Batman Begins 
13" Action Cape Batman

The new film Batman Begins will be hitting theaters June 17th. Christopher Nolan, of Memento fame, will be directing, with Christian Bale as the rat with wings. There's also a big cast backing him up, including Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman and Ken Watanabe.

Will the new film be any good? I think that's a tough call, although I can guarantee right now, without any doubt whatsoever, that it will destroy the third or fourth Batman films in the last run. That's not saying much though, and it's going to be tough for it to compete with films like Spider-man 2, Sin City or X-men 2.

As you'd expect, there were plenty toys based on the new film. One of the toys is the towering 13" highly articulated Action Cape Batman. Obviously it's designed for kids, but will collectors like it too? That's was the burning question in my mind.

Packaging - **1/2
Like most of the larger figures from Hasbro and Mattel, he comes packaged in a full size box, with front window. As I mentioned with the smaller figures, I like the overall color and design of the brand on these packages, but once again they've gone with the same text as the rest. The lack of uniqueness makes it far less interesting, and it's most definitely not collector friendly. Have your wire clippers handy for the twisties, and a knife ready for a handful of threads that hold the cape in place.

I'm surprised they didn't go with the open packaging that Toybiz and NECA tend to use for larger figures. Perhaps there were too many concerns over theft.

Sculpting - ***
I can't really say this guy looks like Bale, but as I've asked before, if you could tell it was him in the cowl, that would make the disguise fairly useless, wouldn't it?

The head looks a little odd sitting on top of the neck, but I can live with that since it meant getting a ball jointed neck. We all know how much I love those. 

The body sculpt has nice detail and cut to it, and this costume looks much better in a larger size. I still wish the bat symbol wasn't pure black, but at least it has a gloss finish, offset against the matte finish of the chest.

I also really like the lean aspect of this body sculpt. Too often, the comic versions have the oddly proportioned back and chest, right off the pages of the comic. Here, we get a leaner look, and it adds to his impression of height. It also looks more atheletic, and less body builder.

The cloth cape is also worth mentioning here. At this scale, cloth becomes a perfect material, especially for something like a cape. It hangs well and looks terrific, and you can take out the 'action feature' mechanism, so that he's simply a normal Batman. Having the action feature is actually a good thing though even if you remove it, because they had to hem the front of the cape for it, and that gives it a much nicer look. Unfortunately, the back edge (bottom) isn't hemmed, but it's not a major issue.

Scale might be an issue for some folks. This is a tall Batman, and he'll tower above most of your sixth scale figures. He's a solid 13" tall, and that might make him seem out of place with some of your other rotocast superheros.

Paint - ***
Paint? What paint? That's a slight exaggeration, but only slight. There's the work on his lower face and eyes, which is extremely clean and neat. There's no bleed of any kind, and the eyes are straight and dead on.

The rest of the figure is pretty much cast in the color, either black or gold (the belt). This does mean that the head doesn't quite match up in appearance with the rest of the figure, but only those of us who are truly picky are likely to notice.

Articulation - ***1/2
The figure has plenty of articulation, but some of the joints are a bit hinky. He as the ball jointed neck I mentioned, with a reasonable range of movement. He also has ball jointed shoulders, but their range is severly limited. They work best going forward and backward, like a cut joint, but the joint does allow the lower arm to turn entirely around at the bicep.

There's pin joints at the elbows, wrists, and knees, and the all work fairly well. I thought the knee were double jointed on initial inspection in the package, but the knee cap is there just to cover the joint.

There are also cut joints on the thighs and above the ankles. These are helpful, especially on the thighs because of the hip joint. The joint looks like a ball joint, but only allows the leg to move inward, outward and forward, but not back. This is due to his ass hanging down, blocking that direction.

Finally, there's his ankles, and they are some articulated ankles. There's the cut joint above that I mentioned, so the foot can be turned at the ankle. There's also a pin joint at the ankle, so the foot can move foward and back. This joint is very tight too, making sure that he can hold awkward poses, and not wilt. Finally, there's also a joint inside the foot, below the ankle, that allows the foot to move side to side. All three of the joints come in handy for fighting positions.

Overall, the articulation is much better than I expected, although there's still some restricted movement, especially in the shoulders. Still, he's got plenty of sturdy articulation for play, and enough for posing on the shelf in lots of different ways.

Accessories - **
Most large figures like this, especially for the mass market, don't have much in the way of accessories. Bats doesn't have a lot, but he isn't completely sans goodies either.

He comes with the required batarang, based on the designs of the new film. It's large, and made from a softer plastic to avoid damaging little Billy's corneas. It doesn't fit particularly well in his hand though, and you'll probably toss it aside.

Action Feature - ***
This is the Action Cape Batman. You can then expect that his cape does some pretty fancy stuff. It's not really all that fancy, but thankfully, it works well, and if you don't want it, you can get rid of it.

There is a plastic armature that attachs to his back, and runs down the front of both sides of the cape. It locks into place in a 'folded' position, and with the press of a button, snaps out to hold his cape wide.

The mechanism works well, but be sure you bring the outer arm in first and hold it there as you snap the inner rod in place. That way it will fold as tightly as possible. It doesn't look bad either folded in or snapped out, and it works pretty cleanly.

My four year old son was playing with him, and it took him about 5 minutes to figure out that this thing can come off. It snaps off his back, and can be removed from the sleeves on the cape. I have him displayed at work that way, since the cape flows better and looks much more natural.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
As I said, my four year old ran off with him and spent hours playing. He thought he was the coolest thing since crustless bread (he hates crusts), and even had to sleep with him that night. I finally did manage to spirit him away, but it took some doing. This is definitely a figure kids will enjoy, especially if they like larger sixth scale stuff.

Value - **
Most of the recent rotocast sixth scale figures from major companies run in the ten buck range. That's a hell of a deal, and is one of the best trends of the last year. This Batman has more articulation than those usually do though, he's slightly larger, and I'm betting he's a license that has higher margin expectations.

That being said, he still should have been closer to $15, and I've seen him as high as $20 at some retailers. I paid around $18 for him at Target.

Things to watch out for - 
When you're working the ankle joints, be extra careful. They are very tight, which is a good thing, but I'm not sure the plastic holding things together is as sturdy as necessary. Push it too hard and I'm betting you could break it.

Overall - ***
I'm a huge Batman fan, and I have very high hopes for this film. The toys haven't done a lot for me yet, although I'm not as disappointed as some folks are. This line seems to be taking an awful lot of flak right now, and it's not nearly as bad as some have made it out to be.

I've only picked up a few items so far - the Battle Gear Batman and Scarecrow, the Batmobile, the Arkham/Batcave mini-playset, and this 13" figure. This figure is easily my favorite of the line so far, and really does look good up on the shelf. He grew on me over time, and now I'm wishing there was a Scarecrow or Ras in this scale to go along with him.

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

Where to Buy - 
I picked mine up at Target, and you can find him at just about any of the major, mass market retailers like Toys R Us, Wal-mart, or Meijers. Expect to pay around $20.

- CornerStoreComics has him available for $21.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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