Thursday 14 January 2016

Toybox REVIEW: DC Collectibles "The New Batman Adventures" Robin

DC Collectibles line of animated Batman figures had a rather interesting year in 2015. After the hotly anticipated figures burst onto the scene at the end of 2014, they quickly received criticism for their fragility – leading the designers to take a step back and look at the how they could improve the builds for future figures. This led to delay after delay for the majority of the line planned throughout 2015, until they all seemed to hit in rapid succession towards the years’ end. Among these delayed figures was the subject of this review – The New Batman Adventures’ iteration of the boy wonder himself, Robin. Taking place after Dick Grayson had moved on to take up the mantle of Nightwing, this version of Robin is instead Tim Drake – considerably younger looking than his predecessor and sporting a rather different origin to his comics counterpart.

As has been established with previous reviews that have delved into the line, the DC Collectibles animated Batman range comes in two different styles – the Batman: The Animated Series figures come with a red cardback featuring that series’ iconic logo, while The New Batman Adventures figures have a blue card with their less-iconic logo. Not to say that the Batman/Nightwing/Robin logo is bad by any means (though it sorely lacks Batgirl), but it’s nowhere near as fondly remembered as its predecessor. The cardback is the same across the board and features absolutely no details about the figure or character, which is a shame because these would have been perfect for a small bio or something. All the figure detailing is featured on the slip pressed to the front of the bubble, including the name, number and even the sculptor.

Hailing from the more simplified The New Batman Adventures, the Tim Drake iteration of Robin is quite different to the Dick Grayson version previously seen in Batman: The Animated Series. As well as featuring a much more "cartoony" aesthetic, the fact this Robin is considerably younger than his peers is reflected in the figure's size - coming in at about two thirds of the height of your average figure in this line. Colour-wise the green has been completely dropped from the costume, instead opting for a rather striking combination of red, yellow and black. With the smaller build naturally comes thinner limbs too, but to their credit DC Collectibles have done a pretty good job in making the figure feel sturdier than previous efforts. Now I can't say I'm a huge fan of this Robin design, in fact even watching the show as a child it took me a good while to warm up to it (like many of The New Batman Adventure's numerous redesigns). However talking purely aesthetically this figure looks superb. It's translated wonderfully to 3D and the headsculpt perfectly carries Robin's cheeky youthful pep.

In terms of articulation Robin features a ball jointed head, ball-cut shoulders, hinged elbows and wrists (the hands can also rotate due to using a plug to fit), a waist cut, double-cut hips that swing both outwards and sidewards, hinged knees and finally hinged feet. With previous figures there has been a cut at the top of the boot to allow the feet to swivel - if that's been implemented here then my figure sure as hell doesn't want to comply. It wouldn't surprise me since stiff joints that feel glued into place is a long-standing DC Collectibles tradition, but I feel like if I put any more pressure on these spindly little legs they would definitely snap in two. Either way not having any foot rotation is a real problem for this figure since it then suffers from a whole lot of balance issues. Half the photos in this review look the same simply because I couldn't get the thing to balance in any other half decent position.

Although this is the standard look Robin carries throughout The New Batman Adventures, according to the packaging the figure is based upon his appearance in Sins of the Father (which should be his debut episode, however Holiday Knights comes before it in both production and airdate order). As with the other figures this designated episode mostly relates to the choice of accessories that come with the it, but there’s nothing really here that ties Robin to that specific episode. In total Robin comes with six swappable hands, a grappling gun and a pair of handcuffs. Once again, it is uncertain why exactly these figures come with a loose grappling gun that the hands can’t hold properly when there is an optional hand that has one comfortably moulded in. But hey, the handcuffs have a tiny metal chain connecting them which is a rather nice touch. 

One little flaw noticeable when changing the hands is how many plastic shavings come off the insides of the wrists/hand pegs simply by taking the hands on and off. A typical problem for this line rather than one wholly unique to Robin, but still an issue that should really be sorted out sooner rather than later.

Just in case you were wondering, the cape on the figure is also removable and is simply slid off the neck and shoulders when the head is popped off. Thankfully the neck underneath is also flesh coloured, which keeps the look nice and accurate even without the cape attached.

Rounding off the accessories is of course the designated stand, its base a white rectangle featuring turnaround art of Robin as he appeared in the series. As Robin is considerably smaller than the other figures in the line, the clear plastic rod connecting the base and claw is also scaled down. The claw that holds the figure however is not, resulting in it looking comically oversized when wrapped around Robin’s tiny waist. As much as I enjoy these unique stand bases, I do wish DC Collectibles would take a leaf out of some Japanese toylines’ book and include jointed arms to allow for some more dynamic posing.

Tim Drake’s place in the DC Animated Universe mythos may have later been propelled to legendary status thanks to Batman Beyond’s Return of the Joker, but within The New Batman Adventures he’s quite likely the least memorable of the Bat-family. He’s not as eye-catching as Nightwing or Batgirl, and most fans probably associate their memories of Robin with the Batman: The Animated Series version rather than this one. As such, this is a figure more likely to be forgotten by collectors other than completists. But while Robin is plagued by a number of problems (many of which admittedly aren’t unique to this figure) there is something irresistibly charming about him. The design has translated excellently to a 3D figure, bursting with the same youthful energy as the character even if the articulation isn’t up to scratch. Robin might not be the top of everyone’s “must-buy” list, but if you do get the chance to grab one you may find yourself oddly surprised by him.

1 comment:

Miss Laura said...

He's cool, but I like the older ones better. This makes me think of the Jetsons.