Okay, time for a new column.
It has taken me a long time to figure out exactly what I wanted to do here on Earth Station One. I have my own blog called Needless Things where I review toys, movies, music, and pretty much anything that falls under the category of dorkery. I also just sort of spout off about random things from time to time and talk about concerts, conventions, and other things me and my family do.
In short, it’s an uncategorizable mess. The people who love the toy reviews hate my posts about shows. The people who love to read about my drunken shenanigans at conventions can’t stand He-Man reviews. Most people can’t stand any of it. And also, I have a tendency to write whatever comes out of my head, so there’s a bit of profanity from time to time.
And while I mostly post five days a week, there is never any rhyme or reason to what I post. I write what I feel like writing about when I feel like it. It would be ridiculously hard for me to provide anybody any sort of fresh, regular, consistent content.
Unless, of course, I pilfered my own articles.
Yes, here on Earth Station One I will be presenting “Special Editions” of my existing toy reviews. Using cutting-edge technology that was not available to me when I first wrote these reviews, I will update them to modern standards. Using a process I call Lucasization I will be cleaning up the prints, adding in digital elements, and completely redefining existing characters so that cringing, liberal mommies will feel more comfortable buying their kids toys in their likeness.
I think for the time being I am going to be posting on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; with a specific line featured each week.
Phantom Troublemaker’s Toy Reviews: The Special Editions!
Oh – except never mind any of that because my first three posts are all-new and will hit here before they go up on Needless Things. Except for today’s, which accidentally went up a day early but has already been taken down.
I am a big fan of Mattel’s Movie Masters line.
Yes, I sold all of my Green Lantern Movie Masters on eBay. But that movie was a steaming pile of Bantha poodoo and the toys just sort of sat there on the shelf reminding me of that fact. They were perfectly good toys, they just represented something that was an embarrassment to all of nerd-dom. Also, it would have taken way too much effort on my part to complete the line and I couldn’t just have an unfinished set. And, if I had finished the set I would have had to build that Parallax build-a-figure that looked less like a universe-threatening nemesis and more like an omelet from the International House of Doomcakes and I didn’t want that piece of garbage anywhere near my nice toy collection.
But the Batman Movie Masters are another story. Those movies are really good and the figures themselves are much nicer than the Green Lantern ones. Also, they are characters that actually did stuff in the movie as opposed to aliens that had approximately 4.8 seconds of screen time before they got vaporized by a giant, yellow infant head.
I’ve got a decent collection of the Batman Movie Masters – Batman, Gordon, Bruce Wayne in the Stealth Suit (or whatever), Joker, Scarecrow, and the Batpod (I still think that’s a stupid name). I was pretty excited to be adding the new figures, not to mention what is probably the coolest build-a-thing that Mattel has produced – a functioning Bat Signal.
Once again Mattel is releasing these things in waves that will make some of the figures very difficult if not impossible to find. This is because Mattel are stupid jerkfaces. Seriously – I can’t think of a better answer. The first case assortment is:
Batman x 3
Bane x 2
Alfred x 1
Meaning you had better happen to hit a store the second they open the case or the only thing you are ever going to see is a shelf with eighteen Batman figures on it. The really awesome part is the way the Bat Signal pieces are packed. There is a base, a signal base, a support, and the signal itself which is comprised of three other pieces. So far I’ve found three different stores with these figures in stock and I’ve seen three Banes (one of which I bought), zero Alfreds, and sixteen Batmans (one of which I bought).
First Glance: This figure looks shinier and more detailed than the one from The Dark Knight. It’s a nice-looking figure – very accurate to the movies. I’m interested to see the differences in the Batsuit.
Sculpt: There are no differences in the Batsuit. This is the exact same figure that was released in The Dark Knight Movie Masters line, just with a slightly different paint deco. I’m not proclaiming this to be a bad thing. If he’s wearing the same suit in The Dark Knight Rises this is perfectly legit.
Batman sports basically the same articulation as any DCUC figure. He has ball joints at the neck and shoulders. There are swivels at the biceps, wrists, waist, and thighs. The elbows, abdomen, knees, and ankles pivot. The hips are that odd ball joint analog that Mattel and Character Options both use. The joints on my figure are mostly tight except for the forward/backward motion on the hips. Those are pretty loose.
The actual sculpt of the figure is fantastic. The cowl looks great, and despite the coverage of the face and the scale, what is exposed looks like Christian Bale.
Side Note: The scale of the Bale makes his face seem fairly pale. Say this many times over and it will improve your enunciation enough that you will be accepted into Gotham High Society.
The Batsuit is massively detailed and looks pretty much exactly like what you see in the movies. The lines and armor are slick and accurate and the points of articulation are worked into the design. There are so many different textures in this figure it’s pretty amazing. From the hard sectional armor to the mesh underneath – it’s all there. I spent several minutes just examining the gauntlets and all the detail on the hands, forearms, and fins.
The utility belt is a separate piece of softer rubber that is permanently attached to the waist. It has all of the little storage pieces sculpted in and the buckle even has lines to denote the clasp. I like very much that the belt is separate. It gives the figure just a little bit more depth and a sense of realism.
I hate the cape. I understand Mattel’s avoidance of soft goods. I’m not even really a fan of soft goods at this or smaller scales. But I have seen fabrics done right at the six-inch scale and I think this figure would have benefitted greatly from a cape that didn’t look like a piece of black Hot Wheels track. It doesn’t look horrible, but it just hangs there looking all slab-like and it prevents the figure from looking good doing anything other than just standing there. The cape doesn’t interfere with articulation a whole lot, but it isn’t at all flexible. So nothing the figure does other than stand looks acceptable. Even when you lay Batman down on the Batpod it looks stupid.
Design: The sculpt on this figure may be exactly the same as the previous version, but the paint is a bit different and much better for it.
The head is the same. The cowl is flat black and the face paint stays within its borders. The eyes are white with pupils, though my pupils are a bit off. Nothing too terrible.
The Batsuit and belt are where the changes come in. The suit now has a few different glosses of black paint and it makes a pretty big difference. The plating is a high gloss black, the mesh is flat, and the boots are sort of in-between. It looks very good and makes this figure superior to the older one. Both versions had some slate grey thrown in and it’s amazing how much character that gives the figure.
The belt is also slightly different. It is more of a bronze color and the silver highlights are brighter and more defined.
The paint on mine is tight and accurate, though honestly there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for flaws.
This, however, is a huge problem for me:
Seriously? You morons couldn’t have put that under his foot or high up on his back or the inside of his cape? That bright, white numbering had to go on the back of Batman’s Bat-Boot? And why white? Couldn’t you have at least made it a slate grey like portions of his armor?
Accessories: Batman comes with the main base of the Bat Signal. It looks fine and actually has a bit of deco on it.
I’m not gonna lie, though. I think it’s pretty lame that this guy doesn’t come with a Batarang or grapple gun or anything. I don’t think it would be out of line to expect an alternate Christian Bale head, even. Mattel keeps spinning this yarn about the production costs of toys. I don’t doubt they have gone up, but I also don’t doubt that Mattel is lining their coffers just a bit more than other toy companies are.
Packaging: The packaging is very nice. The blister is in the shape of Batman’s forearm and is eye-catching and cool. The art looks good and is more mature than the other Batman product out there. This package would almost be too subdued if it weren’t for the shape of the blister. The back features the other figures from the first wave as well as a picture of the fully assembled Bat Signal.
There is also a sticker on the blister with a code to get Movie Cash for your ticket to see The Dark Knight Rises. I thought this was pretty awesome, so I pulled out the laptop and logged onto the site as soon as I could. Unfortunately the promotion doesn’t go into effect until 7/1/2012, so I’ve got to hang onto these stupid blisters until then. I know what you’re thinking – why don’t I just write the codes down? Because I’d lose them. I know I would. I guess I could make a note in my phone’s calendar, but that seems like so much work.
Overall: Aside from the cape this really is a fantastic figure and a pretty decent improvement over the The Dark Knight version. Granted, I wouldn’t have bought it if I had known it was the same sculpt and hadn’t wanted the Bat Signal, but it really is a great figure. If you collect Batmans you should certainly own one.
4 out of 5
No, really. I like it that much. But don’t buy one now. I have no doubt you’ll be able to find them on clearance by the dozens at Christmas.