One of the most exciting developments that came out of DC Collectibles this year was the announcement of their first ever action figures based on the classic Batman: The Animated Series, as well as its follow up, The New Batman Adventures. Both series featured incredible, next level design work from Bruce Timm, whose influence and impact is still felt in the poop culture landscape today. And while we’ve seen both Kenner, Hasbro and Mattel each take a crack at rendering this iconic and highly popular style into three dimensions, none were anywhere near as successful as DC Collectibles.
The first figure to see release in this line is Batman himself, as he appeared in New Adventures. This means the caped crusader’s already sleek and stylized look has become even more trimmed down, with a simple black and grey color pallet on his costume and all of the blocky shapes and dynamic angles that have made Timm’s style such a lasting aesthetic brilliantly realized in plastic.
Batman’s sculpt is by Irene Matar, and does a perfect job of bringing the animated look to life. The figure’s proportions are perfect, from the barrel chest and broad shoulders to the tapered, narrow legs and pointy feet. This Batman literally looks as though he just stepped off the small screen and into the real world, and every detail and nuance is carefully thought out. I love the expression, which feels both neutral and yet perfectly in character for the razor-focused super hero from this classic TV show.
One of the biggest risks of this figure was always going to be the articulation. By its very nature, the Timm animation design calls for streamlined shapes and lines with no interruption, and any added cuts or joints on the figure could compromise that sense of style. But DC Collectibles’ figure does a good job bridging that gap thanks to smart and mostly hidden articulation. Batman gets a neck joint, ball shoulders, half ball elbows, hinged swivel wrists, a swivel waist, hinged swivel hips, hinged knees and ankles. It’s a good spread as far as moving parts are concerned, and the posing options this articulation pattern opens up more than make up for the few areas where the articulation truly impacts the sculpt (namely, the hips with their large holes and visible pins).
There’s been plenty of animated Batman statues, though, so I’m willing to see those small visual sacrifices happen if it means a well articulated, fully poseable figure, and that is exactly what we get here. Batman can strike many awesome poses, and his numerous pack-in accessories help change up his looks as well. Not only does Batman feature a second cape (one has a slight flow to it, for action poses, while the other is straight and covered the figure’s shoulders just like in the cartoon), he sports SEVEN swappable alternate hands! This means your Batman can be posed with closed fists, relaxed hands, a hand specifically posed to hold his Batarang and another one with his grappling launcher sculpted in, aimed at the ready. It’s a great mix of parts, and makes the figure’s display options both intricately detailed and wonderfully limitless.
Aside from the alternate cape and hands, Batman also includes a second grappling launcher accessory, his Batarang and a nice display stand with a clear plastic clip to help stand the figure upright and a base featuring turn around art of the character, as he appeared on the show. It’s a nice design, stylistically, and due to the top heavy nature of the design, the extra support of the stand is appreciated… even though the figure is well designed enough to be able to stand fairly safely on his own.
Every Batman I have seen has featured a very nice, clean and crisp paint job. The animated aesthetic means we don’t get much in the way of shading or washes, but very subtle lip lining helps give depth to the face and the intricacy of the line work on the belt, glove cuffs and chest insignia go a long way in maintaining the sleek, clean look of Timm’s character design.
I’m happy to say my Batman suffered no quality control issues, although I have heard multiple reports of ankle joints breaking fairly easily. This makes sense as it is a small yet weight bearing joint, and they do tend to be stuck in place out of the packaging, due to the black painted boots. My best advice is to be delicate when freeing up these joints, working them loose as slowly and gingerly as possible. If they won’t budge, try heating the figure in boiling water or under a heat lamp to help free up the parts without breaking the plastic pegs.
At $25 SRP, the animated Batman is not the cheapest figure on the market, but he’s worth every damn penny. The sculpt is wonderful, and the engineering and design put into this figure makes him a great, fully poseable toy, without impacting the sleek and simple design aesthetic. Between the expert craftsmanship on the figure itself and the truly impressive range of alternate parts and accessories, that fairly steep price tag suddenly seems more like a great value when these sorts of high end amenities have in the past demanded retail costs almost twice this.
I could not be happier with this amazing figure, and as a long time fan of Bruce Timm’s character design, I’m thrilled to see this line continue to expand and grow with more and more heroes and villains as they appeared in this modern classic TV series. The rest of Series One will feature Two-Face, Mr. Freeze and The Animated Series Catwoman, and if they villains are half as great as this version of the Caped Crusader, this series will suddenly find itself in serious contention for Best Toy Line of the Year.