Zipline Batman and 
Quick Fire Joker

I'm back from SDCC, with a ton of photos and even more cool toys!  Look for lots of great reviews in the next couple weeks, along with a few surprises. Boy am I tired, but it was great meeting with lots of old friends, and making many more new ones!

But I've been hankering to get this review up for the last two weeks - Zipline Batman!  I think I was the last human on the planet to find this figure, and it was good old Kaybee that finally came through, with the not-too-bad price of $10.  I grabbed Joker as well, but haven't been lucky enough to see Robin yet.

This is the start of Mattel's comic based Batman line, separate from the animated line.  The first wave of six figures (including three basically silly Batman variations) is out, along with the Batcopter, Batcycle, and Batmobile.

This line has generated more collector buzz and interest than any Batman line in years.  I'm happy to say that it lives up to the expectations, and that Batman collectors are going to be mighty happy with at least half of this first offering.

Packaging - ***
The cardbacks are fairly basic, and the artwork is pretty uninspired.  That's too bad, since Mattel had the chance here to give us something really new and exciting, but we get the same old, same old.

I do like the embossed nature of the bubble with the bat signal, and the bubble itself is also formed to add depth to the appearance of the signal.  It's a nice touch, and shows at least a little spark of creativity.  Also on the big plus side - not a single twisty tie!

Sculpting - Batman ****, Joker ***1/2
Zipline Batman is, in the simplest terms possible, a-freakin'-mazing.  This is by far the finest Batman sculpt we've ever gotten in an action figure.  The guys better known as the Four Horsemen were responsible (they also did some of the Harry Potter, and most of the MOTU lines for Mattel) and they've out done themselves.

There's just the right amount of detail here - not so much that he looks constipated, over defined, or too extreme, but enough to capture the perfect look.  From the butt kicking boots to the Gucci belt, he's a work of art.  I would like to point out just how excellent this cloth cape is as well.  I'm a huge fan of cloth capes when done right, and this is the definition of 'done right'.

Joker isn't quite at that same level.  I really do like the sculpt, and it is in a style that I enjoy.  It may be too stylized for some though, and the long neck and stretched face may not be everyone's cup of tea.  Even I admit that the head appears too small compared to the rest of the body, particularly in profile.

Still, he's a solid sculpt, and there's lots and lots of detail.  The Joker compares extremely well to DC Direct, and Zipline Bats blows them away.

Paint - Batman ****, Joker ***1/2
Batman only uses a handful of colors - black, gray, yellow, flesh - but every one of them is clean, neat, consistent and excellent.  I'm particularly happy around the face and cowl, where over spray would have been easy, and around the yellow of the belt. Yellow is a tough color to get consistent, but they managed it fine.

The bat symbol on his chest is particularly impressive, and the style and clean lines really set off the look of the entire figure.  I did notice that the arms and legs are a higher gloss plastic than the torso, but it's not a big enough difference to cause an issue.

The Joker is also perfect, at least in terms of quality.  There's no over spray, sloppy lines between colors, and even the smallest buttons on his jacket are nicely done.  There is a little inconsistency on the white of his spatz, , but overall the paint application is great.

My only fault here is the choice of white for the face.  It's simply too white for my tastes, so white that it takes away from the detail of the sculpt and paint application on the mouth and eyes.

Articulation - Batman ****, Joker ***1/2
Batman has neck, ball jointed shoulders (with lots of room to move!), cut forearms at the glove line, waist, hips, and knees.  The articulation is well thought out, and he can easily use the 'zipline' accessory he comes with.  There's great range of motion in the shoulders, and the knees and hips actually allow for some psuedo-running poses.

The Joker has neck, ball jointed shoulders, wrists, waist, hips and knees.  While he has pretty much the same number of points, his aren't quite as useful.  The shoulders have slightly less range of motion, and the arm sculpt doesn't allow for them to come in as close to the body.  The leg sculpt also reduces the usefulness of the knee articulation, but you can still get him to hold quite a few poses, and stand just perfectly on his own.

Accessories - Batman ****, Joker ***1/2
Both figures are well outfitted with extras.  Zipline Batman has great firing weapon that snaps to his arm, and actually looks good - a rarity for Batman accessories.  It comes with two different projectiles, one a simple missile, and one a grappling hook with a rope attached.  At the other end of the rope is a batarang.  Hook either end to something, and the fourth accessory, his pulley assembly to 'zip' down the line, comes into play.  The pulley sits on the wire, and second removable batarang acts as the handlebars.

The accessories all look great, and actually work.  There's nothing silly about them, and they are a million miles beyond the infamous nose gun.

The Joker comes with four accessories as well - his cane, a gun, and two projectiles for the gun.  One projectile is the usual 'bang' flat, and the other is a set of cards on the end of the rod.  The gun fires fine, although you won't be putting any eyes out with it.

The only disappointment here is the cane.  I've never seen any accessory made of plastic this soft.  I could swear it was a piece of licorice.  The sculpting on the jester head on top is great, but it's so limp that it's embarrassing for him, and combined with his name ('Quick Fire'...har har), he's destined for years of therapy.

Value - ***
I paid ten bucks each at Kaybee, and I'm betting they are between $8 and $9 at TRU.  That's a decent value, especially if you consider they are a) more articulated the DC Direct b) have more accessories and c) have as good or better sculpting, all for 35 - 40% less.

Overall - Batman ****, Joker ***1/2
Are you a big Batman fan?  Then rush out to your local store and buy Zipline Batman, without hesitation, right this minute.  You will not be disappointed, and this is the finest Batman we've gotten to date.  The Joker isn't perfect, but he's a damn sight better than most produced by Hasbro.  He ranks up there with the 7" version from Hasbro and the Legends of the Dark Night versions as a great looking comic-based figure.

Where to Buy - 
These have been showing up in decent numbers at Toys R Us, and I found mine at a Kaybee.  I suspect Meijers and Wal-mart will carry them as well, so don't stoop to ebay or a dealer - Mattel will make plenty of this first wave. if I have a lot of room to talk!


Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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