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REVIEW:
DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS CYBORG
By Thomas Wheeler


Sometimes a major character will come from where you least expect it. I rather doubt that when Marv Wolfman and George Perez first came up with the character of Cyborg for their newly-reworked incarnation of DC Comics' Teen Titans in the early 1980's, their first thought was, "This guy's going to be a major player someday." And yet that's pretty much what has happened.

He's been considered for membership in the Justice League. He had his first official action figure just a few years after he first came on the scene, and was worked into the animated "Super Friends/Super Powers" TV show. He's pretty much considered the "elder statesman" of the Titans these days. An incarnation of him has appeared in the live-action series "Smallville". And a different animated version of him -- with action figures from Bandai -- was part of the Teen Titans animated series a couple of years back, getting kids everywhere to yell "Boo-Ya!" at various intervals.

Granted the character hasn't always fared that well. He's been blown up a few times, rebuilt, rendered nearly mindless, merged with some weird alien machine called the Omegadrome, and other assorted weirdness. But for the most part, Victor Stone has fared rather well, especially considering how bitter he was about being a cyborg in the first place.

And now, he's a major part of the fourth assortment of the superb DC Universe Classics figures from Mattel. This line, an expansion of their DC Super-Heroes line of 6" action figures, which was pretty much Batman-Superman-centric, now incorporates the entire DC Universe. Think of the DC Universe Classics as the Marvel Legends of the DC Universe. Tons of detail, tons of articulation, comic-based likenesses, and some really magnificent figures.

Let's consider some of Cyborg's history: Victor Stone was the son of a pair of scientists who decided to use him from early childhood as a test subject for various intelligence enhancement projects.

One day in his late teens, he visited his parents at work at S.T.A.R. Labs, an experiment in dimensional travel went horribly awry when a massive gelatinous monster crossed over through an experimental portal designed by Victor Stone's father, and killed Victor's mother. The creature then turned on Victor and severely mutilated him before his father managed to force the creature back through the portal.

To save his son, Victor's father outfitted him with experimental cybernetic prosthetics of his own design. However, the equipment could not be worn inconspicuously, and thus Victor was horrified to awaken to see much of his body, including part of his face, replaced with sheer metallic limbs and implants. Victor was horribly embittered by this, but had little choice but to try to come to terms with his new body, also needing his father's guidance to learn how to use his new cybernetic limbs.

Out in the real world, however, things did not improve for Victor Stone. His grades had slipped, a situation not helped by his convalescence, and his new cybernetic body disqualified him for the one thing that he truly lived for -- athletics. He could no longer participate. Further embittered, he walked out on his father.

Not too long after this, Cyborg was recruited by Raven for the then-new incarnation of the Teen Titans, whom she was gathering, under a certain level of subterfuge, to ultimate do battle with her demonic father, Trigon. Although certainly still hostile, Victor agreed to join, seeing some opportunity to put his abilities to good use, and, although disinclined to admit it even to himself for a while, for the benefit of a support group of kindred spirits and outsiders, and has remained with that group ever since. In addition, Victor found new friends who saw past his disfigurements to his own nobility, including a group of children who were adjusting to their own prosthetics and idolized Victor with his fancy parts and exciting adventures. Victor also befriended their teacher, Sarah Simms, who has often assisted him.

Another person who saw past the cybernetic shell was Dr. Sarah Charles, a S.T.A.R. Labs scientist who helped him to recuperate after having his cybernetic parts replaced. Cyborg and Dr. Charles dated for some time, and, along with Changeling, his best friend, she kept trying to reach him when he was seemingly mindless following a plane crash. Changeling saw in Stone a being similar to his old Doom Patrol comrade, Robotman. Initially bitter towards Cyborg, since this only reminded Changeling of the death of most of the Doom Patrol at the time, Changeling eventually came to see Cyborg as a friend, and was able to patch up his friendship with Robotman, as well.

Although Cyborg's body was repaired after the plane crash, albeit with more mechanical parts than previously, his mind was not. Eventually, his mind was restored by an alien race of computer intelligences called the Technis. Cyborg, however, had to remain with the Technis both to maintain his mind and because, in return for restoring him, he had to teach them about humanity. He took the name Cyberion, and gradually started becoming less human in outlook, connecting entirely to the Technis planet.

Eventually, Cyberion returned to Earth. With Vic's consciousness dormant, but his desire for companionship controlling the Technis planet's actions, it began kidnapping former Titans members and plugging them into virtual reality scenarios, representing what he believed to be their "perfect worlds".

Although the Titans were freed with help from the Justice League, there was a strong disagreement between them and the League over what action to take; the League believed that there was nothing left of Victor to save, whereas the Titans were willing to try, culminating in a brief battle. While Vic was distracted trying to aid his friends, a Titans team consisting of Changeling and the original five Titans were sent by Raven to try making contact with Vic's human side.

Eventually, thanks primarily to Changeling's encouragement, Vic's consciousness was restored, and "downloaded" into the Omegadrome, a morphing war-suit belonging to former Titan Minion. In the wake of this event the Titans reformed and Vic was part of the new group. However, he felt less human than ever before, and frankly looked it, seeming to be made entirely out of a sort of liquid metal.

Shortly after this, Nightwing revealed he had cloned Vic's body, and by flowing the Omegadrome through the clone, Vic regained his human form, but still had the abilities of the Omegadrome. He often used the drone to recreate his original look in battle. With his newfound humanity, Vic took a leave of absence, moving first to L.A. with Beast Boy and then to Central City. While in Central City Vic was involved in one of the Thinker's schemes. The Thinker froze the Omegadrome's morphing powers and left him in his original cybernetic appearance, which arguably has always been his most popular.

Cyborg remained with the Titans at that point, which now consisted mostly of younger sidekicks of the older heroes. He was seen as their leader and pretty much "elder statesmen", the one whom all the others turned to for leadership. More recently, Cyborg has become involved in a group formed from the Titans he was originally a part of, including Nightwing, Flash, Troia, Starfire, Red Arrow, Raven, and Beast Boy.

There have been two previous "significant" Cyborg action figures in my opinion -- not counting the animated-style ones produced by Bandai. One was produced by Kenner as part of their "Super Powers" series in the mid-1980's. This Cyborg is notable for two things in particular -- it is the only Cyborg figure to be chrome-plated -- and it looks very good as such; and it is one of the scarcer Super Powers figures, coming out in the rather short-lived and hard to find third year of the toy line.

The other main Cyborg figure was produced by DC Direct as part of a Teen Titans group. It's a very capable figure, although it has a silver finish instead of a chrome one. Nicely articulated and detailed, it was available either with a silver finish or a gold finish, and is an excellent likeness of the character. But, as one would expect from DC Direct, it wasn't inexpensive, and its release was pretty well limited to specialty stores.

So now we have the DC Universe Classics Cyborg from Mattel, a general release figure. How did Mattel do? REALLY nicely. Of course it helps if you've got the Four Horsemen sculpting your figures for you. Unlike a certain percentage of the other DC Universe Classics figures, which share body molds when possible (understandable in keeping expenses reasonable, and if you've seen one spandex-wearing muscle-bod, you've pretty well seen them all), Cyborg is an entirely original and unique figure, due to the needs of the considerable detail of his cybernetic parts.

The entire left half of Cyborg's head, except for an area around his mouth, is mechanical. So are all four of his limbs, to just below the shoulders and just below the hips. These limbs, despite mimicking human musculature, are clearly mechanical in design, made from ridged metal that is obviously attached to what's left of Victor Stone's natural limbs by means of several bands and strips of metal. Cyborg is wearing a silver vest and trunks. Precisely how much of him underneath this is cybernetic is probably open to some interpretation these days, especially given everything he's been through. Cyborg has gotten his limbs blasted off more times than I can readily remember. He can come back from this fairly readily. I don't recall anyone punching a hole clean through his midsection, and I wouldn't care to see the results. Cyborg is also wearing a belt that has a number of pouches and devices on it which he can make use of.

Cyborg's abilities include superhuman strength, speed, endurance and durability. Cyborg can also interface with computers. Built into his body-armor are an infrared eye, computer generator, sound amplifier, and special programming adapters that allow him to interface with other body extensions.

Cyborg, over time, has tinkered with his body, enhancing his cybernetic parts at levels beyond the abilities originally designed by his father. This includes, notably, a self-repair system, able to flawlessly repair the mechanical part of his body, no matter how worn out they are, and even improve the health of the still biological ones to an unknown degree.

Victor Stone has been seen any number of times testing the strength of his enhancements, refusing to accept their limits. As an athlete, he always strived to better himself, make himself stronger. That hasn't changed in the least just because of his cyborg parts.

The figure is superbly, incredibly detailed. The portion of Cyborg's human face which is visible is truly excellent, reflecting a distinct determination. The detail level on his cybernetic limbs is nothing short of astonishing. All the ridges, rivets, strips, snaps, and whatever else are all present and accounted for.

The paint work is excellent. Most of the figure is silver, of course. But there are areas where Cyborg's skin shows through, and in some cases these are fairly small areas worked in with the silver straps. Mattel has seen to it that these are painted very neatly. This is especially an area that could have turned out very sloppy had it been done incorrectly. I'm sincerely pleased to see at least one toy company paying proper attention to the small details like this. It needs to happen a lot more often.

Articulation of the figure is, of course, fantastic. Cyborg is well articulated at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists (more on that in a minute), mid-torso, waist, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, and ankles. One particularly impressive aspect to the wrist and upper leg swivels is that they've been worked right in to the ridges of his body armor. Nicely done!

Now, the wrists are articulated at somewhat different points, but there's a reason for this. Cyborg's right hand is articulated right at the wrist level. His left hand is articulated a little further up the arm. But here's the reason - Cyborg comes with two additional weapons that can be clipped onto his arm! As best as I can determine from the figure photo on the package, and the ease with which I was able to remove the part, they're designed to be attached where his right hand is mounted. The right hand came off fairly easily. The lower left arm -- not so much. I decided not to press my luck.

While I am not certain what these weapons are supposed to represent, it wouldn't surprise me if at least one of them is one of Victor Stone's favorite devices, a white noise generator. Now, I know that sounds relatively harmless. White noise generators are readily sold these days. They create a gentle, low-level sound that's supposed to (a) be relaxing, and (b) block out distracting surrounding noise.

However, turn that up to the levels that I suspect Cyborg's device is capable of, and it can literally knock you off your feet, probably give you a heck of a headache.

These devices are just as nicely detailed and manufactured as the rest of the figure, and add a certain distinct amount of "play value" to him.

So what's my final word here? I am hugely impressed. This is a very, very distinctive addition to the DC Universe Classics collection, and a superb rendition of a popular character within the DC Universe, that I'll admit has always been a personal favorite of mine. I was truly pleased to find him, and just as pleased to add him to my collection.

And if you like the DC Universe, you'll want this figure as well, without question. The DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS CYBORG figure most definitely has my highest enthusiastic recommendation!