#1229: Bane – Detective Mode

BANE – DETECTIVE MODE

DC COMICS MULTIVERSE (MATTEL)

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Hey look, another DC Comics Multiverse figure.  These figures are always sooooooooooo great, right?  While the line switched over to the 6-inch scale last year, there are still quite a few entries from its earlier, 3 3/4-inch scale, based primarily on Arkham Origins and Arkham Knight.  I watched my brother play through Knight, so I’m familiar with that one, but I don’t really know Origins all that well.  Amusingly enough, I actually own more Origins merch than any of the other games.  There were just a lot of toys from that one, I guess.  Anyway, I’ll be looking at one of the smaller Origins figures, Bane.  Of course, it’s not a basic Bane.  No, no, this is a wacky variant Bane.  Let’s do this.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

banedetvis2Detective Mode Bane was released in Mattel’s small-scale DC Comics Multiverse line.  I couldn’t begin to tell you what series.  I didn’t follow the line super closely, and from what I can tell online, no one else did either.  The back of his box shows Arkham Knight, Arkham Origin Joker, and some sort of Batman derivation.  I’m guessing he hit around the time of Arkham Knight’s release?  The figure stands a little over four inches tall and he has 16 points of articulation.  He’s built on the same mold as the standard Arkham Origin Bane figure.  It’s okay, I guess.  Not the worst thing Mattel’s put out.  I guess he sort of looks like Bane from the game.  It’s hardly the most exciting Bane look, and the figure suffers from the same clumsy articulation issues that plagued pretty much this entire line.  The paint’s what makes this figure “unique.”  As his name denotes, he’s based on how Bane looks when he’s viewed by the player using Batman’s Detective Vision in the game.  In the game, this means the foes are seen through an x-ray filter, showing off their skeletons and what not.  For the figure, it means he’s molded in clear blue plastic, with a skeleton pattern hastily painted on the front of the figure.  He ends up looking like one of the Skeleton Men from Scooby Doo, Where Are You?.  I don’t think that was quite what they were going for, but that’s what they got.  An x-ray figure is really the sort of thing you have to fully commit to, not just a quick repaint  (for instance, every “Emperor’s Wrath” Darth Vader has at the very least an actual skull imbedded in the middle of his helmet), so this ends up looking more like a guy wearing goofy makeup than anything else.  Bane included no accessories, because why offer anything new with this figure, right?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like the Knightfall Batman I reviewed two weeks ago, this guy was another figure given to me by my Super Awesome Girlfriend, picked up during one of her stress buys.  The fact that he was a gift from her is probably the best that can be said about him.  I mean, I’ve still owned worse figures, but this one’s not offering a whole lot of positives.  The gimmick is cool in theory, but as usual, Mattel was lazy about it, and that makes him kind of a pointless figure.  I can’t really imagine what the market for this figure is supposed to be.  People who like failed concepts?

#1216: Knightfall Batman

KNIGHTFALL BATMAN

DC COMICS MULTIVERSE (MATTEL)

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‘90s comics are notorious for fostering an over-arching tone of “not your daddy’s comics,” I guess in an attempt to make the genre seem more hip and fly (see?  I’m one of the cool kids!  I can get home with the downies).  One of the ways they did this was by performing lots of edgy stunts that “rocked the comics world to its core!”  Green Lantern went nuts and dismantled the corps, Superman died and was replaced by four off-shoot characters, etc.  Even Batman wasn’t exempt, thanks to the “Knightfall” story arc that ran through all the Bat-titles in the early ‘90s, where newly-introduced villain Bane bested and crippled Bruce Wayne, necessitating his replacement by Jean-Paul Valley, a far more anti-heroic character.  The story is actually pretty well-regarded, mostly because it dove head-on into a lot of the tropes associated with the ‘90s anti-hero boom and deconstructed them, with the final moral of the story being that the new style of Batman just didn’t work as well as the original.  Since the story hit right on the cusp of the superhero toy boom, several of the key characters got figures at the time of the story.  The final, more armored incarnation of Valley’s Batman has been a particular favorite of toy companies, even in current times.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

azbatsdcm2Knightfall Batman was released as part of Mattel’s smaller-scale DC Comics Multiverse line.  He’s one of the many Arkham Origins-based figures from the line, and like a good portion of those figures, he represents one of the many skins that could be swapped out for Batman’s standard look.  Said skin is based on Jean-Paul Valley’s late Knightfall look (though not his *latest* look; the armored sections got a bit more tech-y as the story progressed).  It’s the look most associated with the storyline as a whole, so it’s certainly a strong choice of both skin and figure.  The figure stands a little under 4 inches tall and has 18 points of articulation.  As with so many Mattel figures, the articulation  scheme is rather archaic, but at this point I sort of just expect that.  If Mattel’s determined to stay just behind the pack, I can’t stop them.  The sculpt is decent enough, I suppose.  It’s about on par with the other figures I’ve gotten from the line; the basic look is pretty solid, but there’s not a whole lot of small detail work or anything that really makes it stand out.  There’s also the incredibly awkward way the front of the belt is handled.  It’s supposed to not have a buckle, but since they made the belt a separate piece (because reasons), the tunic is interrupted twice where the belt connects, which ruins the visual flow.  And, of course, there are the huge hands, because no one at Mattel knows how to scale hands for this size figure, I guess.  The paint on the figure is passable, but, like the sculpt, a little uninspired.  The colors all more or less match up, but they’re just… unexciting.  The blue is dark, the gold is dull, the yellow is cold, and the black is just very flat.  Application is also a bit sloppy, but it’s far from the worst I’ve seen from Mattel.  The figure includes no accessories, which is a slight letdown.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Have I mentioned Super Awesome Girlfriend’s stress buying before?  Yeah, this guy’s a case of that.  She stopped at a Walgreens on the drive to her parents’ and this was one of the handful of figures she grabbed for me (after verifying I didn’t already own him).  Is he a perfect figure?  No.  Is he an exciting figure?  Not incredibly so, but he has his merits.  I’ve owned worse figures, and I like the design enough that I’m happy to own a figure of it.

#0980: Arkham Origins Boxed Set

BATMAN, JOKER, DEATHSTROKE, & BLACK MASK

ARKHAM ORIGINS (DC COLLECTIBLES)

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Video game adaptations of comic book characters have a somewhat rocky history. For every — there’s a Superman 64; for every Spider-Man 2, there’s an Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis. The Batman: Arkham series is probably one of the best adaptations out there, though even it hasn’t been totally immune from criticism. Perhaps the most criticized game in the series is Arkham Origins, a prequel game that wasn’t even developed by the same group as the others. Today, I’ll be looking at several figures based on that game.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Batman, Joker, Deathstroke, and Black Mask were all released as a big boxed set as part of DC Collectible’s Batman: Arkham Origins line. They were all also available individually, with Batman, Joker and Black Mask being in Series 1 and Deathstroke being in Series 2. The figures are pretty much identical in both releases.

BATMAN

ArkhamOrigin3Batman manages to get a slight tweak to his design for each Arkham game. Oddly, the Arkham Origins design was even more advanced than the Asylum and City designs, despite this design supposedly predating those looks. Maybe looks are deceiving? The figure is about 7 inches tall and he has 31 points of articulation, which is quite impressive for a DC Direct/Collectibles figure. The sculpt on this figure is pretty solid. It does a pretty great job of capturing Batman’s Origins look. One of my issues with a lot of the Arkham-based Batman figures is that they all seem to be stuck with pinheads, which this figure manages to mostly avoid. I mean, his head is still smaller than his biceps, but it’s fairly true to the game and, it’s also not as drastic as some of the others.  The rest of the sculpt is quite beefy (seriously, this is a beefy, beefy Batman. He has all the beef), but he has very sharp detail work, and just all-around pretty cool looking. I especially appreciate the choice of a straight hanging cape, since Batmen have a tendency to go for absurdly flowy capes. The paintwork on this figure is rather subdued, and very well carried out. Everything is nice and clean, and he’s got some really great accent work, especially on the stubble and the shadows on the grey parts. Batman included a weird gun thing that I feel certain someone more familiar with the game than me could ID. His elbows hinder him from really holding the thingy in any truly believable way, but hey, he’s a cool Batman. Who cares if he can hold some weird gizmo the right way?

JOKER

ArkhamOrigin2Joker serves as a primary antagonist in (most of) the Arkham games. Seeing as he’s Batman’s greatest foe, I guess that’s not too strange a concept. While other Arkham Jokers stuck more closely to the classic Joker design, this one goes for a more subdued “real world” look. Well, for the clothes, anyway. The face is pretty standard, and clearly made to look like a slightly younger version of the guy from the prior games. The figure is about the same height as Batman and has 16 points of articulation. He’s got about half the articulation of Batman, but he’s got even more restricted movement than you’d expect. He’s not going to be doing much more than just stand there. That wouldn’t be terrible, but he’s also got some weird issues, like his arms sticking out at weird angles. Also, while the sculpt looks okay on its own, it doesn’t do a particularly good job of capturing the in-game design. Like, his whole face is just kind of the wrong shape. And his body just feels kind of soft and lumpy, especially when compared to the much sharper Batman sculpt. The paint doesn’t really help matters. The basic work isn’t terribly, but there’s a lot of bleed over. Also, they tried to vary the look of his skin with some grey accents, but it ends up just making him look splotchy and unwell. Joker includes no accessories, making him the only figure in the set not to have any extras.

DEATHSTROKE

ArkhamOrigin4Do you guys remember when Deathstroke wasn’t over-exposed and annoyingly shoved into tons of stories where he didn’t belong? Because I do. I actually kind of used to like him, even. Somewhere along the way to being overexposed, he also seems to have become inexplicably linked to Batman, which is a little odd, but I guess it isn’t a horrible fit. Deathstroke made his debut Arkham-verse appearance in Arkham Origins, sporting a look that was a pretty decent tactically-based update of his original comics appearance. This figure stands the same height as the other two figures and has 27 points of articulation. His overall movement is comparable to that of Batman, though he does get a different articulation scheme on the hips, which seem a little flimsy by comparison. I think Deathstroke’s sculpt is probably my favorite in the set. Not only is he a great recreation of the in-game look, but the sculpt is also loaded with lots of really cool texture work, which makes him truly look like a battle-worn gun-for-hire. My only real complaint is that the articulation could have probably been worked into the sculpt in a smoother way. The paint on this figure is also pretty solidly handled. He’s by far the most colorful and exciting figure in the lot, and the metallic used for his armored pieces is really sleek. Deathstroke has the most accessories of all the figures in the set, with a katana, a pistol, and a staff.

BLACK MASK

ArkhamOrigin5Oh great. Black Mask. He’s my faaaaaaaaaavrite. Okay, actually I don’t always hate Black Mask, as long as he gets a good story. He just doesn’t tend to get good stories, like, ever. Ah well. So, here’s Black Mask! The figure is 7 inches tall and he has an oh-so-exciting 7 points of articulation. He can like, turn his head and move his elbows less than 45 degrees, and move his legs at the hips, but not at the knees! Awesome, right? Okay, maybe not. This figure’s even worse than Joker on this front, which is just really weak. But his sculpt can still save him, right? Yeah, not so much. The head sculpt is admittedly not bad. I like that he looks like he’s actually wearing a mask, and I like the details of said mask. The rest of the figure is really just lame. The sculpt is incredibly soft and his pinstripes on is suit are so deep that he ends up looking like he’s wearing corduroy or something. Plus, his arms are stuck at a slight enough angle to make the fact that they don’t go back any further incredibly annoying. Black Mask’s paint is mostly off-black and off-white, which could be kind of striking if done right, but…it’s not quite there. I mean, it’s not bad, but it’s also not super interesting. It’s just there. Black Mask includes a pair of pistols, which are oddly chunky. Maybe they’ve been juicing.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve never played any of the Arkham games. I’ve gotten a couple of the figures before, but mostly because I liked the characters the figures represented, which isn’t really the true here. That being case, why would I buy this set? Because its box was damaged and Cosmic Comix was selling it for $20. Deathstroke is definitely the best that the set has to offer, and Batman’s no slouch either. Of course, on the flipside, both Joker and Black Mask are very, very weak figures, with little in the way of redeeming qualities. So, half the set’s great, and half the set’s pretty bad. At full price (which is $60-$70), this set is a pretty terrible value. At $20? Sure, Joker and Black Mask may be a waste of plastic, but Batman and Deathstroke are easily worth $10 each.