The Batman

Batman: The Animated Series set the bar impossibly high for any show coming after, at least for a couple generations.  Eventually it will become someone grandpa's favorite Batman cartoon, and at that point new shows will be able to once again stand on their own merits.

That time is definitely not here yet though, and The Batman has had a tough time convincing fans that it has the panache to make it.  But while the show has had it's ups and downs, the toy line has been a pretty solid hit.

Already we've gotten the Penguin, Bane, Man-bat, and of course the Joker.  In the latest wave we have a new bad guy, unique in the sense that he has NEVER had an action figure of him before - Firefly.  No, he's not a disgruntled fan of a great FOX television show that was cut down before its time, but a villain that's actually been around since the 50's, and gone through several incarnations.

Firefly has one of those goofy outfits that one has to really wonder about.  He looks like, well, a big firefly, not a bug that ever struck fear in anyone's heart.  Still, he proved in the episode "The Big Heat" that he's not an easy mark.

These are hitting at regular retailers now, along with a couple new Batman variants.  I found mine at Wal-mart, but they should hit Target and Toys R Us any day.

Packaging - **
The packaging is pretty much standard stuff for a large company doing a mass market kid's toy.  Nothing too special, although the layout on the front of the card looks nice.

These are the kind of cards that drive MOCers nuts though, since they are so easy to damage, hard to store, and suffer so much peg wear.

Sculpting - ***
The sculpting across this entire series has been solid, if not exceptional.  Of the villains produced so far, Man-bat is still the standout, but Firefly falls in there with the better sculpts in terms of head and scale.

The head sculpt is very well cut and defined, matching up nicely with the cartoon style, yet bringing a distinct 3-D effect to the smallest of details.  The body sculpt isn't quite as impressive, but it is a fairly basic costume, and the style of animation doesn't lend itself to extreme detail.

The scale on this figure isn't bad, but once again, he seems a tad tall when compared with Batman.  That seems to be pretty much the case across all of the villains in the series, with the exception of Man-bat and Bane. 

Paint - **1/2
We get spoiled by the paint ops on specialty market figures done by companies like Mcfarlane, Palisades, SOTA or NECA.  This is not that type of paint application, nor is this that kind of toy.

What we see here is actually pretty good work for a mass market kid's toy from one of the big two.  The work on the face is great, with clear definition between the colors and some nice fine detail work.

The body isn't quite as good, although the predominant colors are at least consistent across the covered areas.

There's a fair amount of bleed from the yellow's into the black, and the lines aren't nearly as clean.  Overall, when it comes to paint the costume is fairly basic, and they've gotten the job done without going the extra mile.

Articulation - ***
This line has broken the old Kenner five points of articulation barrier,  and Firefly has 9 points. With neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, waist, and knees, he has plenty of articulation for play, although not enough for extremely dynamic poses.

Surprisingly, even with his rather large 'backpack' in place, he still stands fine on his own.

Accessories/Action Feature - ***
There are two accessories - his firefly mask and his firefly butt.

It's not really a butt I suppose, more of a backpack, but since it's shaped like a firefly's butt, and lights up in a similar fashion, that's what I'm calling it.

It fits on his back easily, and actually pops on and off without too much trouble.  The tubes fit in holes on either forearm, and a lever at the top works like a standard lighter, making a spark in the lower chamber.  This action feature doesn't work great, but doesn't take away from the overall figure in anyway, which is always a good thing.

And while it might appear that I'm making fun of the butt pack, I think it does really look great attached to his back.

The mask is a very soft rubber, and just kind of sits over his face.  It doesn't fit very tightly, and is likely to fall off a lot for any kids playing with it.  It works fine for the collector displaying him on the shelf, but kids will get frustrated.

Fun Factor - ***
The action feature is kind of neat, and the sculpting, paint and articulation are all in line with a fun toy.  He's a decent enough villain on the show, but the loose mask will get annoying for kids.  They'll probably lose it pretty quick, reducing the cool factor for them on this one.

Value - **1/2
At $7, there are some awfully cool figures out there in lines like Lord of the Rings, Marvel Legends, and Spider-man.  The Batman figures are decent, but only an average value at around this price.

Overall - ***
Firefly isn't an exceptional figure, but he's fun, with a strong head sculpt, decent articulation, and decent accessories.

A lot of people are comparing these figures to the ones for BTAS, and saying they aren't as good.  Okay, let's face it - if you don't like the show, you probably won't like the figures.  But if you're a fan of the show, I'd actually claim that these figures are better than the older line.

Blasphemer!  Now don't get me wrong, I love the old line.  But there were LOTS of villains from that line that can barely stand up on their own, were either done in odd poses or just standard standing poses, and had far less articulation.  It also didn't help that Kenner/Hasbro were the kings of stupid accessories.

Mattel is doing a good job with this line so far, and I'm happy with what I have on my shelf.  If you don't like the show designs, then no matter how good these look, you probably won't be happy, but if you do like the show I'd give these a hard look.

Things to Watch Out For - 
No problemos for me .

Packaging - **
Sculpt - ***
Paint - **1/2
Articulation - ***
Accessories - ***
Fun Factor - ***
Value - **1/2
Overall - ***

Where to Buy - 
The big stores are your easiest bet, and I found this guy at Wal-mart.  They are also hitting Targets and Toys R Us stores right now.  You can expect to pay around seven bucks.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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