#1500: The Joker

JOKER

THE DARK KNIGHT (HOT TOYS)

And another hundred reviews have passed.  Would you believe I only barely remember writing #1400?  It’s been a real whirlwind of a year, let me tell you.  As is the case with all of my “monumental” reviews, I’ll be taking a look at a higher end item, courtesy of out friends at Hot Toys.  These reviews are frequently from the MCU, which makes up a sizable portion of my Hot Toys collection, but today I’m flipping over to their distinguished competition and taking a look at another figure from the widely successful The Dark Knight (which, coincidentally, was released the same summer that the MCU was launched with Iron Man).  So, without further ado, here’s The Joker!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Joker was released as part of Hot Toys’ long-running Movie Masterpiece Series line.  He was entry 68 in the line, placing him between the Original Costume Batman and the Tumbler.  He and both surrounding releases are, of course, from The Dark Knight, and this Joker represents the character as he looks for the majority of the film’s run time…more or less.  I’ll get to that. Joker stands about 11 3/4 inches tall and has over 30 points of articulation.

First up, let’s look at the headsculpt.  Right up front, this is the weakest part of the figure.  It’s not that it’s a *bad* sculpt, necessarily, but more that it’s highly inaccurate.  Look at that head.  Does it look at all like Heath Ledger?  No it does not, and that’s what makes reviewing it difficult.  See, it’s still a very strong, realistic sculpt, on par with HT’s best from a purely technical standpoint.  He totally looks like a real dude, just not the real dude who played the part in the movie.  Quite frankly, the sculpt isn’t even a half bad Joker.  I actually quite like it.  But it’s not Heath Ledger.  Even the paint sort of follows this trend.  It’s good technically, but for a Dark Knight Joker, it’s a little too clean and consistent.  If I had a guess, I’d say this whole head was largely assembled with early materials that didn’t quite represent Joker’s final look.

Joker’s outfit is made up of a shirt, tie, vest, pants, socks, sport coat, and over coat, as well as a pair of sculpted shoes.  The overcoat is probably the weakest piece.  Like the head, it’s not bad, just a little inaccurate.  It’s got the same basic look, but the specifics are a little off.  The rest of the parts are fairly decent, accurate, and generally well-tailored to the body.  His vest is a bit hard to keep closed, due to some iffy velcro.  I think snaps might have been better.  It’s worth noting that the belt is actually a superfluous piece, since he doesn’t have one in the movie, but you can remove it easily enough, and then there’s no issue.  The prints on the shirt and pants are quite impressive, and I particularly like the funky socks, a detail that most will never see.

Older HT offerings were a bit lighter than later ones.  Joker is one of the lightest in my entire collection, but he does still include two pairs of hands (one set for poses and one set for holding accessories), a deck of 13 unique Joker cards, a switch blade, and a standard black display stand with his same and the movie’s logo.  It’s not a huge selection, but it covers the basics.  Later releases offered other just about any extras you could want for a Dark Knight Joker, so there are options out there.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Joker has the distinction of being my very first Hot Toys figure, and easily one of the most difficult times I’ve had acquiring one of them.  I asked for him for Christmas the year they were released, and my parents ordered him, nut he just kept getting pushed back over and over, to the paint that I just gave up completely and ended up asking for a couple of Sideshow Star Wars figures instead.  I tried again the next year, and I finally got him that time, thus beginning my lengthy obsession with Hot Toys figures.  This figure’s started showing his age, especially in light of later Joker figures, but I still really like him, and except him for what he is.

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#1319: Joker

THE JOKER

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS

“The Clown Prince of Crime is Batman’s deadliest and most unpredictable foe. Rumored to be a failed stand-up comedian turned petty criminal who fell into a vat of chemical waste while escaping from the scene of a crime – that incident turned his skin white and his hair green. Batman knows the Joker is certifiably insane, which makes the end result of his action  that much more deadly.”

A common complaint of DC Universe Classics was about its over-reliance on oddball, C and D-list characters that most of the general public hadn’t heard of, and the subsequent delaying of heavy hitter characters until too far into the line’s run.  Case in point: the Joker.  Batman’s greatest foe, and we had to wait more than a year to get him (made especially egregious by Harley Quinn’s presence in Series freaking 2).  Obviously, in a line like this, you want to hold some heavy hitters back, but 10 series seems like a bit much.  But, with the line wrapped and gone, at least he got a figure.  I’ll be looking at that figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Joker was released in Series 10 of DC Universe Classics.  I’ve been reviewing a lot of this particular series lately.  Not for any particular reason, or anything; just luck of the draw I suppose.  As I’ve noted in prior reviews, the series was the line’s second Walmart-exclusive series.  While it was far less scarce than the first, it still seems a little odd that DC’s most recognizable villain was relegated to a store-exclusive release.  There’s a reason this guy has one of the heftier aftermarket prices in the line.  Anyway, the figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  Joker is seen here in an appearance that’s about as classic as he can get (specifically, he’s modeled after his Super Powers figure as this was really when the line was leaning hard into the recreation of Super Powers).  He’s built on the body that was introduced with Gentleman Ghost, which was designed with Joker in mind.  In that effect, the cut of the suit matches up pretty well with classic depictions of Joker.  The body showcases a lot of Mattel’s troubles with working articulation into a sculpt naturally.  It’s nowhere near as bad as some of their more recent work, but it’s definitely not the strongest showing from DCUC.  On the plus side, it’s not awful to look at, especially if you chose a decent pose.  He had a unique head and neck, which are definitely the star pieces of this figure.  He also has a tweaked jacket, which removes the cape from Gentleman Ghost and adds a flower to his lapel.  It’s an okay piece, but slightly marred by the weird panel in the back where the cape was originally attached.  Why does Mattel insist on attaching capes with that huge rectangular peg?  I don’t think I’ll ever know.  The paint work on the figure’s actually pretty good.  The colors are nice and bold, and there’s some really well-executed accenting, especially on the hair and the vest.  The pinstripes on the legs could probably stand to be a little straighter, but they look decent enough.  Joker was actually pretty well accessorized.  He includes a joker-head cane, some playing card, a laughing fish, and a large green mallet (deliberately pattered after the one included with the Super Powers figure).  They were all pretty solid extras, among the best in the line.  He also included the right leg of Imperiex, the Series’ CnC.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Joker came from the same assortment of trips to Walmart with my Dad that netted me the previously reviewed Beast Boy.  I don’t recall the exact circumstances, but he was definitely a later find, since he was the most sought after initially.  He’s not one of my favorite DCUC figures, but that’s hardly because he’s bad.  He’s actually very well executed, apart from the slightly lackluster handling of the articulation.  For me, he just suffered from being “yet another Joker” in a series full of brand-new characters, but I suppose I’m a bit counter to most fans in that respect.

#0980: Arkham Origins Boxed Set

BATMAN, JOKER, DEATHSTROKE, & BLACK MASK

ARKHAM ORIGINS (DC COLLECTIBLES)

ArkhamOrigin1

Video game adaptations of comic book characters have a somewhat rocky history. For every — there’s a Superman 64; for every Spider-Man 2, there’s an Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis. The Batman: Arkham series is probably one of the best adaptations out there, though even it hasn’t been totally immune from criticism. Perhaps the most criticized game in the series is Arkham Origins, a prequel game that wasn’t even developed by the same group as the others. Today, I’ll be looking at several figures based on that game.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Batman, Joker, Deathstroke, and Black Mask were all released as a big boxed set as part of DC Collectible’s Batman: Arkham Origins line. They were all also available individually, with Batman, Joker and Black Mask being in Series 1 and Deathstroke being in Series 2. The figures are pretty much identical in both releases.

BATMAN

ArkhamOrigin3Batman manages to get a slight tweak to his design for each Arkham game. Oddly, the Arkham Origins design was even more advanced than the Asylum and City designs, despite this design supposedly predating those looks. Maybe looks are deceiving? The figure is about 7 inches tall and he has 31 points of articulation, which is quite impressive for a DC Direct/Collectibles figure. The sculpt on this figure is pretty solid. It does a pretty great job of capturing Batman’s Origins look. One of my issues with a lot of the Arkham-based Batman figures is that they all seem to be stuck with pinheads, which this figure manages to mostly avoid. I mean, his head is still smaller than his biceps, but it’s fairly true to the game and, it’s also not as drastic as some of the others.  The rest of the sculpt is quite beefy (seriously, this is a beefy, beefy Batman. He has all the beef), but he has very sharp detail work, and just all-around pretty cool looking. I especially appreciate the choice of a straight hanging cape, since Batmen have a tendency to go for absurdly flowy capes. The paintwork on this figure is rather subdued, and very well carried out. Everything is nice and clean, and he’s got some really great accent work, especially on the stubble and the shadows on the grey parts. Batman included a weird gun thing that I feel certain someone more familiar with the game than me could ID. His elbows hinder him from really holding the thingy in any truly believable way, but hey, he’s a cool Batman. Who cares if he can hold some weird gizmo the right way?

JOKER

ArkhamOrigin2Joker serves as a primary antagonist in (most of) the Arkham games. Seeing as he’s Batman’s greatest foe, I guess that’s not too strange a concept. While other Arkham Jokers stuck more closely to the classic Joker design, this one goes for a more subdued “real world” look. Well, for the clothes, anyway. The face is pretty standard, and clearly made to look like a slightly younger version of the guy from the prior games. The figure is about the same height as Batman and has 16 points of articulation. He’s got about half the articulation of Batman, but he’s got even more restricted movement than you’d expect. He’s not going to be doing much more than just stand there. That wouldn’t be terrible, but he’s also got some weird issues, like his arms sticking out at weird angles. Also, while the sculpt looks okay on its own, it doesn’t do a particularly good job of capturing the in-game design. Like, his whole face is just kind of the wrong shape. And his body just feels kind of soft and lumpy, especially when compared to the much sharper Batman sculpt. The paint doesn’t really help matters. The basic work isn’t terribly, but there’s a lot of bleed over. Also, they tried to vary the look of his skin with some grey accents, but it ends up just making him look splotchy and unwell. Joker includes no accessories, making him the only figure in the set not to have any extras.

DEATHSTROKE

ArkhamOrigin4Do you guys remember when Deathstroke wasn’t over-exposed and annoyingly shoved into tons of stories where he didn’t belong? Because I do. I actually kind of used to like him, even. Somewhere along the way to being overexposed, he also seems to have become inexplicably linked to Batman, which is a little odd, but I guess it isn’t a horrible fit. Deathstroke made his debut Arkham-verse appearance in Arkham Origins, sporting a look that was a pretty decent tactically-based update of his original comics appearance. This figure stands the same height as the other two figures and has 27 points of articulation. His overall movement is comparable to that of Batman, though he does get a different articulation scheme on the hips, which seem a little flimsy by comparison. I think Deathstroke’s sculpt is probably my favorite in the set. Not only is he a great recreation of the in-game look, but the sculpt is also loaded with lots of really cool texture work, which makes him truly look like a battle-worn gun-for-hire. My only real complaint is that the articulation could have probably been worked into the sculpt in a smoother way. The paint on this figure is also pretty solidly handled. He’s by far the most colorful and exciting figure in the lot, and the metallic used for his armored pieces is really sleek. Deathstroke has the most accessories of all the figures in the set, with a katana, a pistol, and a staff.

BLACK MASK

ArkhamOrigin5Oh great. Black Mask. He’s my faaaaaaaaaavrite. Okay, actually I don’t always hate Black Mask, as long as he gets a good story. He just doesn’t tend to get good stories, like, ever. Ah well. So, here’s Black Mask! The figure is 7 inches tall and he has an oh-so-exciting 7 points of articulation. He can like, turn his head and move his elbows less than 45 degrees, and move his legs at the hips, but not at the knees! Awesome, right? Okay, maybe not. This figure’s even worse than Joker on this front, which is just really weak. But his sculpt can still save him, right? Yeah, not so much. The head sculpt is admittedly not bad. I like that he looks like he’s actually wearing a mask, and I like the details of said mask. The rest of the figure is really just lame. The sculpt is incredibly soft and his pinstripes on is suit are so deep that he ends up looking like he’s wearing corduroy or something. Plus, his arms are stuck at a slight enough angle to make the fact that they don’t go back any further incredibly annoying. Black Mask’s paint is mostly off-black and off-white, which could be kind of striking if done right, but…it’s not quite there. I mean, it’s not bad, but it’s also not super interesting. It’s just there. Black Mask includes a pair of pistols, which are oddly chunky. Maybe they’ve been juicing.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve never played any of the Arkham games. I’ve gotten a couple of the figures before, but mostly because I liked the characters the figures represented, which isn’t really the true here. That being case, why would I buy this set? Because its box was damaged and Cosmic Comix was selling it for $20. Deathstroke is definitely the best that the set has to offer, and Batman’s no slouch either. Of course, on the flipside, both Joker and Black Mask are very, very weak figures, with little in the way of redeeming qualities. So, half the set’s great, and half the set’s pretty bad. At full price (which is $60-$70), this set is a pretty terrible value. At $20? Sure, Joker and Black Mask may be a waste of plastic, but Batman and Deathstroke are easily worth $10 each.

#0796: The Joker

THE JOKER

THE DARK KNIGHT (NECA)

LedgerJoker1

Yesterday, we looked at a figure from 1979’s Superman: The Movie. Today, we jump to pretty much the exact opposite side of the “super hero” movie spectrum, with 2008’s The Dark Knight. It’s lauded by many fans as one of the greatest comic book films of all time. You guys ready for some blasphemy? I think The Dark Knight is just an alright movie. Like, it’s not bad, or anything, and there are some moments of it that I really quite like, but as a whole, I just found it to be rather middling. Guess gritty realism just isn’t high on my list of things I want from my super hero movies. However, the movie did give us Heath Ledger’s extraordinarily memorable turn in the role of the Joker. Ledger’s Joker has received his fair share of toys, including NECA’s pretty sweet 18 inch figure. He’s gotten one more figure from NECA, in their more usual 7-inch scale, which I’ll be looking at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

LedgerJoker2Joker is the last of the three figures offered in this year’s DVD-based partnership between NECA and Warner Brothers. He was available in Warner Brothers’ eBay store in a DVD bundle, as well as at select Toys R Us stores. The figure stands just over 7 inches tall and has 24 points of articulation. Like the other two figures in this set, Joker is a scaled down version of NECA’s 18-inch figure. The sculpt is really a great translation of Ledger’s appearance in the movie. His clothing is constructed through a number of add-on pieces atop an underlying body, which results in a really authentic layered look. Each level has a bunch of texturing and fine detailing work, which really sells the realism of the clothing. The chain of his pocket watch is an actual metal chain, which can be a slight pain while posing, but is a really nice touch. The head is made up of two parts, with the main head being one piece and the hair being separate. The face has a passable likeness to Ledger; it’s not 100% him, but it’s clear who he’s supposed to be. The hair is a rubber-like material, and it does a decent job of capturing Ledger’s hair. It’s a little bunchy and thick in a few areas, but that’s forgivable in this scale, and the overall look is good. Batman had some spectacular paint work, and Superman had passable paintwork, so how does Joker measure up? Well, I think he falls somewhere between the two. The overall look is really great, and the general application is pretty clean. The detail work on his shirt and tie is really great, and the washes and such used to highlight the sculpt are mostly pretty good. There’s a small degree of slop around the collars of the jackets, and the coverage of the darker wash on the legs is a little spotty, but that’s about it. The Joker includes a knife, a handgun, and a machine gun, which is a pretty decent assortment of extras.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I missed my local TRU’s shipment of Jokers. Given my only moderate fandom of the movie, I wasn’t super bummed about this or anything, since I wasn’t 100% sold on getting the figure to begin with. Ledger’s Joker was a good performance, but appearance-wise, I don’t quite put him on the same level as Reeve and West in their roles. However, when I found Superman, there was also a fresh stock of Joker figures, and I liked the figure enough in person to pick him up. He’s definitely a solid figure, and I like how he turned out. Glad I found him!

LedgerJoker3

#0573: The Joker

THE JOKER

BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES (DC COLLECTIBLES)

JokerTAS1

It’s pretty much universally agreed that Batman: The Animated Series is not only possibly the greatest thing to come out of the 90s, it’s also one of the best versions of the Batman mythos in just about any medium. One of the series’ biggest strengths was its phenomenal voice cast. In particular, the series is responsible for introducing us to the definitive Joker actor, Mark Hamill. DC Collectibles just released a new figure of this particular Joker. Why don’t we take a look at it?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

JokerTAS2Joker is figure 05 in DC Collectibles’ Batman: The Animated Series/New Batman Adventures line. He’s part of the line’s second series of figures. He stands 6 ¼ inches tall and has 22 points of articulation. Right off the bat (heh!) the articulation has a few issues. He has a fair amount, and what’s there has a nice bit of movement. The issue is what isn’t there. His only ankle articulation is a set of cut joints, and he would really benefit from some movement in his thighs. So, the line is alternating between BTAS and TNBA for designs; the first series was heavier on the TNBA designs, but Series 2 is entirely made up of BTAS designs. This works out in Joker’s favor, as his BTAS design is by far the superior of the two. Joker definitely has one of those sculpts that needs to actually be viewed in three dimensions in order to be fully appreciated. The head in particular looked rather off when I examined the figure in the packaging. Once I took the figure out, however, the sculpt looks much better. It’s not quite spot on (I think the eyes and brow that are throwing it off a bit) but it’s still a pretty strong sculpt. It’s certainly closer than the old Kenner figure. The rest of the body sculpt is pretty much an exact match for the show’s design. One cool touch that’s minor and easy to miss is the bottom of the shirt. Instead of the usual scalloped end, it’s just as straight line. This might seem like a mistake at first glance, seeing as all the promo illustrations have the more involved design. However, if you actually look at his design within the show, he’s always depicted with just the straight line. So kudos to DCC there! The paintwork on Joker is okay, but it does have a few issues. The colors are all very nicely chosen and most of the paint stays where it’s supposed to. There are two main issues. The first is that the left arm has a JokerTAS5scratch of paint missing. It’s not horribly noticeable, and it’s definitely an isolated issue, but it’s definitely annoying. The other issue is that, for some reason, they’ve painted the inside of the wrist joints. Obviously, the joints come in contact with the paint, which means Joker had a stream of fairly steady purple confetti falling from his sleeves for the first few days he was out of the package. Joker is armed with, well, let’s just call it an “interesting” assortment of accessories. The figure is technically based on the episode “The Last Laugh” for reasons that pretty much no one can figure out. So, the figure includes an ice pick, pearl necklace, comb, spyglass, and helmet that are all specific to the episode, and ultimately a bit pointless in the long run. They’re all decent enough, apart from the helmet, which has a very poorly placed assembly seam. The figure also includes a display stand and an assortment of hands. The hands are all pretty nice, but two of them are clearly sculpted to hold a playing card that was ultimately cut from the figure, and none of them are sculpted to hold the included spyglass, which makes them a bit odd.

JokerTAS3 JokerTAS4

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Joker was acquired via Amazon. Not really much of a story there. I paid for it and it arrived. Fun times. I was looking forward to this figure initially, but early packaged shots made me uncertain. I’m happy to say the figure is much better in hand than I expected. Still not perfect, but still good.

JokerTAS6

#0249: The Joker

JOKER

BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES (KENNER)

Joker

One of the greatest things to come out of the 90s (aside from yours truly) is Batman: The Animated Series. The series is, in my opinion, the definitive take on Batman and his supporting cast. Since the series aired in the early 90s, it played a decent role in shaping my interests in all this comic stuff. So, it should come as no surprise that I ended up with a decent sized collection of the tie-in figures prodiuced by Kenner around the time of the show. Today, I’ll be looking at Batman’s #1 foe (other than guns and living parents) the Joker. And this isn’t just any Joker, no no. This is Mark Hammil’s Joker, the very best kind of Joker!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Joker was part of the first series of Batman: The Animated Series figures. He stands about 5 inches tall and features 5 points of articulation. He’s based on Joker’s basic appearance in the show, specifically his “old school” look, which is the design from the initial run of the show. The figure featured an all new Joker2sculpt, although parts of it would see re-use on later Joker figures. It’s an alright approximation of his look on the show, though it’s not quite spot on. He seems to be a bit too squat for the character, but otherwise, he looks decent. The paintwork is fairly basic, in fact he’s mostly molded in the appropriate colors, but what’s there is well applied, with little instance of slop or bleed over. The palate seems a bit off, though. The purple seems a little too pale, the yellow seems too dark, and, the biggest issue, his skin tone has an odd green tint to it. Joker was accessorized with an odd water shooting backpack with a gas mask attached. You know, like the one he had all those times on the show….

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Joker was a later addition to my collection. When I was growing up, the version in the trench coat from Mask of the Phantasm was my basic Joker, as this one had long been gone from stores. A few years ago, I tracked one down at a small toy store near me. He’s a decent figure, and he compliments the rest of the Kenner line fairly nicely.