RED ROBIN (2014)
I had an epic haul from BigBadToyStore show up in the mail the other day. It was such a gluttonous and self-indulgent haul that I actually felt a degree of shame as I lifted toy after toy out of the box. There was such a wealth of items all at once that I needed to take a break from opening their packages half way through. My fingers had twist tie fatigue.
The haul consisted of Jabba the Hutt from the Star Wars 6” Black Series, a complete wave of Marvel Universe 4” figures consisting of Cyclops, Antman, Deathlok, Omega Red, Valkyrie, and Ares, a full wave of Transformers consisting of Night Beat, Gears, Acid Storm, Windblade, Cross Cut, and Jhiaxus, and 2 DC Direct figures: Supergirl and Red Robin. It was more action figures than a childhood Christmas.
There were 1 or 2 duds in the Marvel Universe series (I’m looking at you Antman) but for the most part they were all great figures. I had a tough time choosing who to write about first. After some mulling I settled on Red Robin.
I’d imagine there are some people out there who really don’t like Batman’s sidekick Robin but I’ve always been a fan of the character. One of my earliest action figures was a Mego Robin doll which sadly got destroyed when I was very young. I don’t even have any recollections of playing with it. The only reason I even know that I had it was because his loose shoes and yellow cape remained in my action figure drawer for years after his demise. When Doug and I were kids running around the house we would often pretend we were super heroes. Doug was the older brother so he always got to be Batman while I was always Robin. I didn’t mind because I was a big fan of how Burt Ward portrayed him on the live action Batman show, a staple of our youth.
I was a Robin fanboy as a small child based on the TV show and the cartoons; I didn’t read comics when I was that young. And even after I started collecting comics I never followed Robin’s monthly exploits in the Batman comics because my cousin Greg converted Doug and I into devout Marvel readers. For years we bought nothing but Marvel books. It wasn’t until my childhood alter-ego Robin got his very own series for the first time in 1991 that I felt compelled to buy my first DC title.
The Robin of that title was a kid named Tim Drake who had recently been recruited by Batman. This was not the Robin I grew up on. The original Robin, the one portrayed by Ward in the 60s and who was a key member of the Super Friends from the 80s animated series, was Dick Grayson. Dick was a member of a family of trapeze artists known as the Flying Graysons. Similar to Batman, Dick tragically lost both of his parents at a young age. This resulted in Batman taking Grayson under his wing and thus the first Robin was born. Dick eventually outgrew the short shorts and graduated into the big leagues by becoming Nightwing. That all happened before I started collecting comics. A second Robin, Jason Todd, replaced Dick in 1983 but he got bludgeoned to death by the Joker as per the reader demand. I guess fans just weren’t ready for a new Robin at that time.
But fans were ready for a new Robin in 1989 with the introduction of Tim Drake. I don’t recall any sort of nerd rage relating to the introduction of the third Robin. He just kind of showed up and seamlessly fell into Batman continuity, overwhelmingly embraced by fans. Mind you, if the internet had existed back then I’m sure the angry nerds would’ve had something to say about the whole situation. I was really excited about the new Robin and so I got onboard with issue 1.
Tim Drake was a Robin I could get behind. He wasn’t as campy as the original and he wasn’t as unlikable as the second; plus he had pants on. I was a big fan of that first Robin mini-series and the two subsequent series as well but I kind of lost touch with the character sometime after the third series. He went on to have his on on-going title than ran from 1993 to 2009 which is extremely impressive for a teen sidekick character.
When a fourth Robin, Batman’s biological son Damian, showed up on the scene in 2006 it was time for Tim to graduate from the sidekick role, much like Dick had done years earlier. Tim added a cowl to his costume and became known as Red Robin.
I was glad to see Tim take on a new role in the DC Universe as opposed to getting killed off but I wasn’t a big fan of the hooded Red Robin costume. It was a cool outfit but it looked too grown up and was too far removed from his Robin look. Even Nightwing’s costume retained the classic Robin domino-mask. When DC implemented a line-wide reboot known as the New 52 in 2010 Red Robin got a make-over and the look you see on this action figure was the result.
I really like this design. It looks like it could be a Robin outfit but the lack of yellows and greens makes it look more mature. There’s no sign of pixie boots, underroos, or little half capes. The modern Red Robin has combat ready costume complete with combat boots and Falcon-style wings.
This figure captures the new look beautifully. The sculpt is great throughout. The face has an air of femininity to it but it works. The costume is loaded up with straps, belts, padding, and other details. The removable folded wings have a ton of sculpted detail and they look really cool. The paintjob on this figure is nice as well. The gold accents look great against the red and black.
My major issue with this figure is the articulation. It’s crazy that DC Direct still struggles with limited articulation even after all these years. This figure has more joints than earlier DC Direct figures and a few action poses can be achieved but it still feels quite stiff. A swivel joint at the hips or mid-torso would have helped a lot. My other minor complaint is the lack of articulation in the detachable wings. These things really should be able to spread out so Robin can glide around the house. Folding wings can’t be too tough to pull off because I’ve seen it done successfully in a number of other lines like Marvel Universe and MOTU. The static wings would be a huge disappointment if I was a kid playing with this thing but since I’m a grown up and he’s just a display piece it’s not a big deal to me.
I’m super stoked about this figure. I can’t believe it’s been 30+ years since I’ve owned a Robin action figure. I also plan to get the recently released Jason Todd as Red Hood and the upcoming Damian as Robin figures so I’m about to go from no Robins to 3 generations worth. I guess I’ll have to get me a Nightwing as well so i can have the whole gang. 10 out of 10.