#2163: Batcave (w/ Batman)

BATCAVE (w/ BATMAN)

BATMAN ’66 (MATTEL)

So, it’s apparently Batman Day, a fact I know because pretty much everyone keeps saying “hey did you know it’s Batman Day?”  I didn’t realize fictional characters were getting days now, but if anyone’s gonna get one, I guess it makes sense for it to be Batman.  He’s does have like one of everything; it’s only sensible he’d eventually have a day as well.  In the spirit of the day, I figured I’d take a look at one of the very many Batman items I have in my collection, courtesy of Mattel’s ill-fated run with the Batman ’66 license.  Let’s have a look at Batman and Mattel’s go at the Batcave!

THE SET ITSELF

The “To The Batcave” set was one of the last two items to come out of Mattel’s Batman ’66 line, released (initially, at least) as a Toys R Us-exclusive item, alongside the Triumphant Trio three-pack, in the late summer of 2015.  While billed as a playset, what it more works out to is a figure with a larger than average selection of accessories, because that’s just how Mattel do, I suppose.  The figure included here is a standard Batman, who would receive five separate releases by the time the line was done.  He stands right at 6 inches tall (quite under-scaling him when compared to pretty much any other 1:12 lines, since they tend to punch up a bit on size) and he has 23 points of articulation. Despite how many times it would end up re-issued, the Batman sculpt was probably the weakest of the line’s selection of very weak sculpts.  Firstly, let’s discuss the articulation.  DC Universe Classics was never on par with Legends, but it at least offered a workable selection of joints; not so with this line.  In addition to the general lack of joints, the joints included aren’t particularly useful.  The ab-crunch, the knees, and the elbows in particular have extremely reduced range, making even rather basic poses very difficult.  The quality of the sculpt proper’s not great either. While Adam West may not have been a body builder or anything during his time under the cowl, the extraordinarily skinny build on this figure goes way too far, building a figure that really doesn’t look like a real person at all.  Coupled with the already small scale on the figures, it makes Batman downright silly looking when compared to his contemporaries from lines running at the same time.  Additionally, despite being based on a real person, and not a comic book creation, this figure’s level of detailing marked a major step down when compared to prior Mattel output, as the majority of the costume is devoid of any sculpted textures.  About the best that can be said of the sculpt is that the masked head doesn’t have a terrible likeness.  So, that’s the old figure that they threw into the box to take up space.  What about all the new stuff they added that was supposed to actually sell this thing?  Well, the box proudly proclaims that the set includes 15 accessories…which is true, albeit not quite as impressive as the box might lead you to believe.  To go on the figure proper, we get an unmasked Bruce Wayne head.  Kind of an interesting choice, since I don’t believe we actually ever saw Bruce unmasked in the costume on the show.  However, it’s got a decent likeness of West, and it actually looks a little better on the body than the standard head.  The largest piece is definitely the Batcomputer, which is a decent set piece, even if it is pretty simplistic.  At least it’s got its proper label, showcasing 60s Batman’s love of labels.  The piece is hollow, and the back pops off to reveal the “Secret Equipment Storage,” which is where you can stow all of the other parts when you aren’t using them.  The back that pops off is designed to look like the inside of stately Wayne manor, allowing for two different display options, and two different sets of accessories to go along with them.  On the cave side, we get three batarangs (all identical), four cans of Batman Spray Repellent (again all identical), the Batzooka, Bat megaphone, and Bat communicator.  The duplication of the batarangs and repellent is kind of odd, since obviously he can’t use them all at once, nor is there really anywhere to display the extras, making it really seem like Mattel included as many as they did to bump that accessory count up.  Additionally, there’s the ongoing issue with Batman generally just being unable to really hold any of the included extras. The Batzooka in particular is notable, as its size and weight mean that the figure will fall over if its held in any fashion other than at his side.  On the Wayne Manor side, we get the Shakespeare bust with the hidden button for cave access and the red Bat-phone.  The bust is definitely my favorite extra included here, because the sculpt’s really clean, and the hinge works quite nicely.  To complete the two different set-ups, there’s a card with a Batcave illustration on one side and Wayne manor on the other, as well as a stand to hold the card.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

By the time this set hit, my enthusiasm for the line was completely dead.  I picked up everything from the initial run, but only ended up picking up the three-pack when I was disappointed at not getting anything Star Wars-y during the first Force Friday event.  This set, as interesting a concept as it may be, just didn’t excite me enough to drop $35 on it.  However, a friend of mine had gotten one a while ago, and decided they no longer wanted it, and thus it made its way into my collection.  As with so much Mattel did, it fills me with mixed emotions.  There are some cool things in here, and in general it’s a fun concept, but the core Batman’s kind of rotten, and this being the fifth time we got him really hinders the set.  I think if it had been in that first wave of product, rather than pushed all the way to the end of the line, it might have been a bigger hit, but quite frankly there’s a lot of things that could have been done differently to make this line worth while.

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#2147: Alfred Pennyworth

ALFRED PENNYWORTH

DC COMICS MULTIVERSE (MATTEL)

“Butler.  Medic.  Soldier.  Friend.  There’s nobody more important to Bruce Wayne than Alfred Pennyworth.”

Since his first appearance in Batman #16 waaaaay back in 1943, Alfred’s been a pretty standard fixture of the Batman mythos.  Even as Robins come and go, Alfred’s always there, snarking his way through life.  He’s perhaps the most pivotal member of Batman’s supporting cast.  Despite his importance, he is just an older gentleman in a suit, meaning he doesn’t quite lend himself to the most exciting toys.  While his frequency as an action figure has certainly stepped up in the last decade, it’s still rare enough an event to be pretty exciting, and it’s certainly cool to see him squeak his way into Mattel’s final push of DC figures.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Alfred is part of the Killer Croc Series of DC Comics Multiverse, one of the final assortments of DC product coming out of Mattel.  It’s a whole Batman-themed line-up, so Alfred’s place is a natural one.  Interestingly, this assortment sort of jumped the order a bit, and ended up arriving sooner at stores than many had expected.  Alfred is officially branded “DC Rebirth”, but generally works quite well as a fairly standard classic Alfred.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  So, let’s address my primary complaint about this figure: his height.  He’s a good 1/4 inch taller than just about every similarly styled Batman figure that Mattel put out.  Integrating this guy in with your DCUC collection’s not really happening, to say nothing of the even smaller Movie Masters-style figures.  He’ll go fine with some DC Collectibles stuff, and actually fits pretty much right in with NECA figures, but it’s weird that they didn’t actually work to scale him with their own offerings.  Moving on from the height, let’s also discuss the articulation.  Alfred is possibly the best articulated DC figure Mattel’s ever put out.  He pretty much takes the Marvel Legends set-up and ports it over to DC.  As amazing as that is, I definitely had a laugh about Alfred having a neck joint that goes up and down after so many flying characters went without, and double-jointed elbows and knees when we never got a single Batman figure with those joints, given that Alfred is not a particularly acrobatic character.  Whatever the case, I certainly won’t complain in the case of this figure, who is not only well-articulated, but it’s also pretty well worked into his sculpt, which is itself a surprisingly good offering for a Mattel figure.  There’s quite a bit of detailing on the body, and Alfred is packed with not one, not two, not three, but four different heads.  The one he comes wearing is the standard classic comics Alfred, and it definitely captures the usual spirit of the character.  Also in the comics department is the head depicting Alfred in his Outsider identity; it’s the most modern version of the concept, and it’s not quite as well-scaled to the body, as well as being more situation specific, but it’s still cool.  Moving away from the printed page, there are also two live action Alfred heads included.  We get Alan Napier from the ’66 Batman show, as well as Michael Gough from the ’90s films.  This ties back into my point about the body not scaling with Movie Masters and the like from earlier, as these heads won’t quite work with Mattel’s offerings.  On the other hand, NECA produced both West and Keaton as 7 inch figures, and he’ll look good with them.  It’s worth noting that both likenesses are pretty much spot-on, which really sells the whole idea here.  In addition to the multiple heads, Alfred is also packed with a serving tray, a small glass, a Batman cowl, and one of the arms of Killer Croc.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I knew only passingly about this figure, and honestly didn’t expect for him and his wave-mates to make it to shelves.  I had also managed to miss that he was coming with all of the extra heads, so that was a pretty pleasant surprise when I found him in person.  The base figure is a solid offering, and the extra heads are nothing short of inspired.  This is how to do an Alfred figure justice, and it continues the increasingly depressing trend of Mattel’s DC Comics Multiverse figures actually being really good.  He’s kind of so good that he further highlights just how awful their output had been for so long.  Imagine if the Batman ’66 figures had been on par with the Alan Napier head included here.  Wouldn’t that have been something?  Honestly, wouldn’t it have been something if Mattel had gotten things together some time before their final year with the license?

#2143: Nightwing

NIGHTWING

LEGENDS OF BATMAN (KENNER)

“As Robin, he fought crime beside Batman all his life, and with every bit of his mentor’s determination! Now Robin has grown up, and he has a new super-hero identity: Nightwing! His sonic blaster and armored cowl make him a force to be reckoned with! Together, Batman and Nightwing can take on any villain in Gotham City!”

In 1994, we were in between Batman movies, but the holders of the DC license over at Kenner didn’t just want to sit and wait for one to role out in order to release new toys.  The went with a radical concept: basing figures on the comics…well, at first anyway.  Legends of Batman began as a rather straight comic Batman line, with one or two Bat-variants worked in, but it would eventually morph into a full-fledged Elseworlds-esque line.  For today’s review, though, I’m sticking wit the line’s early focus, with a look at Batman’s former sidekick, Nightwing!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Nightwing was released in Series 1 of the Legends of Batman line.  He’s based on Nightwing’s early ’90s design, which was still current at the time of this figure’s release, and figured into Knightfall, a storyline that was a prominent inspiration for early Legends figures.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 5 points of articulation, as was the standard for Kenner figures at the time.  Nightwing sported an all-new sculpt, and you can definitely see a lot of the origins of things like Total Justice in this figure’s sculpt.  He’s heavily pre-posed, and exactly what that pose is supposed to be is a little up in the air.  They were definitely going for dynamic, but dynamically what, that they never settled on.  This intended dynamic look is also passed on to the hair; it’s early ’90s Nightwing, so of course he’s got the mullet, and it’s just whipping around back there like crazy.  On top of the pre-posing, Nightwing is also really bulked up.  This wasn’t uncommon for this costume to showcase Dick bulked way up to near Schwarzenegger-ian proportions, and this figure follows suit.  Strictly speaking, it’s not inaccurate, but it sure is super goofy.  He’s more bulked up than most of the Batmen in the line, which is downright silly.  Nightwing’s paintwork was rather muted compared to the comics design, which honestly robs this design of it’s one real selling point: that it was eye-catching.  Also, despite the “feather” detail being sculpted into the figure’s torso, it goes unpainted, with the figure relying on a removable shoulder piece to provide the yellow.  Unfortunately, if you’re like me and your figure is missing that piece, it makes Nightwing look especially incomplete.  In addition to the removable shoulder piece, Nightwing includes what is obviously the most appropriate accessory for him, a missile launcher!  Clearly this is Dick Grayson’s signature item.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

While I wasn’t quite into collecting yet when this figure was first released, I did still get him within the decade of his release, albeit as a used offering.  My cousin Rusty had this one, and I always liked it.  Since he knew I was a bit more of a Batman fan than he was, he ended up giving it to me.  Sure, he didn’t have all of the parts, but it was a nice gesture.  The figure’s definitely dated, even moreso than some of his compatriots, but your can’t really say he doesn’t live up to the comics design.

#2055: Batgirl

BATGIRL

DC ESSENTIALS (DC COLLECTIBLES)

I’m a fan of pairing off my figures, which is actually one of the few things that DCC’s current central line is tailored to, since they generally like to have two pairs of figures per assortment.  The latest round is decidedly Bat-themed, and a natural pairing to yesterday’s Nightwing is Barbra Gordon, aka Batgirl, who is amongst many other things his on-again, off-again romantic partner.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Batgirl is figure 10 in the DC Essentials line, placing her two figures ahead of Nightwing, though the two of them arrived in stores at the same time.  She’s based on her “Batgirl of Burnside” attire, which I’ve always found to be a pretty solid design.  It’s also been her default look for a few years now, so it’s certainly sensible.  The figure stands 6 3/4 inches tall and she has 34 points of articulation.  As the line’s first female figure, Barbra does get an all-new sculpt, because DCC has at least drawn the line at saddling her with the same body as everyone else.  How kind of them.  Batgirl changes things up for this line, at least so far as the figures that I personally have looked at, being not just a brand-new sculpt, but also one that’s fairly tailored to its specific character.  While I can certainly see elements of it being reused for other characters, a lot of it, specifically the head, torso, pelvis, forearms, hands, boots, and most of the right leg are all clearly designed for Batgirl and Batgirl alone.  That’s slightly surprising for this line, but I guess not a huge shock given the nature of this particular costume design.  The sculpt is a fairly decent one overall.  The long arms of the male body have been traded for long legs here, which, while still not perfect, are certainly a better trade-off.  Some of the details, especially on the head, are a little softer than I’d like, but it’s not awful.  Other areas are just a little more crisp is all.  The paintwork on this particular figure is brightly colored and eye-catching, and reasonably close to how she appears in the comics, though, like Nightwing, there’s a bit of slop and fuzz on the edges, but no specific gaffes like I had on Nightwing.  I was particularly impressed by how they handled the boots and gloves, which sport some really solid accent work to bring out the details.  Essentials figures aren’t known for their accessories, but Batgirl makes out the best out of all of the figures I’ve looked at so far, with not only a batarang, but also an extra set of gripping hands.  Extra hands with an Essentials release.  Who could have seen that coming?  Certainly not me!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Since I was already grabbing Nightwing on FCBD, I felt compelled to grab Batgirl as well, because I generally like to have them both in any given style.  I also never got around to getting the Icons Batgirl, so I didn’t yet have this costume as a figure.  She’s actually rather refreshing after a lot of same-ness from this line, with an all-new, actually character specific sculpt, and even a few accessories.  Perhaps she’s a sign of things to come?

#2005: Cyber-Link Batman & Cyber-Link Superman

CYBER-LINK SUPERMAN & CYBER-LINK BATMAN

SUPERMAN: MAN OF STEEL (KENNER)

“The Man of Steel teams up with the Dark Knight to form the ultimate crime-fighting team!”

After a rash of success with their various Bat-themed lines, in 1995, Kenner tried to expand their DC reach, giving a dedicated line to DC’s other big hero, Superman.  Superman: Man of Steel was not a smash success like its counterpart Legends of Batman, but did manage to get two regular assortments, plus some deluxe figures, and even a few multi-packs.  In an attempt to get a little bit of synergy from the two lines, Kenner decided to team up the lead characters, as they had been so many times in the comics, releasing the pack as part of Superman’s line to give it a slight boost.  Today, I’m looking at that set.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Cyber-Link Superman and Cyber-Link Batman were the only set offered up in the second round of Multi-Packs from Kenner’s MoS line.  After the poor performance of the “Superman & foe” layout of the first assortment, this one was a push from Kenner for a better selling product.  Despite their propensity for just dropping these sorts of variants without much explanation or thought, these two actually got a backstory.  “Cyber-Link” was an Elseworlds concept, an alternate universe where Batman was a Metropolis resident and he and Superman were a crime-fighting duo.  Trace elements of Kryptonite within the Earth’s atmosphere necessitated the use of the Cyber-Link suits seen here.  All of this was explained in the 11-page Christopher Priest-penned comic included with this set.  It’s a surprising amount of backstory for something that seems kind of straightforward, but I guess they were trying to inject a little bit more of Legends of Batman into Man of Steel.

SUPERMAN

He’s the star of the line and the star of the set, so I guess he gets to go first.  The ninth out of nine Superman figures, this one didn’t exactly cover new ground, but was interesting in his lack of a specific purpose like we had seen with the prior variants.  It’s definitely a different sort of design for the character, a departure from his classic look.  He’s even sporting the mullet still, further removing him from the Superman we all knew.  Of course, in light of things like the New 52, I guess the design doesn’t feel quite so out there anymore.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  Yay for waist joints!  Despite his non-standard nature, the sculpt for this figure is actually pretty decent.  The pre-posing that would plague Total Justice was starting to settle in, but it doesn’t seem quite as bad here.  It’s got sort of a dynamic “just about to leap into action” look about it.  He also doesn’t have any trouble staying standing, which is nothing short of a miracle with most of these figures.  His head, despite the dated hairstyle, is a good take on Superman, and the removable cape is quite nice, and further supports the dynamic stance.  Superman’s paintwork doesn’t stray too far from his classic colors, though the blue and yellow are kind of metallic, and there’s quite a bit of black.  There are also a number of sculpted lines that just sort of get ignored here, though they would be more emphasized on later uses of the mold.  Superman included no accessories, though his hand looks like it was supposed to hold something at some point.

BATMAN

Man, how often is it Batman that plays second fiddle?  Obviously, this was his first figure in this line, though he was hardly lacking on figures from his own lines.  Batman’s design here isn’t quite as foreign as Superman’s, but that may be partly because he’d just had a more fluid design up to this point.  He’s a little more on the armored side, and some of his color elements have been moved around a bit, but otherwise he’s going to pass the squint test.  The figure, like his Kryptonian counterpart, stands 5 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  Batman’s sculpt was unique to him, and is an okay offering, though I don’t think it’s quite as strong as Superman’s.  The posing seems a bit more extreme, and the proportions a bit less balanced.  He also has a little more trouble staying standing, though he still doesn’t face plant nearly as often as some of these guys.  I do kind of like that little sneer to his expression; it’s unique for a Batman figure.  His paint/color work is about on par with Superman.  It’s just slight variations on the usual colors, and some of the sculpted elements are kind of ignored, but the overall work is solid.  Like his packmate, he includes no accessories, but still looks like he’s supposed to be holding something.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I had none of the Man of Steel two-packs growing up.  In fact, I didn’t have anything from the line beyond several Series 1 figures.  However, my obsessive toy-nerdiness meant that I gazed upon their photos many a time on the back of the package and on Raving Toy Maniac’s old archive page, so they’ve always been in the back of my mind.  A loose set ended up traded into All Time Toys alongside a larger collection of ’90s toys, and since there’s not a huge market for these guys, I felt compelled to save them from hanging around the store for forever.  Superman’s my favorite of the two, but I kind of dig both of them, and all their crazy ’90s glory.

As noted above, I got these from All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2000: Batman

BATMAN

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (HOT TOYS)

Did you see the number?  Did you see it?  Yes, you read it correctly faithful reader, today marks my 2000th review on this here site.  That’s…well, that’s a lot.  It honestly doesn’t feel all that long ago that I reviewed Rescue Cap for my 1000th, and, like that review, this one marks the departure of a consistent player around these parts.   Goodbye starting numeral 1, and welcome starting numeral 2.  Now, review #0001 was a Batman figure, so I suppose it’s only appropriate that #2000 should be another Batman.  There are, of course, two notable differences.  Firstly, as with most of my monumental reviews, this one comes from the high-end world of Hot Toys.  Secondly, where that prior figure was based on Batman Forever, this one is instead from the Nolan films.  Which were the most modern take on the character when I got this guy, but, alas, not the case anymore.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Batman was figure DX12 in Hot Toys’ Movie Masterpiece Series.  This marks my second look at a DX figure, following up the Battle-Damaged T-800 from all the way back in review #0050.  As I noted there, the DX line are an even more high-end subset of the Movie Masterpiece Series, focusing more on tentpole characters and giving them a larger variety of accessories and features.  This was the third time Batman got a DX release, and it was designed to pair off with the DX11 Dark Knight Joker.  Of course, seeing as this figure hit in 2012, he ended up pulling a bit of double duty.  He’s officially branded The Dark Knight Rises, and is meant to go with that subset of figures.  However, it’s the same costume in both movies, with only a very minor difference between them, allowing HT to tie him in with the Joker figure as well (and, in fact, this figure’s presence in the DX11’s solicitation shots let us know he was coming before we got an official confirmation).  The figure stands just shy of 12 inches tall and has over 30 points of articulation.

Batman was sporting two different head sculpts for this release.  The first is his masked appearance, which is, for the most part, a slightly simpler sculpt than we tend to see from Hot Toys.  This is film accurate, of course, since it’s replicating his smooth-plated helmet from the movie.  Prior TDK Batmen had some troubles with getting the helmet’s shape right, but it’s pretty darn spot-on here.  The head is designed with quite a bit of versatility in mind.  Firstly, since he’s a DX figure, he features PERS aka the “Parallel Eye Rolling System,” which allows for his eyes to be repositioned as you see fit.  It works a little differently here than it did with the T-800; the head is more easily removable, so the mechanism is accessed more directly, and requires a special tool.  I find I prefer this layout, since it means the head doesn’t have any odd seams.  Furthering the versatility are three interchangeable faceplates, with calm, scowling, and angry options.  All three have decent likenesses of Christian Bale, and they replicate his expressions from the film well enough, though they can certainly look goofy in some poses.  One last notable point about the head is its connection to the neck.  Rather than the usual ball-joint, it’s connected with a magnet, presumably to make for easier removal for accessing the features.  Ultimately, it feels a little gimmicky, and makes his head fall of a little more than I’d like.  The second head is an unmasked appearance, and it’s my favorite of the two.  It’s definitely the best unmasked Bale HT put out, and matches the sort of intense stare that Bale always had in the films.  It also features a removable collar piece, should you wish to use this head somewhere other than on the Batman suit.

Said Bat-suit was a major selling point of this particular release.  Prior versions of this design had used a molded rubber body suit, which limited the posabilty, resulted in softer detailing, and didn’t exactly hold up all that well over time (to say nothing of the DX02’s issues of weeping plastic caused by an unforeseen chemical reaction).  For this figure, the suit was built in a more film accurate fashion, using more rigid plastic armored parts glued in place on a cloth body suit.  It’s still not going anywhere near super posable or anything, but the look is definitely more accurate, and it’s certainly held up a lot better over time…well, at least in the seven years that I’ve had it.

As a DX release, Batman is pretty heavily packed with extras.  In addition to the two heads and extra mouth plates, he includes the following:

  • 6 hands
  • Grapnel gun
  • Transformable sticky bomb gun
  • Light-up electronic gun
  • 2 Belts
  • 2 batarangs
  • 2 mini mines
  • Connector for the Batpod
  • Light-up display stand

The hands come in fists, gripping, and a open/batarang holding combo.  They swap out okay, but it can get a little tricky to pop them back on.  The assortment of weaponry make for some nice specific call-backs to the film, but I personally haven’t gotten much use out of anything but the batarangs.  The sticky bomb gun is magnetic, allowing for it to be attached to the equally magnetic second belt…which would be super handy if the second belt on mine could actually be opened and placed on the figure.  Oh well.  The stand’s a pretty impressive piece, being modeled on the concrete steps where he faces off against Bane towards the end of the film.  The lights are a little gimmicky, but the overall appearance is nice.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

It was the Dark Knight versions of Joker and Two-Face that got me into Hot Toys collecting in the first place, but for a while I had no Batman to go with them, because I was just never than impressed by the available Batmen.  However, this one’s announcement, alongside Bane and Catwoman from the same movie, was right as I was getting into the HT thing pretty bigh, and that was enough to get me on board, and fill out my display a bit.  Ultimately, I think this guy makes for a wicked display piece, but he’s not a figure you want to pick up and handle all that much.  Taking him down from the shelf for this review was enough to really remind me of that.  Still, there’s no denying he was HT’s best Bale Batman.

#1937: Batman Beyond

BATMAN BEYOND

DC SUPER FRIENDS (IMAGINEXT)

“How can Batman protect the future of Gotham City?
He passes down his crime-fighting skills to a younger generation.  This younger Batman has even cooler gadgets too, like this motorcycle that transforms into a glider AND launches disks.”

Though it may be aimed at a younger audience than my usual faire, I keep finding myself called back to Imaginext.  It’s one of the more expansive styles out there.  Above all, they have easily one of the best collections of DC characters on the market right now, covering all sorts of different eras and corners of the universe.  One of the more recent additions is a fairly popular character who doesn’t have quite the toy coverage you might expect, Terry McGuinness, aka Batman Beyond!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Batman Beyond is one of the “figure and vehicle” offerings from Imaginext’s DC Super Friends line, and he started arriving at retail late last year.  The figure stands about 3 inches tall and has 8 points of articulation (with the legs moving as one, just like they always do).  Terry is built on the basic Batman body for this line, which isn’t perhaps the most accurate, but Imaginext is known to tweak some designs ever so slightly.  All it really means is that he’s got some more piping and texturing on his costume than he usual does, and given Terry’s future-setting, it’s not an unreasonable look.  Plus, this way, he still has the glove scallops and utility belt.  The rest of the work is paint, or lack there of.  He’s molded in all black, which is sensible, and helps to downplay all that extra sculpted detailing.  The white and red sections are well-handled and pretty clean looking.  The expression on the final figure is slightly changed from what was shown on the proto, which was using a teeth gritted expression that looked lifted pretty straight from the animation.  On the final release, he’s got this sort of side-leaning grin, which certainly looks goofier, and I suppose a bit friendlier, which was probably the main point.  BB is packed with a bat-styled motorcycle.  It seems a little more conventional in design than the vehicles from the show, but it’s not a bad design, and the choice to give him a cycle is a pretty sensible one for Terry.  The wings are spring-loaded, and can be popped down by a button on the back, which is pretty fun, and, of course, there’s the aforementioned disk launching device, which, while rudimentary, certainly has its value.  There are also three disks provided for it to launch.  Perhaps the only thing not included that I’d have liked to see is a pair of wings, but it’s not the end of the world.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Unlike a lot of my Imaginext purchases, Batman Beyond was actually not a spur of the moment pick-up.  I had heard about the set from Max, and I was actually keeping my eye out for it.  I ended up finding it just before Christmas, while picking up some last minute Christmas supplies at K-Mart of all places.  Yeah, I’m as surprised as you.  I was quite happy to find him, and, as I’d anticipated, he’s just a fun toy.

The Blaster In Question #0072: Thunderblast

BlasterInQuestion1

THUNDERBLAST

N-STRIKE 

thunderb1I’m sure quite a few if not most of you are familiar with the KISS acronym meaning “keep it simple, stupid” or some derivation of that. Well this week’s blaster deals with the slightly lesser known KISBJUOOTFBDYEHS acronym. And if any blaster can demonstrate keeping it simple by just updating one of the first blaster designs you ever had, stupid, it’s the Thunderblast.  So let’s have a look. 

THE BLASTER ITSELF

thunderb2The Thunderblast was released in 2015 as part of the N-Strike line. I know it’s got the Elite style blue and white color scheme, but the box just says N-Strike, no Elite here. It uses possibly one of the simplest firing mechanisms ever used in a Nerf blaster, a system referred to as a HAMP or hand-actuated manual pump, I think. In essence, you load one of the rockets onto the spindle, push the fore-grip forward and slam it back as hard as you can. The harder you slam, the more power behind the rocket. Of course, the act of vigorously slamming back a fore-grip will do terrible things to your accuracy, but we’re talking about Nerf here, how accurate can you possibly be?  This system, albeit in a very different form factor, is virtually identical to the system in the very first Nerf blaster I ever owned, the NB-1 from 1992 back when Nerf was made by Kenner, and even then, the design was used on earlier toys like a foam Batarang launcher. Bet you weren’t expecting a Batman name-drop in this Nerf rocket launcher review. Coming back to the Thunderblast, while the mechanics on the inside haven’t changed much, I am glad they changed the ergonomics. While the NB-1 will always have a special place in my heart, if I’m honest, the grips on that thing are small and blocky in contrast to the TB’s large contoured grips, even allowing for vertical or horizontal fore-grips. The TB also has a stock, something it has over the NB. Granted it’s not the best stock, but it’s fine. There’s a curved section on the underside that’s meant to allow you to seat the blaster up on top of your shoulder like a proper rocket launcher, but what this does is reduce the length of pull so much that your dominant arm ends up sticking out to the side like an awkward chicken wing. The thought is still appreciated. You can shoulder the blaster like a rifle, but the way the extra rockets are stored means you’re basically shooting from the hip from your shoulder… kind of. I’m trying to say they block any kind of aiming you might attempt. Performance is all over the place, given that the power behind each shot is fully dependent on the user, but overall, if you’re at least of teenage years with average upper body strength, you should be able to launch rockets pretty far. Interestingly, because the rockets are so wide, even a jacked up shot from the tuberculosis doesn’t hurt as much as a standard shot from an Elite blaster, but it your younger siblings don’t know that, just the presence that a rocket launcher has can be quite effective for intimidation. And that’s something the New Balance didn’t have. The consumption comes packaged with 2 rockets. I know in my pictures it has 3 but I think it looks better with 3. 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION 

I fully accept that at this point, a blaster like the Thunderblast isn’t exactly practical, but the homage to older designs does appeal to me. That and the fact that it’s a rocket launcher. It did kind of bum me out initially when I saw it didn’t have a trigger, but if we’ve learned anything from the Modulus Mediator barrel, it’s that Nerf still knows how to do pressurized air blasters, so who knows? Maybe we’ll see a revamp of the Titan one day. 

#1795: Ascending Knight Batman

BATMAN — ASCENDING KNIGHT

ONE: 12 COLLECTIVE (MEZCO)

Ooooh, it’s time for me to go down the One:12 Collective rabbit hole again!

I love a good toy, and there’s no denying that Mezco’s recent star-studded line of mixed-media 6 inch figures is full of some pretty darn good toys.  Of course, they’re also pretty darn expensive toys, too, and I can’t really throw quite as much money at them as some people seem to be doing.  Nevertheless, I’ve been looking at their offerings in little dribs and drabs here and there.  Today, I look at another, and a fairly recent one at that.  It’s Ascending Knight Batman!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ascending Knight Batman was released in the spring of this year, as part of Mezco’s One:12 Collective line.  There have already been a handful of Bat-variants in the line (hey, the guy sells toys; can’t blame Mezco for cashing in on that), but he’s notable for being the first of the Batman figures to be a Mezco original design, albeit one inspired by outside elements.  Like Greg Capullo’s Zero Year suit, the Ascending Knight is a re-imagining of Batman’s first appearance design, through a more modern lens.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has over 30 points of articulation.

Ascending Knight Batman continues the One:12 trend of two different heads with each release.  The first is the more standard of the two, being your usual masked Batman, stern expression, piercing glare, and all.  This is where the biggest Detective #27 influence comes in, mostly via the distinctive curved shaping of the ears.  It’s sharp, it’s clean, and it’s super sleek.  It’s also a very specific look, divergent from your basic Batman, which is honestly kind of refreshing.  The paintwork is clean and bold, and I particularly like the super shiny sheen on the whites of the eyes.  The second head gives us an unmasked look at Bruce Wayne.  It goes for more of the suave debonaire sort of look, rather than the more battle-hardened appearance we’ve seen on other unmasked Waynes.  It fits pretty well with the “early in his career” take that this figure is offering.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m getting something of a Jason Isaacs vibe from the head; not where my mind usually goes for Batman, but it works reasonably well for this particular figure.  Like the masked head, this one has very clean application for the paint; I’m happy they’re keeping the molded flesh tones for most of these figures; it definitely gives them a more lifelike appearance.

Being from an earlier time in his career, this Batman is built on a smaller body than the previously-reviewed Dark Knight Returns version.  I believe it’s the same basic body that was used on Space Ghost, though it’s a little hard to tell, since the costume doesn’t come off.  Said costume is another mixed-media affair.  The main body suit and cape are cloth, though neither is the straight spandex construction like on DKR Bats and Space Ghost.  The body suit looks to have started that way, but there’s a rather complex overlay of rubberized painted elements, giving the suit a more kevlar-like-armored-appearance.  It’s still all shades of grey, as it should be, but there’s an extra level of flavor added by this method.  The cape is a heavy pleather piece.  Apart from the material, it’s cut rather similarly to the DKR Batman.  The pleather certainly looks cool, but its extra rigidity means it can be a little more difficult to work with when posing.  The cloth parts of his costume are augmented by a healthy helping of sculpted plastic parts.  The cape is held in place by a sculpted neck piece, which sits atop it, and helps create a better flow to the masked head when it’s in place.  There’s a sculpted logo as well, which plugs into the front of his chest.  It not only makes the logo stand out a bit more, but it also keeps the costume clinging a little closer to the torso.  For his earliest appearances, Batman had a distinctly differently-styled utility belt, which has been translated to this figure’s belt, albeit with a more modernized twist, and tons of great little technical details.  On the downside, the belt doesn’t seem to want to stay closed, at least on the figure I’m reviewing, so it comes loose fairly frequently.  The costume is topped off with some swanky boots and gloves.  The boots are interesting, as they’re standard combat boots, laces and all, but  you can see where Bruce has slightly modified the very tops, giving them that distinctive peak that his boots always had; it’s a fun real-world touch.  Perhaps the most distinctive and memorable part of the original Batman design, when compared to later iterations, are the gloves, which only went up to his wrists and were very definitely purple.  This figure doesn’t have those.  Instead, he gets sort of an amalgamated design, which still features the shorter appearance, but keeps the more traditional black coloring, as well as trowing in a par of the wrist blade/scallops he always had in later years.  It’s a change that works a bit better with this incarnation of the costume, while still maintaining the overall spirit of the original.

Ascending Knight Batman is packed with a sizable selection of accessories.  In addition to the previously mentioned unmasked head, he also includes seven interchangeable hands (in pairs of fists, open, and beatarang holding, as well as a right hand for his grappling gun), a grappling gun with fully retracted hooks, extend hooks, and a hook with a line attached to it, a small cross bolt of some sort, a bat-brass knuckles looking thing, a display stand (with flight attachment, and a set of armature for displaying the cape extended), and 10 batarangs.  That’s quite an assortment.  Admittedly, a lot of it’s stuff that seems more suited to being laid out as a cool armory display, and less suited to actual use with the figure.  The hands are by far the most useful, and I can see the grappling gun getting a decent amount of use, especially with this design.  The batarangs are definitely cool, but 10 of them almost seems excessive.  But who am I to complain about getting *more* accessories?  The cape attachment for the stand is fine if you want to just set this guy up in a free fall sort of display, but after spending about an hour fiddling with the  one included with DKR Bats, I didn’t personally find the end results on this one to be worth the hassle.  The option being present is certainly appreciated, though.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After missing out on the DKR Batman and not having much interest in any of the DCEU-related offerings, this guy is really the first Mezco Batman to catch my eye.  I’ve always been something of a sucker for the First Appearance Batman look, and this is undoubtedly a fun reimagining.  I don’t know that I can say this figure quite has the same raw fun factor of the DKR Batman (that one set a seriously high bar to clear, believe me), but he does come pretty close.

Like the last One:12 Collective Batman I reviewed, this one’s not actually mine.  He was loaned to me for review by my friends over at All Time Toys. If you’re interested in owning him for yourself, he can be purchased from their store front.  And, if you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#1794: Bookworm

BOOKWORM

BATMAN ’66 (FUNKO)

There was a time when any Batman ’66 product at all was something fans dreamed about.  Who’d have ever guessed we might have too much of it?  Well, I guess that’s a highly subjective take on things, isn’t it?  Perhaps I’m a little jaded about the whole thing.  See, when Mattel launched their Batman ’66 line, I was thrilled beyond belief, and preorder everything in the initial assortments.  And then I actually got the figures and…well, they were kind of garbage.  The line failed, what with the figures being kind of garbage and all.  In its stead we’ve gotten all sorts of stuff.  Pops, Hot Toys figures, Quarter Scale figures, Megos, etc.  All possessing their own strengths and weaknesses.  Towards the tail end of it all, Funko came in with a 3 3/4 inch line, which showed a lot of promise.  Sadly, its weakness was one of timing; it hit shelves a few years after collectors had been burned out by everything else.  As such, it too is another failed line, with an incomplete assortment of characters, focusing more on the obscure than the major.  Hence why we have no Joker, Penguin, or Catwoman, but we managed to get today’s offering, Bookworm.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Bookwork is part of the first, and only, series of Funko’s Batman ’66 line, one of the line’s many more obscure rogues.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  The improved articulation on these figures is still very much appreciated, and Bookworm himself is far less affected by the lack of hip hinges than Batgirl was.  Like Batgirl, Bookworm takes the retro feel of the ReAction line and dials it back just a bit, resulting in a better overall figure that still pays homage to a more vintage style.  Apart from some slight weirdness where the hips and the bottom of the jacket intersect, his sculpt is really quite good.  In particular, I really love the head, especially his glasses.  Glasses are hard to do at all on toys, even more so at a small scale like this.  They could have just sculpted the rims right onto his face and done it all with paint, but they didn’t and the figure is all the better for it.  His head doesn’t have too much of actor Roddy McDowall’s likeness, but given how little of his face is actually visible here, it’s not like he looks unlike McDowall, so I’d say it’s close enough not to hold the figure back.  The figure’s paint is a little on the drab side, being mostly variations of brown.  This is true to the show, though, and at least the application is clean.  The glasses again are the best part for me, with clear lenses *and* cleanly painted rims.  Bookworm is, appropriately, packed with a book, which his right hand has been sculpted to properly hold.  That was a nice change, since Batgirl was unable to hold her accessory.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I have to admit: I was part of the problem.  When they were new, I bought exactly one of Funko’s Batman ’66 figures.  I really liked Batgirl a lot, and was interested in getting more, but after the whole debacle with Mattel, I wanted to see more of what the line had to offer before really jumping on board.  During the TRU liquidation process, I found poor Bookworm, all by himself, package smashed to hell.  I felt sorry for him, so home with me he came.  And then there was the months of waiting to open him, because boy did I pick up a backlog of figures over the summer.  Now that I’ve finally opened him, I’m really happy I got one, but also very sad I didn’t support this line earlier, because Bookworm is a very good figure.