Friday, October 24, 2014

DC Comics Multiverse Robin and Red Hood Action Figure Review

One of the things I love about Batman is the fact that he has so many cool sidekicks/partners. As a toy collector, I love being able to put together of group of members for the "Bat-Family". I have a pretty good set up of all the comic versions of the various members, but I've been interested in doing something similar for the Arkham video game series versions of the characters. I really like many of the designs used in the games and I think many of them translate well into action figures.

For whatever reason I've held off on getting most of the DC Collectibles and DC Universe versions of the figures, but with many of them coming out in the DC Multiverse line form Mattel, I figures it would be a low cost way of finally making it happen. I already have Batman, but with the latest series we now have Robin and Red Hood.

Product Description
Celebrating Batman video games and classic DC Comics movies, this highly detailed 4" DC Comics character figure has 14-points of articulation for dynamic posing and action moves. Richly authentic to its parallel inspiration, it will delight all adults seeking collector-quality action figures in the 4" scale. Collect the full collection which includes a total of 18 figures in 2014! Each sold separately. For the adult collector.

Real Name: Tim Drake
Occupation: Vigilante
Weapon of Choice: Retractable Bo Staff 

Red Hood
Real Name: Unknown
Occupation: Vigilante
Weapon of Choice: Twin Automatic Handguns 

The about text is taken from the back of the cards for the Robin and Red Hood action figures. It's some really great information.  I never would have known that there occupations were being vigilantes. Is the Red Hood's identity really not known in the video games? It seems pretty clear that it's Jason Todd. Even if the characters in the game don't know it's Jason, there is no real reason not to tell the potential customer. The whole "Weapon of Choice" thing is going to come up as an issue.

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Package:  The packaging on these figures look really good and they're very eye-catching, function wise, they aren't very good. The trend towards collector friendly packaging lately has been great. Granted, it's been mostly for 6" scale figures, but I would love to see it used for 3-3/4" figures too. If you are call a toy out as being for "adult collectors" as this package does, then you need to keep the collector in mind when doing the package too.

As I said, I really like the look of the packaging for this series. I think it stands out well in the toy aisles and I love it when each figure gets it's own unique artwork based on the character. The packaging is a clear plastic shell that is glued to a cardboard back and some of the cardboard even wraps around the plastic. The problem is that there is no good way to remove the action figure without totally destroying the package. Since I most definitely open my figures, this just creates trash for me to throw out.

Verdict: 5/10

Sculpt:  The sculpts for both Robin and Red Hood are probably the best thing about them. Each clearly gets a unique sculpt that has no generic parts that are likely for future reuse. The level of detail on each is great. Every seam, strap, button, and buckle seems to be translated over from the video game model. The sculpted would look good at 6" scale so at 3-3/4" scale it looks great. That doesn't mean it's perfect.

There is one problem that I have and it's one that affects both of the figures. Theirs hoods just don't cut it. The fact that the hoods don't connect at all at the neck line makes them look off. Robin's hood ends up looking like a bob haircut and Red Hood's looks like a rag that's just draped over his head. I understand that the designers wanted the hoods to move along with the does, but it just wasn't executed very well. Considering how important of an element it is to both characters, it's really disappointing and knocks the score down a bit.

Verdict: 7/10

Scale:  Mattel is all over the place with the scale on this DC Multiverse line. The figures all fit roughly into a 3-3/4" (1/18) to 4" scale, but they don't always look right when placed side by side. I will say that Robin and Red hood do look to be in scale to one another, but they look too big next to Arkham Batman, but too small next to movie Batman. They also look small next to Marvel Universe or G.I. Joe figures. I think in all reality, they may possibly be true 1/18 scale it's just they look off compared to what is already out there in this size.

Verdict: 7/10

Paint:  The paint is fairly well applied with consistent coverage and crisp clean lines. I did however have a silver paint drip on the heel of Robin's foot that should not have been there. Some of the the colors, especially the parts that are just colored plastic rather than painted seem a little bright compared to the video game models that the figures are based on, but I'm willing to chalk that up to the game just having a dark setting. (It's always dark in Gotham.) The figures could have benefited from a paint-wash or a dry-brush to bring out the detail, but that can be hard to pull off right in this scale. Overall, I don't have any really issue with the paint.

Verdict: 8/10

Articulation:  This category I usually judge on a sliding scale. The amount of articulation I expect on 1/18 scale figures really depends on the what the figure is of and what the target audience is. Considering these figures are of vigilante martial art acrobats and the line is aimed at "adult collectors" my standards are really high.

Robin and Red Hood both have the following points of articulation:
  • Ball-jointed neck (functionally a swivel)
  • Hinge and swivel shoulders
  • Hinged elbows
  • Swivel wrists
  • Swivel waist
  • Hinge and swivel hips
  • Swivel mid thigh
  • Hinged knees
This is a lot of articulation, yet there doesn't seem to be all that much you can do with it.  There are just a few key joints that are missing. The arms definitely needed a bicep or elbow swivel, the torso could have used a joint to allow for some crouched positions, and if the ankles had any sort of articulation it would have made it much easier to make the figures stand on their own. Basically I was hoping for something more like G.I. Joe level of articulation. As they are, I can't really get the figures into any poses I find all that interesting. As an "adult collector" I'm not all that impressed.

Verdict: 6/10

Accessories:  This is the very first time I have ever given any category a negative number out of ten. The fact that these figures come with no accessories what so ever is just mind boggling for several reasons. For one, the box art clearly depicts them each with their respective weapons, Robin with a bo staff and Red Hood with two hand guns. For another, the back of the box lists only three bits of information about each characters; their real name, their occupation, and their weapon of choice. Why list that if you're not going to include it?

The thing that bugs me the most is that these weapons would have been incredibly simple and inexpensive to produce. The staff could have just been a rod of plastic and the hand guns are tiny and could be used over and over again for a number of other figures. Couldn't Two-Face from this very same series have used a gun? I can't believe that Hasbro can made G.I. Joe figures with over a dozen accessories each at the same price point, yet Mattel can't give their DC figures any. A key part of making a collector line is having key character specific accessories with action figures.

Verdict: -2/10

Cloth / Soft Goods:  It seems that the DC Multiverse line is a little inconsistent in how it does capes. There have been a number of figures that have gotten plastic molded capes and others have gotten cloth capes. Robin happens to be one of the figures that got a cloth one. Cloth has it's pros and cons, it allows figures to move much more freely and allow for a figure to be used in vehicles, but on the other hand it doesn't usually look as good.

I don't dislike Robin's cape, as a matter of fact I prefer it to a plastic one, I just wish it was a different material. It is just the typical fabric that toy companies have been using for decades on action figures, but I think it's time for a change. The pleather (vinyl) material that was used for the '89 Movie Batman from this same line looked great as a cape. It looked, moved, and felt superior to the cloth. I see no reason why it wouldn't have worked in this case too. I think it works for any Bat-character in almost any scale. Regular cloth just doesn't cut it anymore.

Verdict: 7/10

Quality Control:  I can't say that I had any quality issues with these figures. I did look at a few before deciding which one had the best paint, but they all looked just fine.
Verdict: 8/10

Overall:  They two figures are just okay, they're far from great. I jumped at the chance to get them when I found them on sale for less than $8 each at Kmart, but once I got them out of the package I felt like even at that discount, they were overpriced. If something is going to be called a collectible it needs to meet a higher standard than something that is just a typical mass produced toy. The lack of weapons really rubbed me the wrong way and brought down my opinion of this line. I don't think I'm very likely to get any other DC Muliverse figures, except maybe if they finally do a '89 movie Joker.

Final Verdict: 6.5/10

Click Here for a review of the DC Collectibles Batman action figure.
Click Here for a review of the DC Collectibles Nightwing action figure.
Click Here for a review of Talon and other action figures.
Click Here for a review of the DC Collectibles Bizarro action figure.
Click Here for a review of the DC Multiverse '89 Batman action figure.
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