Attack Armour and Batsignal Review
First up on my list of to-do's is a review of the 2 new deluxe Batman figures released by Mattel. They're part of an assortment featuring 3 all new Deluxe figures, the last of which is not featured here, being just another forgettable chromeheaded variant no one's really interested in.
There's a lot of buzz (and discontent) regarding what's called the "comic" Batman line from Mattel right now because the recent few waves have been released only outside of the USA. Reasons given were that American retailers are gearing up for Batman properties which have media support instead, like the Batman Begins movie line. Ironically, these particular "comic" Batman waves feature some figures that have made collectors all a-tizzy. For one thing, the villains Bane and Scarecrow have been released in the regular assortment (I'll review them in the next half of this article). The other thing that has attracted collector attention is the beefing up of 2 deluxe Batman figures with Marvel Legends style articulation.
Currently the only way to get hold of these, if you live in the USA, is to buddy up with someone who isn't there, or go to Ebay. In the middle of the year, Diamond will offer these assortments to comic shops. However, as only full assortments are being offered, the packing ratios are going to mean that bat-variants are going to be quite a plague.
I'll be doing a review of the 4 new figures everyone has their eye on. Hopefully this will give you readers a better idea if it's worth the cash for them, if you do come across a deal.
First up is Attack Armour Batman. Not to be confused with the 4" Justice League Attack Armour Batman!
For the kids, Batsy features a gigantic springloaded shooting thingee they call a "shield", and a pretty sizable blade labelled "Mega Batarang" on the back of the card. The "shield" has two batwings at the sides that pop open at the flick of a button, and it fires a projectile at the touch of another. Pretty fun toy, all things considered. His "Mega Batarang" looks more like a Bat-scimitar, if you asked me, and it fits very tightly into his right hand, which was sculpted specifically to hold it.
Say it with me now "But where the heck is the "Attack Armour"???"
This Bats features long awaited "super articulation" as his main draw. But as many collectors know, all the articulation in the world is not going to help a toy if it isn't engineered to function well. How did AA Batman fare?
You get:- swivel neck, ball torso, swivel waist, ball shoulders, swivel biceps, forearm turn, two-way hips which swing forward as well as sideways, a mid-thigh cut, regular knees, and hinged feet, with very slight side-to-side movement. Not quite "Industry standard" but I'd say it's satisying. He is still miles away from being in any "best of" category, but there are many regular poses you can capture. Although he's hollow plastic, he's got a good sturdy feel to him, with no stuck or loose joints, a problem that has plagued other toylines that feature a high level of articulation. I think he feels extremely durable too, so much so that I'd say you could give him to a kid with no fear of any breakage happening.
His fabric cape will leave you in either the "love it" or "hate it" category. It's about an inch longer than he is, so it drapes nicely on the floor when he stands. Hoever, it doesn't feel wide enough to me. He isn't really able to cast it over his shoulders without some cheat-folding. My preferance would have been to have it end higher, but be wider. It's neatly tucked under his cowl, which is glued onto his torso, so an easy fix doesn't look likely.
I think my biggest gripe about this figure is that he's a bit of a peanut-head. His head is small compared to other figures in the "comic" Batman line, and so he may look a little awkward if you're mixing him in with any others. By himself, he grows on you. There's an art technique where you make a body look more massive by shrinking the head in proportion, and that's what's happening here. This kind of feels like an ExTreMe Batman. He's got a mean mean scowl sculpted on, and is has more muscle ripples than what I've seen of the line. In fact, add to that his proportionately large feet, and he has an almost manga-esque feel to him. It's a dynamic look that may not appeal to everyone.
The second figure to come into review is the companion piece to the above Attack Armour Batman. His name is Batsignal Batman, and all I can say is, IT'S ABOUT FLAMIN' TIME, BAYBEH!!
Simply put, Batsignal Bats is your regular ol' Zipline Batman, with more articulation. And... stuff.
At first glace, it looks like Mattel took AA Bats, gave him a different deco, and used the old Zipline head. I kinda wish they had. BS Bats (What's with all the weird acronyms? BS?? AA? Sheesh.) features an all new body type that's completely different from AA, from his belt to his boots.
His sculpt is smoother, and fits in better with the style the 4 Horsemen adopted for this toyline. Of course, using the same familiar headsculpt helps too. He's similarly built at the torso to AA, but his arms differ. In addition to everything AA got, BS also has hinged wrists. Unfortunately, they come with HUGE metal chrome rivets. They're glaringly obvious and that may not please some people. Another trade off is that BS's legs are not as articulated. He doesn't have the side-to-side hinge articulation at the hips like AA (That will be sorely missed!), nor the mid-thigh cuts, nor the swivel calves, nor the side-to-side ankles. All you get are hips, knees and ankle swivels. Good for 1995, not good for 2005.
And to just add a side note, BS features these really funky knees. They have movement allowance in FRONT, meaning Batman can move his lower leg forward a little... oWcH~*
On another side note, it occurred to me that this Batman has hands sculpted to look like... he's playing Counterstrike. Left handed. His hand poses are perfect for placing one on a keyboard and the other on a mouse...
Now on to BS's main draw, for me, anyway. His accessories.
Batsy comes with a chrome snap on chest plate, and a "batarang launcher". The latter fires a projectile with a string attached. Using a big silver disc on the top of the weapon, users can wind the string back to fire once more.
Nary be the time when a Bat-accessory actually catches the eye of a collector! Sure, there have been the odd batarang, or bat-glider in the various toylines throughout bat-history, but most of the time we get silly bat-peashooters and such. Which, as the geek may argue, is totally inconsistent with Batman's character as an advocate of the anti-gun. The ONE accessory that has made sense to me, that has forever been passed up by toymakers until now, is the ONE prop that is, to me, synonymous with Batman himself: the Batsignal!!
This long awaited item finally makes it out, and it's lovely to behold. It's sculpted with a slightly hi-tech look, but the design is still very gothic, and reflects the elements that make up Batman's world very well. The face swivels freely, and a button on the back activate the light. Now, I think the expectation is for the entire face to light up. Indeed, the back of the card shows the toy doing just that. When you do press the button, you're in for a slight disappointment. Only a small area in the centre lights up. But look the other way and be pleasantly surprised: The batsignal flares upon your wall! I suspect that the small lit-up area has to do with focal points, because the batsignal is cast very sharply, from a very small toy. But then again I haven't looked at a physics textbook in years. Purists, do take note: the batsignal is reversed. One normally sees the signal being cast in comics as a spotlight with a bat silouette inside the lighted circle. Here, it's a reverse silouette, meaning the bat graphic is what's lighted up. I have no idea why they went for that. Whatever the case, I think it's still a job well done by the folks at Mattel. I love this item. And for those who think the Batsignal is woefully out of scale, well, there are alternatives...
Overall, I'll give preference to Batsignal Batman over Attack Armour Batman. He doesn't have as much articulation, and he's got a bit of a indifferent expression, but the better accessory makes up for it. That, and he doesn't have a pinhead. I also think BS fits in nicely with the other similarly scaled figures, while AA looks a bit too much like he's got his own thing going. However, if you fancy articulation, then BS will disappoint you.
PS, I know lots of you out there love to use the Art Asylum Enterprise playsets as Batcomputers. I've done so myself in this review. Here's a comparison pic for you guys, in case you're wondering how various Batmen look in that seat.
I'll be back soon with part II of this review, featuring Bane and Scarecrow! See you then!
Got a question or feedback? Think I suck at this? Do let me know... -Dare