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DC Universe Classics
by Monkey Boy

When the layman thinks of Robin the Boy Wonder, chances are they're unconsciously thinking of Dick Grayson, the original character to play the part of Batman's teen sidekick. Truth is, though, that Grayson hasn't been Robin in the comics since the early '80s. It was then that he traded in his flamboyant green scaly underpants for a garish blue-and-yellow Elvis costume and became Nightwing, protector of the city of Bludhaven... yeah, that sounds like a reasonable name for a city.

After his parents were murdered, young Dick Grayson was adopted by Bruce Wayne, becoming his ward... and, as the first Robin The Boy Wonder, his partner in the war against crime. Years later, Robin struck out on his own as Nightwing and now lives in the corruption-ridden city of Bludhaven where by day he serves as a member of that city's police department.

Anyway, Nightwing eventually opted for a more subtle costume, which was used as the basis for Chris O'Donnell's Robin duds in the godawful Joel Schumacher Batman films. This design appeared in Series 3 of DCU Classics figures from Mattel, sculpted by the Four Horsemen, but it's not the first time Mattel attempted a Nightwing. In my Robin review I mentioned how the Boy Wonder had appeared in Mattel's Batman line, sculpted in a Four Horsemen style (or, as I like to call it, Faux Horsemen) by Mattel's in-house sculptors. Well, Nightwing got the same treatment. Twice. The first was an angry, constipated looking creature with an odd bowlcut hairstyle that appeared in a 2-pack with some lame Batman variant, while the second one was some minor repaint with the same accessories.

With Series 3 of the DC Universe Ultimate Collection, (or whatever the name is this week), we finally, thankfully have a proper 4H version of Batman's sidekick, all growed up. Nightwing's body sculpt is largely the same one shared with most of the moderately bulky males in the line, but his head, forearms and shins are unique. The head sculpt is nice, though the face just kinda lacks character. The hair is a bit tousled without looking too mullet-y or "extreme." The forearms and shins feature Dick's ribbed gauntlets and boot-tops, respectively, and he also has a little add-on on his back featuring clips to store his accessories.

There isn't much paint to speak of, as most of the figure is molded in black plastic, but the sheen of the plastic used varies wildly across the figure. His upper thighs are pretty glossy, but his lower thighs just above the knee are flat black. It looks like his boots and gloves are painted with a glossy sheen, but one glove is much glossier than the other, and the left foot on mine is totally matte with no sheen whatsoever. It really gives the figure an uneven, patched together look, and that was certainly nobody's intention.

The blue bird-shaped motif that spreads across his arms and torso is alright, but the edges get a little hazy in places. The best part of the paint is probably the fairly subtle blue dry-brushing on his black hair.

His articulation is the same as virtually all DCUC figures, since he shares the same basic body design. Seriously, just pick another DCUC review on the site and read what it says the joints are, because at this point it's not worth rehashing and there's absolutely nothing unique to say about Nightwing's movement. That said, DCUC as a whole is really one of the better marriages out there of sculptural integrity lots of useful articulation. His right hip is a tad loose, but he's got none of the quality control issues that so many people have been reporting. In fact, to date I have yet to personally find a DC Universe Classics figure with any serious QC problems, but I'm sure it's just a matter of time.

Nightwing comes accessorized with his two billy clubs, as well as the head and torso of Solomon Grundy, the "Collect-N-Connect" figure for Series 3. The billy clubs are smooth on either end and feature textured grip areas in the center. They clip onto Nightwing's back, which is always fun. The Grundy piece is by far the most important chunk, being the hub that all the other pieces connect to. The sculpt on Grundy is really nice, particularly the menacing yet oafish face. He has a balljointed neck, hinged chest and peg waist.

Nightwing is a plain figure for sure, but like Robin, he's an essential addition to any Batman display worth its salt. While the paint inconsistency is annoying, he's pretty fun to pose, since Grayson is known for being one of the DC Universe's most agile superheroes. Plus, he comes with the biggest and most important piece of Solomon Grundy. He lacks the wow factor of, say, Deathstroke, but he's a solid, if slightly phoned-in, addition to the DCUC ranks.

-- 03/19/09

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