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Hot Toys Dark Knight Batman (new suit)

   Hot Toys Dark Knight Batman action figure

"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 is back already with another great Hot Toys review.  He just received the new Batman from HT, based on the new suit in Dark Knight.  Tell us all about it, Jeff!

Well a couple of months ago I did my review of the first two figures from Hot Toys (HT) The Dark Knight (TDK) series as did Michael and we were pretty much in agreement that we had two damn fine figures on our hands, and it certainly seems to have developed into one of the most talked about 1/6 lines of the year.

Since then we’ve had the news that two more additions are due: a fantastic new version of the Joker in his bank robber attire and an amazing Harvey Dent/Two face figure, unfortunately in the scrum of internet activity that followed these announcements you could almost be forgiven for not realizing the new TDK suited figure had been released…almost, but not quite, for this is far too sweet a figure to overlook.

It was a pretty big theme in the movie, the design and construction of a ‘new suit’ as after being mauled by dogs in his encounter with the Scarecrow and a vigilante group, Bruce realized the old suit was too restrictive, he needed to be able to move more freely and turn his head when in combat. So his trusty R&D team, well…Lucius Fox, set about making him a suit that could tick all the boxes to his ‘Superhero’ brief, and what we ended up with was something pretty damn cool.

In truth this redesign was to help Christian Bale act and Nolan direct, as much as it was for Bruce Wayne to rid Gotham’s streets of scum and villainy, and whilst I have to admit the original suit is more iconic, in that it takes its cues more directly from the comic book, the Batman that we all know and love, there’s no denying that this new outfit is pretty dynamic, and brings the idea of a specially-designed militaristic combat suit closer to the ‘real world’ Nolan has grounded his Batman universe within. So what we end up with is not only a much more agile outfit, but an outfit that is more layered in its appearance with far more detail. Would HT be able to pull it off at this scale?
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 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 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 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 Batman action figure
Hot Toys Dark Knight Batman action figure

Packaging - ***3/4
Designed to stand along side the first two releases, this again has the matte finished outer sleeve bearing a shot from the movie poster of the new suit, slip this off then we have the more familiar silk finished flap-fronted five-panel box. This inner box has plenty of photos of the figure with a brief bio on the inside flap. The window opposite shows the constructed figure alongside his accessories, the acetate also has bit of funky Joker graffiti where he’s scrawled his ‘why so serious?’ motif alongside a big red smile painted over the top of the face of the figure within, nice touch.
Inside the figure is held in place by three twisties, you’d have thought the top tray could have held it secure, but as these guys have a long trek from their point of origin to our sticky mitts I guess I’d rather un-twist three ties than have to glue him back together again upon arrival.

So no major departure from the first two TDK boxes, but I thought the graffiti was such a cute detail it deserved a gnats whisker more for its final score.

Sculpting - ****
Like many figures with armour or rubber constructed outfits, the category of ‘sculpting’ kind of ends up straddling a lot of camps. When the first photos were released of this figure the initial reaction of most was WOW, another home run!

But there are a lot of hardcore Bat-fans with very sharp eyes that soon started pointing out how some small details on the cowl, shoulders, belt and legs were a bit ‘off’, I figured they were fair comment but pretty slight on the whole and things were too far down the line for any major changes…but I was wrong!

Quite a few modifications have been made since those pictures first surfaced, and we all get a better and more accurate product because of it, you can see the first version in my link here and more photos of the production figure here where you’ll notice the shape of the nose and lower face have changed, the shoulder armour is smaller and more accurate, they’ve removed the Batarangs from the front of the belt and improved the depth of sculpt on the leg details. The differentiation in the painted tonal values of the suit have also been toned down and brought more in line with how it appeared on screen. All in all this is yet another outstanding piece of work, for the hardcore fans this is just the kind of attention to detail we craved and the Hot Toys R&D team deserve a lot of praise.

The overall look of the suit seems pretty much spot-on to me now; I’m sure some will find a few areas where a detail is out by half a millimetre but I’m hugely impressed. I’ve said this before, I’ve been collecting 1/6 for about 15 years, moving up to hi-end in the last seven or eight, and I’ve witnessed things progress onehelluvalot in that time. After years of Hasbro I was knocked sideways by the first offerings from Sideshow, then onto Medicom, DiD, Enterbay and of course Hot Toys, and it has to be said we collectors are living in exciting, if not also very expensive, times.

This new figure showcases once again just how much dedication and attention is being lavished on these creations, as more and more ‘artists’ and people who are collectors with a love for the medium become involved in their manufacture and production, rather than just a bunch of corporate ‘suits’ paying ‘guns for hire’ to knock out ‘product’ as quickly and cheaply as possible from the licence ‘du jour’. I call it the Peter Jackson principle, to do a thing well you HAVE to love that thing, and it’s blatantly obvious when people do.

As I just said above, most of the outfit is sculpted, but I guess I ought to leave something for that section so here I’ll cover the heads and hands.

As with the last TDK Batman the cowled head is by Kim Jung Mi and the Bruce Wayne (BW) is by Yulli, the new cowl is obviously completely different from the first one by design, but the work on the exposed face is just as good, if not better than before and the new separate head and neck design means that just like in the movie it’s a lot more versatile and you’ll get a whole lot more dynamic poses out of this figure than with the original suit. The details here have also been expertly observed, and the ‘tweaking’ of the nose shape makes this far more accurate.

Yulli’s new BW head is, in my opinion, even better than the one before, I liked that one a lot but the new one has an even more determined and steely expression and the detailing around the eyes seems smoother and more subtle, perfect for a separate kit-bash. So all in all this is definitely a four-star sculpt, now bring on IRONMAN!

All the hands are new, and had to be, so as to accurately depict the new glove design. He comes with two attached in a fist position and you get two other sets, one set is in a gripping position and will come in handy for general use and holding the grappling gun but they’re actually intended for holding the Batpod handlebars, however, we’ll have to wait to try them out as his wheels aren’t due till next month. The last two come as a right-handed Batarang grip and a left handed splayed fingers. I found they all swapped over fine as long as you’re firm but gentle (which is kind of a rule for life!) but if you experience any problems then apply a little heat to soften up the hand and it’ll make life a lot easier. All are sculpted well and extremely accurately to the source material, however, whilst they are a unique design they bring to mind Oakley tactical gloves to me at least.

Paint - ****
As with the last Batman we have another faultless paint app. Kicking off with the new BW head, lovely warm, very natural skin tones and expertly applied hair and eyebrows, this version has a lighter palette than the previous version, making this one look more natural when they’re viewed side by side. The lips have just the right amount of colour to differentiate from the skin tone without looking like lipstick and the eyes have, the now ‘classic’ JC Hong wet glossy look, very natural and catch the light perfectly without the accursed doll dot. 

Though not as extensive, we get just as good a job on the cowled version. The exposed areas of the mouth and eyes are again very natural and expertly carried out without any slop.

There’s also some great work on the suit to show the difference in texture colour and finish between the base suit, armoured panels and straps etc, this armour panelling on the chest and arms also shows some very fine texture printing to mimic the materials used, all this is carried out faultlessly, no over-painting or slop, just another top-class job.

Articulation - ***4/5

As you would expect, under the outfit is the stock HT body, the True-Type described here one of, if not the best base body out there at the moment. This figure utilises the double-ended neck post both for BW and a specially designed one for the new Bat-suit. I’ve heard many people are making slight modifications to this neck post by dremmeling or sanding a groove at the top and base of the neck to slightly improve the range at which he can look forward and down, if that’s your thing, then hey, why not!

I am however more of a box fresh kind of guy and I’m plenty happy with his articulation. It does, however, have to be said that due to the nature of the suit it’s probably about as restrictive as the real suit would be, perhaps even a tad more so. I expected the shoulder protectors to be more restrictive than they are, but I got my figure into pretty much all the poses I wanted…obviously you’re not gonna get anything as extreme as getting the arms to point straight up, but I’m reasonably sure Bale wouldn’t be able to do that in the actual suit (unless it was adapted for a specific scene). So not 100% perfect but better than the last one, hence its slightly higher score. I also noticed the ankles seen more sturdy on this one, though I didn’t experience any real problem with the original, I heard some people complain of ankles that required the stand to be used for long-term posing. I found with my original costumed figure the ankle balls weren’t completely pushed into the cups of the boot, and due to the nature of the rubber boots rubbing against the rubber trousers means you have to fiddle a little, but after a good shove mine were a lot more sturdy.

Accessories - ***3/4
We get-

- Alternate head of Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne, (new sculpt)

- Utility Belt including cell phone

- Mini Mine

- Grappling Gun

- Two Batarangs

- Three sets of interchangeable gloved hands, inclusive of hands for gripping the Batpod handlebars

- Figure display stand featuring TDK logo and BATMAN nameplate.

Last time Bats came with all of the above plus his pneumatic-mangler.

Now this time the suit is far more complex admittedly, but I still feel it would have been nice to give him the sticky-bomb gun that he uses in Hong Kong before daringly apprehending Lau, but to be fair he has all the ‘essential’ items, and for me the extra BW head is the sweetest extra, and I’m impressed that HT are giving pretty much all their superhero figures their alter ego likenesses as well (at least with TDK, IRONMAN and the last Superman so far).

Outfit - ****
He comes in his newly-designed suit from TDK, and this is another bit of beautifully designed and engineered outfitting. I was expecting great things for this outfit after seeing the initial photos, but there is so much cool hidden detail you’ll never really see, like the intricate panels and detail on his back that will spend virtually their entire life covered in his cape.

This is one of those figures you will want to sit and really scrutinize, and you won’t be disappointed, it’s a small work of art. Just like the 1/6 original suit, this looks like they have somehow managed to shrink down the actual costume.

So working up from the feet we have the same boots as with the original suited figure, but I guess even Lucius has a budget to work to.

Next we have the newly sculpted armoured trousers, these are all rubber and unlike the previous ones they don’t have the rigid knee-guards so articulation is slightly better here, the armour panels are all molded as part of the rubber, so as not to infringe upon the poseability. Then we get to what is in effect the ‘shirt’; this has all the detail of the abdominal and side protection sculpted into it and carries on down the arms. Over the pectoral muscles and upper chest is a rigid sculpted panel that carries on over the shoulders to the upper back. Also attached to this are the newly designed upper shoulder pads which are attached by means of being glued to plastic straps at the top and elastic ones at the sides, these elastic straps allow for a good range of movement when raising the arms. Further down the arms we get the gauntlets, these have a double row of ‘Ninja’ blades, I advise caution here, as not only do they look potentially fragile they are also extremely sharp, you have been warned!

Lastly we have the cape, this is held in place by two small clips that simply slot in to holes on the shoulders and are held in place by gravity. This means they stay in place well for general posing but can also be removed easily when you want to. The cape hangs well and drapes down his back convincingly, though it has to be said that when viewed from behind, the new slim-line neck means he doesn’t look quite as intimidating as his earlier incarnation.

I love the fine sculpting on the texture and paternation where things like the Nomex base suit but up to Kevlar and Titanium interlocking panels, great work, and to my ‘relatively’ keen eye it all looks extremely accurate.
Top score, no problem!

Fun factor- ****
Sorry, it’s time for me to sound like the proverbial broken record.

Not for kids, yadda, yadda, yadda, display item only blah, blah, blah, handle with care etc,etc,etc, but you know what I mean!

For collectors this is virtually faultless, an instant classic of a figure, if you want a TDK Batman figure to accurately portray how he looked in the movie, this is it! If you want a Batman figure for your kids to play with check out Toys ‘R’ Us, there are plenty of really good ones available…none as great as this though!

Value - ****
If you picked yours up on pre-order for around the $170 mark you got a good early bird deal, this figure is easily worth that to me. The price for this is already starting to climb on the secondary market, with most eBay sellers asking for $199, a few are higher with one even asking $288 good luck to him!

You can still pre-order direct from the DC Direct website for $175, a good price, but they don’t expect to ship theirs till December 10th, and considering this hit retailers in Hong Kong back at the end of September that’s quite a wait, but in these ‘credit crunched’ days saving upwards of $25 don’t seem like a bad idea.

Overall - ****
I have to admit that speaking purely from a visual aspect, then the original suit still just has a bit of an edge for me, it’s more iconic, gothic and brooding with a slightly sinister vibe.

However, from a functional and indeed an engineering angle then this new suit is far, far more impressive and Hot Toys have managed to convey that perfectly with their two 12” versions. This has been, and is continuing to be a hell of a year for 1/6 collectors, this is the kind of figure that in years gone by would have won figure of the year for me hands down, but with Sideshow about to release their Vader and Stormtrooper, Enterbay giving us their Fist of Fury- Bruce Lee, the first figure of Buck Rogers about to hit from Go Hero and Hot Toys still to deliver IRONMAN and the mucho anticipated bank robber Joker he faces some extremely stiff competition.

But for now, for a figure with this much R&D, a great box and based on a price of between $170 to $185 then this is a full-mark figure for me without a doubt!

Where to buy -
As I said above, you can pre-order at DC Direct for $175 or try Michael’s sponsors linked on the home page who have it for-

Cornerstore comics-
$154.99

Alter ego-
$157.49

Urban Collector-
$164.99

Entertainment earth-
$174.99

Or if in the UK-
Forbidden Planet-
109.99

Or you can use Michaels sponsor www.MyAuctionLinks.com to find a good deal as well.

Scoring Recap:
Packaging - ***3/4
Sculpting - ****
Paint - ****
Articulation - ***3/4
Accessories - ***4/5
Outfit - ****
Fun Factor - ****
Value - ****
Overall - ****

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Hot Toys Dark Knight Batman action figure


Figure from the collection of Jeff Parker.

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