Batman/Bruce Wayne
Original Costume/First Night Out Harness
Toy Fairs Limited Edition 2011 - Hot Toys

   "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's back with a look at another of Hot Toys 'exclusives' for 2011 - tell us all about him, Jeff!

In the world of convention exclusives it increasingly seems that manufacturers are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t. As whatever they do or don’t decide to release will almost certainly cause outrage in some quarter.

Anyone who has recently tried to pick up an original costume Bats from the limited batch released for the Dark Knight in 2008 will tell you that unless you were willing to part with the best part of $500 (with some asking for well over a thousand) you were going to be very disappointed.

And so it was that Hot Toys decided to revisit the figure, but not just a plain re-hash, oh no. This is in effect the big brother to the Takara version that was released back in 2005, as like that version this comes with the ‘first night out’ harness, a ‘Bataclava’ (sorry, bad pun), a Bruce Wayne sculpt, a grappling gun, a bomb and Batarangs. But this version improves on that one in oh so many ways.

Firstly and most obviously is the screen accuracy (I know there are some ‘fans’ out there who will say the ears a micron too long/short and the paternation on the palm of the gloves is too obscure… WHATEVER), but in terms of looking right to anyone other than an anal Bat-pedant, this is to my eyes the best available at this scale. The new Bale sculpt by Ko Jun is the strongest version of a Bruce Wayne portrait to date and the inclusion of the three alternate mouths that can fit inside the cowl (similar to the Batman DX reviewed here- adds even more to the overall value.

I’m lucky enough to still have my first release of the original suit, so the best display option for me is to go with the harness fitted and the balaclava held in his hands, as this is one facial sculpt I feel it would be criminal to leave in the box. Then just fit the new cowled head to the old body.

I think its fair to say that the original Batman Begins (BB) was woefully under represented by Hot Toys, but when the movie came out they were still very much finding their feet. That’s obviously not the case now as they are well established and very much respected in the collector’s community.
The Dark Knight (along with Terminator Salvation and Iron Man) has been one of the most prolific licenses that HT has represented to date. I’m hoping that with the10th Anniversary set of Scarecrow and Demon Bats and now this it might become something of a yearly BB exclusive tradition, much like the Lost Predators, well I can hope.

Packaging - ***
I usually really like the convention exclusive packaging, but this didn’t fire me up so much. It has a nice quirky feel, as in a graphic way it mimics the way the harness fits over the armoured bodyglove, but it just feels a tad flat considering how cool the figure inside is.

It follows a similar form to ones we have gotten the Marvel characters in so far, meaning it’s a simple lift off lid with the figure in the bottom half with a printed card divider and a tray of accessories attached to the inside of the lid. I was hoping he might come in a nice snug foam surround, but instead it’s the usual vac formed tray.

So it’s an interesting and well put together little box, but on this occasion it doesn’t quite do justice to the contents.

Sculpting - ****
Ko Jun already gave us an amazing Christian Bale sculpt in the form of the two John Connor figures for Terminator: Salvation, and building on the work he did there he now delivers the best 1/6th Bruce Wayne sculpt to date. I liked the two earlier portraits that Yulli did of the character, but times have moved on and the quality seems to leap forward very rapidly at Hot Toys.

So not only is the skin texturing and deep detailing on the hair even stronger, but the actual likeness is fantastic. The expression is focused and determined, which is just what you want for Wayne’s first night out as a vigilante in the mean ‘narrows’ of Gotham City.

As I mentioned above there is also a selection of three different mouth expressions that fit snugly within the cowl, and yes they do fit ultra-tightly so the superfine hairline gap where they but up to the mask is virtually invisible. The expression the cowl has fitted when opened from the box is relatively neutral, the second is in more of a determined grimace (think Joe Dredd) and the last has the lips slightly open as if in mid-sentence or breathing when fighting. They have also had a slight tweak to the way they are engineered to fit and be changed over from the way the DX02 worked. For that one you needed a little tool to push the mouths out from the inside, where as now a tiny magnet does the job of holding them in place. This makes swapping over a lot easier.

The suit and accessories are also sculpted, but I shall cover those below. Well, actually I shall cheat a bit, because as I said the base suit is the same as the previous version of the outfit.

Paint - ****
The only real area of paintwork is the main Bruce Wayne head and the selection of mouths that fit into the cowl. And it has to be said, just when you think Hot Toys have reached the pinnacle of their abilities; they then pull another triumph out of the bag.

The flesh is as lifelike as ever, with super subtle changes in its tonal values and even showing the gentle mottling that covers the skin, the eyes are wet and glossy and everything is basically as it should be.

I know it gets repetitive, but Mr Hong Jin Chul (JC to his friends) just keeps getting better, and this is just utter perfection.

Outfit - ****
In terms of design and functionality, as far as I can see the actual rubber suit seems to be a straight re-use of the one used for the original TDK version covered here that was also modified and ‘distressed’ for the Demon Batman that I reviewed here. So I’m gonna be lazy and say that for a detailed analysis of the suit I’d direct you to read over those. Heck there’s no point in me writing the same thing twice.

The only difference I will advise you of is the finish. The original suit had a more smooth and glossy sheen to its final look, where as this one is a much more matte rubber finish. When I got my original version out for the photos I was pleased to find no deterioration to the suit whatsoever, I just hope I will find the same with this one.

On a side note, I’m not sure how it would have been doable, but if the ‘Bat logo’ on the chest had been removable this would have been even more perfect, as it was obviously not there when Bruce took his first foray into the dark underbelly of Gotham’s nightlife. But I can live with it, as it makes for a stunning display piece when lined up with the other figures released from Nolan’s movies so far.

To make the transition from first night vigilante into fully-fledged caped crusader you first need to remove the harness. This is actually slightly trickier than you might first think, you need to remove the belt then undo the sliding buckle at the front. Now shrug off the rig like a vest and pass the leg loops down and over his boots (or undo the tiny clips on the inner thigh). Now just attach the cape using the pre-made holes in the suit (remembering to remove the small plastic washers that keep the pegs in place on the cape) then finally just swap the heads and job done. I have to admit I didn’t push the cape ‘pegs’ fully into the holes as I plan on displaying him in the harness, so I wanted to be able to remove it again easily. Hopefully it was tight enough and looks OK for the photos though.

Articulation - ***1/2
I was going to award this the same score as I did the first time around. And to be fair what I will say is that in terms of articulation it is identical to that figure. However, with the benefit of hindsight I’d have to say it deserves more of a ***1/2 star rating, only a very slight decrease I know. Underneath is a classic True Type, so there’s little to complain about there, but the head to toe rubber suit does mean you have to be realistic in your expectations. Though it does still have that groovy ankle articulation.

Accessories - ****
Considering the basic figure when pulled from the box is in the ‘harness’ outfit, I consider the accessories to be thus-

- Batman head (cowl)
- Three interchangeable face sections
- Pair of relaxed hands
- Pair of fists
- Right hand for holding gun
- Right hand for holding Batarang
- Left hand for holding bomb
- Bat-suit cape
- Utility belt with cell phone and accessories
- Grapnel gun
- Bat-bomb
- Two Batarangs
- Balaclava mask (or Bataclava as it shall now be known)
- Figure stand

And although he’s wearing it, and dependant of your point of view you might consider the climbing harness, belt and Bruce Wayne head sculpt as part of the accessories too.

So, its an impressive haul, and let’s face it you can never have enough accessories… unless of course it’s to murder.

Most of the extra goodies are self-explanatory and have no actual moving parts, therefore requiring little more from me other than to say they are accurate and well scaled, but as they are again all re-used from the figure I reviewed in the link above I guess you already know that.

All I will say is that the ‘Bataclava’ was a surprisingly good shape, you need to futz a bit, but once in position it matches up well over the eyes and mouth with a good snug fit. Of course the irony is that with a head sculpt this good you ain’t never gonna use it for display, but its still nice to know that it works well if you do.

Fun Factor - ****
I’m aiming my score here towards the discerning adult collectors, the kinds of folk who regularly drop serious amounts of dough on their 1/6th passion. If you are a kid, if you want something to play with and throw around the sand pit, then get yourself down to Toys R Us, I’m sure there’s plenty of stuff in the bargain bins to keep you more than happy.

I loved the original suit version released for TDK, and this is even more of a peach. Those extra mouth positions make for even more pose options when displaying the straight Bat-suit (and of course the new cowled head can be used with the older version if you want to display the harness version separately). It poses well when you consider he is wrapped head to toe in a rubber suit, and for any true Bat-fans out there (especially those that missed the first TDK release) this is just about as much fun as you can get at 1/6th scale.

Value for money - ***
All the convention exclusives including the Shadow Predator and grey Iron Man ‘Secret Project’ had a price tag of $220 at the shows and $225 when ordered direct from Sideshow, which I have to say is a little on the steep side.

I would however imagine this is to cover the licenses and production costs on such a small edition size. That said, I don’t know what the ‘official’ edition size was, but I would imagine it is less than a regular production run.
So even taking into account just how much I like this figure (and I really do) it’s hard to call it truly great value for money.

However, whilst I say till I’m blue in the face that one should never consider these toys as an investment, on this occasion, if you managed to get it for the RRP or under, I think its safe to say you have a little nest egg on your hands.

Overall- ***1/2
We all know that licensed exclusives tend to come at a price, and even when it wasn’t an exclusive a mere three years ago the first version had an RRP of $175 from DC Direct. So I guess the convention price of $220 reflects the economy, inflation, the haul of extras and the exclusivity of this release. 

So it is once again purely the price that keeps this from a full score. To my eyes just about every other aspect is near perfection.

Where to buy
Sideshow did have a limited number of these to sell direct from their site, but they disappeared faster than Colonel Gaddafi down a rat hole, so unless you are lucky with the wait list you may need to visit eBay where prices are already well south of $350, with some asking for over $500 already. 

But as this figure was rather famously bought up from the Asian conventions by scalpers, I would hope that SS getting and subsequently selling a large batch might have already got this figure into a lot of the most deserving hands. And I also hope it is soon reflected in pushing those over inflated prices back down. I guess the amounts being asked illustrate a free market economy for you, as without regulation these things are “worth” whatever we are willing to pay. “Vive la revolution!”. 

Did you enjoy the review? Plus 1 it!
Google +1

This product was provided free for the review by the manufacturer. Photos and text by Jeff Parker.

This page copyright 2000 - 2010, Michael Crawford. All rights reserved. Hosted by 1 Hour