Batman Dark Knight Rises DX12
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 is hitting us up with another Hot Toys DX release - take it away, Jeff!

A big salutation as always to Mike for keeping this site so relevant to all us collectors, be we casual or obsessive!

In years to come the blockbuster season of 2012 will be remembered as a very solid, some might even say ‘vintage’ year in the quality of popcorn fodder that it produced.

There were some minor and reasonably major disappointments along the way, but the two behemoths that stole the show were Whedon’s Avengers (Assemble) and Noland’s The Dark Knight Rises (TDKR). Both showcased top quality geek fare, with the Avengers busting box offices the world over and delivering an escapist couple of hours of wanton destruction, with a permanent sideways smirk. While TDKR gave us the dark and brooding, closing chapter of the Batman trilogy. I find it hard to pick a firm favourite of the two, as even with its themes of apocalypse and world domination, the Avengers felt warm and fluffy, with a bright colour palette, like an old snuggly jumper you pull on as a comforter. On the other hand TDKR felt darker, both in tone and palette, giving us a two-hour adrenalin rush with added post-millennial angst thrown in for good measure.

I admit that for me the second part of the Batman trilogy was the strongest by a country mile, but TDKR managed to be a fitting finale to the story arc (However, I still can’t for the life of me work out why the Joker wasn’t even given a tertiary mention).

In this movie our titular super detective returned to public service after a long sabbatical, forced once again into active duty by the sinister actions of Bane and his band of terrorist anarchists. However, unlike Tony Stark who gets a new power suit three times in every movie (on average), Bruce Wayne returned to the threads he developed for TDK. And ‘threads’ is an important word here!

Hot Toys decided to return to the new outfit, but with added emphasis on the way it was to be fabricated. They had already giving us a pretty impressive version in the form the DX02, reviewed here, but that version of the suit was primarily made of plastic, rubber and silicone (complete with the oily abbs problem experienced by many). However, on this visit they have endeavored to make the final outfit much closer to the way the actual suit was constructed in the movie.

So, lets imagine you already have the DX02, he stands on your shelf looking down at you like a one foot tall watchful guardian, and on the whole you are a happy bunny… do you really need to shell out for an upgrade?

Packaging - ****
Ahhh the joys of a DX figure, few things can compare with the moment you first undo that brown shipping carton, pull out the box and then start to explore its contents. It’s like being transported back to being that eight-year-old boy again with the latest Action Man figure set!

But where as that old toy had a basic cardboard box, a figure rattling around loosely inside and a few accessories (of a quality aimed squarely at that eight-year-old boy), this is designed with a far more discerning and sophisticated market in mind!

And when that ‘market’ is paying a hefty $ 260 to do so, you need to make sure they are rewarded! And so we get a heavy duty cardboard outer shell held shut with magnets. It’s finished in a dark graphite grey rough texture with a glossy Bat logo on the front. It unwinds to show a 1/6th representation of the blue-prints for The Bat, his new flying vehicle that featured so prominently in the new movie. Then you find the figure beneath held snugly in layers of die-cut foam.

Yes, I know we have seen it all before, but it doesn’t make it any less impressive. Once again Dixon Chan and Monster Jr have produced a suitably handsome box for a great looking haul of goodies.

If you want to see some great images of this figure that really let the details shine, and sadly show up my photography talents, check out these links by OMG over on the Sideshow Freaks forum here.

And Luka at One Sixth Warriors here.
You can also hear a few thoughts on this figure with our latest podcast, the HOTTOYCAST episode 2 here along with other reviews like the new DX Luke Skywalker.

Sculpting - ****
Hot Toys excellence in the field of producing 1/6th figures has its downside, and the biggest bug bear for the company is the fevered anticipation that many of their fans enter into on the often long run up to a figures release. During this time there is much discussion and dissection on forums all over the planet, some well considered opinions are aired while much pointless drivel is also spouted. Obviously every figure will have its supporters and detractors, but come the day that a figure is released, or heaven forbid a stray badly taken photo makes its way onto the Internet early… well, then the floodgates open, and boy do the freaks come out!

I love this hobby and I’m pretty passionate about it as an art form, meaning I like to take part in considered discussions about the latest releases, but increasingly I find it’s best just to wait a while until the dust settles, let the trolls get all that bitter phlegm off their chests before getting involved (you might say something you regret).

Bats here is a case in point of this situation. When he was released the boards went into meltdown with inane hyperbole about the quality of this or that aspect of the figure. And I guess if you are the kind of anally retentive collector who loses sleep over the length of an armour panel or deepness of an indent on the cowl you might find something to be concerned about. But I think its fair to say that to your average fan this turned out to be pretty darned ace.

In this category I shall stick to the hands and heads of which we get one regular cowled head with the PERS feature and also a Bruce Wayne sculpt. He also comes equipped with a selection of six hands in various positions to interact with the accessories.

Like with the first DX 02 of Bats, the cowled head comes with a selection of three interchangeable mouths featuring different expressions. One is a regular stern expression, the second is sterner still with the corners of the mouth down turned and the last shows the mouth slightly open with the teeth visible. All are based on expressions from key scenes in the movie, and when accompanied by a simple repositioning of the eyes they can inject a ton of character to your chosen poses. The way the PERS feature operates on this figure is the same as on the DX 02 making it far less intrusive on the way the figure looks than on the Tim Burton 89 Batman. Where as on that one we had to remove a panel at the rear of the cowl to access the mechanism, on these the head can simply lift off by use of a strong magnet (not so strong that you can pick him up by it, so beware) and the eyes can be moved by using a small ‘cup’ ended spatula to interact with the control ‘joystick’. This tool also has a small plug at the end to aid in the removal of the interchangeable mouths. I found the PERS operated well on mine, and the positioning was smooth and free.

The exposed flesh on the three mouths and indeed on the un-cowled Bruce Wayne head all show the usual deft touches in the way the skin exhibits wrinkles, folds and even pores. And the likeness to Christian Bale is pretty stunning. The unmasked head seems to capture something of Bruce’s world-weariness, this is a man that has aged a few years since our last visit to Gotham, and the years (and indeed mileage) show on his face.

Like the last sculpt of Bale that we got with the re-released version of the ‘Begins’ suit, this is by KoJun, and he is becoming rather adept at capturing his likeness after his work on the actor as John Connor in Terminator: Salvation.

Needless to say the portrait captured here is pretty amazing, and the likeness is stunning, as is the beautifully observed detailing on the hair. The selection of hands also illustrates how much attention to detail Hot Toys likes to lavish on their productions, and the various positions all show deep crisp tooling on the way the gloves are sculpted.

So for me this is a great looking figure and another worthy member of the DX series.

Paint - ****
Yeah, you guessed it, it’s a four star category, but when Hot Toys can put out devastatingly impressive apps on one of their regular releases, you can bet your bottom dollar they can pull one out of the bag for a DX.

So as you can expect, with JC at the helm all the details are executed to perfection. The Wayne head and mouths all have that spookily lifelike appearance, and the cowled head is aided by the tiny glossy glass eyes that are inserted as part of the PERS feature. There are also some paint details on the suit, hands and accessories, and all are carried out to near perfection.

Articulation - **1/2
As I mention in the outfit section, his articulation is seriously hampered from the waist down because of the accurate way in which the suit has been constructed. But that is all down to the way Hot Toys have decided to make this figure and its accompanying outfit. Underneath all the layers of armour is a well designed and engineered True Type, the body that started a small revolution in the 1/6th world. It redefined what we should expect from a good quality base body, and continues to hold a healthy place in the pantheon of convincing, well-proportioned figures. Just make sure you approach this with realistic expectations, and then you will be greatly rewarded. Think of it as a museum quality replica of the Dark Knights armour, a small facsimile of the suit developed for the movie, rather than an agile toy able to strike a contortionist like pose, and you will be happy with the outcome, I know I am!

Accessories - ***1/2
Bats comes with a reasonable haul, with only one glaring omission. That missing object for me is the empty cowl. Yes I know we will get one with Selina/Catwoman, but as this was the first time in the trilogy that we actually see Bruce in the Bat-suit with the cowl removed it strikes me that he should have come with one as well. So, what do we get?

- Bruce Wayne head sculpt
- 3 interchangeable mouths (and spatula tool to swap over and move eyes)
- 4 extra hands (a selection of six in all)
- 1 grappling gun
-  2 Batarangs
-  2 mini mines
- 1 articulated utility belt
- 1 magnetic utility belt
- 1 collapsible sticky bomb gun
- 1 EMP rifle (with light up function & clip to attach to the Bat Pod)
- Blue prints for The Bat
- Environment figure stand/base.

I already went over the head, mouths and belts above so here we will look at his wonderful toys. Many need little explanation as they are simple pieces with no moving parts, like the grappling gun, Batarangs and bombs, and the collapsible sticky bomb gun is a repeat of the one we got with the DX 02, all of these objects were described in my previous review here.

So the new items are the EMP rifle, which was something of a signature weapon in the movie, and allowed out hero to handle another ‘gun' without compromising his disdain for ballistics. It has a light up front section that allows the emitting rods to give off a cool blue glow when the small switch at the bottom is flicked on, this is my favourite of his new extras. It’s meant to fire an electro magnetic pulse and is used to disable electrical devices and vehicles with devastating effect.

The new environment stand is modelled to look like a section of Gotham pavement/steps. It has the Bat logo smashed into the bottom step and shows snow drifting into the corners. It has two small directional lights at the front corners that work by flicking a switch at the rear of the base, (you will need to insert three AAA batteries for this to work). They illuminate brightly and it’s a cool display piece for those that like to use stands, and you’ll be pleased to know there is at least enough articulation in the legs to get him standing in a stepping position on them.

All in all a fair selection of goodies but for the price tag I’d have liked just a few added extras.

Outfit - Aesthetic****, Functionality **1/2

What happens when an unstoppable force meets an articulated figure? Well, if the unstoppable force is Hot Toys and the articulated figure is Batman, I guess we get this.

Hot Toys always strive to find a middle ground between making their figures look as movie accurate as possible whilst keeping that all important play value of a toy… I mean, who wants a statue? Well, as it happens plenty of people do. However Hot Toys are not here to cater for their particular needs, instead they make a product, that to my eyes is, is whole lot better, and more dynamic to boot.

This version of the suit features a well-tailored fabric skin-tight body-glove on to which the interlocking panels of armour are glued/welted. It makes for a truly impressive final look, but with that accuracy of that aesthetic comes a compromise in some of his mobility. The arms don’t suffer too much, but his torso and legs lose a lot of their underlying articulation.

At the end of the day he just needs to be able to stand well (he can do this just fine), sit astride the Bat Pot (I can’t personally get him to do this convincingly) and recline in the Tumbler (sadly I don’t have one, so can’t comment). The detailing and tailoring of the underlying cloth suit is fantastic, with well researched microfibers of the fabric chosen, and then the subsequent detailing on the texture for the panels that overlay it is mind-bogglingly good. It’s this level of detailing that elevates it so far above the previous DX version. The boots are also handled differently here, rather than being a rubber moulded ‘all in one’ they are constructed as a virtuously seamless two piece affair, with the foot being separate from the collar that goes up the lower leg. If the legs had the mobility to strike some deep poses this change would have been much more beneficial. As it is, it does at least help in positioning the feet when attempting to sit him astride the Pod.

The cape drapes pretty well and the velvety finish makes it look better than some earlier attempts at it. It attaches by inserting two angled begs into slots near his collarbone, and then pushing them gently but firmly back against the shoulders. I managed the left one easy first time, but needed to futz and redo it a couple of times for the right hand side. Once aligned correctly it all fitted just fine, so take your time getting this right.

The next item/items in his wardrobe cross over into his accessories bundle too. The reason being he comes with neither of them fitted but rather packed beside him. They are his two utility belts. One is a more simply constructed affair and has no pods or pouches fixed to the front section, but does have concealed magnets at the rear for attaching the sticky gun when unassembled. The second belt has much more detail in the attachments on its front and has the clip for the grappling gun at its rear, but its cool new feature is that it is articulated and made up of interlocking sections that move when you undo it. This makes it sit better against the figure, and even though it’s only a small detail, it’s a cool one!

The instruction booklet provided also has a credit list of the production crew, and this outfit is credited to Echo & May, who definitely deserve some recognition for actually managing to replicate the screen seen suit so accurately at this diminutive scale. My score ends up having two categories of its own, because I love the way it looks, but really wish a little more mobility could have been retained.

Value - ***
At $259.99 this is definitely a luxury item, but there again, lets not forget that all designer and high-end ‘adult’ collectibles are a luxury. None of us ‘need’ these things, we merely ‘want’ them! So like all art, the price tag has more to do with what you are willing to pay than what an item is truly worth. That’s not to say I am being flippant about the rewards Hot Toys deserve for taking on a hefty license, which can be an expensive gamble (Green Lantern, The Spirit… anyone), and we all know manufacturing is getting ever more costly. Plus all the talented artists, creatives and backroom folks need to draw a wage.

However, $260 is not a sum to be trifled with, it is a sum that needs to be taken seriously, so take it seriously I do. Yes I can see that the R&D behind the development and manufacture of this figure must be eye wateringly high. But I would hope that the amount of units that Hot Toys will be able to shift should mean recouping that outlay quite quickly. And considering the recently released Luke Skywalker is a double figure pack with an impressive light up display stand for a mere $40 more, makes me think this should have been around the $200 to $225 ball park.

Well that’s my two-penneth, at the end of the day the RRP is what it is, the decision on whether you actually want to pay it is up to you. But regardless of your collective thoughts on its perceived value, you certainly get a kick ass figure for your money!

Fun Factor - ***1/2
The truth of the matter is that I rarely put my figures in particularly extreme or deep poses, most end up in a reasonably straightforward stance, standing and either holding a weapon or gesturing. And for this figure the stock pose I have been leaving him in so far is standing with the EMP rifle held in both hands, head slightly tilted, looking off to the left, its perfect, trust me, and displays all the details I want to see flawlessly. Of course if I was to actually want to put this figure in a sitting or even a crouching pose, I would be up a certain creek without a paddle, but luckily I don’t. The light up EMP rifle and the collapsible sticky bomb gun are both nicely designed elements that help enhance and boost this figures cool factor and the whole package comes together well.

But if you were seriously considering giving one of these figures to a kid you would have to be crazy, the price alone is proof of that. But add into the equation the potential fragility and almost certain loss or swallowing of tiny parts and it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is squarely aimed at more mature collectors. If you are one of those rare adults who can deem it perfectly acceptable to splash $ 260 on an action figure, fill ya boots, it’s a peach!

Overall- ***1/2
I shan’t beat around the bush, to many collectors who just want a solid representation of the ‘TDK’ suit, and who have already invested in the first DX 02, this new improved version might not seem quite so essential. And I can see their point. To the casual fan, both do a great job in representing the outfit. However, if you are a purist or worse still a completist this is pretty much a must buy. The way the suit has been replicated here really is a small labour of love, and deserves to be recognised as the mini masterpiece it is. The only thing holding it back is the price and that darned articulation in the legs, but even taking that into consideration, I love it!

Where to Buy -
The official importer into the North American territories is still Sideshow, and at the time of writing he was still available from them at the full RRP of $259.99, however this is not your only option as I did manage to find it on one sites sponsors BBTS for a slightly more reasonable $239.99
Or you can try eBay where BIN prices are between $265 up to $315… anyone remember when you used to get a bargain on eBay?

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

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