SEARCH REVIEWS    LIVING WITH LATE FEES    FEATURES    LINKS    BIO    MISSION    EMAIL    MAIN PAGE >


Dark Knight Rises Movie Masters - Batman, Alfred, Bane and Catwoman
Mattel

Dark Knight Rises Movie Masters action figures by Mattel


Fifty one more days - that's all we have til the opening of The Dark Knight Rises, my most anticipated film of the summer. Earlier this week I checked out the new 4" figures of Bane and Batman from Mattel for this film, and tonight I'm looking at the first four Movie Masters figures released.

If you're unfamiliar with Mattel's Movie Masters, this is the series supposedly designed for collectors. Done in a larger scale (6") and with better sculpting, paint and articulation, the theory is that kids won't be as interested but adults will. I'm betting kids will grab these over the weak smaller figures in a heart beat, if their parents are willing to pony up the bigger money.

There's at least six figures planned for the Movie Masters, four of which have seen release and which I'll cover tonight - Batman, Bane, Catwoman and Alfred. There's also an Office John Blake that's been shown, and a 'secret' figure that has everyone guessing.

While we've had Movie Masters for the past films as well - if you want a Gordon to join these, just hit the local Toys R Us and you should be able to find one in a two pack from Batman Begins - Mattel added in their 'collect and connect' concept this time. With each figure comes one part of the in scale Bat Signal. Buy all six, and you get a pretty cool additional accessory.

Some of the figures also include codes that can be redeemed for a movie pass, making the cost a bit easier to swallow. These will run you around $16, depending on the retailer, and are on shelves this week.
Click on the photo below for a life size version
Dark Knight Rises action figures by Mattel
Dark Knight Rises action figures by Mattel
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Dark Knight Rises action figures by Mattel
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Dark Knight Rises action figures by Mattel
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Dark Knight Rises action figures by Mattel
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Dark Knight Rises action figures by Mattel
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Dark Knight Rises action figures by Mattel
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Dark Knight Rises action figures by Mattel
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Dark Knight Rises action figures by Mattel
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Dark Knight Rises action figures by Mattel
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Dark Knight Rises action figures by Mattel
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Dark Knight Rises action figures by Mattel
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Dark Knight Rises action figures by Mattel
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Dark Knight Rises action figures by Mattel
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Dark Knight Rises action figures by Mattel
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Dark Knight Rises action figures by Mattel
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Dark Knight Rises action figures by Mattel

Packaging - ***
The Dark Knight Rises logo is nice and prominent, and the bubble has an industrial feel to the cut and shape. The graphics are solid, and the bubble shows off the figures well, but they do seem a bit oversized considering the scale of the figure itself. They also lack much personalization, using largely generic text across the set.

I also found it a tad annoying that while they tell you to collect all six figures to build the Bat Signal, they don't show you what the six figures are. Only three are shown on any one card, depending on which one is actually in the package. We know one of the figures still to come Officer John Blake (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt), but the sixth figure remains a secret at this point. Perhaps Blake has an alter ego...or perhaps we're finally getting a Neeson Ras!

It's also worth pointing out that two of the packages have a coupon code inside the bubble. Redeem the codes for twenty bucks worth of merchandise, and you get a movie ticket for one admission. Not bad considering the price of a movie ticket these days, although whether you will be able to use it for the IMAX version or not is yet to be seen. I tried redeeming my codes (they were only on the Batman and Bane that I picked up) and got a web page stating that the promotion won't start until June 10th.

Sculpting - Bane ***1/2; Batman, Alfred, Catwoman ***
Both Bane and Batman have very detailed sculpts, but sadly, we've seen this Batman before. Instead of giving us a brand new sculpt for the new film, they've re-issued the previous Movie Masters Batman. Sure, there's lots of good detail work on the textures of the costume, the Bale likeness is decent, and the deeply set eyes and stoic expression work great. But I have to knock off a half star for the re-use - I was expecting something new.

Bane doesn't suffer from that problem, so all the nice sculpting on the face and costume gives him a boost over the others. I'm not sure if you can really tell it's Hardy under that mask, but then you aren't really supposed to, are you? It would defeat some of the point of the mask...

Speaking of which, the style and detail are much, much better here than what we saw on the weak 4" version. Mine is a little tilted to one side though, most likely a manufacturing slip.

His brown coat is a soft rubber, and the underlying shirt is the same. That's nice if you want to remove the coat, because then the arms still match. Of course in the movie when he removes the coat his arms are bare, but it's still an option. Removing the coat isn't easy though, and I can't guarantee you'll get it back on once it's off. Be forewarned.

Catwoman is all new and all feline femininity. I can't say I'm loving the head sculpt - I can see a little bit of Hathaway in there at the right angle, but it's not a dead on likeness. While she's still on the skinny side, it's an improvement over the usual extreme gangliness of the DCUC figures, and the detail texture work on the costume is great. Her hands are sculpted to hold accessories as well - like a whip, perhaps?

One of the cool aspects of the figure is the moving goggles/ears. When I learned that the Catwoman character in the flick didn't really have 'cat ears' (thank God), but instead got that look from flipping up the goggles on to the top of her head, I thought it was genius. Here we get to see them in action. The goggles come flipped up on her head in the package, but are a soft rubber, and can be brought down over her eyes as well.

That leaves the always dependable Alfred. Michael Caine has played him beautifully in the first two films, and I'm expecting his role to add greatly to the dramatic emotional moments in the upcoming film. Of the four figures, his actually has the best likeness. Looking at the figure quickly, there's no doubt it's supposed to be Caine. But with a longer look, you start seeing something not quite right. It's more like one of those look-alikes you can hire for your party, although I have to say I've never been to a party that needed a Michael Caine look-alike. It's close - but not quite.

He does have one cool aspect that's somewhat unusual - his tie is a separately sculpted piece! That's why mine is a bit off center, since it's only glued at the neck.

Paint - ***1/2
While the likenesses really don't live up to the Movie Masters mission statement, the paint work is well above the average mass market work. Lips and eyes are very clean, cut lines are generally sharp, and there are some very cool little touches like the glossy lens on Catwoman's goggles.

Overall, the paint work is what creates the majority of the small detail, even helping to bring out the sculpted details that are here. 

While I love the clean lines on Catwoman's mask and the pattern on Alfred's slightly askew tie, I have to say that Bane really wins in this category as well. Unlike the crappy little 4" version, all the belts and buckles are intricately painted, and what is basically a brown outfit really pops.

There's also a good mix of matte and gloss finishes, especially on Batman and Catwoman. The glossy paint on the joints does make them a bit sticky, but once you work them out a bit all is good.

Articulation - Batman, Catwoman ***1/2; Bane, Alfred ***
Mattel does articulation in this scale pretty well, and all the joints here are high quality with solid pins. The figures can take a wide variety of poses, and they can hold even deep stances easily.

Unfortunately, the ball jointed necks don't work particularly well on Bane, Catwoman or Batman. The sculpt restricts things a bit too much to get any real tilt action. Alfred is better, although not quite as good as their best work.

All four figures have pin/disc ball shoulders with cut wrists and pin elbows.  Three of the four (excluding Bane) have cut biceps as well.

The waist is cut, and there's the usual ab-crunch on all four. All four have the same leg articulation too - hinge hips (think DCUC), pin knees, pin ankles and cut thighs.

Other than the necks, the joints work as intended, with a good range of movement, and solid strong pins.

Accessories - **1/2
The only real accessory for all four of these figures is the included Collect and Connect piece for the Bat Signal. While I think it's a cool extra, not everyone will, and not everyone is going to want to pick up all six figures to complete it.

Considering the wealth of goodies that figures like Batman, Bane and Catwoman are sure to use in the film, it's a disappointment that we didn't get any extras here.

There's one paper extra that I'll mention, although I'm not quite sure what it's for. Catwoman comes with a cardboard background, showing a wall blowing outward into the city. Not sure if it's just supposed to be a background for her, or if it fits in with one of the later figures, but right now it's pretty useless.

Fun Factor - ***
While these aren't quite ideal action figures - Mattel's work with both the DC Universe Classics and the Masters of the Universe Classics is better - they are still solid toys with good play value. There's plenty of conflict play potential with Batman, Bane and Catwoman. And Alfred...well, there must be some kid out there who wants to play with an old man in a suit.

Value - **1/2
You can expect to pay around $16 at most retailers. That's not a great deal, but considering it's about the average cost of any action figure in this approximate scale, then it's worthy of an average score here. Had we gotten an accessory or two thrown in, I would have bumped this up.

If you are going to the movie (of course you are) and you buy the figures with the movie ticket rewards, you can bump this up another half star. You'll have to buy two figures to get the $20 requirement, but you'll be saving at least $10.

Things to Watch Out For -
While a lot of the joints were sticky, particularly in areas where there was a lot of glossy paint, I didn't have any trouble with breakage or frozen joints. A little pressure freed them all up, but take care anyway, as every figure might be different.

Overall - Bane ***1/2; the rest ***
Out of this set, Bane is the best overall figure. I'm a little bummed that the mouth mask isn't quite straight on his face, but I also have to admit that I never even noticed until I looked at the close up photos. Now I can't not see it.

But the overall sculpting is great, and I love the paint work. The articulation is decent, and his lack of accessories is the least troubling, probably because I don't yet know what he should have.

The Batman is a great sculpt - but you probably already own this figure. The only real reason to pick it up is to complete the Bat Signal, which was the plan of course.

Catwoman and Alfred are both solid figures, but neither are exceptional. They'll flesh out the display nicely, but the aren't going to be a center piece for any collector.

I really do like what I've seen so far of the Bat Signal too, and I think it was a creative concept for them as a Collect and Connect extra. I'm just hoping we won't have to wait too long before the 5th and 6th figures are released.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - Bane ***1/2; Batman, Alfred, Catwoman ***
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - Batman ***1/2; Bane, Catwoman, Alfred ***
Accessories - **1/2
Fun Factor - ***
Value - **1/2
Overall - Bane ***1/2; the rest ***

Where to Buy -
Your best bet for these figures right now is Toys R Us, Target of Meijer. I've only seen Catwoman and Alfred at Meijer so far.

Related Links -
Earlier this week I checked out the new 4" figures of Batman and Bane from Dark Knight Rises as well.

Discussion:
Want to chat about this review?  Try out one of these terrific forums where I'll be discussing it!

Enjoyed this review? Be sure to head back to the main page to find thousands more just like it!

KEEP SCROLLING DOWN FOR MORE PHOTOS!



Share this review with others! 
Google +1
 
Digg it!
 StumbleUpon Toolbar
Stumble It!
 
Reddit

Dark Knight Rises action figures by Mattel


This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

This page copyright 2000 - 2012, Michael Crawford. All rights reserved. Click here for copyright permissions! Hosted by 1 Hour Hosting.com