Mattel Gotham City
Animated Batman 4 Pack

Since Mattel has taken over the complete Batman license, we've had our ups, and our downs. The new Zipline Batman (actually, the entire comic based line) is one of those ups. Some of the Justice League figures have been ups. But most of the animated Batman figures have been downs.

The newest is one that slipped in under the radar - the Gotham City four pack. It includes Batman and Robin of course, along with Nightwing and Batgirl. Batgirl was originally planned for one of the two packs released earlier in the year, but was cancelled, at least for the time being, from that series. She's turned up here first, in a funky repaint.

Yes, all four are funky repaints. They are all in bright silver. I don't think there could possibly be a less stealthy color they could have chosen than bright, metallic, eye catching, light reflecting, disco ball silver, but give them time. The four pack is available at Amazon right now, but I'm assuming we'll see it show up at Toys R Us stores as well at some point. The set retails for $20.

Packaging - ***1/2
I can say without a doubt and with no reservation that the very best thing about this four pack is the packaging. And when I say that, you know you're in trouble.

This box really is a great design. With the cardboard cross on the front, visually separating each character into a corner, and the easy to see motion cards, it really is eye catching and attractive. The graphics and font choice are great, and there's some decent text. To top it off, the package is collector friendly, if you don't mind dealing with a few twisty ties.

The box does say that this Batgirl is exclusive to this set.  Let's pray to God that's true.

Sculpting - **1/2
You've already seen this Batman, Robin and Nightwing - and even most of Batgirl. While I like the Batman and Robin sculpts, the plastic used this time around is the soft stuff, making it difficult to keep them standing. Robin is particularly susceptible to keeling over after a little while, with his weak ankles.

I've never been thrilled with the Nightwing, which we saw earlier this year in the Batman/Nightwing two pack. He has a very tough time standing, and the soft plastic is certainly no help.

But the big disappointment here is Batgirl. She's sporting the same body and similar right hand as Catwoman, and a new head of course. The head sculpt isn't terrible, and at least looks enough like the animated character to be acceptable, but it
is fairly large for this body, larger than it even should be for the animated style. 

Paint - *
If I didn't know better, I'd think I was looking at Hasbro product. Lots of sloppy lines between what few colors you get. Remember, the silver is the predominate color here, and while it's at least fairly consistent, there are plenty of rub marks and bleed from the other areas.

The big disappointment here is again Batgirl. I can deal with stupid versions of the other three, and I've come to accept it as a fact of life. But it's hard to believe that Mattel pulled the same foolish stunt as Hasbro, and gave us a completely goofy version of Batgirl before at least giving us the correct version from the show.

Articulation - **
The articulation hasn't improved...yet. There's neck, shoulders and hips on all of them, and the limited points of articulation aren't very useful in getting them to stay standing. Only Batman seems consistent in his ability to keep his butt off the floor.

They did show increased articulation on the Batman figures at SDCC, and I'm very pleased with the direction they're going in. They just hadn't made it there before this set was released.

Accessories - **
There's one accessory for each figure - a motion card. Yes, they look good in the package, and the work just fine, showing three poses for each character. But in reality these are pretty dopey accessories, and my heart certainly doesn't flutter when I see something like this in the package. Even some re-used stuff would have been nice, particularly considering the price point.

Value - *1/2
Five bucks a figure for a repainted figure with no real accessories. Just to get a Batgirl that is 80% re-used parts. No sir, I don't like it.

Overall - **
Mattel had to rush out some product this year when they first acquired the Batman license. Let's hope this set is the last furball Mattel coughs up, and from here on out we get the quality products we saw at SDCC. Yes, there's going to be plenty of Batman variations, but that's a fact of selling a kid's line. While there really wasn't much of any Batman Animated product at SDCC, the animated Justice League stuff is the next best thing, and everything there looked great.

Where to Buy - 
Right now you're only choice is But don't do it unless you're a masochistic Batman fan like me. This is one set that everyone but the absolute completist can skip, and I'm sure we'll see a better Batgirl - or at least this one repainted in reasonable colors - somewhere down the line.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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