Welcome to Part 2 of "DC Direct schools Mattel," a continuing comparison of the ways in which even a company new to the world of toys can outpace the industry's old guard by making good decisions. Since Part 1 compared Jokers, it only seems fair that Part 2 compares Batmen.
DC Direct's newest line of figures is based on last year's best-selling "Hush" storyline, written by Jeph Loeb and drawn by Jim Lee. Lee's Batman was a stripped-down, utilitarian version of the Dark Knight - sure, he had all those wonderful toys, but the costume, the visual element, was back to basics and the figure captures that expertly.
Eschewing his typical costume design style of lots of straps and pouches, Jim Lee created a perfectly vanilla Batman. His contributions to the costume were mainly in more subtle areas, like the shape of the winglets on Bats' gloves or the size of the ears on his cowl.
Hush Batman is wearing the classic blue and grey, which has been pretty hard to find for the past 15 years or so. The colors are dark and muted, to help him blend in with the shadows. He doesn't have the yellow circle around the emblem on his chest, which is a shame - it's supposed to be a target, so it should stand out more. Rather than just being painted on, the bat is sculpted into the figure. His belt is also the big chunky pouches rather than the silly little capsule style preferred for so long. While Mattel's was painted a flat yellow, this one is a great mix of tan and gold that really highlights the detailed sculpt.
DC Direct sculptor Tim Bruckner did a great job transfering Jim Lee's artwork from the printed page to a three-dimensional sculpt. The head, in particular, really looks like the Batman we saw in "Hush," though it does seem just a little bit small on the figure. Batman's cape, which has the appropriate scalloped edge, is made from pvc and hangs nicely behind his back.
At the same time that "Hush" was being published, the first series of Mattel's Batman line was hitting shelves. Though they had been working entirely independently, the Four Horsemen and Jim Lee created almost identical Batmen - plain costume, big belt, everything. The biggest difference is that where Lee used blue, the Horsemen used black.
Of course, Mattel turned the Horsemen's very cool Batman into a big disappointment - a lackluster paint job, laughable accessories and sub-standard articulation. Though it's a much younger company, DC Direct has shown Mattel how Batman should have been done.
Batman moves at the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips and knees. Batman's right hand is interchangeable, so he moves at the glove top, as well. It's unclear why we didn't get a waist or movement at the left glove, as neither would have been very difficult and both would have added a bit of variety to the figure.
Batman's replacement hand is molded holding the launcher for his Bat-line. When Mattel made an accesory like that, it became a missile launcher the same size as Batman's chest, rather than something scaled for his use.
The Hush figures all come with a display base shaped like the Batman logo. Five inches wide and 3" deep, the base is only about 3/8" thick, but looks nice beneath the figure.
This probably isn't the best Batman figure ever made, but it is very good, especially as a representation of Jim Lee's artwork. It's a heck of a lot better than Mattel's version.
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