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By Thomas Wheeler

Bandai has produced a surprisingly extensive line of toys based on the Teen Titans animated series which airs on the Cartoon Network. However, some of the vehicles they've come up with for this line have been -- to put it politely -- rather, um, fanciful.

One, at least, that DOES have its origins in the animated series is the T-Sub. The largest of the Titans vehicles, it's also the only way to get the Aqualad character, whose figure is included with the vehicle.

The T-Sub lives up to its name not only by being the main group vehicle for the Titans, but also because, despite having a rather bulbous shape, it does more or less resemble a letter "T". There are five distinct seats, one for each member of the Titans of the animated series -- Robin, Starfire, Raven, Beast Boy, and Cyborg.

As for the toy itself, Bandai did an overall good job with it. There are certain things to note about it, however. The five canopies do not open individually. Rather, the front three and the rear two open as groups. There are spring-loaded missile launchers in the front, which are seemingly part of the jets. Three small wheels along the bottom of the vehicle allow it to roll very effectively across any reasonably smooth surface.

One thing I would especially note is that despite being a submarine and coming with a character who spends most of his time underwater, this is NOT a toy to be used in water! It's not designed to float, and it has a battery-operated sound mechanism, with speaker holes on the bottom of the craft, that I suspect would not take very well to being placed into a bathtub, swimming pool, or even a large puddle.

Overall, though, it's an excellent toy, and a good addition to the Titans collection.

Now, let's discuss Aqualad. In the animated series, he's not an official member of the Titans, although he's turned up in at least two episodes that I know of (I do not watch the show consistently). While the character does not bear that much of a resemblance to his comic book counterpart, I will say this -- his uniform design beats the heck out of anything his comic book counterpart ever wore. The comic book Aqualad has had a penchant for uniforms that are predominantly red in color, with blue and or black trim. Red? For an undersea hero? (Granted, Aquaman's orange and green doesn't make a whole lot more sense).

The animated Aqualad's uniform is two shades of blue, with white trim that looks like waves. It's an excellent overall design that his comic book counterpart could do well to emulate someday.

The figure, in the 3" scale, is decent, and has the full level of articulation that we've come to expect from these Titans figures -- head, arms, legs, knees, and a swivel in the upper leg. (Please see my review on the Teen Titans Speedy figure to see what Bandai has done to this with their newest Titans releases. It's not good news, either.)

About the only deficiency on the figure, where you can really tell that some penny-pincher at Bandai wanted to save a tenth of a cent on each Aqualad, is that the glove and boot cuffs, which should've been white, were left unpainted. Fortunately, the lines for these are sculpted into the plastic, and anyone with a steady hand and some white acrylic paint and either a fine brush or even a toothpick should be able to correct this, so I won't make a big deal about it.

According to ToyFare magazine, the T-Sub has been quite a popular item among collectors, who have been enjoying the Titans line, if for no other reason than, unlike a lot of superhero-related lines before it, Bandai hasn't been afraid to turn out a decent number of secondary and tertiary characters. This is NOT a line suffering from "Batman Syndrome" (although these days I'm tempted to call it "Spider-Man Syndrome" just as readily -- at least the Batman variants tend to have different color uniforms...).

ToyFare states that the T-Sub has been a fairly scarce item, but I didn't have any trouble turning it up at Toys "R" Us. To the best of my knowledge, neither Target nor Wal-Mart even carried it, at least not around here they didn't. It does come in a rather large box, even though the vehicle itself is just short of a foot long and a foot wide, so it doesn't take up a lot of space. That box might've pushed it just outside the size that those department stores were willing to squeeze into their aisles.

Do I recommend the T-Sub? If you're a Titans fan, then definitely. It's a good representation of this frequently-seen vehicle, and the Aqualad figure is a nice one to have, even if he needs a little touch-up. The T-Sub and Aqualad are definitely worthy additions to the TEEN TITANS!

ADDENDUM/UPDATE - Since writing this review, I have discovered that Bandai has recolored some of those rather peculiar vehicles I mentioned in the opening, and assigned them to different characters than before, and of course included figures.

The former ROBIN VAC-CYCLE (which is exactly as silly as it sounds), which was mostly red and green, has now been redone in blue, and is now the AQUALAD VAC-CYCLE. The Aqualad figure that it comes with is identical to the one that comes with the T-Sub. It's also worth mentioning that the T-Sub has been re-released, but WITHOUT Aqualad!

I still recommend the T-Sub as a very cool, and also authentic-from-the-cartoon-show, vehicle. However, if you're primarily interested in just adding the Aqualad figure to your collection, then the "Vac-Cycle" retails for under $7.00, whereas the T-Sub is closer to $25.00. A rather substantial difference.

And it looks like Bandai is going to do as much rehashing with this line as they possibly can, even as they cheapen the few new items that come out (again, see my review elsewhere on the new Speedy figure). While this particular situation is not a bad way to get the Aqualad figure, I find it very difficult to respect this practice just on general principles.