Sunday, July 21, 2013

Mattel Arkham City & New 52 Batman

Mattel's 6" Batman figures are admired almost universally in the action figure community.  When the toy giant released it's DC Super Heroes line back in 2006, the well-articulated  action figures paved the way for the forthcoming, hugely popular DC Universe Classics line. While the hallmark line ended after an impressive twenty one wave, Mattel continued using the unique Four Horseman buck style into lines like Batman Legacy, DC Unlimited, and Batman Unlimited offerings in retail, and Matty Collector sold Club Infinite Earths exclusives on their website- both continuing to this day. After discovering them a couple years ago I went on to buy quite a few, including these two Batman figures I found back in June.

These two have capes unique to previous Mattel Batmen and to one another, more flowing in sculpt than the standard, scalloped DCUC capes we've seen.  The blue cape on the Arkham City 70's variant is particularly long, ending in a peak at his feet, and the Unlimited New 52 Batman features a glossy sheen on his black cape.

 Both figures enjoy the standard DCUC construction that that made the line famous, the Arkham City Batman's sculpt varying more from the line's hallmark male buck in homage to his inspiration. While the line is criticized for it's sameness, Mattel DCUC line has maintained a unity that has a certain appeal, and has become a touchstone in the history of action figures, some of it's characters highly prized. Over a dozen 6" Batman figures have been released since the line's inception, many repaints of the first wave, but these two (also redecos) have sculpt updates unique among my personal collection.

I'd seen these blue and gray Arkham City Batman figures at a TRU a couple years ago, and while Batmen of that color scheme have been a sub-collection within the Super-DuperToyBox for some time, I passed with regret. But alas, I scored him in an eBay auction for half the price, shipped, and my regret gave way to satisfying victory! Styled after the armored Dark Knight in the popular video game, some genius suggested he be released in the classic 1970's deco, complete with yellow oval behind the bat insignia on his chest and shadowed cowl. Reminiscent of the Neal Adams/Jim Aparo era, Batman in these brighter colors also evokes fond memories of the DC Super Friends Batman seen on TV Saturday mornings as a kid. While I'm not a video gamer, I admired the styling of Arkham City's characters, including Harley Quinn, of whom Mattel produced a stunning Batman Legacy figure of later on...

Mattel's more recent New 52 Batman, which I resisted not quite as long as the other, annoyed me with toy giant's refusal to include any accessories with him. Initially released in a flat black & gray, I know I'd have a hard time passing on this glossy black and metallic gray repaint- really slick!

I have no explanation as to why I've not read any of the much lauded New 52 Batman  title by author Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo, but I did enjoy Jim Lee's rendition in some of the earlier New 52 Justice League issues. While I somewhat prefer the batsuit with traditional shorts/trunks, the more armored, updated renderings of  New 52 Dark Knight has it's own appeal. It's not really anything new, Batman having received a similar overhaul for the 1989 motion picture, Batman, in which actor Michael Keaton donned an all-black outfit, ushering in a new era in modern superhero styling. The incised armor lines throughout the figure and raised bat insignia on the figure's chest really pop due to the figure's glossy, metallic deco, updated with a slimmer modern utility belt. DC Direct released a more comic accurate New 52 version of Batman in their Justice League line, but Mattel's trumps it on articulation and visual flash. They released a New 52 Superman and Wonder Woman as well, but I picked up DC Direct's Justice League releases of those characters. 

Mattel's New 52 Batman battling the All-Star Joker.

Arkham City & New 52 Batman with a few other Mattel Batmen of mine: Legacy Golden Age Batman, my favored, all black All-Star Batman, and more recent Dark Knight Returns Batman...

How many Mattel Batmen does one need in his life, you may ask? The answer is, of course, just one more! I'm anxious to get my hands on the brand new 1966 Mattel  Batman and Robin figures, which appear to have cloth capes. And perhaps more exciting to myself, press images of the forthcoming third wave of Batman Unlimited figures promise a version of the Gotham vigilante styled after the new animated Cartoon Network show, Beware the Batman. While the show has been criticized, I enjoyed the first episode, and enjoyed the re-imagined roster of characters, updated gallery of rogues, and sleek new Batman introduced. I'll definitely be looking out for this action figure!

More Later- Make It FUN!