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DC Direct Batman Black and White
Batman Gotham Knight

DC Direct Batman Black and White Gotham Knight Statue

The Dark Knight opened this weekend, and if early reviews are any indication, it was a huge hit. I can't say for sure, because although this is going up at the site on Sunday night, I'm writing it well in advance. I'll be at the San Diego Comic Con all this week, and I had to get all the reviews completed for posting before I left.

But to follow the theme of the Dark Knight, tonight I'm looking at the most recent release in the Batman Black and White series of statues - Batman Gotham Knight. I thought this guy wasn't shipping until the fall, but DC Direct managed to get him out in time to coincide with the release of the DVD.

The DVD was released July 8th, and is six stories showing Batman's journey from novice crime fighter to Dark Knight. Created by some of the top screenwriters in Hollywood working with cutting edge animated filmmakers, these stories have gotten wildly mixed reviews. I haven't yet seen the film, but I'm planning on it during the plane trip.

This new statue is based on the appearance of Batman in one of these stories. While it's part of the overall Batman Black and White statue line by DC Direct, it does differ from them slightly in style. They made 3500 of the statues, and they retail for the new higher price point of around $60 - $70, depending on the retailer.

DC Direct Batman Black and White Gotham Knight Statue

DC Direct Batman Black and White Gotham Knight Statue
DC Direct Batman Black and White Gotham Knight Statue
DC Direct Batman Black and White Gotham Knight Statue
DC Direct Batman Black and White Gotham Knight Statue

Packaging - ***
While the packaging is the usual, I'm upping the score slightly due to the inclusion of a true numbered Certificate of Authenticity, done in a very retro style. It looks terrific, and is a nice addition. I'm pretty sure this is the first of the Batman: B&W statues that has had one.

The rest of the package is pretty much what you're used to if you've been buying this line. The photos on the box of the early prototype show more issues with the paint than I had with the final production piece, however. Don't let that scare you off.

Sculpting - ***1/2
I've mentioned this before, but it's always worth repeating - the style of these statues does not lend itself to any sort of extreme detail. At first glance, that might imply that they aren't difficult to sculpt, but any artist will tell you that doing simple right can be more difficult that the most extreme detailing.

The sculptor has to make simplicity work, to give the statue a dynamic appearance with depth and feeling, without relying on drawing your eye into the small details. That can be quite tough to do well, and occasionally the artists working on this series have had their difficulties.

This statue is one of my favorites in awhile now. While the last two or three have been decent, this one is surprisingly attractive to me. I say surprisingly because I have not seen the cartoon, and don't really have much of an appreciation for the two dimensional style it's based on. But I really like the expression, the walking stance and flowing cape, and even how the statue has been offset to the left on the base.

Although the statue is pictured on the box and in all promo ads as being on the standard Batman B&W base, it is actually on a completely different one. While it's similar in shape and size, the graphics and lettering are specific to Gotham Knights, not the Black and White series. I'm fine with that, although some completists may not appreciate the break from the sameness of the line.

Paint - ***
The paint work on the Black and White series is never too detailed, for obvious reasons. When you're working with a pretty limited palette, you aren't going to see a lot of small detail work.

Still, there's an expectation of quality in the work that's here, particularly at the new higher price point. The last couple statues have lacked a bit in that quality, with a bit more slop than I expected.

Thankfully, this statue returns to the level of quality I'd hoped for. I was worried at first, because there's obvious issues with the pre-production statue used for the photos on the box, but those issues are not present on the final production version. All the lines are clean and sharp, with a good consistency in coverage and color.

I also like the use of the gloss finish black for the gloves and boots, and the sharp edges on the bat symbol make it stand out nicely on the gray costume. The overall work here isn't exceptional, but it's certainly back at an expected quality level.

Design - ***1/2
As I said, I haven't see the film yet, and I still like this design quite a bit more than what we've seen in the series in other recent releases. The slightly dynamic walking pose gives the impression of confidence and danger, of a Batman that is preparing to strike and fully knows he's going to be standing when the dust settles.

I also like both the slightly anime body style, as well as the way the cape drapes tightly and fully over both shoulders. The clean sharp lines of the basic style works well here, and I even like the way the figure was offset on the newly styled base.

Value - **
These are not large statues, standing only a bit over 6" tall without the base. These are not highly limited statues, with 3500 being a pretty big edition size. And while attractive, they don't exhibit the kind of extreme detail or perfection that high end statues do.

At $40 - $50, these were a solid value. At $60 - $70, people are going to be much, much choosier about which ones they pick up and which they leave behind, which could spell disaster for the line.

Things To Watch Out For
The base has metal posts to attach the statue. As is often the case, the feet can fit rather tightly over these posts and require being pushed together slightly to actually fit. Getting the statue on the base is actually easier than taking it off, and you can break a foot quite easily when you're removing it. Be careful!

Overall - ***
I'm much happier with this statue than the last couple in the series. The paint work is better, and the execution of the sculpt and design is much better as well. In fact, I wasn't particularly keen on watching Gotham Knights before, but after getting this statue, my interest is renewed. That's saying a lot about how well this one turned out.

That being said, the price point is now high enough to expect something REALLY special, particularly in this scale. And while I like this version quite a bit, it's hard to justify the high cost.

This is a themed series. That's the whole point of the black and white gimmick - it's a theme. And something that is generally true with any themed series is that it looks much better on your shelf in a large group, rather than as a single item. With only one or two possible exceptions, that's very true of the Batman Black and White series.

But if the price point gets high enough to scare off completists, then the impetus to pick up ANY of the statues drops off considerably, and editions as large as 3500 could mean too many statues sitting on retailers shelves. In the past, a streak of two or even three weaker designs could be offset by the demands of completists, but moving forward into 2010, even one bad design could spell doom. For this series to survive higher prices, the product managers are going to have to be extremely careful and picky about what statues get produced.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - ***1/2
Paint - ***
Design - ***1/2
Value - **
Overall - ***

Where to Buy -
There are a number of great sponsors with this statue in stock:

- Urban Collector has a terrific price at $56.25.

- Alter Ego Comics has hit for $63.75.

- YouBuyNow has him for $67.50.

- Andrew's Toyz has him at $75.

- or you can search ebay using MyAuctionLinks.com.

Related Links -
Iíve looked at a number of these, including Bob Kane, Frank Miller, Jim Lee, Matt Wagner, Mike Mignola, and Kelley Jones.

Discussion:
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DC Direct Batman Black and White Gotham Knight Statue


Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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