Contemporary Teen Titans

Last week, Diamond shipped out the long awaited DC Direct Teen Titans to your local comic shop. No, we're not talking about those anime versions on the WB (although they're pretty damn cool too), we're talking 'contemporary' comic book versions of Robin, Deathstroke, Wonder Girl and Blackfire. A second series consisting of Superboy, Ravager, Kid Flash and Brother Blood, to be released (in theory) in November. Actually, I believe the last word was more like January, but let's pretend it's still November.

I'm not a fan of the contemporary Teen Titans. If you asked me who Wonder Girl was, I'd get confused and go into spasmodic conniptions brought on by bad flashbacks to the Wonder Twins on Super Friends. *shudder* Nope, for me the only interest here was in getting Robin, a modern Robin that is simple, straight forward, and plays nicely with the many other modern Batman figures in my collection. I picked up Robin at the local comic shop for $15, but have some suggestions at the end of the review where you might be able to do better.

Packaging - ***
DC Direct is going to be up there on my list of worst packaging of the year, but not for the Contemporary Teen Titans line. This line shows some changes, and most are for the good.

The graphics, text and style are more eye catching and appealing than some of the recent boxed lines, and them move to a smaller card and bubble is also quite welcome. For the MOCers, these would look great on the wall, and for the openers, there's less waste.

They aren't quite clamshells, but the bubble covers the majority of the front of the card, so there's less chance for the packaging (or figure) to get damaged. They aren't quite perfect yet, but they are moving in the right direction.

Sculpting - ***
This Robin is everything I hoped it would be - a nice plain jane, non artist specific version, with great sculpting and detail, a solid stance, and excellent scale.

The general sculpting style is one of moderate detail, with nothing over done or exaggerated, but with enough detail to look realistic. The hair and face sculpt is particularly nice, but the muscle and body definition is perfect to match up with most other modern comic book lines.

Also perfect is the scale. Stand this guy next to the Hush Batman, and he looks fantastic. Even next to the Mattel Zipline Batman he looks good, much better than Mattel's version. Stick him in with most other DC Direct figures, and he'll fit right in.

The right hand is sculpted in a closed fist, but the left hand has a small hole to hold his fighting staff.

There is one major issue that holds back a better score - mine has a mold mark, that looks like a scar, running from his chin, across his face, and over to the other cheek.  It's too bad the overall figure was hurt by weak QC.  Be careful picking yours out to avoid such problems.

Paint - ***1/2
Paint is a category that comes and goes for DC Direct. Sometimes it's great, and other times it looks like it was slopped on by a drunk monkey with a rat's tail brush.

This time out they gave the monkey some vacation time. The paint ops are clean and neat, with zero bleed and excellent consistency. Small details, especially the added wisps of hair, and the hair line itself, are perfect, and really add to the overall appearance of the figure.

Not all is dead on perfect though, as the cape is tacky, causing some issues. I noticed the black was ending up with a lot of dust or dirt stuck to it that I couldn't get off, all because of the sticky nature of the paint on this particular rubber material.  Fortunately, the tackiness dried pretty good after a week or so.

Articulation - ***
Robin has neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, and knees. For a DC Direct figure, this isn't bad, and all the joints have a fairly decent range of motion.

The arms have the greatest posing possibilities overall, and the simple addition of the cut wrists (actually forearms, up at the joint of the glove) adds a tremendous amount of appeal. Companies please take note - cut wrists are extremely useful.

The general stance doesn't allow for any real fighting poses, but the vanilla approach to the sculpt allows him to fit in nicely with most of the other DC Direct lines.

Accessories - **
Why oh why can't DC Direct do much when it comes to accessories? It's not like we aren't paying a hefty price for these figures, although it is true that the size of the runs are pretty small. Still, Robin comes with one accessories, his bo. C'mon, it's a piece of plastic, no sculpt, no paint, but at least it fits in his left hand.

UPDATE!  Somehow I managed to forget all about the included Teen Titans stand.  That's it in the package - it looks like the logo.  Make sure you don't toss it out!

Fun Factor - ***
If your kids love Batman and Robin, than this is the version of Robin to get them. No goofy action features or poorly sculpted accoutrements, decent articulation, and solid construction. Kids can have fun with him, and collectors can pop him on the shelf next to their Hush Batman. Everybody wins!

Value - **
This is really a ten dollar figure at best. It's Robin, not some rare, third rate character that commands a high price because only you and the mother of the artist is going to buy one. And this is a nice, normal Robin, that will fit in with lots of collections, and appeal to a much wider base than just Teen Titan fans.

At $15, you're going to feel a bit ripped, and you should. While I much prefer the style of this Robin to the one Mattel gave us, the quality is certainly not twice as good, to match up with the inflated price tag. DC Direct has to deal with the low production runs though, so what would have been perfect is if this was the Robin we'd gotten from Mattel.

Overall - ***
If you can't tell at this point that I really like this Robin, then you aren't really paying attention. Sure, he costs too much, but unfortunately, that seems to be the current state of the action figure market. Had they done a little better in the value and accessories department, this Robin could have been close to a four star figure.

As it is, I can't really go much more than a B average at this price, although if you are looking for a Robin to go with your modern Batman figures, I can't recommend this one enough.

Packaging - ***
Sculpt - ***
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - ***
Accessories - **
Fun Factor - ***
Value - **
Overall - ***

Where to Buy - 
I picked mine up locally, but you have on-line options:

- Alter Ego Comics has them individually for $13, or $50 for the set of four. They also have their pre-orders up for series 2.

- Killer Toys has them individually for $13, or $45 for the set of four.

- CornerStoreComics has them individually for $13 (see a pattern here?) or the set of four for $48.

- Qwik Sand Collectibles has the set for $40.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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