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by yo go re

Out of Mattel's first series of Batman figures, two were newly sculpted by the Four Horsemen, three were remarkably stupid choices, and one... well, that "one" falls somewhere in between.

There have been three Robins over the years: first, Dick Grayson "graduated" to become Nightwing; then Jason Todd was killed by the Joker (and a fan vote); now Timothy Drake is carrying the mantle of the Boy Wonder.

(Actually, he's been at it so long, Robin is now the "Teen Wonder," but that doesn't have the same sort of ring to it.)

Robin was sculpted not by the Horsemen, but by Mattel's in-house design team. Still, they did a much better job here than they did with Superman, not only crafting a fine figure but also mimicking the Horsemen's style fairly well.

Just under 6" tall, Robin looks not like a short grown-up, but instead like a well-developed teenager; though he's fairly muscular, Robin's proportions are all those of a young adult. Even the greatest artists of the Rennaissance had trouble with that one, so congratulations are in order.

Helping offset the "gay" jokes, Robin has finally outgrown hotpants and booties - he still wears the red and green, but now the costume looks like an actual piece of butt-kicking equipment rather than a circus uniform. He's got sturdy black boots, padded gloves and the ubiquitous yellow utility belt.

Robin's hair is very well textured, with highlighted spikes poking out all over. He's wearing his stylized domino mask and has a no-nonsense look on his face. The painted highlights are a bit overdone, but they could just be representing the type of frosted tips so popular with the kids today - popular, at least, in some Matel exec's mind.

Robin moves at the same points as all Mattel's Batman line, minus the waist joint: neck, shoulders, wrists, hips and knees. A fairly unimpressive list. He doesn't include that nifty battle staff of his, instead coming with an uninspired "Battle Board," a glorified disc launcher with two footpegs. Early prototype shots showed the disc as a reused Hasbro piece, so we're glad that Mattel at least bothered to create their own version with Robin's "R" insignia.

Like Batman, Robin's cape is a sculpted element at the shoulders with cloth glued beneath. The outside of the cape is black, while the inner lining is yellow. There are no seams or stitching on the fabric, which tells us that the pieces are either glued together or heat sealed; it will be interesting to see if the pieces remain attached or if they start to peel apart with time.

For a dark creature of the night, Batman certainly has a big extended family. Unfortunately, Mattel's perpetually inept business practices probably mean that we'll never get to see the Horsemen's take on Oracle, Batgirl, Commissioner Gordon or any of the other great characters who bring the stories to life. No, it's more important to Mattel that some confused grandmother can find Street Luge Batman clogging shelves and think it's a toy little Johnny would want than it is to actually earn any respect in the market.


-- 09/20/03

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