Entertainment Earth

FREE LEGO® NEXO KNIGHTSTM Intro Pack with any purchase!
Wal-Mart.com USA, LLC

DCClassics.Com Review:
Robin & Variant Robin

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.

26 comments to DCClassics.Com Review:
Robin & Variant Robin

  • Rann

    Although I somewhat appreciate the additional articulation thsee new “double jointed” elbows provide, I do think they are unsightly & “too busy”…they make his arms look laughingly huge. My biggest problem with these d-joints…elbows & knees…1/12th & 1/6th scale, is that they have to be bent in “the right way,” otherwise the elbow joint divides the arm unevenly. (DCDs were famous for “misplacing” elbow cuts; take a look at that Uncle Sam figure, as an example.)

    My vintage Robin still has both his feet intact…for now at any rate. But inasmuch as he is unsteady on his feet (at best), I suspect a shelf-dive may cause some breakage.

    But the shallow ankle joints evident in this iteration of DCUC (not to mention those tiny, fragile, brittle pegs) are horrible and should have been caught by QC and redesigned such that these figures could at least stand up! Especially at this stratospheric price-point.

    I have also hated the fugly DCUC (and large-scale DCD) trans-thigh cut-joint since DAY ONE. How awfully ugly. For starters, cut joints look inherently stupid unless they describe a perfect circle…which few designers seem to appreciate. The Japanese seem to understand how to better conceal this articulation point…at the hip!

    • I normally don’t mind the double joints, but they do really break up the sculpt on Robin’s bare skin. Same with the swivel cuts, they don’t catch my on attention on Hex, Batman, etc.

  • Cade

    Actually Beast Boy is always shown as a smaller guy so his scale isn’t a problem, I could fudge that……..now outfit is another story

    • Brainlock

      yeah, I had to remind someone on the Buzz that Gar was always shown as smaller, even though he was the youngest member of NTT until Terra came along. I’m not sure how he’s been portrayed lately, tho?

      “Vault mentioned the possibility of using the Golden Age Robin as a stand-in for Jason Todd. ”

      I’VE been saying this since we saw the test shots of the GA head, and it was assumed we would be getting BOTH heads with the figure as opposed to having to buy the same guy twice. :/

      Where did you get yours, online?
      I was down to Rolla (visiting friend in Waynesville) last wkd, and they had 4 Zatanna and Tyr, a Kamandi, and a Donna and Dodson Cheetah. no sign of w16 yet for me up here.

      • Supe

        If you don’t mind me asking… Waynesville in what state?

      • He is shown as smaller, but not that small in that costume. It’s similar to Tim in that, by the time that costume appears in the comics, he’s an adult. That costume belongs on the older teen buck.

        My sets come from BBTS. Vault did run across some DCUC16 at our Target though, so they’ve hit retail down here.

    • It’s the outfit that puts him on the outs. I wouldn’t mind the 12yr old on steriods buck for a classic Changling (or the other original Titans), but in that costume he, like Tim, should have had a taller buck.

  • Nicholai

    Instead of going with Golden Age Dick Grayson they should have just given him a green domino mask and went with Jason Todd. Odd decision.

    You’ve had some rough luck with breakage recently. I’ve had very little problem with breakage in my DCUC collection. My Metallo has arm issues as part of the peg broke when inserting one of his arms, but otherwise I’ve been pretty lucky about breaking (not with paint, warping, andother problems though!

    • I’m really not a fan of getting “age specific” decos in the line. I’m going to feel completist (& archivist) pressure to pick up the Batman Legacy figures, but I don’t need Golden (or Platinum) Age versions of the main Batman characters.

  • Gambit01

    Always enjoy your reviews. I’ve opened every series except Wave 16 and GL 1 and have not had any issues with anything breaking. After seeing your last few reviews, I’m worried now about opening those!

    • Thanks! I haven’t had anything break up until this wave either. QC issues are always a bit overrepresented, so, with some luck, your set will be okay. Just be careful with the hands and ankles!

  • orionpax636

    Dammit, would any of you IAT staffers be interested in parting with extra Bane parts that came with your Robins? I just can’t bring myself to buy the boy with the shorty shorts, classic look be damned. Feel free to e-mail me…

  • Hey Noisy, my classic Robin suffered the same ankle break. Krazy Glue should restore yours back to the way he was– meaning you still can’t do a damned pose with the ankles, but at least he’ll look whole again.

    • LOL. I haven’t fiddled with the three working ankles too much, but I got the inkling that they don’t work well even when they’re not breaking.

      The newest Iron Man figure in the MU line has ball-jointed feet similar to Robin, but the sculpt is so well done that the range is ridiculous.

  • Kagamigod

    I heard if you boil the feet before you actually try to move them you should have no issues with the paint causing breakage in his ankles.

    • I think that might help some to loosen up the plastic and the dried paint, but with the pegs being hollow (or at least having air bubbles) they’d still be structurally weak.

  • Superdadd2

    It’s interesting to hear about all of the breakage. My kids must play with these more than you guys, and nothing’s gone south yet.

    We did have a Batman Beyond that broke at the hips, coming out of the pack… but nothing at the level of what you guys are describing.

    • Have you had a chance to open DCUC16 yet? I haven’t had any figures break until this wave myself.

      I do think that some QC issues tend to be overrepresented on the interwebs, that’s why I try not to use the QC Spotlight for every little thing. For DCUC16, Robin’s feet in particular and Mercury’s hands to a lesser extent, the breakage issues seem really widespread.

      • Superdadd2

        Yeah, as usual I picked up 2 sets for the little ones, and they have been playing with him (a little). but after hearing about the hollow pins, I’m thinking that it’s only a matter of time. Yikes!

        • If they’re moving and have already broken free of the paint on the ankles, I think you’re in the clear. The pegs are still weak and may not do well with too rough of play though.

  • Lee in MI

    Robin’s ankle joints have VERY good range of motion! His toes will practically point straight down! I suspect the hollow peg is a design flaw as opposed to air bubbles. Like ND mentioned, this particular factory sucks major arse when it comes to QC.

    The key to getting Robin’s ankles to move with full range is boiling them first. Not hot water…boiling water. This will soften up the completely painted ankle joint enough to allow it to be scraped off completely around the entire ankle disk. This will free up the disk and allow it to swivel freely front to back putting less stress forces at the hollow peg.

    • The irony is that he still has trouble standing though. The ball joint is great for front and back, but there’s no side to side with the ball joint. It’s cool that they can go that far, I haven’t tried after breaking the first one…

      I will try to do some more work on the ankles and free ’em up, but I’m gunshy now.

  • Lee in MI

    Ur right. The side to side motion is non-existent and he does have issues doing dynamic stances.

    I appreciate the effort Mattel took with this figure in an attempt to make him perfect. Too bad the effort was a half assed one and what is otherwise a GREAT figure ended up being mildly disappointing.

    Sorry to read about ur Robin and Mercury breaking.