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Review of Joker, Alfred, Bruce Wayne Retro action figures

Figures Toy Company
Date Published:
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Overall Average Rating: 2.5 out of 4

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Bruce Wayne, Joker, Alfred retro action figure by Figures Toy

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Introduction

For every generation, there are key lines, key styles of action figures, certain designs that simply define the time and set the tone for a future collector's adult taste. If you were action figure age in the late 70's, Mego's were the line of influence, both with kids and the market.

Mego figures were about 8" tall, and included characters that were licensed and unlicensed. They were the last major company to produce figures across both the Marvel and DC universe, and they also hit up science fiction themes like Star Trek, while doing unlicensed characters from the old west and medieval periods. One of their biggest hits was the Planet of the Apes, and they produced a wide range of characters and play sets for the classic films.

Move forward 20 years, and viola - you have adults looking to re-capture the nostalgic feel of the toys of their youth, and that would be Mego. In the 90's, custom figures in an 8" scale with a similar style to the old Mego lines became quite popular, with some of those customizers - like Charlee Flatt - making quite a name for themselves. Mainstream companies took notice, and have attempted to tap into that nostalgia off and on over the last twenty years, some with more success than others. The fact that these 'retro' figures are still a major player (look at NECA's success with them over the last couple years) is a testament to their long term appeal.

That is not to say they are for everyone. To tap into that look and feel requires mimicking some things that are definitely not market standards today. The style of sculpting, the baggy clothes, the body design, all these things have to remain somewhat true to their origins to be effective. If that look doesn't speak to you, your assessment of modern versions will be very different.

When I look at figures like this - those that are trying to capture a nostalgic feel - I compare them to other products in that price range, as well as considering how well they manage to pull off the nostalgic factor and yet provide improvements and updates where possible.

And with that eye, I'll be checking out three exclusives from the Figures Toy Company retro line, based on the 1966 Batman show: Bruce Wayne, Alfred, and the Joker. All three of these are Entertainment Earth exclusives, and are sold as a set of five figures (with a Penguin and Dick Grayson - more on those two in the future) for $175.

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Bruce Wayne, Joker, Alfred retro action figure by Figures Toy

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Packaging - ***
The original figures came one of two ways - either in a box, or on a card. Either way, the artwork was quite distinctive, and they've attempted to mirror the style of the old carded figures with these new packages.

They did a terrific job capturing that style without matching it exactly, so you can put these next to any carded originals you might have (you lucky devil, you) and they'll blend in, but stand on their own merits.

The package is also designed to be collector friendly, and the outer clamshell merely opens up, allowing you to slip the figure and card back out easy peasy. There are a few twisty ties, but nothing too extreme.

However, they then go in completely the opposite direction, and have placed a special zip tie at the peg hole at the top. You must cut this tie to open the package, making what would have been a fantastic looking collector friendly package very much NOT collector friendly. I'm not a big fan of requiring you to damage the package to open it, particularly when that is clearly being done to maintain 'value'. What would have been a four star package takes a hit because of it.

Bruce Wayne, Joker, Alfred retro action figure by Figures Toy

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Sculpting - Alfred ***1/2; Joker ***; Bruce **1/2
The heads on these figures are rotocast, which means they are not solid.  Again, this is identical to the process used back in the day to manufacture the original heads.  Modern rotocasting does retain more detail though, and you can see that in both the Joker and Alfred.

I really, really like the work on Alfred. He's very recognizable as the actor and character, and the amount of detail in the wrinkles and hair is quite good. This is a nice example of taking that old school look and improving on it.

The Joker is solid work as well, with good detail in the wrinkled forehead and small teeth. Again, while this is clearly a 'retro' style, the quality of the sculpt is better than what we would have seen in 1977.

And then there's Bruce. They didn't do as well with the Adam West likeness, and while the sculpt is clean, it's also quite generic. From certain angles I can pick out Mr. West, but it's not quite at the level I'd hoped for.

Bruce Wayne, Joker, Alfred retro action figure by Figures Toy

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Paint - Bruce ***; Joker, Alfred **1/2;
In this category, things take a flip flop. The work on Bruce is quite clean, particularly around the eyes, eyebrows and lips.  The hair line has a minor blip or two, but it tends to blend in nicely.

Alfred isn't quite as good, thanks to the work on the hair and mustache. They did what they could at this price point, but it's a bit clumpy and thick, and takes away some of the detailing in the hair.

Finally, there's the Joker.  He would have scored at least as good as Bruce, maybe better, except for one very weird choice. The work on the hair and face is fairly clean, and even the lips and teeth are decent (although the upper teeth are a bit dark). They've done a great job with his infamous mustache too, which is obvious in macro photos but looks much more subtle in hand.

But then they did something really weird with the eyes - they went with what looks like two catch lights. Personally, I would have preferred none at this scale, but the singles they have with Bruce and Alfred look decent enough. But with the Joker, they made it appear as though there are two bright lights shining in his eyes, one from either side, and it just looks...weird.

Bruce Wayne, Joker, Alfred retro action figure by Figures Toy

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Articulation - ***
Like the original bodies, these are held together with elastic bands in the torso. That makes the elbows and hips a bit difficult to work with at times, but not as bad as the old school figures. They've improved on the design, increased the range of movement in some areas (I really like the torso joint), and they can take a slightly more natural pose than once upon a time.

It's still not 'modern', and lacks a ball jointed neck or rocker feet, for example. But they do stand find on their own long term, and you should have no trouble finding reasonable poses.

Bruce Wayne, Joker, Alfred retro action figure by Figures Toy

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Accessories - Joker, Alfred ***; Bruce Bupkis
These don't come with a ton of extras, but what's here creates the 'exclusive variant' nature of the set.

Alfred has has green apron, and while I could have put that in the Outfit section, I decided to include it as an accessory.  He comes wearing it over the black suit, but you can remove it, take off the jacket, and put the apron back in place, as he wore it in the show. He also comes with his glasses, which look great but can be a bear to keep in place.  The soft plastic is easily deformed in the package, and the arms are soft and malleable. I ended up using two very small pieces of poster tack to keep the arms tight to the sides of his head.

The Joker only comes with one extra but it's a great one - his utility belt. In one of the first season episodes, the Joker becomes fixated on having his own version of the Batman utility belt, and they've done a great job reproducing it here. It does mean that he can't close his outer jacket when he's wearing it since it's too thick, but who would want to hide it?

Finally, there's Bruce, who comes up empty in this category. They do have some cool accessories that they packed in their 25 piece accessory set, and I wish they'd thrown in an item or two from there.

Bruce Wayne, Joker, Alfred retro action figure by Figures Toy

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Outfit - Joker ***; Alfred, Bruce **1/2
Baggy, poorly fitting outfits was a standard with the old series (although the superhero costumes usually fit pretty well). That's simply because getting good fabric cut and layered in 1/9th scale is no easy feat, and it hasn't been until more recent years that certain types of micro fabrics have existed for them to use.

While I understand their desire to match the old kitchy style, I do wish they'd improve the game a bit more here. Of the three, the Joker is the best, with a good looking shirt, vest, coat, pants, tie and shoes to go with the aforementioned utility belt.  The buttons and collars are a little large, the overall fit is a bit baggy, but the final result is still an improvement on the originals, and maintains that same flavor and feel.

I wasn't quite as happy with Bruce and Alfred.  I think that removing the jacket on Alfred and just going with the apron over his shirt is probably the way to go, because I'm not a fan of the tailoring or fit of the coat. It's too tight around the waist, throwing off the look of the character.  His tie isn't bad though, certainly an improvement over the very short, very wide version Bruce is wearing.  The collars are big and bulky, and the general tailoring mediocre.

While Bruce was my least favorite in this category, I do like the material they used for his smoking jacket.  This jacket is what gives him his exclusive look, and while it exhibits many of the same problems that I've mentioned, the material and quality are a nice step up from the old school style.

Bruce is also wearing socks, and Alfred is not. I have no idea why.

Bruce Wayne, Joker, Alfred retro action figure by Figures Toy

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Fun Factor - ***
Fans of Mego figures will have a great time with these.  While there is a Bruce Wayne head with the original series, it was part of the Alter Ego line up, and was still wearing the Batman garb.  All three of these characters can actually be added to your Mego display and fill holes that were never part of the original line up, making them a better buy than something like a merely re-made Batman or Robin.

And yes, there was a Joker in the original line up, but it was a comic based Joker, not a Cesar Romero Joker.

Bruce Wayne, Joker, Alfred retro action figure by Figures Toy

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Value - **
This category is a bit of a killer, although I'm betting die hard fans will have little concern.

The usual retro figure in this line sells for $25 - $30.  You can only pick these up as part of a set of five (which includes the Dick Grayson and Penguin) direct from Entertainment Earth, where they are $175, or $35 each. The exclusive nature is what's driving a big part of the higher cost, as well as (I'm guessing here) a likely low production run. Still, there's enough re-use that keeping them at that same rate should have been feasible.

Bruce Wayne, Joker, Alfred retro action figure by Figures Toy

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Things to Watch Out For -
Not much. I was able to bend Alfred's glasses around quite a bit without any damage, but you might want to take a little care.

Overall - **1/2
As I said in the intro, these are not for everyone. If you find retro Mego style figures silly or goofy, then it's unlikely that you'll be able to judge these as anything but ridiculous. This review - and this line - is not for you.

However, for fans of the old style, there are some really great releases these days.  Of these three, both Alfred and the Joker had that potential, but fell just short of a higher overall score thanks to a couple minor issues.  For the Joker, it was those double dot eyes, which look weird even in hand.  For Alfred, it was the soft arms on the glasses, and his weirdly fitting coat.  Correct these things on both figures, and you would have gotten another half star easy.

Another half star could have come from the price, as well.  At $35 each - and having to buy all five - the price tag for ownership is higher than average.

Then there's Bruce.  He's nice to have, but is a good example of where the 'buy all five' concept really hurts.  He's not at the same level as the Joker and Alfred, with a fairly generic head sculpt and only the smoking jacket to make him stand out.

I have a few more of these to cover in the coming weeks, and you'll see more examples of where things go right and where things go wrong, and how just the smallest change can make a big difference.

Score Recap (out of ****):
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - Alfred ***1/2; Joker ***; Bruce **1/2
Paint - Bruce ***; Joker, Alfred **1/2
Articulation - ***
Accessories - Joker, Alfred ***; Bruce Bupkis
Outfit - Joker ***; Alfred, Bruce **1/2
Fun Factor - ***
Value - **
Overall - **1/2

Bruce Wayne, Joker, Alfred retro action figure by Figures Toy

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Where to Buy 
Online options include these site sponsors:

- Entertainment Earth is the place to pick up these exclusives, where the set of five (remember, there's also a Penguin and Dick Grayson) is $175.

Related Links -
I've covered other figures in this style, including the Phantom, Captain Action and Dr. Evil, and a couple of the Venture Brothers figures. If you'd like to see something a bit more modern, check out the (slightly smaller) One:12 Collective Batman or Judge Dredd from Mezco.

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

Discussion:
Want to chat about this review?  Try out one of these terrific forums where I'll be discussing it!

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Bruce Wayne, Joker, Alfred retro action figure by Figures Toy

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This product was provided for the review by the retailer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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