Captain Toy/Michael's Review of the Week

Captain Toy Picks...
The Top Ten Batman Action Figures

Date Published: 2016-08-24
Written By: Michael Crawford

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Star Ace Harry Potter Hermione action figure

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This week on "Captain Toy Picks" I'm switching gears slightly. The last two have been around a specific format - sixth scale - but tonight I'm looking at a specific character, one of my all time favorites: Batman.

The following are my current (and that changes minute to minute) ten favorite Batman action figures.  These are not statues, or mini-busts, or inflatable balloons. They are action figures, with at least some level of mobility. It's also important to remember that I like these for all sorts of reasons, whether it's the particular incarnation of Batman, the particular execution of the figure, or just because it means something personal to me.  What figures each of us has been exposed to has a big effect as well. That's what makes these lists interesting, since they'll vary for everyone.

Remember, this is a BATMAN list, not a Batman universe list, so no Jokers or Catwomen etc., just Batman. I used the Joker as the first photo because it seemed fitting, since he'd have his own opinion on the subject as well.  Besides, I like the photo, and I didn't want to give anything away as to the contents of the list.

Here we go!

10 - Zipline Batman, Mattel, 2003
One of the things I realized as I put together this list - out of the hundreds of Batman action figures produced over the years, very few of them have been great.  I don't know why, but it seems like he always gets the short end of the stick, and picking ten wasn't as easy as you'd think. When Zipline Batman was released, there were very few decent options, and he was quite the step up in terms of sculpt and paint, truly the first Mattel figure to stand out. Even with his limited articulation, he remains one of my favorite basic comic book designs.

Mattel Zipline Batman action figure

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9 - 1966 Batman, Hot Toys, 2014
I'm a big fan of the old television show, silly, campy, and ridiculous as it is.  That's actually its charm, and throw in a heavy dose of nostalgia and you have an incarnation of Batman that I really, really, really wanted a great figure based on. If we'd ever actually gotten one, it would be much higher on this list (and if I were including statues, the Tweeterhead would be way up there).

The best we've gotten so far is the Hot Toys release, which is pretty damn close...but not quite perfect. Unfortunately, he only has Robin to go with him, and I highly doubt we'll ever see Hot Toys revisit the license.

Hot Toys 1966 Batman sixth scale action figure

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8 - DC Superheroes, Mattel, 2005
This figure is a bit of a cheat I suppose, since it's fairly close in design to the Zipline Batman. But Mattel improved the articulation considerably, and updated the look slightly as well, creating what many consider the best general comic book Batman figure. They also released it several times (technically the first time it was Armor Attack Batman, although he had longer ears then), but my personal favorite is the black and gray version in wave 8 of the DC Superheroes.

Photo courtesy of Action Toy Review.

DC Superheroes Batman action figure

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7 - Batman And Son, DC Direct, 2007
DC Direct (now DC Collectibles) has done a huge number of Batman figures through the years. Their Hush version was definitely popular, but the stand out for me was the Batman and Son Batman, based on the artwork of Andy Kubert.  I'm not a fan of the silly soap opera story line, but I love Kubert's work and this release did a fantastic job of capturing that design. Like all DCD figures it could use some more articulation, but as a statuesque figure on the shelf it's tremendously imposing. And he has one of the coolest capes!

DC Direct Batman and Son action figure

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6 - 1989 Batman Returns, Hot Toys, 2016
There had to be a Burton style Keaton version on here someplace, and odds were pretty damn good it wasn't going to be a Kenner figure.  Hot Toys and NECA have both been working this license the last couple years, and both have some great releases.  When I thought about the Burton films, it came down to four figures in the running: the Hot Toys 1989 Batman, the Hot Toys Batman Returns Batman/Bruce Wayne, the NECA 6" 1989 figure, and the NECA 1/4 scale release. I waffled, I wavered, I Sophie's Choiced. In the end I picked the most recent, the Bruce Wayne/Batman from Batman Returns by Hot Toys. While I love both of the NECA figures, particularly when considering the price point, it's really the look of the Bruce head with the torn cowl, like in the photo below, that cements this one as the current pick.

Hot Toys Batman Returns action figure

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5 - Dark Knight Rises, Mafex, 2013
Medicom has been producing exceptional figures in a 1/12th scale under their Mafex brand for the last few years.  If you're looking for the ultimate Batman from the Dark Knight trilogy in that 6" range, this is the guy. They did two versions, but I prefer the original release - your mileage may vary.  These figures define super poseable, and while the sculpt and paint work are nothing to be scoffed at, it's the articulation and natural poseability that sets him apart.

Photo courtesy of Medicom.

Medicom Mafex DKR Batman action figure

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4 - Dark Knight Armory, Hot Toys, 2015
Hot Toys has done a fair share of sixth scale figures based on the Dark Knight trilogy. While the DX02 and the DX12 have a lot going for them, I think it was the figure that came with the Armory that really captured the best look.  It's very much like the DX12, but the head sculpt has been improved, making it a real upgrade to the earlier releases.

Photo courtesy of Hot Toys.

Hot Toys Armory Batman sixth scale action figure

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3 - The New Batman Adventures, DC Collectibles, 2015
You knew there had to be an animated Batman on here some where - it's only the greatest version of Batman ever to hit the screen, and there's only been a million figures based on the 90's cartoons. It was BTAS that really started it all of course, but this new TNBA version from DCC is the nicest, highest quality, best looking animated style Batman we've ever gotten. They've also done a more traditional BTAS version, but while I like that show better, I like this overall figure just a bit more.

DC Collectibles animated Batman action figure

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2 - Dark Knight Rises 1/4 scale, Hot Toys, 2013
Both Hot Toys and Enterbay have done exceptional versions of the Nolan Batman in 1/4 scale, for exceptional prices. I went with the Hot Toys version, a figure that can take its place next to any high end statue in the same scale and easily hold its own. With some well designed articulation, decent sculpting and paint, some terrific accessories, and even a light up feature, this guy remains my favorite Batman release period from the DK movies.

Hot Toys Dark Knight Rises Batman 1/4 scale action figure Qmx

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1 - Dark Knight Returns, Mezco One:12 Collective, 2015
I'm really digging on the One:12 Collective figures from Mezco, including their other upcoming DC and Marvel superheroes. But their initial release of the Dark Knight Returns Batman is still my favorite, and it's combination of cloth outfit with detailed sculpt puts it at the top of my list.  This is a highly poseable figure with some great extras, and whether you get the first version or one of the later variants, you're going to love it. While I like all the other stuff we've seen them announce, I'm hoping to get some other comic based Batmen in the line before too many years pass.

One:12 Collective DKR Batman action figure

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In Closing...
There's some interesting stuff here, at least to me. Part of my fascination with lists like this is what it says about my current tastes, and how they relate to the market.

- this list tends to be more modern than the previous two. As I said earlier, I noticed while perusing all the older Batman figures out there, an awful lot of them really, really sucked.  I've never really noticed it before, but the guy tends to get screwed in the plastic rendition department. There's an absolute dearth when it comes to the 4" scale.

- Hot Toys managed to snag four of the spots, but only three went to sixth scale.

- There were way more Nolan versions than I expected with four on the list.  It's one of my least favorite Batman costume designs, and yet it showed up a lot...I suspect it has to do with the ability for that particular costume to allow for actual 'action' in your figure.

- some key figures are missing, like the Mego Batman.  While he's certainly ground breaking, I have to be honest and admit he's not a favorite, not even from a nostalgic point of view.  More likely would have been the Captain Action Batman, but he's still not able to crack the top 10.

So what's your list look like?

If you're enjoying this concept of Captain Toy Picks, drop me a line and let me know!

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Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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