#2994: Batman, Robin, Alfred, & Clayface

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.

BATMAN

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.

ROBIN

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.

ALFRED

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

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.

#2987: Arkham Asylum Escape

BATMAN, TWO-FACE, POISON IVY, & HARLEY QUINN

THE NEW ADVENTURES OF BATMAN (HASBRO)

“They’re on the loose!  Those sinister, diabolical misfits of society, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn have broken the boundaries of incarceration and once again hit the streets on a path of destruction.  But Batman is ready to put them behind bars once and for all…where they belong!”

Hey, we’re heading down this late-game Hasbro DC rabbit-hole, so I guess we might as well just, you know, do that.  I sure do like themes, right?  And at least this theme is definitively not a Marvel Legends one, which is a nice change of pace these days.  I might be suffering from a bit of Legends burn out here, you guys.  But I’m not talking about them today!  No!  I’m talking about DC!  Yeah!  Let’s do it!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Arkham Asylum Escape, a set made up of Batman, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn, was released by Hasbro in early 2000 as a Toys R Us exclusive.  The set has the four figures, as well as a selection of accessories, some character specific, some less so.  The least specific is the Arkham Asylum sign, which actually should have two additional supports not seen in my photo.  It’s a cool piece that makes for a fun backdrop, which isn’t the sort of thing we tended to get for this line.  There’s also a straightjacket, which is listed as being Two-Faces, but which can easily be used for either him or Batman, and I honestly like it more with Batman.

BATMAN

“The people of Gotham City see Batman as an almost mythological figure, able to tame any adversary, no matter how powerful.  But now, with so many bizarre criminals running amok in Gotham City, Batman turns to his trusted allies to aid him in his battle against evil.  The Dark Knight has evened the odds by creating more amazing weapons, gadgets, and vehicles, all of which are available to his crime fighting team.”

You gotta have a Batman, so here’s the Batman.  He’s all Batman-y.  The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  Amazingly, he gets a whole extra point of articulation, thanks to the swivel at the waist.  This Batman re-uses the mold of the Batman originally packed in the “Batman Vs Two-Face Battle Pack,” which is a rather basic Batman, but running.  Or lunging.  For some reason.  I guess it’s more dynamic.  It’s honestly not a bad sculpt, apart from being a little hard to keep standing.  It’s rather clean, and internally consistent with the standard Detective Batman sculpt.  To match his more dynamic pose, his cape is also more dynamic, with a whole arc and flow to it, which is really cool.  Though this set generally goes for TNBA designs, and the figure’s sculpt is clearly TNBA-based, the paint scheme on this guy is decidedly BTAS-based.  It’s not a terrible look.  The only downside is that it doesn’t really hold up so well to wear and tear.  Batman was originally packed with a grappling hook, but it was lost by foolish child Ethan.

TWO-FACE

“Two-Face (Harvey Dent), well-entrenched as an underworld crime boss, continues to be a major threat to Batman and Gotham City.  However, Two-Face is always finding himself at odds with his dual nature, torn between his own good and evil sides.”

Though prominent early in the show’s run, Two-Face’s only toy release during TNBA‘s actual run was in a two-pack with a Batman variant.  This one upgrades that to a four pack, so I guess it’s sort of a lateral move.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  His sculpt is shared with the two-pack release, and is based on his updated appearance from TNBA.  It’s a good look, and the figure does a good job of capturing the design and translating it into three dimensions.  Given how basic a suited body this is, it’s genuinely a bit surprising that no other uses came from this figure.  It seems like it would be kind of natural.  It was certainly a popular piece amongst customizers at the time.  The paint work was ever so slightly changed here.  Instead of off-white, the lighter parts are a true white, and the lip on the scarred side is red, rather than black.  Technically, the original release was the more accurate scheme, but this one I think maybe presents a bit better in figure form.  Two-Face was originally packed with a machine gun and a pistol, both of which I have been missing since shortly after getting the figure.

POISON IVY

“Villainous vixen of vines, Poison Ivy (Pamela Isley) returns to continue her crusade for botanical supremacy.  While essentially a loner, Ivy is not above ‘hanging with the girls,’ as she occasionally teams up with Harley Quinn.”

Ivy was completely absent from the TNBA tie-ins, at least for the main line.  So, this figure was the first of hers under that specific branding.  It’s a bit of a cheat, of course, since she’s actually not TNBA at all, but I’ll get to that.  The figure stands about 4 1/2 inches tall and she has 5 points of articulation…technically.  The neck joint doesn’t really do anything, honestly.  Since there was no TNBA Ivy sculpt from Kenner, this figure re-uses the BTAS sculpt.  It’s not a great sculpt, but it’s not a terrible sculpt either.  It’s biggest issue is that it’s rather squat and a bit pre-posed.  Of course, it’s biggest issue here in particular is that Ivy’s design changed pretty drastically between the two iterations of the show, so she doesn’t match the theme here all that well.  The paint is also kind of suspect.  Technically, they’re following her TNBA scheme…sort of.  I mean, she doesn’t have leggings, which is the main thing.  Her skin tone is still peach, rather than a greenish white, and her outfit is a far brighter green than it really should be.  Ivy is packed with a crossbow and a plant capture weapon.  Astoundingly, I’ve actually still got both of them.

HARLEY QUINN

“Harley Quinn (Harleen Quinzel) continues to be Gotham City’s deadly wild card.  Her lethal toys come in handy whether she’s working out her aggressions with her ‘puddin,’ The Joker, best gal-pal Poison Ivy, or taking on Batman solo.  While she masks her dark and unpredictable nature with playfulness, her hatred of Batman is never far from the surface.”

Introduced within the original run of BTAS, Harley, unsurprisingly, got her very first figure in that line.  It was, however, never an exceedingly easy one to find.  So a second release was far from the worst idea.  The figure stands about 4 3/4 inches tall and she has 5 points of articulation.  She makes use of the single-release BTAS Harley’s sculpt.  It’s a good sculpt, which is pretty on model, and unlike Ivy, it actually matches okay with the TNBA set-up of this release, since her overall design wasn’t really that different between the two shows.  Her paint work is generally pretty decent.  The only change between this release and the single release is the color of the lips, which are red here, in contrast to the black on the original.  Harley was packed with a boxing glove launcher, as well as a gun with a “bang” flag.  Curiously, no mallet.  Mine is missing the gun, but still has the glove launcher.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I actually got this set at the same time as the set I looked at last week, both of them being given to me for my 8th birthday in 2000.  I was more interested in the Gordon set overall, but this one was a definite sleeper hit for me, because all of the figures in it were actually pretty solid, at least to child me.  Harley and Two-Face are still my go-to versions for this scale, and I definitely dig the Batman.  Ivy only really ranks lower because I wound up with the original BTAS release later down the line, and didn’t need it’s off-color repaint so much.

#2980: Gotham City Enforcement Team

BATMAN, NIGHTWING, COMMISSIONER GORDON, & BATGIRL

THE NEW BATMAN ADVENTURES (HASBRO)

“By day, they are ordinary citizens of Gotham City.  At night, they take on a crime fighting identity known only to a certain few, but respected and feared by all.  This is the Gotham City Enforcement Team, committed to righting the wrongs of society and getting crime off the streets for good!”

Last week, I delved into the late-game Animated Series tie-in sets that Hasbro used to help officially launch their tenure with the DC license.  I’m going to continue down that road today, moving away from Superman, and into the slightly-more-loved-by-Hasbro realm of Batman.  Much like with Superman, Hasbro used these sets to delve into some of Batman’s less toy worthy supporting players, intermixed with some of the more toy worthy ones to keep things more exciting, I suppose.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Gotham City Enforcement Team, which included Batman, Nightwing, Commissioner Gordon, and Batgirl, was released in the summer of 2000, technically as a Toys R Us-exclusive (although due to their partnership at the time, Amazon also offered them for online ordering).

BATMAN

“The people of Gotham City see Batman as an almost mythical figure, able to tame any adversary, no matter how powerful.  But now, with so many bizarre criminals running amok in Gotham City, Batman turns to his trusted friends and allies to aid him in his battle against evil.  The Dark Knight was evened the odds by creating more amazing weapons, gadgets and vehicles, all of which are available to his crime fighting team.”

You’re really not getting one of these sets without a Batman to go with it.  This one went for the far more basic take on the character, specifically his New Adventures look, since that was the general theme of this set.  With that in mind, this figure is, at his core, a re-issue of Detective Batman from Kenner’s The New Batman Adventures line.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  The Detective Batman sculpt was a pretty strong one, replicating the design from the shown pretty much spot-on.  It’s a little stiffer than the BTAS stuff was in terms of posing, but it still works alright.  It’s a very clean, very bold sculpt, which just really works.  It’s not a shock that Kenner and Hasbro both strove to get a lot out of this one.  His cape can be removed, and had been adjusted to a plastic piece, rather than cloth at this point.  It looks a lot nicer, though I suppose it’s more limiting from a posing standpoint.  The figure’s paint work is pretty basic for a Batman.  The grey is a bit brighter than the single release, and they’ve also adjusted the cape so that it’s two-tone now, with a lighter grey liner, which was a really cool touch.  Batman was originally packed with a weird capture-trap thing, which was super goofy, a theme of the accessories in this set.  I don’t have mine anymore, another theme for this set.

NIGHTWING

“After graduating from college, Dick Grayson — once the young sidekick of Batman known as Robin — traveled the world to study criminology.  While living abroad, Dick realized that he had outgrown his youthful role as Batman’s assistant.  Upon his return to Gotham City, Dick used his trust fund from Haley’s Circus to buy a building and convert its top two floors into a high-tech, urban headquarters.  He developed a new heroic identity called Nightwing, and, with the blessings of his one-time mentor, Batman, joined the battle against evil.”

I’ve actually looked at a Nightwing from this line before, though it was under the “wacky variants” heading, and not just a standard.  This figure is actually just that one, but painted up in the standard colors, since that mold was actually a little more accurate than the initial sculpt had been.  He’s just shy of 5 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  As I noted when I reviewed the sculpt the first time, it’s pretty much spot-on to the show, and I stand by that.  Much like Batman, it just really works.  The paint work is clean and bright, which is nice for this look.  He was packed with the grapple and shield of the single release, now done up to match the standard Nightwing colors.  No grapple for mine, but he does still have the shield.

COMMISSIONER GORDON

One of the few incorruptible cops on the Gotham City Police Department, James Gordon rose to the rank of Police Commissioner.  Commissioner Gordon worked tirelessly to clean up the GCPD and is now loved by Gotham City’s citizens and hated and feared by its criminals.  Though he cannot officially sanction Batman’s methods, he is an unofficial and behind-the-scenes supporter of the Dark Knight and uses his position to support Batman’s crime fighting efforts in any way he can.”

The primary selling point of this set was Commissioner James Gordon’s very first action figure.  It was kind of a big deal at the time, and it would serve to inspire a handful of others, which is always cool.  As with most of the set, Gordon is TNBA-based.  It’s not my preferred of the two designs, but it’s admittedly the one that’s easier to translate to three dimensions, and it was technically the “current” look at the time.  The figure is just under 5 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  Gordon was an all-new sculpt, and it’s a little bit of a mixed bag.  The head is fantastic; it’s got a lot of great detail work and is generally just a spot-on take on his later animated design.  The body, on the other hand, is a little rougher.  He’s definitely got too much paunch on his stomach, and the slightly odd posing of the upper body as a whole doesn’t really help so much.  Generally, it’s not the worst thing, but it’s not quite there.  The paint is even more not quite there; it’s very basic and drab, and missing key details.  Most notable?  He’s got no eyes.  At all.  It’s kind of creepy, really.  Gordon was packed with two very oversized revolvers, which just generally never felt very right for the character.

BATGIRL

“Barbara Gordon has just graduated from college with a degree in computer science.  She has landed a job on the police force, working elbow to elbow with her father, Commissioner James Gordon.  And each night she fights crime as Batgirl, alongside the greatest crime fighter the world has ever known.  This double life sometimes threatens to put Barbara in a sticky situation, and each time she puts on her costume, she knows she is stepping outside the law that she was raised to respect.  Yet Barbara believes that the good she does as Batgirl outweighs the risk to herself and her father.”

Batgirl technically got a single-carded release in Kenner’s BTAS line, but it was during the Duo-Force era, and it meant that she wasn’t in her standard colors.  That mold would be re-decoed for the first of the box sets under Hasbro (which was just the main four in metallic colors), and then would be further improved upon for this release.  Yay!  The figure stands just under 5 inches tall and she has 4 points of articulation.  Technically, there’s a joint at the neck, but since the head and cape are all one piece, it’s effectively useless.  The sculpt for this figure is pretty clearly meant to be the BTAS version, not the TNBA version like the others  It’s not absurdly far off, but it’s also not nearly as sharp and clean as it should be.  Ultimately, it’s an okay offering, but probably the weakest of the ones included here.  The paint does at least put her into her New Adventures color scheme, to do it’s best to sell the idea.  I prefer that scheme, and it looks good on a toy, so I’ve always liked it here.  Batgirl was packed with a big ol’ missile launcher, which I don’t have anymore.  Not an incredibly loss, since she couldn’t really hold it anyway.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

For my eighth birthday, this set was quite high on the list of things I wanted.  So high, in fact, that I actually ended up with two of them, in a continuation of a running gag that would go across my birthday for a few years where my grandmother and my aunt would wind up buying me the same gift with an eerie level of frequency.  I only kept one of them, of course, but these days I kind of wish I’d held onto both.  Though not really new to me, Batman, Nightwing, and Batgirl would become my definitive versions of the characters growing up, and while he’s far from perfect, Gordon was the only one I had for a good while. In general, this was a set that got a lot of mileage for me, and it remains one I’m very fond of, even now.

#2538: Joker

JOKER

THE ADVENTURES OF BATMAN AND ROBIN (KENNER)

My last Kenner Batman: The Animated Series review had me taking a look at one of the line’s patented wacky variants.  Variants were kind of central to the line’s success, covering not just Batman and Robin, but also some of their antagonists.  As I touched on in prior reviews, not all of the variants Kenner rolled out were “wacky”.  Some of them were actually quite sensible, including today’s focus, a pretty solid variant of the Joker!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

This Joker figure, known in the collector’s community as “Machine Gun Joker” because of the big machine gun accessory he included, was released in Series 2 of Kenner’s Adventures of Batman and Robin line in 1997.  He was Kenner’s fourth animated style Joker, following the basic, jetpack, and pogo stick variants.  He’s a completely show accurate figure, since Joker sported the coat and hat from time to time.  The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation…provided the head hasn’t snapped off at the neck joint like mine has, thereby removing a point of articulation.  It’s okay, years of therapy have managed to get me through the loss.  This version of Joker sported an all-new sculpt, not re-using the parts from the prior variants.  It’s probably the best old school style Joker sculpt that Kenner did, for what its worth, being a fair bit more on model than the earlier versions, and just generally having cleaner detailing and a more solid overall construction.  In terms of paintwork, he’s again a bit of a step-up, correcting the issues with the bluish skin, as well as just generally getting the colors closer to their on-screen counterpart.  The application is basic, but pretty clean, and just some of Kenner’s best work, again.  Joker was packed with the machine gun I mentioned earlier in the review, as well as a bundle of TNT, complete with Joker’s face on it.  Both pieces are a touch oversized compared to the figure, but for the time, pretty straight forward, and unhampered by the gimmicks, which was pretty darn cool.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Machine Gun Joker has the distinction of being my first Joker action figure, picked up when he was brand new, on a trip to the store with my Dad.  If I recall correctly, I specifically went in looking for a Joker, since I didn’t have one, and this one was the most straight-forward Joker available at the time.  He stuck as my primary Joker figure for most of my childhood, and I’ve definitely got an attachment to it.  Honestly, I was pretty happy to find he’s just such a good figure when going back for the review.  He remains one of my favorite Joker figures.

#2531: Decoy Batman

DECOY BATMAN

BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM (KENNER)

Interspersed with its selection of rather faithful recreations of characters and designs from the show, Kenner’s Batman Animated offerings also had a need to keep a lot of colorful variants of its main character coming at a regular pace.  So, we definitely got a *lot* of Batmen, whose importance to the overall narrative definitely had a range.  Some of them were sensible additions, perhaps taking one gadget or moment and building a whole figure around it, while some were just kind of bonkers.  And some were bonkers at the forefront, but ultimately not that weird when you explored them just a bit further.  Today’s figure fits that particular, very narrow mold.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Decoy Batman was officially part of Kenner’s tie-in line for Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, released in 1993.  While the last two figures I looked at from this line were directly lifted from the film, this one’s a bit more dubious.  His whole gimmick is that his torso launches away as a “decoy”, while the underlying Bruce Wayne figure can get away, I suppose, which kind of tracks with the scene in the movie where Bruce places his cape and cowl on a sawhorse and flings it out of a building in an attempt to escape the police…and now that I’ve written that out, I realize this figure’s maybe a better tie-in than I realized.  I mean, sure he’s not a direct lift from the scene, but I guess the concept’s there.  He fits into that “building a figure around one moment” dynamic.  Kudos to Kenner, I guess.  And, like, anti-kudos to me for not thinking this through before writing the review.  I mean, sure, I could go back and re-write the whole thing and make it look like I knew from the start, but tell me: where’s the fun in that?  Okay, maybe I should actually get to the reviewing.  This figure stands just shy of 5 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  The body sculpt for the figure is unique to him and it’s not bad.  The build is in line with the other standard Batmen from the line, and while the costume details are somewhat made up, they aren’t too crazy or zany.  He re-uses the main line’s Bruce Wayne figure’s head, and it’s a pretty darn spot-on old-style Bruce Wayne head, so no complaints there.  Perhaps the weirdest element of the whole thing is the way his action feature works; the Bruce head is on a spring-loaded neck piece, which can be depressed into the torso, much like a turtle, allowing for the “decoy” head and chest piece to snap over top.  It was a gimmick that Kenner would use a few more times for their DC lines, as well as their Shadow tie-in line.  It’s goofy as heck, but it does get the job done, and honestly doesn’t really impede the figure too badly. The clip-on decoy piece is another pretty solid match for the animated series designs, and is a pretty basic Batman from the show.  Well, in sculpt, anyway.  The paint work opts to forego the usual Batman colors for a black and red number.  For some reason, they really liked making Bruce-to-Batman figure’s red.  I really don’t know why that is, but it happened on three separate occasions, so that’s one heck of a pattern.   Ultimately, it’s not the worst color scheme ever, and does sort of fit the art deco designs of the show, at least somewhat, but it’d certainly be cool to see this figure in a more standard color scheme.  In addition to his decoy chest piece, Decoy Batman was also packed with a grapple…which I lost.  Look, it hardly seemed as essential as the main gimmick of the figure, alright?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t get Decoy Batman new, since the whole line was gone from retail shelves by the time I was actually getting into collecting.  So, I was definitely on the follow-up market for him.  Ultimately, he was kind of a bit of a consolation prize, if I’m honest.  I was at Baltimore Comic Con, and saw the Phantasm at a dealer’s table.  It was, however, $20, and that was too much for me, so instead I got this guy because he was $5.  Can’t really say I was at all let-down by the set up, because I wound up getting the Phantasm a bit later down the line anyway, and Decoy Batman’s a pretty fun figure in his own right.

#2524: Phantasm

PHANTASM

BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM (KENNER)

As I’ve brought up on this site, my favorite Batman film of all time is easily Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, the Animated Series’ cult classic theatrical feature. It’s an impressively crafted story, and actually does a phenomenal job of actually salvaging some of the elements of the rather messy Batman: Year Two story.  The story’s original antagonist, Reaper, was reimagined as the titular Phantasm, a chilling and truly intimidating villain.  Unsurprisingly, the Phantasm got some toy coverage in the tie-in line, and I’m looking at that figure today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Phantasm was released as part of the Mask of the Phantasm tie-in line in 1994, and was really the main focus figure in the line-up.  I know, what a shock.  What was also *supposed* to be a surprise was the Phantasm’s identity, which was to be hidden under the figure’s mask in the package.  However, for some reason, someone at Kenner thought it would be a much better idea to instead package the mask off of the figure, thereby revealing the Phantasm’s secret identity before the film even hit theaters.  Yay.  The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and she has 4 points of articulation.  The Phantasm’s sculpt was all-new, and, well, it’s technically a little bit compromised.  It’s not entirely Kenner’s fault, to be fair.  In the film, the reveal that the Phantasm is really Andrea Beaumont is hidden by the fact that the two character’s designs sport almost entirely different builds.  It’s a total cheat in the movie, and not something that’s quite so easily rendered in three dimensions.  For the purposes of this figure, Kenner opted to sculpt Andrea as she’s seen post-reveal, and then provide add-on parts to approximate the Phantasm design.  Ultimately, it’s a compromise, but it’s probably the optimal compromise.  The underlying figure is a pretty solid recreation of Andrea’s design.  The head in particular is a good match to the model.  Technically, for true film accuracy, she shouldn’t have the glove on her right hand, but I’m ultimately not too bugged by the added symmetry.  Phantasm’s paint work is pretty basic, but a decent match for her colors in the movie.  There’s no odd color changes this time around, so she’s nice and screen-accurate.  Phantasm is packed with her mask/hood and cape, which slips nicely over the head, and her scythe attachment for her hand.  They make for a passable, if perhaps not quite as intimidating, recreation of the primary Phantasm design.  The figure also originally included a gun because, you know, gun, right?  Mine doesn’t have that piece, which, you know, is just such a bummer, right?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t get the Phantasm when she was brand new, mostly due to being just shy of being only enough to actually see the movie.  Also, when I finally did see it, she kind of scared the crap out of me, so I held off for a bit longer.  Ultimately, I ended up getting her as a Christmas present from my parents a few years later, and she’s stuck with my collection  since.  While the figure obviously isn’t a pitch perfect recreation of the film design, I’ve still always found it to be a really fun offering, and certainly one of my favorite Animated pieces.

#2517: Retro Batman

RETRO BATMAN

BATMAM: MASK OF THE PHANTASM (KENNER)

I’ve looked at a surprisingly small amount of Kenner’s Animated Batman tie-in product.  I’ve certainly looked at a chunk of the DCC follow-ups, and even a handful of Mattel’s JLU-era stuff, but I’m averaging about a single Kenner animated figure a year right now.  Well, I’m aiming to mix things up a bit.  In tandem with my looks back at the other toys of my childhood with X-Men and Power of the Force, let’s throw a little bit of Batman into the mix, shall we?  And what better place to start than with a variant of the main guy himself, hailing from one of my absolute favorite pieces of the Animated Verse, and one of my favorite DC-related things in general, Mask of the Phantasm.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Retro Batman is one handful of Batman variants that were released in 1994 as part of Kenner’s Batman: Mask of the Phantasm tie-in line.  Unlike most of those other variants, which were mostly made up by the minds at Kenner, this one was actually in the film, depicting Batman as he’s seen in the flashbacks (it also showed up during some of the flashbacks in the episode “Robin’s Reckoning”, which is a good companion piece to the film in general).  He’s not terribly far-removed from the standard Batman design, and in retrospect is kind of a merging of the BTASTNBA, and JLU designs all into one.  The figure stands just shy of 5 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  He keeps the standard Kenner 5 points, and also has a swivel on his right forearm to assist with his action feature.  It won’t really hold many poses, but it does add a slight bit more of variation to the posing.  His sculpt is fairly typical of this era of figure from Kenner.  He’s not a pitch-perfect match for the animation models, but he’s pretty close, and fits consistently with the styling of the other figures in the line.  The sculpt is clean, and hits all the important notes, and he’s pretty darn sturdy.  As was the way at this point, his cape is cloth.  Again, not super accurate, but it works for their purposes, and it certainly helps with the playability.  His paint work is pretty cleanly handled overall, though Kenner for some reason opted to make the body suit a sort of bluish silver, rather than the typical grey.  It’s not super far removed, and it reads the same way as the standard colors.  I honestly don’t mind it, but it’s still a weird choice.  Batman’s accessory selection here is…interesting to say the least.  He’s got a battle spear and a sort of a gun looking thing?  I don’t know exactly what they’re supposed to be, nor do they really line-up with anything from the movie or the episodes where this look appears.  But, they certainly feel toyetic.  The spear is meant to be placed in his right hand, allowing it to be spun using the wheel mechanism in his arm and back.  It’s odd, but harmless.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

While the majority of my Animated stuff is actually from when I was a kid, this one is not.  I always wanted him, but just never managed to find one.  Fortunately, one came into All Time a couple of weeks ago, new, sealed, and in pretty much pristine condition, so it was almost like getting it when it was brand new.  He’s a fun variant of Batman, and also a sensible variant of Batman, and those two didn’t tend to cross-over in this line too much, so I gotta say he really works for me.

#2109: Grey Ghost

GREY GHOST

BATMAN: ANIMATED (DC COLLECTIBLES)

When it was in full swing, DC Collectibles’ Batman: Animated line was one that gave me a lot of mixed emotions.  I liked the concept behind it, because I like the show, and I like well-articulated action figures, but the implementation was always hit or miss.  And if the quality of the figures wasn’t questionable, how they were getting released kept getting weirder.  When my most wanted figure ended up stuck in a $150+ boxed set, I was less than thrilled, and so were a lot of other people, and the line sort of died off for a bit, its last few offerings being a bit up in the air.  Cancellation seemed like a certainty, but DCC surprised us and actually got those last several figures out.  Included amongst them was the Grey Ghost, a show original creation designed to showcase former Batman actor Adam West.  He was one of the few characters not to be given a figure during Kenner’s run, and while Mattel made one, he was never super plentiful, making DCC’s a pretty big deal.  Does he live up to it?  The short answer is yes, but allow me to elaborate.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Grey Ghost is figure 42 in the Batman: Animated line, and is part of what is looking like it may be the final assortment of single-carded figures.  He’s based on the character’s appearance in his showcase episode “Beware the Grey Ghost.”  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Right off the bat, this figure is notable for deviating from the line’s (admittedly a little inconsistent) articulation scheme.  The neck is changed from a restricted ball joint to a universal joint, the hips are now a ball and disk construction with an overlay piece for the pelvis, he has double knee joints, and his ankles follow the current Legends rocker set-up.  The biggest upside to this is an abundance of lateral movement on the legs, which removes the tendency towards pigeon-toes for these figures and also makes him a lot easier to keep standing. There are still some areas where movement could be improved (he still has nothing mid-torso), but this is a great step forward.  This line was sold on show accuracy, and Grey Ghost’s sculpt follows suit.  It’s a pretty clean recreation, and the articulation is suitably worked in without breaking things up too badly.  In terms of paint work, Grey Ghost is fairly consistent with earlier offerings.  This definitely makes the paint the weakest aspect of the figure, but it’s not terrible.  There are a few spots that could stand to be just a touch cleaner.  Grey Ghost is packed with his pistol (plus an extra hand for holding it), one of the Mad Bomber’s toy cars, an extra hand holding a pen, and a copy of the Grey Ghost VHS he’s seen signing at the end of the episode.  While it’s a little sad that the stands were cut, I do like the return to episode specific extras a lot.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I genuinely thought this figure wasn’t getting released, so I was surprised to find him at a comic book store while on vacation a few weeks ago.  I wasn’t expecting much, but wasn’t going to pass on owning some version of the character as a toy.  He pleasantly surprised me to say the least, and in typical DCC fashion, they’ve managed to fix everything just before abandoning things.

#1779: Girl’s Night Out

SUPERGIRL, LIVEWIRE, BATGIRL, HARLEY QUINN, & POISON IVY

BATMAN: ANIMATED (DC COLLECTIBLES)

Female action figures are, on a whole, a rarity.  This stems largely from the days when the line between action figures and dolls was really just that one was marketed to girls and one was marketed to girls.  But, in the 50 years since the term “action figure” was invented by a marketing department, the definitions have become a little more rigid, and opinions on who collects them have slightly changed.  This is my very long-winded way of saying I’m reviewing my second all-female boxed set in the space of three months, which even by modern standards is kind of cool.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Supergirl, Livewire, Batgirl, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy make up the “Girl’s Night Out” boxed set, released last year as part of DCC’s Batman: Animated line.  They’re based on the New Adventures of Batman episode of the same name, which sees Supergirl and Batgirl teaming up to defeat the combined forces of Livewire, Harley, and Ivy.  Only the Superman characters are actually new to this set, with Batgirl, Harley, and Poison Ivy being re-releases of their single figures from the main line, sans most of their accessories.  Since Harley’s new to me, I’ll be reviewing her here, but for my opinion on the other two, go here and here.

SUPERGIRL

For Superman: The Animated Series’ third season, Supergirl was introduced to open up some new story-telling possibilities.  However, due to DC’s then-standing policies on Clark being the only remaining Kryptonian, they had to money around with her origin a bit.  On the plus side, the character remained more or less the same.  This figure replicates her tweaked animated design.  She stands 5 3/4 inches tall and has 24 points of articulation.  Her sculpt is a rather faithful recreation of the design from the show, which is a real first for Supergirl, as her prior animated figures have all strayed from the proper design.  There are some minor nitpicks that can be made, like her head maybe being a smidge too big for the body.  However, that’s really looking for issues, and comes down more to personal preference than anything else.  Her paintwork is very clean, and the colors are bright and eye-catching.  Definitely a nice departure from this line’s penchant for fuzzy edges on everything.  The biggest downfall of this figure (and this set as a whole) is her lack of any accessories outside of a stand.  At the very least, a spare set of fists seems like it should come standard.

LIVEWIRE

After the successful creation and reception of Harley Quinn and Renee Montoya in Batman: The Animated Series, the creators tried their luck again with Livewire (though Livewire *actually* appeared in the tie-in comic before the show).  While she didn’t quite take off the way those two did, she did still pick up a decent fanbase of her own.  She never actually got a figure during S:TAS’s run, but she’s made out alright since the show’s end.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and she has 23 points of articulation.  Like Kara, her sculpt is quite a good match for her show appearance.  In fact, I even have trouble finding the minor nitpicks like I did with Supergirl.  The proportions are more balanced, and the lines are all very sharp and clean.  Her paintwork is appropriately monochromatic, and the blues interact well with each other.  There’s a little bit of fuzzy work on the edges, but it’s mostly confined to the “emblem” on her torso, where it’s somewhat acceptable, with her being an energy being and all.  She also is only packed with a display stand.  The lack of extra hands is slightly less frustrating for her, since she doesn’t need them as much, but I’m still not 100% okay with it.

HARLEY QUINN

And speaking of successful creations from the DCAU, here’s the character that’s by far the greatest success story, Harley Quinn!  Outside of Batman himself, she’s actually the character with the most figures in this line, which really speaks to her marketability.  This figure is a re-issue of her second single-carded figure, which was based on her TNBA appearance.  Harley is one of the characters whose two appearances weren’t that different, but they were enough for the eagle-eyed fan to need two distinct figures.  This figure stands 5 3/4 inches tall and she has 19 points of articulation.  Okay, so, first thing’s first, let’s discuss the articulation.  You know ankle joints?  Harley doesn’t have those.  Why not?  Your guess is as good as mine.  Apparently, DCC didn’t feel Harley needed them.  They also didn’t feel she needed the ability to stand either, though I guess that’s linked to the lack of ankle movement.  The point is, it really sucks.  Really, really sucks.  Her sculpt is fine, but it reminds me that I prefer the subtle differences of the B:TAS version.  The big head’s throwing me on this one.  I guess it’s not a terrible offering though.  Her paintwork is pretty decent.  The dual-toned color scheme looks sharp, and the application is overall pretty clean.  Like all of the others in this set, Harley’s only accessory is a display stand.  No extra hands, no weapons of any sort.  Nothing.  Not even the accessories from the prior figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When the Batman: Animated line launched, I was excited by the prospect of a complimentary Superman line.  It didn’t so much come to fruition, and I’ll admit, two of my most wanted figure from said theoretical line only being available in a big boxed set with two figures I already had kind of killed my excitement.  I ended up getting this set at the same time as yesterday’s DKR set, as a birthday present from my parents.  Supergirl and Livewire are very nice figures, slightly held back by a lack of accessories.  The other three are kind of dead weight.  Harley’s easily the worst version of the character from the line, and while Ivy and Batgirl are perfectly fine figures in their own right, having to buy them again, and not getting any accessories the second time around is really lame.  And a note to DCC:  if you’re only going to include a single set of hands, can you at least make it something more useful than the limp open palm?  This set’s begging for some cool fight set-ups, but as it currently stands, all they’re really prepared for is a big slapping fight.

#1778: Batman, Robin, & Mutant Leader

BATMAN, ROBIN, & MUTANT LEADER

BATMAN: ANIMATED (DC COLLECTIBLES)

For someone who’s only so-so on this whole Dark Knight Returns thing, I sure do review a lot of DKRrelated items, don’t I?  Well, let me ‘splain—no, it’s too much—let me sum up: like the story or not, there’s a lot of supplemental material related to it that’s super awesome.  Take, for instance, “Legends of the Dark Knight,” one of Batman: The Animated Series’ best known episodes, which takes a look at a couple of differing takes on Batman from over the years, with DKR as one of the pair.  And now that particular take has its own figures.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Batman, Robin, and the Mutant Leader were a special three-pack, released as part of DC Collectibles’ Batman: Animated line, commemorating the previously mentioned episode.  All three are based on their appearances from the DKR segment of “Legends,” rather than the actual comic looks. 

BATMAN

I’ve had no shortage of DKR Batmen in the last month or so, with offerings from both Mattel and Mezco, so why not let DCC in on the fun?  This guy’s a pretty massive figure, standing about 6 1/2 inches tall and measuring about 5 inches across the shoulders, and he has 24 points of articulation.  His stature is certainly impressive, but if there’s one draw back, it’s his posability, or rather his lack thereof.  The joints he *does* have all have a solid range of motion (the neck joint in particular works very well), to DCC’s credit.  The issue is that he’s lacking any mid torso movement, as well as any sort of ankle mobility.  Those two things rather limit what can be done with the figure, which is kind of a shame.  The sculpt, which is totally unique, is actually a pretty good offering.  It captures the streamlined design from the show pretty much spot-on, which at this point in the line is very definitely welcomed.   His paintwork is definitely on the basic side, which is appropriate for the line.  It’s overall cleanly applied, but has some of the same fuzzy edges that have plagued this line from the beginning.  Batman was packed with a pair of alternate open gesture hands and a display stand.

ROBIN

Carrie Kelley is one of DKR’s most distinctive features, but is a slightly less common offering when it comes to toys.  That said, I’ve actually looked at a Carrie Kelley Robin before, via Mattel’s offering.  It was…less than stellar.  This figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 24 points of articulation.  She’s another new sculpt, and I gotta say, she definitely benefits from the cleaner style.  Something about Miller’s style didn’t translate so well as an action figure, but this?  This worked out pretty well.  Her smaller stature is well conveyed, and she’s actually got some fairly decent movement.  Still perhaps more restricted than I’d like, but definitely better than a lot of this line.  Carrie’s paintwork is decent.  It’s clean, and matches the show’s color palette.  She has less issues with fuzzy lines and slop.  I also appreciate the use of actual transparent lenses for the glasses, as opposed to just painting them opaque green like *some* toy companies.  Robin is by far the most accessorized in this set, with a slingshot, an three pairs of hands, and a display stand.

MUTANT LEADER

Though not a primary antagonist in the original story, like Carrie Kelley, the Mutant Leader has become a distinctive feature of DKR, and he *was* the primary antagonist of the DKR segment of “Legends of the Dark Knight.”  So, his placement here is rather an obvious one.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall and has 23 points of articulation.  The Leader is a sizable guy, though not quite as sizable as Batman.  He’s about on par with the TNBA version of Bane in terms of build.  His articulation is an improvement overall from Batman’s, since he actually gets some mid-torso movement, as well as ankles.  Of course, he loses the lateral leg movement that Batman and Robin have, which has been, in general my biggest recurring issue with this line, since it makes posing these guys in anything but a basic standing pose a barren source of amusement.  The sculpt is at least a pretty strong one.  It captures the Leader’s slightly tweaked animated design very well, and he pairs off well with Batman.  The paintwork is fairly decent, though nothing beyond basic work.  He’s got a nice contrast, though, which I certainly appreciate.  Like Batman, the Leader is packed with a pair of open gesture hands and a display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

“Legends of the Dark Knight” was my first introduction to The Dark Knight Returns.  I think it spoiled me a bit for the story proper, because while it remains a favorite episode of mine, the comic not so much.  Pretty much all of the prior DKR product I’ve purchased was due to my love of the episode, so an episode-specific set certainly intrigued me.  That said, by the time the set actually hit, I’d fallen a bit out of love with the Batman: Animated line, and as such I didn’t get it new.  I actually ended up getting it this year for my birthday, courtesy of my parents.  While it still possesses a lot of the same issues that have been killing the main line for me, I do overall like this set a lot.  Sure, I’d have liked some more accessories, but the extra hands are at least useful, and there’s no denying that Bats and the Leader look good squaring off.  Plus, after the sincere disappointment of Mattel’s Carrie Kellie, this one was a breath of fresh air.