The Dark Knight Joker 12" figure from Mattel
Toys R Us Exclusive

Dark Knight Joker 12 inch action figure from Mattel

We've gotten some amazing versions of Heath Ledger's character The Joker from the Dark Knight, especially in sixth scale. Hot Toys has given us a standard version, the Bank Robber version, and have their Cop version coming soon. And DC Direct got in the game with their 13" deluxe version as well.

But what if you don't want to get a second mortgage just to afford a 12" version of the Joker? Your options have been pretty limited. Mattel did a 12" version of Batman from The Dark Knight, but there wasn't any Clown Prince for him to battle in the original assortment.

That's finally changed, as Mattel has just released their Ledger Joker, giving fans looking for something a bit more reasonably priced ($35) an option.

This guy is a Toys R Us exclusive, and I assume he'll hit their stores at some point. I  bought him through the online store though, where he was already in stock.

Packaging - ***
There's nothing particularly exciting about the package, but it does a reasonable job of showing off the figure. It's not collector friendly in any way (you'll have to destroy it to remove the figure and accessories), but at least they used the newer easy-to-remove clear twisties, rather than the old style.
Dark Knight Joker 12 inch action figure from Mattel
Dark Knight Joker 12 inch action figure from Mattel
Dark Knight Joker 12 inch action figure from Mattel
Dark Knight Joker 12 inch action figure from Mattel
Dark Knight Joker 12 inch action figure from Mattel
Dark Knight Joker 12 inch action figure from Mattel
Dark Knight Joker 12 inch action figure from Mattel

Sculpt - ***
There's some really good work here, but the good is pulled down by a couple serious issues.

The good is the head sculpt, which is not the same as the smaller Movie Masters version. The hair flips over in front of the face, more disshevled and dangerous. The nose is a bit more bulbous, and the facial scarring is slightly different. Perhaps most important, there are deeper wrinkles here, allowing the white paint to look more like make up, and give the figure a more movie accurate representation.

Most of the sculpted head looks great, but I do take issue with the scarring on the left side of the mouth. It looks stuck on, and the poor choice of paint color doesn't help any. If the make up artist had done this bad a job, he'd have been fired.

I'd love to see this head repainted, because I think that lurking under here is a decent overall sculpt. It's not a perfect Ledger version, and it certainly won't rival the work done by Hot Toys with the extra head included with the Bank Robber version. But considering this is a Mattel toy, it's a bit of a surprise.

The body is a two up of the Movie Masters version. What you're getting here is exactly the same as the smaller version, minus much of the articulation. In a 6" scale, it looked pretty good, and the paint was enough to supply the detailing. But when you blow it up to twice the size, the lack of texturing and small detail work really becomes apparent, and really cheapens the appearance.

One other change from the smaller version is the real metal chain. On the Movie Masters version this was just a plastic chain, but here we actually get one with metal links.

Another big problem for me is his height. I'll assume you'll be pairing this guy with the Mattel Batman from the same line, and I included a photo for comparison. Only thing is, he's much larger. Much.

That Batman stands about 12" tall, but this Joker is a full half inch taller. He's also hunched over at the shoulders and neck, making him closer to 13" tall if he were standing fully upright. That means he takes up much more volume than the Batman he is intended to be mated with, and his shoulder is much higher off the ground. This size difference bugs me, but you may find it less annoying.

BTW, the right hand is sculpted in such a way that holding accessories, especially a gun, is not out of the question. I bet you could dig around and find yourself a sixth scale handgun or machine gun that would work quite well with this guy.

Paint - **
Mattel tried to do a good job with the paint. Unfortunately, the execution ended up taking them down.

The work on the make up is actually pretty good, with a clumpy, textured look to the white paint that makes it look very much like actual make up. They eyes are very straight and clean, and much more life-like than the usual Mattel work.

The hair is a dark shade of green, with a darker wash to bring out the highlights. The hair line is fairly sloppy, and his left ear is awful, with green paint covering over half of it.

While I like the eyes and make up, I'm not too keen on the bubble gum color of the facial scarring. The paint hurts the appearance of the sculpt here, which would probably look far better with a re-paint.

The body work is pretty standard stuff, but they did try for some nice detailing on the shirt and tie. There's some slop, particularly around the cut lines of the shirt and vest, but it's fairly minor for a mass market collectible.

One of the big negatives is the obvious raccoon striping on the vest, caused by too much of the wash left in bands across his torso. They also went with a wash on the jacket, trying to dirty and stain it, but it really doesn't work for me. Instead of looking like the film character, he looks like a homeless cos player. I applaud them for trying to do SOMETHING with the bright, plasticky looking purple coat, but this wasn't the right answer.

I've said many times that great paint can elevate a mediocre sculpt, and even the finest sculpt can be ruined by mediocre paint. I suspect there's a reasonable good head sculpt hiding under this paint job, but the lack of quality in the execution makes it tougher to see.

Articulation - **
Since the body matches the Movie Masters version, you know there isn't much articulation here.

The neck is merely a cut joint, which is disappointing since it means you can't alter the downward hunch at all, and when you turn the head to the side, it looks odd. I do think, that like the corresponding Batman, there's a ball and socket up under that head someplace, but because it's so deep and restricted, the head can't tilt or lean in any direction.

He has cut shoulders, which surprised me since they look more like 'NECA' shoulders which allow outward movement. In fact, the Movie Masters version does allow some slight outward movement, but I couldn't get these to budge. It may be that the fit of the arms in the torso is just too tight to allow anything but a forward and backward movement.

There's pin elbows and knees, as well as cut wrists and T style hips. Nothing for the ankles, and the waist can't turn.

What all that means is that he can stand fine on his own, but he's extremely limited beyond that. Has they given this guy the same articulation as his smaller cousin, this would have been a far, far better figure overall.

Accessories - *1/2
I'm not sure if Mattel was worried about including weapons or not, or if it's merely a cost issue, but they gave this guy as close to nothing as they could get.

He does have the standard display stand, identical to the one that came with Bats. You won't need it, as he stands fine on his own, but it's there just in case.

He also comes with a joker playing card. It's scaled well enough, and fits in his left hand if you bend it in half long wise, which they did for you. It's a pretty basic piece of cardboard though, and not exactly a costly accessory.

EDIT: It turns out there's a variant that comes with the knife instead of the card. No idea which one is more common, and since these haven't hit stores yet, which one you'll get is a crap shoot. Clearly, the knife weilding version is preferable.

Value - *1/2
Previous figures in this series were $30. This guy sees a price hike to $35, and considering the lack of accessories and body sculpt reuse, it's certainly not warranted. 

Fun Factor - **
Fairly limited articulation makes these fairly static toys. Batman can punch him out of course, but it seems a tad unfair since the poor Joker doesn't have anything to protect himself with...

Things To Watch Out For
Not much. If you are picking it out on the shelf, watch for the dreaded green ear.

Overall - **
My initial reaction to this guy was pretty positive. The head sculpt is actually pretty good, although the paint doesn't do much to support it. The body is a bit plain for this size, and the lack of accessories doesn't help. Add in the extra five bucks over the previous figures, and you can see where things were really going south for me.

Had they given us the articulation of the smaller figure and added in a couple accessories, I would have been much happier with the final result. As it is, he can stand in with your Mattel DK Batman, and probably look better (i.e. more appropriate) doing so than one of the more expensive clothed versions. But there's a lot of wasted potential here, especially considering the price point.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - ***
Paint -  **
Articulation - **
Accessories - *1/2
Value - *1/2
Fun Factor - **
Overall - **

Where to Buy -
These are a Toys R Us exclusive, although whether they remain available only through the online store, or will hit the brick and mortar locations is yet to be seen.

Related Links -
Other 12" versions of the Dark Knight Joker include:

- Hot Toys has given us both the regular and Bank Robber versions, with the Cop version to come.

- DC Direct also did a sixth scale version of the Heath Ledger character.

- and if you like your Jokers smaller, there's the regular movie version of the Joker, plus the Movie Masters version from Mattel.

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Dark Knight Joker 12 inch action figure from Mattel

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

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