So here is an update about my current video game system status that no one asked for – I have FINALLY joined the NextGen console ownership club as my lovely wife surprised me with a new Playstation 3 for Christmas. In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I have utilized the Blu-Ray capabilities for movie watching more than game playing at this point, but the very first games I ran out and purchased amongst the after-Christmas shoppers was Arkham Asylum (hey, it’s new to ME!) and Arkham City. Yeah, I get it now. Best superhero games ever, and that is coming from someone that has barely scratched the surface. But since this is an action figure First Look and not a video game article I can confidently say that toys are still where it is at and when you start combining superheroes with video games with action figures, it is pretty hard to miss. Well, joining the previously-released Batman and Two-Face now come the Joker, Robin, Nightwing and Harley Quinn, all in their new “City” looks. Come on in and check them out, this might be the start a new video game figure dawn for Mattel.
One of the things I am always leery of when superheroes land in some kind of new media, be it movie, game or otherwise, is how their looks will be updated and adapted to fit the medium. So, I remember when Arkham Asylum was getting ready to be released and DisThunder was telling me all about the character updates and how they were strong and fit right in with material. As usual with all things Batman, he was right and I have really become a fan of a lot of the looks within this pixilated universe, especially with Batman, Nightwing and Harley Quinn. The designs are appropriate for the material, but still very respectful to the originals. The hero looks are taken to a plane of practicality with pieces that break up the “spandex” look s with tech and armor. The great thing about that is that it makes for some very interesting layers and textures when it comes to action figures, so let’s take a look at these new four counting down to my favorite of the set.
ROBIN and JOKER
The hardest thing to adapt when you are trying to make Batman grittier is the whole Robin thing. When done well, it is fantastic, but most of the time creative directors just choose to drop him from the equation all together, which is a shame. I will admit that I have not gotten far enough into City yet to get the full effect of the character yet, but I am sold by his hooded look.
The figure itself has all of the game detailing and look that you would expect. In fact, like all the rest of them, I think he LOOKS great. He does have a couple of articulation points missing from the standard scheme, the abdominal crunch being the one I miss the most, but all of the cuts are very nicely integrated into the sculpt. That is another one of the niceties about a more complex and detailed design – it is often easier to hide articulation while preserving the sculpt. I like the muted color scheme being used on this line (well, this sub group of the Legacy line) and the classic red of the costume is not shied away from, it is simply brought into the palette in an appropriate way.
Gone is Robin’s flowing locks above his domino mask (literally, the figure is actually bald) and in place comes a black hood. I like the look for sure and the cape/hood is made of a very flexible plastic that allows for a good amount of movement. For the Arkham City scape this kind of combines cape with a more modern urban hoody, so I like the effect. He does have shin guards that stand out from the actual figure and buckles and straps as well, but he is not as detailed in sculpt as the other three. Overall he is a solid figure and looks great with your AA Batman, but he falls just short of being on the same plane with the superior Nightwin figure.
Tagging along in this two-pack with the Boy Wonder is everyone’s favorite Bat-Rogue, the Joker. You know, even in a complete reimagining of a Batman property, the Joker has traditionally enjoyed fairly faithful adaptations of his traditional look. Thus is the case with this figure, and he probably also has the best head sculpt of the group. Ever since DCUC series 10 the Joker has been treated very well by Mattel, especially in terms of capturing his look and personality in his head sculpt. The DCUC version is that perfect iconic look while the Batman Legacy was pure Golden Age. This figure continues the trend looking good (in a grotesque way).
There is a ton of sculpted and paint detail going on on the head and while he certainly looks like a classic interpretation of the Joker, there are lots fo wrinkles, laugh lines and paint spots that give him a very realistic feel. I know that he becomes “diseased” at some point within the story arc and his face has some gross-lookingI know that he becomes “diseased” at some point within the story arc and his face has some gross-looking lesions added to the mix to give that depth. While the previous Jokers have really captured the “Clown Prince of Crime” look, this is the more dark and sadistic look, which again, is completely appropriate for the source material.
He has all of the basic articulation you can expect from a suited Mattel six-inch figure and all of the joints work quite well. I am particularly pleased with the range of motion in the ab joint as he gets very nice front to back movement that is aided by a soft coat. If I had to mention one little niggle I have with the figure itself (aside from the fact that neither he nor Robin have accessories to hold) is that his hands are not sculpted to really be able to hold anything. I got him to kind of hang on to Harley’s bat, but his fingers are more splayed than gripped. All of the paint is pretty clean in the figure (except where it is supposed to look dirty) and that is great because they did not shy away from giving him the pinstripes on his pants and jacket; they all turned out nice and straight.
While Two-Face was a nice figure overall, the Joker really shows that we need to continue to see the game designs of the villains from this series in plastic form. The gritty looks would make for a lot of very interesting figures, especially for Croc, Scarecrow and Mr. Freeze.
I am going to make another admission here – I have always like Dick Grayson as Nightwing much more than when he was Robin (and now even Batman himself). I know that sounds like sacrilege, but the mantle fits his character so well and he has grown into being one of the most interesting personas in the DC as Nightwing. Plus, I like Tim as Robin. So, it is always good to a get a new Grayson figure and I am very, very pleased with this one. In fact, I want to say that this is one of, if not the best Nightwing figures produced thus far and that is coming from someone that is normally very hard-lined about getting comic figures based off of comic looks, not other media.
His head sculpt is a very solid likeness to the video game counterpart and it sits at a very proportional size to his body. There is often a trend to make heads smaller on muscular action figures in order to accentuate the physique, but I am glad that NW holds to a more realistic look. That being said, he also has a unique body that is much more on target to the traditional NW build that even the DCUC figure. This figure is muscular but lithe, so you can see the acrobat in him. The body is also insanely detailed with the texturing of the costume done all in sculpt. The “scales” are not painted on and each little dip and ridge are fleshed out in the plastic. The “armor” in the costume is also laid out in a similar fashion to the Batman figure so while at first glance he looks completely classic in terms of design, he has the padded details.
While this figure is mostly one color (black) there is actually a lot of paint detail going on with him. I LOVE the shading on the blue portions of the costume. It is subtle but very effective in giving the lines darker low lights as they recess into the black. The black portions also have some dark grays and gloss to call out different textures. The suit portion is lighter at the scales than it is in the recesses and there is glossy lines to depict other materials that run between the armor plates.
Nightwing also includes four accessories: his two batons, the Batman Legacy stand (in silver) and an Arkham City poster. The escrima sticks are carryovers from the DCUC Nightwing, but this time in black and I will update this article in a few days with a picture of the poster. It was rolled up nice and tight so I need it to flatten out before I can take a picture. Overall, NW is the best hero figure we have gotten in the line and no detail was left untouched. They really went all out on him.
As much as I really enjoy the Nightwing figure, I like Harley Quinn even more. I will even make the claim that he is one of, if not THE best female figures I have even gotten from Mattel. Really, she is that good and what makes her so good is that all aspects of the figure, from design to paint hit all of the right notes. To begin, I think the redesign of her look is much better in City than it was in Asylum. I get that she was the “nurse” but I like the leather and frill street look much, much more. AND, Mattel was very faithful to the adaptation of her, especially in the costume. I am almost kind of surprised that they went for all of the detail with the visible thong and frilly “bra” piece (furthermore showing off a little cleavage) but I am glad they did. You know, of the sake of being faithful to the source. The tattoo detailing is also there, even the almost completely hidden one on her hip.
The outfit has a lot of buckles and straps with big chuck heel boots in place of the harlequin look, but she still has her diamond pattern on the leg. The corset is finely detailed as well and starts the split in the costume from black to red that is maintained throughout the rest of the figure. The costume design also lends itself very well to the articulation scheme and while Harley has a lot of it, it is all very well hidden. Since she does not have muscular arms, he arm swivel is hidden in the elbow (think Elbros), but she still gets a good range of movement from them, at the very least enough to be able to hold her baseball bat with both hands.
The best part about the figure though is the head/face sculpt. It is GORGEOUS. I mean, it is very, very flattering for a female (even a sadistic one) and has a very strong realism to it. Her expression is not overly campy or anything, but her smile is natural and the shape of her eyes have a very classic shape. The paint on the face really helps as well. The eyes are very detailed and while she has the white pancake make-up, there a tons of highlights in her cheeks and above her eyes. The line s on her lips are crisp too and while that might seem like a small thing, if care is not taken it can ruin a figure’s face. Gone is her jester hat and in its place are blonde pigtails, one with black tips and one with red to recall her more traditional scheme.
Like Nightwing, she has a base and poster (picture forthcoming) as well as her “peppermint” scheme bat. She can hold the latter just fine and even though I have not gotten into City yet, I assume this takes the place of her mallet.
I love it when a figure catches me by surprise and this figure is one of the nicest surprises I have had in a while. Everything about this toys is done well and all of the stops were pulled out to make Harley a fun toy while staying loyal to the source. For me, she is by far the best of the Arkham bunch so far, but I don’t have Catwoman yet.
So there you have a line-up too big for one Asylum so it had to be moved to the entire city. All four of these figures will fit perfectly with your Batman and Two Face and Nightwing and Harley will really stand out. They are shipping now and even though I have been hearing that Legacy is going on a hiatus while The Dark Knight Rises merchandise takes over, I would love to see this little sub sect continue on in plastic form, there are a ton of great designs to get to.
*Thanks for reading and thanks so much for Len and his Batman crew at Mattel for sending these along. We will have a look at the comic figures from Legacy 3 coming in the next few days.