Toy Review: Batman: The Animated Series, Wave Two
After a slight delay to improve the quality of the line, DC Collectibles' Batman: The Animated Series' second wave arrived not too long ago. Featuring Robin, the Joker and Man-Bat as they appeared in the original version of the show, this wave brings back fond memories. The figures aren't so bad either.
Originally, this series was supposed to split up the figures based on their designs from Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures with an alternating 3:1 ratio. As the first wave was largely TNBA character designs, this second wave was to feature a healthy does of BTAS designs.
That ratio went out the window when quality concerns hit the first four characters pretty hard. DC Collectibles went back to the drawing board to improve the quality of joints and tweaked the designs ever so slightly based on fan feedback. As a result, the TNBA Poison Ivy that was supposed to be included in this series was bumped to the second half of the third wave (due to arrive in June).
While it was a bit disappointing to learn we'd miss out on Ivy in the short term, the decision paid off in regards to reworking the figures. All three figures in this wave gave us no issues when posing, and all the joints feel firm without being impossible to adjust. There's no looseness, and the divisive exposed hip joints are gone as well.
Now, while the improvements could be chalked up to these figures all having the BTAS design, and thus not the itty, bitty ankles of the TNBA figures, the entire first wave was plagued with these problems, regardless of the joint size. We won't know for sure how the ankle improvements look and work until the next wave arrives, but things are looking up for this series as a whole already.
Though light on accessories, Man-Bat is still an impressive piece. Easily the most abnormal figure released in the series so far, Man-Bat's exaggerated proportions make him really eye-catching, even if he is a bit of a bother to get to stay in position. All three figures were sculpted by Irene Matar this time, and while all of them look outstanding, Man-Bat is just so out of the norm that it stands out as a true testament to the skill involved in bringing a character like this to life. The body is great, but the facial expression really helps sell it, too, and it's easy to feel as if this thing has just leapt out of the TV.
Man-Bat's biggest issue is his balance being thrown off by his hulking back and massive wings. He comes with two sets of wings (one open, one "closed"), giving you the option to extend his wingspan all the way out to 16" if you want. In keeping with the character's design however, it's nearly impossible to get Man-Bat to stay upright without the aid of a stand. His bent legs offer very little support for how top-heavy he is, and that's before you put any wings of any sort on whatsoever. You don't have to worry about the logistics of how a character stands upright in a cartoon, but you do when it's made real. In going for a screen-accurate creation, you'll encounter issues like this.
Though the animated Dick Grayson Robin made use of an outfit more recognizable as the Tim Drake uniform, it worked on the show. It also works really well for this figure. The simple cartoon design translates nicely into the real world, and Robin's great amount of articulation really lets you put him in some truly Grayson-esque poses. Robin comes with a bunch of different hands, a second cape that doesn't drape over the shoulder, his bola whip thingy, and a grappling gun. Like the Batman in the first wave, Robin can't actually hold the grappling gun in any hand, but he does come with a hand pre-sculpted with the grappling gun gripped. Perhaps by the time the Tim Drake Robin arrives later this year, DC will stop packing in the seemingly useless accessory.
As he's much smaller and evenly proportioned, Robin doesn't encounter the same balance issues as Man-Bat. You'll be able to position him just about anyway you see fit without the aid of the included stand. Where Man-Bat's smooth and simple color app wasn't troublesome at all, there was a bit of bleeding on Robin's uniform. The leg area in particular was hit the hardest with some uneven red paint application over the green, but elsewhere the issues were negligible. You won't be able to form a true BTAS dynamic duo until the Batman arrives in a few months, but that shouldn't stop you from enjoying this figure in the least.
The Joker has seen his fair share of different interpretations over the years, but most recently, you would think the only incarnation of the character that ever existed was the one from The Dark Knight. For some, the BTAS Joker might not be "extreme" or "real" enough, but honestly, it's refreshing to see a version of the Clown Prince of Crime that boils the character down to his most base elements and can still inspire feelings of dread. Seriously though, this figure is smooth, subtle and scary.
Like the rest of the line, the Joker includes accessories relevant to the episode of the show the figure is based on. Being from "The Last Laugh," that means you get a comb, a screwdriver, a telescope, a pearl necklace, and the big glass helmet Joker wore when robbing the stock exchange. As Joker accessories go, they're pretty low on the totem pole of things you'd want with the big bad of Batman. Again, that's another issue with going for so much accuracy; sometimes you're left with little to include with the figure based on the cartoon. It's a small complaint, as the figure itself is probably the best animated Joker figure ever made, but it would have been nice to get some more iconic pieces like chattering teeth, a smiling fish, or even a present bomb.
So far, DC Collectibles' has delivered the goods with the Batman: The Animated Series line, and the upcoming line-up (with the curious exception of the Creeper) should keep that trend going. Each wave feels like a must own, and with the improvements made to the quality and sculpts, wave two was definitely worth the wait.
You can find Robin, Joker and Man-Bat at your LCS or other online retailers like Amazon for ~$24.99 each. These figures were provided by DC Collectibles for review.
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