#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.

#2566: Batman – Defender

BATMAN — DEFENDER

BATMAN: THE CAPED CRUSADER (SPIN MASTER)

Remember earlier in this week when I was talking about the DC line’s wacky variant coverage?  Remember the thing about getting the variant before getting the standard?  And also the thing with the gold?  Great, that makes writing this intro a bit easier for me.  This time it’s Batman.  Here we go.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Gold Batman, who is apparently called “Batman Defender,” is part of the very first series of the Batman: The Caped Crusader line.  He ups that “rare” game that was going on with Wonder Woman to a “Super Rare” game…again, whatever that means.  I’ve got this one and not the standard one, so I don’t know about the relative rarity.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 17 points of articulation.  There are currently three Batman sculpts floating around in this line, and this figure makes use of the most “standard” of the the three.  It’s based on the Rebirth design for his costume, which is a pretty darn solid Batman design, all things considered.  The sculpt is pretty much on par with the rest of the Spin Master DC stuff, so it’s a little bit bulked up when compared to the comics depiction, but honestly, it has a pretty good basic Batman feel to it.  The costume details are well rendered, and I appreciate the level of work that’s gone into it.  The head in particular has a nice classic Batman vibe, which I can definitely dig.  He’s got a cloth cape, and like I noted with Superman and Shazam, it’s not a terribly impressive piece, but it’s also not like it’s particularly bad either.  They made a point of leaving a hole in it that corresponds with the port on his back, so at least he can make use of all of the gear from other figures, if you’re so inclined.  While the Gold Wonder Woman was totally devoid of paint, Batman mixes things up slightly.  He’s got his black insignia, white for his eyes, and flesh tone for his lower face, indicating that this is supposed to be a costume, I guess.  It’s different from all of the other gold variants, but it was also the first one, so I guess they hadn’t quite made up their minds fully on the concept yet.  I think I might have preferred the straight gold, but this isn’t bad either.  Gold Batman includes three blind packed accessories: a grapple in neon green, chest armor in black, and a shield in yellow.  It’s a shame they didn’t go for the all gold pieces like with Wonder Woman.  I feel that would have inclined me to use them, instead of just tossing them to the side.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I liked the Wonder Woman a fair bit, and I definitely want the Gold Superman, so I figured I might as well grab a Gold Batman too.  The one from the corresponding series is built on the armored body, which I wasn’t quite as big on, but fortunately for me, Max was on board with trading out that one for this one, and passing this one along to me.  It’s a little weird that they changed the gimmick mid-run on these guys, but I still like this figure.  I guess I should pick up a Batman in standard colors now.

#2565: Killer Moth

KILLER MOTH

BATMAN: THE CAPED CRUSADER (SPIN MASTER)

So far, Spin Master’s DC product has been pretty heavy hitter-centric (though, for that matter, so has McFarlane’s), which is pretty understandable, given their more mass-release driven audience.  That said, it’s not *all* heavy hitters.  There are a few lower tier characters thrown in, to toss some of us more hardcore fans a bit of a bone.  One such character is c-list Batman foe the Killer Moth, who is today’s focus figure.  To quote Max, “WEEEEE HE’S A MOTH BOI!!!!!!!”

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Killer Moth is part of the second assortment of Spin Master’s Batman: The Caped Crusader toyline.  He’s one of two “new” figures in the line-up, the other being Batwoman.  Killer Moth has had a few rather differing appearances over the years; this figure’s main inspiration is clearly his original ’60s get-up, in all its garish glory, though it seems to have gotten a bit of an update.  The figure stands about 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 17 points of articulation.  On my figure, the neck joint is rather stuck, so I haven’t been able to really get any motion out of it, for fear of tearing the ball clear off.  Hopefully that’s not a wide spread issue.  Killer Moth gets an all-new sculpt, which is just downright shocking, because typically the main thing he’s got going for him is the ease of building him on a buck body.  This one, however, has quite a few character specific elements built into it.  Sculpturally, he looks to have taken a lot of influence from Batman: Bad Blood‘s incarnation of the character.  It’s a sleek and modern update on the classic jumpsuit with a harness and a helmet.  This one feels a little more cohesive and put together.  I definitely dig it.  The color scheme marks the major change-up from that design.  In the film, it’s mostly all black, but this figure gives Moth the classic color scheme I mentioned above.  Why’s a moth guy orange, green, and purple?  No idea, but I sure do love it.  The application’s all pretty solid, and the whole thing just really works.  Killer Moth’s blind-packed accessories include a gun in neon green, a briefcase in silver, and a chest piece, which mine does not have.  I’m pretty sure it did have that piece originally, but by the time it came to me, said piece was gone.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I saw this guy and Batwoman when they’re promo shots got leaked early in the year.  I was definitely down for him right away, but finding him was the main obstacle there.  Max got one pretty quickly, and ultimately ended up passing along his to me shortly thereafter (though the chest piece appears to have not been passed along…).  This guy’s definitely another really fun figure, and I look forward to some more oddball characters when we get the chance.

#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.

#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.

#2460: Batgirl

BATGIRL

BATMAN & ROBIN (KENNER)

“Gotham City becomes a very cold place when Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy and Bane triple team to plot the icy demise of Batman and Robin. The crimefighters respond immediately by using the Batcomputer deep within the Batcave to develop an array of cutting-edge weapons that can be used in their battle against this multitude of fiendish foes. Discover the Secrets of the Batcave! – secret technology that gives Batman , Robin and Batgirl the ultimate ability to save Gotham City!”

Back in April, I jumped into the Batman & Robin line with a look at the “& Robin” portion of the film.  Today, I look at the central character who doesn’t get named at all.  I mean, seriously, isn’t it a little odd that the film where you explicitly call out Batman and Robin as your title characters is the one where you add in Batgirl as your third protagonist?  Isn’t that a little weird?  I think it’s a little weird.  Look at me, armchair quarterbacking a movie from 1997.  That’s a real good use of my time, right?  Yeah…

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Batgirl was released in the first wave of Batman & Robin product from Kenner, hitting shelves in 1997 to tie-in with the film.  Unlike the various Batmen and Robins, she didn’t get any sort of adjective in front of her name; she’s simply “Batgirl.”  Man, no goofy Kenner name is just a bummer.  Did they even try with Batgirl in this thing?  Oh, right, I’ve seen the movie: the answer is “no.”  The figure stands 4 3/4 inches tall and she has 5 points of articulation.  So, right off the bat (heh), let’s address the inaccuracies of the figure.  As I brought up in my Robin review, the whole Batman & Robin process was quite expedited, so the figures were working from early costume designs.  In Robin’s case, that was all well and good, because he kept his design, but in Batgirl’s case, that means she’s a bit off from her film appearance.  The big change is the full cowl in place of the domino mask she was sporting in the final product.  It’s not a particularly attractive design, at least as implemented on the figure.  She’s also got the wrong version of the bat symbol, and is missing a lot of the ribbing and such that ran throughout the body suit, making for a much more basic looking design.  There is also a removable cape, which actually is a pretty decently designed piece. Her paintwork is fairly basic stuff.  She’s rather monochromatic, but that’s honestly a bit more faithful to the film than most of the color schemes to come out of this movie.  Batgirl was packed with a “Battle Blade Blaster” and “Strike Scythe,” which are the weird green and black things.  They don’t correlate to anything in the movie, but they certainly exist, now don’t they?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I mentioned in my Robin review, Batman & Robin was the first Batman movie I saw in theaters, and despite its lackluster quality, five-year-old me really enjoyed it.  Being the big thing of the summer, a whole bunch of the tie-in figures wound up as birthday presents for me that year, including Batgirl here.  She’s not necessarily one of my favorites, and that was the case even as a kid.  She really only served as my Batgirl until the Animated figure found its way into my collection and replaced her.  She’s okay, I guess, and like the rest of the line, honestly better than the movie that spawned her.