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Review of 1989 Batman, Batman Unmasked, Penguin
DC Multi-Verse action figures

Mattel
Date Published:
Written By:
Overall Average Rating: 2.5 out of 4

DC Multiverse 1989 Batman, Penguin action figures by Mattel

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Introduction

Mattel is all over the place these days with their DC series, both in scale and in format. One of the more interesting series is their DC Multiverse, which seems to be covering a broad range of DC properties all in about a 4" (or so) scale.

I covered one of their Arkham Batman's, as well as Mr. Freeze, earlier this year. The latest wave has three figures from the Tim Burton films - Batman, Batman in an unmasked variant, and the Penguin. I couldn't resist picking up all three.

You can find these at your local retailer for around $10 each, including Target and Toys R Us. There's a movie Zod shipping with them as well.

Click on the image below for a Life Size version
DC Multiverse 1989 Batman, Penguin action figures by Mattel

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Packaging - ***
While the packaging isn't collector friendly - you didn't really expect it to be, did you? - it is an attractive design. There's enough personalization to make me happy, and they aren't too wasteful in terms of space or material. They aren't easy to store, and shelf damage seems to be a problem, but overall they are decent designs.

DC Multiverse 1989 Batman, Penguin action figures by Mattel

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Sculpting - Penguin ***1/2; Batmen ***
After playing around with these a bit, I have to say that I love this Penguin. The detail work on the face, as well as the likeness, is extremely good for this scale. He even has the flipper style hands!

My one complaint with him is his large size. While he's not really as tall as the Batman (the top hat makes him look taller than he is), he's still too tall and too large to look right standing next to his intended heroic counterpart.

The two versions of Batman use the same body with different head sculpts. The overall look matches the movie fairly well, although the legs seem a bit thin. 

The unmasked variant is a pretty good Keaton likeness, although I think the paint work (more on that in the next category) let's it down. With better paint, I believe the likeness would appear much more accurate.

I do really like the use of the soft cloth cape, rather than plastic or rubber. It looks great, and allows the arms and shoulders a much greater range of movement.

I mentioned earlier that these were in a 4" scale. That's not quite true, as Batman stands about 4 1/4". That throws them out of scale with lines like Star Wars or Marvel Universe, which is a pity.

DC Multiverse 1989 Batman, Penguin action figures by Mattel

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Paint - Penguin ***; Batmen *1/2
The big let down on both Batman figures is the paint work. Slop appears to be the name of the game, and there's no real excuse.

The eyes are terrible, even on the cowled version. On the variant, the eyes are almost manga big, looking more like a Playskool figure. On the cowled version, it looks like they merely threw paint in the general direction of the eyes, and the black edge around the face is poorly done.

There's not a lot of detail work on the body, but the yellow belt and symbol look terrible.

One of the reasons there's no excuse is the Penguin - he turned out much, much better. While the buttons on the vest are a little off here or there, it's nothing like the slap hazard work on either Batman. The face paint looks good, including the eyes, and there's a nice use of matte and gloss finishes to add extra detail.

If they could do this well with one figure, they can certainly do this well with all of them, making the atrocious slop on both Batmen figures unacceptable.

DC Multiverse 1989 Batman, Penguin action figures by Mattel

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Articulation - ***1/2
One of the better qualities of this line so far is the overall level of articulation.

All three have ball jointed necks, although it works best on the Penguin. Even with his long hair, you can still get some tilt action going, but both Batmen have the heads too low on the neck to get much movement.

The arms have ball shoulders, pin elbows and cut wrists. While you can't get the arms all the way across the body, you can still get some very good poses.

They have hinge hips, similar to what we get on the larger DCUC style figures, along with cut thighs, and pin knees. The Penguin lacks the cut thighs, and none of them have any ankle articulation.

This all works pretty well together, and you can get some nice poses. Considering the scale, the level of articulation is a nice surprise.

DC Multiverse 1989 Batman, Penguin action figures by Mattel

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Accessories - Penguin ***; Batmen **1/2
All three figures come with one extra item, but the Penguin's is larger. 

He has his standard umbrella, which comes in the pack in two pieces, a handle and a top. He can hold it in his hands, but it does lack sculpt detail.

Both Batmen come with the same extra, his grappling gun. It fits in his left hand nicely, but it's made from a very soft rubber and has the same weak paint work.

DC Multiverse 1989 Batman, Penguin action figures by Mattel

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Fun Factor - ***
While these might not be the best figures for the die hard collector, they are still pretty solid toys. The articulation allows for great play value, and the characters are recognizable enough for any kid to enjoy. I do wish they'd kept the scale a bit more in line with other lines, but that's a minor issue for most kids.

DC Multiverse 1989 Batman, Penguin action figures by Mattel

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Value - **1/2
It's getting harder to find any action figure for ten bucks, and these are decent enough to earn an average value score.

Things to Watch Out For -
Look for the best paint you can find on the pegs - otherwise you should be good to go.

DC Multiverse 1989 Batman, Penguin action figures by Mattel

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Overall - Penguin ***; Batmen **
As a huge Bat-nerd, there was no way I could pass up figures based on the Burton films. Unfortunately, the Batman and unmasked variant have some serious paint issues.

The Penguin is terrific, making the slop on the other two even more obvious and disappointing. We know they can do better, and they can do it for a reasonable price point with solid articulation. Let's hope they find a way to make that the norm, rather than the exception.

I'm hopeful we'll see a Nicholson Joker to go with these three, and a Catwoman would be the icing on the cake.

Score Recap (out of ****):
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - Penguin ***1/2; Batmen ***
Paint - Penguin ***; Batmen *1/2
Articulation - ***1/2
Accessories - Penguin ***; Batmen **1/2
Fun Factor - ***
Value - **1/2
Overall - Penguin ***; Batmen **

Where to Buy 
Your best bet is your local Toys R Us or Target right now, or you can search ebay for a deal.

Related Links -
I've covered a couple of the earlier releases as well.

You should also hit the Search Reviews page, in case any other applicable reviews were done after this one was published.

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

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DC Multiverse 1989 Batman, Penguin action figures by Mattel

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

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