Square Enix Play Arts Batman: Rogues Gallery Two-Face is Disgustingly Amazing [Review]
For a long time, Square Enix Play Arts was a division of the game publisher which focused on creating toys and collectibles based on Square's own properties. Then one year, the company branched out, adding some third party licenses and partnerships for high-end import figures for franchises like Halo, Batman: Arkham, Cowboy Bebop and a whole lot more. The partnership with DC Comics has proven fruitful for Square, primarily from the creative end. Since adapting the characters of the DCU into Square-ified iterations, we've seen a side of these characters it would be otherwise hard to imagine. That's not something easy to accomplish given that most of these heroes and villains have been around since the second World War.
Like any other company with a license for DC Comics characters, Batman and his family have been a big draw at Play Arts. There have been a number of new takes on the character, from Spartan soldiers to futuristic interpretations, but Square's latest attempts spin Batman in a more familiar direction --- that of his rogues. Things kick off with a Two-Face mash-up, and I can tell you this: The world is full of Batman toys, but there aren't many like this one.
Now the idea of Batman being intertwined with any given member of his rogues' gallery isn't a new one, and there have been a number of stories over the years featuring such a concept. Two-Face's duality makes him an interesting choice to take up the mantle first, as there is a lawful-good side to Harvey Dent, he just doesn't get out much these days. Harvey even donned the cape and cowl himself for a bit in "Batman Reborn," so there is at least a little precedent for such a crossover. However, even at his most vicious in the comics, Two-Face has never quite been as brutally nasty as he's portrayed in this figure. That's a good thing.
For as divisive as some of Square's interpretations of classic comic heroes have been, there's no doubting just how much detail is provided. It doesn't matter what the subject matter is, Square's meticulousness is admirable. Sure, that drives up the price a bit since molding and manufacturing figures with so much depth isn't cheap, but it's hard to argue the value of that kind of attention to detail. Where Batman figures before have had some radically designed armor suits, each with intricacies you could pour over for hours, Two-Face brings that trademark finesse to new heights.
For half of the figure, that same armor fixation holds true. The concept here (developed by Square's Kelsey Britt and designer Hitoshi Kondo) is Two-Face as Batman through and through, and split right down the middle. The whole figure turns Harvey's bespoke suit into one meant for battle beyond the courtroom. The shoulders, chest and legs all incorporate plating where necessary, but beneath all of that, you can see the actual tailored three-piece combo he'd be wearing as a prosecutor were he still working a case. It's a nice bit of personalization that keeps the figure grounded in Harvey's origins, while also exaggerating the Dark Knight elements to great effect.
Of course, these kind of observations are only really clear on one half of the figure, which is obviously intentional, but for the better. No matter how detailed the more traditional elements of the figure would be, they'd still be traditional. Don't mistake "traditional" for boring though. It's just that the evil half of Harvey here is so much more interesting, it's easy to lose focus on the finer details of good Harvey. Square didn't, and through and through this figure is impressive. It's all about the disfigured elements though.
Hitoshi Kondo really went hard after the anatomical elements, and if you're grossed out by how Two-Face looks, I think he succeeded. The way the suit degrades into nothing, clearing way for Two-Face's musculature to break through is brilliantly executed. Even before you get to all that sinew and taut muscle, the exterior armor has a bit of a grotesque element that is hard to deny. It makes Two-Face look a bit like one of the giant Titans from Attack of Titan, at least in the head sculpt. You really feel like you're looking at a skinless face, and a large part of that owes to the tremendous paint app given to the figure, too. Without all that fine anatomy in the sculpt however, this piece wouldn't be quite as spectacular.
The way the figure judiciously uses the exposed muscle works in its favor, too. There are a lot of areas where those body elements are visible, but it doesn't feel overused. As it stands, Two-Face is toes the line of becoming something abominable, and any more revealing areas might have pushed him too far to the wrong side of interesting. The last thing you want is a $200 action figure you can't even stand to look at. This sculpt however still inspires just the right amount of fascination with the figure, precisely because of the more anatomical elements.
The more you take in the disfigured aesthetic, the more nuance you can pick up as well. In both portraits, Two-Face's left eye is cast in a translucent mold, giving it a milky, cloudy quality that's perfectly eerie. The cape starts out relatively intact at the neck, but as it unfolds, it gets more and more decrepit. By the time you reach the tips at the base, it's a wonder this thing is still attached at all. The scorching is sculpted and painted so well, you feel like even touching it might cause it to fall apart. It won't, but that it gives the impression of being so brittle despite being cast in plastic is a testament to the work done by the creatives at Square.
Even the multiple hands, which could have just been gloved, get the same affectionate handling. The fine detail the sculpting team were able to get out of the individual fingers is ridiculous, and the difference between the "good' and "bad" hands provides a great contrast. What I like the most though is how you can see the scarred hands look to be wrapped in gauze instead of just being melted gloves, allowing you to see the more monstrous digits with ease. Two-Face's signature coin is included in creative ways as well, with the scarred hand holding it in a "flipping" pose, and the more human side incorporating it into wrist gauntlets so it's ever present. Small details like that go a long way in telling the story of this figure, and if you're willing to look at all these minute elements, it's interesting the narrative you can create just from the design.
Two-Face is a great start to a new line of potential Batman: Rogues, and I'm glad Square Enix went with Harvey to kick things off. The articulation is great, the detail is outstanding, and the overall figure is one of the most unique Two-Face toys we're likely ever to see. Few figures show off the talents of an entire studio quite the way that this Two-Face does. For a company that constantly pushes the creative envelope with its Variant line, that's an impressive feat.
The Square Enix Play Arts Kai Batman: Rogues Gallery Two-Face is available for pre-order now for $199.99, and is expected to arrive in December. This figure was provided by Square Enix for review.