Tuesday 1 March 2016

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

When Batman: The Animated Series made its transition to The New Batman Adventures, it brought about a lot of changes. The most obvious of these was the somewhat simplified art style, but also a time skip that changed the character dynamics of the Bat Family. Batgirl became a regular, Tim Drake joined the team as the new Robin, and Dick Grayson broke away from Batman’s shadow to establish himself as Nightwing. Despite playing a more limited role in the series, Nightwing was still a big part of it – appearing in the series logo while the more frequent Batgirl was inexplicably absent. Now DC Collectibles have added Nightwing to their new range of figures covering Batman’s main entries into the DC Animated Universe, completing the Bat Family in action figure form.

At this point I feel like I’ve pretty much exhausted everything I have to say about the packaging these figures come in, but for the sake of new or one-time readers I’ll go through it all one more time. The blue and black backing card (coincidental, but rather appropriate given Nightwing’s colours) has no specific figure information on it and simply has the New Batman Adventures logo on it, with the colours reversed on either side. All the unique information is instead printed on the plastic bubble and front card, including the figure name, number in the series and sculptor.

Though The New Batman Adventures stylising and redesigns yielded just as many misses as it did hits, Nightwing is a character that falls quite firmly in the "simple but very effective" category. Nightwing wears a one-piece black bodysuit, with the simple but iconic blue bird logo draped down over the shoulders and onto the chest. Not exactly a difficult look for DC Collectibles to pull off, but sculpt-wise they've done an excellent job here. An interesting little addition on this figure is that the Nightwing logo is actually raised up over the suit itself, which is especially obvious in the cartoon where is simply looks like its part of it. The logo definitely looks far better raised up though, and adds an extra bit of depth to a figure that otherwise probably wouldn't have all that much going for it visually otherwise.

Articulation-wise the figure fares surprisingly well - lacking any notable structural problems and able to hold basic poses despite those tiny feet. Joints include a ball-jointed head, ball-hinged shoulders, and elbows, swivel-hinged wrists, waist rotation, hinged-swivel hips, hinged knees, and ankle tilts.

According to the insert checklist flyer this Nightwing figure is supposedly based on the episode You Scratch My Back, which as his proper debut episode seems like as good an episode as any to draw upon. However like the other members of the Bat family Nightwing really doesn’t have to much to draw from in the way of episode-specific accessories anyway, so truthfully that doesn’t really matter at all here. Included in this set are six additional hands, Nightwing’s own brand of bird-shaped shuriken-things (which I have been informed are called Wing Dings) and a pair of binoculars for rooftop stakeouts. However there’s a pretty significant problem when it comes to the binoculars – thanks to the figure’s limited arm movement it can bring them anywhere near enough to the face to look remotely good. This isn’t the first time one of these figures has suffered from this problem either – B:TAS Joker was the same when it came to his telescope. That aside, the Wing Ding looks great (and makes for a nice change from the usual Batarangs) and none of the hands seem to suffer from stiff or non-existent articulation – which makes for a very welcome change.

The one accessory this release could have really benefitted from is Nightwing's underarm wings which he used for gliding. There's no real reason why they couldn't have been included here, especially since the forthcoming Batman Beyond 2-pack will be doing something similar with Terry's wings.

Rounding things off as usual of course is the personal stand piece, which features turnaround line art of Nightwing on the base along with the New Batman Adventures logo. As is the case with most of the other figures in the line the stand also has a rather cumbersome depth slider, which serves very little purpose other than to take up an unnecessarily large amount of room in a display.

The DC Collectibles animated Batman line is yet to come up with any figure that should be a considered a “must own” for any reason other than simply being a new DCAU Batman toy, but Nightwing is definitely one of their better offerings. Despite a few obvious hiccups when it comes to accessories, the figure itself not only boasts an excellent sculpt but doesn’t seem to suffer from any of the obvious QC problems that plague many of the other figures. The articulation is hardly exceptional, but the fact that it all works here just like it should is a fairly impressive achievement for this line in itself. Nightwing might not be the first character that springs to mind when coming up with a shortlist of DCAU Batman characters to check out, but he’s a fairly big part of The New Batman Adventures and a figure that shouldn’t be overlooked.

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