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"Batman Returns" Penguin

DC Multiverse Signature Collection
by yo go re

"They wouldn't put me on a pedestal, so I'm laying them on a slab!"

The Penguin plans to destroy Gotham City in his crooked campaign for mayor. Just one thing stands in his way - Batman.

It's so weird to think that the only thing Batman Returns got wrong about Penguin's electoral campaign was the idea that, upon hearing undisputable taped evidence of the overstuffed villain mocking them, boasting about being evil, and just gerenally being an utter dick-hole no sensible human being would ever vote for even as a joke, the citizens of Gotham would turn against him rather than gleefully buying his merchandise and continuing to go to his racist-ass racist rallies for racists. Ah, fantasy worlds! Such a fun escape from reality.

Danny DeVito's version of Oswald Cobblepot was a major departure from everything that had come before. In the comics and the old TV show, he was a fancy little man with a slightly long nose. That wasn't enough for Tim Burton, so he re-teamed with Stan Winston to create something... more. Stan took some cues from his decade-old design for the crows in The Wiz, creating a "beak" nose that also included forehead and upper lip appliances. DeVito loved the makeup, and even wore it when doing ADR work to help him get into character. The sculpt is a little soft, on par with Movie Masters toys.

Penguin has two main looks in the movie: a filthy onesie, and the fancier clothes Max Shreck bought him. NECA may have had the guts to make Dirty Underwear Penguin, but Mattel doesn't; so what we get is a nearly spherical human being wearing a Victorian tuxedo - pants, shirt, vest, topcoat, all that. The coat is removable softgoods, which works out okay: since it's solid black, sculpted details really wouldn't have stood out very strongly to begin with, meaning their lack here isn't a major loss. The vest is a separate piece over the torso, but just for depth reasons, not because it's meant to be removable.

What is removable? His top hat. Even as a monster, Penguin remains a fancy little man! The hat isn't on his head in the packaging, so obviously it's going to be removable; perhaps it would be more accurate to say it's... what's the opposite of "removable"? It's not "attachable," because it doesn't use anything other than friction/gravity to stay in place, so maybe call it "placeable"? You are able to place it on his head, but also able to take it back off the head quite easily. The problem is getting it to stay on, honestly. Just remember that the bow on the hat band goes on his left side, and jam it down onto his head for best results. Anyway, the point is, between the top hat and the topcoat, you can take off enough of his clothing to make a more casual Penguin. But not enough to put him in his undies.

Penguin is not a colorful Super Powers-style figure - fittingly, there's a lot of black and white. His vest is grey with darker buttons, and his skin is at least pinkish, with those very dark circles around the eyes. The gloves and shoes are gloss black, while the pants, hat, and the back of the vest are matte. His large floppy bow tie is black with white speckles.

Like The Flash, Pingu comes with a display base and a cardboard backdrop that sits too close to the big dumb plastic arm that's way too tall to properly support a short figure like Penguin anyway. But Penguin also comes with some accessories beyond simply alternate hands! There's the hat, of course, and some alternate hands, but you need those to hold the important one: an umbrella! It's closed, not open, but has a pretty good sculpt of "a collapsed umbrella," which isn't something you might even have considered would be a thing until you see it. I know I didn't. The tip is over-large, however, and hollow - there's a clear puff of gas that can be plugged in there, and a dab of silver paint at the end stands in for a just-fired bullet. Neat!

Penguin's articulation follows Mattel's unexpected recent trend of not sucking. He moves at the ankles, knees, thighs, hips, waist, wrists, elbows, shoulders, and head. Most of those are swivel/hinge joints, but the waist is a balljoint that means he can twist his body any which way. If you're having trouble keeping him standing, the display base has pegs that can fit into his feet, or, as mentioned, there's a cloudy two-part arm that can plug into his back (as long as you have the coat off) and will lift him him into the air. Don't they know that Penguins can't fly?

Penguin may not be as good a toy as NECA could make, but he's above average for Mattel. I'm pretty sure I've still got those rocket-launching penguin commandos Kenner released in 1992, so I'll have to dig them out to give him some little henchbirds.

-- 07/24/19

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