BATMAN, ROBIN, ALFRED, & CLAYFACE
THE NEW BATMAN ADVENTURES (HASBRO)
“Criminals beware…these relentless Caped Crusaders are ready to fight the forces of evil anytime, anywhere, and stop even the most devious villains in their tracks!
Gotham City’s Dark Knight Detective, Batman never shirks his duty to defend the city against its many bizarre criminals, no matter how powerful. Even if it means facing the awesome might of Matt Hagan, aka Clayface. Empowered by strange chemicals, Clayface is stronger, bulkier and meaner than ever! Of course, Batman is far from alone in his crusade for justice. Tim Drake, as Robin, is the newest member of Gotham’s crime-fighting elite. Along with Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne’s ever-faithful butler and confidante, Batman is ready to continue his battle against evil!”
It’s Christmas Day, a day that I usually devote to something a little more festive and Christmas-y. For a number of reasons, I’m not feeling that one quite as much this year, so I’ve opted to instead continue my look into Hasbro’s late-game Animated Batman sets. I suppose it’s not the oddest connection. This one in particular does really push the surrogate family angle, which feels a little bit Christmas-y, I guess. So, in the spirit of a little bit Christmas-y, let’s look at this here set of figures.
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
Batman, Robin, Alfred, and Clayface were released as a TRU-exclusive boxed set, released in late 1999 to expand the New Adventures of Batman line under the Hasbro banner.
Have I mentioned the need for a Batman variant in these sets? Because they totally needed one, in each and every one of these. For this one, they went for a rather nifty little tweak for the variant. He’s not animation accurate, but he’s a classic blue Batman, which is rather fun. The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation. Structurally, he’s another re-use of Detective Batman, which is really always a nice starting point. It’s a good sculpt, and it still worked well here. The change up to this one comes in the from of paint, mainly the cape, cowl, gloves, and boots are all bright blue instead of the usual black. It’s a good look, and simulates the classic look quite nicely. Batman was originally packed with a big missile launcher. It was goofy, and I didn’t hang onto it.
Since Dick Grayson was Nightwing, TNBA replaced him in the role of Robin with Tim Drake. Tim had previously been released in the Bat-family set, and became the first of said family to get another go in the boxed sets. The figure stands just shy of 4 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation. This figure used the same mold as the two single-carded versions of the same character. It’s generally pretty on-model for the show design. I suppose he’s a touch tall and lanky, but not overly so. The cape is a separate piece. It’s a little bulky at the collar, but otherwise a rather nice piece. His paint work is bright, colorful, and fairly cleanly applied, which is cool. Robin was packed with a weird sled thing, which I’m missing, of course.
The undoubted selling point of this here set, Alfred, much like Gordon and Lois, was granted his very first action figure here. The figure stands just shy of 5 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation. He was constructed from a mix of unique and re-used parts. His arms and legs came from Wildcard Joker, while his head and torso were all-new. The head was quite a nice in-model Alfred from the show, and it’s certainly one of their stronger ones. The Joker parts don’t technically match the show design, especially with the gloves that he never wore, but they approximate well enough that the re-use is understandable. Alfred’s paint work is rather basic, mostly just black and white. At least, unlike Gordon, the eyes are painted. Always a plus. The hair’s not the right color, at least not for a present day Alfred, but it’s admittedly a relatively minor thing. Alfred was packed with a serving tray, which I actually still have, thanks to it being actually relevant to the character.
Clayface hadn’t had a toy release since the BTAS days, and that one was rather scarce by this point, so I guess a re-release wasn’t the worst idea. The figure stands just over 5 inches tall and he has movement at his shoulders, and that’s it. The set’s definitely very New Adventures-themed, and the shaping of that design was quite different, but this figure nevertheless uses his BTAS mold, largely unchanged. The only actual adjustment is to the left arm, which rather than ending in a shooting spike formation like the original, is now just an arm with a fist. The whole thing isn’t the worst sculpt, but much like Batgirl and Poison Ivy, it suffers from rather plainly not being accurate to what it’s supposed to be representing. Also, this release has some major issues with a sticky residue building up on the figure’s surface over time. You can clean it off, but it comes back, and it’s just generally not so pleasant. The paint work on this figure, or at least the coloring, marked a change, since he was now a much paler tan. No idea why, but he was. Clayface was packed with a safe and a bomb to go inside it. He couldn’t really do anything with it, of course, and I lost mine, so there we are.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
This set does hold a bit of significance to this particular date, as the year it was released, it was very definitely the item highest on my Christmas list. I’d gotten the Bat-family pack the year prior, and I desperately wanted this set to expand my roster. How could you not want an Alfred? Well, and I also didn’t have a Clayface, and the blue Batman did rather excite me too, so it was really just Robin I didn’t need. Even he was a solid release of his own, and wound up becoming my go-to figure for him. In retrospect, it’s maybe not the most thrilling set, but I’m still very glad I got it, and I remember it quite fondly.