Super Alloy Batman - Jim Lee style
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
|Jeff's review tonight is one
I'm very interested in - as a Batman fan, I was intrigued by this
figure, but haven't pulled the trigger. Maybe Jeff will change my mind
- take it away, Mr. Parker!
A big thank you to Mike, who it has to be said is the undisputed
master of all things Batman around these here parts, but more than a
little of his enthusiasm has rubbed off on me. I’ll leave him to cover
the cool black and white statues (I rarely enter into the whole statue
game), but when it comes to articulated 1/6th figures I will always be
in their like a shot.
So going back to a couple of months ago, I
started seeing pics of this figure showing up here and there, but the
first uber limited signature edition version (which had an edition size
of just 100) came in a glossy finish that quite frankly didn’t float my
boat. But then it was revealed that it would be followed by a regular
version in a matte finish… my interest was reignited and I was
is not a toy aimed at your enthusiast who only collects movie versions
of characters, it is much more for your general Batman comic book fan
or discerning collector of the more eclectic high-end designer fare.
And as ‘designers’ go you will find it tough to find one more fitting
for this character than Jim Lee. He was the artist who brought the
Guardian of Gotham to life in comics such as All Star Batman and Robin,
Batman: Gotham Knights and the seminal Hush, so his credentials all
check out pretty well. Play Imaginative gave him the task of designing
a 12” figure based on his suit designs. However, rather than being clad
in tight spandex he was to be bulked up in the armour department, for
this ladies and gentlemen is a figure that is primarily made of
die-cast alloy metal. To check out just how much metal, take a gander
at this pic here
which shows the metal parts in a base unpainted finish.
|So, imagine if
you will an alternate universe where Bruce Wayne decided
he needed to kick Tony Stark’s ass… not too big an ask I know. But were
the mash-up comic-book celebrity take-down ever to occur, this would be
the suit he’d wear for the task. And we all know who would come out on
top, Stark would take aim with a repulsor set for maximum carnage, but
Wayne would blast him with a powerful burst from his EMP repulsors and
peel him out of his suit with a Bat-can opener before giving him a
spanking! Which is a nice segue into Play Imaginative’s next planned
figure at this scale, because the millionaire playboy that they have
lined up is in fact the Iron Man!
So, in a world where it is
increasingly difficult to decide where your hard earned cash will be
spent, as we are all trying to operate on tighter and tighter budgets,
can you justify and do you really need a figure that costs $270 plus
shipping… well do ya?
you shell out a hefty lump sum for a figure, you expect every aspect of
that release to be as rewarding as possible. And so Play Imaginative
have turned in a spectacular and classy bit of packaging design here.
The figure comes in an oversized tall oblong box with a black outer
sleeve baring an image of one of Jim Lee’s sketches. I found mine to
have a sleeve with a very… no very tight fit and I had to gently but
firmly push and tug the inner box out (in fact it became a two person
job as my wife gripped the bottom edge of the box as I manoeuvred the
sleeve off). Once removed you are met by a silk finished black box with
a double front door meeting vertically down the front lengthways. This
is held shut by a real metal Bat-logo that doubles as a Batarang. It is
super-shiny with a polished chrome finish and helps make this look like
a very elegant affair. The doors open to the sides on a double hinged
flap that leaves the side panels laying open as well as the front
doors. The right hand side panel has a bio of Jim Lee giving a potted
history of his creative life, some interesting facts are here, not
least the fact that he has eight kids… Respect… I struggle with two!
the figure is held in a vac formed plastic tray above a second layer
that holds the gargoyle base and his cape. All in all this is a very
nicely designed ‘event’ box with some cute design flourishes, and I
have no problem awarding a full score, especially considering this is
the companies first foray into the 1/6th market.
Sculpting - Suit/armour ****,
is unabashedly and unashamedly a toy, all be it a very expensive one!
Take yourself back to the early/mid nineties (if you are old enough, or
in my case see if your memory is good enough to remember that far
back), because this has the look and feel of one of those small scale
cool Batman figures you found in Toys R Us scaled up to a 1/6th scale,
but with some great engineering thrown in to enhance the articulation
of the whole thing. I like the way the face has been designed in so
much as it looks like a classic smaller scale action figure. This
obviously means the face is more generic rather than being based on any
particular actor that has portrayed the Dark Knight, but as this is
intended to be one of Jim Lee’s comic characters that kind of makes
sense. However, even though I ‘like’ it, it fails to be particularly
inspiring. It has a strong determined expression, but its generic
features leave it looking more than a little lifeless and dare I say
The body and armour are a totally different matter. Being
a metal and plastic figure, the whole of the outfit is sculpted, from
the tip of his toes to the top of his pointy ears. The
kept relatively simple, with lines dissecting different parts of the
armour to indicate where implied joins are and this helps disguise
where some of the real points of articulation are hidden. But to be
fair this is a figure that wears its articulation and engineering on
its sleeve… quite literally. The footwear is made to look like
motorcycle boots and the bulk of his legs and arms are made to look
heavily armoured, with various panels interlocking. The gauntlets
exhibit the classic Batman design with the large tri-bladed points
hanging from the underside. Hopefully my selection of photos will
display amply the way this figure has been put together, but if you
want to see a few more, check out the selection I posted on Face Book here.
very little that could or should go wrong here, especially on a figure
that costs you this much. So the app is kept simple with large flat
areas of the gunmetal grey that make up the lions share of his outfit.
The gloves, boots, cowl and Bat logo on his chest are all black whilst
his utility belt is a gold/bronze colour. The face section is made of a
flesh coloured plastic (with the lips painted in a subtle darker tone)
and the eyes are made of plain white plastic, both these parts are
inserted from within the head, so any lines where they but up are crisp
and well defined.
As I have already said many times, this is a
cool toy that makes no apology for wanting to look like one. So think
of this paint app as you would a piece of designer vinyl, with its
raison d'Ítre being to look ‘perfect’ and you will be happy. However if
you want realistic skin tones and subtle airbrushed detailing to help
define the form, this is not for you.
One of the things I was
impressed by was that like the Hot Toys Iron Man figures they have made
the trunks out of a soft pliable vinyl. This gives the articulation at
the hips a better range of mobility, and the colour matching between
them and the metal parts is perfect. Lets just hope they don’t fade
like some of the earlier Iron Man figures have been known to do.
Being a figure that is
primarily made of a metal alloy it was
always going to be heavy! And being so heavy means you need to engineer
joints that can guarantee holding poses without slowly drooping or
giving way. This is an area where the figure works well. Of course you
can’t expect the flexibility of a plastic base figure like a True-Type
or Prometheus, but we do get a good range, one that is better than I
feared it would be. All the major load-bearing joints are ratcheted to
add strength and stability, and they manage that job well, but with
ratcheted joints comes a loss of the smaller more subtle poses.
the whole the body functions well, with notable bright spots being the
mid foot hinge and the fact that the fingers are articulated in a
similar way to the newer Hot Toys Iron Man figures. I’m impressed by
this for a first release, and think that more companies should
endeavour to give figures in gloves or armour the same degree of detail
(I’m looking at you Sideshow for future incarnations of Vader and
armoured troopers, it should at least be an option alongside the
regular hand selection… do it, do it now!). As I said above, this
figure does come primarily made of alloy metal. The strange quality of
alloy is that it is often not magnetic (ever tried to put a magnet on
the base of your office chair… trust me, monkey metal don’t play). So
you could be forgiven for thinking that some parts of the figure aren’t
metal but plastic, and while I can forgive you for knowing the head,
hands, feet, elbows and knees are plastic I can assure the rest is
indeed alloy (as you will hopefully already have seen in the link
So, in a nutshell the basic engineering is a mid foot
hinge, the ability to swivel at the ankle and a well-designed ratcheted
double knee that can do about 90 degrees (in fact just a smidgeon
over). The top of the thighs where they join the pelvis are hidden
beneath the vinyl trunks and can bend up to about 45 degrees whilst
also having the ability to turn and twist on a universal ball joint.
There is a little movement at the waist, but the mid torso, above where
his abs meet the ribcage is a far better joint with plenty of mobility
to twist and tilt. The shoulders have a universal joint concealed
beneath the armoured epaulettes, but the way they are attached does
very little to hamper his mobility (again, much like Hot Toys Iron Man.
Like the knees, the elbows are a double ratcheted joint, but unlike the
knees they are engineered to extend out on posts from the upper and
lower arms as they bend giving a better degree of mobility. When you
close the joint you need to gently push these posts back into their
respective limbs. The ratchets here do mean that between ‘clicks’ there
is a little free movement, but this didn’t impact much on his poses.
wrists have a push on peg joint that makes the hand able to turn and
tilt a little and as I said above the hands are designed to have moving
joints at all the places you find on a real hand. Lastly the neck has
joints both where it joins the shoulders and where it joins the head,
so it has a good range of movement to turn from side to side and a
limited ability to look up and down.
So all in all I am very
impressed and it performed far better in this category than I thought
it might from the promo shots released by the company. But do bear in
mind that this is a big heavy metal figure and approach with realistic
coolest accessory here is the gargoyle base, it’s pretty big and has
some lovely detailing both on its actual design but also on the
texturing in receives to look as stone-like as possible. And to help
the figure stand atop it, it has some reasonably strong magnets
concealed within the body.
His other accessories aren’t quite so
exciting! There is a grappling gun with some solid detailing, but no
moving parts and a pair of what are billed as Batarangs, but to me look
more akin to some kind of Oriental hand held scythe like weapons. The
scale is too big for Batarangs and the inclusion of a large handle
makes them look even less like his trademark throwing stars.
other ‘essential’ accessory, (which I decided not to include in the
outfit category) is his cape. This is made from a reasonably nice
fabric and hangs pretty well when attached… sorry, did I say when
attached? I should have said IF you can attach it. It comes with small
magnets concealed at the tops where it makes contact over his
shoulders. However the magnets are so ridiculously weak that I had
difficulty getting them to stick when reposing him. Your best plan of
action is to find the pose you want then attach the cape. It will stay
in place just fine if you do it this way, but as soon as you try to
move him or repose his position I can guarantee it will come away
again. The cape does have some wires concealed along its outer edges,
and these do work well for creating some dynamic shapes and swirls to
mimic that classic windblown Batman pose, but make sure you position
them gently and then push the magnetic tabs firmly to the body.
problem is that the metal alloy he is made of isn’t actually magnetic,
and magnets seem to have been inserted beneath the shoulders/collarbone
area and they are simply not strong enough. Had this been a $100 to
$150 figure this would leave me a little miffed, but at $270 it’s
virtually unforgivable. I did ask Play Imaginative if they were aware
of the situation, and it seems that because of the materials used this
was the best they could do, and aim to make future releases better.
Good news if you plan on getting any further figures from them, but not
much of a comfort for those that bought this one. I admit this figure
does look great without the cape, but what is Batman not wearing a
cape… exactly… it’s just not an option!
This means that for me
he will be left holding nothing for my display, but he will be standing
astride that gargoyle… with his cape hanging in place, as long as I
don’t try to move him!
Its all sculpted apart from the cape… and I couldn’t find it within me
to consider that an outfit!
we have here is a licensed figure, based on a design by the renowned
Batman illustrator Jim Lee, so that in and of it self is going to
demand a premium price. Then add into the equation that this is a metal
figure and the price takes another leap… but how high should that leap
Well, we have to consider that the body is of an all new
design and because of the specific requirements of this figure I doubt
it will get much re-use unless they decide to release a few more colour
variants… which I could playfully imagine they might (see what I did
there). A matte black version and a classic comic-book mid grey and
blue combo might prove popular. However, even taking these points into
consideration I find the price of $270 pretty astronomical!
reviewer, and someone in the ‘trade’ I managed to get a press sample
reduction in the full RRP meaning I in effect got it for half price.
But after adding shipping (remember this package weighs in at nearly 3
kg so that ain’t cheap), and then being hit with a ridiculously high
import duty courtesy of Her Majesties customs and excise, I ended up
looking at the product and thinking… it just plain cost too much!
you could find a way of ordering this figure and it being delivered for
under $200 it would seem like a pretty sweet deal, but realistically
you are gonna be lucky to get change out of $300, which might leave a
slightly bitter taste in your mouth.
Factor - ***1/2
I’ve got the bad bit out of the way, because the price really is the
only fly in the ointment… well, that and the cape. In all other
respects this is a great toy. Yeah, I said the face could be a little
less generic, but after posing and playing for a while, his chiselled
macho features grew more and more on me. Even the cape became less of
an issue as I just went with its limitations and accepted it was to be
placed on the figure after posing. Because lets face it, when you find
a good kick-ass stance atop that gargoyle, and then futz with the cape
into a wind-flapping dynamic pose it does actually look pretty killer.
apart from the price and issues with the cape this would actually make
a very cool play-thing for a kid, it feels robust enough to put up with
quite a bit of torture from tiny hands… but I wouldn’t recommend it!
when I first got into hi-end figures it was the ‘surprise’ new releases
by companies I wasn’t that familiar with that used to get me strangely
excited. Things like the Medicom: Andy Warhol’s, DaJoint: ZMDC and
Aoshima: Endoskeleton really floated my boat. So when I first saw
images of this I got that same buzz. And the pay off is that even
though underwhelmed by the way the cape fixes to the body, and being
rather alarmed by the price, I still end up being more than a little
impressed by this figure.
When posed well it can look pretty
amazing, and the comic book styling juxtaposes well against much of the
rest of my collection. The gargoyle base is another great addition, and
in short I’m actually rather fonder of this figure than I thought I’d
be. So would I recommend it…. Even at $270… strangely enough yes!
Where to Buy -
can be bought direct from Play Imaginative direct from their website
for the full RRP of $269.99
Or you can use one of the many site sponsors that stock it, like BBTS
who have him for the same price as does Alter
Collector and Fanboy
Collectibles (and if you are in the US you may save a ton of
money on shipping if you buy from one of the these).
Or you can hit up eBay
where the regular version is going for between £280 up to $320 and the
limited gloss version is demanding between $350 up to a eye watering
$599… yeah, good luck with that one bud.
This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer.
Photos and text by Jeff Parker.