#2201: Red Hood

RED HOOD

DC ESSENTIALS (DC COLLECTIBLES)

“The vigilante outlaw who was once a Robin, the man under the hood is extremely proficient in both weapons and hand-to-hand combat.”

Originally conceived as a potential former alias for the man that would eventually become the Joker, the monicker of Red Hood is one that’s been passed around a little bit, but ultimately it’s stuck a pretty darn long time with the un-deceased Jason Todd.  I suppose there’s something poetic about one of the Joker’s victims laying claim to his old name.  Despite being well-established in the role for a good long time now, as well as being introduced in a rather well-known modern era Batman story, Jason’s comics version of his Red Hood gear has been surprisingly absent from toys, or at least was for the first decade of his existence.  There was a New 52 figure which kind of worked in a pinch, but it wasn’t until just this year that we got a whole two Jason Red Hoods, one from DCC, and the other from Mattel.  Today, I’m taking a look at DC Collectibles’ version!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Red Hood is figure 18 in DCC’s DC Essentials line.  After doing a fair bit of retreading, Red Hood is finally a taste of more new stuff…though it looks like we’re going back to the retreading after this.  Oh, DCC, how predictible of you.  This figure represents Jason in the biker-styled Red Hood gear, though it’s not quite his first appearance attire.  Instead, he’s technically the most modern take on the design, from the post New 52/Rebirth era.  It’s a little more costume-y than the original look, but also has lost some of the over-designed elements that the initial New 52 stuff brought about, making for an overall pretty clean looking design for the character.  The figure 7 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  The Essentials line has been fairly heavy on the re-use side, but Red Hood actually does inject a fair number of new pieces into it.  He uses the torso, pelvis, and upper legs of the standard male body, but gets an all-new head, arms, hands, shins, and feet, as well as add-ons for his jacket and belt/holsters.  The new pieces really work out in this figure’s favor.  The head, is definitely sleek and very cool, living up to the really solid heads we’ve gotten so far from the line.   The new arms are great because, in addition to adding the coat sleeves, they are also ever so slightly shorter than the standard arms, thereby fixing the monkey arms problem of prior figures.  The jacket add-on also hides those exposed pegs on the torso joint, fixing my other major complaint.  As a whole, the new parts really sell this figure as his own figure, rather than leaving him really tied to the rest of the Essentials line like the prior figures have been.  The paint work on Red Hood is also really strong, with the metallic red on the helmet being my favorite aspect by far.  The rest of the application is actually cleanly handled, and lacks the fuzzy edges that a lot of DCC stuff sports.  Red Hood is packed with a pair of pistols (which can actually be removed from the holsters and held, giving him a leg up on the Mattel release), as well as two sets of hands in both gripping and fist poses.  It’s nice to see the extra hands cropping up again, as the lack of them with the earliest figures was a real drag.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Red Hood was something of an impulse buy, truth be told.  He came in at Cosmic Comix, and I just really, really liked the look of him on the shelf, so I just ended up grabbing him.  I actually haven’t done that with a single Essentials figure since Reverse Flash, and I wasn’t sure it was going to pay off.  Then I opened the figure up, and oh boy did it.  Essentials has been really spotty for it’s run, but Red Hood is genuinely a solid figure, and by far the best figure this line’s put out.  I’d say here’s to hoping for more like him, but unfortunately DCC’s just shown off a bunch of stuff that goes firmly the other direction…alas.

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#2181: Robin & Raphael

ROBIN & RAPHAEL

BATMAN VS. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (DC COLLECTIBLES)

Obviously, no company in their right mind would release just *one* of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so that means for the purposes of these here Batman Vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles packs there’s a necessity for a Batman-character to go with each of them.  Yay for the Bat-Family and their now needed inclusion!  Today’s pack is all about teenage rage and an appreciation of the color red!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Robin and Raphael are set two of the GameStop-excluisve Batman Vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line.  They actually ended up showing up at the same time as the Batman and Leo set, despite the initial plan being one set a month.

ROBIN

There have been six Robins in the mainstream DC universe, and the crossover opted for the most recent of them, Damian Wayne, Bruce’s teenage son.  For the purposes of unique builds and designs, he’s actually a pretty solid choice.  The figure stands 4 3/4 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  Compared to the last animated-inspired Damian figure I reviewed, this one’s a far better articulated offering.  Additionally, his smaller stature means that his joints have a better range of motion than his father did, making him easier to get decent poses out of him.  Robin’s sculpt is a clean recreation of his animation design.  The build is conceivably accurate for a young teenager, going for a slightly cartoony interpretation without looking too goofy.  Unlike Batman and Mikey, Robin gets a sculpted cape rather than a cloth one.  Given the smaller size of the cape, it actually ends up working out alright.  He’s got a separate folded down hood piece which sits atop the shoulders of his cape.  It doesn’t stay in place amazingly well, but it’s easily removed if it bugs you.  Robin’s paint work is certainly the most colorful of the bunch we’ve gotten so far, which is a nice change of pace.  The application is still clean, and the line work still works very well.  Robin is packed with an even more impressive selection of accessories than his dad, with three sets of hands (fists, open grip, and closed grip), a batbomb, two batarangs, a grapple with two hooks, an extra head with the hood pulled up, a staff fully extended and collapsed, a Gotham City manhole cover, and a slice of pizza.

RAPHAEL

Raphael is something of a rage machine, which makes a degree of sense for pairing off against the usual ragey Damian.  Raph stands 6 inches tall and he has 28 points of articulation.  Raphael’s construction is much like the other two Turtles, and the articulation works much the same as with the others.  The range of motion’s pretty solid on all of them, and his joints are tighter like Leo’s.  Raphael’s sculpt goes for making him the largest of the four turtles, which is an approach I can certainly get behind.  It makes him a rather hefty figure, which pairs him off well with the quite small Robin figure.  It’s a strong sculpt, and I think it’s probably my favorite of the three Turtles I’ve looked at so far.  Raph’s paint does mix things up a bit, making his skin tone a duller shade of green than the other two turtles.  The lines here are also a bit bolder, adding to that overall chunky thing he’s got going.  Raphael includes three sets of hands (fists, open, and gripping), an extra head wearing a helmet, his sais, and a slice of pizza.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked this pair up at the same time as the other two, and this was honestly the set I was slightly more interested in.  While Damian’s not my favorite Robin, I’ve developed a real appreciation for him.  This figure’s honestly the best one the character’s ever gotten, meaning he’ll pair off real well with Batman in that regard.  Raph is a pretty darn solid figure in his own right, though, and I don’t feel this set is quite as one-sided as yesterday’s.

#2180: Batman & Leonardo

BATMAN & LEONARDO

BATMAN VS. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (DC COLLECTIBLES)

Just at the end of last month, I took my first look at the latest branch of TMNT figures, specifically the cross-over ones from Batman Vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  The debut figure was a single figure crossing over both concepts, but the rest of the line is doing the crossover via packs of two figures, one from each of the two franchises.  Today, I look at the unquestionable lead of one franchise, and the disputed lead of another, with Batman and Leonardo!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Batman and Leonardo are the first of the five two-packs that make up DCC’s Batman Vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line. The whole line is currently exclusive to Gamestop, but time will tell if that’s actually going to stick or not.  Whatever the case, these two started hitting Gamestop shelves last month.

BATMAN

Would you believe me if I said that the primary selling point of this set for me was another Batman figure?  I know, I’ve got hundreds of them at this point, why obsess over one more?  Well, if I’m being entirely honest, after the disappointment of DCC’s B:TAS Batman figure, I’ve been in the market for a decently handled vaguely animated Batman figure, and that’s what this one appeared to be.  Batman Vs. TMNT gives Bats a rather classic appearance, but with an interesting stylized flair, which translates well to this toy form.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  Articulation was perhaps the best part of the Mikey figure, and while Batman’s not *quite* as good, he’s still pretty darn good in his own right.  The range on the legs and the torso is solid, and I felt like the feet were quite good for keeping him flat-footed.  The neck does okay for a single ball-joint, but is a little restricted.  The worst restriction, though, is to the elbows, which just barely make it to 90 degrees.  It’s not ideal for a Batman figure.  His sculpt is another all-new affair, which makes sense, given the unique stylizing from the movie.  It’s another strong sculpt as well, capturing Batman’s usual chiseled nature quite nicely, and just generally building an aesthetically pleasing version of the character.  Like Mikey, Batman’s cape is cloth, and it’s a virtually identical piece.  That’s a good thing, because I loved the cape on Mikey, and I love the cape on Batman.  It definitely makes for some fun with posing him.  Batman’s paintwork is fairly strong.  The base colors are cleanly applied, and the extra line work really helps to sell the animated appearance.  As with all DCC paint, I worry a little about how it will hold up over time, but it looks good now.  Batman has a fairly sizable selection of accessories.  He includes four sets of hands (in fists, wide grip, tight grip, and split finger grip), a batarang, a bat-bomb, a grappling hook with two hook attachments, and a slice of pizza.  Because yes, Batman needs pizza.

LEONARDO

Leader of the Turtles, and fan of the color blue, Leonardo is a good pairing for Batman here.  Frequent readers will note that I generally don’t have a super high opinion of Leo, but this one has the benefit of being packed with the Batman figure I just reviewed and liked so much.  Leo stands 5 1/2 inches tall and has 28 points of articulation.  On the articulation front, if you read my review of Mikey, than you pretty much know what’s up here.  All of the Turtles appear to be using the exact same articulation layout, which honestly isn’t a bad choice.  It did seem that the joints were a little bit tighter on Leo, which is a slight improvement.  Leo is sporting an all-new sculpt, which appears to translate his design from the movie pretty well.  The mid-sized build definitely works for Leo when compared to the others.  It’s not all perfect, though.  This design moves Leo’s swords from their usual spot on his back to down on his left hip.  While I don’t hate this choice, it’s definitely something that works better in animation than in plastic.  Once in place, the sheaths prevent the left arm from sitting comfortably.  Additionally, they don’t really stay in place very securely, so posing will tend to knock them out of place a lot.  Getting them to stay on for the photos here was no small feat.  Leo’s paintwork is pretty much the same set up as everyone else, so it’s pretty clean, and the line work adds a nice dynamic sense to him.  Leo is, like Batman, decently accessorized.  He has three sets of hands (fists, gripping, and flat), his two katanas, the sheaths for them, and another slice of pizza.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When these packs were announced, the only one I really knew I wanted was the Donatello/Batgirl pairing.  The rest I was a bit iffy on.  But then I picked up the Mikey as Batman figure, and I really liked him, which persuaded me to check these guys out.  Batman’s the star for me, and is easily the best Batman figure that DCC has released.  He’s got some minor flaws, but not enough to hold him back in my eyes.  Leo is…Leo.  I don’t have a tendency to get excited about him, and this figure didn’t change that.  If you like Leo, though, I’m sure he’s pretty cool.

 

#2167: Mikey as Batman

MIKEY AS BATMAN

BATMAN VS. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (DC COLLECTIBLES)

Apparently, it’s about time for somebody *else* to get into the business of making Ninja Turtles toys, because Playmates, NECA, and Mondo having the license just wasn’t quite enough.  DC Collectibles, who, you know, usually make, um, DC collectibles, have gotten in on this thing, but in their defense, they’ve got a good reason.  That reason is Batman Vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, an animated film based on a comic that goes for the rather straight forward premise in the title.  To be fair, it’s a marketer’s dream, so toys seem natural.  DCC is planning on offering up a selection of five two-packs as Gamestop exclusives over the next few months, but to kick things off they offered up a true crossover figure: Michelangelo dressed as the caped crusader!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mikey as Batman was a summer con exclusive item, with follow-up distribution through Gamestop, who will be carrying the rest of the Batman Vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line.  He’s inspired by the animated designs of the movie, which are yet another new stylization of the turtles.  Oh, and he’s also wearing a Batman cowl and cape, of course.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 28 points of articulation.  His sculpt is an all-new one, though no doubt he’ll be sharing most of his parts with the standard Mikey that’s coming packed with Alfred later down the line.  It’s a pretty solid piece of work.  It’s very clean and animation friendly, and I definitely dig the huge smile on his face. What I like most of all about it his how well the articulation works.  It’s not perfect, but given that it’s DCC we’re dealing with, it’s actually suprisingly good.  The range is solid, the movement is relatively smooth, the joints do okay holding the poses, and there aren’t any obviously missing joints.  The plastic’s a little harder than I might like, but that comes with the DCC territory.  The cape is a cloth piece, and while I’m iffy on cloth capes, I actually really, really like this one.  It’s about on par with the cape on the Mezco DKR Batman in terms of quality, and that’s a very big compliment.  Mikey’s paintwork is fairly reasonable; I like how they’ve simulated the linework of the animation style in a way that looks good from pretty much any angle.  That’s quite hard to do properly.  Mikey is a fairly decently accessorized figure.  While he has nothing to go in the empty holsters on his belt (I’m confident the standard release will be keeping his nunchucks there), he does include three sets of hands (in griping, flat palm, and thumbs up), a slice of pizza, and a NYC manhole cover painted up like a whole pizza.  It’s kind of an eclectic collection of parts, but a pretty fun set of extras nonetheless.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This is Max’s fault.  I know, what are the odds?  It’s not even a Transformers thing.  So how’d it work out that way?  Well, he found this figure and asked if I wanted it, and here we are.  I know, I fought so valiantly against getting it.  Honestly, I was curious about the quality of the line, and wasn’t sure I wanted to drop a whole $50 to find out.  This figure ended up being a very pleasant surprise for me, and in fact convinced me I probably wanted to pick up at least the main four Turtles and their counterparts.  Not a bad figure at all.

#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.

#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.