By Hervé St-Louis
June 1, 2003 - 10:46
When The New Titans' Cyborg was released in early 2001 as part of the second wave from this DC Direct line, he raised the bar on the quality of that company's action figures. At the time, of his release, he the teenaged Kid Flash (Yellow Kid Flash) and Starfire had been released a few months before. Raven, was released at the same time as Cyborg.
Cyborg is a third tier DC Comics character who was past his 15 minutes glory days when the figure was produced. He was featured as a supporting character in the Flash comic series and had been through lots of changes in the years since his early days in the New Teen Titans comic book series from the early 1980s and the Super Powers cartoon series in 1985.
The cartoon series had earned Cyborg a glorious spot in action figure history. He had his own action figure based on the cartoon series. Cyborg, in the series, was much like the Firestorm and the Wonder Twins before. He was the Superfriends' kid sidekick, although, like Firestorm, he was more active and a full member of the team, not just a trainee.
The first Cyborg Super Powers action figure is rare. Kenner did not manufacture much and sell it everywhere at the time. Only years later, when many fans tried to complete their Super Powers collection, were they faced with the difficult task of finding the Cyborg figure. When DC Direct released its own Cyborg figure, it probably alleviated the agony of many fans.
This Cyborg figure, of course enjoys the advantages of being six inches, like all DC Direct figures, which is a preferred format for serious toy collectors. It also has more details and better articulation than the previous figure. Also, Cyborg can finally enjoy the company of his other Teen Titans pal. It was about time!
This figure is based on the angry look designed by George Perez, one of Cyborg's creator. All the details are there. The many metal wrappers around Victor Stone's limbs, reminiscent of Bronze Age comic book designs, when Japanese mecha designs did not influence comics is very present. In a way, it's funny to compare this pre-mecha design with modern ones.
Cyborg's armour closely fits his body. His muscles can be seen underneath his metal cage. This is quite different from the current way mechanized armours are designed. Nowadays, blocks of metal cover the parts of entire figures and shapes are dynamically structured. If you compare this Cyborg, with the one in the upcoming Teen Titans cartoon in September 2003, you will see the difference.
Nonetheless, this design is exactly like George Perez'. The shapes are simplified and follow the body of the character closely. Boxes, and strips of metal suggest that there really is some high-tech machinery hidden under. Large skin tight plates cover the character to give us the illusion that he can take a hit from a bullet shot or survive an explosion.
It is interesting to see this action figure depict an important part of comic books' history, when we thought plates of metals to be invincible. Then, no one thought that a mechanized character could be more fragile than a regular person. Today, few of us would put their computers on their chest or throw them around, expecting them to resist the impact, just because they are machines.
The sculpt is the best part of this figure. That's why it's often in DC Direct collectors' top ten list. Mechanized armours then, were skin tight. Characters moved and stretched in any position, as if they were wearing spandex. Well, this figure's sculpt shows just that. Cyborg looks like his ready to jump into the action. He can easily be posed into one of his famous jumping pose.
His legs are spread apart wide so that when you bend his knees, he seems like he's crunching. His arms are parted in a way that suggest his ready to catch anything, like a football player. Of course, Cyborg's right fist is closed while the other hand is open. All that's missing is a football! Before his transformation, Cyborg was a track and field athlete. This figure shows that.
The paint job is the figure's weakness. Cyborg's armour, being made of metal, is very shinny. The first Super Powers figure used a process called vat metal to cover the figure with a shinny metallic-like paint that reflects light. DC Direct favoured standard silver paints to cover the figure. Vat metal is more resistant to rubbing than silver paints, though it keeps finger prints easily.
The silver paint used for Cyborg rubs off very easily. If this figure is played with a lot, eventually, the original colour of the figure will show. Silver paints also get dirty quickly and have dark spots, just before the paint starts to fade.
The application of the paint is not the best. The silver hue bleeds on the leg and arms of the character. The character's skin is a one tone brown. The only particular paint details to be found are on the character's head. Because Cyborg's mouth is opened. Many details are painted within. Red spots on Cyborg's head and alternate body parts are also visible.
The scale of this figure is the standard six inches used by DC Direct. Cyborg is a little smaller than figures such as the Silver Age Aquaman or the Hard Travelling Hero Green Lantern. However, this is perfect for the figure. The Cyborg depicted in this figure was still a teen after all. He is taller than the Silver Age Robin, Aqualad, Raven and Wonder Girl.
Cyborg is smaller than the Teen Titan Kid Flash and Starfire. Here, it is the Teen Titan Kid Flash who is off scale with the other figures. Being a track and field athlete, Cyborg's body mass is greater than his pals, but perfect. Cyborg does not fit with the Silver Age Kid Flash (the red one) and Speedy. They are too small as they represent the characters' early career.
Cyborg cannot stand up because of his ankle articulation. If you have this figure, one ankle is bound to be loose. The character is top heavy. The week articulation of the ankle cannot support his weight. His knees become loose over time. Another problem is that the sculpt forces the figure to lean forward. This is too much pressure on the ankles.
The only way this figure can stand up, is by bending his knees. In my figure, I also reinforced his base with a G.I. Joe action figure base. The problem with bending Cyborg's knees, is that it reinforces their looseness. Even with the G.I.Joe base, the figure will fall. The best you could do, is find a good pose and leave the figure alone. I cannot display this figure at the front.
Cyborg introduced much of what has recently become the standard of all DC Direct figures. Before the release of the Silver Age Superman, he was the most articulated DC Direct action figure ever. He sports 14 points of articulations. His neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist, hips, knees and ankles are all articulated. If you count the exchangeable hands, that's sixteen points.
Of course, the figure has ball-jointed shoulders. At the time not every DC Direct figures had them. Cyborg articulations are well masked. The character's design already features articulation joints at the elbows, the knees and the ankles. Hiding them there was easy for the designers.
The packs on the figure's waist do not impede the articulation of the figure's waist, although it is a bit tight the first time you twist the figure's torso. As mentioned above, the figure's ankles and knees are very loose. The weak articulations are the biggest problem of the figure.
Upon opening Cyborg, back in 2001 (yes, I'm one of the original DC Direct collector) the figure had the gooey stuff many DC Direct figures have under their armpits. It has since dried. The stench is gone too. The figure contains lighter material than other DC Direct figures. He seems hollow inside.
Back in 2001, single DC Direct figures had more props than today. Cyborg came with two sets of exchangeable hands/weapons. His left hand can be replaced with another with a laser turret in the index. The right hand can be exchanged for Cyborg's white noise gun. Both sets of limbs are as well sculpted as the rest of the figure.
The figure comes in a blister pack with images of the Raven action figure and the Titan Tower in the back. DC Direct has printed A bio of the character and a listing of recent and upcoming figures on the back.
The figure was priced at the standard DC Direct price for single figures. If it were released today, you can bet that DC Direct would market it as a deluxe figure. I've seen Cyborg figures listed from $12.50 to $25 USD. Don't let retailers fool you. This is a single action figure and should be priced like one. Again, if DC Direct would stabilize their pricing on their action figures, it would help fans.
DC Direct is releasing a variant of this figure from the few months when his armour was gold-coloured. This variant will come exclusively with the Teen Titans Four Pack set that will be released in August 2003 to coincide with the new Cartoon Network cartoon series. If the gold variant rocks your boat, please get it.
However Cyborg was featured in it for such a brief moment that it's more like DC Direct trying to gauge fans and collectors than a necessary figure. Stocks for the original Cyborg are plentiful, Many stores sell them. Unlike the Super Powers Cyborg, you can find figures in the cheap bin of many stores.
Cyborg was a popular character then, but the misuse of the character by DC Direct has reduced his popularity over the years. Recently, Cyborg returned to his silver look in the page of the Flash comic book, where he was a supporting character. He will be a mentor of the new Teen Titans team series to be published by DC Comics.
Depending on the success of Cyborg in that comic book, the Cartoon Network series and whether Warner will release the old Super Powers cartoons eventually, Cyborg may stage a comeback. However, do not worry. This figure is not rare at all.
Update February 6 2005:
This figure has sold out from Diamond Comics, the exclusive distributor of this action figure.