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By Thomas Wheeler

Doubtless the most successful version of DC Comics' TEEN TITANS was that created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez in the early 1980's. Featuring such classic characters as Robin, Kid Flash, and Wonder Girl, the series introduced three new characters -- Cyborg, Starfire, and Raven, and overhauled a seventh -- a kid named Beast Boy.

The 80's Titans have since been the basis for the animated series presently running on Cartoon Network, as well as an action figure line by Bandai. That's not the Beast Boy I want to discuss here. We're not talking about the little geek in the black and purple outfit with the voice that sounds like Bart Simpson with a head cold.

And yet, in a way, we are, although I have no idea what the voice of the comics version might sound like. Same character, different reality.

The original Beast Boy was born Garfield Logan. If the character didn't predate them both, it could be argued that he was named after an overweight cat and a psycho-headed mutant with claws.

Garfield Logan's parents were explorers in the African jungles. It was there that Garfield, as a child, contracted a deadly disease called "sakutia". His father formulated a cure, which worked -- it also turned Garfield's skin and hair green, and gave him the ability to morph into green versions of any animal on the face of the planet.

Garfield's parents were killed, and Garfield was subsequently taken in by the chief of one of the nearby African tribes. Eventually, he joined up with a super-hero team called the Doom Patrol, and became one of the youngest super-heroes ever, calling himself Beast Boy. The character faded into obscurity when the rest of the Doom Patrol was apparently killed, and their book title was cancelled.

Beast Boy resurfaced when the Teen Titans were reformed in the early 1980's. Although now a teenager, he was still the youngest member of the team, barely 16 years old. He came across as a jokester, distinctly girl-crazy, and hardly serious about anything. An initial intense dislike of fellow Teen Titan Cyborg, who himself had a chip on his shoulder the size of Titans' Tower, eventually developed into a close buddy friendship, as Cyborg in some respects reminded Logan of his old Doom Patrol team-mate, Robotman.

Despite his seemingly flippant personality, however, Logan was a trusted member of the Titans who could always be counted on to act in the best heroic fashion during battles with the Titans' many foes.

Logan also called himself CHANGELING for many years, before fairly recently reverting to the Beast Boy name -- probably so he wouldn't be associated with the Changelings that were the evil Founders of the Dominion from Star Trek Deep Space Nine.

Actually, according to the storyline, a longtime foe of Logan's so thoroughly mocked him with the "Beast Boy" name during one very nasty encounter that he felt he had to change his super-hero name to something else, since "Beast Boy" had, at least for a long time, been ruined for him.

So much for character history. On to the figure.

Last year, DC Direct offered a boxed set of Teen Titans figures. Unfortunately, most of these were reissues or repaints, and included Starfire, Raven, and a recolored Cyborg, done with a gold finish instead of the original silver. I already had the original Cyborg figure, and I wasn't that impressed with the Starfire and Raven figures. They were nicely detailed and designed, but they tended to lack in articulation, and I don't buy statues.

There was a Beast Boy figure in the set, however, that was exclusive to the set. But I had no intention of buying an entire boxed set just to get one figure. So I regretfully took a pass on it.

Recently, my meanderings around eBay led me to the discovery of a DC Direct Beast Boy figure that was being sold on its own! I decided to bid on it, and won the figure. Yes, it was loose, but even if he'd been sold individually on card, I would've opened it anyway.

The figure is excellent. Early prototype pictures of this figure showed a headsculpt with an entirely wrong hairstyle and a rather grim expression on the face. I'd been told that the headsculpt that was eventually used was much more accurate, and indeed it is. The figure's headsculpt looks like it was taken right from Perez's work, and probably was. The hairstyle is perfect, and the face has that "I'm not taking anything seriously that I don't have to" grin as part of an overall wide-eyed adventurous expression.

The uniform is perfect, the mixture of red and white evoking Changeling's Doom Patrol days while still being a distinct uniform. And somehow, red and white works well as a color scheme if you've got green skin. There's something the average fashion designer doesn't have to worry about.

Articulation is excellent. Although perhaps not as extensively articulated as, for example, Toy Biz's Marvel Legends figures, arguably the best Marvel Comics figures out there these days (although I still miss Famous Covers), the DC Direct line is a little better at minimizing the appearance of articulation points without losing articulation. Beast Boy is articulated at the head, arms, elbows, legs, and knees. Not bad at all, really.

As is appropriate, the figure is a little shorter than the average DC Direct figure. I stood Beast Boy next to one of my DC Direct JLA figures, and he's a good half-inch shorter. I'm not sure that the overall body molds are unique. They MIGHT be the same ones used for the Legion of Super-Heroes line, which would make sense, as there are no distinct sculpted markings on them, nor would any be necessary for this character or, for that matter, most of the Legion. No distinct sculpted boot, belt, or glove lines. It's all taken care of with the paint work, which is excellent.

Beast Boy comes with one accessory. A very well sculpted, if somewhat pre-posed, green monkey, one of the many animal forms he can morph into.

I always liked the Changeling character in the Teen Titans comics from the 80's, and I'm very pleased to finally have one in my collection. If you like the original, non-animated Teen Titans, and if Beast Boy/Changeling is one of your personal favorites, then I definitely recommend this figure. He may be hard to track down, since he was originally only sold in a multi-figure set, but you never know what might turn up out there.