Hot Toys Dark Knight Baman and Joker


"The following is a guest review.  The review and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the guest author."

Jeff Parker checks in with his look at the new Hot Toys Dark Knight figures - take it away, Jeff!

Thanks as always to Michael, now when it comes to ANYTHING Batman, Michael is undoubtedly your man, but I couldn’t resist throwing my hat into the arena as well. I think it is safe to say, that even in one of the most ‘blockbusteriest’ of years the new Batman, The Dark Knight (TDK) has been far and away, hands down the most anticipated movie of the year (and looking at it’s box-office receipts, perhaps all time!). I personally thought it was a great movie, and Nolan certainly managed to show both Batman and Wayne as a rounded character, and it’s dark tone gave it a much more adult edge over my other favourite movie of the year IRONMAN.
And so with it’s success around the world, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that when Hot Toys (HT) announced they were releasing high-end 1/6 scale figures (and some pretty damn fine ¼ scale busts) that they would be the 12” figure event’ of the year… at least to a select few.

But just as we were recovering from that news, HT hit us with the treble whammy announcement that they would follow up with Batman in the new TDK suit (this was pretty much to be expected), and a 1/6 Batpod, that the new TDK suited figure could sit upon (we all hoped this might happen… well I know I did!) BUT THEN, the veritable icing on the cake, a true to scale 1/6 Tumbler with opening cockpit and working lights… When I first saw this my jaw hung for few seconds… a joint gasp was metaphorically heard from the 1/6 community, as we all realized we were going to have to sell our non-essential organs.

There was a lot of eBay activity in the following few days, as these figures and vehicles had no ‘official’ importer due to licensing restrictions with DC in the US and Europe. Now, I am glad to say (as many of you who followed the breaking news from SDCC will already know) DC Direct have now announced they will be carrying the line (minus Bats in his original costume), so for those of you who were pushed aside in the initial scrum, there is now light (hopefully, a much less expensive light) at he end of this particular tunnel. But back to this review, featuring the main protagonists, the poster boys if you will for TDK.

Now, I feel like most of you that I have waited what seems like an eternity for these figures, my particular pain was compounded by the fact my good friend in Hong Kong had picked my order up from the Toyhunters store on the first day of release, over a month ago. But to try and save some money on shipping, it makes a lot more sense to send multiple items and fill a box, and so, at long last a nice big full box of HT goodness has landed with a ‘whump’ at my office. My colleagues new what I was expecting in this shipment and gathered around in hushed awe as I gently cut open the box and lifted out the various items…would they…could they live up to expectation?

I think it’s worth saying that this review may contain a few spoilers, as I talk briefly about elements of plot and character development, so just be aware if you haven’t seen the movie yet.

Packaging: ***1/2
Two very, very attractive boxes, I was lucky enough. As I said, to have mine picked up for me at the Toyhunter store in HK, so got two very snazzy carrier bags as well. Mmmmm nice, Batman carrier bags, but not your common or garden ‘plastic’ bags, oh no! These are more like your designer boutique, heavy paper, rope handled bags and are changing hands on eBay for $20 a pair.

But back to the boxes, they both have the now traditional slip on sleeve, but these have a matte finish, rather than the metallic pearlesent finish we have become accustomed to, this certainly makes them easier to photograph and adds an element of class to the proceedings. 

The Joker appears on the left side, front of his sleeve, head hunched forward, looking his psychotic best, alongside the movie logo which is spot laminated to give it greater emphasis, and under this is the character name, the back of each sleeve respectively then has photos of the figure and their accessories, remove the sleeve and you have the flap fronted box, this is in the silk finish we are used to, which carries a large close up of the figure on the front.

Batman is on the right hand side of his sleeve, but apart from that, most elements of the design and colour palettes used are very similar, with The Jokers favouring a more greenish base and Batmans more blue/black. These are both definitely attractive enough to use as backdrops to display your figures in front of should you wish to. Both have flap fronts with a large transparent windows on the right showing the figures and their accessories, on the left is a full body shot of the figure with a brief biography. On the back of each box there are photos of the other figures in the set. The trays slip out to show our hero and villain encased under a double layer of transparent plastic. One is vac formed to hold the figure and accessories in place, the other flat to act as the window when in the box. So nothing new or ground breaking but still two fine pieces of packaging that should keep the contents pristine as they wing their way to you.

Sculpt: Batman ****  Joker ***3/4
There has been A LOT of discussion about these two figures since the first prototype images were shown. Does it look like Heath, doesn’t it look like Heath, did they get full actors image, licence rights before the actors tragic demise or not? Well I can certainly see some of Heath in there, but I can definitely see 100% of the Joker. It is arguable of course that we never truly see Heath Ledger in the movie, he immersed himself so fully in the character that what we saw on screen was ‘THE JOKER’, even when you see him fleetingly without make-up as one of the gun salute guard at the Gotham memorial service for Jim Gordon, you’d be hard pressed to say you were looking at Heath Ledger.
I love this sculpt, I’ve seen a lot of great customisers work on Gotham’s most famous villain recently, he seems to have inspired a good many people, and many of them are outstanding. But this just works so well for the Joker, capturing something of the neurotic, psychotic, mad dog that he is. They’ve gone for a relatively neutral expression considering how extreme this character is with his ticks and tongue flicking, but I’m really hoping Yulli will visit the Joker again, I’d love them to do a re-release figure along the lines of their Superman 2 in 1 or cannibal Jack Sparrow, where we get a couple more heads, a bank robbers mask and perhaps a nurses uniform, well I can dream.
Suffice to say I like this sculpt. It’s not as spot on to Heaths likeness as the DC Direct version, but as that was a computer mapped scan of the actor’s face that’s not a surprise, and though accurate, that one is pretty bland at the end of the day. But this version captures far more of the essence of the Joker, and he has a far superior hair sculpt as well. He also comes with a nice array of gloved hands, all are sculpted beautifully but more on that in accessories.

Now, onto the ‘Caped Crusader’. Michael did a great review a couple of years ago comparing the big three hitters released from Batman Begins, which is always worth a re-read and back then I had to agree with him, they were all great figures for different reasons, the Takara version was the only one I purchased, and of the three it was my favourite. They’d used a little artistic licence in sliming him down and making him look far more dynamic than he actually did in the movie but they found a middle ground between movie accuracy and comic book coolness. Now two years later, a lot has been happening in 1/6 collecting. Apart from a re-release Takara haven’t offered us a version from TDK, the Medicom one looks very nice, but Hot Toys have managed to make it look like they’ve dressed Bale up in the Batsuit and just shrunk him down to fit in your box. This is just beautiful, the attention to detail on the cowl and exposed mouth beneath by Kim Jung Mi is sublime, and of course we get the extra Bruce Wayne (BW) head sculpted by Yulli (which is changing hands on eBay for $80 on its own!), of course this is a great bonus, but the full Batsuit poses so well, that a hellovalot of people will be buying spare True-Types and getting suits and civilian clothes to display both (Is it a coincidence that HT just released a new batch of True-Types?… I think not!). But as impressive as the cowled head is, the un-hooded BW is fantastic, I was impressed with the Takara BW head that came with their figure, but this takes it to a whole other level with the added dynamic of JC Hongs paint direction (he’s actually credited with being the creative producer along side the main man at HT Howard Chan, but it certainly has the look of his outstanding work). There is also a ton of fantastic sculpting on Batman’s outfit, belt and accessories, but I’ll cover that in outfit. You’ll also find a mini review and some great photos of the Batman figure. Thanks to Rider Jun for that link.

Paint: Batman****  Joker***3/4
During the course of TDK the Jokers make-up is seen in many degrees of ‘messed-up’, but it’s fair to say he’s non-too precious about his application, just slap and go seems to be his MO. For a factory application this is breathtaking, managing to give the look of the white greasepaint wearing thin and rubbing off in some areas, the black around the eyes is airbrushed quite subtly, perhaps a little too subtly as in the movie the Jokers eye make-up often looked more smeared, streaky and heavier, likewise in many scenes the red mouth make-up was messier as well, but as I said, as an approximation of the characters look throughout the whole movie this is a great representation. The hair also looks good, giving the feel of his messy, greasy, sweaty locks, and has just the right amount of green mixed in with dirtier browns and greys.

On the whole Batman’s paint apps are simpler, but the skin tones are way up their with HT finest, the BW head seems slightly more tanned than his nocturnal alter ego, but both are carried out faultlessly. Both mouths are well defined without looking ‘lipsticky’ and the work on the eyes has become HT strongest point on their human likenesses, accurate and crisp with just the right amount of gloss to look wet and catch the light without using the now rather naff ‘doll-dot’. The only real area I could find any fault is the hairline on the right hand sideburn, it’s still painted well but could do with a little more feathering, but this is still a totally top notch job.

Articulation: Batman ***3/4  Joker ***1/2
Underneath both these finely tailored and engineered outfits you’ll find the now somewhat classic True-Type, one of, if not the best base figure out there at the moment. So apart from any restrictions imposed by their respective outfits they can assume most positions you can. So the all-important question is, just what are those restrictions.

Perhaps the biggest surprise here is that the Jokers upper half is more restricted than Batman’s due to the layers he’s wearing, but you’ll still get him into pretty much any pose you could assume if you were wearing a shirt, vest, jacket and overcoat. His lower half does fare better than Bats though, as he’s only wearing a pair of cotton trousers. Bats can assume a pretty good, if somewhat slouchy sitting position, which of course he’ll have to when the much anticipated tumbler comes out, but he can also get into an outstanding range of other positions, even better than Takara's and that surprised me. The only real restrictions are that as always seems to be the case with rubber suited figures, the outfit tends to pull the figure back once posed. This is more noticeable with some poses than others, and isn’t a huge problem, but is worth note. The ankles have a fantastic range, but as mentioned above, the rubber tends to pull it back unless the weight of the body is used to keep them flat on the ground, so the supplied stand might come in handy if displaying for any length of time.

Accessories: Batman ****+  Joker ***1/2
The Joker doesn’t have quite as an impressive array as Batman, but he still has some nice character specific pieces.

- Authentic likeness of the JOKER (interesting they didn’t say Heath Ledger)

- JOKER cards set

- Extendable Knife

- Dollar bills 

- Two sets of interchangeable gloved hands

- Figure display base featuring THE DARK KNIGHT logo and The Joker nameplate

The inclusion of the Joker cards is a very nice and you could say somewhat essential touch, and they are carried out very well. The dollar bills are only printed on one side, but simply slip one out from the top, flip it and slide into the bottom and the wad looks much more convincing. The extendable knife looks pretty screen accurate to me and the extra hands are all in very usable positions. Two for the right, one pistol grip the other gesturing and two for the left, one card/money grip and another in a relaxed position.

And with the Batman we get-
- Cowled Batmask head
- Alternate head with authentic likeness of Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne 

- Detailed Batman’s Utility Belt with cell phone

- Activated Mini Mine 

- Grapnel Gun

- Two small Batarangs on belt clip (removable)

- Pneumatic Mangler gauntlet 

- Six interchangeable gloved hands

- Figure display base featuring THE DARK KNIGHT logo and BATMAN nameplate

A nice selection, and the Mangler gauntlet was an added bonus, but not one I can imagine many people posing him with. The grapnel gun is well detailed and fits well onto the back of the belt, the Batarangs are nicely observed and both fit onto the belt as well, but be warned they don’t ‘clip’ on, and can fall out quite easily. I put a couple of very small blobs of Blu-Tack between them and they now stay in place well. He comes with the two fists attached, and you also get a pistol grip and relaxed right hand plus a Batarang/mini mine grip and gesturing left hand, the mini mine is tiny but well sculpted and painted, but the pièce de résistance is the extra BW head, this looks great when attached, but as I said earlier, I can sense a few civilian bashes coming soon. It’s also worth a mention that the stand for Batman is a slightly different configuration to those that came before, and is designed to support him under his crotch rather than round his waist.

Outfit - Joker ***3/4 Batman ****
The Jokers outfit consists of-
- Purple Overcoat 

- Grey Jacket

- Tie
- Vest

- Shirt

- Pants

- Belt
- Checked socks

- Leather like shoes

And Batman has
- Newly developed Batsuit
- Cape
- Boots
- Gauntletts
- Utility belt (kind of an accessory as well)

One movie. Two characters. Two vastly different outfits!
One, the protective armour of a masked, detective, vigilante with a seemingly bottomless pit of money to throw at his wardrobe, gadgets and accessories, the other, the mismatched attire of a psychotic maniac making a statement, basically just common street clothes but with a ‘Joker’ twist!

In the Batman mythos the Joker has always been something of a dandy, but in Nolan’s, more grounded ‘real world’ version of the character, he’s made him look like an eccentric madman, with delusions of being higher in society whilst having a thrift store budget. But upon his arrest the cops soon discover none of his clothing has labels, just plain cut out? Or made to measure?

For a 1/6 depiction of this character this outfit is astounding, there are some great shots here showing how this outfit in many ways just looks like a shrunken down version of real clothes, complete with lined jacket and coat. Thanks to Darren for finding those, always first on the scene!

Considering how many layers this figure is wearing it all hangs fantastically well, there’s no denying it does ‘bulk-up’ in some places, but it still fits very well. I have no fault with the paterns, colours and fabrics used, and as I said the tailoring is fantastic. But the few niggles I have are the use of Velcro on the waistcoat, after doing such a great job on the cut, it seems a shame that the Velcro doesn’t hold as well as I would hope, and is therefore sometimes visible. My other gripe is the lapels on both the jacket and coat; they sit a little too far back, with the V-cut laying up near the shoulders rather than the upper chest.

The newly designed ‘original’ Batsuit is carried out beautifully and consists of two boots with solid soles and rubber uppers, these have cups inside for the foot pegs to fit into directly, i.e. no feet. We then have rubber trousers with solid knee protectors, and then we have the top, this goes under the crotch at the front, leotard style and is glued in place. Over this we have the utility belt with its accessories and attachments. For the lower arms we have the two solid gauntlets (not forgetting the extra ‘Mangler’ gauntlet mentioned in accessories) and then we have the assortment of six hands and the choice of cowled or BW head. And lastly, what Batsuit would be complete without a large billowing cape.

I think the rubber suit works fantastically well and hampers movement to an absolute minimum, it doesn’t even bunch up too much when you bend and pose, the only place I found it noticeable was the abdomen, when you bend him forward it bunches up a little on the stomach, but that’s not a pose I’d use much till he’s sitting in his Tumbler. The soft rubber boots also mean the ankle articulation is great and can sit flat on the ground in most positions. So all in all this suits performs far better than I thought it would, and has far surpassed my expectations.

The cape works well and is two separate pieces of material, one a slightly denser nap for the outer and the lining is a smoother slightly greyer material, this doesn’t hang quite as well as the old Takara classic figure, but is certainly better made and still hangs with a good weight. The rear of the inner box credits ‘Tam’ with the outfit design and creation for both these figures, now I don’t know whether Tam is a person or company, but whichever it is, I salute you!

Fun factor- ****
Two four star figures all the way, if you want the two best 1/6 representations of these characters available at this present time then these are they. Of course the two Medicom versions will also be out soon, and at first viewings based on photo’s I’ve seen on-line they both look like good solid figures. But for now Hot Toys reigns supreme.

Value: ****
This is a tough call, as depending on where and when you ordered yours could make a huge difference in the price you pay, how much it costs you to have shipped to you and when you will get it. Mine were pre-ordered in HK and shipped with quite a few other items meaning I’m very happy with the cost for two such well designed and engineered figures so for me full marks. Your experience may differ, but there’s no denying that if you managed to score yours for $150 or under then I’m sure you’ll be happy. If you’re paying nearer $200 then perhaps you could knock a star or two off, but remember most remaining are now on the secondary market, and I’ve just found out that DC Direct will be asking for $175 as a pre-order, the writings on the wall.

Overall: Joker ***1/2 Batman ****
Again, this category may differ from person to person depending on their experience of ordering these figures. But to me they are everything I’d hoped they would be plus some. I fully expected the Joker to be my favourite of the two, and though it’s a damn fine figure, the original Batman has blown me away.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - Batman ****  Joker ***3/4
Paint - Batman****  Joker***3/4
Articulation - Batman ***3/4  Joker ***1/2
Accessories - Batman ****+  Joker ***1/2
Outfit - Joker ***3/4 Batman ****
Fun Factor - ****
Value - ****
Overall -  Joker ***1/2 Batman ****

Where to Buy -
Well, these are from the stable of DC comics, so SST can’t carry them. 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.

- 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.

- CornerStoreComics has the Joker for $175 and the Batman for $160.  The have the Bank Robber Joker pre-order at $160.

- 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.


Figure from the collection of Jeff Parker.

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