World of Warcraft Series 1


I've loved computer and video games since the day my brother-in-law bought Pong back in 1975.  By 1979, when Space Invaders invaded Michigan State University, I was a full blown addict.  With the purchase of my own first computer in 1983 - a Commodore 64 of course - I started down the path of computer games along with arcade style video games, and have spent countless hours in the years since in front of a ever improving screen of characters.

However, I don't play World of Warcraft.  Now before you revoke my geek card, let me say I fully understand both the game and the attraction.  Of all the games, my favorites were always the fantasy based adventures, from my early days with Wizardy and Ultima, through games like Baldur's Gate and Zelda, I've enjoyed hours and hours of killing Orcs and moving up levels.

But I simply don't have the time I once did to immerse myself in a game.  Now I have a few minutes here or there to grab a first person shooter, or spend some time bowling on the Wii.  If I did have the time though, I'm quite positive that WoW would suck me in.  Hey, 8 million people can't be wrong, can they?

DC Direct figures that all those WoW players would like some action figures too.  They've just released series 1 (with series 2 scheduled before the end of the year) of their WoW line, including Valeera Sanguinar (a Blood Elf Rogue); Thargas Anvilmar (a Dwarf warrior); Rehgar Earthfury (an Orc shaman); and Meryl Felstorm (an undead Warlock).  These guys have hit your LCS and favorite online retailers, and run around $15 each for these guys, depending on the retailer and whether you buy the whole set.

BTW, I'll be refering to the figures as their type of character for the most part, since remembering which name is which figure is tough for the reader to do.

Packaging - ***
DCD went with clamshells here, which is a good idea.  I also really REALLY like the individualized backer cards for each figure, showing some terrain or area from the game.  The only real downside here is that the clamshells are HUGE in proportion to the figures themselves.  Of course, you'd expect the one for the Orc to be large, but in an attempt to keep them all consistent, they also made the one for the Elf and the Dwarf the same size, making those figures look quite small in comparison.

Sculpting - Warlock ***1/2; Orc, Dwarf, Elf ***
The strength of all four of these figures is in their sculpts.  There's a ton of small detail work, with very intricate patterns on the armor and clothing, and some beautiful work on the fur and metal.

Unlike most of the superheroes that the DC team does, where the amount of detail and texture is a bit limited by the source material, these allowed them to flex their detail muscles, and it shows.  Every figure has some aspect that's really outstanding - the armored shoulders of the Warlock, the intricate beard of the Dwarf, the finely carved breast plate of the Elf, and the beautiful fur pelt over the head and back of the Orc.  All of these figures show an extreme attention to detail and realism that matches anything put out by any other company today.

The sheer volume might be a bit of an issue though.  In all forms of art, from painting and drawing to sculpture and photography, too much detail (especially similar detail) can be difficult for the viewer to take in.  If there's no place for the eye to settle in a vast sea of fairly consistent minutia, it becomes less attractive rather than more.  All that complexity gets lost, and that's a bit of an issue here, particularly for the Dwarf.  The story goes that in the old days, Mcfarlane sculptors were instructed to avoid symmetry at all costs - asymmetry made for a more 'evil' appearance, and certainly a more visually interesting one.  The Dwarf has a lot of detail work in his beard and armor, but because there's so much consistency in the red, black and gold as well as the design of the armor and weapon (the way the 'blades' on the shoulder armor and weapon are identical in appearance, for example), much of this detail gets lost to the eye.

It also doesn't help that he's tiny - really tiny.  Yes, dwarves are by nature smaller than the other characters, but convincing folks that this guy is worth as much as the Orc or the Warlock is going to be a tough sell.  The Dwarf stands about 4 1/2 inches tall.

Both the Elf and the Orc have amazing sculpts, but because of the extremely limited articulation, the selected poses have to be spot on to take these figures to the next level.  Unfortunately for these two, I'm not a big fan of either sculpted pose.

The Orc is leaning back, bellowing toward the sky, with his fists at his side.  It's an expressive pose, and certainly dynamic, but I always prefer poses where I can look the character in the eye when they're on the shelf.  This pose doesn't do a whole lot for me.

Neither does the Elf's fighting pose.  You do have some control over the location of the sword, and the pose of her left hand as well.  But the feet are permanently attached to clear stands to keep her upright, and her head is bent downward.  Again, like the Orc, you can't see her face when you're looking directly at her.  Without any useful neck articulation, you're stuck with this pose.  had they simply tilted the head back a bit further, I would have been a much happier camper.

The winner of the bunch is the Warlock, at least in this category.  He has plenty of detail, but has some nice inconsistent asymmetric features, like the skulls on the spires of his shoulder armor, or the green ball on the end of his staff.  Your eyes can rest on these attributes when you scan over him, which helps bring out the overall complexity a bit better.  Of the four poses, I think his fits the character the best, and is dynamic enough to remain interesting.

All four have hands sculpted to work with the accessories as appropriate.  The Orc is the largest of course, coming in at 8" inches, while the Warlock and Elf are about 6 1/2" tall.

Paint - Dwarf,  Warlock ***1/2; Elf, Orc ***
The paint is very clean on most of the figures, with very little slop and relatively clean cut lines.  There's some slighlty overdone washes, like on the Elf's hair, and some areas are a bit sloppy, like the gold on the club of the Dwarf, but in general the work is top notch.

I did drop the scores on the Elf and Orc slightly because of the washes. Both of these are a bit overdone, while the wash on the Warlock armor looks much better.  Perhaps it's because the armor is a more appropriate place to have it, whereas the Elf has it in her hair quite heavy, while the Orc has it across his torso.

Articulation - Dwarf, Elf *1/2; Warlock, Orc *
These are not super articulated action figures.  These don't even qualify as 'action' figures, although it says they are in big letters on the front of the package.

The Dwarf actually has a ball jointed neck, an huge surprise for DCD.  Maybe calling themselves 'DC Unlimited' for these figures makes all the difference in the world.  He also has cut shoulders, but that's it.

The Elf also has cut arm joints, along with cut wrists.  There's no neck articulation, and nothing in the torso or legs.

The Warlock and Orc actually take a step down from those two.  The Warlock has cut shoulders and cut wrists, and the Orc has cut biceps.  Yep, that's it.

In other words, the pose you see is pretty much the pose you get.  If you like the sculpted poses, you'll like the figures.  If you don't, there's no fixing it.

Accessories - Orc, **; Dwarf, Warlock and Elf *1/2
There aren't a lot of accessories here, which considering the game and the characters, is likely to be a bit of a disappointment for some folks.

Each figure comes with some form of weapon.  The Elf has her sword, the Dwarf has his bladed club, the Warlock has his funky staff, and the Orc has his arm blades that he stole from a Predator.

The staff of the Warlock and weapon of the Dwarf come in three pieces, so that you can slip them through the holes in the hands and then assemble them.  Don't try to do it in the other order - it won't work.

The Orc gets a slighty better score here because his pelt cape is removable, and technically an accessory.  You won't actually display him with it off - he looks kind of dopey without it - but it's nice to know you can.

Fun Factor - *1/2
These are clearly not designed for any real 'play'.  They're Nerd Hummels.  This is going to be a deal breaker for some folks, but not so much for others.  I suspect if you go in realizing it, the issue will be lessened.

Value - Dwarf **; **1/2
Each of these figures runs around $14 - $15, similar to the DCD superhero lines these days.  Unfortunately, that's getting to be the norm.

Even so, you're going to end up feeling ripped on the Dwarf.  He's a very small figure, and considering the price point, he really needed a little extra somethin' somethin' to make you feel you're getting your money's worth.

Things to Watch Out For - 
The weapons go together only one way, and that's a bit tricky with the Warlock's staff.  That's because the pegs are quite small on his, and being able to see just how they line up and getting them to fit together can take some effort.  That effort can result in damaged pegs if you're not careful.

Overall - Warlock ***1/2; Dwarf, Elf, Orc ***
The first series isn't bad, but only the Warlock really jumps out at me as a figure that's well above average.  I'm not hitting them to hard on categories like Articulation or Accessories, but if these are more critical for you and carry a higher weight, then your overall opinion is going to be lower.

Even without putting too much weight on those categories, they miss the mark a bit for me.  With a pre-posed unarticulated statue like this, the selected pose is critical to the appeal.  Neither the Orc or the Elf have poses that do much for me, although since this is an aesthetic situation, your mileage may vary.

The Dwarf lost points because of the size, and the sheer consistent nature of the detail work.  There's so much detail that looks so much alike, that on a quick glance none of it makes an impact.

The Warlock was the one figure that I can see liking on the shelf.  The pose fits the character so the lack of articulation is less of an issue, and the cool spiked shoulders and attached skulls give him an excellent menacing appearance.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpt - Warlock ***1/2; Orc, Dwarf, Elf ***
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - Orc, **; Dwarf, Warlock and Elf *1/2
Accessories - Orc, **; Dwarf, Warlock and Elf *1/2
Fun Factor - *1/2
Value -  Dwarf **; the rest **1/2
Overall - Warlock ***1/2; Dwarf, Elf, Orc ***

Where to Buy -
Options include these fine sponsors:

- Toys and Cool Stuff has them at $15 each or $50 for the set (in Canadian dollars).

- Clark Toys has the singles for $13, or the set for $45.

- Alter Ego Comics has the set of four for $45.

- Circle Red has the set for $47.

- CornerStoreComics has the set in stock for $50, or the singles for $14 each.

- Amazing Toyz also has the set for $50, or the singles at $14.

Related Links -
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Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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