Batman: Brave and the Bold
The Atom and Sportsmaster

Batman Brave and the Bold Atom action figure from Mattel

As a lifetime Batman fan, I've seen the character go through his share of highs and lows. My youngest son is eight now, and I've been spoon feeding him the best of the Bats, with shows like Batman: The Animated Series. When they announced a new cartoon, Batman: Brave and the Bold, I was filled with trepidation. Okay, maybe 'filled with trepidation' is a tad dramatic, but I did ponder the possibility that if the show blew chunks, that it would forever alter my son's view of the caped crusader.

Thankfully, the show does not blow chunks of any sort. In fact, it's a great show that pays lots of tribute to the entire history of the character, and my son and I can sit and watch it together and both enjoy it for what it is - fun.

When the first wave of action figures hit six months ago, I still wasn't quite sure about the show. It was in it's early episodes, and those can be tricky times. I picked up the figures with hopes that this could be a next big thing for my collection, but remained skeptical. The show made it through a couple rocky episodes though, and turned the corner towards classic, making me far more interested in the action figures than I was originally.  It suspect it also means I'll be looking at them with a slightly different perspective from here on out.

After many months, the first new figures in the series have arrived - Atom and Sportsmaster. Many more are clearly planned, and with what appears to be success for the show, I suspect we'll see quite a few of these released over the summer.
Batman Brave and the Bold Atom action figure from Mattel
Batman Brave and the Bold Sportsmaster action figure from Mattel
Batman Brave and the Bold Atom action figure from Mattel
Batman Brave and the Bold Atom action figure from Mattel
Batman Brave and the Bold Atom action figure from Mattel

These are available at most mass market retailers, such as Toys R Us, Target and Meijers. In our area, Target seems to be the only one putting these two out so far, but they should find their way to most toy stores. Expect to pay around $8 -$10 each, depending on the retailer.

Packaging - ***
The packaging is doing less for me these days than when I first saw it, but it's not too bad for the usual peg pack. I do like the extra personalization, including the unique character photo on the front, but the shape tends to be tough for the MOCers to store. It's not collector friendly either, but that wasn't really expected.

Sculpt - **1/2
Both of these figures use the quickly becoming standard body for this line, which you've seen already with characters like Batman and Aquaman. They've added new head sculpts of course, as well as new belts, but that's about the extent of the major changes.

Atom's head sculpt is determined, yet not constipated. He's ready for battle, or maybe you've just said something really annoying.

His belt sculpt has the Atom symbol, and has a very sharply defined cut. Both hands are in gripping poses, and the plastic is soft enough to allow him to hold the large handle on his accessory.

The Sportsmaster has a terrific head sculpt, with high and tight hair and seriously chin. He also has more added details to the standard body, including a baseball mitt right hand, and his funky left arm pad that's shaped kind of like a Jai Alai racket. In martial arts, there are similar pads, but not exactly like this one, so I'm not sure what sport they pulled it from. However, it does match his Brave and the Bold appearance exactly.

Speaking of his appearance, this is not his first time battling Batman. In fact, this character goes all the way back to 1947! He's just never been a particularly popular member of the DC Rogue's Gallery.

The figures sport the silly holes on the back, shoulders, elbows and knees, designed to hold accessories and work with various playsets and vehicles. It's a cute idea, but I find them more and more visually distracting as time goes by, and I really wish they'd given us a more streamlined look. Fortunately for Sportsmaster, the shoulder holes aren't quite as bothersome, largely because of the wide shoulder pads. They look like part of the armor with him, whereas they just look like weird holes in Atom's actual shoulders.

Both figures stand find on their own, and are 5" tall, fitting in scale wise with the rest of the line. However, that means they are too small for most other lines, and I find them to be out of place with even BTAS and The Batman figures. Your mileage there may vary, depending on how large or small you expect them to be.

Paint - ***
The paint work is fairly clean, particularly for mass market and for this price range. It's nothing outstanding, but the few sloppy cut lines and over spray areas are hard to see without magnification.

I do really, really dislike the painted on whistle for the Sportsmaster though. It looks silly and cheap, and it's hard to even tell it's a whistle in person.

Articulation - **
Since this is the same standard body as Aquaman and Batman, you get the same standard articulation.

There's a cut neck, cut shoulders, cut waist and T-hips, just like the old Kenner superhero days. There's also single pin elbows, but that's it. Cut wrists, better hips, or even a ball jointed neck would have gone a long way to improving the play and posing value here.

Accessories - **
Each comes with one accessory, a big honkin' weapon they can attach to their goofy peg holes, or hold in their hands.

For the Sportsmaster, it's a football tipped battering ram. In the package, it looked like perhaps the football fired, but no, it's all one solid piece. Well, solid isn't really the right word, since the back is hollowed out. Not sure why, since it doesn't fit over anything (yet), and it looks pretty silly when mounted on his back.

Atom's accessory is a little bit better, but only a little. It's sort of a mace made from nuclei, all gathered up in a clump. It's made from a translucent red plastic, which greatly improves its appearance.

Value - **1/2
At eight bucks a pop, these guys are pretty much an average value. I'm not jumping up and down for joy, but considering how out of whack prices have gotten lately, I suppose we should be mildly pleased that regular action figures aren't over ten bucks yet.

Fun Factor - ***
I was a bit generous with this score last time too, and it's really the lack of any useful articulation that pulls them down. It's a pity, since the show itself is so damn much fun. The use of the holes to allow more interactivity with accessories and playsets sounds good, but it lacks in execution.

Things To Watch Out For
Watch that paint, but otherwise, there's little you can do to hurt these guys.

Overall - **1/2
I was being a bit generous with the first wave of these figures, cutting them too much slack on the annoying holes at the shoulders and other areas. After living with them awhile, my tolerance has dropped.

Or maybe it's because of the show. When I reviewed the first wave, the show had only been on a little while, and it was good, but not great. It's continued to improve over the last few months, and I'm really enjoying it now. Perhaps this has caused me to wish for a better set of figures as well.

Perhaps we'll get at least a statue or two out of DC Direct based on the show at some point, but it looks like this action figure line is going to have to do if you want character diversity. I'll live with the holes, but I won't ever be happy about it.

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

Where to Buy -
These are a mass market toy, and you should be able to find them at Toys R Us, Target, or Meijers.  I picked mine up at Target, and here in Michigan they are just starting to hit the pegs.

Related Links -
I covered the unique characters in the first wave back when they first hit.

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Batman Brave and the Bold Sportsmaster action figure from Mattel

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

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