First Appearances Batman

This last week, DC Direct released their first series of First Appearances figures - Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash and Shazam.  The styles are based on the original look of these characters from the Golden Age of comics.  Being the big Batman fan, I picked up the obvious.

Now, I thought that rather than simply reviewing these figures myself, I'd ask three of his soon-to-be shelf mates what they thought.  Since they'd be sharing dust, I figured they ought to get to know each other.  So tonight we'll hear from three 'guest' reviewers, pictured below: Mattel Batman (MB), Legend of the Dark Knight Batman (LB), and Hush Batman (HB).

MWC: Hi guys, how you all doing today?

MB: Our shelf is getting a tad jammed up.  If you're going to crowd us up like that, the least you could do is swing Poison Ivy over my way.  Homina, homina!

HB:  Hey, keep your rubbery mitts off her vines - she's from my series!

LB: Sorry guys, but she's checked our your utility belts.  Obviously, there's some serious over compensation going on.

MWC: How about everyone come on over here and have a seat...

MB: No problem.  Nice stools...

HB: Yea, thank Johnny Fiama for letting us use them.  Very comfy!

LB: You guys suck.  Really.

Uh, okay, let's get to the subject - the new First Appearances Batman.  As the latest addition to the shelf, I thought it would be fun to get our opinions!

MB: You know, there was a Wonder Woman in that set.

HB:  Just be thankful he didn't buy the Shazam.

LB:  Yea, the guy never shuts up, and what's with that whole Mister Superior thing with his hands on his hips?

MWC:  Okay, first up, packaging.  You guys checked out the box - what do you think?

MB: I thought the look was nice and retro, very reminiscent of the comics of the period.  It fits the series extremely well, and it's eye catching too.  And it blows the socks off those awful Hush packages.

HB: Hey!  That was a particular look...and besides, these things are nothing more than plastic prisons, used by the man to keep the us down!  Free our brothers and sisters from their unholy plastic confines!

LB:  Attica! Attica! Attica!

MWC: Hmmm - I'll call that three stars.  On to the next subject for debate, the sculpt.  Is it up to your expectations?

MB: I think it's pretty much dead on to the original appearance of Batman, right down to the level of detail and shape of each body part.  I'm particularly impressed with the head and neck sculpt, which was tricky to pull off.  I think they did a great job.

HB: Yep, for a change I have to agree with my inferior friend.  The sculptors have managed to capture the look right off the pages of the comic.  Now, there's going to be people who don't like the look - it is pretty dorky, let's be honest - but you can't complain when it looks just like it's suppose to.  If you don't appreciate the Golden Age style, then you should just move along, cuz this guy ain't going to do it for you.  If I had one complaint, it would be the wide stance.  He has some trouble standing up because of it, and it looks a tad, well, goofy.  And since he's already a pretty goofy looking character, that's saying a lot.  Of course, I'm not really a big fan of wide stances.

LB:  Oh, let's pick on the old guy again, I get it.  Like Mister Thunder Thighs has much room to talk about goofy looking stances.

Instead of picking on the guy for what is a very reasonable leg stance, let's talk about the obvious - those ears!  Okay, I know, that's what he looked like, so I should just shut my trap and nod my head like these two lackeys, but I just can't do it.  This poor guy has stumpy ears!  And you know what they say about a guy with big ears...

HB: Yea, Kelley Jones was over compensating...


LB:  Meh, you little ear guys are just jealous of my magnificent protuberances.

MWC: Before this gets too far off track, let's take about capes. I'm sure that's quite the subject of late night drinking sessions as well.

MB:  Oh yea, and you know how I'm going to feel - gotta love the cloth cape!  Not only does it hang great and look realistic, but it has great stitching, with a terrific blue inner lining.  They also used the stitching to highlight the 'ribs', where a small wire is place.  Each of these wires is bendable and posable of course, and I have to nominate this guy as having the best posable cape so far! 

HB:  Blah, blah, blah.  Okay, even I have to admit that while I love my soft rubber cape, this one is pretty damn cool.  It's tremendously posable, and the wires work extremely well.  And it so much better than MB's, that he'll be suffering from cape envy from now on.

MB:  I admit it!  This cape kicks butt, and it even looks just like the old comic.  Very impressive, especially for a geezer.

LB:  If you two are done slobbering all over yourselves, I would like to point out the major issue.  Grandpa here was out of the box for about two seconds before those wires started popping out of the end of the cape.  Now, with a little work you can get them to slip back in, but move the cape around again, and guess who pops out like a prairie dog.  Perhaps if you clipped off the ends, just enough to make it easier for them to stay in...

MWC:  That's a good point LB - we don't want anybody putting an eye out with this guy's cape.  But I have to agree with MB and HB, that's a mighty impressive piece of cloth.  I also liked the way it was attached under the neck, and how the line flowed from the cowl down.  I'll mark the sculpt down as ***1/2.

Next up, the paint operations.  Who wants to start?

HB:  I'll go first this time, cuz we know what MB is going to think about the paint scheme.  Sure, I like the blue and gray better, but the ops here are very clean, and much better than many DC Direct attempts.  The glossy black also just seems right for some reason - maybe because it fits the mental picture of what you would think it would look like.

MB:  Yep, gotta love it.  That black, gray and yellow combo worked like a charm even 60 years ago.  His shorts were a little off, with some rough spots around the joints, but nothing terrible.  I could do without those goofy purple gloves, but he didn't have the fashion sense of us modern Bats.

LB:  Hey MB, what the hell are you doing in that picture?  I thought the Gangsters Inc. figures were supposed to be making offers.  Not that there's anything wrong with that...

MB: Hey!  I was pointing man, that's all - just pointing.  Not my fault those Four Horseman bastards couldn't give me fingers.

MWC: That sounds like ***1/2 stars for paint application as well.  On to the next touchy, uh, subject - articulation.  Is this guy got the moves or what?

HB:  Afraid not, MWC.  He's got one terrific joint, and about ten more that vary from decent to craptacular.  The one good joint - a very cool ball jointed neck that allows for a terrific range of motion, kind of like mine.  These other guys are jealous of course.

He has some weird ball joints for shoulders, and the lower half of the joint at the bicep seems very weak, almost like it could break off pretty easily.

MB:  Yep, and those wrists joints aren't much better.  I thought for sure MWC was going to twist a hand off!

LB:  He does have elbows, hips, and knees too, but what's the point really?  Let's be honest, with a good sculpt, is articulation really necessary?

MB & HB:  YES!

MWC:  Hmmm, I think I'll call that a **1/2 star on the articulation.  Now here's a category that DC Direct always seems to have trouble with - accessories.  How about it guys?

LB:  They don't do much better this time.  He does have a nifty display stand, but put his one foot on the peg and the other barely stays over the stand, due to that great, wide stance.  It looks good, but isn't the greatest accessory around.

MB:  He also has a little copy of the original appearance of yours truly, in Detective Comics number 21.  Very cool.  Of course, checking some of the art, you might notice a few issues.

HB:  LIke why is the inside of his cape seems to switch from blue to black depending on the panel?

MB:  Yea, minor stuff like that...

MWC:  Okay, that sounds pretty weak to me - let's go **.  Next up, the old 'fun factor'.

LB:  Well, clearly this guy doesn't have the fun factor of a Wonder Woman, for example, unless you're MB.

MB:  I was pointing!  Pointing, I tell you!

HB: Ignore tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum.  If a kid got his hands on this, after putting his eyes out with the wires, he'd chuck it at the dog.  Let's face it, this is not a look most kids are going to associate with the caped crusader, and while it might be fascinating for those geek adults who can't seem to get enough versions of me, kids would be less than enthralled.

MWC:  Hmmm.  Okay, let's say ** again.  I bet there are a few kids out there who actually know who this Batman is.  Now our final specific category - value.  Is he worth the bucks?

MB:  Well, I'm better than him, and I only cost eight bucks.  What does that tell you?

HB:  Yea, well I cost about the same as he does - $15 - $20, depending on which comic book guy you buy him from - and I have to admit his cape is a lot more spiff than mine.  Still, I had a swappable hand.

LB:  All you guys are too damn expensive.  In my day, toys cost $5, and when they charged $7 for me, everyone complained!

MWC:  I don't think any of you can truly comprehend value in the first place.  Aren't you rich to begin with?  Anybody with enough cash to buy all those gadgets and spend their lives lurking around alleys isn't one to understand the value of a dollar.

I'd say he's overpriced.  I paid $15 at the local comic shop, but I've seen others shops selling him for closer to $20.  At $15 I'd give him **, although the cool cape helps a bit.  If you can find him for under $15, add another half star.

MWC:  All right gentleman, it's the big finale - time to discuss your overall, final impressions.  Let's start with you, MB.

MB: Oh, sure, put all the pressure on me!  All right, I'd say he's a solid *** figure - good paint ops, great sculpt, but weak in the articulation and accessories department.

HB:  Yea, this coming from a guy that wears the same dopey colors.  But I have to agree on that score, as three stars seems pretty fair.  He's too expensive, but considering the odds of ever seeing this dorky version on the pegs, I'd say fanboys ought to just count their blessings.

LB:  Well, sorry to be a wet blanket, but I'd only go **1/2.  Hey, he's expensive, he's got wonky joints, and pretty much no accessories.  Batman with no accessories?  Hello?  How hard is it to come up with something for us?

MWC:  I guess I have to step in here too, and say I'd go for the ***.  LB has a good point, and that price is still a lot to stomach.  But fan boys are pretty lucky to even get such an unusual character, although I think the Flash fans ought to really count their blessings.  At least there are Batman fans!

HB:  Heheheheheheh...

MWC:  Thanks guys for helping out this week - now it's back to the shelf!

MB: Seriously, can we talk about doing a little creative rearranging so little Miss Ivy might be a tad closer?

HB:  Alright, it's go time...

LB:  Bat fight!

Where to Buy - 
I picked mine up at a local comic shop, the same place old HB came from.  They were charging $15, which is probably the cheapest you'll find him on his own, but some on-line stores have a better price if you buy all four. On-line options include:

- CornerStoreComics has them available individually for $13 each, and has pre-orders up for series 2 that includes Robin.

- I didn't see these at Krypton Collectibles, but they did have a pre-order up for the four figures in series 2, and it was just $40 for the set!

- Time and Space Toys the set of four for $50, plus a ton of other older Batman releases, including many of the Mattel figures.

- Alter Ego Comics has the set of all four First Appearance figures for just $50.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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