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Captain Toy/Michael's Review of the Week

Review of Batman, Superman, Son of Batman
Dark Knight Returns Anniversary Multiverse action figures

Mattel
Date Published: 2016-02-26
Written By: Michael Crawford
Overall Average Rating: 3 out of 4

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Son of Batman Dark Knight Returns Anniversary figure by Mattel

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Introduction

With Batman Vs. Superman right around the corner, there's been a renewed interest in the comic book series The Dark Knight Returns. Clearly the new film owes at least part of its story line to the classic series, making the property all the rage right now.

Mattel is never one to miss an opportunity, and have released three figures in their new 6" Multiverse series based on the comics/animated movie.  There's Batman and Superman of course, along with a Son of Batman figure. These are a Walmart exclusive, and will run you just south of $20 each.

Mattel did a DKR Batman in this scale and style already (more on that in a bit), but the Superman and Son of Batman are new to their stable. They switched up the color combination on Batman from the usual to the blue and gray (with yellow symbol) to change things up a bit, but Superman is designed to look just like the comic. The third figure is one of the Sons of Batman, the ex-Mutants who decided to vent their violent tendencies as vigilantes, rather than criminals.

Click on the image below for a Life Size version
Son of Batman Dark Knight Returns Anniversary figure by Mattel

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Packaging - ***1/2
The packages are collector friendly, a situation getting more common with the collector themed 6" scale figures on the pegs at the local store. That means Marvel Legends, Star Wars Black, and DC Multiverse all come in packages that can be opened without damage, allowing you to return the figure later for storage or sale.

I particularly like the gold stripe on the front of these, along with the character specific personalization. I did dock them here slightly for one piece of weirdness, however. The Batman and Superman are placed in the inner plastic tray with their cape inserted through, making it a very tight fit. You can still remove them without damaging anything, but there's no way these figures are moving around in transit...and yet, there's a rubber band (or two) added to hold them in place.  Then there's the Sons of Batman dude, who has no cape and is simply snapped into the tray, and has no rubber bands or twisties to hold him. I'd say adding those rubber bands was a definite waste of money.

Batman, Superman, Son of Batman Dark Knight Returns Anniversary figure by Mattel

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Sculpting - ***1/2
While these are designated figures based on the anniversary of the comic, all three remind me more of the animated movie. The work on this Son of Batman isn't particularly exciting, although any fan will recognize who it's supposed to be right away.  This  is clearly the guy they were going for, and they did a solid job. He comes in at about 6 1/2" tall, his hand sculpts work well with the accessories, and he has no trouble standing on his own. He could use a few weapons sculpted to his body, but it's a minor nit.

The Batman is also nice work, although the head sculpt isn't quite as extreme as we usually see with this license.  The bulky MOTUC body works of course, and the proportion of the head to the torso is about right.  Perhaps the highlight of his look is the unique, highly detailed belt. He also has reasonable gripping hands, and stands just fine on his own, even with the heavy rubber cape.  He comes in at about 6 3/4" tall not counting the ears.

And then there's Supes, with his funky hair curl and extreme jaw line.  Again, the proportion of the head to the bulky body seems about right, and he stands great, coming in between 6 3/4" and 7" tall, similar to Batman. He does have a couple mold lines that can be distracting, and the body sculpt is not exactly complex, but the overall look matches the theme well.

Batman Dark Knight Returns Anniversary figure by Mattel

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Paint - Superman **1/2; Batman ***; Son of Batman ***1/2
For mass market toys, even exclusives destined for collectors, the work here is pretty clean.  There's some obvious slop, like along the bottom of Batman's mask, and there are some consistency issues with the color on Supes' costume, but none of these are major deal breakers.

Son of Batman steps it up slightly, with the cleanest lines of the bunch, particularly around his mask and eyes. He could use a few more painted details, particularly on the coat, but he was the best overall in this category. On the other end, Superman has this weird dark abdomen, where it looks like they went nuts with the shading color. It's not as obvious in photos, but in hand it's bordering on ridiculous.

Superman Dark Knight Returns Anniversary figure by Mattel

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Articulation - ***
If you think you've seen the body used for Batman and Superman before, you have. More than once. Lots of times. And if you think you've seen the body used on this Son of Batman, you'd be correct there as well, dozens of times over.

Yep, this is the MOTUC base body, but for some weird reason, the articulation doesn't work as well here. There's a slightly different feel to the plastic, and the joints are very tight. I was able to get Batman to do a little more than Superman, but neither had the fluidity of even the basic MOTUC He-man.

The situation is similar with Son of Batman, but not quite as extreme.  Of course he's sporting the standard DC Universe Classics body, but the torso articulation is quite restricted by the coat, as is the neck.  None of these three are as posable as their earlier incarnations, but the problem is a little worse - at least for me - with Batman and Superman.

Batman Dark Knight Returns Anniversary figure by Mattel

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Accessories - Batman, Superman **; Son of Batman ***
When the Batman Unlimited DKR Batman was released, he came with one accessory - a batarang. And I gave him **1/2 in this category.  Now this DKR Batman comes along with one accessory - a batarang - and I give him **. What gives?

It's quite simple. This guy cost $4 - $5 more than the previous release. Factor in that the biggest issue cited for high action figure costs, the price of oil, is now 1/3 what it was then (and has been for months), and you might see where I'm less impressed by a single, small accessory.

The same holds true for Superman, who has a Kryptonite arrow. The arrow is a nice addition since it plays a key role in the story, but it's not particularly easy for either character to hold it in their sculpted grips. You could drill a little hole in Supes though...

The Son of Batman does better coming with a shotgun and a lit torch, both sensible additions. The sculpts are reasonable if a bit basic on both, but the paint work on the gun is pretty simplistic.  The torch has a nicely done flame effect however, and both accessories fit easily in at least one of his hands.

Superman Dark Knight Returns Anniversary figure by Mattel

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Son of Batman Dark Knight Returns Anniversary figure by Mattel

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Fun Factor - ***
These are middle of the road action figures, with enough articulation to make them fun, but not enough to make them more fun than the average bear.  Had the joints worked a little better, they might have snagged that extra half star.

Batman Dark Knight Returns Anniversary figure by Mattel

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Value - **
At $20, these are pretty light in the accessories department. While that's the going rate right now for 6" collector themed figures, I have to say that my expectations are starting to go back up, not surprisingly in an inverse relationship to oil prices. Of course, it also doesn't help that there's so much re-use with all three of these, and so little new.

Superman Dark Knight Returns Anniversary figure by Mattel

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Things to Watch Out For -
When you're picking these out on the peg at your local Wally World, pay particular attention to the stomach on Supes.  I'm assuming how much black shading was added will vary from figure to figure, and you'll want to avoid any that are as extreme as the one I got.

Son of Batman Dark Knight Returns Anniversary figure by Mattel

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Overall - ***
For those that picked up the earlier Batman Unlimited version, the Superman and Son of Batman figure might be the only required buys.  But adding in all three with that earlier release can make for a pretty terrific display, particularly since Supes uses the same style and body design.

In the end, I liked them but wasn't wowed by them. The overall work on the sculpt and paint was decent, but the articulation was a little annoying and they are quite light in the accessories department. As a huge Batman fan I wasn't going to pass them up, but I wasn't as excited with them once they were open as I had hoped to be.

Score Recap (out of ****):
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpting - ***1/2
Paint - Superman **1/2; Batman ***; Son of Batman ***1/2
Articulation - ***
Accessories - Batman, Superman **; Son of Batman ***
Fun Factor - ***
Value - **
Overall - ***

Batman, Superman, Son of Batman Dark Knight Returns Anniversary figure by Mattel

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Where to Buy 
These are a Walmart exclusive, so that's your best bet. You can always search ebay for a deal.

Related Links -
I already mentioned Mattel's earlier DKR Batman in the Unlimited series, but if you're a huge fan of the story you really need to check out Mezco's One:12 Collective Batman and Mutant Leader. If you're looking for something more in line with these, check out the DC Direct series that's just a bit bigger in scale.

Other Dark Knight Returns merchandise includes the very cool, very big statue from Kotobukiya.

You should also hit the Search Reviews page, in case any other applicable reviews were done after this one was published.

Discussion:
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Batman, Superman, Son of Batman Dark Knight Returns Anniversary figure by Mattel

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This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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