DC Direct 13" Nightwing

Poor Nightwing.  When Dick Grayson worked for Batman as Robin, he was always number 2.  As he grew up, he became Nightwing in an attempt to break free of the shadow of the Bat, and be his own man.  Unfortunately, the guys drawing him saddled him with some of the worst of 1980's fashion.  I don't think any other well known DC hero has been stuck with as many truly atrocious costumes.

Fortunately, his outfit got a bit better in the 90's, even if his status didn't.  Big Batman fans still love the guy, but he's never really managed to break out on his own in a big way.

It's nice to see DC Direct add him to the roster of 13" deluxe figures, and fortunately, they went with a modern costume appearance.  Nightwing shipped to your LCS last week, where you shouldn't pay more than $60.  If they're asking more than that, check the sponsors in the Where To Buy section, which have him at the more reasonable price of around $55.

Packaging - ***
The packaging isn't awful by any means, and is fairly collector friendly.  There's still two twisty ties around the poor guys ankles, but that's fairly minor.  There's no tape on any of the accessories, and it's pretty easy to put things back in the box.

Sculpting - ***
The head sculpt is actually quite detailed and well defined.  The hair has some wonderful cuts, very deep and detailed, giving him one of the better hair sculpts in this series so far.

The head is also a good proportion, if not great.  He's still a bit pin headed, but that's not uncommon for superheroes done in a true comic book style, and the huge body would make just about anyone look pin headed.

The huge body is still an issue, but as time goes by it becomes less of one.  Nightwing has clearly been working out, but that's not my issue.  I can live with the beefy size in comparison to the rest of the line.  I still despise the 13" scale, but the reason this all becomes less of an issue is because more figures come out in this scale, making at least one group of figures look in proportion to each other.  If I were planning on displaying this Nightwing with any other sixth scale figure other than the deluxe line, I'd hang it up.  But with at least the classic Batman, Catwoman, Two Face and upcoming Batman and Batgirl for him to hang with, I'm getting less annoyed.

As I said, the head sculpt is well done, but I'm not sure who it is.  This is a really generic look for Nightwing, and once you take the mask off he looks a whole lot more like the love child of Tom Welling and Brad Pitt than any recognizable comic version of Dick.

The sculpted hands are done in solid fists, and a bit undersized.  I prefer them being a bit undersized though to the huge paws that are the bendy hands.  I'll rag on them a lot more in the Accessories and Articulation sections, but suffice to say that they don't do anything to improve this general Sculpting category.

In the end, it's a combination of mediocrity that leaves me looking at the figure and thinking "yea, B work".

Paint - ***1/2
The paint is nicely done, although at this price point that should be the expectation.  cut lines are nice and clean, and they've used Sideshow's irregular hair line technique to their advantage here.

The lips are a proper color, and the skin tone is good.  They eyes are nice and even if a bit mannequin-like, but you'll have him wearing the mask 99% of the time.

And while the hands, glove tops and body suit are all different materials, they managed to get the blue color of the insignia to match quite well.  That can be very tricky, and they deserve props for a job well done, especially considering how important the look of the insignia is on the otherwise basic costume.

Articulation - **1/2
Have you bought previous DC Direct deluxe 13" figures?  Then you know what to expect here.

The base body isn't terrible, and actually poses pretty well if you ignore a couple glaring issues.  The body has a ball jointed neck, but once again they manage to find a way to remove most of its usefulness.  I had the head pop off any time I tried to actually push the head beyond the range a normal cut joint would have given you.  That's a combination of two issues - such a short neck peg and not enough plastic carved out inside the head.  The interior of the head, especially at the back, rubs against the neck too much, and the short post means you won't get much out of this joint.

The ball jointed shoulders and hips work great, as does the pin elbows and knees.  He has the usual chest and waist joint, and he can take some very realistic sitting poses.  The ankles are a bit restricted by the boots, but the material is soft enough so that the articulation isn't completely lost.

The biceps and thighs have the usual cut joint, and it looks as bad this time under the stretch uniform as it always does.  For me, it's not a huge issue though, and I can live with it.

A much, much bigger problem is the wrists. They are simple cut joints, designed to work with the swappable bendy hands.  Unfortunately, they don't even do what they are designed for well.  The bendy hands pop off at the slightest touch, which is a big issue since you have to man handle them to try to get them into decent poses.  What this means is that you have to bend the fingers and get the accessories in place with the hands off the figure, and then pop them on.  Yes, it's a pain in the neck.

Add to that the poorly executed bendy fingers, with wires that don't run all the way to the end, and sausage fingers.  These things look like inflated surgical gloves, and work about as well.

Fortunately, the fisted hands are made from harder plastic, and don't fall off as easily.  Of course, you aren't trying to pose them either, so there's less chance to get frustrated to begin with.  Give us a second set of sculpted hands, with new wrists joints, and these figures would improve tremendously.

Accessories - ***
Here's a really weird thing - had I been grading this figure on the included masks alone, he might have gotten a higher rating.  Okay, probably not, since the lack of quantity in accessories considering the character and the price would have been a factor.  But the masks themselves really are terrific, well designed and well executed.

There's two - the black and the blue.  The masks attach to the face just by pressing them in place.  The sculpt is designed to hold tight to the contours of his cheeks, brow and nose - and it works perfectly.  It's a nice tight fit, and yet it doesn't appear as though you'll damage the face paint over time.  Nice work!

Of course, the blue mask is pretty useless. I mean really - would you want to have such a colorful spot right in the center of your head to draw enemy fire in the dark?  No, I didn't think so.  Stick with the black.  It looks cooler too.

He also comes with two silver batons, which can be placed in the small elastic loops on his back for easy carrying.  There are also 3 throwing stars (or Nightwing's design for throwing stars anyway), but he hasn't got any place to carry these.  These are really just two accessories (a baton and a star) reused several times, but I can live with that.  It's that the quality is nothing more exciting than you'd see in a $20 mass market toy.

Oh, and there's those bendy hands too, but the less said about them at this point the better.

Outfit - **1/2
As you might have noticed, my biggest overall issue so far has been with the awful bendy hands, and the associated wrist joints that they require.  But that's not a new problem - every one of these 13" figures have suffered from that problem - and I expected it.  Had that been my only issue, the figure would still manage to pull an extra half star overall.

But the other major problem I have is with the outfit.  It seems that you couldn't mess up something this basic, but they did.  The tight black body suit is fine, and I do like the clean, bright blue insignia.  The soft boots work well, although they still sport that annoying looking zipper in the back, hanging down for all to see.

My issue is with the cuffs for the gloves and the boots.  This is how the costume should look...or even this.  Does the costume have cuffs?  Yes.  But what the Hell are these huge, plastic rings on his arms and legs?  These things could double as flotation devices.  Their oversized appearance just exaggerates the skinny ankles and small fists.  At this price point, they couldn't have given us something a little more realistic?

Fun Factor - ***
While this isn't intended for kids, they could certainly play with it.  Nightwing's version of throwing stars could break, since they are made from pretty hard plastic, but otherwise there's little here that couldn't deal with basic play.  Too bad those damn hands aren't more useful.

Value - **
Most places are going to charge around $60 for this guy.  He's not worth that kind of change, considering the small number of new pieces over any other figure in the line and the very basic nature of his design.  At $40 I'd give him another half star in this category, and that would be the tipping point to get him to the *** overall score.

Things to Watch Out For - 
Not much.  It's a crap shoot as to how good the bendy hands will work, and there's not much you can 'watch out for'.  Just cross your fingers and maybe you can cross his.

Overall - **1/2
Just call me Mister Crabby Pants. I've done three below par reviews in a row this week, so maybe I'm not getting enough happy juice.

If you're a regular reader, you know I'm not a fan of this line.  The extreme size was a bigger issue to start with, but I can live with that now that the line up has gotten deep enough.  But the awful bendy hands and the wrists that they spawn continue to be a sore subject for every figure.  At this price point, that's not acceptable.

Poor Nightwing gets saddled with one very major visual problem to add to the mix - those God awful cuffs.  I'd expect something like that on a $20 mass market figure, but not on something like this.

Still, his masks and the way they attach are a huge plus.  If this figure was around the $40 mark, he'd get another half star in the overall and certainly be a B grade.  If you can pick him up at that price - and I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case over time - then he'll make a reasonable addition to your 13" Batman collection.

BTW, when I was shooting this figure, I really liked the pose you see in the opening shot.  In person, he looked dynamic, as though he was creeping along the roof tops.  In the cropped photo though, I decided he looked more like Catwoman had just caught him taking a crap behind the gargoyles.  The image was amusing enough to me to still use the photo, but the final photo in the set is my favorite, as usual.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - ***
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - **1/2
Accessories - ***
Outfit - **1/2
Fun Factor - ***
Value -  **
Overall - **1/2

Where to Buy -
If you're LCS doesn't have him - or are charging an arm and a leg for him - you have plenty of great online options:

- CornerStoreComics his him listed at $55, but it still says pre-order for some reason.  I suspect they haven't updated it yet, but you can call them if you're wondering.

- Amazing Toyz has him at $55 too, but he's also still listed as a pre-order for some reason.

- Alter Ego Comics has him for $56.

Related Links -
I've reviewed a fair number of the DC 13" figures, although it's mostly the Batman related ones...

- there's a guest review of the Catwoman, and my reviews of the Martian Manhunter, Two Face, Batman Begins and classic Batman.

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Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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