There was sort of a 4″ scale renaissance a few years ago. It seemed like every property had started producing toys in the Star Wars scale – Marvel, DC, Army of Darkness, Terminator, random stuff nobody cared about… and hey, it makes sense. Smaller figures cost less to produce and thus can seem less expensive on the market. It was a brief bubble, though, and a lot of lines just vanished. Yes, including the DC line. And the second DC line. Then they had a third tied to The Dark Knight Rises, which was terrible. Not the movie, the line. I loved the movie. But the DKR 4″ line was extremely cheap. There is also an ongoing line based on the Injustice game, but I’ve covered that one already. But ANYWAYYYYYYY… Mattel has recently started up with a new Batman line – Multiverse! Theoretically, it takes figures from all over the Batman megafranchise. I know they have been talking about a mIchael Keaton Batman figure, at least.
The multiverse line has started with a wave of Arkham figures – that is, the Arkham games: Arkham Asylum, Arkham City, and Arkham Origins. Arkham Knight is not out yet. Go. Shoo. Back to the toy box with you. And headlining this first wave are two Batmen…Batmans? Batmi? “Regular” and “Armored” Batman. I’ve got the regular one.
Arkham Universe Batman is pretty much regular Batman, only the specific events of his life follow a few video games more than the comics. While following a lot of the comics, too. Also, his suit is pretty specifically armor rather than spandex. And yes, I know about the complaints – how DARE Batman not wear a thin leotard! Except for all those other times he hasn’t! Look, folks, in the 1930s and ’40s, leotards were made of cotton. Nowadays it’s Spandex, but really, it’s silly for a high-tech vigilante to wear something that offers zero protection. Superman got away with it because he dressed like a 1930s-era circus strong man, but Batman has no such excuse. Mr. Urban Legend is gonna have to armor up if he wants to survive getting shot at, and this is why “regular” Arkham Batman is armored, just not as much as “Armored” Arkham Batman. And that rambling intro should introduce today’s toy – Multiverse Batman!
The Multiverse figures come in a fairly decent blister pack that shows off the figure and looks nice on a shelf. It has limited biographical information – you know, real name, list of equipment, and all that. It also shows some other figures on the back, and therein lies the problem. Some of the wave, not all of it, with no indication that there are any others. Great marketing, folks!
He dresses up like a bat and punches mentally ill people. My hero! Ha, ha, actually, Batman has been written pretty well over the years. His arkham design is kind of an amalgamation of a few ideas – some of the practical aspects of his movie uniforms with generla comic stylings. It ocincidentally turned out a lot like his Nu52 design, what with the ridges and lines and all. Again, it’s good that Batman is wearing armor and not a leotard. Seriously. Imagine how awkward his conversations with Gordon would be if all that stood between the commissioner and Li’L Robin was a thin layer of stretchy nylon.
ANYWAY… Arkham Batman is padded, but the armor looks like his physique. This figure resembles a leotard more, though it has some of the seams/wire lines that exist on his Arkham costume. They aren’t very deep in the sculpt, and kind of easy to miss – again, it looks sorta Spandex-y.
Batman’s cape is pretty cool, and his face is… Batman’s face. Because he actually does a good job of hiding his identity, there aren’t too many distinct things about it. And yet this figure still looks oddly pinched and bland, and somehow “not right.” It’s not an awful head sculpt, but it illustrates the biggest problem with this figure: Proportions.
Batman’s torso is too wide. His shoulders are too big. His arms are too long. His legs are too whort and too wide. His head is too small. I don’t know how it is possible for every single part of his body to somehow be the wrong size, since you would think that at least something would serve as the “base,” but it really is. This isn’t Batman, Masked Vigilante. This is Butman, failed funhouse mirror clone. His awkward proportions make the figure look really cheap, especially when placed next to almost any other toy in this scale. Maybe it’s because Batman is the main hero and they are making so many versions of him, but it really seems that Mattel out very little effort into this guy.
In theory, Batman is pretty easy to paint – you just need a lot of black, gray, or purple. Or neon orange, but Batman isn’t exactly sane. He’s Batman.
Batman’s Arkham getup uses a dark charcoal gray to belnd into the shadows – ideally, he’d go with muted brown or something, but the gray is better than black (black would actually stand out). So the figure went with a much brighter toy-ish shade for some reason. But at least his utility belt is dull gold and not banana yellow! But his paint is pretty darn flat. Yeah, in this budget we probably couldn’t hope for a wash or anything, but the gray is just too light to work. The face on mine is slopy, as well, with a black fleck/dimple on his chin and some pretty odd-looking eyes. Aside from the face there isn’t much slop, but this paint job is pretty dull and uninspired overall.
Well, at least it’s more than five joints! A big trend the last few years has been reducing the articulation of toys in this scale to the “Big Five” – swivel head, shoulders, and hips. So I have to give this figure credit for avoiding that. Batman has a swivel neck, thighs, waist, and wrists, hinged knees and elbows, and sort of combination swivel/hinged hips. Elbows and knees are very important – with only the Big Five, either your figure is pre-posed somehow, or is limited to two poses – “Standing at Attention” and “Zombie Robot.” Thankfully, Batman is better than that.
But here’s the thing – even though he has articulation, it’s pretty awkward. Something about the curve of his arms and the actual range of his shoulder joints keeps him from taking many realistic poses with them, and his legs just look odd no matter what you do. Batman can fight, and that’s a plus, but his punches and kicks look more like interpretive dance. Speaking of dances, he can’t do the Batusi! How tragic is that?
No accessories? No accessories. But here’s the thing – there are accessories in this line. Mr. Freeze comes with his freeze gun, for example. And Batman’s right hand is sculpted to hold items (his left is a closed fist), so what gives? Batman has all of those wonderful toys. A toy of Batman should have some wonderful toys, too. He should at least have a batarang, like pretty much every other Batman ever.
And come on, this is Arkham Batman! He could come with a batarang, or a little grappling hook, or that signal jammer, or even the electro-gauntlets from Arkham origins. Or something! Somewhere! Maybe a piece of equipment from his bio on the package? Instead, he just has an open hand, as if to lament what he is missing. Poor, poor Batman, went out on patrol with an empty utility belt.
A $10 price tag is way more palatable than the Injustice figures, which average $20 each. Yeah, the toy is cheap, but at least it’s reasonably-priced!
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
Nothing is going to break, but check the paint – as simple as it is, Batman’s face seems to vary a lot.
WHERE TO BUY:
These guys are invading retail right now – most of them seem to be showing up at Target, for what it’s worth.
Technically, this is the “default” Batman with an appearance most resembling his generic comic-and-cartoon costume. For that reason, they really shoult have made sure it was a good one. Instead, we get an odd, detail-less, badly-proportioned figure sculpted to hold accessories he does not own. What gives? I picked up Batman so that Mr. Freeze (see Friday) would have somebody to fight, but this figure is a real disappointment. Hopefully the other Batmens in this line look all right, because it does not bode well when the headlining hero comes off so cheaply.