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Retro Action Batman and Two Face

Retro Action series 2 Batman action figure by Mattel


Mattel has certainly been doing a variety of things with the DC license since they picked it up, and with the Retro Action series they are going after the nostalgic Mego collector and fan in a big way. The pair I'm reviewing tonight - Batman and Two Face - weren't SDCC exclusives, but I did snag them there from a dealer for just $20 each, the same price you can pay at Toys R Us right now. Yep, they've started to hit!

Also in series 2 is Aquaman and Black Manta. Series 3 is scheduled to include Wonder Woman, Cheetah, Captain Cold and the Flash. I love how each hero is paired with one of their own villains in a release.

As I said, these run $20 a pop at Toys R Us, but there are also a number of online retailers, several of which I've listed in my Where to Buy section. Remember, it's these sponsors who make it possible for the site to continue - please visit their stores!
Retro Action series 2 Two Face action figure by Mattel
Retro Action series 2 Batman action figure by Mattel
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Retro Action series 2 Two Face action figure by Mattel
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Retro Action series 2 Batman action figure by Mattel
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Retro Action series 2 Two Face action figure by Mattel
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Retro Action series 2 Batman action figure by Mattel
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Retro Action series 2 Two Face action figure by Mattel
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Retro Action series 2 action figures by Mattel
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Packaging - ***
They've changed up the card backer colors for this series, making it easier for you to spot them on the peg. They retain the 70's look, right down to the card wear. Personally, I'd prefer no wear added up front - I'll do that fine all on my own. I thought it was cute with the first series, but I've already grown less fond.

Sculpting - ***1/2
One of the most sought after DC Megos is the Removable Cowl Batman. Mattel decided to honor this figure with the first release of Batman in the new Retro Action series, a nice touch that many collectors appreciate.

However, this series shouldn't try to simply reproduce the older figures. While some folks might go for straight reproductions, I think most fans of the vintage line prefer updates and new characters.

For Batman, that means that under the cowl you get a Bruce Wayne head sculpt, very similar to the original but with some minor updates in quality. While it's still on a hollow head, the sculpt is sharper and better defined than the old school version, and he has a slightly more serious expression. For lots of info on the original RC Bats, check out this terrific page over at the Mego Museum.

What that also means is that the cowl is a tad oversized. There's a slit in back that allows you to slip the entire thing over his head. The original had no neck section below the chin, but they've added that here, making the cowl more complete.

The sculpted boots are made from the thicker, softer material we saw with Superman, and that's a good thing. The hard plastic boots, while thinner, had a tendency to crack and split at the seems.

His sculpted belt looks great, and the hands are done in a neutral pose. For fans of the old series, this is a great looking update that takes nothing away from the original.

Two Face is a great addition because there was no figure of him in the original series. Joker, Catwoman, Penguin, Riddler - yes. Two Face? No. That means even vintage collectors need to pick this guy up and add him to the display.

The head sculpt gives you the suave, debonair District Attorney on the right side, and the butt ugly bug eyed bastard on the left. It's a great sculpt, with a very nostalgic feel to the gruesome nature of the character.

Two Face also has a good shoe sculpt, again using the slightly softer, less brittle material.

Scale-wise, both figures fit in perfectly with other 8" figures in this style. You can pop them next to the vintage series, or add them in with the newer Star Trek, Dark Shadows, Lost or Venture Brothers characters.

Paint - Two Face ***1/2; Batman ***
There's not a ton of paint work on Bruce - just eyes, hair, and eyebrows. The hair line is a smidge sloppy, but the eyes are straight and clean.

There's also the paint work on the front of the cowl, and this is well done with just a little bleed between the white eyes and black face.

Two Face has the more complex paint job, as you'd expect. The green, damaged side of his face is in stark contrast to the normal flesh tones of the right, and both sides have nice cut lines, clean edges, and very little slop.

Articulation - ***
With the Superman from the first series, I had issues with the banded body. The bands holding the arms and legs to the torso were pretty tight, making the figure tough to keep upright, and forcing him into a weird hunched steady state pose.

I had much better luck with both of these figures, although the waist is still the problem area. With these two, I can easily say that the new body is a huge improvement over the old Mego version.

The ball shoulders and hips work well, and there are pin joints at the elbows, knees, ankles and wrists. The waist can turn and twist at the ab crunch joint, but it's that ab crunch that can have problems with the tight interior bands.

The one major improvement still needed is a ball jointed neck, but at least I was able to get some very stable and somewhat natural poses this time around.

Accessories - Bupkis
While a few of the Retro figures have extras, these two do not. Bats does have a removable cowl, but I'm counting that as part of the Outfit score.

Outfit - Batman ***1/2; Two Face ***
Both of these outfits are slightly more complex than what we've seen with the first series.

I've mentioned that Batman is a removable cowl version. This thick rubber cowl slips off and on easily, thanks to a slit up the back.

The cape is nylon, with an elastic neck. There's no hem along the edge, so it might ravel and fray just like the original. The quality of the nylon is a bit better though, so perhaps they'll fair better long term.

The suit is stretchy, and is well tailored. The belt and boots look great, and rather than going with the silly plastic oven mitts that the vintage version sported, this Batman has colored hands with pleather gauntlets. The gauntlets are a bit too thick - a common problem overall - but the quality of the material and stitching is great.

While some of these pieces - the cowl, gauntlets and boots - are a bit too thick, the look actually mirrors the nostalgic feel.

The same is true with Two Face's suit. The large collar and thick material would be inappropriate for a figure trying to match today's standards. But these are designed to fit in with the original series, and the style of the outfits are intentionally old school. The design might be goofy, but the quality is much higher than what we saw 30 years ago.

The coat is a bit too wide at the waist, however, even for the intentional style. I unbuttoned the coat and pulled it tighter at the waist, and pulled up the shoulders a bit to get the best look.

My other issue that pulled his score lower than Bruce is with the buttons on the coat itself. Again, while I'm all for matching the vintage style, the underlying snaps could have been smaller and less obvious.

The tie is sewn to the collar on one side, but the stitch is a little weak. I was worried that I might pull it loose if I wasn't careful.

I included a shot of Two Face sans coat because I love the underlying white and blue disco shirt. Two Face must have gotten fashion tips from Elton John.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
What makes classic toys classic is the simple idea that they are always fun. Kids of any generation enjoy Slinkies, Mr. Potato Head, or My Little Pony, and there's a good reason - they're timeless fun. Megos fit in that same group, and while they might be goofy looking by today's standards, they are still excellent toys.

Value - **
I gave Supes an extra half star here, but I think I was being a bit generous. With no accessories, and with a large enough production run to hit the pegs at Toys R Us, these feel a lot more like $15 figures to me.

Things to Watch Out For -
Not a thing. The quality here is very much like the old toys, and these could handle play as well as any other current mass market action figure. I would handle Two Face's tie carefully, but the stitch on yours might be sturdier than mine.

Overall - ***1/2
If you have no nostalgic feel for older toys, then the odds are pretty good that these will have little appeal. Let's be honest - they're goofy. What Mattel is trying to do with this line is capture the look and feel of a 30 year old toy line. They've accomplished that, and fans of the vintage series will be happy. People who see the old figures and think they're stupid are going to have the same reaction to these.

I haven't been a completist with this line. I picked up Supes for a review alone, I grabbed Green Arrow "just in case", and picked up Batman and Two Face because, well, because they are Batman and Two Face. However, these two have me rethinking that position. I already snagged a Black Manta on the chance he's tougher to find, and if I stumble on a series one Green Lantern again, I suspect I'll be sucked in for the full run.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - ***1/2
Paint - Two Face ***1/2; Batman ***
Articulation - ***
Accessories - Bupkis
Outfit - Batman ***1/2; Two Face ***
Fun Factor - ***1/2
Value - **
Overall - ***1/2

Where to Buy -
Your best bet for picking these up is Toys R Us, although Matty Collector sold the first one, Green Arrow, through their site.

- Things From Another World has them at just under $21 each.

- Mike's Comics N Stuff has them in stock at $22.

- Urban Collector may have these at $22, as they did the first wave.

- Entertainment Earth has them for $23 each, or $85 for the set.

- Big Bad Toy Store has them in stock at $23 each, with all four at $90.

- or you can search ebay.

Related Links -
I covered Superman out of the first series, and have done a number of other revies on figures using the Mego style - 

- most recent was Rusty and Brock from the Venture Brothers.

- Cast-A-Way has been doing some as well, including the Phantom, Dr Evile and Captain Action.

- and if you're a big fan of the Mego style, whether it's the vintage figures or the newer versions, check out the Mego Museum, the best resource on the web for all things Mego.

Discussion:
Want to chat about this review?  Try out one of these terrific forums where I'll be discussing it!

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Retro Action series 2 Two Face action figure by Mattel


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

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