Bane Week rolls on with what was likely the most anticipated figure from DC Universe Classics 16: Robin. He’s also got a variant, packaged with either a Bronze or a Golden Age head. I bought both even though I wasn’t sure if my DCUC collection needed two Robins. It’s okay, I only ended up with 1 1/2 anyway.
At the outset of this review, I’m left wondering if I need to go into Robin’s back story. I’m pretty sure we’ve all gotten that memo a couple hundred times, right? Yeah…
I suppose I should talk a bit about the differences between the two versions though. The figures are identical other than the heads (which actually worked out in my favor, more on that in a minute). The standard figure (on the left below) features the Bronze Age look during the time that Robin had grown into his late teens, but before he struck out on his own as Nightwing. This is the iconic version of Robin. It calls back to the late 70s, New Teen Titans, Super Powers, and I find myself imagining that, if it could talk, it would sound like Casey Kasem.
The other head, the Golden Age head (above right), I’m not entirely sure why I bought it. I’d attribute it largely due to completism more than anything. The head sculpt is terrific with the appropriate hair and wraparound mask of Robin’s earliest appearances, but it doesn’t belong on an older teen body. This is a similar situation to the Tim Drake figures in that both of the them used the “early teen” buck despite the fact that Tim only wore the modern (at the time) costume in his late teens. Dick is opposite. You could say that the Bronze head shows him as the older teen while the Golden head shows him when he was young – except that the body is designed for the Bronze head, or that of an older teen. It’s particularly annoying when recent Q&A answers seem to indicate that Mattel doesn’t quite understand how to use the two different teen-sized bucks (Mattel we need an older Kid Flash for Wolfman/Perez NTT).
Vault mentioned the possibility of using the Golden Age Robin as a stand-in for Jason Todd. The hair is right, but Jason wore a green domino mask, so it wouldn’t be accurate even though it would make better use of the size.
Ultimately, though it doesn’t matter for me. My Bronze Robin lost his left foot during the photo shoot. I’d done my best to be extra careful with it, having seen the litany of complaints about the ankle joints on the forums I frequent, but it didn’t matter. The combination of the small, hollow peg and the flesh tone paint over the whole joint are simply a bad combination. This is where my Golden Age Robin came in handy as a careful head swap (I don’t really trust the reliability of that peg either) restored my BA Robin and left me with a footless GA Robin.
I’ve already talked a bit about the two head sculpts. I like ’em both even if they’re not as crisp as the 4H originals – BA Robin’s smile has morphed into somewhat of an odd expression, but the whole figure is a well sculpted piece with all the right details in all the right places. It’s cool to finally have a Robin and the sculpt ensures that he’s a great looking figure. Sadly, the sculpt is the only part of the figure where I didn’t have issues.
Robin’s costume is molded in the right colors for the most part – this really helps because it gives him a crispness he might not otherwise have and the figure really pops because of it. The problem is that the areas where the figure relied more on paint simply aren’t as well done. There’s a dark wash on the on the scaled part of his costume that looks out of place even though it brings out the details and both figures have some green paint and the wash on the legs.
The primary area for paint issues though is the flesh colored paint on the arms and legs. It’s not as easy to see in my pics, but the different parts of the leg are in different shades of paint ranging from a really dark left thigh on my GA Robin and dark elbows and knees to lighter shades on the lower thighs and calves. I’m not against the decision to paint the legs – I’m generally not in favor of flesh colored plastic – but it needed to be done more consistently (and it probably shouldn’t be a dark green plastic underneath).
I usually don’t care about articulation cuts because I like the toys to move and my brain is trained to just ignore them. As such, I generally am indifferent to complaints about the new articulation being unsightly. But there is one glaring exception. We’ve seen it before with Wonder Woman and Power Girl too, articulation cuts in flesh colored areas just don’t look right. It doesn’t really detract from my appreciation for this Robin, but I can certainly identify more with the folks who dislike the new articulation when I look at him.
Robin features ball-joints at the neck (with some excellent range), shoulders, wrists, and ankles, swivels at the biceps, thighs, and waist, double hinges on the elbows and knees, the Mattel hips, and an ab crunch. Most of the articulation is great. In fact, the only real problems are with the ball ankles. One, they don’t have a lot of range because of conflict with the booties. Two, they’re exceptionally fragile. And three, they don’t really keep the figure balanced all that. I can already hear Toy Guru complaing about how Mattel can’t win: “you complained about the one piece feet & now you’re complaining about the ball-joint feet”, but it doesn’t matter. Robin’s ankles are crappy and I’m glad none of the upcoming figures appear to have similar joints. Hopefully, this was a one-time deal because of Robin’s unique design.
Robin included two accessories: a batarang and a grappling gun. The batarang is nice, but small and already somewhere at the bottom of my DC accessories bin. The grappling gun is really nice though. He holds it well and the tip is made of a sturdy enough plastic that it can support the figure. Right now, I’ve got the gun hooked on to the lip of my dry erase board and Robin is gleefully hanging out about 8″ down below.
Overall, it’s always hard to do a review when you like the figure, but it broke. Plus, I’ve really been lucky – I haven’t had any DC Classics break until this wave. But now I’ve got two back-to-back breaks thanks to those small, hollow pegs being used on the wrists and ankles. It’s completely preventable and particularly annoying to have happen on the sixteenth wave of the toy line, let alone the sixth from this specific factory (which has been consistently inferior to the 2009 factory).
The break and annoyance aside, it’s still a pretty sweet Robin figure. The sculpt is great and I’ll eventually just get used to the patchwork legs now that the one really dark thigh is out-of-sight on my footless GA Robin. The BA Robin is destined for some premium shelf space where my other figures will no doubt ask him to read some long distance dedications.
For more DC reviews, check out our
DC Universe Classics Collector’s Guide.