Yamato Batman, Joker, Robin, Harley

I'm a big Batman fan, as most folks know.  So when I heard about the new set of 6" figures from Yamato, I knew I had to pick up a set.

Originally, these were only available through Japanese retailers.  I ordered mine from Action-HQ (and they still have some available).  Recently, Diamond has announced they'll be importing them, but don't get too excited - the prices I've seen so far aren't all that better than buying overseas, and they are limiting it to 5000 sets.

There are four in this first wave, and I haven't seen any official announcement of a second wave, are Batman, Robin, Joker and Harley. I paid about $20 each plus shipping. 

Most collectors have been very happy with this - I'm going to go against the flow with my review...

Packaging - **1/2
It's sturdy, and the bubble shows off the contents fine, but beyond that it's pretty blah.  This is merely functional packaging, with little artistic quality.

Sculpting - Batman, Joker ***1/2; Harley ***; Robin **
The style of the sculpts are fairly consistent, but what works for one character doesn't for another.  These figures are statues in all reality, so the sculpt is crucial.

Batman is hunched over, staring down on the city.   This works well for him since his base is a roof top.  The wide stance, brooding expression, and clenched fists look great. The body sculpt itself is fairly rough, similar to something you might see in clay, and so the style might not suit you completely, but I thought it looked great.  Not quite as nice as Zips Bat, but still nice.

His only real problem is one of scale.  When compared to the other figures, Bats seems a *hair* too small.  It's not major, but the Zipline Batman just seems to fit the scale better with the rest of this series.

Joker is my favorite sculpt of the set.  His body sculpt doesn't have the rough appearance of Batman, and the pose is excellent.  He has a maniacal expression without being grotesque, and you can even manage to get him to balance one of his accessories if you work at it.  I had a tough time keeping him standing without using the base though.

Harley looks alright, but the pose leaves me unimpressed.  I suppose she's supposed to be skipping with her hands on her hips, sort of a 'nah nah nah' kind of thing.  It doesn't do much for me though, and the face sculpt is trying to capture a 'real' Harley.  She only works well as an animated style character, and when you lose that style, you lose most of what makes her so cool looking.  Oddly, she's also missing the sculpted (and painted) diamonds on her left arm.  I say oddly because the diamonds on both legs and right arm are present, and the photo on the back shows her with them.  She absolutely must have her base to stand up.

Last and most certainly least is Robin.  His goofy stance is supposed to be something, but what I don't know.  He's smiling but has a raised, clenched fist.  He's stooping in a funky sort of way, but is standing in an alley.  While the detail work is fine, the actual style and appearance of this sculpt is a real disappointment.

Paint - Harley ****; Joker, Batman ***1/2; Robin *
The paint application on all the figures is clean, with little to no slop or fuzzy lines.  Definition between colors is sharp, and there was almost no bleed, even on the tough colors of Harley - black, white and red.

That's why Harley scores so well here - although I'm not thrilled with the sculpt, she does have a great looking paint job.

The Joker's paint ops are great too, although he had a few minor problems on his face.  Some of the green managed to find it's way to the white, and there were a couple minor rub marks.  Still, he's an overall impressive piece of work, especially the brightly colored suit.

Batman is alright, but nothing special.  He has a rough coloring, that matches up with the rough sculpt.  The yellow of the belt and bat symbol are clean, and there's no bleed.  Still, with fewer colors, there's less chance for error.

Robin is again in last place, with good reason.  Oh, the quality of the overall paint application isn't a problem - his colors are clean and neat as well.  I could do with a little less of the wash they used to bring out the details and add shadow, but it's not a major problem.

No, the problem here is his cape.  It is extremely tacky to the touch, and the black will start picking up dirt and prints immediately.  I thought perhaps that it would dry better with some time out of the package, but it's still just as sticky as the day I opened it.  Obviously the paint and plastic chosen for the cape get along like fire and water.

Articulation - *
While it might appear that there are points of articulation, don't fool yourself - these are statues.

Each has several places where the pieces are put together - usually neck, shoulders, and arms/wrists.  They don't really turn very well at any of these places though.  They do come apart awfully well though, and you'll find Robin and Harley's arms dropping off with the slightest touch.

Accessories - ***
Each figure comes with a couple accessories and a base, some with more value than others.

Robin has a base representing a street.  It looks fairly good, although I still haven't figured out what's up with that hydrant.  It's not yellow, it's not red - it's yellow with some sort of red wash, which makes it some sort of orange.

He also has a batarang and a double edged knife/staff weapon.  The batarang has a peg on one end that implies it should be inserted someplace, but I sure couldn't figure it out.  The staff fits in his left hand, but be careful - I managed to snap mine in two trying to get it to fit.

Harley also has a base, and hers is much more interesting than Robins.  It includes a picture of her beau, and a fun house mirror.  She also has two accessories, neither of which she can hold.  The joker-in-the-box really doesn't need to be held, and the real spring is pretty neat.  But the pop gun, with obligatory bang flag, is pretty useless since neither she nor the Joker can hold it.  Also, the post for the flag is very thin, so again be careful when inserting it into the barrel.  Neither the joker-in-the-box or the gun have any action.

The Joker has an interesting base, which I assume is supposed to be a bank vault.  Be careful one more time - it's easy to snap the hinges when putting it together.  He also has a smiling bomb to blow up the door, and a smiling fire extinguisher (or weird seltzer bottle, depending on your point of view).  He can actually hold the bomb in one outstretched palm if you balance it just right, but the other accessory can just sit on the floor.

Finally, Batman comes with only one accessory to go with his base.  The base is the corner of a building, and while he doesn't need it to stand, he looks much better on it.  He also has a batarang, and one end is sculpted to fit in his hand.

Ah, I almost forget - each also comes with a little comic cover card.  On the back is a Batman fact for the trivia buff.  I'd bet these are randomly inserted, since I ended up with two of the same.

Value - **
At $20, I felt like I paid too much.  I'm betting comic shops charge even more than that for these on their shelves considering that they are imported - and we all know how Diamond likes to raise those import prices.  Yes, the sculpts are solid, but these aren't exceptional, and neither the Batman or Joker are better than the Mattel versions.  At $10 - $15 these would be about right.

Overall - Joker ***1/2; Batman, Harley ***; Robin **
If you can find these for a price you can live with, I'd recommend picking up Batman and the Joker.  They are decent versions, and will look great hanging out on the shelf.  Unless you're a completist, I'd skip Robin for sure, and have to seriously think about Harley.

Where to Buy - 
I ordered mine from a Japanese retailer - MROTW Sponsor Action-HQ - but Diamond is importing these for US comic shops. Preorder options include: 

- Alter Ego Comics has the preorder up for $15 each, pre-order.  That's a good price, and I'm betting most comic shops have these for around $20 on the shelves.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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