#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.

#2524: Phantasm

PHANTASM

BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM (KENNER)

As I’ve brought up on this site, my favorite Batman film of all time is easily Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, the Animated Series’ cult classic theatrical feature. It’s an impressively crafted story, and actually does a phenomenal job of actually salvaging some of the elements of the rather messy Batman: Year Two story.  The story’s original antagonist, Reaper, was reimagined as the titular Phantasm, a chilling and truly intimidating villain.  Unsurprisingly, the Phantasm got some toy coverage in the tie-in line, and I’m looking at that figure today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Phantasm was released as part of the Mask of the Phantasm tie-in line in 1994, and was really the main focus figure in the line-up.  I know, what a shock.  What was also *supposed* to be a surprise was the Phantasm’s identity, which was to be hidden under the figure’s mask in the package.  However, for some reason, someone at Kenner thought it would be a much better idea to instead package the mask off of the figure, thereby revealing the Phantasm’s secret identity before the film even hit theaters.  Yay.  The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and she has 4 points of articulation.  The Phantasm’s sculpt was all-new, and, well, it’s technically a little bit compromised.  It’s not entirely Kenner’s fault, to be fair.  In the film, the reveal that the Phantasm is really Andrea Beaumont is hidden by the fact that the two character’s designs sport almost entirely different builds.  It’s a total cheat in the movie, and not something that’s quite so easily rendered in three dimensions.  For the purposes of this figure, Kenner opted to sculpt Andrea as she’s seen post-reveal, and then provide add-on parts to approximate the Phantasm design.  Ultimately, it’s a compromise, but it’s probably the optimal compromise.  The underlying figure is a pretty solid recreation of Andrea’s design.  The head in particular is a good match to the model.  Technically, for true film accuracy, she shouldn’t have the glove on her right hand, but I’m ultimately not too bugged by the added symmetry.  Phantasm’s paint work is pretty basic, but a decent match for her colors in the movie.  There’s no odd color changes this time around, so she’s nice and screen-accurate.  Phantasm is packed with her mask/hood and cape, which slips nicely over the head, and her scythe attachment for her hand.  They make for a passable, if perhaps not quite as intimidating, recreation of the primary Phantasm design.  The figure also originally included a gun because, you know, gun, right?  Mine doesn’t have that piece, which, you know, is just such a bummer, right?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t get the Phantasm when she was brand new, mostly due to being just shy of being only enough to actually see the movie.  Also, when I finally did see it, she kind of scared the crap out of me, so I held off for a bit longer.  Ultimately, I ended up getting her as a Christmas present from my parents a few years later, and she’s stuck with my collection  since.  While the figure obviously isn’t a pitch perfect recreation of the film design, I’ve still always found it to be a really fun offering, and certainly one of my favorite Animated pieces.

#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.

#0863: Batman & Phantasm

BATMAN & PHANTASM

BATMAN: ANIMATED (DCC)

Batman&Phantasm1

Batman definitely holds the record for number of theatrical films based on a single superhero. It’s not a huge surprise, given the character’s mass appeal. There have been a whole lot of tries at doing the character justice on the big screen, and exactly which one is the “best” is very much up for debate. I must admit, I cheat a bit when asked what my favorite theatrical Batman movie is, my answer is always Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. A lot of people forget about this one (due to lots of people writing it off based solely on its animated nature), but for me it’s the best Batman movie by far. Seriously, if you haven’t seen it, you really should. Like right now. Go watch it. No seriously, Imma spoil stuff and I don’t wanna ruin it for you. I’ll wait. Anyway, as an extension of Batman: The Animated Series, the film’s been privy to a few figures here and there, including getting a two-pack courtesy of DC Collectibles’ current line.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Batman and the Phantasm were released as part of the Batman: Animated line in mid-December of last year. Both figures are exclusive to this particular set.

BATMAN

Batman&Phantasm2Faithful readers will no doubt find this figure somewhat familiar. Yep, I’ve taken a look at most of this figure before, back when I looked at the single-packed Batman from Series 4 of the main line. Since Batman’s design from the movie is identical to that of the show, it’s a sensible re-use, though it’s a bit frustrating to people who picked up the earlier figure and still want the Phantasm (like me). From the neck down, this figure is 100% the same as that figure. The proportions are still more or less spot-on, but he’s greatly hindered by the lack of swivel joints at the tops of his boots. The main difference between the two figures is the head. This version is a bit more expressive, with gritted teeth and eyes opened wider. It’s also a much better attempt at the design. The head’s a little wider, the eyes are bigger, and the jaw’s squarer, which all results in a generally better looking end-product. The paint is more or less the same. I did find the general application to be a bit cleaner this time around, but your mileage may vary. Another change between the two figures is the accessory complement. This figure only gets the batarang, a pair of hands for holding the batarang, a pair of fists, and a display stand. The stand is mostly the same as the prior one, but trades the B:TAS logo for a Mask of the Phantasm one.

PHANTASM

Batman&Phantasm3Now we get to the real draw of the set. The Phantasm was actually not a wholly original creation of the film, but was instead a retooled version of the villain Reaper from the “Batman: Year Two” storyline from the comics. The less said about the original story the better. The figure stands just over 6 ½ inches tall and has 23 points of articulation. This marks only the second time the Phantasm has appeared in plastic form. The first time, the figure was given a removable hood and scythe, allowing for (20 YEAR OLD SPOILER!!!!!!) her to double as an Andrea Beaumont figure. Since the two designs in the film are purposefully dissimilar, this meant compromising the appearance of the Phantasm in order to have a decent Andrea. This figure foregoes any sort of Andrea connection, and instead opts to present the Phantasm in as screen accurate a manner as possible. Well, in theory, anyway. The end result is pretty good but a bit shy of perfect. Let’s talk about what works first. The underlying head is great, are both hands/gloves. The body is generally decent. It’s not a perfect match, but Phantasm’s proportions changed a bit in the movie, so it’s forgivable. Even the base of the cape isn’t too bad. What hold’s this figure back is the hood. In the film, it has a very distinct, very sharp look about it. Here, it’s a soft rubber piece, attached to the rest of the cape. It ends up being kind of shapeless and too soft. I think it would have looked much better had it been separate from the cape and attached to the head, ala the smaller scale Kylo Rens that Hasbro’s released. As it stands, this doesn’t look atrocious (especially if viewed from a slight angle) but it could have been a lot better. Also, the quality of the rubber used for the cape/hood is a bit questionable, and it feels like it’s already starting to deteriorate, which isn’t super comforting. The paint on the Phantasm is pretty simple, but not bad. The various details are all pretty clean, and she’s appropriately mono-chromatic, so that’s good. The figure includes two hands, one in a fist and one in an open gesture, as well as a display stand. That seems a little light, and I certainly wouldn’t have minded some sort of piece to show off her ghostly gas cloud thingy.

Batman&Phantasm4

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked this set up from my local comic book store, Cosmic Comix, in early January. I had actually seen it at another store in December, but passed on it for a number of reasons. While I don’t feel the set is as strong as it could have been, I’m glad I have it. Batman’s a definite improvement over the single-release, and the Phantasm is a sound addition to the line. Now, how about a follow up set with an unmasked Phantasm and a battle-damaged Joker?