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By Thomas Wheeler

I don't like writing negative reviews. Especially when it's based on an action figure of a character that I otherwise like. When something like this happens, I always feel a little sorry for the figure. It didn't ask to end up this badly off. Especially when it shouldn't've. But I've got no choice. Bandai blew it, Bandai blew it bad, and I'm calling it for what it is.

A little background on the character of Speedy. In the comics, he was Roy Harper, the teenage ward of Green Arrow. He was also one of the founding members of the Teen Titans. Today, he goes by the name of Arsenal, and most often wears a red uniform fairly similar to the green one of his Emerald Archer mentor.

In the animated series, Speedy is still a superb archer, but was not a member ofthe core group of five Titans. He's appeared in one episode that I know of, but I admit I have not watched the show consistently.

Still, given the character's overall history, I was genuinely looking forward to the figure. The pictures of him that turned up in both Lee's Toy Review and ToyFare showed a good, standard, 3" Titans figure, articulated at the head, arms, legs, knees, and an upper leg swivel.

I found the figure at Toys "R" Us just before Christmas. And what did Bandai do? CUT THE LEG ARTICULATION! Oh, he moves at the legs, but the knee and upper swivel leg movement was gone!

WORST OF ALL, in my opinion, the photo of the figure on the BACK OF THE FIGURE'S CARD -- VERY CLEARLY shows a Speedy figure WITH FULL LEG ARTICULATION!

You know, if this figure had been packed in a sealed box, with only that photo as reference for the product inside, it probably would've been grounds for a lawsuit based on a blatant violation of truth in advertising regulations. As it is -- it's just a horrible and inexcusable disappointment.

Come on, Bandai! Do you really need to pinch your pennies so badly that some pencil-necked paper-pusher in your accounting department who probably lost his imagination along with his sense of fun before he ever hit kindergarten can suggest doing something like this and it happens?

Now, there's some other figures pictured on the card back for Speedy, who comes in a two-pack that also includes a character called "Lightning", who was first released a couple of months ago and DOES have full leg articulation. I can see where you would have some trouble providing a full range of articulation for some of these. The rather pudgy characters "Mas and Menos". I have no idea who these are, but their stumpy little limbs would not articulate well.

But SPEEDY!? When you've ALREADY GOT A WORKING MODEL WITH FULL ARTICULATION?! Come off it! I've heard word on the message boards -- and believe me, Bandai has made quite a few enemies there -- that NONE of the new figures have full articulation. Worse, there's a Robin pictured on the back of this card, that also has no leg articulation, and I have seen a re-released Beast Boy that has also had its leg articulation cut.

So basically, Bandai thinks it can save money by going back to previous figures, and cutting new molds for their legs so it doesn't have to articulate them. Maybe the money spent making those molds would've been better spend making sure Speedy had his proper articulation.

Collectors liked this Teen Titans line. It was a super-hero line that was not plagued with endless versions of the core character and not enough secondary characters and villains. It wasn't Batman or Spider-Man. So -- Bandai found another way to ruin it. I suppose it will be a money-saver in the long run. When people stop buying it, Bandai can cancel it, and it's one less thing they have to ship to America.

This could've been an immensely cool figure. It SHOULD'VE been. And I just wonder, given how "production level" the picture of the properly-articulated Speedy figure on the back of the package card looks, just how far along Bandai got before they pulled this.

I don't think I'm making too big an issue over this. Articulation is seen as an important aspect of an action figure these days. When other lines are looking for ways to increase or enhance articulation, such as Star Wars, Justice League, and others, where does Bandai get off decreasing it like this? What's in their heads? This is a company that just two years ago put out a figure in the G-Gundam line called "Jester Gundam" that had nine points of articulation in EACH ARM! They're STILL putting out impressive Gundams -- just not sending them here. I used to think Bandai was arguably the finest toymaker on the planet. They seemed to really pay attention to detail, quality, articulation, precision. Well, they've lost a lot of my respect, because I see this Speedy as a glaring symptom of a deeper problem.

Between the cancellation of Gundam toys in the United States, and now the inexcusable cheapening of the Teen Titans line, I think Bandai is doing two things -- putting all of their eggs (except Power Rangers) into a basket called D.I.C.E., which looks less-than-inspired to me, and basically slapping the American collectors in the face. Well, here's one collector/reviewer that's slapping back. Bandai, you should be ashamed of yourselves, and if you have any sense of honor left, then give us the Speedy that's on the back of the card that you packaged this barely poseable lump of plastic on!