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Robin

DC Universe Classics
by yo go re

This guy fights crime like Shocka writes reviews: without any pants on.

Dick Grayson grew up performing with his famous family of aerialists, The Flying Graysons. One night, after their equipment was sabotaged, Dick's parents fell to their deaths, leaving their son orphaned with thoughts only of vengeance. Recognizing something of himself in the boy, Batman offered to train Grayson. Taking the name Robin, he soon patrolled Gotham City alongside his mentor, helping Batman against a score of his most dangerous foes.

Introduced a scant year after Batman, Robin was not comics' first kid sidekick - that honor goes to Red Ryder's pal, the unfortunately named "Little Beaver." But Robin's introduction was an important one: sure, he gave kids someone to identify with, but more importantly, he gave Batman someone to talk to, rather than going about his business silently!

When Bill Finger was creating a sidekick for Batman, he never even considered a name as obvious as "Batboy" - all his suggestions were short, punchy names like "Pepper" or "Socko." He eventually settled on "Robin," however, a name inspired by Robin Hood - it's that inspiration that explains the unusual clothes Robin wears. Think of the way Robin Hood was portrayed in movies in the '30s and '40s: green tights and a tunic, yes? The scalemail trunks absolutely have a medieval influence, as does the laced-up shirt. And the reason his cape only comes down to his knees, unlike the ankles like Batman's? He's much more acrobatic - he's doing backflips and handsprings while Bruce is throwing punches so hard they make kidneys collapse.

Robin is the Series 16 figure that has a variant, and while the bodies are identical, the heads are different. The "standard" version is the one most people will recognize - he has that haircut all boys get for their first haircut, where it's parted on the side and swept across the forehead? that one. This is a classic Burt Ward look.

That head is total Silver Age, while the variant is Golden Age: the angry eyebrows, the flat mask, the two little curls that fall onto his forehead... it's all straight out of the character's first appearance. Some people are using him as a Jason Todd standin, since he looks angrier. The head itself seems a little small on the body, like it shrank in the wash.

Someone at Mattel was paying attention, because Robin has more articulation than usual. He's an acrobat, and he needs to move! He has a balljointed head and neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, double-hinged elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, hinged torso, swivel waist, H-hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees and swivel/hinged ankles. The biceps are slightly too large to give the elboews an adequate range of motion, but we're so happy to just have the joints that we can't really count that against him. The ankles could really use rocker joints, too, because you can't have the feet flat on the floor - he stands on the insides of his soles.

Both Robins have the same accessories: a small batarang, and a grappling hook with a 6" string. The hook part is removable from the "launcher" handle, and both accessories can be held in either hand. The two Robins are also packaged differently: Golden Age Robin is sideways, swinging from his hook, while Silver Age Robin is front-on. The both come with the same BAF pieces, too: Bane's head and groin.

You don't really need to buy both DCUC Series 16 Robins - one or the other will be sufficient, because they're 95% identical. Of course, if you plan to display one as Dick and the other as Jason, then they're different enough that you can make that work, too. And with all the articulation, you can even give them distinct body language! The figure has some problems, but no serious flaws, and the fact that they didn't just rely on their old, existing articulation is a huge point in Robin's favor.

-- 07/06/11


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