Every dark lord needs his cannon fodder–someone to throw into the gaping jaws of death in order to fatigue, delay, or otherwise annoy his foes. Sauron has his orcs, Darth Vader has his stormtroopers, Ozzy Osbourne has his immediate family. Darkseid, Jack Kirby’s amalgam of Richard Nixon and Jack Palance who now serves as the DC Universe’s darkest lord, has his parademons.
What are parademons? Even after reading a good amount of New Gods comics, I’m not quite sure. I don’t think Kirby himself ever really got into their background much. The prefix “para-” suggests they’ve not quite graduated to being full demons. On the other hand, given Darkseid’s obsession with Anti-Life, perhaps parademons are simply the Apokoliptian equivalent of paramedics–they try to kill you rather than save you.
In the original New Gods comics, parademons were depicted as ugly gray-skinned humanoids in green-and-yellow outfits; they didn’t look anything like the classic Western conception of a demon. When Kenner and DC created the Super Powers toy line in the 1980s, they paid Kirby to redesign some of his characters (most notably the parademon and Mantis)–possibly just so he could be paid royalties for his work. Oddly enough, Kirby’s redesign of Mantis ended up looking much like the original parademon, while his new parademon looked a lot more like the classic pitchfork-bearing devil. Aside from the odd appearance in a DC comic (parademons are almost always depicted based on Kirby’s original green version), the only media this version of the parademon appeared in was the final season of the Super Friends cartoon.
Since the Four Horsemen and the designers and brand managers at Mattel are such fans of the original Super Powers line–and Kirby–it’s no surprise we got both the classic green parademon as well as this one. They’re available in equal 50/50 case ratios, although the comic-accurate green version is more popular with collectors.
Of the many warriors serving Darkseid, lord and absolute master of the planet Apokolips, none are more feared or loyal than the Parademons. Artificially grown in the genetic laboratories of Apokolops, these elite soldiers prowl the dark skies of Armagetto dealing death and destruction to all who challenge or invader their master’s domain. Their every waking moment, every thought, is filled with one purpose only: to protect and serve Darkseid — at any cost!
Packaging: The usual DCUC package–see photo. I like the dynamic posing, but yet again, putting the blaster in the figure’s hand was a big mistake (see Accessories).
Sculpt: Fantastic. The red parademon features a ton of brand-new sculpting. The only part only major part that’s been re-used is the torso, which is also used for the green-and-yellow version.
He’s a very close approximation of the Super Powers figure–the only difference I can see is the Horsemen’s version only has four fingers to the original’s five. But with the benefit of more than twenty years of action figure development, he’s far more menacing and detailed than his predecessor.
Plastic & Paint: As I’ve often pointed out in my DCUC reviews, figures molded in red plastic tend to look and feel more like toys than others, and that’s definitely true in this case. Aside from that, the paint applications are sharp and clean, particularly the work on the armor.
Articulation: Given their monstrous nature, the Horsemen apparently decided they didn’t need to worry as much about preserving the integrity of the sculpt when it came to giving the parademons hip articulation (which makes sense to me). So the parademons have the first exposed ball jointed hips we’ve seen in DCSH/DCUC (certain skirted figures, such as Darkseid and Supergirl, have had ball jointed hips). The joints are identical to those found on MOTUC figures.
Unfortunately, the parademon’s head is not ball jointed. This may be because the peg is too small (meaning a ball would be too risky in terms of breakage) or because it was designed for the green parademon, who has a large piece of armor over his shoulders. Either way, it’s definitely a disappointment on an otherwise great figure.
The red parademon also has the rest of the usual DCUC joints: ball jointed shoulders, hinges at the elbows, knees, ankles and abdomen, and swivels at the waist, wrists, and biceps.
Accessories: The red parademon comes with Giganta’s left arm and a yellow blaster. The blaster is based both on the original Super Powers weapon and a Jack Kirby pin-up of Kalibak, which features a similar blaster on Kalibak’s belt. Accordingly the blaster can be attached to Kalibak’s belt by a peg on the side.
The green parademon also comes with this blaster, in addition to the golden rifle (more on that in the green parademon review). Since the red parademon’s hand is sculpted in an open position, he can only hold the blaster by fitting the handguard over his right hand claws. It’s designed to do this, so theoretically there shouldn’t be any problem.
But here’s the thing: because the blaster was placed in the figure’s hand in the package, the blaster came out warped, and the handguard that is meant to clasp to the fingers is stretched away from the blaster. This makes it hang loosely in the figure’s hand (or not at all). On the other hand, the yellow blasters that came with my green parademons were in their own part of the blister (the figure is holding the golden rifle), and so they have very tight handguards–which is a problem, since the green parademons’ hands aren’t designed for it. Amusingly, the warped blasters that came with the red parademons fit much better.
Long story short, a quick swap and all four of my parademons had yellow blasters they could hold easily. But if you’re only getting one version or the other–particularly just red ones, who don’t have any other weapons–I can see this being very annoying.
So please, Mattel: stop putting accessories in figures’ hands in-package.
Quality Control: Aside from the aforementioned blaster issue, no problems.
I know most collectors prefer the comic-accurate green parademon, but I’m really fond of the red one as well. Given how much even the green parademon has been depicted differently by various artists, and Darkseid’s own penchant for genetic manipulation, I don’t see anything wrong with imagining there are at least two breeds of parademons.
And with an excellent sculpt by the Four Horsemen and some of the best playability of any DCUC figure so far, I’m happy to award the red parademon four ravens. If not for the odd blaster issue, I might even have awarded an extra half-raven.