Mattel has really turned themselves around in the last few months. It's been impressive to watch a company that had become little more than a punchline start winning back the fans. But for all they're doing right, Mattel still isn't perfect: just ask Barbara Gordon.
Barbara Gordon is the hip teenage daughter of Commissioner Gordon. Strong-willed and quick-witted, she is inspired to don her own cape and become Batgirl, fighting crime alongside The Batman. The only problem is that Batman never asked for her help. Not easily brushed aside, Batgirl continues to fight crime until she gains the approval of the hero who inspired her - The Batman.
Since Robin was already appearing on Cartoon Network's Teen Titans cartoon, Batman's sidekick was rocking the estrogen. She even got her own arch-villain in the form of Poison Ivy. Finally, something besides second-hand love for Babs! Of course, since Mattel hasn't outgrown all its old tricks, the figure is insanely hard to find.
Batgirl's design seems to be influenced by Yvonne Craig's Batgirl costume from the '60s tv show - she's wearing light lavender with black gloves, boots and cape, and a yellow bat symbol and belt. Her boots come up to her thighs, while her little gloves are folded over at the wrist. Her version of the batsuit includes a little miniskirt, which doesn't really seem like the most conducive thing to an acrobatic crime-fighting style, but such is the magic of cartoons.
To help sell her young age, Batgirl's head is really huge and bulbous, but that's also another nod to Yvonne Craig. Not that Craig had a huge forehead or anything, but when she was wearing the mask, her head looked top-heavy. The eyes of the mask are big - like, "Spider-Man" big. There's more eye showing than there is skin. Big head + huge eyes = young character. Her hair sticks out the back of her mask and curves up slightly. She's all-over cute.
Batgirl's articulation is less than impressive. She moves at the neck, shoulders and waist. Her skirt precludes any hip joints, so knees would be pretty useless, as well. It's a good thing they didn't give her any elbows, because the plastic used for her arms is nearly rubber. So while we'd like more movement, she's got the right amount for the way she's made.
Batgirl comes with two accessories, one of which isn't utter crap - despite her big feet, Batgirl's got a lavender base to keep her standing. It's not needed, but it's nice.
Then, on the other side of things, she's got an utterly ridiculous... thing. I don't know what it's supposed to be. It resembles nothing so much as a giant pair of blue scissors. Turn the EXP key, and the whole thing pops open. If it wasn't dumb enough, it's too heavy for Batgirl to actually hold: her noodly appendages just bend under its weight. This hunk of ass is reused from one of the Batmen in the first series of EXP, and it would have been better served by staying with him.
EXP Batgirl is a nifty little figure with a few definite flaws, the most grievous of which is the fact that Mattel short-packed her to such an alarming degree. There are rumors that she's starting to show up in larger numbers now, but if you're at all interested in Batgirl, you would still be wise to grab her the instant you see one; there's no guarantee you'll see another. LegionsOfGotham.org reports that there's a "Barbara-To-Batgirl" figure due sometime this year - hopefully that one will be easier to find.
What short-packed figure has driven you insane? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.