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Atom

Legends of Tomorrow
by yo go re

Time to get tiny.

Scientist and CEO of Palmer Industries, who invented a shrinking suit.

People love to quote F. Scott Fitzgerald as saying "there are no second acts in American lives," but that's inaccurate - it'd be like repeating that familiar old idiom, "you can't have your cake." The actual quote, from an essay called My Lost City, goes "I once thought that there were no second acts in American lives, but there was certainly to be a second act to New York's boom days." Leaving off the back half of the quote completely misses the point! He's not saying America doesn't allow second chances, he's saying it emphatically does. Like Gatsby staring at the green light, Fitzgerald was an optimist; but the (mis)quote, taken entirely out of context, paints him as cynical and just a bit naive.

That "high school English class"-level analysis is really just a way to introduce the fact that the DC TV version of Ray Palmer is played by Brandon Routh, who previously received a lukewarm-at-best reception as the Man of Steel in Superman Returns. Routh is far more popular as The Atom than he was as Superman (though it did allow us the terrific joke where Ray Palmer comments that Supergirl reminds him of his cousin).

We do get an unmasked Ray Palmer head for this figure, though the likeness is only so-so. You can see what they were going for, from a few angles, but with Hasbro upping their actor likeness game, this is just a generic male face. You may just want to leave on his helmeted head, which, thanks to its black visor, leaves only the wearer's mouth exposed.

While Atom's costume is traditionally just a usual spandex suit like most comic characters wear, the Arrowverse version is more like an Iron Man suit - it's technological and armored, with metal plates covering all the squishy human parts beneath. The blue and red colorscheme is classic Atom, but the particular layout seems to owe a lot more to the Ryan Choi version, especially the way the red on his legs comes down the outsides and then across the knees, and the use of a small triangular red element on the chest. The surface of the suit is adorned with small silver cables and other connectors, which are the brightest spots anywhere (thanks to live-action superheroes' veneration of dark colors).

The toy's articulation predictably lackluster. Someday Mattel might make superhero figures with good articulation, but that day is not today. Atom moves at the ankles, knees, thighs, hips, waist, wrists, elbows, biceps, shoulders, and head. The hinge joints - the elbows, the knees and the ankles - are particularly bad, with little range of motion and thin, delicate pieces that feel like they'll snap.

In addition to the unmasked Routh head, Atom comes with another accessory. No, it's not one of the energy blasts his suit can fire (we told you he was basically Iron Man), it's the one thing a shrinking character should come with: a tiny version of himself! No articulation, minimal paint, but who cares? It's a tinier version of the Atom, possibly life-sized.

Atom is the last figure needed to build Jim Gordon's batbot, coming with the head and pelvis.

Honestly. Atom doesn't seem like a character who'd work super well on a television budget. And casting Todd Ingram, Evil Ex #3, to play him seemed like a bad idea, too. And yet, Legends of Tomorrow makes it work. Ray Palmer is one of the more likeable characters on the show, and the effects aren't terrible. This toy? Eh... it's Mattel. Not garbage, not great, completely middle of the road and unimpressive. As ultimately forgettable as Superman Returns.

-- 05/10/18


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