For the last few years, Mezco Toyz has been releasing a small spread of figures and collectibles based off some impressive properties like Thundercats, Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy. Their releases all featured solid sculpting and paint work, but no articulation. In strictly literal terms, I couldn’t tell you the last time I saw actual “action figures” from these guys.
2015 changes all of that, and leading the charge is Mezco’s big risk, the One:12 Collective. The concept here is simple– Mezco sought to capture the intricate detail, ample articulation, expertly tailored cloth costumes, copious accessories and alternate body parts seen in high end collectibles like Hot Toys and Sideshow, but at a smaller, 6″ scale. This could have gone awry in so many ways. We’ve all seen the shortfalls in terms of soft goods on smaller scale toys, for one. And the super articulated model comes with lots of risks, too, especially in terms of sturdiness. From interrupted sculpts due to an over abundance of cuts, and poorly balanced figures suffering from loose joints, to the brittle nature of other high end toys like Square Enix Play Arts Kai line, there certainly can be a downside to too much articulation.
Somehow, though, Mezco has tackled all of these issues, beat the odds, and delivered a truly amazing action figure. The first release under the One:12 umbrella is Batman, as he appeared in The Dark Knight Returns. This book is a classic, (subjectively) the finest work by the (objectively) loathsome Frank Miller, and while we’ve seen several Batman figures with this aesthetic in the past, Mezco’s version makes them all pale in comparison.
Batman is a solid toy, in every way possible. Sculpted with the stocky proportions of Miller’s artwork, this figure has a tangible heft. Yet in spite of this bulk, the figure still features a fantastic range of motion, with a ball neck, ball shoulders, abdomen and hips, double jointed elbows and knees, and multiple points of articulation at the wrists and ankles. I’m always particularly impressed when a thick, heavier figure still manages to get lots of useful articulation, and DKR Batman is a prime example of this.
All of this could have gone awry if the manufacturing fell short, but Mezco clearly poured attention into every aspect of this figure, from the tight, unfused joints that pose easily and retain shape perfectly, to the durability of the material that makes up Batman’s frame. This is a figure who’s infectiously fun to pose and play around with, and he can strike countless poses that fit the character and add a dynamic sense of energy to the display shelf.
This sturdiness also benefits the figure’s awesome range of alternate parts. To further help customize your Batman into the perfect pose, the figure includes an alternate head– so he can be displayed with his mouth closed in a controlled scowl, or with his teeth exposed in an angry grimace– as well as multiple sets of swappable hands. Both portraits are great, packed with personality that captures the grizzled nature of Miller’s aged vigilante. The heads fit firmly atop a ball shaped peg, and can be removed with ease and no fear of breakage. Likewise, the hands can switch on and off the wrists quite smoothly, and stay in place as soon as you snap them down. The options are all wonderfully utilitarian, with a set of hands holding the hero’s Batarangs between his fingers, a set sculpted to hold his pistol or sniper rifle, some fists and a neutral set in case you want to give Bruce a little break every once in a while.
Yet another big win of this figure? The costume, which was one of my biggest concerns. Sure the prototype looked wonderful, with its form-fitting tailoring and none of the typical bunches and too-big stitches and velcro strip puffs we see in many cloth-covered toys. But the final figure’s soft goods are just as good, covering the figure in a remarkably naturalistic way. The bodysuit is a revelation, with an elasticity that allows it to stretch to accommodate more extreme poses of the arms and legs, while not bunching up or looking too baggy when the figure is posed more neutrally. And the sleek cape is a true revelation. Batman’s cloak has rarely looked better, thanks to the use of a material that is easily pliable– allowing you to move the cape over Batman’s shoulders, or behind his back– while retaining a weight that gives it a very realistic drape no matter how it’s placed on the figure. An armature is also included with the figure, which allows you to run wires through the cape to give it an even more dramatic, fully sprawled out appearance.
As I mentioned earlier, Batman also includes a fair share of gear. This changes depending on which version of the figure you pick up. I opted for the Mezco Store exclusive, which features a grey and navy blue costume, and ALL the accessories (there’s also black and grey and light blue and grey versions, each of which come packed with about half of this spread of weaponry). The Mezco Direct edition I chose includes a Batarang with rope, a sniper rifle, a pistol, an alternate boot with holster, and a removable leg pouch, painted in a weathered yellow to match the utility belt. All these pieces played a part in Miller’s comic, and the figure can hold them very well. As weird as it is to pose a Batman figure with a gun, I’m thoroughly impressed with the tightness of the engineering Mezco invested in making sure their action figure can hold each piece both easily and organically.
The One:12 Batman is an incredibly well balanced figure, and Mezco packs him with a very nice display stand anyway, a clear yellow circle with Batman’s iconic insignia adorning the center. There’s a peg for one of Batman’s feet, and a spot to place the cape armature on as well, making this another very well conceived piece. The figure is packed in a gorgeous five-panel box with a slipcover that makes great use of Miller’s comic book aesthetic. I’m hopeful Mezco keeps this same packaging look for future One:12 releases, because it’s wonderfully efficient and simultaneously eye catching.
A figure with this much going on is obviously going to fetch a higher than average price tag, and One:12 Batman will set you back somewhere around $65. Having the figure in hand, I think it’s most definitely a fair price; Hot Toys and Sideshow charge more than double that for their figures, and since this guy is half their size… half the price sounds pretty reasonable to me.
I could not be more impressed with the One:12 Collective Batman. Mezco aimed incredibly high with their return to the fully poseable, highly detailed action figure game, and the end result still managed to not only meet, but exceed the impossibly lofty expectations set when they first revealed this figure. There is no part of this Batman figure that doesn’t show off the painstaking attention to detail, the impressive skill and thoughtfulness that Mezco clearly poured into making it.
When it comes to the One:12 Collective, I was excited by Mezco’s concept, for sure. But I am positively blown away by their execution. And I absolutely cannot wait for the release of Judge Dredd. This is THE best toy line of 2015, there’s no doubt about it.