Hey there toy geeks! Christmas time is just about here, but who wants to talk about gifts for others when all the toys can be mine, mine!
Okay, not all the toys but I did pick up three figures that I have had my eye on from the DC Multiverse line and overall I’m pretty happy with them.
The figures in question are Nightwing, Red Hood, and Red Robin, three-quarters of the Batman Family and three figures so close to being great it kinda stings.
I have previously stayed away from most DC lines as something is always just a little off. In the case of Icons they were too small; the Essentials line is too big; the millions of artists versions have little to no articulation; and the mainline, Multiverse just always looks kinda shoddy next to its Marvel counterparts in the toy aisle at Toys R Us (we still have those in Canada for all my friends down south of the border.). This Goldilocks-like syndrome of never finding a figure that is quite right has made it really challenging to get a version of the one character I want more than any other for my toy shelf: Nightwing. I’ve had a bunch, and in each case, they eventually made their way to the sale pile. So, when I saw that the Multiverse line had stepped up their game during their swan song with industry standards such as interchangeable hands, I figured it was time to get hurt again. Not wanting him to be alone against a sea of Legends, I figured Mr Grayson could use some backup so I dedicated time and funds to securing his brothers Jason Todd and Tim Drake.
I will give each figure a little time in this review, then sum up my feelings on the trio as a whole at the end.
Since the packaging of a figure is the part I am least interested in, I’ll just note here that in the case of this toy line the packs look really nice. Box art is well done, short character bio is written in words and part are visible from the outside. You can slot these guys on a peg, but then they would just as easily line up on a shelf if you were the type that liked to do so.
I, on the other hand, couldn’t wait to bust this guy out and see how he lined up with my Marvel Legends in terms of scale, articulation and overall quality.
The first thing I check for in my toys is how well they can pose. In this department, Nightwing is almost there, but with a few flaws. His upper body is quite bulky, with no shoulder swivel which limits striking poses and makes him look broader than I imagine the character. A bigger drawback though is the use of single jointed elbows rather than double-jointed. This isn’t a deal-breaker, but similar to the shoulders, it limits the kinds of punches he can throw and the battle stances he can take while wielding his twin escrima fighting sticks. He has good flexibility through the torso and legs, but he can’t quite hit the superhero landing, which is my benchmark for posing.
In terms of his look? It’s close; it’s so close to being great. The sculpt is a little soft, the plastic feels a little cheap and the paint apps on mine were just a touch wonky on the face. Again, no deal breakers, but with the same price point as a Marvel Legend the comparison is inevitable and Dick just doesn’t quite measure up.
The figure includes a spare set of hands, one for holding his sticks and one for punching, but the difference is so minimal I don’t really see the point. He has his fighting sticks as I mentioned, but with the lack of any on the figure, storage is a drag. I also now have an arm for the Ninja Batman collect and connect figure. So… that’s a thing I guess.
Flaws aside, of the many Nightwings that have come and gone from my collection, this guy is the best so far.
Of the three Bat-boys, this figure got the most love from the toymakers over at Mattel. This Red Robin is really, really nice.
From his amazing sculpt, to great paint apps and superior articulation (double elbows baybee!!) this figure really shows what this line was capable of. Yes, plastic capes stink, but otherwise, there is nothing to complain about here.
Tim Drake is the Robin that entered the picture during my peak comic buying years of the 90s and so I have watched with chagrin his various name changes and lousy costume re-designs over the years. But, his recent makeover in the pages of Detective Comics gave us this classic but updated take on his original suit and it has been captured perfectly here in plastic.
Tim has his signature staff, alt hands (again tho, fists and grips are so similar. Sometimes you want to slap a fool…) and a really giant arm from the Killer Croc collect and connect that I promptly traded for a Legends Typhoid Mary.
This guy can pose, stand firm and is scaled nicely with his bros for maximum figure joy. A low-key pic for one of my favourite figures this year.
The Red Hood
While Nightwing and Robin were effortless pickups thanks to the good folks at Amazon, Red Hood was a rather elusive buy, with two failed attempts and a final random Walmart happy dance before he made his way home.
As far as the three figures go, he’s about on par with Nightwing for articulation, but the details of his sculpt put him in Red Robin territory for that metric. The “jacket” arm sculpts are really limiting for possibility, making me wish I had the skill or nerve to swap them out with some other figure, but the rest of him moves nicely and looks really good.
Two problems keep this guy from being a classic and they are both rather glaring. The first is that the Red Hood head vs his unmasked (but still masked a little) is just a smidgen oversized. It looks a little like a kid wearing an Iron Man mask. Not awful… but a little off.
The other thing starts with one of the oldest, most tried and true toy complaints in history: guns moulded into holsters. So lame, so frustrating, so dumb. The guy is a gunfighter. Give him guns. Making this that much worse though, is that while they didn’t give him actual guns he can hold, they did provide three sets of hands… including trigger fingers. This is a total first world toy geek problem, but I honestly can’t believe that its a thing on this figure.
Red Hood also includes a giant Croc leg, which has been away traded for more Marvel Legends.
As a team, these three figures look awesome together. I don’t have a suitable Batman or Damian Wayne/Robin to go with them, but as a unit they look really sweet.
While they look good together, once again DC has managed to just narrowly scale their figures so that they are too big to line up with Legends.
Visually, it is not the worst, but it is not right either. Robin and Captain American should not be eye to eye and Nightwing certainly shouldn’t be beefier than Thor.
But, until we see what McFarlane toys do with the licence, these guys will just have to do.
Til next Figure Friday, keep your toys loose and your joints tight!