Jack Nicholson Joker - Batman
following is a guest review. The review
and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford
or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the
|It's another terrific Hot Toys
guest review from Jeff tonight, as
he looks at the Nicholson version of the Joker. Take it away, Jeff!
A big thank you to Mike, the man who put the Bat in Bat-Fink… I mean
was a little late to the table with my review of the 89 Batman figure
(as I probably will be with this one by the time it’s written, edited,
the pictures are taken and prepared and it finally goes up), but it was
a figure of such phenomenal geek cultural importance that it was
impossible for me NOT to review him. Lets face it, we are living in
increasingly enlightened times for us more mature collectors, or indeed
for those with a healthy respect for the classics. I don’t of course
mean Homer or Plato, but more the Donner’s and Burton’s of this world
(and I should also add that I don’t mean the kebabs or Richard).
not only do we now have striking renditions of both Reeve as Superman
and Keaton as Batman, but now we also have the Yang to Bats Yin in the
form of the Joker. Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of the psychotic
Machiavellian criminal mastermind set a new cinematic benchmark for
this particular character, especially considering the (remembered
fondly but) camp goofball that the Caesar Romero’s depiction gave us in
the Adam West 60’s TV series.
Though made far grittier and
darker twenty years later by Chris Nolan, the skewed gothic fable that
Burton delivered was still very brave for its time, both in terms of
investing big money into an area of pop-culture that was still then
considered a risky genre, but also in respecting the fans enough to
take the characters seriously… well, semi-seriously. I guess you gotta
ask yourself, would Nolan’s Bat Man or Whedon’s Avengers have done the
phenomenal business they did without the groundwork this earlier
I freely admit it still had elements that
were more ‘fantastical’ than some would have liked. But the brooding
depiction of Gotham was far more epic in its scale than I feared it
might be, and the Joker managed to create a real sense of menace. A
sense of menace that I also feared might be purely played for laughs
(when I heard Jack Nicholson was on board, as lets face it, he’s a
solid enough character actor with an impressive back catalogue. But in
his later roles he does tend to play Jack Nicholson phoned in as ‘enter
character name here’ with Ray Ban Clubmasters strapped to his face).
it turned out Nicholson played an ace… well, a joker, but he played it
pitch perfect for the tone of the move that Burton wanted to deliver.
He displayed the same manic schizophrenic qualities that Keaton did as
the Batman. But where as Bruce Wayne controlled and used his anger to
try and effect change for good, Jack Napier was a psychotic, bi-polar
time-bomb just waiting to explode and take as many people with him as
So lets imagine you are now the proud owner of the Hot
Toys 89 Batman figure (and lets face it I’m sure a lot of you are). He
stands there resplendent on your shelf in all his dark brooding finery.
Does he need a companion piece; is the Joker an essential companion to
stand along side him?
What the freakin hell do you think?
Once again showing just how it should be done.
you invest a large percentage of your hard earned cash in a collectible
it’s important that all areas of its production are well considered and
well designed. Packaging is one of the areas that is all too often over
looked, and ends up feeling like an after thought. An ill conceived,
rushed and shoddy bit of design is always evident, even to the most
undiscerning of eyes. The funny thing about good design is that it is
often unnoticeable (as it should be), where as bad design just screams
‘look at me’ for all the wrong reasons. Consumers are far more
sophisticated than many manufacturers credit them for. And in the times
we live, where global marketing is achieved very rapidly when done
well. After all, a few happy campers on a forum can make a small detail
go viral for all to see within seconds, it’s more important than ever
to get it right… it ain’t rocket science.
But enough with the
marketing spiel, we are here to look at this particular cardboard can,
and it’s fair to say that it follows the classic DX format, making it a
perfect shelf partner not only the rest of the range, but also more
importantly for Batman figure.
The front has a montage duotone
image of the Joker on a dark mauve, semi-metallic background, whilst
the edges are a bright contrasting purple. This has a magnetic side
panel that unwinds to show the card and foam cover with the DX gimmick,
which on this occasion is a projectable ‘comic book’ face of the Joker,
similar to the Bat Signal that came with Bats (I have to admit I’m not
feeling this feature as much as I did with the caped crusader, this
seems a little forced and laboured). Under this layer is the figure
held within a die-cut foam surround. His various hands are in smaller
cut-outs within the foam, whilst the light up figure stand and the rest
of his accessories are on the final layer beneath this.
good sturdy well designed box. Not as breathtaking in terms of
inventive design as some we have received from Hot Toys (lets face it
the DX range is a little samey now that we are into double digits), but
still of a high enough production standard that anything less than a
full score would be a crime. A working pair of ‘Joker monikered’
wind-up chattering teeth as the gimmick might have garnered a ****+
Sculpting - ****
the past there have been some amazing bootleg, low edition fan made
versions of this figure, and they have been truly outstanding.
Expensive when they were first made, and demanding even more impressive
prices on the secondary market when they came up for re-sale, which was
If you do own one of them already, you are amongst
the hallowed ranks of a chosen few, I salute you, you are obviously a
serious collector, but do you need this one?
The simple answer is yes… YES… YES I SAY!
Toys once again give a classic character the true love and attention to
detail that it deserves, and there is a level of finish and dare I say
it ‘manufactured perfection’ that can only come from a release like
this, and the fact it’s part of the DX series makes it even more of a
The actual portrait here is the work of Yulli Choi, who
shows once again why her talents are so very revered, and also why she
is the chief creative portrait artist within the company. This is just
bang on the money, capturing Nicholson’s/the Jokers wide manic sh*t
eating grin to perfection. And even though a lot of teeth are on show,
it still manages to looks great. The hair is worn in a slick backed
style and has tons of deep crisp detailing in the individual strands as
they radiate out over the back of the head, and even though the hair is
removable to access the PERS feature, the division seam is incredibly
well concealed, if you didn’t know it was there I doubt you would
The skin also exhibits a fantastic texture
application with not only the wrinkles and creases on show but also
with each and every distinct pockmark and pore. The arched eyebrows
work well with the positionable PERS eyes, allowing for everything from
a crazy laughing pose right through to a very threatening fixed stare.
In short this head sculpt is virtually perfect, and like on the
companion Batman figure, it shows just how impressive the PERS feature
can be when it works well, and here it works fantastically in bringing
the portrait to life.
He also comes with a selection of gloved
hands in various poses. All are convincing and work well with the
accessories they are designed for. They are of the classic formal
‘evening’ design, think Bugs Bunny or Mickey Mouse (but with four
fingers instead of three), clad in purple leather with a rolled back
When a sculpt
turns out this devastatingly good, you had better back up that cool
work with a paint app to match, and here Hot Toys have again delivered
a job that is truly awesome (a word, that as a Brit I try not to
overuse, but is fully worthy of use here).
The fact that
Nicholson has his face covered in white greasepaint does mean that warm
subtle flesh tones aren’t required here, but that’s not to say what we
end up with is any less impressive. In the movie it is not meant to be
make-up, but rather a bizarre side effect of falling into a vat of
toxic chemicals, his ghostly pallid complexion is his actual skin. So,
to do justice to the amazing sculpt JC Hong has created a work of
understated finesse that exhibits outstanding delicacy not only on the
gentle graduations that give the face definition but also on the
eyebrows, teeth and the hairline. The tiny glass eyes that are fitted
as part of the PERS feature also help in completing the illusion of the
tiny real person, and the way they catch the light is as always
There is little more to say in this
category, other than I fail to see how a mass-produced figure could
actually improve much at this scale. They shoot… they score!
This is based around a
classic True-Type design, a base body I
described so many times in the past that I wont insult you with another
low-down here. Suffice to say you can find a concise breakdown of the
joints (not to mention a ton of pics in the three base body breakdowns
I did here-
And I intend to cover the muscle body real soon.
will say that because of the padded fat-suit and the multiple layers of
clothing, you do lose some of the more extreme poseability. However you
will still be able to get him into pretty much any key pose from the
movie, and the ankle articulation is great, so standing with both feet
flat on the ground isn’t an issue.
This guy comes pretty loaded with a good selection of goodies
- Eight hands consisting of-
- One pair jazz hands
- One pair relaxed hands
- Two right gesturing hands
- One right gun grip
- One right tight grip (for card and cane)
- One long purple over coat (described above)
- One purple Fedora hat (described above)
- One loud haler (HELLO!)
- One long-barrelled revolver
- One short-barrelled revolver with ‘BANG’ flag
- One orchid buttonhole
- One remote control
- One walkie-talkie
- One set of joke chattering teeth
- One walking cane
- One gas mask/respirator
- Two wads of Benjamins
- One Joker playing card
- One light up figure base with Bat emblem
I am gonna be truthful, and dare to look a manic grinning gift horse in
the mouth, then I admit I would have dearly loved a second head, one
with a more serious and psychotic expression, but that is pure wishful
thinking, as to be honest you can get a good range of psychotic
expressions with a simple tilt of the head and repositioning of the
So on with what we do get. The two guns have rotating
‘flip out’ barrels and cockable hammers, the shorter one has a
removable post with a unfurled ‘BANG’ flag, whilst the other has a
obscenely, ridiculously long barrel (it’s the gun he brings down the
Bat Wing with, packs quite a wallop… yeah, that one). The joke teeth
don’t actually wind up and ‘chatter’, but they do have a tiny spring
loaded action so they can open and close. The rest of the sculpted
accessories have no moving parts, but the attention detail is uber
accurate and they look like they came straight out of the movie… lurid
orange and green colour schemes and all. The respirator is made from a
soft pliable vinyl, and holds to the face by simply gripping it like a
small suction cup… an easy solution, but ingenious. The paper items,
being the small-scaled playing card and wads of cash are also expertly
crafted with some super fine printing.
Lastly we have the light
up figure-stand; this is a reuse of the one that came with Bats, but
with a nice shiny metal plaque on the front with the Jokers name.
a solid well observed and executed selection… but it just feels like
there could have been something more… perhaps the alternate ‘artists’
When a figure
wears a multi layered outfit the biggest challenge is always going to
be getting a natural look. We’ve all seen 1/6th figures that end up
looking like the Michelin man when swaddled in layers of shirts, vests,
jackets and coats. But Hot Toys have already proven themselves to be
past masters in this arena with the outstanding work they have pulled
off on figures like the first DX Joker (amongst others).
thing about Nolan’s Joker was that he was grounded in a real world
aesthetic. His clothes were lived in, dirty and used, but Burtons Joker
had a sartorial elegance far closer to that of the comic book villain.
Here he was dressed in vivid purples, oranges and greens, a proper
Gotham dandy! But it was a palette that worked oh so very well when set
against the drab backdrop of the city, and the Batman’s all new dense
black S&M ensemble.
His ‘ringmasters’ jacket is a deep
purple with working pockets and minutely observed details on its scaled
stitching and seams. This is worn over his double-breasted emerald
green waistcoat that also has miniature buttons and a working ‘sliding’
adjustor belt on its back. That is in turn worn over his vivid orange
satin shirt; to finish the look he has a foppish green cravat tied in a
bow at his collar, the patterned colour nicely complementing his
The trousers borrow accent tones from all of his
other garments, creating a loud vulgar tartan/checked fabric that few
people could get away with apart from the crown prince of Gorham’s
crime world (and a few sad golfers). Tasteless in palette they may be,
but the cut and tailoring is impeccable. Hidden under the waistcoat he
sports a pair of black braces that attach to the inside yoke of the
trousers waistband. The style is generous and roomy with pleats at the
waist, but due to the fact they owe more to a zoot suits high waisted
tailoring rather than Saville Row, there are no working pockets. When
you unpack the figure you will find the lower sections of the trouser
leg is stiff, this is just down to the card inserts placed to keep the
trousers in good shape whilst in the box, and should obviously be
removed before posing.
Being a dandy, the Joker isn’t going to
spoil his look by failing to give his footwear due consideration, so as
you’d expect his shoes tie in beautifully with the rest of the outfit.
The style is a classic lace-up ankle boot design but with a dapper two
tone purple finish, and he even has flash of white sock to compliment
the final look.
He is also equipped with a long purple overcoat
as an extra accessory. This is just as immaculately tailored as the
jacket and again has well observed detailing on the scaled buttons,
seams, hems and working pockets, it is worth noting that this is
intended to be worn instead of the jacket rather than with it.
complete the image he has a snazzy purple fedora. This is made from
flocked vac formed plastic with a fabric band running around the crown,
it fits comfortably and works well in finishing off the characters
There is one other garment that I haven’t
‘truly’ made part of this review and that is the padded fat suit that
is hidden beneath all his clothing. I can’t actually review it because
I don’t want to disrobe the figure fully to get to it, but if you check
out Martin Myatt’s old review for the Hot Toys Godfather figure over on
Cool Toy Review you can see the one he wore here,
and I have a feeling this one would look pretty similar. The fact it is
there does tend to have some minor impact on his poseability, but the
tailoring of the clothes are cut to fit around the extra padding
comfortably, and it works well in getting the final look of the figure
just right. And lets face it, Nicholson wasn’t exactly a ‘fightin’
action man in the movie, that’s what Bob and the rest of the ‘Goons’
In short this is once again a superb showcase for Mr
Tsang and the talented team who put this outfit together, and shows a
number of fine tuned improvements since the proto pics were unveiled
like the better detailing on the trousers and cravat’s pattern…
the PERS feature doesn’t work, it can detract from a figure, and sadly
like in the case of the Indiana Jones it can even end up detracting
from the likeness. But luckily that is rare. The figures
has looked great and given the character even more personality far
outstrips the ones where it didn’t.
It always seems to work
better on figures that have make-up on or are masked (duh). As has been
the evident with the Nolan Joker and Batman, Jack Sparrow, and of
course the Burton Batman. So it stands to reason that because of the
theatrical make-up the Joker wears, it works wonderfully and certainly
enhances the figure, giving the ability to inject even more personality
into your chosen pose.
As has been the case before, you simply
remove the back section of the hair, which has the division line well
disguised within the hair sculpt. Once removed you have access to the
small joystick that controls both eyes at the same time, it's simples
(comparethejokers.com) to use and is far more fluid in its movements
and more robust in its construction than on its first outing on the
Nolan/Ledger Joker. There’s no two ways about it, it’s a cool feature
that improves the figure a lot and contributes greatly to its fun
all know that the good things in life are not actually free, very far
from it; they are in fact pretty darned expensive. And the world of
1/6th figure collectibles is much like every other. Just as you can buy
a basic trailer home or Ford car, you can also purchase a massive
mansion with tennis courts and a pool plus a fleet of Aston Martin’s
(or Ferrari’s… if your taste is thus)… or even a Lear jet should you be
particularly fiscally flush this month. Choice is everything in the
free market. And as much as we try to convince ourselves that we are
happy with our lot, we also hanker after those elusive luxuries.
such, when you see the RRP for this figure is an eye-wateringly
exorbitant $264.99, many will baulk and shake their heads at the
madness that is grown men and women frittering away their ‘hard earned
money’ on an indulgent non essential luxury item like this.
luckily it is not ‘ALL’ people. If it were I’d have nothing to review.
Well, I would, but the quality would not be at this level, we’d still
be scrabbling in the mud like Neanderthals with our Hasbro 12 inchers.
Indeed there are many people out there, with the ranks ever growing who
can totally understand why a small work of art like this is worthy of
demanding such a high price, and that word I used earlier… luxury…
isn’t lost on them.
Of course I’m not mad enough to totally
defend it, I have a reputation to protect. But when you take into
account the PERS feature, stunning portrait, amazing paint, sublime
outfit, cool accessories, its ability to pose well even in all those
layers and of course not overlooking the very well designed box, well
then the hefty two and a half Benjamin’s+ actually doesn’t seem quite
Factor - ***3/4
the amount of fun this figure can deliver might well depend on whether
or not you already own the Batman figure. If you do, then as far as I’m
concerned it’s a no brainer… the only thing that hurts is it’s combined
RRP of over 500 big ones, which makes the term no brainer a little more
difficult to stomach… ouch!
However, as far as all the key
elements go for this section it is a clear out of the park home run. I
can’t remember the last time I grinned so much posing a figure. Have
you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight, I always ask that
of my friends?
When I look
at this figure there is a big part of me that just wants to throw
caution to the wind and give it a full score. After all I’m becoming
more emotionally numbed to the price with each new release since the DX
However, even though I am quite frankly knocked
sideways by this figure, I can’t ignore that price. $265 is very hefty
chunk of someone’s income, and in these uncertain economic times it is
sadly gonna keep it from being in some of the very deserving hands of
people who I know would dearly love to hold it.
So, I guess it
is a mark of just how incredibly impressive this release turned out,
that I am awarding such a very high score. In terms of quality I find
it hard to imagine a 1/6th depiction of this character ever beating
this (which is just plain throwing down a gauntlet I know), so that
high RRP is all that keeps it from perfection…. And it came very darned
Where to Buy -
still has The Joker available in-stock at $264.99 here … yeah, you read
that right… how close are we to the $300 1/6th figure… too freakin
close is the answer!
Alternatively you can try some of Mike’s
sponsor below where you could potentially save up to $20 on the RRP… or
maybe even spend $20 over if you are that way inclined!
Or hit eBay where the BIN prices are between $245 to $315, and that’s
This product was provided free for the review by the manufacturer.
Photos and text by Jeff Parker.