, being one of the Watchmen fans to see them in person at Comic Con, all three were all you could want and were instantly the figures I wanted more than anything else seen at the event.

Still mired in speculation, the line never was released. These three action figures were the proverbial carrot on a string, and in a sick twist of fate, DC Direct was forced to pull them away from us before we could get our teeth into them. There is little doubt that, should DC Direct find a way to release them now, they would be a massive success for the toy makers.

This last March, we finally saw the first official imagesof feature film versions of these beloved characters, and toy collectors around the world thought in unison ?When will we see the action figures??

DC Direct answered that question during the 2008 New York Comic Con where they showed off the first series of movie figures, including The Silk Spectre (Laurie Juspeczyk), Ozymandias, Rorschach, and Nite Owl (Dan Dreiberg), along side the 13? Rorschach figure, and the Rorschach mini bust. Toy collectors naturally went nuts.

With no desire to stop a rolling stone, DC Direct released the first official images in their May product solicitations. In addition to the figures shown at the New York Comic Con, DC Direct also revealed the Ozymandias minibust and the 13? Dr. Manhattan figure. Well, actually, they kind of revealed that figure. Due to the marketing plan for the film, DC Direct couldn?t yet reveal the movie likeness for this character, so we essentially got to see a 13? blue blur in a three piece suit.

Unable to show Dr. Manhattan?s likeness in June for the sake a a huge reveal, DC Direct proceeded to announce more collectibles including the 13? Comedian figure, the Comedian and (unrevealed) Dr. Manhattan mini-busts, and the second wave of figures, including The Silk Spectre (Sally Jupitor), The Comedian, Dr. Manhattan (not revealed), and Nite Owl (Hollis Mason).

In July, at the 2008 San Diego Comic convention, DC Direct finally gave us our first look at their Dr. Manhattan collectibles. In addition to actually seeing the 13? and 7? figures, the Dr Manhattan mini-bust was also there. Also shown for the first time were the Owl Ship Maquette, The Commedian?s commemorative award gun set and Rorschach mask & Grapling Gun prop replicas.

The toy front remained calm until DC Direct released their November solicitations, revealing three new action figure variants, including a translucent version of Dr. Manhattan, a young ?flashback? version of the Comedian as he appeared in Vietnam before his disfiguring encounter, and an unmasked version of Rorschach, or as he would say, a faceless version of Rorschach?

While this brings us up to date, a report on about the upcoming book Watchmen: The Art Of The Film reveals a prop from the film of an ad in a comic (you know which one) showing off Veidt Industries Ozymandias action figure collection. The line includes Ozymandias, Rorschach, Nite Owl (Dan Dreiberg), Ozy?s pet Bubastis, and the villainous Moloch (along with The Silk Spectre (Laurie Juspeczyk), The Comedian, and Dr. Manhattan) and an appropriately scaled Owl Ship. Seems in the course of twenty-two years we have gone full circle. We can look at Watchmen toys we?ll never own.

Thankfully, this time we can do so with a shelf full of figures from DC Direct, a pile of collectibles from NECA, and a small space reserved for another toymaker that has yet to officially announce their upcoming line of Watchmen figures.

Oh, and of course, a feature film based on the best comic book tale ever published.

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