For eighty years we have been following the life and times and adventures of Batman. Well, it might have taken eight decades for Batman to get his greatest Comic Con exclusive ever, but lemme tell you, it was worth the wait.
I am entering this year’s SDCC with a bit of melancholy about Mattel’s DC showing. While I am excited about what is to come this year because the Multiverse is really hitting its stride now, I am sad because 2019 marks the end of their DC run as we know it, and new licensees will be bring DC figures to market in 2020. I have had a great time collecting DC universe since the original Batman and Superman lines, through DCUC, and into Multiverse, so I am coming to a point where part of my collection is about to end, and I am just not ready to let it go quite yet.
However, there is nothing stopping the change, so we will see what we will see in terms of the future, but for now, I have to say that we are getting a REALLY great SDCC exclusive. I will admit, I have not been particularly hyped for DC exclusives the past few years, but in terms of going out with BANG!, Mattel might just be offering up one of the most fun sets I have gotten in a long time. Batman has been around for 80 years now, so you can imagine that he has had his share of strange misadventures, and this set is a lovely celebration of those wonderfully odd times.
The “Strange Lives of Batman” is certainly not a misnomer, and and the versions of the Caped Crusader included (either by figure or head/face swaps) in this set are illustrate just how crazy Bruce Wayne’s past has been. The box boasts its influence from the following stories:
- HOW TO BE THE BATMAN
- THE NEGATIVE BATMAN
- THE RAINBOW BATMAN
- RIP VAN BATMAN
- THE ALIEN BATMAN
- BATMAN’S ROBOT TWIN
- BATMAN’S SECRET IDENTITY
I know that some of us have been opining for the Zebra and Rainbow Batman for a long time, but the fact that both of them are now in my collection is just something to marvel at. Well, I wouldn’t say “marvel” at since this is DC, but it certainly is a lot of fun.
Before you even get to the figures, the packaging is really, really impressive, and the crew at Mattel went all out to present this celebration of Batman in the sharpest way possible. The box is HUGE, and the outer box has a bit of an older times pulp feel to it. Inside the display box has a Silver Age DC comics look to it with a slip cover that holds everything in place. The colors are very nice and the packaging interacts with the figures nicely while not distracting from them. I am very pleased to see the people who brought this set to us credited on the back as well. Our guy Bill Benecke has been at this for a LONG time, so I love seeing his name on what might be one of greatest DC achievements.
Now, the figures themselves are a lot fun, and all based on the same base, which had a lot of new parts for this set. The “standard,” Negative, Zebra, and Rainbow Batman looks have individual figures, while Bruce Wayne, Rip Van Batman, Robot Twin, and Alien Batman make use of swappable parts on the standard Standard Batman body. I knew that I would love Zebra and Rainbow before this set even arrived, and they are excellent, but man, I am likely NEVER going to display anything but Rip Van Batman on that standard base, what an AMAZING and crazy inclusion.
Overall, all of the looks are accomplished well, and while some of the figures are more fun or dynamic, they all have their strong points. Rainbow is certainly the most eye-catching, but the Negative Batman figure is cast in a translucent black plastic, so you can actually see light passing through it at times, which is a really fun touch. I was skeptical about the face piece swaps working out well for Rip and Robot, but they fit seamlessly, and do a good job of taking advantage of what is there in terms of parts, without having to require new heads for everything.
Like I said, Rainbow, Zebra, and Rip are my personal favorites, but can you believe it has taken us this long to get a Bruce Wayne head? This is obviously an early version of Bruce with a flattop, but hey, even in the last year of possibility, it did finally happen.
Now, these Batman figures are constructed using parts from the newer-ish standard Multiverse body, so it comes with those strengths and weaknesses. So, the articulation is as heavy we have pretty much ever seen it in Mattel DC, but there is some spindliness to the legs, so if that bothered you before, it will likely persist now. I am mostly okay with the proportions, but that bulkier DCUC base is so ingrained into my psyche and collection, it can be hard to shake.
The quality on the set is pretty nice, though, and there are only a few paint bleeds here and there, but that will obviously depend on individual figures. I do wish the capes would have been rigged differently as my Rainbow cape was left with a hole on the right side, but other than those two things, the set is pretty free and clear.
Like I said, this is a pretty damned fun release, and I really love it. Mattel has sent quite the love letter to Batman with this set, and maybe their entire run with DC as well, and so many details were accounted for and executed wonderfully. You can put the figure back in the package if you like, and I am still trying to decide how I am going to display them because they look so nice in that giant box. Oh, and don’t miss the poster behind the swappable heads in the top flap of the box.
If you are headed to the show and are a Batman an in the least, I really recommend this set, it is wonderfully wacky and gives due credit to the highlights of the very Strange Lives of Batman.
*Thanks to our friends at Mattel for sending along this promotional sample for this early look.