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DC Direct
by Artemis

Okay, it's not an Oracle figure, but it'll do for now.

Much of Barbara Gordon's transformation from the police commissioner's quiet daughter to an important crime-fighting ally of Batman was pencilled by Carmine Infantino.

"...four of DC Comics' most popular characters, as they were portrayed by some of the top artists who ever drew them!" proclaims the packaging for this Showcase Presents figure - well, fair enough, and there's no denying Babs looks fine, but it's not like Infantino's style was radically individual. I mean, you can pick Jack Kirby's blocky proportions anywhere, or Humberto Ramos's edgy cartoon-esque lines, or Leinil Yu's butt-ugly female faces, but for the most part "Batgirl by Carmine Infantino" is just "Batgirl."

Babs stands 6½" tall, not including the little wingies on her cowl, and has a pretty standard physique for a DC Direct girl - not too supermodelish, but not too exaggerated in any other way either. The bat symbol on her chest is just paintwork, but everything else is sculpted, with nice sharp work on her utility belt, and the catch-claws on her gloves, in particular. Even the division between the blue and black panels of her cowl has a sculpted line to it, though it's very shallow - here, and on the boot tops, you almost have to run your finger over the sculpt to convince yourself that it's there at all. The cape is of course soft rubber, molded in a fairly nondescript spread behind her, but there are spines built into it - more visible from the back - that give its shape a bit of realism.

She's got a very pretty face, so far as can be seen under the cowl - it's in keeping with Infantino's art (that shown on the packaging, anyway), but again, not stylised in any way that leaps out at you, except perhaps - oddly, not such a feature of the art - that she has a very slim nose. Her lips are simple red, cleanly applied, but her eyes really stand out, with multiple paint apps bringing the blues to life. Her hair is a bit stylistically distinct, with a characteristic wave and curl over the top of the cape, which a well-judged paint wash brings out masterfully.

The paint elsewhere is clean, for the most part - the boot tops, with their extremely shallow sculpt, aren't as well-defined as they should be on the little bat-ears, but it's not something you notice straight away unless you know to look for it. The matte black/gloss yellow pattern is maintained pretty well over the various elements, though the bat logo is a bit duller than the boots and gloves - the gloss also helps catch some of the subtle fabric creases on the toes. Babs's bat-purse is flat red, with its bat symbol picked out in black - mine has an accidental scuff-mark of pale grey on it (can't imagine where that came from), but it's on the right edge, where her arm tends to hide it. Still, if you can, compare figures on the pegs.

DC Direct seem to be finally loosening up with their articulation - as well as the standard layout of balljoint neck, ball shoulders, peg elbows, hips, and knees, Batgirl sports swivels at her glove tops. It's an obvious spot for a joint, but that wouldn't have stopped DCD ignoring it a year or two ago. Unfortunately they took "loosening up" literally with the knees, and with the entire figure's weight resting on the pegged right foot, the right knee can become loose alarmingly quickly if you don't carefully check her balance when you pose her. As you'd expect, her hair limits her neck quite severely - turning side to side mandates a forward tilt, to get the hair to sit over the top of her cape.

Her purse isn't removable - or even moveable, on a swivel or somesuch, which is a bit irksome - so her only accessory is the standard Showcase Presents base, one of DC Direct's usual plastic circles, this time molded in smoky clear plastic with the graphics printed in light grey (maybe that's where that spot on the purse came from?). No batarangs or anything, though her hands, while not specifically shaped to grip one, are molded with gaps between the fingers that a spare batarang could be fitted into if you wanted, and had one available. It's awkward, as is achieving a decent pose wielding it, but with this figure's dearth of posing options, anything that'd add a bit of interest is worth a shot.

Really, we know what to expect from DC Direct by now: look at what's in the packaging, assume it has just enough articulation for some fine-tuning, but not enough to achieve any genuinely new poses, and add in a round base. That's what Batgirl provides - if all you want is Barbara Gordon standing neutrally on your shelf, that's what you'll get. If you want more, look elsewhere.


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