REVIEW: DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS CYCLOTRON
The cyclotron is was one of the earliest types of particle accelerators, and is still used as the first stage of some large multi-stage particle accelerators. A cyclotron consists of two D-shaped regions known as dees. In each dee there is a magnetic field perpendicular to the plane of the --
Wait, wait, wait, that's not right. Confound it, this is what happens when I get my toy reviews mixed up with my files of technology that might aid me in my plans for global domination... Whoops.
Okay -- it's no secret that the designers of Mattel's superb line of DC Universe Classics figures, the Four Horsemen, are huge fans of the 1980's line of DC action figures from Kenner -- SUPER POWERS. They've made it a point to turn out as many of the one-time Super Powers figures in the DC Universe Classics line as possible, and they're getting pretty close to completion.
Now, in some cases, this isn't especially difficult. Both lines have had major players such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Aquaman, and even notable secondary characters such as Green Arrow, Red Tornado, and others. Villains have also turned up, such as Joker, Penguin, Luthor, etc.
But then there's the really obscure characters. Samurai, a character who was first developed for the animated Super Friends TV series, was brought into the Super Powers line. At this point, I'm just hearing rumors that he might be in the DC Universe Classics line, although he has made it into the Justice League Unlimited line. Tyr, an enemy of the Legion of Super-Heroes, was in the Super Powers line, and is coming to DC Universe Classics. Golden Pharaoh, a character who was developed solely for the toy line -- wasn't even in the Super Friends or Super Powers animated series -- is coming to DC Universe Classics.
And then you've got Cyclotron. Here's somebody else that was never in the animation. He was in the Super Powers action figure line. And now he's in the DC Universe Classics line.
For its time, the Super Powers line was superb. To some degree, it holds up well today, although no one would argue that the DC Universe Classics line is far more detailed and articulated -- not to mention larger. But for a toy line in the 1980's, it was really excellent. Ironically enough, at the time, Mattel had turned out a line of Marvel Comics characters based on the Secret Wars mini-series. They were cool enough, but the Super Powers line featured much more detailed and much more individualized action figures. The days of Mego were not that far in the past at this point in time, but they were past, and there was certainly a market for super-heroes, even if G.I. Joe, Transformers, and Star Wars dominated the action figure world.
I still have my Super Powers collection. Admittedly, it's not a complete collection, but I have the vast majority of it. But, I never had the original Cyclotron. I have pretty good memory of him. I don't really know why I never picked him up, except that he didn't strike me as anybody that I'd ever really heard of.
Still, I suppose there's something of nostalgia-even-in-absentia here, because I didn't hesitate to pick up the new DC Universe Classics Cyclotron when I found him.
Unfortunately, trying to find any significant background on Cyclotron as a character proved to be difficult. There was a character in the DC Universe proper named Cyclotron, but it wasn't this robot. It was a guy named Terry Curtis who was first introduced in Action Comics #21 in 1940, but didn't gain any super-powers until All-Star Squadron #21 in 1983 -- forty-three years later -- although in fairness, the story in the 1983 comic took place in the 1940's.
This was all I could really find about the Cyclotron presented here as an action figure:
Cyclotron was created exclusively for the line of Super Powers action figures, and appeared in the third series of the comic book adaptation of the same name, in 1986. According to the back of his toy package, Cyclotron was an android built by Superman. He was then programmed with all the powers and weaknesses of every super-hero and super-villain in order to be the Justice League's tactician. The package also notes that Cyclotron was capable of little independent thought.
Now, honestly, that's a little vaguely worded, though. One sort of wonders -- did Cyclotron actually possess everybody's super-powers, or did he just have knowledge of them? The back of his DC Universe Classics toy package clarifies this. It reads as follows:
Superman programmed Cyclotron with complete knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of every hero and villain. Superman hoped the Cyclotron would become the ultimate tactician, able to anticipate the moves of villains based on their prior tendencies and recognize heroes unfamiliar to League members. The android could disguise himself as human and, although he had limited physical abilities, he could rotate his torso and deliver a powerful "twister punch".
The thing about Super Powers figures was that each one had some sort of built-in spring-action mechanism, that generally wasn't too much of a hindrance to normal articulation, fortunately. Given the description here, I suspect that the original Cyclotron had a built-in feature similar to that of Samurai, who, when you pressed his legs together, his torso whipped around. Everybody had some sort of action, and even if those actions were similar, they all had different names. Both Flash and Aquaman, for example, had legs that moved back and forth, but one was meant to represent running, the other swimming.
Obviously, the DC Universe Classics figures don't have any built-in spring-action features , because that sort of thing is more trouble than it's worth as far as I'm concerned. But, hey, we've got to have something for Cyclotron to be able to do, right?
So, how's the figure? Very impressive, and a very reasonable DC Universe Classics incarnation of the original. Cyclotron's design is such that he looks less like something that Superman would've constructed, and almost like something that might have come out of the world of the "New Gods". There's a certain complex Kirby-ish look to him.
Cyclotron looks human. He appears to be wearing a metallic green helmet with yellow trim around the sides and front, in a sort of "starburst" configuration. He appears to be wearing a red visor, although it's likely these are his actual eyes. His arms and part of his chest are bare. His costume is predominantly a somewhat metallic dark green in color, with metallic yellow trim. He has metallic yellow bands around his lower arms, but they're not at the wrist. The yellow trim on his torso borders his chest, and provides what looks like a very wide belt that runs from just below his chest to his waist. There are some dark green elements in this, and it tapers to a sort of shirt tunic in the front and back, which also lends itself to the "New Gods" look.
Let me make an observation here. It's been some time since I've felt the need to address the quality control problems that plagued some of the earlier assortments of DC Universe Classics figures. This is because, for the most part, these problems have been dealt with. It's been a very long time since I've encountered reversed arms, reversed leg parts, stuck parts, or even sloppy paint. I've been abundantly impressed with Mattel's obvious determination to resolve these issues in an extremely popular and exceptionally well-made line of action figures that is certainly deserving of the finest treatment.
That being said, when I purchased Cyclotron, there were actually two on the shelf. The other one appeared to have a reversed tunic. Since I doubted that it would be possible to turn it around, I purchased the other Cyclotron. Having studied that figure, and realizing that the tunic is not a separate piece, I now realize that what must have happened was that the entire mid torso piece, from below the chest to the waist, must have been assembled backwards! Now, in fairness, this is a unique and unusual piece, and it's somewhat similar between front and back. But this is still a type of carelessness that I fervently hope does not rear its ugly head again. DC Universe Classics figures cannot be readily disassembled for repair. It just doesn't work that way.
Okay, now that I've got that out of the way -- The legs are metallic dark green, and the boots are mostly dark green, with a fair amount of yellow trim. Even the soles of the boots are interesting, and rather robotic-looking.
Here's one thing that surprises me about Cyclotron -- the number of distinctive parts. Granted, they're necessary. One thing I truly appreciate about the DC Universe Classics collection is its CONSISTENCY. They have a good basic "male hero" body mold that can be used to one degree or another on most of their male characters. There's also a couple of female body formats. Now, some figures need some custom parts. It depends on the character. I've been impressed that Mattel has been as willing as they have to craft those new parts, whether it's boots, arms, or whatever, for the figure. And those parts always work with the basic design, and the figure looks consistent with the rest of the collection.
Some are more complicated than others. Deadshot has a lot of custom parts. So does Deathstroke. Aquaman has a distinctive scaled shirt. Other, such as Nightwing, Orion, Green Lantern -- don't have as many custom parts. They don't need them.
Cyclotron, whom it could certainly be accurately stated is hardly a major player, has a lot of custom parts! In fact, I think the only standard parts he has are his upper arms, hands, lower torso, and upper legs. Everything else had to be custom designed for this figure, and I don't think he has anything that can really be used on anyone else!
Now, although Cyclotron does not have his predecessor's "twister punch", he does have some of the original Cyclotron's features. Remember that it was said that Cyclotron could disguise himself as human, and indeed, he looks relatively human, in a super-heroic sort of way. So, what would he look like otherwise?
The original Cyclotron figure came with a piece that could be detached, that consisted of his face and upper chest, revealing the robot underneath. Of course, this meant that the original Cyclotron was rather restricted in his head movement, but it was still a cool feature. The new Cyclotron can do the same thing, except in his case, the face and the torso are separately removable pieces, so that his head articulation remains intact and fully operational.
The easiest way to remove the torso cover is by lifting it up from the red tab at the base of the chest. The easiest way to remove the face is to boost it up from the chin. You tend to discover that Cyclotron looks better with them in place, really. There's just something mildly creepy about a robotic head and chest, right next to those very human-looking arms. But, it's all part of the figure, so let's review them.
The robotic face and chest are nicely done, but look a little simplistic. I am certain that this is intentional, in order to match the original figure design as much as possible. And let's remember the time period from which this figure came. In the mid-1980's, the robots we were most familiar with were R2-D2 and C-3PO, personal computers were still something of a rarity, as was computer animation of any sort of complexity, including video games, comic character design was nowhere near the level it is today (although it was starting to get there), Data was probably being imagined by Gene Roddenberry but wasn't fully realized, and frankly, one of the best looks we'd had inside of a robot was the "Lost in Space" episode where Dr. Smith and Will Robinson were crawling around inside a massively enlarged Robot, trying to solve the problem that had caused him to blow up to such gargantuan proportions in the first place.
In other words, we had a far more limited robotic repertoire than we're used to today. Secondly, toy design at the time wasn't really expected to be as spectacular as it is now. I'm not trying to put down Super Powers or anything else that was around at the time, and some of it, anyway, holds up extremely well to this day. But the idea of designing a really complex-looking humanoid robot for an action figure line probably didn't really occur to anybody.
Cyclotron's robotic facial features are sort of squared off, but everything's in the right place -- eyes, nose, mouth chin. His torso is dominated by a huge central circular apparatus of some sort, with two apparent cables to either side, and a set of three circular objects above. If anything, it looks little like the power core of Iron Man's armor in the movies.
It's a cool feature for the figure to have, but he really does look better with his more human face and torso in place. They secure very well, and I don't believe there's any great risk of them falling off or becoming lost. The face might be a little more prone to this than the chestplate, which has actual tabs that snap into place. The face seems to just fit under the helmet and stay put but it stays put very well.
Of course, Cyclotron is extremely well articulated, standard for any DC Universe Classics figure. He is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, and ankles.
He comes with a display stand, rather than a "Collect-and-Connect" figure part (which can be built in this assortment with parts available from the other six figures in this wave). And it's a very amusing display stand, which also came with the Desaad figure in Wave 12. It's a transparent blue oval, but that's not the big deal. The big deal is that it has the SUPER POWERS logo emblazoned on it in full color. Desaad sort of warranted it because the creators were attentive to give Desaad the same oddball equipment that his Super Powers counterpart had come with. Cyclotron certainly warrants the base, since Super Powers is the line from which he originated!
Still, I find it a little amusing. Now granted, the Super Powers name and logo are obviously property of DC Comics, and they can let whomever they want use it. But I still think it's a bit amusing to see a logo on a Mattel product that came from a toy line that they didn't have anything to do with when it was around.
So, what's my final word here? To some, Cyclotron might seem like an easy figure to pass up. He's not a major player, he was basically created for a previous toy line, he's never been integrated into the mainstream DC Universe, and he doesn't even come with a Collect-and-Connect piece. But those that would overlook him are, in my opinion, making a mistake.
Cyclotron is a cool figure with a superb design, plenty of distinctive parts, and an interesting "action feature" in the revealing of his robotic face and torso. There's certainly a nostalgia here, one that the creators of the toy line share, and one which I agree with. This Cyclotron figure is an excellent tribute to and update of the original, and that's something that I personally get a kick out of, even though I never even owned the original. Sort of wish I did, now.
The DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS figure of CYCLOTRON definitely has my highest recommendation!