Thursday 4 February 2016

Toybox REVIEW: DC Collectibles "Batman: The Animated Series" Riddler

Although the supposed improvements to the sturdiness of the figures might meet up to everyone’s expectations, to their credit DC Collectibles have really been churning out their line of animated Batman figures from Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures lately. After months of nothing, the backlog of previously revealed figures came through one by one with plenty of new ones announced at the same time. Among the more recent releases was the B:TAS version of the Riddler – a character who appearances were few, but pretty notable in the series (by the time TBNA rolled around, he was reduced to near-cameo status and a horrible redesign). This version of Edward Nygma also holds a special significance to me as well, with the original 1992 version being one of the first action figures I ever owned. Will this new release provide a worthy update with a healthy dose of nostalgia added into the mix? Read on to find out!

The Riddler comes in the standard uniform packaging for all the Batman: The Animated Series figures, which is plastic bubble with a series-specific (but in no way character-specific) backing card. One new little feature I noticed with this “wave” of the figures is that the number of pieces inside is now printed on the top right hand corner of the bubble. This is quite good for making sure that your figure isn’t missing anything vital, but sounds much more impressive than it actually is since bits like the stand are broken up into multiple pieces. This lot of figures also saw the debut of a brand new insert flyer, featuring items 13 to 21 in the series. Among this items are some of the series’ biggest sets, such as the Roxy Rocket figure set and of course the deluxe B:TAS Batmobile.

While so far some of DC Collectible’s decisions on which version of a character to manufacture may be considered questionable, no one can deny that they made the right decision when it comes to the Riddler. The TNBA version’s bald head and one-piece jumpsuit just don’t compare to the smartly suited B:TAS version. DC Collectibles have done a magnificent job turning this design to 3D, but the main thing that should truly be commended is the head sculpt. Previously in my Harley Quinn review I pointed out that a lot of these figures’ facial expressions felt lifeless, but that isn’t the case at all here with the Riddler immortalised with a cocky smirk on the left side of his face. Perfect for a character as arrogant as Nygma, and a sign that DC Collectibles can go beyond just giving these figures “default” faces when they want to. 

The articulation is pretty good as well – as limited as you would expect from this line but thankfully not suffering from some of the design flaws or QC problems that have plagued some of the other ones. The most notable absence here is the loss of the wrist hinges, which have likely been dropped due to the thick gloved hands and suit sleeves (the Joker was the same in that regard). However what the Riddler does have is a ball-jointed head and shoulders, hinged elbows that also have a swivel above them, a waist swivel, hinged-swivel hips, hinged knees and ankle swivels. Not a particularly bad line-up, and while the elbows don’t have quite as much give as one might hope everything else works just as intended.

This figure is supposedly based off of the character’s appearance in Riddler’s Reform, which is the third and final episode to feature him as a primary antagonist in the DC Animated Universe as a whole. As such the accessories included reflect that, and consist of two pairs of hands, his cane (sadly not the question mark one the Riddler is best known for, however this is indeed accurate to the show) and a “Wacko Toys” display stand – a number of puzzles Nygma creates in his attempt to reform. Though lacking in any moving parts or functionality, the toy stand is beautifully detailed and makes the perfect companion piece to the Riddler in a display. Individual riddle boxes might have been nice, but they would likely be small and either difficult to hold or moulded right into the hands. The cane was the important thing, and the sculptors managed to nail that perfectly.

Rounding things off is of course a designated figure stand, featuring turnaround line art of the Riddler along with the Batman: The Animated Series logo. As is the case with most figures from the line the stand art features adjustable depth which feels largely negligible given the figure’s limited poseability and the base’s small side. It would be interesting to see how DC Collectibles themselves see this is a benefit, when it would be far simpler and less hassle to just include a static arm like the ones included with the caped figures.

Personally I’ve long accepted that none of these figures are going to be perfect (from what I’ve read the Batmobile is, but that’s a different matter entirely), but the Riddler definitely stands out as one of the strongest entries in the line yet. The expressive headsculpt goes to show that DC Collectibles are capable of making those great looking sculpts even better, along with episode-specific accessories that do feel somewhat relevant. The articulation is on-par with what one should expect from the line, and although the lack of wrist hinges is a bit of a blow it’s a decent exchange for no real structural problems. If you’re a Batman fan but only want a look at the best this line has to offer, than the Riddler is worth your time and money.

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