In Mattel's much-hyped Batman line, only two figures were really the work of the Four Horsemen: Zipline Batman and the Joker. And the Joker didn't even come out right! Grah! The rest of the figures were handled by Mattel's in-house team, doing their damndest to copy the Horsemen's style, which is why Robin looks like he almost belongs and Superman has a distinct facial resemblance to He-Man. Those same sculptors also produced Dick Grayson, in his heroic identity as Nightwing.
When Dick Grayson outgrew the role of sidekick, he gave up being Robin in order to become Nightwing. Now out from under the shadow of the Bat, Nightwing is fighting crime in his own city and in his own way.
Available only in a two-pack with a repainted Batman, Nightwing actually looks pretty good at a glance - his sculpt is good, if a bit busier than the 4H Batman. He looks lithe and acrobatic, in contrast to Batman's brute martial strength. His costume really only has one color highlight, the bright blue stripe that runs across his chest and down his arms. It really is a nice graphic element, and is reproduced well on this figure - the edges are crisp and clear, and the color vibrant.
There have been complaints about Nightwing's facial sculpt, saying that it looks too oriental or that his hair is poorly designed. While I agree with that assessment of his hair, I don't think Dick looks particularly Asian - his eyes are slanted slightly, but not to any more extreme a degree than the other figures'. There is a problem with Nightwing's neck, however - the head is too wide to fit on the body, leaving a very poor joint where the two join. I wonder is the pieces were the work of different sculptors who had no access to the other's work.
Nightwing moves at the neck, ball-jointed shoulders, glove tops, waist, hips and knees, just like all the other Mattel Batman figures. He stands 6" tall, which is where my major problem comes in.
Nightwing is an adult, capable of standing in for Batman at a moment's notice with no one recognizing the difference. The Horsemen's Batman is noticably taller than the former Robin, which makes Nightwing too tiny. Add that to the problem with his neck, and it looks like Nightwing's body was made too small.
Actually, that seems to be a continuing problem: first, the Horsemen's Joker, intended to be taller than Batman, was scaled down before making it to shelves; the Superman included in one of these two-packs is smaller than the included Batman; now Nightwing is reduced as well. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that some clueless Mattel exec decided that no characters in the line should be taller than the "hero," which will be disappointing if this line survives long enough to give us some of Bats' bigger foes, like Bane or Clayface.
The Batman in this set is a repaint of Martial Arts Batman. Having traded his maroon and gold for black, blue and silver, Batman looks much better here than in the original. One definite area of improvement is the painted hands - barehanded Batman made no sense. He's got normal boots now, but is still sporting the bat-emblem belt, complete with a stylish little sash, because when you're involved in hand-to-hand combat, you want loose dangling things that your opponent can grab onto.
The black body with silver highlights and blue bat symbols looks pretty good for a ridiculous variant, and the black/silver cape actually provides some nice contrast for the figure. Just like all the other Batman figures, the tips of Batman's ears just clear the 6 1/2" mark, and he moves at the neck, shoulders, wrists, waist, hips and knees.
The set includes accessories for both figures: each of them gets a "battle shield" and Nightwing has "fighting sticks." Though Nightwing does use escrima sticks with some skill, they're seldom this long and I don't think they've ever had little wings on them - could it be that these were originally intended to be projectiles for some missile launcher, but nothing of the sort was included in this set, thankfully.
This set really isn't bad. The Batman looks okay, Nightwing fits in decently with the Bat-families from both Mattel and DC Direct, and as long as you keep the two figures apart, everything is hunky-dory. Next to one another, the glaring problems become more apparent. I really hope that DCD makes a Nightwing of their own soon, if just to continue schooling Mattel on how things are done.
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