The Dark Knight Batman DX-02
Hot Toys

   "The following is a guest review.  The review and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the guest author."

Jeff is back tonight with a terrific review and comparison of Hot Toys newest Dark Knight figure, the DX-02 Batman! I'll be covering this guy when mine eventually gets here, but that might be quite awhile, so til then - take it away, Jeff!

Thank you Michael. Well, the judges deliberated, stroked their chins, cast their votes and the results were counted, in what for the world of toys and collectibles is a little like the Oscars and Razzies rolled into one!

After seeing the results of The Poppies, Peoples Picks and indeed Mike’s own personal faves for 2009, one figure stood out for many people, one figure pretty much summed up the pinnacle of 1/6th excellence in collectibles for the year, and indeed one figure let Hot Toys spell out large their message of intent for future products, It was of course the DX01 Joker from The Dark Knight (TDK)! And now at last we have the follow up companion piece to that ground breaking figure, and it has a lot to live up to!

Like the Joker, this is the third version of the character to be released from TDK, with the Joker we had the first version, (that Yulli by her own admission wasn’t happy with, due to the lack of reference that had been made available to her), but she followed it up with the sublime Bank Robber Joker with it’s twin heads and then lastly the DX01 again with two head sculpts, (this being the one that swept the boards in the awards).

But we’re here to talk about Bats this time, first we got the hugely popular original suited version, which is now rarer than rocking horse poop and changes hands for silly money (perhaps a DX of this would be worthwhile). This was then followed up by the new TDK suit, both were outstanding figures, but the dedicated, hardcore fans started to point out a few places where there was room for improvement… and Hot Toys listened and indeed have delivered.

However, as soon as many saw the DX announced their old TDK suited figures were back in their boxes and up on eBay before you could say ‘Holy Bargain Batman!’
But was this the right decision?

I have to admit I immediately thought ‘great’ the first version can now be my dedicated Bat Pod figure… maybe you did too, and if you did I think we made the right decision, as when it comes to getting a natural position on the Pod, the DX doesn’t quite measure up to his earlier incarnation.

But lets get onto the nitty gritty, now that we finally have the much anticipated DX02 figure from Hot Toys in our grubby mitts… can it live up to the hype?

Packaging - ****
For the DX series Hot Toys have spared no expense, and as this is very much the Yin to the Jokers Yang it makes sense that the boxes should complement each other pretty closely. The first thing you’ll notice is that the colour of the outer box is similar, but not the same, as the metallic blue/grey of the Joker is replaced with a dark metallic grey/purple for Bats. It struck me that there was a certain implied irony here as their characters have always mirrored each other. The outer edge of the new box is a nice dense black to contrast against the vivid purple used on the Joker. The rest of the basic construction follows the same pattern too. So you lift the flap on the right hand side which is again held in place by magnets and unwind it to the left. You’re now met by a die-cut sheet of black card over a sheet of die-cut black foam. The cut shapes house three matte brass coloured Batarangs. These like the Jokers three cards make for an impressive opening gambit, but they really are only display items as they seem to be constructed of lightweight plastic-coated foam board.
Lift this sheet out and you have another sheet of die-cut card overlaying a deep die-cut foam layer that houses the main figure (with the sonar head attached) next to his regular head with the PERS (Parallel Eyeball Rolling System) feature and a vac formed head to hold the extra mouth/expression. Under these is a plastic tray with the special tool to move the PERS and flip out the mouths, which is next to the neck for the PERS head. Then we have the back pack that held the special deployment glide cape he used in his daring base jump in Hong Kong. Lastly for this layer is another plastic tray that holds the collapsible sticky gun.

So, you now lift this out to see the final layer which is again die-cut foam. This layer houses the light up stand, the cape, 5 extra hands and another plastic tray holding the second belt, his grappling gun, a clip on holster to hold said gun, a flash grenade and lastly a brace of Batarangs. You’ll also find an instruction booklet under the stand, not something that will be appreciated by many, but it has some nice technical line-work drawings of the figure and how to operate it.

So, I’d say it’s obvious this is a four star piece of packaging, and I’ll be interested to see how the DX line pans out, will the over all design change from license to license, who knows ?

And what will be deserving of the DX mantle, for me I can’t see any ‘new’ figures going straight to DX, it seems to me it will be saved for characters that have been made once, but deserve a redux, due both to popularity and the need for improvement. So where can this go… I’m hoping maybe Jack Sparrow, John Rambo, Michael Jackson, Arnie as the T-800… and please oh please let Michael Biehn give the green light for Cpl Dwayne Hicks!

Sculpting - ****
This is quite tough just deciding what fits in which category, as although this guy is wearing an outfit, just about every square inch of him is sculpted.

However for the purposes of this review I figured I’d just cover the heads and hands. The hands are all sculpted in the special Bat-suit tactical gloves, with gloss highlights and details on a matte base, and they are as outstanding as always. The positions we get are a pair of fists, then for the right hand a gun grip, a Batarang grip and a tighter gun grip specifically for the sticky gun. For the left we get a gun grip and a gesturing open hand. A nice selection that pretty much covers all the bases and allows for some great posing with the accessories.
But now the faces, the cowls on the Sonar and PERS heads look to be exactly the same, whilst being subtly different from the first TDK figure especially in the profile of the nose and the sculpting of the side details. The visible mouth sections are removable and swappable, meaning both heads have a choice of three expressions, all sculpted by Hot Toys hottest sculptor (in every sense of the word) Yulli. Even with the limited flesh on show she has managed to capture Bales likeness incredibly well. When you first open the figure the PERS head comes with an aggressive, determined expression with the corners of the mouth slightly down turned, then on the sonar head we get a more neutral expression and lastly on the vac-formed ‘false’ head we get we get an expression with a slightly open mouth which could even be described as ‘mid sentence’. These are all swapped by inserting the small plastic tool supplied, into a hole inside the head and gently pushing them out, the system works very well and is perfectly seamless when all arranged and inserted in the right way.

The sonar head works almost identically to the Resi 5’s Wesker meaning the batteries are concealed in the neck post with a bright ‘bulb’ ball socket at the top, the Sonar head pushes onto this, and once the light is activated by the small switch at the back of the neck his eyes glow a bright (but not too bright) and very convincing ice-blue.
For ease of access the PERS head attaches to the extra neck post by means of magnets, this gives the head a good range of motion especially when tilting up or down at angles. It’s a nice feature, but be aware of it at all times and don’t try and lift the figure by it’s head, because although the magnets are strong enough for gentle posing, they’re not strong enough to hold the whole figures weight. The PERS works in effect the same as the Jokers, but where as he had an accessible joystick to position the eyes, here we have a small tool (the same one used to pop out the mouths) with a tiny cup socket at its end, this fits over a small ball socket inside the head and with gentle manipulation means you can get the eyes looking in all directions. I found the motion much smoother here than with the Jokers, and it was even easier to get into the positions I wanted. The miniscule ocular organs are again miniature glass eyes, consisting of an ivory ball into which a translucent brown iris is inserted with a jet black pupil, it really is fantastically carried out, and this whole category really can’t have enough praise heaped on it, not only for its observation and artistic merit, but also for the problem solving and engineering. Fantastic!

Paint - ****
The paint app here might at first seem pretty minimal as primarily this figure is black, but look a little closer and you’ll see that subtlety can mask a lot of detailed work!
The Kevlar panels are on the whole quite matte in appearance, some are black while others are dark gunmetal colour, whilst others still are covered in a fine textured pattern which appears to be screen printed or achieved with a very well applied transfer. Behind all these interlocking panels is the Nomex mesh suit, this is picked out in a slightly more gloss paint, the over all effect gives the impression of this being a fully realised mixed media suit, far more convincingly than with the first version of this figure.

The mouthpieces are also painted, but JC Hong has shown great restraint here, as the application is very understated when compared to the first version, but it works very well. The flesh tones are paler and the lip details are less fussy proving once again that less is so often more.

So, as I said earlier, the paint app here isn’t obvious at first glance, but JC has once again answered the brief thrown up by the specific requirements of this figure near perfectly!

Articulation - *** 1/2
I’m guessing that under all that silicone and rubber is the classic slim True Type as compared to the first version of the TDK suit this figure cuts a much leaner silhouette. Obviously all that layering means some poses are harder to achieve or maintain than others. The shoulders have a lot of layered detail meaning this is the joint that suffers the most but with care you’ll still get him into many classic poses. Likewise I found the suit made the hips tend to push back when trying to position into squatting or sitting positions, but again with gentle manipulation and patience I still got him to hold some pretty deep stances.

So don’t go thinking this thing will pose like a naked TT, but if you approach it with a realistic set of expectations, then I think most people will be pretty knocked out with the degree of articulation HT have achieved on such a complex figure.

Accessories - ****
To make this a ‘DX’ release you know he’s got to come with some cool extras other than PERS feature. So with this version we get-
- Sonar head
- Three interchangeable expressions
- Collapsible Sticky Bomb Gun
- Base jump back pack
- Grappling Gun
- Holster
- Mini Mine
- Two interchangeable utility belts (with magnets to hold the sticky gun)
- Seven interchangeable hands
- Deluxe figure stand with LED lights
- Three 1/1 scale prop Batarangs (well, I say ‘prop’, just don’t throw them)

Some of these things I have already gone over in the other sections, and a few are re-uses from the first figure like the grappling gun, Batarangs, bomb and first belt.

So what I shall cover here are the new items, and for me the coolest of the lot is the collapsible sticky bomb gun. This thing really is a small work of art! It’s worth re-watching the scene when Bats puts it together just to see just how well observed it is. You’ll find full instructions in the manual for how to collapse and build it, but the whole thing works beautifully, and the figure can hold it well.

Next up is the new ‘less cluttered’ belt, for those days when you just don’t need as much ‘utility’, it’s the same basic design as the first version but without the grappling gun holder at the back or the other adornments it came with, the new holster can also clip onto this so the grappling gun can be worn at his side rather than at the back. Both of the new belts also have magnets concealed in the back parts, as do both sections of the sticky gun, so when collapsed they can be held in position on the belt, it’s a cute feature that works well for posing.

The base jump back pack doesn’t have any surprise action features, it’s just to achieve the look for those few minutes we see him before he hurls himself from the sky-scraper, but it looks very hi-tec and stealth like with its geometric matte black interlocking flat panels.

Lastly we get the cool figure stand, this is virtually identical to the Jokers except for the nameplate. So we get the mimicked industrial flooring and two small possitionable lights on the two front corners. These are constructed as an homage to the actual display cabinets used to exhibit the suits when they were loaned to various theatres etc.

So, another cool haul in this set-up which gives you a helluvalot of display options, but for me it’s got to be the PERS head and the back pack to truly show this figures re-tooled cool body and suit off to maximum effect, then stick the sonar head on your old TDK suited figure… or put it back in the box (a crime I know)… but that Bat-Pod is just crying out for a permanent pilot, hmmmm, decisions, decisions!

Outfit - ****
As I said above, the outfit straddles two camps here, but I’m going to look at everything from the neck down… well except his hands. I think it’s fair to say Hot Toys had nothing short of a mammoth task here. Why? Well, have you ever followed a thread on a 1/6th collectors forum about the TDK suit… if you haven’t… keep that thought, don’t attempt to find out, you will have a happier and more fulfilled life if you can avoid it!

However, if like so many of us you are a bona fide 1/6th geek, I’m afraid it’s a necessary evil. You see TDK fan boys know how each and every square millimetre of this suit is put together, and everybody has their pet favourite detail that they want depicted to sheer perfection… no buts.

I already said in my first review of the original TDK suit that Hot Toys had made many modifications to it between first showing the proto and then releasing the figure, but still, and justifiably so, people found areas for improvement. And so, like the DX Joker, Hot Toys decided to use the opportunity to bring us the uber version of the TDK suit!

I loved the first version, but this new figure is so much more sleek, managing to far more accurately capture his lean silhouette, especially when in his Hong Kong base jump mode… which I have to say is my favourite look for this figure, as it shows off all the great details on the suit without being covered up by his cape.

The material used on the new suit is a much closer visual match to the screen worn outfit, as the first had quite matte and rubbery look, while this one has a more smooth satin finish, making it not only look better, but it’s more tactile as well.

I’ve been looking over this figure side by side with its earlier incarnation and from what I can tell only some of the hands and the gauntlets are reused at all. Every other piece has been retooled and modified for this release. Even the tops of the boots have a different sweep, and parts like the upper arm/shoulder armour, which at first glance look the same, have had some subtle changes made to the gentle curves and fine details. The most notable revisions are to the legs and abdominal areas, not only are the observations finer tuned here, but they are also far greater enhanced by the new materials used and the complimentary paint application which gives an even better impression of this being a mixed media suit, made out of Nomex and Kevlar plates with reinforced armour panels. The stomach area is made from a stiffer material than before, meaning I don’t think this guy will sit in the Tumbler as well as the first, but it does mean his six-pack is kept in a perfect lean position, unlike the first, who from some angles did appear to have a bit of a beer gut. I never found this to be as off putting as many others did (some even going to the lengths of grinding down the stomach area of the base figure), however looking at them side by side now it really shows what an improvement has been made with this re-working.

One thing that does need to be mentioned here is the ‘oil’ issue!  What is the oil issue? Well, that’s the problem, at the time of me writing this no one is 100% sure where it’s coming from, but around the area of the bottom 2 abdominal plates  people are getting anything from a few light spots of an oily discharge right through to a small slick. It seems to have become the bane of some people’s figures. I’m one of the lucky ones; it is there but on mine is very minimal.

Hot Toys advice so far is to dab or gently rub it away until it stops appearing, but depending on how badly each individual figure is affected, it can mean anything from one wipe every couple of days through to a couple of times a day. I contacted Hot Toys who assured me they are taking the issue seriously and hope to find the solution soon.

I’d personally advise using soft cotton wool or kitchen roll and gently dabbing the secretions away, as I fear any rubbing might prove detrimental to the paint finish if the problem were to persist. I actually folded a small section of kitchen roll thin enough that it wasn’t visible and left it behind the belt, so far that has done the trick for me.
Anyway, lets get back on to the suit. One of the accessories is in effect part of his outfit, it’s the collapsed ‘base jump’ cape holder, this slots into the holes on his shoulders and then pushes down onto the back panels till it ‘clicks’ into place, once secured it looks great and is very unobtrusive to the figures movements. I found the best way to remove it again was to push gently down on the shoulder bars and lift the back part away from the body simultaneously. Lastly we get the cloth cape, this again has small plastic pegs that slot into the shoulder holes, then with a little futzing and tweaking it looks great, you’ll also notice the cut of the cape is fuller and longer with this version making for a much better draped effect.

So, in terms of accuracy this again has to be a full score… however depending on whether of not your figure is affected by the oil residue issue, it might play a big part in how you view this figure, but as I already said it seems pretty slight on mine, and as long as it doesn’t harm the figure (which it doesn’t seem to have so far) then I consider it a minimal annoyance, and once the belt is in place it’s actually pretty hard to see.

Value - ****
It’s not cheap, but hi-end 1/6th never is! However considering the R+D that must have gone into this alongside the bountiful extras, then the RRP price tag of $195 doesn’t seem too ridiculous at all… but bear in mind with a little rooting around it can be got for a lot less than that. I’ve seen some go on eBay for as little $150 and plenty of online retailers (check out Mike’s sponsors from the home-page or the links below), where he’s going for around the $165 mark.

This is the price I have based my score on, and for that it’s definitely 4 star value.

Fun Factor - ****
When posed well this thing looks just like they shrunk Bale in the suit, I think I said something very similar when I reviewed the first release of this figure, but the crafting on this is even finer, with details that are quite frankly mind boggling.

But this isn’t a $20 Hasbro dolly, so you’ll still have to treat him with care as he’s definitely aimed at your hard-core collectors rather than kids (but the price alone should tell you this anyway). There are many delicate and fiddly features like the sticky-gun and those pointy gauntlet blades, but with just a modicum of care you’ll have a total blast posing this thing, especially with that cool PERS feature.

Overall - *** 3/4
On face value this is a full score figure, no doubt about it. Even if you have the first version you can justify buying him for all the cool new features, accessories and the fact it’s been virtually re-sculpted from the soles of his boots right up to those pointy ears on his cowl. He comes in a very cool box that protects him in layers of foam and is quite frankly one of the coolest figures ever released… so why no full score.

Well, it’s the issue with the ‘oil’ seeping out of the abdominal plates. Mines not that bad, I just have to dab away the residue once a week, so it hasn’t really impacted on my enjoyment of the figure at all. However for some others who found their figures are worse affected (or the owners are more pedantic) I’ve heard it’s become a sticking point that has left them feeling a bit deflated with the figure.

I guess it has to be said that regardless of whether you are a pedant or not, a figure with this price tag should arrive pretty trouble free.

But in the figures defence it looks so vastly superior to the first version that I can live with it, and when a company like Hot Toys is constantly innovating and developing new materials I guess sometimes you’ll get the odd setback.

I have a strong feeling the residue will eventually stop of it’s own accord, but who knows if it will take weeks, months… of Darwin forbid, years!

Where to Buy -
Sponsor options include:

Big Bad Toy Store  - $164.99

Alter Ego Comics  - $165.75

Or you can hit eBay.

This product was provided free for the review by the manufacturer. Photos and text by Jeff Parker.

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