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Young Justice
by yo go re

In the '90s, when DC Comics decided to update the Teen Titans concept (the sidekicks of all the heroes hang out together), they called the book Young Justice. Why not use the Teen Titans name? Because these were different characters, ones who had never been Titans. Now Young Justice is a cartoon, and all the characters... are the ones who were in the Teen Titans. What kind of sense does that make?

Dick Grayson was the youngest member of the Flying Graysons trapeze act - until his mother and father were murdered. Bruce Wayne adopted the orphaned child as his ward, and Grayson became Robin, protege and sidekick to the Batman.

Maybe the reason they changed the name for the new series was to avoid confusion with the last Teen Titans show. That one used the New Teen Titans lineup (Raven, Starfire, Beast Boy, Cyborg), so theoretically in a few years Cartoon Network will debut a cartoon with that name and the characters from the Young Justice comic - Tim Drake, Kon-El, Bart Allen and Cassie Sandsmark. By the way: in the New 52, the Young Justice kids appear in the book titled Teen Titans; oh, for cryin' out loud!

According to the series creators, Robin is just 13 in the first season of Young Justice. Compared to the animation models, this figure is way too wide; now, we understand that the art is stylized, while these figures are meant to be closer to the DCU Classics, but this is still Robin we're talking about; skinny, wiry, just-entering-puberty Robin. There should be some kind of middle ground between how he's drawn and how he's sculpted.

The figure shares its torso with DCUC3 Robin, but gets new forearms, hands, shins and feet. Our complaints about his width aside, the combo works very well. The clasps on the existing chest look like detail-added versions of the cartoon model, while the boots and gloves could never have been faked by the existing molds. He gets a new utility belt as well, with a round buckle and very small pouches.

The head is new, so it looks a ton like the cartoon. He's got a very pointed chin, large ears, and his bangs fall across his forehead. Unfortunately, the figure's neck isn't very long, so between that, the cape that hangs over his shoulders and the stockiness of the body, he ends up looking dwarfish. The head should be sculpted to sit a bit higher.

Articulation is as accecptable as you can expect from Mattel. Robin has a balljointed neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, swivel wrists, hinged torso, swivel waist, H-hips, swivel thighs, hinged knees and hinged ankles. Robin doesn't have rocker joints in his ankles, though he could really use some: the way his feet are angled give him an unusally wide stance. There are no major paint problems, but the red on his hips doesn't match what's on his chest, and the legs below the thigh joints seem to be a different black than what was used above the joints.

Like Artemis, the real star of this show is the accessories. Robin's display base is a really cool rooftop base, the sort you don't really see any more. It's 8½" wide, 3½" deep and 4½" at its highest point: the stone gargoyle that perches on the corner. The sides of the base are detailed like giant bricks, while the "roof" part just has a slight texture. It's almost worth buying this set just for the roof alone, especially when you consider that it works equally well for 4" figures, 6" figures, Marvel or DC. This isn't an accessory for Robin, this is an accessory for pretty much every figure you own.

Robin does get some pieces of his own, however. We start with his bo staff, which isn't reused from either of the two expected sources (DCUC3 Robin or Deathstroke). It's 6¼" long, and sculpted in four segments. He also includes two batarangs, two yellow discs (I think he throws them and they act like tasers), a grappling gun based specifically on the cartoon, and a blue computer that clips to his arm.

On the show, that computer is just a holographic projection - one of the perks of being the adopted son of a billionaire industrialist. Obviously that could never work in a three-dimensional toy (or even in the real world), so this is a decent compromise. It's shaped for the left arm and is sculpted with a keyboard and the familiar circular display.

These Young Justice sets are expensive - $20-$25 - but when Mattel thinks it can get $17 for a single DCUC figure, the price doesn't seem so outrageous. You ready to get angry, though? Before Christmas, Target had these on sale for only $10. And I had a coupon from Mattel's online store for $5 off a 6" figure, which means I got Robin for only five bucks. For that price? Hell yeah, he's great! For normal retail prices, though? Not so much. Even with the awesome rooftop base, you should wait for a sale.

-- 01/26/12

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