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By Thomas Wheeler

One of the most popular series on the network in recent years has been TEEN TITANS, based, somewhat loosely, on the popular comic book from DC.

The core team consists of Robin, Beast Boy, Cyborg, Raven, and Starfire, chaaracters largely brought together in the early 1980's by Marv Wolfman and George Perez, creating what remains the most popular incarnation of the Titans -- but there have certainly been guests over the years, including other heroes which have held the title of Titan. Many of these have also made it into Bandai's action figure line based on the Teen Titans.

This review will focus on SPEEDY. You'll find Aqualad in a separate review.

Speedy, in the comics, is Roy Harper, who started out as sidekick to Green Arrow. Why the name "Speedy" was picked I'm honestly not sure, but you'd think it must have really ticked off Kid Flash at some point. The character was one of the early members of the original Teen Titans, and although not officially part of the Wolfman/Perez Titans team, he did turn up every so often.

Speedy was used in a dramatic storyline in the 1970's to emphasize the dangers of drug abuse. Green Arrow found his fellow archer hooked on drugs, and helped him to kick the habit. Speedy was used in a couple of special comics in the 1980's to aid in drug abuse prevention.

These days, Harper is known by the name "Arsenal", and has made himself familiar with a wide range of weapons, not just archery equipment, although that is still his specialty. He's still a sort of wild card, but is a dependable hero who remains on good terms with the Titans and other fellow heroes.

Speedy in the animated series is described as follows on the back of the toy package: "Speedy is a member of Titans East and an archer version of Robin, and we don't mean sarcastic: he's as smart, fast, and agile as the Teen Wonder, but instead of explosive discs, Speedy uses his unbeatable arsenal of specialty arrows, ranging from those that can dispense energy blasts on contact, through ice arrows, to explosive ones. He can also fire arrows that function as heat-seeking missiles. Basically, whatever it takes to defeat the bad guys, Speedy's got it in his quiver."

Wonder if they snuck in the word "arsenal" as a pun, there...

The description is a fair one, especially the comparison to Robin, if you consider that neither character actually has any innate super-powers. They rely on their training and athleticism to keep up with the others. And they both probably take themselves a little too seriously.

Speedy's design in the animated series is a good approximation of the character in the comics before he became Arsenal, and actually has been through quite a few uniform designs since. Speedy has his comics counterpart's traditional reddish hair, of course, and black mask, very much like Robin's. Speedy is dressed in a mostly red outfit, although in the animated series they've made it a darker red than he tended to wear in the comics. The yellow belt and boots are also appropriate. The yellow and red "S" symbol is new. The comics Speedy just had a simple arrow insignia there. Speedy is also lacking his yellow hat in the animated series, which was based on Green Arrow's. For some reason, the lack of a hat really stands out to me. I even looked for it as an accessory in the toy package, even though I knew darn well he'd never had it in the animated series. He just somehow doesn't quite look complete to me without it.

But, he doesn't have one, so I'll just have to accept that. The 5" figure is superbly articulated, certainly better than his 3-1/2" counterpart, which was, unfortunately, one of the first figures in that scale with reduced articulation. That bugged the heck out of me at the time, because the prototype of the figure on the back of that package did show it with full articulation. But by the time of production, they'd taken all of the articulation out of the legs.

Speedy isn't quite as well articulated as the 5" Aqualad, but then, no one's expecting Speedy to swim, either. And he's still very well articulated, moving at the head, arms, elbows, legs, and knees. The knees have that same "pivot" feature as Aqualad. There is no ankle articulation. As for wrist articulation -- well -- sort of. Bandai was a little sneaky about it in order to conceal the articulation point. They put the "wrist" swivel further up the lower arm at the top of his gauntlets. Nice touch. Unless you look close, you can't even tell they're supposed to move.

Speedy's accessories include a bow, three arrows, and a quiver. The bow has two spots on it to hold the arrows. These are not spring-loaded. Instead, there's a "bulb" on the arrow that snaps into the bow. Applying pressure to the back of the arrow causes it to snap out of the bow and shoot a short distance. The figure is officially known as "Arrow Action Speedy", and if you're willing to supply the "action", it's an appropriate enough designation. I mean, really, what else do you expect an action figure of an archer to do? The quiver for the arrows can be snapped into two pegs on Speedy's back.

I'm really not sure how available this figure is likely to be. Technically, I'd mostly been trying to find Aqualad. I didn't even know the Speedy figure existed, but given that when I finally did find them, there were exactly one of each on the shelves, I figured I'd better not pass them up if I wanted them. And with the 2006 Titans figures coming out at the same time, on a new package design, unless Bandai chooses to carry over Speedy and Aqualad onto new packaging (not impossible), then I'd say these are likely to be a couple of rather scarce Titans.

With that, however, do I recommend ARROW ACTION SPEEDY? If you're any sort of Titans fan, then my answer is -- Most Definitely! It's a superb action figure, well designed, well painted, and well articulated, and a good likeness of the classic version of this popular Titans character -- lack of hat notwithstanding. If you can FIND one, then you should definitely make Arrow Action Speedy part of your Teen Titans collection!