Hot Toys Dark Knight
Batman and The Joker

Hot Toys Dark Knight Joker action figure

For fans of Batman, one of the most exciting announcements at this year's SDCC had nothing to do with a new movie, television show, or graphic novel. No, the big news was that DC Direct was going to distribute the Hot Toys sixth scale Dark Knight product here in the U.S.

Originally, these figures and vehicles were only available overseas, so collectors frantically ordered from Canadian and Asian dealers. While the basic figure price was pretty much in line with most Hot Toys releases, the shipping was a killer. So when DCD decided to work with Hot Toys, collectors were thrilled.

The move was surprising, since DCD already has their own line of sixth scale movie based figures. However, this arrangement makes it sound like the Hot Toys license is designed to give us many more figures than DCD was planning, which is a great sign. With the Tumbler, Batpod, and a second version ('bank robber') of the Joker already announced, how far off can a great Two Face be?

I'm a little late to the party with my set in one way, and plenty early in another. I ordered mine from an Asian dealer back when they were first solicited, and most of the folks that did so already have theirs. So this review is a tad late for them. However, with DCD picking these up, orders with American dealers have just gone up in the last week or two, so the timing is just right for you to decide whether you want to pony up the cash or not for the second wave.
Hot Toys Dark Knight Batman action figure

Hot Toys Dark Knight Joker action figure
Hot Toys Dark Knight Batman action figure
Hot Toys Dark Knight Batman Action Figure
Hot Toys Dark Knight Batman action figure
Hot Toys Dark Knight Joker action figure
Hot Toys Dark Knight Batman action figure
Hot Toys Dark Knight Batman action figure
Hot Toys Dark Knight Batman action figure
Hot Toys Dark Knight Batman action figure
Hot Toys Dark Knight Joker action figure
Hot Toys Dark Knight Joker action figure
Hot Toys Dark Knight Joker action figure
Hot Toys Dark Knight Joker action figure
Hot Toys Dark Knight Batman and Joker action figures
Hot Toys Dark Knight Joker action feature

Keep in mind though that this is NOT the same Batman being imported by DC Direct. Hot Toys is doing two versions: this one is from the beginning of the movie, when he still is wearing the old suit, previously seen in Batman Begins, and the DCD import version will be his later, newly designed suit.

Like all Hot Toys product, these aren't cheap, and you can expect to pay around $160 - $175 each, depending on the retailer.  Also, most retailers are charging more for the Joker than for Bats, and if you do want them, I'd order early.

Special note: My rule for photos in reviews is that they should be real - no photoshop lighting, no post editing, no artsy stuff, since that's not what you'll get when you take the figure out.  I did cheat on two of these photos though, so I wanted to point that out. There are two photos in which the Joker has bare, non-gloved hands.  He does NOT come with these hands, and I pulled them off another Hot Toys type 1 body. Since they are jail photos, and since he didn't have the gloves on there, I cheated and swapped them out.  Forgive me.

Packaging - ***1/2
The graphics and art work on the package really match well with the dark, ominous feel of the film.  There's even a rough texture on the outer box sleeve that literally gives it a gritty feel.

Inside, there's two plastic tray covers...and yet they felt the need to add twisties.  Five on the Joker.  I hate twisties, and for figures like this who are already so well held in place, they are merely an annoyance.

Sculpting - Batman ****; Joker ***1/2
Hot Toys has stepped beyond the realism that most other sixth scale producers are currently putting out there, so it's tough to judge them head to head. They really are a class by themselves.

When I look at the photo of Batman to the left, it looks to me like a guy in a mask.  Better than that, it looks like Christian Bale/Bruce Wayne in the mask. The dimpling and texturing that Hot Toys does with the skin is amazing, but there's also a very realistic texture to the cowl. Batman is a thing of beauty.

He also has a perfectly proportioned head. It's not too big, it's not too small - it looks just like it should.  The hands (particularly the fists) aren't quite as perfect when it comes to scale, but they are pretty damn close.

Even though his suit is a soft rubber, the sculpt isn't as soft as you'd expect. I'll get into that further in the Outfit section.

The Joker head sculpt is extremely nice, particularly when it comes to the realism. Some folks will say that the wrinkles are actually TOO deep and defined, but that tends to happen when you cake on make up like this.

I do have some issues with the scars though, which don't have the same amount of keloid damage that I remember from the film.  There are scars, but they aren't nearly as severe as they should be.

I also don't think this is a perfect Heath Ledger as Joker.  In fact, stripped of paint, I think the face sculpt on the DC Direct 13" version is superior if you're looking for Ledger in there.

But the DC Direct version does not have the same excellent hair sculpt that we have here. That's the other key highlight that will make this figure stand above the DC Direct and Medicom versions. The flowing wavy hair looks amazing, particularly in person.

The Joker's hands are a bit better proportioned than Batman's, and the various sculpts work well with the accessories.

I also want to discuss the Bale sculpt here, although since it's a second head it will be brought up to some degree in the Accessories section as well.

It is a much, much better Bale than the older Takara version, and even that one was decent.  Comparing the head sculpt to the left with a still from the film, you can see that they really captured the look of the hair, eyes and eyebrows, lips, and even the shape of the jaw for the most part.  The nose is off a smidge, and the 'bump' on the upper right side of his nose is mysteriously missing, but otherwise it's extremely close.

As much as I like the textured skin though, they might have done just a little too much with Bale.  Now, I'm not complaining, as it looks much more realistic like this than smooth, but in a perfect world they would have backed off just a skoosh.

Paint - ***1/2
Great sculpts need great paint to really shine, and fortunately, both these figures have that. It's not quite four star paint, but it's close.

Batman's skin tone is excellent, as is the lips and eyes.  The eyes could be a little more even, but it's hard to tell with the deeply set sockets in the mask.

They didn't do as much with various finishes this time, although the gauntlets of his suit are slightly more glossy than the rest of the outfit.

My biggest issue on Bats may not even exist on yours.  On mine, it appears as though someone got some glossy black - or maybe just the clear gloss from the eyes or lips - on the bottom of the cowl in two places. These are visible in several of the photos, and look like glossy splotches on the otherwise matte finish. Hopefully the person hand painting the face just had a momentary mistake, and this won't be an issue across the series.

The Joker's paint work compliments the sculpt as well. The make up on his face is slightly off white, not blindingly bright white, which gives it a more realistic appearance.  The skin shows through at the wrinkles, and the red smile/lips have that "applied by a psycho'" look, just like in the film.

The hair is green, but like in the film, it's not some sort of bright over powering frog green, but rather the more subtle look of someone that's simply colored their hair badly too many times in a row.  It's still a little more green that the on screen character, and I've seen some nice repaints where it's been toned down just a bit.

There's something about the eyes that doesn't quite work for me though.  I don't know if it just looks too raccoon, or if the size of the black circles is just too consistent from eye to eye, but it looks less like hand applied make up and more like paint to me.  Still, these are only quibbles, and the paint work on this Joker is far superior to the DC Direct version.

Articulation - ****
The Hot Toys bodies can't be beat right now.  It will be interesting to see if Sideshow's new Prometheus can top them.

Not only is there all the articulation you expect in a high end sixth scale body, but it flows and hangs in a very, very natural way.

Batman is on the more heroic body, but the Joker is on their type 1 body, and I just happen to have a nekkid one laying around right now, so I've included a photo.  You can plainly see the huge number of joints, and many have very unique designs.  Check out the shoulders and ankles in particular, where the very ugly nekkid joints actually work extremely well with clothes on.

Even though Batman's costume is fairly restrictive - as he points out to Fox at the beginning of the Dark Knight - you can still get plenty of excellent poses out of him with this base body. And I don't think it's possible to get a bad pose out of the Joker.

Accessories - Batman ***1/2; Joker ***
When it comes to accessories, I can always use more.  But with Bats, that's almost a non-issue.

Now, it's not like we haven't seen several of his accessories before, including his grappling gun.  It fits well in both his sculpted gun hand and on the back of his belt.

There's also a pair of batarangs, both the same medium size.  These fit on his belt in a clip on the left side.  It isn't a tight fight though, and the other sculpted items on his belt tend to push them outward, making it tough to keep them in place.

He has one of his small grenades too, which seems scaled just about right. He also has his mangler thingamajig, just like the DCD version did, which is designed as a complete gauntlet in this version.  Swap it with the regular gauntlet, and it's even articulated with a pin joint at the proper place. BTW, Wookster tells me I have it on the wrong arm...

Batman has four additional hands as well. You'd think at first that means he has two sets, but that's not the case.  There's one additional open gesturing left hand, but the other three are all right hands - an open gesture, a gun grip, and a batarang grip.  These are all sculpted and painted nicely, especially the gripping hands. Both work perfectly for what they are designed to do, which is surprising, because often the hands designed to grip small items (like the batarangs) do not work well.

The final extra with Batman is the second Bale head.  I've already discussed the sculpt and paint on this in the previous sections, but it's worth noting here that swapping the heads works very smoothly, and I'm a huge fan of having an extra head like this as an accessory. It's particularly nice with this character, because you can easily bash your own Bruce Wayne figure.  Pick up one of the Hot Toys bodies off ebay, slap on a nice looking sixth scale suit, and voila, you have a Bruce!

Unfortunately, the Joker isn't as well equipped by a long shot.  He comes with one extra set of posed hands, a switchblade (and the blade actually retracts!), a set of playing cards, and a pack of money.

There's a plastic band around the center of both the money and the cards.  I'd suggest leaving them in place, unless you like chasing them down and trying to pick up small pieces of paper off the floor. Both the money and cards look very realistic, but it was a bit of a disappointment to see that the money is only printed on one side.

As I mentioned, the switchblade retracts into the handle, although it doesn't actually pop out like the real thing.  Still, it could be opened with one hand, always a plus for a man like the Joker.  His hands, like Batman's, work very well with his accessories.

Batman's hands can be very hard to swap however, and I managed to snap a pin inside the arm.  The Joker, who is on that slimmer type 1 body, did not have this same problem.  His hands popped on and off easily enough, but stayed in place through all the posing without any problems.

Both figures also have display stands, with the logo emblazoned on the base. Personally, using a display base with figures that look this good, this realistic, and stand this well on their own should be a crime, but if you need them they're available.

Outfit - ****
Wow.  If you thought Hot Toys had done a nice job before, you have to see these two.

For those of you that read my review a couple years ago comparing the Medicom, Hot Toys and Takara Batman Begins figures, you'll recall that while the Takara and HT versions ended up with the same final overall score, it was only because of a couple minor issues I had with the Takara version.  In the end, on my display shelf, I have much preferred the Takara figure.

Why?  Largely because of the much more realistic appearing rubber uniform.  It allowed for better posability, and looks less clunky and oversized.

Apparently, Hot Toys agreed, because they took all the best attributes of the older Takara costume and improved on them.  The soft rubber suit has great sculpted detail, moves with the appendages, allows for deep stances and holding the hands over the head, and looks damn good doing it.

One of the keys here is the boots.  The HT ankles have a ton of potential for movement, and they designed the boots to be soft enough to allow your the ankles to work beautifully.  You'll be able to find some very natural fighting stances that look extremely realistic.

The HT neck is actually ball jointed at both the head and the torso, but with the cowl on neither will matter.  The head can barely tilt due to the design, but that's Lucius Fox's issue, not Hot Toys.  When you swap to the Bale head, you get all the usual range of movement back.

The two other key components are the cape and the belt.  The belt looks fantastic, and rides nice and low on his hips.  The sculpting and paint work are top notch, and there's plenty of little Bat-goodies sculpted around it to make it visually interesting, including the bat-remote.

The cape is a huge improvement over the thin Takara  version, although I do still have one issue with it.  The outer material is a thin crushed velvet, while the inner lining has a soft nylon or silk feel.  The inner lining on mine is too long for about half the length of the bottom of the cape though.  What that means is that if you hold the cape up, the inner lining droops below the outer lining, looking weird.  It's not like this all the way across, so it looks like a seamstress mistake.

You can't wrap the cape entirely around his body due to the way it's attached at the shoulders, but that's a minor issue for me.

The Joker outfit is even more outstanding. Everything from the terrific shoe sculpt, to the perfect print pattern on the shirt looks amazing.  I do have one issue, but it's relatively minor as well.

I don't think the clothing could possible fit him better.  Even with four layers on his torso - shirt, vest, jacket, coat - he still looks realistic and nothing at all like a stuffed sausage.  The secret is extremely thin materials of course, but even then the quality is very, very high.  For example, the interior of the coat has a beautiful thin red nylon lining.  You'll never see it unless you remove the coat, but they went the extra mile to add it anyway. And wait til you see those socks!

While the Joker has no pocket watch, he does have his watch chain.  While this one is a little too large to be perfectly in scale, it is made from a very sturdy, solid metal, and looks great on his hip.

My one issue with the entire outfit is the use of very thing Velcro to hold the vest together.  They actually use this Velcro in several places, including the wrists, but it just doesn't hold well enough on the vest. It was always coming open, and even when I closed it, the Velcro was too obvious.

But I have to say that's an extremely minor grip, especially compared against how much is right with these many layers of clothing. Like much of the work they've done with the Pirates of the Caribbean line, their Batman line is shaping up to have some amazing costuming.

Fun Factor - **
Neither of these figures would hold up to any sort of serious play, and I wouldn't recommend them for it. But for kids of all ages that are looking for something cool to stick on the shelf that retains the genetic code of its toy ancestors, these are perfect.

Value - **1/2
I paid around $135 each ordering early (and got hit with plenty of shipping charges), but you can now pick up the DCD imports for around $140 - $150 with some careful shopping.  Right now the market has plenty of figures that are much lower in quality and yet run upwards of $100, and Medicom's pair will cost you an arm and a leg.  I almost dropped them a half star here, but the quality of the costumes, accessories, and sculpt are just so high that I honestly felt you were getting what you were paying for.

Things To Watch Out For
About ten seconds out of the box, Batman's right wrist peg snapped.  This is the peg that is inside the hard plastic forearm.  I've had this happen three times now with Hot Toys figures, and the pegs are just too small on these bodies, especially the superhero versions.  If the hands seem to be coming off too hard, soften them up with some hot water.

Thankfully, Hot Toys was quick to respond to my queries and are replacing the peg.

Overall - Batman ****; Joker ***1/2
Move over Takara Bats, this Hot Toys version is now my favorite.  Yea, the rubber suit bends oddly at the elbows and shoulders in some poses, and there's still a few minor issues overall, but I like this new version so much that shortly after opening it up, I ordered the second suit version.  I didn't think I needed another Hot Toys Batman...but I was clearly oh so wrong.

If you can have only one sixth scale Batman, buy this one.  He IS the man, at least until Hot Toys releases their new suit version.  If you're a bigger fan of the new suit, then I'd suggest ordering the DC Direct import right now.  Hey, I did it. And I wouldn't be surprised if I saw my original Hot Toys version, my Medicom version AND my Takara version up on ebay in the coming weeks.

Likewise, if you can only have one Joker, this is the one to have.  Yes, I do still like the DCD version, but compared side by side, the reality of this one simply blows it away. The difference of course is the price, since you can get the DCD version for just a hair over half the price of this one.  The paint work is not as good on the DCD version, and the sculpted hair is poorer, but the face sculpt underneath all that is actually the better Ledger.  It's a pity they didn't quite nail the Ledger appearance, but it's still a fantastic looking figure.

The nice thing about Hot Toys having this license is that they might give it as much love as their Alien or Pirates of the Caribbean lines.  If we can get a Two Face (with Harvey Dent extra head) I'll be happy.  Give me a Gordon to go with them and I'll crap my pants.

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

Where to Buy -
There's a number of online sponsors carrying these now, and these are all pre-orders for shipment in the fall:

- Showpiece Collectibles has an excellent price on both at just $150 each.  They also have the Bank Robber Joker up for pre-order at that price as well.

- CornerStoreComics has the Joker for $150 and the Batman for $150 as well. They also have the Bank Robber Joker pre-order at just $150.

- Urban Collector matches them with the Joker and Batman for just $150 each, and they have pre-orders up for the Bank Robber Joker at just $150 as well.

- Alter Ego Comics has the Joker at $157.50, as well as Batman.

- Entertainment Earth has both at $175.

-  You can also use the sponsor MyAuctionLinks to search ebay.

- for the British readers, Forbidden Planet has them on pre-order for 110 GBP.

Related Links -
Obviously, the most directly related reviews center around The Dark Knight:

- there's the 13" Deluxe versions of Batman and Joker from DCD.

- in a smaller scale, there's the Movie Masters versions of Batman and Scarecrow.

- Mattel's version of the 12" Dark Knight. Cheaper, but there's a reason.

- there is also the slightly larger Action Cape version from Mattel - even cheaper!- in the small scale action figures, I looked at a couple of the regular figures.

- and for comparison sake, check out the Batman Begins figure that DCD did in this line.

- and if you're wondering about the previous Medicom, Hot Toys and Takara 12" Batman Begins figures, check out my comparison review.

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

And be sure to page all the way to the end - I love that last photo!

Reader Ratings!
Here's your chance to weigh in!  Select your rating for this figure(s) to the right.  Yea, it's a five star system and not a four star system like mine, but it's the best I've been able to come up with so far.  You can only rate once from any particular IP.  Since there are two figures here, I averaged their two overall scores and then converted to a five star system for comparison: 4.69

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Hot Toys Dark Knight Batman action figure
Hot Toys Dark Knight Joker action figure

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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