ACTION FIGURES: Figure Focus: Batman: The Animated Series – Series 1 and 2
This is the first of, hopefully a series of articles focusing not on a specific figure, but on an entire line. I am currently calling it “Figure Focus”, but that name might change. We are starting with a line that I, and many others, have waited a long time for: The first ever 6″ line based on the extremely popular 90’s cartoon Batman: The Animated Series/The New Batman Adventures. This groundbreaking series combined Art Deco animation and stunning character design with engaging, well-written plots to redefine Batman for a generation. It introduced new and iconic looks, voices and personalities for some of the most recognizable characters in the Batman Universe, and is single-handendly responsible for the introduction of one of the most memorable addition to Batman continuity: Harley Quinn. The figures for this line come courtesy of DC Collectibles, and are broken into waves, with the figures split between the two shows. This split will be recognized after the figure name using the abbreviations BTAS for Batman: The Animated Series or TNBA for The New Batman Adventures. This feature will focus on the first two series. My enthusiasm for this series began with their announcement last year, and only grew when I saw them in person for the first time. I am a huge unabashed champion of this line, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for it. That having been said, onto our feature presentation.
BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES/THE NEW BATMAN ADVENTURES – DC COLLECTIBLES
First a few general notes: All of the figures feature a fair degree of articulation, with some having more than others. All of the figures I used in this review had very clean paint lines, with little or no smudging. Each figure comes with a stand. But, where the figures really shine is their accessories. Each figure comes with numerous extra hands and various appropriate accessories. Each figure is tied to a specific episode by accessories specific to that episode. Let’s begin with Series 1.
Batman: The Animated Series/ The New Batman Adventures – Series 1 – DC Collectibles
Series one in this line consists of 4 figures: Batman, Two-Face, Catwoman and Mr. Freeze. Each series consists of a mix of figures from both Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures. In Series 1, there are 3 New Batman Adventures figures and 1 Animated Series figure. Here’s a figure-by-figure breakdown of Series 1.
– Figure 1 – BATMAN (TNBA) –
It starts, as it should, with Batman himself. This is the first of two announced Batman figures. The second is coming later this year. This is Batman, as he appears in The New Batman Adventures. This series was a re-imagining of Batman: The Animated Series broadcast several years after the end of the original series. The character design were changed dramatically. Batman, and several of the villains were given large upper bodies and thin lower bodies with smaller feet. Though it is less evident in Batman, it is very evident in the villains, who have been drastically slimmed down, especially the villains. For the moment, however, let’s focus on Batman. Batman comes with a grey and black color scheme, with the only color accent being the dull gold for his utility belt. His face carries the grim thin-lipped expression ,square jaw and the iconic “white triangle” eyes that we have come to expect from the series. Another place that these figures excel is in articulation. Boy, can they move! Batman has articulation at the neck, shoulders, forearms, elbows, wrists, waist, hips, knees and ankles. Two items of note, in a feature that I cannot remember seeing on a DC Collectibles figure before, the legs on this figure extend out horizontally, making it possible for Batman to do a split. Also, the “clean lines” aesthetic is broken up slightly by small round indentations at the hips and knees representing the slots that the pins that make the joints function were put in. Also of note, Batman’s cape is made of a flexible vinyl that moves with Batman’s shoulders. This is a very cool feature that makes the cape seem much more realistic and faithful to the series. Batman comes with a ton of accessories. His “default” hands are both closed fists, but he comes with 7 extra hands: two open fists, two throwing hands meant to hold a batarang, two opened hands and a right hand with Batman’s grapple gun molded into it. The fists can be exchanged fairly simply by pulling the hand off at the wrist. Batman also comes with his grapple gun as a stand alone piece, a batarang, a three piece display stand, and an extra cape. The two capes, one with the cape over the shoulder and one slightly longer, without the shoulder corners. The capes can be exchanged fairly easily as well, simply pull off Batman’s head, replace the cape and put Batman’s head back on. This figure immediately took me back to my days of waiting in anticipation for the next episode. It really looks as if Batman has walked right off the screen. The clear display stands come in 3 pieces: a long anchor pole, a waist clip and a flat white base, with a ” turnaround” graphic, featuring a reproduction of the design art for that character. NOTE: There are no pegs in the bases, nor are there peg holes in the figure’s feet. They stand based on weight distribution and balance.
[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”57″ gal_title=”Batman Animated – Series 1 – Batman (TNBA)”]
Again, I will confess that I would have been a little disappointed if the second figure in the assortment hadn’t been Two-Face. The man who was Harvey Dent is a perfect representation of the villain redesign indicative of The New Batman Adventures. He has a wide upper body, with broad shoulders and a barrel chest, which tapers as you reach the waist to slimmer legs and tiny feet. He is attired in a classic “half and half” black and white suit. This outfit is one of those chances for the painting department to show off their skills, as this is not an easy painting assignment.The color of the jacket, shirt and tie alternate (e.g., black jacket, white shirt, black tie) but on each side of the figure. This means that to maintain the illusion of two separate halves, there must be no noticeable paint bleed over the dividing line. And, I’m happy to say, at least on the figure I received, they absolutely nailed it! It is a beautiful, extremely clean and very impressive paint job. Continuing the theme of duality, we come to the head. Again, this is a “make or break, part of this figure. The right side of his face is what’s left of handsome Harvey Dent’s chiseled visage. It features black, slicked-back hair and a stern, thin lipped expression. The left side of his face is the ghoulish, deformed side. It is tinged a bluish-green and comes with white hair that spikes at the top, a bulging yellow eye and a mouth fixed in a permanent snarl. Again, this is another place where paint bleed would wreck the illusion and spell disaster. And again, they paint team totally nails it. As I mentioned before, his body in not evenly proportioned, so his small feet and large upper body do mean you and to find the right balance of knee bending to keep him up straight. You also need to be careful with his tiny ankle joints, but I managed without too much difficulty. Two-Face also has all of the same articulation as Batman (see abive) The dual nature of Two-Face extends to his accessories. His “default hands” are a open fleshed colored right hand holding his famous coin and a blue-green colored left closed fist, complete with warts on the back. There are two extra sets of hands, one flesh colored set, consisting of a gun holding hand and a closed fist, and one blue-green set, consisting of a gun holding hand and an open hand. This seems the perfect time to talk about another think DC Collectibles does that I love: the “gun-holding” hand. When DC Collectibles makes a figure that requires a firearm, be it hero or villain, they make the hand for that figure with the trigger finger extended and crooked, so that you are literally able to put the figure’s finger on the trigger. It is a little touch that goes a long way towards establishing authenticity. Anyway, back to the accessories. Besides the extra hands, Two-Face also comes with a Tommy Gun, a pistol, a gas mask, two canisters (one red, one blue) and a doctor’s bag to carry them in. Like Batman, he comes with a three part base. however, he has two clear poles, a clip and a white bottom plate with “turnaround” art. He is a fantastic figure and a true example of the paint team rising to the challenge.
[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”58″ gal_title=”Batman Animated – Series 1 – Two-Face (TNBA)”]
– Figure 3 – MR. FREEZE (TNBA) –
This is a figure with a secret. More on that later. This is one of the figures where the change in design is glaringly obvious. Mr. Freeze, as he appears in The New Batman Adventures is much more streamlined than his earlier version, especially in the face. He is also missing the red goggles that broke up the drab blue and black color scheme that he wore. The design of the outfit is fairly unchanged, consisting of a suit that slightly evokes Robby the Robot from Lost in Space in it’s arms and waist. It is essentially a black jumpsuit, with sky blue accent pieces on the neck, upper arms, gloves, waist and boots. Of course, over the head is Mr.Freeze’s ever present clear dome, which is made of one seamless piece of plastic. The head itself is bald, white, long and thin, with somewhat triangular black eyes with red pupils. It looks almost alien. The paint for this figure was also done cleanly, though unfortunately this is not as incredible a feat as it was for Two-Face. Mr. Freeze also has the same articulation as Batman and Two-Face, but because of the ample surface his boots provide, he is remarkably easy to pose. His “default” hands are, again, closed fists, but he comes with two addition pairs of hands, two open hands and two “gun holding” hands. Aside for those and the base he comes with, which is the same as the other figures reviewed so far, he only has two other accessories. One is his freeze gun. The other is a set of four spindly legs. So, that’s it. A fairly plain body, some extra hands, a basic paint job..Waitaminute. Did you say….legs? Yes, I did. Because this is TNBA Mr. Freeze, and he has a surprise.
See, this figure is based on the ONLY (Only? Yes, Only) appearance of Mr. Freeze in The New Batman Adventures, in an episode called Cold Comfort. In that episode, Mr. Freeze’s condition has caused his body to deteriorate and only the head has survived. He builds himself a new robot body. But he also attaches metallic spider legs to his head casing. This figure recreates that look. The head of the Mr. Freeze figure is removable. When you take off the head and look underneath, there are four small holes on the underside of the head. Each of the spindly legs has a peg on the end. These pegs fit the holes in the underside of the head. The pegs do fit snugly in the holes, but you do have to push a little to get the pegs in. I cannot stress enough how cool it is that this figure has this feature, it is really going the extra mile.
[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”59″ gal_title=”Batman Animated – Series 1 – Mr. Freeze (TNBA)”]
– Figure 4 – CATWOMAN (BTAS) –
The lone figure from the series that started it all , Batman: The Animated Series, is the feline femme fatale: Catwoman. She comes attired in her iconic grey and black costume, The only other color in her outfit is the gold belt she wears around her waist. Her face is exquisite, with her piercing green eyes and red, pursed lips. The paint job on the figure I received is not nearly as clean as the others, with the gold discs that make up her belt a particular source of difficulty, as i had numerous pain mistakes and a noticeable spot of gold paint on her backside. Her glove and boot lines are painted cleanly, however, as is her mask. And, I should note, that the paint mistakes on her belt are minor and do not really detract from the overall look of the figure. Catwoman has most of the same articulation as the other figures, with one exception. She does not have the waist joint. Her waist does not swivel. Also, Catwoman is another figure with tiny ankles due to her petite form, so be gentle when posing her. I did not have any problems with mine, but some have been reported. As I said before, each figure is based on the character’s appearance in a specific episode. Catwoman’s figure is based on her appearance in the episode The Cat and the Claw, and her accessories reflect that. She comes with, of course, her iconic whip, a diamond necklace, a pair of “camera binoculars”, two extra pairs of hands (Open palm and item holding), the same three part base as the other figures, featuring her “turnaround” art and, what may be the coolest accessory in series one, her cat, Isis. And, in an enormous surprise, Isis is articulated!. That’s right, Isis’s legs and head are both articulated. This allows Isis to actually sit on Catwoman’s shoulder or wrap himself around her neck. Kudos to DC Collectibles for including this “extra mile” accessory. Catwoman is another one of those figures where I am so happy to finally see this iconic design realized in 6″ form.
[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”60″ gal_title=”Batman Animated – Series 1 – Catwoman (BTAS)”]
So, that’s series one. They’re all available now, and I highly suggest y0u get your hands on them immediately if you haven’t already done so. After this series came out, several people reported a defect in the ankles joints of some of the figures, particularly Batman and Catwoman. This led DC Collectibles to change the plastic the joints were made of. Due to this massive change in manufacturing, the release schedules and assortment breakdowns were altered to allow adequate time for the necessary changes to be made. As a result, series two was delayed a month and contained only three figures instead of four. All three were from Batman: The Animated Series and one of them was one of the figures I have been the most excited for. So, without further ado, I give you Series Two.
Batman: The Animated Series/ The New Batman Adventures – Series Two – DC Collectibles
After the amazing home run that was Series One of this line, I could not wait to see what DC Collectibles would do to top it. After the news of the joint change and the line assortment shakeup, I was overjoyed to find that the next series would be made up of three figures from Batman: The Animated Series. And my joy turned to outright glee when I learned that the three figures would be three of the most recognizable the series had to offer. The lineup for series two is Robin, the Dick Grayson version, Man-Bat, and, one of the figures I have been salivating at the prospect of, The Joker. These are the first figures to use the new, thicker joints that DC Collectibles switched to. As an interesting side effect to switching to the new joints, the peg holes are no longer visible, which creates a clean line all the way down the leg. The ankles are also sturdier. Let’s get to it.
– Figure 5 – THE JOKER (BTAS) –
It is very difficult for me to convey to you, without you having known me, how happy holding this figure in my hand makes me and how much joy just knowing that it exists causes me. Those of you reading this who do know me do not need an explanation. Knowing that a 6″ figure of Mark Hamill’s Joker has been made somehow makes the 20 year wait for it worth it. And, what a figure this is. I am going to try not to gush too much, but I warn you, it’s not going to be easy. The Joker’s attire is, what else, his purple suit, complete with yellow shirt and sculpted blue tie and sculpted pink carnation. I mention it that way because they could have painted those details on, but instead they sculpted them as separate pieces. The petals on the Joker’s flower are exquisite and I have a huge amount of respect for the sculptor who did such an amazing job. He also has spats on his shoes, which could have been a painting nightmare. The highlight of the Joker figure though is, of course, the face. The hair is black with green accents, the face and neck are pale white, and the eyes are narrow and angular with black pupils. But, of course, this being The Joker, the real star of the show is his mouth. Everyone is looking for the grin, and this one does not disappoint. The mouth is set in a huge grin with red around the lips and tons of teeth, with lines sculpted in to separate them. It is a truly maniacal look, that does a superb amount of justice to a key feature of this iconic and important character. The articulation on the Series Two figures is similar to that of Series One. The Joker is articulated at the head, shoulders, elbows, forearms, wrists, waist, hips, knees and ankles. As noted before, The Joker has the new. thicker joints, so posing him is not a problem. As with the first series, all of the figures in Series Two are based on a specific episode. The Joker figure is based on the episode The Last Laugh. In case you haven’t seen it, the episode revolves around The Joker piloting a garbage barge with trash that has been laced with a special laughter inducing chemical. With the citizens of Gotham laughing their brains out, The Joker can go on a looting spree. To make sure he does not suffer any ill effects from the gas, he wears a special clear “fishbowl” helmet. Why do I tell you all of this? Because that helmet is one of The Joker’s accessories. His other accessories are a yellow handled knife, a pearl necklace, a telescope, a blue comb (NOTE: Be Careful, this is an EXTREMELY tiny accessory), 2 extra pairs of hands (2 item holding hands and 2 “gun-holding” hands) and the same base as the series one figures, featuring “turnaround” art. There are very few times that I can honestly I got emotional opening an action figure, but I have no problem telling you that I had a tear in my eye with this one. It is the BTAS Joker figure that every fan has been dreaming of.
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– Figure 6 – ROBIN (BTAS) –
Next up is the Boy Wonder himself. This is the Dick Grayson version of Robin and he is one of two Robins featuring in the show. The other is Tim Drake. Dick Grayson was Robin for the entirety of Batman: The Animated Series, growing up and becoming Nightwing in The New Batman Adventures. The hilarious irony of this figure is that we now have the Dynamic Duo, but not quite the right one. We have the Robin, from BTAS, but not his Batman and we have the Batman from TNBA, but not his Robin. That’s just the way it goes sometimes. This figure is based on Robin’s first appearance, in the two-part episode Robin’s Reckoning. As fans of the comics will no doubt be aware, the outfit Robin is wearing is based on Tim Drake’s comic costume. It features a red tunic, with yellow accents and yellow “R” logo against a black disc, and green short sleeves, long green pants, green gloves and black boots, with a yellow utility belt. He also has a “two-tone” cape, black on the outside, yellow on the inside. This is also in keeping with the Tim Drake costume in the comics.Again the painting on this figure is superb, the tunic is painted, not sculpted, so the “shorts” part of the red tunic where it meets the green leg of the pants poses a real challenge, but I very pleased to say that my paint lines there were extraordinarily clean. Robin’s face is again masterfully sculpted. The spiky hair and carefree smile of the character are showcased to great effect with the simple domino mask with white eyes. The body type is thinner than Batman, but will enough of an upper body to suggest a fit young man. He has the same articulation as the other male figures in the range. Accessory-wise, he comes with an extra cape (this one has a corner draped lower over the shoulder), a bola weapon, a grapple gun, (one of my favorite accessories. You can even see the three holes in the top), 5 extra hands (2 open hand, 2 item holding hands, and one hand with the grapple gun molded into it) and a slightly modified 3-part base. The base for Robin does not have the middle pole, just the back pole and the waist clip. It does however feature the same platform with “turnaround” art as the others. One half of the BTAS Dynamic Duo down, one half to go.
[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”62″ gal_title=”Batman Animated – Series 2 – Robin (BTAS)”]
– Figure 7 – MAN-BAT (BTAS) –
So, finally in this series, we have Man-Ba….OH MY GOD. HE’S HUGE! Ok, sorry, little bit of back story. When I saw Man-Bat at Toy Fair, they had his smaller wings on, so I was a little shocked to find they he came, not a blister card like the others, but in a box. Why is he in a box?, you ask. Because they have decided to give him larger, fully extended wings and his TWO FOOT WINGSPAN won’t fit on a blister card. Yes, I said 2 foot. How do I know? Because I took out a tape measure and measured it. Anyway, he is a beast and he is beautiful. His body is perfectly proportioned, from his strong upper body, with large back, to his large shoulders and long arms, to his slim tapered waist and his strong bent legs ending in sturdy feet. His head is fantastic, with big ears, bright yellow triangular eyes and four teeth, two large and two small, in the grinning mouth. The body is exactly the right shade of brown to match the shade in the cartoon. , with the only clothing on the figure being it’s grey pants. Due to the nature of the arms/wings. the articulation of this figure is limited. The figure has no forearm or wrist articulation, but he has an “ab crunch” joint, that allows him to bend his upper body forward. The head is articulated, as are the shoulders, chest, hips and knees. There is no foot articulation. This figure, by the way, is based on the episode On Leather Wings, which, by the way, happens to be the first ever episode of Batman: The Animated Series. Accessory-wise, Man-Bat comes with an extra, shorter, folded pair of wing arms, in addition to a cassette tape, which considering the episode, is probably the one full of bat sounds Bruce Wayne went to have analyzed, and three pill bottles. Of course, the ironic part of this is that Man-Bat’s hands have fingers which are part of the wings, and arfe not capable of holding any of the accessories he comes with. He also come with the same three-part stand, with a base with “turnaround” art. This is easily one of the most impressive figures I have ever seen. The presentation is the box is breathtaking. One word of warning: The right arm socket for the arm pegs on the figure I reviewed was very loose. It’s fine if you’re only going to display him, but some thing to watch for if you’re going to play around with it.
Here’s a shot of the whole gang together.
THE FUTURE OF THE LINE – Is very bright, indeed. Future figures include Robin (TNBA), The Creeper (TNBA), Harley Quinn (BTAS), Batman (BTAS), Killer Croc and Baby Doll (TNBA), Poison Ivy (TNBA), Batgirl (TNBA), Nightwing (TNBA), Riddler (BTAS), Penguin (BTAS), Scarecrow (TNBA), Mad Hatter (BTAS) and Bane (TNBA). And, by the way, all of those figures are expected to be released this year! Also, there is a deluxe figure of Roxy Rocket and a two-pack of Batman and Phantasm coming somewhere down the line. And then, of course, there is the piece de resistance, the first ever, 6″ scale Animated Series BATMOBILE!
It’s safe to this is my favorite line that DC Collectibles is doing this year, but it may end up being my favorite toy line of the entire year. If the quality and selection of characters keep up, this may end up being one of the greatest lines of all time. Go out and get them right away. You won’t be sorry.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the first Figure Focus, the next one will cover the 2.5″ Avengers: Age of Ultron line from Hasbro.
Thanks for Reading.