Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Toy Review – Batman: The Animated Series Robin from DC Collectibles

Let me preface this review by saying that I am writing it immediately after writing the review for Mezco’s new Dark Knight Returns Batman and that Robin might suffer a bit from being proximal to such an incredible action figure.

The Needless Things crew had a discussion about which Robin to buy back when these were first being solicited. I’m going to have to have both. This isn’t a situation like Scarecrow or Bane where there are different versions of the same character and preference plays a bigger role. There are two distinct Robins that are entirely different characters. And I like both of them, though it is a bit confusing as to who’s who if you’re a Bat-novice.

This Robin is Dick Grayson, but he’s wearing Tim Drake’s Robin costume because the year was 1992 and it was no longer appropriate to have a young boy running around in green panties fighting crime. Dick will probably always be the character that is most associated with being the Boy Wonder, and for a long time Tim’s was my favorite Robin costume (though all you really have are Dick’s and slightly different versions of Tim’s, which is really just a different version of Dick’s), so I had to have this Robin. Plus, even though Tim was introduced in New Adventures and was great, this is probably the Robin most people think of when they think of the DC Animated Universe.

I like Dick because out of all of the characters that were depicted over the fourteen year televised run of DCAU, he had the most compelling character development. We got to see him grow from being Batman’s sidekick into being his own man as Nightwing. He also had a spark of a relationship with Barbara Gordon, which was handled in a more mature and realistic way than most cartoons handled such things at the time.

I might be able to skip alternate versions of some characters, but without Dick as Robin my Animated collection wouldn’t be complete.

FIRST GLANCE

These bright colors immediately stand out from what we’ve seen so far in this line, which is exactly how Robin should be. The proportions look great. This is also another example of how much more these figures are nailing it.

I don’t want to talk poorly about Kenner’s Animated Series line because I love it and I’ll be hanging onto it even if this line encompasses every character, but these DCC figures are showing just how primitive and simplified that line was. On their own, the Kenner figures look great. But once you see these they just don’t hold up.

PACKAGING

I’m okay with these basic blister cards. The Batman graphic looks nice and the important information is on the front of the bubble. Sure – I like to have bios. But if sharing cardbacks is keeping the cost on this line down even a little bit, then I’m all for this.

And really, the most important thing to me is that the artists that work on the figures are recognized. And DCC is doing that right there on the front of the package. Okay, well, the side. But not in tiny print on the back.

LOOKS

That smile is the key to this figure. That is Dick’s confident and enthusiastic grin. 
 
Well, the hair is pretty important, too. 
 
This head sculpt is great. The hair is sculpted amazingly well. The domino mask is sculpt and not just paint, and the proportions of Robin’s features just look so exact. The paint is all very tight, with no blotches or slop. The white of his eyes and teeth is bright and vibrant – it doesn’t have that fuzzed-out look that white paint often has on action figures.

The torso has slight musculature to it and sculpted laces, utility belt, and “R” symbol. You might notice that the “R” circle is a little stylized here as opposed to being circular. That’s because in the character design it was more oblong and not a perfect circle. I assume there were animation-related reasons for this. The laces actually stand up a bit more thickly than you might expect and look really good. 

The utility belt is great. It has a thickness and a weight to it that makes it seem more like a utility belt and less like a fashion belt, if that makes sense.

I’ll never be a fan of this style of hip articulation and DCC didn’t do Robin any favors with this paint job. I won’t go so far as to call it sloppy, but it’s not clean. I understand that putting a sculpted edge between his leggings and his tunic would limit re-use of this piece in future figures, but when compared to the rest of this figure, that painted line just doesn’t cut it. Especially when the edges aren’t as clean as they should be.

Robin’s gloves also have that substantive quality. The tops protrude far beyond his arms and make for a great profile. 
 
Not much to say about the boots. They look good and are a flat black. 
 
ACCESSORIES

Robin comes with a stand, a bolo, a grapnel gun, an extra cape, two extra sets fo hands, a grapnel gun hand, and instructions.

The instructions aren’t really an accessory, but I find it interesting that this second wave includes them. They’re simple to the point of being obvious and I can’t imagine any collector needing this kind of direction.

The alternate cape is kind of an odd choice since the only difference is that it hangs over the figure’s right shoulder. But it looks good and it’s easy enough to pop the head off to change capes, so whatever. I’ll never complain about too many accessories.

The bolo was Robin’s go-to weapon in the cartoon, so it was a must for the figure. I’m not sure how well-executed it is, but I’m also not sure what would have been better. The grapnel gun looks great. 
 
The extra hands have nice, useful sculpts and are easy to switch out. The paint comes off the hinges, which isn’t exactly an impressive feature but also doesn’t cause any harm since the hinges are green underneath. It’s interesting to note that Robin shoots his grapnel with his left hand.

The stand is nice, just like all of them have been so far. This one is the simpler one they’ve been using for the smaller figures. The character turnaround printed on the base is a neat touch, but I do wish they’d done these in a color other than white.

FUN

Most of the joints on my figure work nicely and support poses well. Sadly the waist and the left calf swivel are immobile. After the issues with the first run of Animated figures I really expected better. It was really surprising to come across these because every other joint on the figure functioned particularly well.

And there are plenty of joints. The head has a great range of motion and the arms are loaded. There are swivels at the biceps, glove tops, and wrists. The shoulders are hinged swivels and the wrists are also hinged. 
 
The legs move as much as you need while maintaining the smooth profile that this line requires. But I still hate these hips. I think I might have been willing to deal with some deviation from the source aesthetics if it meant I didn’t have to look at these unsightly hinges.
 
With tons of poseability and accessories, this is definitely a fun figure. I’m debating on whether I would have preferred fabric capes on these figures, but that’s just because of the Mezco Batman and the impending release of the Animated Batmobile.

OVERALL

He’s really good, but he could have been better. The stuck joints and paint around the hips is a bit of a let-down. Honestly, the accessories are kind of flat, too. But it’s all appropriate to this Robin. We’ll get much cooler gear with Tim Drake and with Nightwing.

I’m slightly tempted to give this guy a “3”, but I think he’s better than that. 
 
4 out of 5

Go to Amazon and buy yourself a Dick!:

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