Long Halloween
Batman, Joker, Two Face, Catwoman
and Mad Hatter

DC Direct has been having quite a bit of luck lately with lines based on specific comic series or artists.  The latest in this trend is The Long Halloween series, including Batman of course, along with the Joker, Two Face, Mad Hatter, and Catwoman.

The Long Halloween was written by Joseph "Jeph" Loeb, and drawn by Tim Sale.  It's a continuation of Batman: Year One in many ways, and is also a retelling of the origin of Two Face.  The story involves a new villain, Holiday, killing off prominent mob members on various holidays.  Holiday manages to enrage just about every other super villain in Gotham before the finale.

This series of action figures was delayed several times, but the final product appears to be well worth the wait.  I'd love to see a second series here as well, since other villains like Grundy, Scarecrow, and even Calendar Man (probably our only chance to ever get him) were featured in the books.

You should be able to find these at most comic shops right now, or at the various online suggestions I have listed at the end of the review.

Packaging -  ***
I know there are some folks that aren't fond of the boxes, but I like them.  It's not the box style that caused me to give DC Direct such low marks in the 2005 award for packaging, but rather the dull colors and graphics.

Unfortunately, that's still an issue here.  The header is dull - and yes, I realize the comic cover was somewhat as well, but that doesn't mean there had to be NO artwork on top.  However, if you've been paying attention, you'll notice that the score here did go up this time.

That's because they've used an internal plastic tray this time, instead of attaching the figure to the back of the box in some way.  Now you can remove them, and if you're willing to go through a little twisty tie hell, put them back again later.

Also there's a special note on the twisties - I like how they used silver for any twistie that would be against lighter colored plastic, and black for any against dark plastic.  They went all out with Harvey, using light on one side of his body and dark on the other!

Sculpt - Two Face, Mad Hatter ****; Joker ***1/2; Catwoman ***; Batman **1/2
Talk about being all over the range!  These sculpts vary pretty wildly in their overall quality.

My two favorites are easily Two Face and Mad Hatter.  Mad Hatter has a truly evil appearance, with a ton of small detail work in the hair and face.  The large collar is actually part of the head, and turns as you turn the head.  That might take a little getting used, but looks a lot better (and hurts the articulation less) than the alternative. The sculpted stance works great, and both hands are designed to hold the accessories perfectly.  We haven't gotten too many figures of this guy (this is only our second that I recall), and it's nice to see one that will fit in so well with a variety of Bat-figures.

This particular version of Two Face is extremely comic specific, but he's one of the better designs of Sale's.  The scarred face is particularly well done, with a gruesome texture, bulging eye and exposed teeth.  I also love the suit, and the softer material used with the jacket looks terrific.  He stands well on his own too, and again, can hold his gun nicely.

We've gotten tons of Joker figures over the years, but at least this one is unique in style.  He comes bearing Christmas gifts as well, but you can remove the pack from his back, along wit the hat, and have a basic Sale Joker.  I love the huge grin, and the detailing on the teeth is excellent.  Once again, he stands great on his own, and holds his accessories easily.

The translation of Catwoman from 2D to 3D didn't go quite as well.  The head sculpt is great, and they've captured the large ears well.  But the body lacks a dynamic or even interesting pose, and with somewhat limited articulation below the waist, there won't be too much you can do about it.

Finally, there's Batman.  While I like the rest of Sale's designs, I was never a huge fan of his Bats, and it doesn't translate well.  The face is very gorilla-like, and the mouth expression they chose doesn't help.  There's also something awkward about the overall pose, and it's something you can't correct with the articulation. I do like the cape quite a bit though, particularly because of the wavy sculpt and uneven bottom edge.

The scale on these is 6", smaller than most other DC Direct releases.  It would certainly be nice of they could actually settle on a scale.  Although these won't fit in with most other recent DC Direct Batman releases, they will fit in with both the older Mattel comic line and the new Mattel DC Superheroes lines just fine.  They look pretty good with the DC Direct Rogue's Gallery figures as well.

Paint - ***1/2
This is a category that DC Direct collectors have had issues with time and again.  Paint application has been a consistent problem for them.  Thankfully, the set I received was almost perfect.

The first thing you'll probably notice is that Two Face looks nothing like the original prototype paint.  That's not really such a bad thing though, as I like this more colorful and distinct look.  His pinstripes are perfect, and there's absolutely no slop between colors.

Actually, that's true for the entire set.  There's the occasional area were there's a little over spray, or one or two stray marks here and there, but the paint work in general is much better than some past DC Direct work.  With the delays in this line, let's hope that means that they went back to the factory and instituted some new procedures that have corrected the issues permanently.

Just a side note - I'm not a fan of the bicycle pants on Batman.  Yes, we all know about the million 'underwear on the outside' jokes, but these shorts really look dork city.

Articulation - Joker, Hatter, Catwoman, Two Face ***; Batman **1/2
While some of these figures received lower scores than others, make no mistake - the series in general is a big improvement for DC Direct in this category.

Some of the figures are still a bit disappointing, not because of the amount of articulation, but because of its less than terrific range of movement.

Batman is an example.  He does have a ball jointed neck that works quite well, along with ball jointed shoulders, pin elbows and knees, a T crotch, and cut forearms at the top of the gloves.  Some additional leg articulation would have been helpful, but it's really the ball jointed shoulders that drive me nuts.  They are practically useless, and his arms have no hope or prayer of ever coming any where near the body, adding to his monkey look.

Catwoman has a similar issue with her shoulders.  Fortunately for her, she has an extra cut joint on the bicep, to go along with the shoulder, pin elbow, and cut wrist, so that her hands can get closer to her body, although her upper arms never will.  She also has a great ball jointed neck, T crotch and pin knees.  The tail is not articulated.

The Joker has a ball jointed neck, although it doesn't quite have the range of Catwoman's, along with cut shoulders, pin elbows and knees, cut wrists, and a T crotch.  He has an additional cut joint on the bicep of the right arm so you can get his hand to hold the bag, and his ankles are articulated inside the pant leg, with just the *slightest* bit of movement possible.

The articulation on the Mad Hatter isn't quite as extensive, but what's here works well for the small character design.  He has a cut neck, since the collar design would pretty much negate the use of a ball joint, cut shoulders, pin elbows and knees, a T crotch and cut wrists.  There aren't a lot of poses he can take, but there are a handful of killer ones.

Two Face gets back the ball jointed neck, and his is perhaps the best of the bunch.  He has cut sholders, cut biceps, pin elbows, and a T crotch.  While he has less articulation than most of the others (especially with the loss of the pin knees), his articulation works better for posing than any other figure in the group.  The cut joints on both biceps along with the excellent ball jointed neck makes him the winner in this category.

Accessories - ***
Generally, DC Direct figures do not come with much in terms of extras.  However, here's another category we're they've improved, albeit slightly.

Every figure comes with a display base made to look like a sidewalk in Gotham.  These pieces attach to each other with included clips, and the Mad Hatter's is the special corner piece.  His is also the only one to have the sewer cover embossed on it. One nifty feature is that they are the same as the Rogues Gallery bases, and can attach to them as well.

Each figure also comes with a very tiny, thin piece of paper from a wall calendar, with a specific holiday date.  It's cute, but I'm not sure how you'll use it in your display.  Background wall perhaps?

Batman has one additional accessory in his batarang.  It is very sturdy plastic, although it is quite thin, and it fits perfectly in his right hand.

The Joker has three accessories, sort of.  There's the hat, which fits on top of his head well, although you'll have to play around with it quite a bit to get it snug.  A magnet, ala the Muppets, would have been nice here, but may have interfered too much with his hair sculpt.

He also has the pack of toys that attaches to his back with a peg.  Force it on tightly enough and you can get his right hand to hold the protruding top of the sack.  Finally, there's his pop gun, with fits in his left hand.

The Mad Hatter also has two additional accessories - his little tea cup and his revolver.  Again, these fit perfectly in his hands, and look terrific.  Scale is excellent, as is the paint and sculpt.

Two Face comes with a swappable right hand.  Both hands have his coin sculpted into the palm, but one has the 'good' side up, and the other has the 'bad' side showing.  He also has a gun that fits neatly in his left hand.

Catwoman has some weird spying gear.  I can see where the night vision goggles would be useful for a burgler as well, but I'm not quite as sure about the listening device.  But considering they could both be used in casing a joint, I'll give them a break.  The goggles fit nicely on her head as well.  The silver wrist bands aren't really accessories, since they can't be removed, but it's worth noting that they are actual metal.

Fun Factor - ***
These aren't really designed for kids, and you should be careful with a couple of the accessories, since they are thin, stiff and sharp.  But the average 8 or 9 year old may find them fun, especially the more visually appealing characters like Mad Hatter and Two Face.

Value - **1/2
I paid WAY too much at a local comic shop for these, because I wanted them on the first day so I could get the review written up.  Don't you do the same thing, since there are online shops below that have these as cheap as $10 each.  I paid $15 each, and that's where this score is coming from.  Drop that to $10 and you can add another half star this time around.

Things to watch out for - 
Not a thing!  Of course, it's a good idea if you're buying these in person to look for the best paint possible, but it appears that this series will have a very consistent, higher quality paint application than some past series.

Overall -  Two Face, Mad Hatter ***1/2; Catwoman, Joker, Batman ***; 
The long delays with this line have turned off some folks, but I'm not sure why that is.  I've never understood that mentality, since when something comes out has little to do with whether I like it or not.

If the delays were necessary to improve the paint quality, then I'm all for it.  It looks like that's been the case here, and I have very high hopes for further releases from DC Direct in 2006. If we continue to see this level of quality in their sculpts, paint, articulation and accessories, they'll be doing much better next year in my pics for Best of 2006. 

Packaging - ***
Sculpt -  Two Face, Mad Hatter ****; Joker ***1/2; Catwoman ***; Batman **1/2
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - Joker, Hatter, Catwoman, Two Face ***; Batman **1/2
Accessories - ***
Fun Factor - ***
Value - **1/2
Overall -  Two Face, Mad Hatter ***1/2; Catwoman, Joker, Batman ***; 

Where to Buy -
You can pick these up at comic shops, or online at:

- Alter Ego Comics has the full set for just $50.

- Circle Red has the for just $50 for the full set as well!

- YouBuyNow has a good price on the individual figures at just $12 each.

- Amazing Toyz has the individuals for $12 - $13 depending on the character, or the set for $54.

- CornerStoreComics has the set for $55, or the individual figures for $14.

- Yikes Comics has the set for $55.

Related Links:
DC Direct has had quite a few Batman related figures and lines in recent months:

- most recently, they released the first series of Elseworlds figures.

- The Public Enemies line included Batman of course.

- The Alex Ross version of Batman was definitely a collector favorite.

- Last summer we got the Rogue's Gallery series.

- and of course my favorites, the series 1, series 2 and series 3 Hush figures.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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