I had kind of mixed feelings about the first wave of Mattel’s Dark Knight Rises Movie Masters. There was certainly nothing wrong with Batman, Bane or Alfred, and the “Build a Batsignal” gimmick is turning out pretty great so far. But much like the movie itself, nothing about those toys made the upcoming ending to Chris Nolan’s Bat-Trilogy feel truly epic.
This is why I was so surprised by how much I love the Toys R Us exclusive Batman vs. Bane two-pack. This set offers variants of both Bats and his new nemesis, posed for a knock-down, drag-out fight in a very nice display box featuring a Gotham City backdrop. It’s a very eye-catching package, which displays the figures well, but truth be told these figures are better out of the box than they look in it.
The new Batman shocked me. Another repaint of the TDK Movie Masters figure, I was expecting him to head straight to the parts bin, but small changes have really elevated this Batman to the best of the movie bunch. Mattel has finally offered a cloth cape on this movie-style Batman, and it makes a world of difference in both look and feel. It could just be mine, but the new plastic cape clip at the shoulders seem to allow for much more head movement as well, and the lack of a heavy plastic cape make posing this guy much better than previous versions. The new Batman also sports a new copper-colored finish. I’m not sure exactly what Mattel was going for with this paint deco– is it mud? is it some kind of gold reflection? In any case, I love the look of it. The new finish sets this Batman apart from previous releases very nicely, and gives him a great “posterized” feel, looking like he stepped off a dramatically-lit movie poster.
Bane is also a major improvement on his single-card release. This new version of the villain features him shirtless, with a pretty nasty looking scar running along his spine. While the torso is somewhat ill-defined as far as musculature (which may be movie accurate? Have we seen Tom Hardy shirtless on set?), the back scar is sculpted very nicely and the ab crunch gives a great range of motion. The real win here is Bane’s new arms, which include a half-ball elbow joint and hinged wrists… a great leap beyond the lacking arm movement of the jacketed Bane. The figure also includes an alternate set of hands which interchange easily (no weak pegs here as we saw cause problems for DCUC’s Mercury), so you can choose to have Bane with two closed fists, two open hands or any combo between. The figure features the same legs and head as the single card version, which are sculpted well, and the limited forward motion of the hips is made easier to swallow thanks to the lack of the heavy coat weighing the figure down.
I wasn’t expecting much from this set… in fact I was planning on skipping it, except I was able to find one during TRU’s one-day Rewards sale and got it on sale. Having checked out both figures, I can honestly say the set is worth every penny of the $32 price tag, and if you pick up only one item from Mattel’s Dark Knight Rises collection, my money is absolutely on this one.