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Red Robin

DCD Kingdom Come
by yo go re

ToyBiz and DC Direct are two very different companies, with two very different markets. Still, ToyBiz offers so much value for the money with their Marvel Legends line (lots of movement, dead-on sculpts, specific bases and free comics) while DC offers so little.

When you've got a series whose sole purpose is to look like a specific artist's work, then you'd better make damn sure that your sculpts are up to par, right? And when that specific artist is fan-favorite Alex Ross and the work in question is the seminal Kingdom Come, then the margin for error is much, much smaller. Still, the first series of KC figures were surprisingly bad, earning the runner-up spot for Worst Toy of the Year.

DC heard fans' complaints and quickly turned things around for Series 2 and 3. The paint jobs were better, the sculpts were still on-model and, perhaps most importantly, the figures were assembled properly - no more uneven joints!

With the horrific fears of super-human conflict becoming eminent, Dick Grayson - the original Robin - reemerges as the formidable Red Robin, relying on martial arts prowess and a formidable arsenal of gadgetry.

Red Robin was one of my favorite character updates in Kingdom Come - the costume had a very classic superheroic look, while still having just enough modern flair to not seem like a retread. Obviously a student of Batman, Robin's gone mostly black, with just the red tunic throwing back to his Boy Wonder days. Of course, it's also the color scheme of a real robin: dark body and a red chest.

He's got the silly old capsule-style utility belt, though he's added a crossed pair of bandoliers that have his new sigil - a combination of the Robin "R" and a bird's head silhouette - in the center. The figure doesn't include any accessories, and while that's a bit disappointing, he's not molded to hold anything.

Just over 6⅛" tall, Red Robin moves at the neck, shoulders, glove tops and hips, which is low for a DC Direct figure but average for the Kingdom Come series. The sculpt is decent and straightforward, but not as obviously based on Ross's artwork as some of the other offerings. Knees, elbows and balljointed shoulders would not have ruined Red Robin.

Again, DCD and ToyBiz have different aims as companies: to begin with, DC is not a mass-market toymaker. They rely on much wider character selection than Marvel does - why, simply count at all the great Golden Age characters that would never sell in Wal*Mart but that DCD has brought us! However, as good a sculptor as Tim Bruckner is, a sculpt alone is not worth $20. DC either needs to lower their prices or start throwing fans a better bone.

-- 03/30/04

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