Batman Begins
31" Batman 

The trailers look better and better with every new version, and my hopes get higher for the new Batman Begins film. It seems that the rotocast figures being produced across the board these days get better and better as well - and bigger and bigger. Wal-mart has an exclusive 31" version of the new Batman from Batman Begins, retailing for just $30. That's less than a buck an inch!

Of course, at that size and that price, this is going to be a pretty limited figure when it comes to the extras like articulation and accessories. That also means tonight's review is going to be a short one, at least compared to my average. Still, I thought it would be useful for folks to get the low down on what is one of the cooler toys related to this movie.

I apologize for the photos in advance.  Normally for such large items I shoot in outdoor sunlight, because I don't have a big enough set up for a portrait type studio, which something this large requires.  Unfortunately, it's been raining around here for the last couple days, so that wasn't even a good option!

Packaging - **
This figure comes in what I like to call - at least as of now - an 'open air box'. You know the type, since it's so common with the larger rotocast figures. The figure is simply held into a half box tray with some twisties and a prayer. Of course, if this keeps the cost down, it's not all bad. It's actually somewhat collector friendly as well, and you really could get him back inside the package without any real damage if you were so inclined. Still, there's a lot less reason here, since having him in this package will make it even harder to store him.

Sculpting - **1/2
If your a fan of the costume, you'll like the sculpt. If you're not, guess what - you won't.

There's a nice amount of detail work here, but considering the scale you'd expect a tad more. If this was a figure from McToys, or Mezco, or NECA or SOTA, we'd see far greater detail and realism at this scale. But Mattel has given us the usual amount of sculpt detail for a kid's toy, nothing more, nothing less.

The best work is on the belt itself, with it's various gadgets and pouches. The belt is not removable, at least not intentionally. The average kid will figure out how to get it off if they really want to though.

The head is a decent version, which means you can see Bale there if you really stretch, but it's more generic than accurate. That's fine though, because as I've said before, if I could recognize this was Bale/Wayne when he's in the mask, the mask wouldn't really be doing it's job, would it?

The face is where the lack of detail is most glaring though. There's no wrinkles, no texture, no stubble. Considering that this figure is the size of a toddler, a ton of realistic aspects could have been present and made this a truly awesome representation.

Both hands are sculpted in fists, and since there are no accessories, that's not a surprise. However, that means you won't be able to do any interaction or poses with the cape and hands, either.

If you turn the figure around, you will notice a bunch of funky screw holes in every part of his body, holding together the front and back halves I'm assuming. It might be an interesting experiment to take this guy completely apart...

Paint - **1/2
Again, there's surprisingly little paint detail for such a huge figure. The face is one consistent tone, but has a fair amount of slop over onto the black of the cowl. The eyes are clean and neat, but lack any sort of gloss coat or other touches that would make them less plastic and more real. Most of the pieces are cast in the basic color, so few additional paint ops are required.

One nice tough however, is the gloss bat symble on the chest. This is probably my favorite aspect of the overall design.

Articulation - **
Articulation junkies beware - this figure is not for you. There's a cut neck, cut shoulders, cut waist and T-joint hips. That makes his posing possibilities pretty much limited to standing up straight, with arms down or up, and head looking forward or to the side. It's about as basic as you can get, short of being a complete statue.

Still, the articulation allows you to get him to stay standing indefinitely, which is always a big plus.

Outfit - ***1/2
I'm counting his cloth cape in the 'outfit' category rather than the 'accessories' category, since it's a) removable and b) made of cloth.

The cape is pretty damn nifty too, easily the best overall feature of the figure. It comes packed in the box with this shiny black plastic over the shoulders, but that's just packing material, so don't get excited. Yes, it looks dopey, but that's because you're supposed to throw it away.

The cape can be attached one of two ways, or not worn at all. It has the usual wrap around the neck type attachment, with velcro holding the two ends of the 'string' together. This look works pretty well, and does match up with the usual way someone would wear a cape. It drapes over the shoulders pretty well this way, and has a nice long length. However, this does not appear to match with the film.

It can also be attached the way it comes in the box, with two 'diamonds' of plastic on either side that velcro to two diamonds on his upper chest. This allows the neck area to drape in back in a way similar to a hood. I was surprised how great it looks this way, and it matches up with the source material better.

As I mentioned you can also go sans cape if you'd prefer. A hem across the bottom and side edges of the cape would have been nice, especially at this scale, and the lack thereof drops this score slightly.

NOTE: It didn't even dawn on me until someone mentioned it on one of the boards, but you can actually use Batman's cape on a child! The velcro loop option will allow a small child to wear the cape as well, which is clearly a feature that should have been pointed out on the box!

Accessories - Bupkis
Batman without a single gadget? Isn't that some sort of comic book blasphemy? There's nary a batarang here, which helps keep the price down of course, but is still a negative factor with a character with such a rich assortment of possibilities to choose from.

Fun Factor - **1/2
As cool as this super sized version might be in concept, I don't know that he's a lot of 'fun'. Kids could kick him around of course, and get some mileage out of beating up the Dark Knight themselves, but he's a little too large to really interact with any other sort of toys. They could use him outside in many ways, but inside he's likely to end up knocking mom's good china off the shelf, or even worse, dad's quarter scale polystone Dracula.

This is one of those weird figures. As a big Batman collector, I knew I had to have one of these the minute I saw it. As a kid who loves to play with figures, my four year old son knew he wanted it as well as soon as dad brought it home. And now neither of us know exactly what the hell to do with it.

Value - ***1/2
You can't argue with a price like $30 for something this huge. I can tell you it's 31" tall, and I can show you photos with other characters around him - and I do mean characters - but that won't really impress you until you see this bad boy in person. He's big. And at that price tag, it's a great deal as well.

Things to watch out for - 
The open air box allows for scratches and greasy finger prints, so try to pick out one that hasn't been dragged around the aisles by a three year old with a head cold.

Overall - **1/2
I waffled between **1/2 and *** overall for quite some time on this guy. While the sculpt and paint are pure mass market kid's stuff, the price and cool factor were tugging me up slightly. In the end though, his niftiness can't outweigh some of the basic issues.

For the major Batman fan, he's still a pretty cool item to add to the collection. I still haven't figured out where his final home is going to be, but I'm glad I picked him up.

Now the big question is - where's my life size rotocast figure? How far off can that be? If I can do one at 31" for thirty bucks, how close could I get a 60" version to $100? And where in God's name would I put it?

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

Where to Buy - 
This particular version is a Wal-mart exclusive, so as much as it pained me - and yes, it always pains me - I bought it there. But I didn't smile while doing it.

Related Links:
I've already reviewed quite a bit of the new merchandise:

- here's a review of the Action Cape Batman, and the smaller Battle Gear Batman and Scarecrow.

- and here are guest reviews of the Battle Gear Batman, and the Batman Begins Batmobile.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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