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Batman & Leonardo

Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
by yo go re

There was an XKCD comic that posited certain Wikipedia article titles could be sung to the tune of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles themesong (and there's an entire Twitter account dedicated to the idea as well). Handily, "Batman vs. TMNT" fits the pattern!

When a new menace in Gotham City begins stealing experimental technology, Batman is put on high alert. But a team of warriors lurking beneath the streets is also on the case: the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Led by Leonardo, these brothers - brainy Donatello, fearless Raphael and wisecracking Michelangelo - are mysterious martial artists on a collision course with the Dark Knight.

Batman first met the Turtles in a six-issue comic series, which was later adapted to an animated movie. The plot has some pretty substantial differences - what universe it takes place in, what secondary villains are involved - but the main strokes of the story are the same, and both versions are really fun stories that work a lot better than you'd expect a silly crossover to. Especially one starring a character as dour as the modern Batman and as zany as the TMNT (at least, as recognized by the general public - Batman's been plenty silly himself, and the Turtles started out gritty as hell, but you know what we mean).

These toys are based on the movie, which is apparent from the designs. Andy Kuhn, the artist for the current IDW Turtles comics, did the preliminary designs, with lead character designer Steven Choi polishing them for animation. The final result is blocky, falling somewhere between Bruce Timm and Phil Bourassa on the stylization spectrum.

Batman's torso is surprisingly small compared to the size of his arms and legs. Since this is a toon-based figure, there isn't a ton of muscular detail in Paul Harding's sculpt - something that, ironically, makes it more like a real-world human being in a costume than the usual action figures we get (remember, cloth stretches over a body, it doesn't sink down into it). The cel shaded paint, basically just a few simple black lines, serve to highlight the musculature via exaggeration.

This is a very classic Batman, with the grey and blue suit, rather than grey and black. The symbol on his chest is just painted on, not sculpted, but the edges of his boots and gloves do get that little ridge to set them apart. The spikes on his gloves and the tips of his ears are exceedingly sharp, so be careful you don't stab yourself with them. His cape is softgoods, and it is huge: large enough to wrap all the way around him, or spread out behind him dramatically. The lower edge is scalloped. And because it's cloth, it won't get in the way of the joints of all: Batman moves at the head, shoulders, elbows, wrists, chest, waist, hips, thighs, knees, and ankles.

We get some very nice acessories here, starting with three extra pairs of hands. He has fists in the tray, but you can swap those for ones capable of holding things: one holding something tight, one holding something large, and one with the fingers split. There's a slice of pizza, because this is a TMNT set, but Batman gets his grapnel launcher with two different hooks (one open wide, the other narrower), a batarang, and a little disc thing with buttons on the side. A communicator, maybe? [It's the smoke bomb he throws during the obligatory pre-teamup fight. But it should be purple, not orange. --ed.]

These action figure sets (mostly) pair everyone up for logical reasons, so Batman is teaming up with Leonardo. No, Leo may not be a great detective or anything, but he is the leader (as long as we're not talking about the terrible new Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show, where for some unfathomable reason Raphael is the leader and Leonardo is more of a... jokey guy? Yeah, no thanks). Anyway, the real Leo is the leader of his team, and Batman is the leader of his team, so, yeah. Yeah, they go together. As it should be.

Leonardo is shorter than Batman, about 5½" versus the Dark Knight's 6¾". But he's a teenager, so that makes sense. Since he's inhuman, the lines of his body are free to be even more exaggerated than Bruce's - it's all very thick and angular. The ties of his bandana mask trail nearly all the way down to his waist... well, to his belt, since having a fully formed chest on his chest and back means he doesn't really have a "waist," per se. The pads on his elbows and knees are three-dimensional, but the bands thata re supposedly holding them on are just painted.

Leo's head is short and round, nearly spherical if not for the angled art style. He has a big frown sculpted on his face and a single line on his cheek below his left eye. The mask is just painted on, and doesn't even get black outlines - it's just a patch of color across his eyes. The bros' eyes were blank white in the movie, just like Batman's.

The figure moves at the ankles, knees, thighs, hips, chest (a balljoint up under the shell, taking a cue from NECA's awesome figures), wrists, elbows, shoulders, and head. The art gives them thick, sturdy shins, and Jonathan Matthews' sculpt matches it, right down to the wrinkles in front of the ankles. Anyway, those thick legs will help keep him standing if you want to pose him doing some high ninja kicks or something (the set doesn't iunclude any display stands, and the feet don't have any holes in the bottom anyway).

Leonardo's got his swords, of course, and scabbards to keep them in. The two scabbards are a single piece, and plug into his belt on the lefthand side. He also gets a pizza slice, and your choice of hands: his fists can be replaced with a pair to hold the swords, or a pair open flat for karate chopping suckas!

This set retails for $50, which honestly isn't too bad: you're getting two better-than-average DC Direct figures with lots of accessories, licensing fees needing to be paid to two companies, and it's a GameStop exclusive? It's expensive, but you're not getting gouged. And the toys themselves are a ton of fun.

-- 09/18/19

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