Microman Batman Begins

When it comes to Batman Begins, fans were thrilled with the movie. But when it came to the action figures associated with it, the reaction wasn't quite as positive.

Now, I have to admit at being slightly baffled. The figures for the film weren't perfect by any means - especially the heavy reuse of the basic male body - but they avoided goofy colors, have reasonable articulation, and decent sculpts, far better than any past Batman movie license.

That being said, there has only been a couple real standouts so far - the 13" Action Cape version and the huge 31" kick your ass just by falling off the shelf version. I'm still anticipating the Medicom 12" version, but the jury is still out on that one.

Takara has been making Batman fans happy though with their Microman versions based on other Bat-styles. We've gotten not just Batman from them, but also Catwoman and Batgirl in the 3 3/4" highly articulated line. I've been very happy with these so far, so it was a no brainer that I ordered the Batman Begins Batman and Ras Al Ghul.

These are an import item right now, and I'm not sure if Diamond will be importing them as they did with the earlier versions. You can pick up the earlier stuff as cheap as $10 each because Diamond brought them over, but since these are imports you can expect to pay as little as $10 for the figure right now, but you can expect shipping to often be just as much.

As I mentioned, I bought both, but only opened Batman to start. I'm glad I did now, and really wish I hadn't opened him...

Packaging - ***
If you can read Japanese, you'll get lots of info from the card back. There's plenty here - I just have no idea what it says. The graphics are reasonable for such a small package, and small is good - no wasted space here.

These are also slightly collector friendly, and you can actually pull the card back off of the bubble (remove the tape on the back and it slips right out) without damaging anything. But to get the accessories off the card back, it's a little tougher. Still, if you take the time, you can open him up with very little damage to the packaging, and could actually put him back if you REALLY wanted to.

Sculpting - ***
The sculpts aren't the big draw here, but they are reasonably good. He has a rather odd frown, but I can actually see a little of Bale in there someplace. The hands and feet are a tad too big for the body and makes him a little cartoonish, and with all the articulation and the screws holding things together, he's not for people looking for movie accurate, resin statue quality sculpting.

But if you're looking for a really fun toy, that also looks good, than this one blows away the Mattel competition.

I believe they claim a 4" scale on these, but it's really 3 3/4", same as Star Wars or G.I. Joe. The only issue is that a character like Batman really needs to be taller than Luke Skywalker, and that's not happening.

Paint - **1/2
This category is pretty much identical to the previous one. They aren't going for amazing paint ops here, but decent enough to do the job. Remember, while these are 'specialty' market items to us, they are much more widely available in Japan, and Takara is a huge company.

The work around the face is imperfect, with the definition between the face and mask a little sloppy. The eyes are fairly clean, and what few small details there are show your usual mass market level of quality.

Articulation - ***1/2
This is one of the categories in which Microman figures always shine. If you're a joint junkie (and I'm not talking about the people who think Cheech and Chong weren't just a comedy act, but a lifestyle choice), then you'll find plenty to satiate your need here. He has a ball jointed neck, ball jointed shoulders, ball jointed hips, double jointed elbows, double jointed knees, ball jointed ankles, pin and cut wrists, waist, chest, and probably some more I'm missing.

Unfortunately, not all the joints work flawlessly. I'm not even going to discuss the hips right now - I'm saving that discussion for the 'quality' category. But the shoulders and hands tend to fall off way too easy, and I had a tough time getting any of the hands to bend at the pin joints. Still, there's a plethora of joints here to work with, and you'll have no trouble coming up with nifty poses for your Batman. You might have trouble getting him to hold them, but more on that later.

Accessories - ****
This is the other category that Takara usually does pretty well in, but this time they really stand out.

Bats comes with swappable hands, but not just one set - not even two. He comes with FIVE extra sets of hands in addition to the pair he's wearing in the package. There's fists, two different versions of gripping hands, and two versions of open hands. These even come with their own little nifty 'tree' for storage. They go on and off a little too easy, and I had trouble getting them to bend at the pin joint, but the sheer number blows me away.

He also comes with a pair of small 'bombs', which he can hold in the gripping hands, a full size batarang he can hang on to, a 'folded' (it's sculpted that way and you can't unfold it) batarang, and a Batphone with case.

The case for the Batphone can attach to the back of his belt, and the phone pops inside nicely. The folded batarang also attaches to the back of his belt, and both bombs also have pegs. I suspect they could be swapped out for the phone and batarang, although once I had those two on I didn't mess around further.

There's also a display stand, which in my case turned out to be a life saver. Theoretically though, you shouldn't need it.

Finally, there's his cape. This cape is so huge, even Todd Mcfarlane would be impressed. It clips on his upper back, and has a wire armature around both sides AND the bottom, so that you can pose it as much as the figure. I have to be honest though - it was cool for about 5 minutes, and then I started to find that it got in the way a whole lot. A second, normal sized cape, sans wires, would have been a nice addition.

Quality - *1/2
I only use this category occasionally, and it's almost never a good thing when it's included. Generally I include any quality discussion in with the appropriate category, but this time the problem was so major that it just had to be called out on it's own.

When I opened the figure, his legs fell off. Now I don't mean that they popped off, flying across the room. They fell off. Plop. No problem as the ball joints at the hips and shoulders are never that tight, but I figured I'd just pop them back on. Of course, that would have made sense if they had popped off - they didn't, they simply fell off.

And the reason they simply fell off is that both hips were cracked. These cracks meant that the hip joints weren't tight enough to pop, and certainly weren't tight enough to stay on. I had to super glue both cracks to get the hips to stay on the balls, and even then they were extremely loose. We're talking can't stand up, barely holding on loose.

Now, this is a major problem. It takes what would be a very cool, very poseable figure, and turns him into a pretty worthless hunk of plastic. When articulation is your main selling point, making that articulation worthless really, really hurts the figure.

I had been looking forward to taking all kinds of cool photos of this figure in nifty fighting poses. Those thoughts quickly evaporated as I became more and more frustrated trying to get him to hold any pose without his legs falling off. In the end, I was snapping whatever I could, goofy or not, just to get some photos.

If this was a mass market release here in the States, this would be annoying but not critical. I'd simply return him to the store and get another. But since he's an import, I'm pretty much stuck at this point, and as I said in the opening paragraph, now I wish I'd left him carded.

Fun Factor - *
It's too bad - this should have been a four star category. With great articulation and some really cool accessories, this figure should be more fun than any human being should be allowed. But no - he's just frustrating and disappointing.

Value - **
If these were on the local shelf for $10, this would be a higher value score. But since you're paying between $20 and $25 once you add in shipping costs, these become a far less attractive value. I'm not dinging them as hard as I could though, because if you're looking to get import stuff, that extra money for shipping is really just a cost of doing business.

Things to Watch Out for - 
If you're lucky enough to pick yours out, don't take one with an arm or leg detached in the package. Yes, it *may* be popped off - or it may be cracked and worthless. Be smart and take one that looks whole.

Of course, that's a tad tricky. With the way the tray is constructed, the legs are held pretty tight in place. I never would have noticed that mine had an issue had I not opened him.

Overall -  **
This should have been at least a ***1/2 star figure. The sculpt and paint aren't quite perfect, and as an import his price is a little high, holding him back from the coveted fourth star. But it would have been close, and I can only imagine all the cool positions he could have held up on the shelf.

But I can't review this guy for what *should* have been - I have to review the one I got. And the one I got had serious quality issues. If I had to do it over, I'd wait until I could buy these from someplace that I could return them, once Diamond has imported them. There's no guarantee that it will happen, but getting one in this condition doesn't really do you much good either.

Packaging - ***
Sculpt - ***
Paint - **1/2
Articulation - ***1/2
Accessories - ****
Quality - *1/2
Fun Factor - *
Value - **
Overall -  **

Where to Buy -
You can find these from various dealers on Ebay for $10 - $20 each right now (along with Ras), but expect to pay shipping costs of up to $10 as well.

Related Links -
I have several related reviews:

- here's a guest review of the Batgirl, regular Batman and Flight Gear Batman .

- and here's another guest review of Catwoman all by her lonesome.

- and finally, a guest review of the original Microman Batman.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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