We are just days away from the official (seasonal) start of summer, but for geeks around the world, summer really starts at the beginning of May. That is when the Hollywood blockbusters start to invade mega-plexes, and if a blockbuster happens to be a super-mega-blockbuster, you can bet there will be toys. If I need to explain to you why The Dark Knight Rises is one of those sure-bet blockbusters, you can probably stop reading now. Still here? Good! Summer movies and Comic Con are two great tastes that taste great together, and the wily wascals at Warner Brothers planned the Dark Knight’s drop into cinemas to be conveniently timed for the Friday right after SDCC 2012. Coincidence? Hardly. So you might be able to guess that all of the geeks descending on San Diego in less than a month will be all a-flutter over all things Batman. You might also be able to guess that many, MANY companies will have more Batman merchandise than you can shake a giant mallet at ready for your hard-earned dollars. Mattel is the master toy license holder for DC Comics and they are bringing their support for The Dark Knight Rises in the form of an exclusive Movie Masters figure. The Bruce-Wayne-to-Batman figure will be available at the show (and later on Matty Collector) and will be able to stand right alongside the standard TDKR Movie Masters, as well as those from Batman films past. Come on in to see all of the details and a few very quick thoughts.
We have A LOT of articles to bring you in the coming days, so I am going to stay true to my word and let the pictures do most of the talking. However, I would be remiss if I did not point out a few things with this release. Yeah, I am usually not a fan of “dress-up” costumes or soft goods, but this exclusive figure actually does a pretty good job of taking those qualities and turning them into a fun gimmick.
I say gimmick because really, if you think about it, a costume change for a figure is just that. Then again, so are action features, color changes, glow-in-the-dark qualities, etc. I love toys, I love a lot of different kinds of toys and collecting them is my hobby, but even I tend to usually shy away from the “gimmick” aspect of them, especially in my, ahem, “Adult Collector©” lines. However, I can see the appeal for something like this for a lot of collectors. So what are the particulars, you ask? Here are a few things:
Let’s face it, Mattel usually has convention packaging down cold. I know the ommon gripe is that moneyshould be put into the toy itself and not the box, but that does not make some of the packaging designs really cool. In the past we have seen great things like the Wonder Twins hinge box, the Starro “museum piece,” and the King Grayskull castle configuration. Well, this new Bruce-to-Bats figure comes trussed -up in a box worthy of that kind of company. Essentially, the Bruce figure is displayed in a newly-rebuilt Wayne Manor display, and all his clothes and implements to make him Batman are set in a Bat Cave display that is hidden behind his secret bookshelf. Neater still, if you push the “trigger book,” there is a sound chip that will play the three notes to active the secret passage.
Much to the chagrin of a few very nice packaging designers I have met over the years, I am usually a “discarder.” I don’t have the space for it all and I am not a MOC collector. However, I know when I have a really cool piece on my hands, so I will be keeping this one displayed in the package (as you might be able to guess, you can get all of the stuff back in the box pretty easily). Each year Mattel has one stand-out packaging execution and this year it belongs to The Dark Knight Rises.
The Bruce Wayne figure has all of the articulation points on the standard Four Horsemen-style body you have come to know over the years, save for one. As advertised, most of the Batman suit is a rubber overlay piece, but the actual boots are swappable pieces. I don’t know if it is directly because of that, but there is no ankle articulation in either pair of boots. I know that does not seem like a huge deal, but we are talking about Batman here, and as my long-time pal DisThunder will tell you, any missed POA on Batman is a crying shame. How much you actually care about such a thing will vary by your taste, but do note that those points are missing. Also, you might notice that the figure looks pretty thin and the head seems small compared to other Movie Masters. This was obviously done to compensate for the overlays so that they would not make the figure look overly bulgy when it is on.
As for the costume itself, like I said before, I have never really been convinced by a “dress-up” gimmick before, but this costume does fit the figure fairly well. It is puffy, almost like it should be used for those nasty Gotham winters and that is most apparent at the shoulder and elbows. The cowl and cape are a separate piece from the rest of the suit, and while that had the most potential to go awry (with the eye holes not matching up), it is actually the best-fitting piece. The suit itself keeps most of the armor details, but unless you are one to really get into the swappable costume, a standard Batman figure is going to be more convincing. Plus, I don’t know if there would be any way around it, but the suit does limit the arm articulation. However, that is kind of the point of this figure — you can get your regular Batman at any store, but the SDCC figure has a little something extra for you. It is not essential, but it is a fun quality. The utility belt is made of a soft plastic (not the rubber of the suit) and you also get a couple of Batarangs, and, for the first time, the grappling gun and “sticky bomb” launcher.
As a final comment on the suit, I guess I probably do not need to warn you, but I am going to do it anyway: be careful with it. It is made of a very soft rubber and if you don’t treat it carefully, you are likely to have a rip on your hands. I will be interested to see how the integrity of the rubber holds up over time as well.
Of all of the SDCC exclusives that have arrived here for preview thus far (we have not received Vykron, Polly Pocket, Monster High, or Hot Wheels), I think this figure feels the most like a Comic Con exclusive. It is a unique (and probably more expensive) execution, it has a lot of pieces, very impressive packaging, but it is not a stand-alone, essential character that cannot be gotten elsewhere. I think many people will be satisfied with their standard DKR Batman figures and will want to keep this one mint-on-card due to the unique nature of box. For those that decide to bust out Bruce, the rubber costume (especially the cowl) is kind of a fun execution for what is essentially a “dress-up” figure. The likeness to Bale is good (but I find the Proto Suit Bruce likeness to be better overall) and since this looks like the end of the Nolan Bat-verse, this will probably be our last shot at getting a Bruce head. Like I mentioned, aside from the missing ankle articulation, I think this figure will be a winner for most Bat fans looking for a neat piece of memorabilia to help mark the cap to a very impressive cinematic Batman run. I feel like this is more of a packaged show piece to illustrate the change into Batman, as far as figures go though, there are better Batman figures out there. Taken as a collector display piece, it fares better. If you are going to SDCC, this will be at the Mattel booth. If not, you can try your luck on Matty Collector in early August.
* Thanks for reading and thanks to the Dark Knight Team for sending along this figure for a First Look!