Toy Review: Zack Snyder’s Justice League Darkseid and Steppenwolf
Undoubtedly the visual highlight of McFarlane Toys‘ figures based on Zack Snyder’s Justice League, Darkseid and Steppenwolf tower above the rest. These mega-figures also cost more — $40 each if you’re lucky — but showcase the unique design of the director’s cut. We’ve gotten plenty of toys from the original theatrical version, but that contained neither Darkseid nor the Snyder design for his uncle/assistant. And frankly, both designs feel like a real challenge. This Steppenwolf in particular feels like a design so intricate it can only work onscreen, and must surely befuddle and frustrate comic and toy artists. And Darkseid usually showcases a much simpler costume and texture.
There’s good and bad news here. The good is that McFarlane made some stunningly beautiful figures, including some best-of-year sculpting. The bad involves some serious design and construction issues. These figures will not hold up to any kind of serious play, and work best for collectors who know some basic repair techniques. Or who leave them in the package.
Take Darkseid. Right out of the box, one of his ankles needed straightening out, but when I tried, it popped off. Both parts of the ankle joint — in the foot and the calf — were stuck rigid, so both needed boiling water to loosen. And then it popped back on.
Next, his knee joint had an incorrectly fit pin that pushed it outward. Using some pliers I could tighten it back a bit, but not perfectly.
Oh, and his butt-flap, for want of a better word, hangs by the tiniest tab of costume. There’s no reason not to superglue it, which I did.
Plus his left shoulder’s pretty loose. But not totally limp, at least. Steppenwolf, on the other hand, had the disc part of his right shoulder’s pin-and-disc joint so stuck that any attempt to move it popped the arm right out. Boiling the arm in water did the trick here too.
And then there’s Darkseid’s right bicep, which pops in and out a touch more easily than anyone might like.
That aside? Steppenwolf’s sculpt is amazing, a near-miraculous translation of the onscreen design. With fine herringbone cuts and even some hard spikes, McFarlane’s sculptor’s nailed the details. They’ve made his eyes slightly less cute, and really showcase how weird and alien it is that Steppenwolf has 14 fingers and only four toes. Each toe being separately articulated, even.
Take care moving the joints, as they feel stiff and ratchety. Darkseid has disc and pin ball joints at his knees. Steppenwolf may, but I’ll never know. They don’t move right away, and I fear breakage. If they have the butterfly pec joints, they’re minor and hidden. And feel just like slightly loose shoulder joints.
The weapons look fantastically detailed as well, like they came straight from the prop shop. Darkseid’s spear seems more prone to slight warping, but it’s no biggie. The upper hip joints, usually stiff and borderline unusable on McFarlane figures, actually work surprisingly well on these two. Go figure.
For reasons probably to do with screen time, this Darkseid sans shirt became the mass retail version, while one with torso armor was a rare exclusive. Most fans would probably prefer shirted, but the sunken Omega on his chest flesh makes this Darkseid unique among figures. The blue armor features a good sheen to resemble otherworldly metal. Steppenwolf’s silver doesn’t quite have that pearlescence, but it’s a shiny color in its own way.
Darkseid’s stomach looks oddly sucked-in, but as alien anatomy it’s fine, and looks better head-on than from the side. It’s hard to imagine these two creatures related by blood at all, but DeSaad, not yet a toy, arguably looks like a halfway point.
Bottom line is they look great. But they don’t necessarily play great. We must note, however, that to the extent that these figures had issues, at least said issues proved fixable. Like Transformers, they seem to be designed with the idea that if they break, the stress points will be designed to pop apart and back. But why should they pop apart at all? Unless, perhaps, original plans were for piecemeal build-a-figures.
Buyer, be careful. And take a better look at the figures in our detailed gallery below.
Will you buy these big bad guys? Let us know in comments.
Recommended Reading: Justice League of America by Brad Meltzer: The Deluxe Edition
Toy Review: Zack Snyder's Justice League Darkseid and Steppenwolf