Kia Asamiya Batman Wave 1
Batman, Joker, Catwoman, Two Face

Over the last few months, Yamato has been has been doing some pretty spiffy Batman figures.  Actually much more statue than action figure, these 6" - 7" scale characters sport excellent sculpts, and generally better than average paint ops.

They've released two waves of their own figures so far, wave 1 consisting of Batman, Robin, Joker and Harley.  Wave 2 consisted of Batman again, and his foes the Riddler, Penguin and Poison Ivy.

They've been a successful line, and now Yamato has branched out, doing a new series of Batman figures based on the artwork of Kia Asamiya, a very famous manga artist.  He is a self described huge fan of both Batman and Star Wars, and is a tremendously popular artist in Japan.  His studio is called Studio TRON, named after the Disney movie.

The first wave of figures based on his art includes Batman, Joker, Catwoman and Two Face. 

These figures just started shipping through Diamond about two weeks ago.  You can find them at your local comic shop, but I have some suggestions at the end of the review as well.  You can expect to pay in the neighborhood of $15 each.

Packaging - **1/2
This packaging really had me going in two very different directions.  I love it and I hate it - how odd is that?

I love the look of the boxes, and the graphics are excellent.  Unfortunately, they're a little too consistent from character to character, and I didn't even see the name of the particular figure inside listed on the box anywhere.  But they are still very eye catching and attractive.  And let's face it - boxes always hold up better than carded figures, and are generally easier to store.  These are also completely collector friendly, and don't have a single twisty tie!  Woo-hoo!

On the downside, they're huge.  While the size was important for Batman to get him and his base inside, the boxes are way too big for characters like Harvey Dent and Catwoman.  On top of that, they don't show off the figures well, with the die cut front blocking most of your view.

Sculpting - Catwoman ****; Batman ***1/2; Joker ***; Two Face **1/2
Most of these series have been all over the place when it comes to the sculpts, and this series is no exception.  I love both the designs and the execution on Catwoman and Batman, but the Joker is a little more average, and Two Face leaves me close to cold.

Batman is slouched, descending some ancient stone stairs.  The cape flows well, and the muscles are defined in a very comic book style.  There's a nice realistic appearance to the belt and bags, but the face is done with very little detail, very much like manga.

The only negative here for me is the amount of muscle detail.  It's a tad overdone, particularly in the thighs, but it's not enough to drop this figure more than a half star off four stars.

Catwoman is excellent, and might just be my favorite recent Catwoman figure.  Okay, so I'm a dirty old man - sue me.  This Catwoman has one of the nicest butts I've seen on an action figure, which sounds a tad weird once I typed it out.  The style reminds me of Balent meets Japan, and again her face is very manga in design.  Her pose is perfect, there's a ton of small detail work in the hair, boots and gloves, and I can even tolerate the silly flipping hair look, which I so often complain about. Meow.

The Joker is okay, although not nearly as cool of a design.  He's standing up straight as he so often is, and one hand can hold a grenade, or be swapped for a hand holding a gun.  The other can hold a rose if you desire, or simply look like he's about to pull a rabbit out of his hat.

There's much more detail work on Joker's face, and his body sculpt is also quite detailed.  It's not awful work, but it's a tad too similar to past versions.  Perhaps we've just gotten so many Jokers at this point, that I'm all Jokered out.

Asamiya clearly likes big feet on all his men, as all three of these guys have oversized shoes.  The Joker's are the most obvious due to the thin legs, but they are all sporting mighty dogs.

Two Face does the least for me, especially in the sculpting department.  The body sculpt is pretty good, and the pose is nice and simple, with nothing overly exaggerated or silly.  He has his coin in the left hand, with a gun in his right.

It's the head sculpt that bugs me, especially the hair.  For some reason that I've never understood, artists feel the need to give him unmanageable hair on the 'evil' side.  What, he can't get a comb through it?  I think the facial scarring is sufficient to get the point across, with perhaps a little wildness and different color hair.  This mohawk look is just a tad too silly for my tastes.

If you can get past the hair though, you'll see that the scarred appearance is well done.  He's not the most exciting sculpt of the bunch, but he's still at least acceptable.

The scale may end up a bit of an issue for you though.  These are closer to a 7" scale, and are taller and bulkier than the previous two Yamato series.  They are also larger than the Mattel line, but I don't think it's so far off that it causes that big of a problem.  I've included a comparison shot at the end of the review.

Paint - Catwoman; Joker ***1/2; Batman, Two Face ***
There is a nice amount of detail on most of the figures, but there were still a few issues.

My poor Batman is missing some paint on his knee and leg, probably rubbed off in the packaging process.  There's also a tad bit of slop between some of the more difficult colors, and the washes (particularly on Batman and Two Face) border on the excessive.

Catwoman and Joker had the best work in my bunch, but I bet if you take your time picking them out, you'll be able to find four that are all fairly good.

Articulation - *1/2
These aren't designed to be action figures, but there are lots of 'joints'.  They can be taken apart at the neck, shoulders, and wrists in most cases, or at the forearm or bicep, depending on the figure.

These aren't really points of articulation though, since very few of them can be posed in any way other than one.  You'll notice that I tried turning the Joker's head for the close up shot, and ended up with a gap.  Gapping is an issue with all the joints, since they aren't particularly tight, and the pieces can fall off a little easier than I like.

You can pose some of the pieces though, like Joker's right arm or Two Face's right hand.  But for the most part, these look good in one pose and that's it.

Accessories - Batman, Joker ***; Catwoman, Two Face **1/2
The level of accessories actually varies quite a bit from figure to figure in this wave.

Catwoman has one accessory, her 'base'.  It's a small foot rest, done quite elegantly, with an indentation and peg for her right foot.

Two Face also has just his base, a large coin.  Again, there are pegs for his feet.

Batman does a little better, with his much larger and more intricate base, along with a batarang that can fit in his left hand.  It's tough to keep it in there though, and be careful you don't break it attempting to keep it tight.

The Joker does the best with four accessories - his deck of cards base, a small grenade that can fit in his right palm, a rose that can fit in his left hand, and an alternate left hand that is holding a gun.

Fun Factor - *
These aren't toys designed to be played with, so this category doesn't really apply.  These are statues, well sculpted with solid paint ops, designed to look good in one pose on the shelf.

Value - **
At about $17 each, these are a slightly below average price on the specialty market these days.  Of course, at $12 - $15 they would have snagged another half star, but considering the cost of DC Direct and other lines sold through small retailers, seventeen bucks is pretty average.

Overall - Catwoman ***1/2; Batman, Joker ***; Two Face **1/2
These figures are designed to be cheap statues, and that means sculpt and paint are the most critical factors (along with price of course).  Some of the sculpts were definite hits, while others were misses for me.  The paint was decent, but still had a few more issues than you like to see in a specialty market release.  In general, I'm happy that I picked up the whole set, and plan on continuing to buy the Yamato Batman lines, because they are such unique designs and looks.

Things to Watch Out For - 
If you have the opportunity, look at the figures closely for any paint issues before buying.

Also, be very careful when putting Batman's batarang in his hand.  Breaking it would be quite easy.

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

Where to Buy - 
Your local comic shop might have ordered some extras, but there are also plenty of online sources:

- Time and Space Toys has an excellent price on the set of four at just $60!

- Circle Red has the set for $67.

- Killer Toys has the set of 4 for $65, or individual figures for $17 - $22.

- CornerStoreComics has the individuals for $19, or the set of four for $75.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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