It’s been a good year for superhero comics on TV, what with the success of DC Comics’ Arrow and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., not to mention the planned fall arrivals of The Flash and Gotham. But let’s not forget the animated side of small screen super-heroics, as the second season of Teen Titans Go! premieres next month. The series resurrects Teen Titans, which aired during the mid-to-late 2000s, as something wackier and anarchic. Both shows are based on the long-running comic book of the same name, which is centered on some of the best-known teenage characters in DC’s pantheon.
Along with everyone’s favorite young sidekick, Robin, the cast includes Starfire, Cyborg, Raven, and Beast Boy. While adept at defeating evil-doers, Teen Titans Go! more often depicts them hanging out unsupervised at their team headquarters, at which point trouble worse than any super-villain tends to break out. The series is a fun romp, not to mention a good antidote to the spate of more serious, live-action superhero adaptations of late. Teen Titans Go! is currently licensed by a number of toy companies, with items for collectors, young kids, and everyone in between. But in all cases, the property’s lighthearted attitude shines through.
Jazwares has an extensive line of Teen Titans Go! Toys, including 8- and 5-inch-tall action figures, plush, and more. The larger-sized figures, available in either Robin or Cyborg, have extensive points of articulation. The 5-inch-tall Cyborg, for example, has forearms and hips that swivel, as well as pose-able arms and bendable legs. They’re also packaged with neat accessories, such as a staff and other weapons for Robin, and various high-tech items for Cyborg. Jazwares also has plush dolls that can handle a more rough-and-tumble style of play, thanks to polyester filling and a lightweight design that invites squeezing and tossing into the air. The plush comes in heroes Robin and Cyborg and bad guy Trigon, and each has similar proportions to its cartoon counterpart. Jazwares’ action figures and plush are all suitable for kids ages 4 and up.
Over on the more collectible end of the toy spectrum, Funko recently released Pop! Vinyl versions of all five Titans, each standing roughly 3.75 inches tall. Similar to other Pop! Vinyl figures, they have heads that can swivel a full 360 degrees, and are all modeled after Japanese chibi, a style of caricature that makes the Titans look more like toddlers than teens at times. Still, these toys look great together as a set, with the contrasts between characters being much more apparent when they’re side-by-side: Cyborg, for example, is the bulkiest of the heroes, Beast Boy has the slightest build, and Raven has sleepy, perennially bored-looking eyes (She’s the only one out of the quintet without perfectly-circular, Pop! Vinyl-style eyes). These figures may be the most stylized versions of the comic book characters yet. However, like the Titans in all their various incarnations to-date, much of the fun is in how they play off one another.
Finally, it may not be a Teen Titans Go! licensed product per se, but Cyborg is among the 10 DC Comics characters included in the second Scribblenauts Unmasked blind box assortment, based on the video game/brand mash-up from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and 5th Cell. Released in March by DC Collectibles, the figure has five points of articulation and stands about 2.25 inches tall. It also resembles the Teen Titans Go! version of Cyborg enough to serve as a potential gateway into Scribblenauts Unmasked, which like Teen Titans Go!, offers a light take on both DC Comics and super-heroics in general. (Check out our previous commentary, New Warner Bros. Licensed Games Look at Superheroes in a Different Light, for a more in-depth look at the game). The Scribblenauts Unmasked toy line, suitable for kids ages 6 and up, will gain yet another Titan, Beast Boy, later this year.
In closing, Teen Titans Go! may not have the extensive licensing program of, say, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, or some of this summer’s comic book-based movies. But the property is well-represented in a number of toy categories—an indicator that even small-screen superhero epics have big appeal for licensees.
For more commentary from Phil, check back often. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!