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Batman Unmasked

Batman v. Superman
by yo go re

Somebody break out the "sad Affleck" memes.

Long before it was revealed that Batman v. Superman would have an entire line with a build-a-figure, Mattel offered a two-pack of the titular heroes as an SDCC exclusive. It sold out pretty quickly, and I was sad to have missed it. But as time goes by, I find myself increasingly happy for that fact: even setting aside the BAF parts for the moment, if I had that two-pack I would have had to double-up to get this Batman!

Unfortunately, there's no biographical information anywhere on the packaging. How are we supposed to know who Batman is and what motivates him? Someone should really take a crack at adapting his origin for TV or film or videogames or read-along books or ice capades or an app or something. That would surely be a fresh and unique thing to put in a story.

BvS based its Batman on Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns - Affleck got swole AF and wore a grey cloth costume with a giant, kinda square batsymbol on the chest. Okay, the cloth was a carbon fiber weave, rather than spandex or cotton or whatever it was Old Man Bruce made his suit out of, ["I'm not as big a fan of velour as you are, captain" --ed.] but it's still cloth, sort of. There are lots of tiny wrinkles and seams and a fine texture all over. The boots, gloves and cape have a similar, but deeper, texture, and the lower edge of the cape is a bit ragged and moth-eaten. This is a Batman who's been in retirement for a while, but is back in the game now.

This exclusive figure is differentiated from the standard release by virtue of having a human head. In theory, this is supposed to be Ben Affleck, but it sure doesn't look like him. Sure, there are a few angles where it almost resembles him, but in general this is on par with the "likeness" of Jamie Foxx on Electro. They didn't even gray his temples!

The figure's only accessory is his removable mask. It's not made of rubber, like Survival Suit Bruce Wayne's ski mask - it's the same semi-stiff plastic as the cape. So that you can get it on the head, there's a big split up the back. Unfortunately, the thicker, less flexible material means the cowl is just fricking huge on his shoulders. And the Affleck head is already slightly undersized! The smart thing to do would have been to make swappable heads - one Ben (sculpted at the right size and painted to actually look like him), one Batman, and a "removed cowl" accessory. And also to make that the normal release instead of an exclusive.

Batman has hinged ankles and knees, swivel thighs, H-hips, swivel waist, hinged torso, swivel wrists, hinged elbows, swivel biceps, swivel/hinge shoulders, and balljointed head. At least he does when the mask is off. This movie bat-suit actually allowed the wearer to turn his head (which is unfortunate, considering who he was fighting), but the mask on the toy keeps that from happening. The cutouts for the elbows are literally cut out of the gloves - there's a thick grey stripe in the middle of the black glove, because anything else would have required something other than total halfassery. On the plus side, since this is probably a Gentle Giant scan, it's the first figure I can remember where the feet point outward when the legs are at rest, rather than in. Like a human!

One thing we do applaud is the inclusion of a BAF piece. If you buy all eight Batman v. Superman figures, you can build Batman's grapnel gun. And if you buy this exclusive, you get a completely different piece that adds on to the finished gun! Two, in fact! This isn't like Commissioner Gordon's broken Batsignal, where it has to replace another piece: this figure comes with the grapnel hook and the line, which can tuck into the front of the gun. That's above and beyond what we expect in these cases, so good for them.

Batman Unmasked could have been a really nice figure, but the way they chose to make it just didn't live up to the promise. However, this is your only chance to get a BvS Bruce Wayne head, and at least the new BAF piece is pleasantly inventive.

-- 04/28/16

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