Attack of the Penguin

Hasbro started a relationship with Toys R Us and animated Batman figures.  They produced sets of four figures, often containing three repaints and one new figure.  These were exclusives to TRU, and usually ran around $20.  We got some important figures this way, including Commissioner Gordon and Alfred.

Even after the license switched from Hasbro to Mattel, these exclusive sets have continued.  The most recent is the Attack of the Penguin, containing a repainted Batman, Nightwing, Batgirl and one new figure - our first new animated Penguin since the very beginning of the line.

The set runs $20 for all four figures, and is just now shipping to TRU's across the country.  Don't go spending a bunch of money on one on ebay - you shouldn't have any trouble picking these up at the store over the next couple weeks.

Packaging - ***1/2
Compared to other basic action figure packaging, these boxes are quite nice.  The graphics and text are specific to the set of characters, and they are very sturdy.  They are also collector friendly, and you can easily open them up and put everything back with no trouble later .  They show off the figures nicely, and store easily for the MIBBers.

Sculpting - Penguin ***; the rest **
The Penguin sculpt is new and unique, and while it has some basic issues, it's very nice to get something new in the animated line.  His head seems slightly too big to me, and the hard plastic body feels a little cheap.  The sculpt itself seems a tad soft and there's even less detail than you'd expect in the animated style.  Just look at the wide expanse of his white shirt without any detail - not even a button - and you'll see what I mean. Okay, there's one button, but it looks more like a belly button than a shirt button,

But the scale isn't bad, even with the early Hasbro animated figures.  In general he's a decent looking figure and I'm more than happy to add him to the collection.

The other three suffer from one basic flaw - you've already bought these figures several times.  This is the very basic Batman, the only Nightwing, and the newer Batgirl with her 'check out my butt' stance.  These weren't terrible the first time around, but by now they are getting pretty played.  If you don't have any previous versions of these figures, they are slightly better than my score indicates.

Paint - ***
The paint application on these proves one very important point - Mattel is doing a much, much better job in this department than Hasbro.  By the end of the Hasbro reign, it looked like workers were throwing the paint in the general direction of the plastic.  Here, Mattel has brought back accurate and clean paint ops.  This Batgirl's face is so much nicer than the same figure done by Hasbro (and I mean same, since Mattel got the molds for Batman, Batgirl and Nightwing right from Hasbro), that it's almost night and day.

(NOTE:  Someone pointed out that the Batgirl, Nightwing and Batman are actually all new sculpts to Mattel.  And they're right.  It says something though that we've already gotten so many repaints of these three figures in the first year of Mattel having the license that I thought Hasbro had brought them to us first.)

They score pretty average though because three of the four figures are in a rather silly paint scheme.  These aren't as bad as Mattel's first paint scheme for these figures - the awful "Hi Ho Silver" assortment - but it's still not canon. 

Articulation - **
There's no change to the basic articulation, and a this point in action figure history, it's below average on any scale.  They have neck, shoulders and hips.

I did manage to get them all to stand fine on their own though, even if the stances were a bit weird.

Accessories - Penguin **; the rest *
This category sort of depends on how you count accessories.  Do you count the cloth capes of Batgirl and Batman?  I don't.  What do you think of the motion cards?  Not much.  While they are attractive cards, they are also cheap additions that don't do much for the play value of the set.

The umbrella that comes with the Penguin isn't too bad, but it doesn't actually fit in either hand, and is pretty limited in what you can do with it.

Fun Factor - **1/2
Kids will have a decent time with these, especially if they don't already have the other figures.  But it's hard for me to believe that parents are willing to drop $20 on four figures, especially when little Billy already has a version of three of them.

Value - **
This averages out to $5 a figure, and only one is new.  With almost no accessories, this is easily $4 or $5 too much.  If they want to get core characters into kid's hands, they need to drop the overall price, especially when $7 or $8 will get me a better sculpted figure, with better articulation and accessories, and I'm not stuck with extras I don't need.

Overall - Penguin **1/2; the rest *1/2
I'm basing my overall score as though this isn't the first time I've bought three of these five figures - if you don't already have this Batman, Nightwing and Batgirl, you may find the set a better value.

The Penguin isn't terrible, but is terribly average.  It's been a decade since we got the original, and this one isn't as nice as that version.  It's great to get the occasional new animated figure, but if I have to buy a Batman, Batgirl and either Nightwing or Robin every time, I'm going to have an awful lot of extra loose figures lying around. 

Where to Buy - 
These are a Toys R Us exclusive, and are just now showing up.  I don't expect them to fly off the shelves however, considering that you're spending $20 for a new Penguin.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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