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Batgirl of Burnside

DC Multiverse
by yo go re

The first time DC tried to replace Gail Simone on New 52 Batgirl, fans complained until she was brought back on. The second time, the change stuck.

The alter ego of Barbara Gordon, a modern heorine now living in Gotham City's hip border district, Burnside.

Three years into the New 52, Batgirl got a "soft reboot" that saw the character moving to a new part of town, getting a new costume, and making new friends. The art team was good, but the writing... not so much. It was like the diametric opposite of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, which had fun writing but bad art. "Batgirl of Burnside" read less like a coherent comicbook story, and more like a collection of loose panels that were meant to be cropped out and uploaded to Tumblr (which, unsurprisingly, is exactly what proceded to happen). But hey, at least those context-free panels looked cute, right? DCD made a deluxe set of Barbara and her bike, but I've tried twice to buy it and gotten screwed over both times; Mattel to the rescue! (Now there's a sentence you don't hear very often!)

By the time of this redesign, DC had gotten over the "everything must look like armor all the time forever and ever dot com" aesthetic that pervaded the start of New 52, so Babs' previous costume was no longer necessary. The new one takes its influence from Yvonne Craig, with a purple body and yellow cape. The character's model sheet makes it clear that she's wearing a leather jacket, not spandex, in case you were weird enough to wonder why she's not sculpted with separate boobs. Her cape snaps on at the shoulders, so it can pop away easily if it gets snagged on something (or someone), and the boots she wears are totally just normal boots. Like her dad, the pouch on her right hip should have a stabilizing strap going around the thigh, but it doesn't.

The head is a new sculpt, and since it matches the artwork beautifully! Rather than trying to fit with the same "Four Horsemen" style we've been seeing for years, this one is clearly "Cameron Stewart"-based. Batgirl looks younger than usual, almost a teen, thanks to her large head and even larger ears. It fact, she almost looks like a Superhero Girls figure! There's a cute lopsided smile, and her hair falls forward over her shoulder.

As is usual, the articulation sounds better when described than when in use. The figure has a balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, swivel/hinge elbows, swivel wrists, a hinged torso, swivel waist, H-hips, swivel thighs, hinged knees, and hinged ankles. The hair sits far enough away from the body that it doesn't impede the movement, but the head is still basically a swivel with no ability to look up or down. The biceps and elbows have redundant ranges of motion (though that is preferable to not having enough). And honestly, how are we in the year of lord 20-thousand and seventeen and there is a major toy company not giving its toys swivels and hinges in the wrists and ankles? Honestly!

Batgirl does get a couple of accessories to call her own, which is nice. There's a big chunky batarang, done in yellow (because accessorizing is key), and because she's now apparently supposed to be a millennial, the other is her phone. Because nothing says "I do secret work that no one must ever connect back to me" like carrying a phone with you everywhere. Next thing you know, she'll be allowing apps to access Bluetooth or turn on location data! The phone is basically just a box with a bump on it to represent its camera lens, but both it and the batarang fit in her hands just fine.

The reaon you would buy Mattel's Batgirl over DC Direct's Batgirl is simple: this one comes with the left arm of King Shark. Ignoring the peg on the end that will eventually plug into the BAF's torso, the arm is tall enough to reach to the top of Babs' ears - this is going to be a massive toy once it's assembled!

Whether you like the "Burnside" reimagining or not, there's no question Batgirl was a fresher, more energetic character after the change than she was before, and that she's got a simply great costume. By not being afraid to go artist-specific with this release, Mattel has delivered a rather nice figure.

-- 10/26/17

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