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Movie Masters Batman

The Dark Knight Rises
by yo go re

Build-A-Figures are brilliant, from a marketing standpoint. They boost sales on figures consumers might otherwise not buy, which is fine when it's, like, getting you to buy Grey Hulk when you didn't plan to; it's much more of a dick move when you're being forced to buy something you already bought four years ago. Or even worse, something you've already bought multiple times.

Mattel introduced the Movie Masters toys to go along with 2008's The Dark Knight, and while the Batsuit may have (allegedly) changed designs between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, it (apparently) is staying the same between The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. Thus, this figure is functionally identical to the one released for the last movie. The one that had an unmasked variant, was re-released with white eyes and painted battle damage, re-released a second time in a two-pack with Joker, then re-released again in another two-pack with Joker! So basically, you might already own five copies of this figure before even seeing this series on the shelves (to say nothing of the newest two-pack, with coatless Bane). But hey, that's Mattel for you!

Batman spends most of his time lurking in the shadows, so it's not like we ever get a good view of his costume details, but it's probably safe to assume that Mattel has the inside track on all the details that would otherwise go unnoticed. Rather than being a single, molded piece of rubber like the bat-suits we had in my day, this appears to be a series of shaped armor plates attached to a suit beneath. That would certainly allow for a must better range of motion for whoever is wearing it, but it does seem to leave a worrying amount of gaps in the protection. So, fine for punching, dangerous for knives and guns. But isn't that what Lucius Fox warned him about? The undersuit is given the kind of repeating texture that's mandatory for today's movie superheroes, but it makes sense for something that came out of the Wayne Enterprises R&D basement rather than out of a teenager's closet.

Batman's articulation is decent: balljoint at the neck, hinge joints at the elbows, knees, ankles and abdomen, swivel/hinge joints at the hips and shoulders (for balljoint-style range of motion), and swivel joints at the wrists, biceps, thighs and waist. Not many poses will look right, however, because his thick PVC cape hangs slackly from his shoulders, suggesting no sort of motion or energy. They've released this figure six times, the molds have to be paid for by now; they couldn't have sprung for a new, billowing cape?

Most of the figure is flat black, but the gloves and boots are glossy. His belt is golden with two silver stripes and a black bat in the center. There are some dark grey apps on the suit to keep it from being visually dull. His exposed jaw is perhaps a bit too shiny, but the tiny eyes painted in his mask are applied well.

Batman doesn't come with any accessories, because why give people accessories at retail when you can rope them into paying $30 for a con-exclusive figure? All he gets is a piece of the buildable Batsignal, and it's not even a very interesting piece at that: he has the base of the light. Not the section of rooftop it rests on, but the actual base of the light. The part the cradle plugs into. It looks like concrete and steel, and the hole is large enough for a figure to fit through, so if you don't build the whole signal, you can at least have Batman play Lost and pretend this is the hatch.

The original Movie Masters packaging has been tossed, replaced by a new design for the Dark Knight Rises toys. It's still overly large and needlessly ornate, but it's overly large and needlessly ornate in its own way. There are hooked spaes down the lefthand side of the package, which suggest one of Batman's gauntlets - is this whole thing supposed to be Batman's forearm? That's a weird design choice. The DKR logo is on the top, and the backdrop behind the figure is a hole blasted in a concrete wall, showing a Gotham City street behind it. There's a callout on the front for the Build-A-Signal, done in the shape of the batsignal itself.

If you're wondering about the Kmart sticker you can see on the package up there, yes, this figure comes from the same alternate universe as Bat-Mite, where Kmart is a viable store and gets exclusives that people want. You can get Batman and his piece of the Batsignal anywhere, but if you buy him at Kmart you get three exclusive blueprints. It's nothing special, just a black "Top Secret" envelope with plasticky, business-card-sized blueprints for the Tumbler, the Batpod and the third movie's new introduction, the Bat. You know, the Batplane. Fun fact: these blueprints are the exact ones WB sent Mattel to build the toys from. How cool is that!

Batman is a figure you probably already have - or, if you don't, it's because you don't want to. You had five chances already! But even if you already have him, you're going to have to buy him again to build the Batsignal, so you might as well go for the Kmart exclusive version, right? At least that way you get two new things (the BAF piece and the blueprints) instead of just one.

-- 07/18/12

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