#2724: John Blake

JOHN BLAKE

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES MOVIE MASTERS (MATTEL)

Man, remember when DC movies weren’t totally divisive and the subject of much ire between fandoms?  Me either.  But I do remember Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, and there are certainly opinions about that one, aren’t there?  Personally, I break from the few agreed upon ideas about the trilogy, namely that I’ve never been that terribly impressed by The Dark Knight (not that I think it’s a *bad* movie by any stretch), and I actually quite like it’s rather divisive follow-up, The Dark Knight Rises.  Amongst the things that I really enjoy in Rises is Joseph Gordon Levitt’s turn as GCPD Detective John Blake, the closest thing this incarnation of the franchise got to a Robin (and as much as I enjoy the film, even I will admit that reveal was a little bit ham-fisted).  Mattel actually went pretty in-depth for their Movie Masters component to the film’s tie-in toys, covering most of the major players, John included.  I’m taking a look at him today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

John Blake was released in the third round of Mattel’s Dark Knight Rises Movie Masters figures, technically alongside Ra’s Al-Gul, though that implies that the two of them ever shared any shelf space at retail…or made it to retail at all, for that matter…This line was a little bit mismanaged to say the least.  The figure is just shy of 6 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  As a Mattel product, especially from their movie lines, it’s probably not a huge surprise that his articulation doesn’t have the greatest range of motion.  In particular, the ab-crunch and elbows are quite restricted, not that any of that was surprising for this line.  Blake gets two distinct looks for the movie, his standard GCPD officer’s uniform, and the more dressed down attire he gets after being promoted to detective.  At the time, Mattel was doing pretty much everything they could to put as many of these guys as possible on the standard suit body, but despite that opted for Blake in his GCPD attire.  It’s his slightly more distinctive look, and the one used for most of the promotional stuff for the movie, so that made sense.  It also meant he got a surprising amount of new parts, with only the lower half of the figure using the suit body pieces.  The rest was new, and honestly not bad for Mattel’s usual output from this era.  The head’s got one of Mattel’s better likenesses for Movie Masters, and actually kind of looks like JGL.  He’s still perhaps a little on the cartoony side, but it’s pretty close.  His paint work is all pretty basic, but not bad.  It more or less gets the job done.  The hands are painted, rather than molded with makes them a little thick and devoid of detail, but it’s not terrible.  Blake was originally packed with part of the Bat Signal Collect-N-Connect scene, and that was it.  No character specific extras or anything, which feels kind of lazy.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I really wanted this figure when it was released, as I’d really enjoyed the character in the film, and I’m just generally a fan of Joseph Gordon Levitt as an actor.  Unfortunately, I never actually saw one at retail, nor did I even really see him on the secondary market, even for inflated pricing.  He was just rather uncommon.  I resigned myself to not have the figure, and kind of forgot about him.  That was until the same collection the got me yesterday’s BAT, also had this guy.  Huzzah, finally a John Blake!  Ultimately, he’s not really much to write home about, but he’s probably one of the best Movie Masters Mattel did during their tenure.

#2720: Bat-Tech Batman & The Joker

BAT-TECH BATMAN & THE JOKER

BATMAN: THE CAPED CRUSADER (SPIN MASTER)

So, did you guys here about that exciting new DC-related thing that dropped last week?  It was pretty big.  It had Batman and Joker, and some others as well from what I hear.  Lot of time in the making.  I am, of course, referring to the latest assortment of Spin Master’s Batman: The Caped Crusader, dubbed “Bat-Tech,” which gives us some new, teched-out variants of the main players.  What else could I possibly be talking about?  Amongst these teched-out variants are, unsurprisingly, Batman and Joker, who are sort of headlining this whole thing.  I’ll be taking a look at the two of them today!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Bat-Tech Batman and Joker are both part of fifth series of Spin Master’s The Caped Crusader line, which is the first official assortment of 2021.  The two of them both key into the whole “Bat-Tech” theme of this assortment, and the whole line has been slightly rebranded, with a new packaging set-up.  They’ve kept the same general look and feel, including the blind boxed accessories, but the whole thing is slightly more refined, and just generally different.

There are three different Batmen in the main assortment, but this one’s the one that officially carries the “Bat-Tech” name, and is really the one that most clearly evokes that wacky variant feel.  This particular Batman design doesn’t really have any direct ties to the comics that I know of, but instead does sort of a Tron-esque tech suit thing, which is mostly black, with some bright blue mixed in.  I dig it.  I dig it a lot.  The figure stands about 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 17 points of articulation.  I’ve had some issues with stuck joints on some of these guys previously, but I had no such issues for this guy, which I definitely appreciated.  He’s an all-new sculpt, rather than borrowing from one of the previous Batmen.  He’s slightly armored up, but in a different fashion than the two prior armored Batman designs.  This one’s definitely more streamlined, which fits well with the overall design.  Like the other caped figures in the line so far, Batman’s is cloth.  It seems to be a slightly sturdier material than prior capes, and generally hangs a little better than the slightly more paper-like material from previous releases.  He’s still got the hole in it, to keep with the line’s overall playability set-up.  Batman’s paint work is pretty basic and straight forward, but also his strongest asset.  It’s quite eye catching, and the application is generally pretty clean, without any notable slop or bleed over. Batman’s blind packed accessories consist of a winged back pack, an oversized batarang, and what looks to be a grenade launcher of some sort.  Mine are all in a clear blue; I don’t know if they have varied potential colors like prior releases, but the all blue certainly works for me; it looks kind of like they’re hard light constructs or something.

Joker has been a consistent fixture of the Caped Crusader line so far, turning up in just about every assortment.  It makes sense, him being Joker and all.  Like Batman, he gets wacky-variant-ized here, taking the classic Joker design of earlier figures, and sort of disheveling it a bit.  He’s 3 3/4 inches tall with 17 points of articulation, and like with Batman, I had no issues with stuck joints this time around.  Joker’s sculpt is a mostly new offering, although he does make use of the head from the prior Joker.  It’s sensible from a consistency stand point, so I can’t really knock it.  This Joker sculpt takes the prior, more classic and clean Joker, and sort of makes him look like he’s been in the midst of the action, picking things up as he goes.  He’s ditched his tie, and lost one of his shoes, replacing it with a stray boot.  He’s also added a few straps of pouches, as well as adding his own utility belt.  It’s a cool, sort of wasteland-looking Joker design, and definitely a lot of fun.  His paint work mostly keeps with the classic Joker color scheme, with the added details getting their own paint work…for the most part.  One of the straps goes unpainted, but the others are good to go.  The application gets a little fuzzy on a few of the edges, but generally looks pretty solid.  Joker’s secret weapons are a boxing-glove arm attachment (which is totally getting used with my GL figure), a laughing fish, and a little wind up chattering teeth bomb.  They’re all in a clear green, which makes a nice contrast for the blue with Batman, and I love how they’re all so well tied to the character.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Full disclosure: the two figures reviewed here were sent to me in exchange for a review courtesy of Spin Master, in order to help promote their figures in conjunction with the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League.  Per Spin Master, The Bat-Tech collection features exciting, high-tech styles of figures to collect featuring a variety of 4-inch and 12-inch figures from the Batman universe, and they are available in stores now.

I’ve been supporting Spin Master’s DC stuff pretty much since day 1, and I have definitely been pulling for them to really succeed with this line, because everything I’ve gotten from them has been so fun.  With the Bat-Tech set-up, it really feels like they’re starting to find their footing with the brand, and are making it more their own thing.  Both of these figures are a lot of fun, and give us two pretty solid new designs for characters that we’re undoubtedly going to see crop up again and again.  The new play pattern really works, and I’m definitely going to be snagging other figures from this set as I find them.

#2700: Batman

BATMAN

FIRST APPEARANCE (DC DIRECT)

Adopting a ghastly, bat-like costume designed to inspire fear in the hearts of the “superstitious & cowardly” criminal element of Gotham City, Bruce Wayne burst onto the comics scene as Batman in 1939’s Detective Comics #27!”

2700 reviews.  That’s a nice sort of clean number, easily divisible by 27.  27’s a notable number in the world of comics, what with it being the issue number of the first appearance of Batman, who’s kind of a big deal, I guess.  What a crazy great tie-in for my 2700th review, right?  What great planning, right?  I’m very clever and organized, aren’t I?  ….Are you buying any of this?  Or is it just patently obvious that this was totally a coincidence, and the significance that I picked a First Appearance Batman for my 2700th review only dawned on me when I actually sat down to write the review.  Because, well, that’s what happened.  Thrilling story, I know.  Look, let’s just get to the review, shall we?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Batman was released as part of the first series of DC Direct’s First Appearance line in 2004, the 65th anniversary of the character.  Batman got into the first assortment over Superman, despite Superman’s first appearance being, you know, first, but hey, it was early ’00s DCD; if there was a chance at making a Batman, they were making Batman.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 13 points of articulation.  He was by far DCD’s most articulated Batman at the time, possessing movement at both the wrists and the tops of the biceps.  He could almost cross his arms, even.  How quaint.  DCD was beginning its hard turn to artist-specific figures at this point in time, and First Appearance really embraced that.  Batman’s sculpt is very clearly patterned on Bob Kane’s….studio’s illustrations of Batman from the pages of Detective #27.  It’s a simpler style of art by modern standards, but the figure nevertheless stuck to it.  It’s a pretty clean looking sculpt, and it captures the highlights of what made this version of the costume distinctive, as well as doing a pretty alright job of making him work as an actual posable figure.  That’s something DCD historically had a lot of trouble handling, so they did a very respectable job here.  The range of motion on the joints is actually pretty respectable, especially on the neck, which is really the most key.  For the first few assortments, the First Appearance line dabbled in some cloth goods for most of the figures, a rather new venture for DCD at the time.  In accordance with this, Batman’s cape is a cloth piece.  It’s rather thickly constructed, with two sides; on black, one blue.  In order to give Batman’s the wing-like presence it had in the comic, there are some wires running through.  It’s one of those “better in theory than in practice” deals, but it’s not awful, especially for the time.  Batman’s paint work is pretty straightforward, as is to be expected, given its attempts to stick to the source material.  The colors are rather vibrant, and they’ve even done some rather nice work on the black sections, which have a quite impressive glossy sheen to them.  In terms of accessories, DCD was still going rather sparse.  Batman got a display stand and a small reprint of Detective Comics #27.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

While only a moderate Batman fan myself, I’ve always really liked his first appearance look, and I used to doodle it a lot on various papers and such as a kid.  This figure was really right up my alley at the time, and I snagged him back when he was new, courtesy of my local haunt, Cosmic Comix.  He’s perhaps not an incredibly impressive figure by today’s standards, but he was quite good for a DCD figure at the time, and he still holds up as a really good recreation of the design from the comics, and a distinctive figure at that.

#2655: Batman Earth -32

BATMAN EARTH -32

DC MULTIVERSE (MCFARLANE)

In DC’s Dark Multiverse, on Earth -32, the green light of will has twisted an angry Bruce Wayne into something very dark and sinister. After the murder of his parents in Crime Alley, young Bruce is gifted with a Green Lantern ring, which allows him to fly and to generate deadly hard-light energy constructs. With no Alfred Pennyworth to guide him, he soon swallows his fear and pain and lets the void that remains corrupt him and the ring, unleashing a wave of darkness across his world, and now ours, as The Dawnbreaker.”

There’s no denying that McFarlane’s DC output for the last year has been rather Batman-centric.  So Batman centric that the storyline they’ve been most faithfully focusing on has been “Dark Knights: Metal”, a story that focusses in on “what if all of the non-Batman characters were also Batman?”  One of the Batman-ed characters is Green Lantern, and, to be honest, the Green Lantern/Batman mash-up isn’t actually a new concept.  It’s something DC’s been flirting with for a while in differing capacities, and this is just the most recent version, I guess.  It could be worse, really.  Anyway, it got a toy, and Green Lantern and action figure are two things that are rather up my alley, so here I am.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Batman of Earth -32 is part of the first proper “Dark Knights: Metal”-themed assortment of DC Multiverse figures.  Where it falls in the actually numbering scheme is something that’s lost on me, but I do know it hit right at the end of 2020, for what it’s worth.  This and The Grim Knight are the lighter packed figures in the line-up, at just one of each per case.  The figure stands 7 1/4 inches tall and he has 39 points of articulation.  His articulation scheme is similar to the Superman and Nightwing figures.  It’s definitely more restricted on the neck, torso, and hips.  The neck’s due to the costume design, which is understandable, but the torso and hips is just down to poor implementation.  For the most part, though, it’s a decent layout.  The sculpt is an all-new piece, based on  Jason Fabok’s art from the cover of Batman The Dawnbreaker #1, which is certainly the most distinctive piece of art for the character.  It also has the unintended bonus of making him fit in pretty well with the DC Essentials figures from DC Collectibles, since those are based on Fabok’s artwork too.  Of course, it being a McFarlane product, there’s a certain level of McFarlane-izing going on.  In this figure’s case it means he’s a little bit lankier than the illustration, and falls into the same territory as a lot of McFarlane’s DC figures of adding a lot of piping and other smaller costume details that aren’t present in the source material.  It makes him a little busier than the comics design.  It’s not as bad here as on more simplified designs like Superman and Nightwing, but I still do wonder why they feel the need to keep busying everything up.  Also, for some reason, the GL-logo is different from every piece of artwork I was able to find of the character.  It’s missing the circle around the actual lantern.  I don’t dislike it, but it’s another case of change for the sake of change.  One area that they got down pretty spot-on is the head sculpt.  It’s got the lopsided sneer that the character frequently sports, which is a rather distinctive appearance.  Dawnbreaker’s paint work is fairly decent.  It’s an interesting mix of differing greens.  There are some nice differences in sheen, and I definitely dig the metallic greens.  Dawnbreaker includes a construct shaped like some eldritch abomination bat/octopus thing, a flight stand, and a collector’s card.  The construct’s a lot of fun, but I do wish it were a little more secure on the figure’s arm.  Still, it’s a cool visual, as is using the flight stand to allow him to hover off the ground.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

My initial experience with McFarlane’s DC figures wasn’t super impressive or confidence inspiring, so I haven’t really been following them since.  However, I knew I’d have a hard time saying no to this figure when it was shown off, and sure enough, when I saw it in person, I was game.  It’s a design that feels really up McFarlane’s alley, and they did a pretty decent job of capturing it in toy form.  There are some definite flaws, but in general, this figure works out better than previous offeringsm and I’m much happier this time.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure for review.  If you’re looking for toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2652: Batman

BATMAN

DC C3 CONSTRUCTION (PLAY ALONG)

The initial assortment of DC C3 Construction hit in the summer of 2004, and they were really focused on actually selling it as a line of construction sets that also included some Minimates.  In their second year in 2005, they tried that again, albeit with a smaller assortment this time.  Following that assortment, they kind of gave up even trying to pretend about what they were doing, and transitioned the line to a much more compact, lower price point selection of “Mini Flyers”, small vehicles that were a very thin excuse to put out the Minimates effectively on their own, only, you know, not.  Even through this end, they stuck to their heavy focus on Batman characters, including variants of the main man himself.  I’m looking at one of those variants today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Batman was released in April 2005 in the very originally named “Batman Mini Flyer” set, one of the six Mini Flyer sets that made up the final assortment of the DC C3 Construction line.  By this point, they were only packing a single Minimate with each set, so as to keep the price down, so Batman was all by his lonesome.  He was a comic-based figure, specifically drawn from his ’70s era appearances, as denoted by his predominately blue color scheme.  He’s built on the standard ‘mate body with C3 feet.  Still no standard peg holes for the heads, so he’s got a solid noggin piece.  He’s got add-ons for his mask, cape, belt, and gloves.  The mask, cape, and belt are the same ones used on the Dark Knight Batman included with the larger Batmobile set, but the gloves are new pieces for…reasons?  There were four standard Batmen in the C3 line, and every one of them used a different set of glove pieces, and I couldn’t for the life of me begin to tell you why.  These ones do at least put the arm spikes on the back of the gloves, where they’re supposed to be but tend not to be.  So, that makes them cool, I guess.  Also, these parts are not rubbery like last week’s Robin, so that’s another marked improvement.  Batman’s paint was generally pretty basic, and definitely not as involved as Robin.  Given the classic inspiration, that’s somewhat sensible, but not doing the shading on the front of the mask does feel like a missed opportunity.  I do like the slightly different expression on the face under the mask, though; it’s a nice change-up from the usual neutral expressions.  This Batman didn’t get any accessories, but there was the Mini Flyer, I guess.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Mini Flyer’s are really where this line lost me, so I missed out on picking all of them but one when they were at retail.  Batman wasn’t that one, but he was a figure I was always interested to have.  Thankfully for me, he came in with the larger Minimate collection that showed up at All Time last year, and here we are.  Ultimately, I think DCD’s later classic Batman was slightly better, but this one’s still got his own charm to him.

#2645: Robin

ROBIN

DC C3 CONSTRUCTION (PLAY ALONG)

In 2004, Marvel Minimates entered their second year, making them by far the most successful Minimates offering up to that point.  Not that it took much, of course.  That same year, the brand attempted to expand…in a fashion, anyway.  Since Marvel’s cavalcade of super heroes proved successful, there was an attempt to get DC in the game as well.  Due to how the DC license was split up at the time, there was no space for a straight forward DC Minimates release at quite that time, but through a bit of loophole abuse, Art Asylum was able to partner with Play Along, who held the license for DC-based construction sets.  Dubbed “C3” (for “Create, Construct, Customize”), the sets each included at least one Minimate as a pack-in figure.  The first round was Batman-heavy, and included multiple versions of the Caped Crusader, as well as his trusty sidekick, Robin, who I’ll be looking at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Robin was included in the “Mini Batmobile” set, one of the first 7 sets released in the DC C3 Construction line in the summer of 2004.  There was also a Batman included in the set, but I’m just focusing on Robin this time.  Robin was one of the comic-based figures, and was specifically based on the Tim Drake incarnation of the character.  This was noteworthy for being the only Minimate version of Tim ever to be produced.  The figure was based on the standard ‘mate body, with the new C3 feet, of course, so he stands 2 1/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  While he’s got the C3 feet, he’s still without a hair piece with a peg, showcasing the slow evolution of the line.  He gets a new hair piece, cape, belt, and gloves.  They were pretty decent pieces overall, but for whatever reason, the add-ons for this guy are really rubbery.  This is the biggest issue when it comes to the hair, which has a lot of trouble staying properly in place, as it’s not rigid enough to actually clip on.  It still looks okay, but it’s not ideal for play.  The gloves are definitely the nicest pieces, though, and have some pretty sharp detail work.  The paint work is pretty solid.  It showcased a bit more detailing than earlier Marvel efforts, with the mask and boots in particular having quite a bit of creative lighting to them.  The face and musculature remain fairly basic at this point, but it allowed him to remain at least somewhat consistent with the animation-based figures from the same set.  Though Robin was effectively an accessory himself, he nevertheless did get an extra of his own, namely Tim’s signature bo staff.  It’s another soft plastic piece, but it still looks pretty cool.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When these guys were shown off, the Mini Batmobile was the one I most wanted, and was subsequently the first one I got.  As with many of my early ‘mates, I lost most of the parts to both the Batmobile itself and the two figures it included.  Batmen are a dime a dozen, but this was the only modern era Robin, so I’d been looking for a replacement for a little while.  Thankfully, when All Time got in that large collection of Minimates last year, I was able to snag a replacement Robin.  He’s definitely one of the coolest C3 offerings, and honestly holds up pretty well, even after all this time.

#2602: Batman – Gotham By Gaslight

BATMAN — GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT

ELSEWORLDS (DC DIRECT)

“As a young Bruce Wayne takes up the mantle of the Bat, a series of slayings mirroring the work of Jack the Ripper begins.”

DC’s Elseworlds line allowed them to tell stories that fell outside of the confines of a normal universe story, which opened the playing field to all sorts of crazy concepts.  It also lent itself pretty well to lots of “let’s mash up this DC thing with another established thing” scenarios.  This actually goes back to the very first Elseworlds tale, Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, which is “what if Batman was Victorian era and fought Jack the Ripper?”  It’s not high concept, but it’s certainly fun.  It’s also some of Mike Mignola’s earlier work, and has some pretty impressive design work.  The story’s Victorian Batman design is quite distinctive, which makes it ripe for making action figures, as DC Direct did in 2007.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Gotham By Gaslight Batman was released in the second series of DC Direct’s Elseworlds line.  He was one of two Batmen included, the other being the Red Son version of the character, which is another quite distinctive, if perhaps slightly thematically similar version of the Batman design.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 13 points of articulation.  The articulation’s not a lot, but it was about what you’d expect from DCD at the time.  It’s good for some slight tweaks to his posture, but that’s really it.  It’s certainly better than nothing.  The sculpt was an all-new piece, and it was definitely DCD at their best.  They really had a lot of fun with the artist-specific work in this line, and in the case of this Batman, they’ve done a pretty spot on job of capturing that early Mignola art style.  He doesn’t quite have the extreme hallmarks of later Mignola stuff, but there’s still enough to make it recognizable.  I really like how they’ve translated the texturing of Mignola’s work into something three dimensional, and I also quite enjoy how they’ve managed to keep him rather dynamic while also keeping a fairly neutral pose.  The flow of that cape is just beautiful.  The only thing I’m not too keen on are the ears, which always point a bit inward on mine.  It’s an unfortunate side effect of how small they have to be and how they were packaged in the box, I suppose.  The paint work does a nice job of replicating the way Mignola’s work is illustrated in the book, with a subdued palette and a decent job of outlining the features on the face.  There’s also some great accenting on the belt, as well as some impressive work on the mud stains on his boots and cape.  All in all, a very well rendered paint scheme.  The only slight let down to this guy are the accessories.  All he gets is a stand.  Its not much to go on, and felt quite light given the price these things were going for relative to everything else at the time.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up this guy back when he was brand new, courtesy of my usual comics haunt, Cosmic Comix.  He was the first of the Elseworlds line I grabbed, mostly because I wanted a Mignola Batman figure, and I wasn’t picky about which particular design it was.  I hadn’t even read the comic at the time (I have since).  He’s certainly a nice looking figure, even if he’s maybe not so exciting to actually play with.

#2595: Commissioner Gordon

COMMISSIONER GORDON

BATMAN: DARK VICTORY (DC DIRECT)

“A epic tale of mystery and suspense that takes Batman deep into the underworld of gotham City!

James Gordon leads a police force besieged by a calculating murderer, and Batman is the only one that he can trust.”

As a follow-up to their wildly popular Long Halloween storyline, writer Jeph Loeb and artist Tim Sale sequelized the story with another mini-series, Dark Victory.  While it doesn’t have quite the same notoriety or staying power as The Long Halloween, Dark Victory is still quite critically renowned, and gave us some more time in the world the Loeb and Sale had built.  Much like the creators of the story, to follow-up on their Long Halloween toy line, DC Direct followed up with a Dark Victory line, which they used to help flesh out the cast a bit.  Jim Gordon is a major player in both stories, and was finally granted a figure via this second line of figures.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Commissioner Gordon is one of the four new figures offered up in DCD’s Dark Victory line in 2006 (the fifth figure was a re-release of Batman from the prior line).  While Gordon spends most of Dark Victory (and The Long Halloween, for that matter) in his standard suit/tie/trench coat combo, this figure opts to mix things up a bit and go for a slightly the more toy-etic design of Gordon’s tactical gear seen late in the story.  They had just done a trench-coated Gordon in Hush, and this is a pretty decent design in its own right, so it’s not a bad choice by any stretch.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 15 points of articulation.  Not a ton of movement, but certainly not a bad selection for a DCD figure of this era.  He’s actually one of the most posable figures in the Sale lines, so that’s not bad for a Gordon figure.  His sculpt’s all new, and also probably one of the best we got in these two assortments.  It manages to get Sale’s interpretation of Gordon down pretty much pat, and doesn’t really suffer from any of the oddities that the other sculpts did in order to get that Sale look down.  It also does a great job of just making Gordon look like an average guy, as he should.  The detail work is pretty impressive, even in areas where you might not expect it.  His clothes have a solid amount of texturing, which breathes some real life into this design, and really helps to make it work in three dimensions.  There’s a bit of pre-posing to this guy, but it’s ultimately fairly minor.  He’s in a bit of an idle stance sort of pose, which works well for this design.  Gordon’s paint work is pretty basic for the most part.  It’s not a ton of color, but that’s right for Jim.  They opted to go with opaque lenses on the glasses, which works very well.  There are also no eyes beneath them, but that’s not terribly surprising.  Gordon is packed with a pistol, a flashlight, and a display stand (which is the same as the one that came with Two-Face).

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

If you’ve read my Long Halloween reviews, then you kind of know the song and dance on this one.  I hadn’t read the story when this figure came out, and subsequently didn’t have quite the same appreciation for Gordon that I do after reading the stories.  He actually came into All Time a few months before the other three, but I passed on him at the time because I didn’t know when I’d be able to get the others.  When they came in, he was still at the store, so I picked them all up in one fell swoop.  I’m glad I went back for him, because, much like Gordon in the story, this guy’s probably my favorite of the set.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy for review.  If you’re looking for toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2588: Two-Face

TWO-FACE

BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN (DC DIRECT)

An epic tale of mystery and suspense that takes Batman deep into the underworld of Gotham City.

The Long Halloween reveals the events that transformed Harvey Dent into Batman’s deadly enemy, Two-Face!”

Though he was a long time Bat-foe by the time The Long Halloween was published, Two-Face’s background, beginning with his time as Gotham’s attorney Harvey Dent, had only ever really been touched on in brief.  Long Halloween uses Harvey Dent as one of its central characters, detailing his efforts to clean up Gotham by taking on the mob, and how it ultimately leads to his downfall.  It became rather defining for the character, and even served as a heavy inspiration for The Dark Knight‘s version of the character.  So, it’s not terribly surprising that Two-Face was included in DC Direct’s tie-in line for the storyline, I suppose.  Let’s have a look at that figure, shall we?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Two-Face was included in DC Direct’s Batman: The Long Halloween assortment of figures, which hit shelves in 2006.  He actually marked the first time DCD had done a Two-Face figure, which was really something, given how many figures they’d put out by this point.  He wouldn’t be their last, of course.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  Of the figures I’ve looked at from this line so far, Two-Face is definitely the most restricted in terms of movement (though he’ll be outdone by Mad Hatter, should I ever get around to him), with pretty much no movement in his lower half, as well as cut joints at the shoulders.  There’s not a ton of posing to be done here.  He’s got a nice ball joint on the neck joint, I suppose.  His sculpt is again a very stylized piece, inspired by Tim Sale’s art from the series.  It’s…fine.  The pose is a little more neutral than Batman or Joker, so it’s more versatile.  The feet both pointing one way, which is a little awkward, and I’m not entirely sure why they opted for that.  Also, while the sculpted work on the scarred side of his face is a truly impressive piece of work, the unscarred side misses the mark on capturing Sale’s style…or at least on capturing Sale’s version of Harvey Dent.  There are still some Sale qualities, but his features are a little too exaggerated for Harvey.  Still, it’s far from a bad sculpt, and it’s certainly got a lot of character to it.  Two-Face’s paint work is pretty strong.  They did a great job consistently applying all of the pin stripes to his suit and tie.  It’s adds a nice dynamic flair.  I also really like how well the accenting works on the scarred side of Harvey’s face.  Two-Face was packed with two hands, in the same pose, but with different side of the coin showing, a pistol, a display stand, and a calendar page showing January 1st.  The hands are really hard to swap out, so that’s a bit of a bummer, but the stand’s nice, and the calendar page is a nifty little extra.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I noted in my prior reviews, I hadn’t yet read Long Halloween when these figures were released, so I played the waiting game on getting them.  The same collection that had the Batman and Joker figures I reviewed last week also had this Two-Face figure, loose.  It was actually the Two-Face that caught my eye, as he was the one that was higher on my list.  I really enjoy the story’s take on Harvey, and though this figure may not be perfect, it’s nevertheless a solid rendition.  I’m definitely happy to finally have it.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy for review.  If you’re looking for toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2581: Batman & Joker

BATMAN & JOKER

BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN (DC DIRECT)

“An epic tale of mystery and suspense that takes Batman deep into the underworld of Gotham City.”

Well, we’re firmly a week into November.  Perfect timing for me to have *just* missed Halloween in order to properly theme what I’m about to review.   Yes, I’m jumping into the world of Batman: The Long Halloween, Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s year-long miniseries following an early in his career Batman as he tracks down Holiday, a serial killer who strikes once a month on a holiday.  While on his quest to find the killer, Batman also manages to face down most of his major rogues gallery, making it a nice, all-encompassing Batman story, and certainly one of the best out there.  It’s distinctive style, and the fact that it includes so many heavy hitters made it a perfect choice for a toy line.  Today, I’m delving into the heaviest of hitters, Batman and the Joker.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Batman and The Joker were released as a special collector’s set from DC Direct in 2008, after they’d completed their main Long Halloween and Dark Victory lines.  The set included the two figures and some stripped down accessories, as well as a trade paperback of The Long Halloween.

BATMAN

Batman races agains the calendar as he tries to discover who the killer Holiday is before he claims his next victim.”

Tim Sale’s Batman is a rather distinctive piece, and the chance to own it in three dimensions was one of the primary selling points of the first Long Halloween line.  It was so popular that it sold out the first time, so they just did a straight re-issue of it when it came time for the figures from Dark Victory…and then that one pretty much did the same thing.  So, this guy was the third pretty much straight re-release of this figure, although this one did get a new head sculpt out of it.  He’s almost 7 inches tall and he has 13 points of articulation.  It’s not a ton of posability, but it’s enough to get a few decent poses out of him.  The real weakness of the joints, I’d say, is the shoulders, which don’t really have much up and down.  This means he’s always just got them sort of jutting out to the sides like that.  Given Sale’s tendency to draw Bruce in rather dynamic poses while in costume, it’s not the end of the world, but it’s somewhat limiting.  In terms of the actual sculpt, Sale’s artwork proved a little difficult for DCD to translate into 3D.  His style is somewhat impressionistic, and he likes to keep his characters fluid, so getting them really nailed down in a single sculpt is tricky.  That’s definitely the case with Batman, who ends up looking close to Sale’s work to be sure, but there’s something…off.  The face in particular seems a bit out of place.  It’s a little bit pinched, I think, and almost too simian for the character.  It’s not far off, and definitely a marked improvement over the two single releases, but it’s still not quite there.  The other piece that seems to have given them trouble is the cape.  Sale always had Bruce’s cape all over the place, and he liked for it to be really long.  This figure aims to capture that, with a cape that trails behind and even lays on the ground at the back.  It’s not terrible, but the shaping doesn’t quite seem right here.  In this case, it’s really a matter of fighting with gravity, and it’s hard to fault DCD there.  The paint work on this guy remains pretty much the same as the two prior releases.  It’s black and grey, with just a touch of brown, which is to say it’s exactly what you’d expect from a standard Batman.  It’s pretty cleanly handled, and there’s no notable issues with mine, so I’m calling it a win in my book.  Batman includes a batarang with a line on it (which is the Dark Victory release) and a simple display stand with the book’s name printed on it.  I do miss the cool sidewalk stands that came with the single releases, but it’s fairly minor.

JOKER

Sofia Falcone risked innocent lives when she unleashed The Joker after the Holiday killer!”

Joker’s an interesting choice for inclusion here.  I mean, yeah, he’s definitely Batman’s most distinctive foe and all, and his appearance in the book is a notable one, but beyond being the Joker, he’s not that prominent.  Two-Face and Catwoman are both far more plot relevant, and would have made for a more sensible second.  But, at the end of the day, DCD was hard pressed to say no to another Batman/Joker pairing, especially one the same year as The Dark Knight…which, of course, also had Two-Face in a prominent role, making his inclusion the more logical–nope, I’m spiraling again.  Stop it, Ethan.  What’s done is done.  This figure stands again just shy of 7 inches tall and he has again 13 points of articulation.  In terms of movement, Joker is even more static than Batman, largely because he’s far more pose-specific than Batman.  He’s patterned on a specific visual from the comic, which was more important for the single release of the figure, since it more tied in with that figure’s accessories.  Whatever the case, it’s got him in sort of a mid-stride appearance, which is a little tricky to work with, since it makes him rather hard to get standing.  I was mentioning above how Sale’s characters are very fluid; well, going by that method, his Joker is fully liquified.  He goes for the height of expressiveness, and that means he’s really hard to nail down in three dimensions.  Because of this, his sculpt is probably the weakest of the whole set.  It’s not bad, and when viewed from the right angle, it actually looks really cool.  The profile in particular is really killer.  It’s just not great for posing, and looking too closely at the internal proportions is bound to drive you batty, and not in the thematically appropriate way.  Joker’s paint work marked quite a change from the prior release, with a few changes to the actual color palette.  This is actually a case of DCD making good use of a second release of a mold, as Joker’s colors shift later in the series.  His single release matches the earlier appearance, while this one’s more of an end of the series look.  This release also cleans up the application a bit more, especially on the face, which is now a much cleaner end product.  The accessories are where this guy really takes a hit compared to the single.  He gets his gun and a display stand, but loses the santa hat and bag of gifts from the original.  While I get why they were cut, it’s still a little sad that they aren’t here.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I hadn’t yet read Long Halloween when DCD first released figures from it.  By the time I got around to reading it (and loving it, because boy do I love it), all of the figures, including this pack, had disappeared.  I’ve had my eye out for a set of them for a bit, but never really went to the trouble of tracking them down.  This pair came into All Time as part of a rather large collection a few months ago, and they were at the right price at the right time, so I was definitely on board.  These two were probably the weakest of DCD’s Sale-based figures, but that doesn’t make either one of them a bad figure at all.  In fact, I really quite like them, and I’m happy to finally be making my way through this set of figures.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with these guys for review.  If you’re looking for toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.