By Hervé St-Louis
June 8, 2003 - 14:09
Metamorpho is an atypical character not regarded as one of DC's icons, but is popular enough to get a Deluxe Action figure set. To date, I don't recall there ever being a Metamorpho action figure. If the DC Direct release is the first, it is the best ever made.
Metamorpho is a strange DC character. For years, he did not belong to any DC families and even refused to when invited. He refused membership in the classic Justice League, although he joined Batman and the Outsiders later. He receives accolades from characters, fans and creators. Metamorpho is a metamorph and shape shifter who can turn parts of his body or his entire body into chemicals found within humans.
The Metamorpho action figure is designed after the renderings popularized by the character's main Silver Age illustrator, Ramona Fradon. No other artist, save Bart Sears, has had so much influence over the look of the character. DC Direct could have picked Bart Sears' look, but favoured Fradon. This is not a bad decision. Fradon has always had a clean and simple style that lends itself well to vanilla action figures.
Metamorpho's most remembered characteristic are his pronounced eyebrows. Another, is his four "seasons" like suit design. His body is spit in half, in the middle, and in half from the waist. Each part of his body contains a distinct pattern or colour scheme. The left side of his torso and his right harm are smooth and orange. The left side is purple with scales, reminiscent of Aquaman's chain mail's.
The right leg is brown and looks like it's melting of made of wood. The left leg is coloured silver and smooth. Other Fradon design elements are the large biceps she used to give both Metamorpho and Aquaman, which she drew for years. This figure rehashes all those classic design elements. How can someone not fall in love with it?
The sculpt is as great as the figure's likeness. The figure is posed in a regular manner ready to take any position. Metamorpho is smiling, as he used to do in the comics. The toes on his feet are sculpted. The details on his wooden leg are interesting. He has more scales on the left torso and arm than in the comics, but they are better rendered than either the Silver Age or the Super Friends Aquamen figures.
Metamorpho's hands seem larger than normal, but this is taken straight from Ramona Fradon's work. A slight problem is that the left arm is smaller than the right one. It is not very noticeable, but probably due to the etching of the scales that may have reduced the limb's volume.
The paint is simple. Thick paints are used to cover most of Metamorpho's body. However, dark hues were added to the right leg, left torso and head of the figure. There's blue shadowing on Metamorpho's head. Metamorpho's left leg is painted silver. It's the type of paint that rubs off easily though. They also paint the transparent water base that comes with Metamorpho with several foam-like highlights.
Metamorpho is taller than the DC Direct Silver Age versions of Flash, Batman, Green Lantern, Aquaman and Superman! He is not much taller than the last two, but still towers them. This is not a problem. Being a metamorph who can assume many shapes, Metamorpho blends in very well. This figure also blends well with modern DC Direct figure, though he his stylized in Ramona Fradon's look.
Metamorpho has no problems standing up. His legs and knees are thick enough to hold the weight of his torso and arms. His feet are flat and well distanced. This is not a problem figure at all. Even with the water base, the figure stands solidly.
Metamorpho has twelve points of articulations at the neck, the shoulders, the elbows, the wrists, the waist, the hips and the knees. His ball jointed shoulders have very good mobility and his knees are very tight. We can exchange Metamorpho's legs with the water base that comes with the figure. His hands are exchangeable with two morphed props that come with the figure. I like this figure's articulations.
Metamorpho contains better plastic than most DC Direct figures. It is the soft kind, but neither rubbery nor breakable. The figure is heavy, but does not have the gooey stuff under its armpits. The props are made from similar plastics, except the water base, which consists of soft translucent and stinking rubber. The base may bend over time.
The water base can substitute the figure's leg and pose him as if he were transforming into water. Somehow, he looks more like a genie or the Red Tornado with a twister. The figure's waist cannot twist when on the water base. Be careful not to pull too hard when exchanging the legs for the water base and vice versa.
Metamorpho comes with a hammer that can replace his right hand and a gaz/paint projector that go in his left hand. The props fit nicely within the figure's wrists. Because of their design, the peg bar holding the hands and the props are sculpted in the forearms of the figure. You may have to readjust the figure so the hammer does not make it lean too much.
Metamorpho came in a compact square box with checkered designs and illustrations reminiscent of Ramona Fradon. They neatly packaged the figure inside with a big window for display. This package was one of the most original ones produced by DC Direct. In fact, it set the tone for the Birds of Prey set and the Super Friends.
The cost of this figure has created a great debate when DC Direct announced the figure and I was behind it 100%. DC Direct decided to sell this figure as a deluxe one, like they did with Lobo, Solomon Grundy, Enemy Ace and Gorilla Grood. Many fans thought that this was an abusive and deceptive marketing by DC Direct. I still believe it is.
Whereas figures such as Gorilla Grood and Lobo deserved this, Enemy Ace and Metamorpho did not. The amount of props and the size of the figure hardly justifies this. They could have easily packaged Metamorpho as a single figure. The props per se, were not even essential for the collectors. Mine rot in a box with other DC Direct extra props. Honestly, the only figure who really deserved to be deluxe was Lobo.
Because of the counterproductive pricing and marketing strategy of DC Direct, many fans who would have enjoyed this figure probably passed on it. Metamorpho is also of limited appeal to regular comic book fans. The styling of this figure is also very traditional and a node to times past. Not many action figure fans can relate to such an aesthetics in the days of Evangelion and McFarlane's.
Metamorpho, although he starred in his own comics in the past, is not well known outside DC Comics fans. He has appeared in the Justice League cartoon and will return to the new Outsider series from DC. Unless DC releases an archive edition reprinting old stories from the 1960s, I really doubt we'll be seeing much Metamorpho merchandise.
For many, Metamorpho is their father's super hero. Therefore, I doubt many ordered this figure. I have not heard many requests for this figure (although it always changes after I write one of these reviews). If you find a Metamorpho figure near you, buy it on the spot. DC Direct will probably never release it again, unless they have over stocks. I doubt anything major will happen to the character in the future.
Update February 6 2005:
This figure has sold out from Diamond Comics, the exclusive distributor of this action figure.
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