Sunday, August 19, 2012

2012 Mattel 'The Dark Knight Rises' Caped Crusader Batman

The weekend of July 20, 2012 was a terrible one because it was on that Friday night that the Aurora, Colorado shooting massacre occurred during a midnight screening of 'The Dark Knight Rises'. This post was originally planned for that Sunday, July 22 but it just didn't feel right for me to go ahead with it. It also changed the way I was going to review the figure. Wanting to really rant and rave about its failings and short-comings I came down off of my grumpy old man soap box and simply decided that, hey, it was just a toy after all so I won't rant and rave (much) BUT I will dissect it.

Okay, here's the deal. I'm not an avid collector of action figures and didn't really start buying them until after the 'Captain America' movie. I really liked the Hasbro 4" Captain America figure and started buying more action figures. As such I still consider myself an outsider looking in to a broader world of action figure collecting and collectors. But that may also give me a different perspective on these than the more avid collector may have. Here's my take on things. If you're a collector who really enjoys the 4" scale figures and you're really into the DC Universe line, quite frankly you're getting screwed!! There's just no politically correct, goody two-shoes, My Little Pony, Tele Tubby way of putting it.

Why? All you have to do is compare a DC Universe figure made by Mattel to a Marvel Universe figure made by Hasbro and the difference is obvious. First, these are supposed to be 'action figures' which implies movement. You barely get any movement out of a Mattel figure vs. a Hasbro figure. The Mattel figures arms move up and down at the shoulders and their legs moved back and forth at the hips (the head swivels too - whoopie-ding). There's no elbow, wrist, hip, knee, or ankle articulation. Which mean it's harder for a kid to really pose these things with weapons and other accessories. And unlike many of the Marvel Universe figures, it doesn't even have a display stand.

In regards to this particular figure, some numb-nuts at Mattel decided to use real fabric for the cape. On the one hand, the flat black coloration of the cape contrasts to the glean of Batman's armor as it does in the movie, but this contrast can still be accomplished with plastic. There are inherent flaws when using fabric for small figures.

-First, fabric simply doesn't scale down well - especially with figures this small. Although it may not be very apparent in the photos, it looks too coarse. Imagine if you will, Christian Bale flying down at the bad guys wearing a flat black coarse burlap cape! Yecch. His cape in the movie flows beautifully and has substance. The toy cape flaps a little - that's it.

-Secondly, it's doesn't have as solid an appearance. Look at the photos and you can see light peeking through. Batman's cape in the movie is dark and deep and light-less.

-Thirdly, it's not hemmed. Without a hem at the edges to hold the stitching together this thing won't last long with rough play.

The DC Universe figures are nicely sculpted and their faces are true to the actors. But first and foremost these are toys. As an example, I bought this particular figure at Target. It was in the toy department, surrounded by toys. That right there is a clue that it's a toy - duh! Which means it's NOT some highly valuable, limited edition, over-priced sculpture available from some swanky collectibles firm. BUT as a true action figure it fails in the context of the world of action figures in the year 2012. Today we expect more from the toys. There's still a place for solid casting little green army men, but they're not classified as action figures. Mattel's 'action figures' are more like 'in-action' figures. They're better as display and not for play.

Well heck, enough editorializing - Enjoy!

The two accessories include a grappling hook and a HUGE flexible vinyl Batarang.

The Batarang is about 1/3 the size of the figure. If Batman really had to use this thing he'd need a cannon to shoot it out of!