Mattel's Batman/Catwoman
2 pack

The king is dead, the king is dead...long live the king.  And so the Batman license has switched from Hasbro to Mattel, sparking perhaps new life into an old license, and yet retaining some of what made it so good to begin with.

The much anticipated first animated Batman figures from Mattel are now hitting stores.  We've already had the Justice League figures, but these are the first from Mattel that are based on the animated Batman series, particularly TNBA.

They are scaled around the 4 3/4" mark, with the characters varying slightly as they should.  There are four two packs out now - Batman and Catwoman (reviewed here), Batman and Joker (reviewed next week at Poop Shoot), Batman and Nightwing, and Batman and Robin.

All of these are new sculpts, although some are very close to older Hasbro work.  Others are so different that it's night and day.  I found them at Gamestop, where retail is a whopping $13 a pair, but some Toys R Us stores are already reporting these in stock.

There are still two more sets to be released, including a neat Batman/Two Face set.

Packaging - ***1/2
I really like the packaging on these two packs, although even I have to admit that it's a bit more minimalist than I usually prefer.

The front graphics are solid, and I like both the insert pictures of Batman (Battle Scars is the version) and Catwoman, and also the embossed effect of the plastic bubble over the Batman name logo.  On the back there are photos of the rest of the current line up, with a minimum of text.

Sculpting - ***
This is *almost* a ***1/2 star job, with just some very slight issues holding it back.

The sculpts in general are very clean, with just the right amount of detail for the animated style.  They match up with the TNBA versions of the characters extremely well, and both can stand fine on their own with no assistance.

But the scale on Catwoman seems slightly off to me.  While I'll be happy to admit that most of the earlier versions seemed too big, this one is just a tad too small, almost child sized compared to the Batman or Joker.  While this will work okay for Batgirl and Robin, it seems off to me for Catwoman.

Still, this is one of the coolest versions produced to date, and is much better than the previous Hasbro attempts - at least she can stand up.  It's also worth nothing that her right hand is sculpted to hold something - a whip, perhaps? - but nothing is included.  Her left hand is sculpted into a scratching pose, appropriate for pairing up with the poor unfortunate Battle Scars Batman.

A big change from the Hasbro figures is the use of a non-sculpted cape for Batman.  These cloth capes are sewn to fit him very tightly across the shoulders, and look extremely good in person.  I was very surprised on how well they pulled them off, and it proved to me again that cloth capes can be superior to plastic when they are done right.  These are made from a very heavy material as well.

Paint - ***1/2
Now here's a place I see major improvements over Hasbro, particularly in the waning months of their control over the license.  Both these figures have very good paint ops, and the application is clean and neat all around.

I'm particularly impressed with the work on Catwoman's eyes and face, since it's very easy for the black of her cowl to bleed or over spray onto the lighter colors.  They managed to avoid that, and applied the paint on Batman's cowl and face in the same careful manner.

Batman has some very cool battle damage, or at least that's what Mattel wants you to think (*wink* *wink*).  I like the use of color here to give depth and dimension to the cuts in the material.

I like the blue and gray color scheme as well, with the more retro bat symbol on his chest.  As variants go, this one is pretty decent.

Articulation - **1/2
Nothing's perfect I suppose, and while I don't really expect much more than the standard five points, it still would have been nice to see at least cut wrists or elbows here. 

Catwoman's leg articulation is particularly important to succeed in getting her to stand, but overall the joints don't allow for many posing possibilities.

Accessories - Bupkis
While I'm against stupid, worthless accessories as much as the next guy - I think I might have been driven insane had we gotten another 'nose' gun - I'd like to see SOMETHING with my figures, particularly at this price point.

Neither figure has a single accessory, and considering the obvious things they could have packed in with Catwoman that make complete sense, it's very disappointing.

Value - *1/2
At eight bucks, this set would be just about right, and get an easy ***1/2 stars for value.  At ten, I'd still be satisfied, although not as happy, and give it ***.  At $13, it's way over priced, and I'd recommend waiting til your local Target or Wal-mart get them in.

Overall - **1/2
I really hate giving these such a low overall score, because in reality I'm very happy with them.  They are a good initial effort, and since I hadn't expect all new sculpts so soon, they were a nice surprise.

Still, the high price point combined with the complete lack of accessories pulled these down from the *** or even ***1/2 stars they might have attained.

Where to Buy - 
Like I said, I found mine at a local Gamestop.  I've heard some TRU's have gotten them in, and I'd expect them at Target and Wal-mart soon as well.  On-line:

- Aisle Sniper doesn't have these yet, but they DO have the second series of Justice League figures, with Martian Manhunter and Wonder Woman hitting any day.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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