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Batman Beyond

DC Total Heroes
by yo go re

I didn't care much about DC's Total Heroes line, until Rustin reviewed Aquaman and piqued my interest. There still hadn't been any characters I wanted enough to bother buying, but then Mattel offered Batman Beyond as an exclusive through their website.

When an aging Bruce Wayne helped Terry McGinnis fight off a street gang on the grounds of Wayne Manor, Terry didn't realize he'd met the Gotham City enigmatic DC Superhero, Batman. Sensing the spirit of his younger self in the strong-willed McGinnis, Bruce takes Terry under his wing and trains him to become Gotham City's new Batman. Donning a new batsuit and high tech weaponry, including multi-functional batarangs, Terry McGinnis brings justice to the streets of Gotham City, with Wayne assisting from the Batcave. However, Bruce's demand for perfection from the young hero often causes a strain between the former Batman and his protege. As an up-and-coming hero, McGinnis begins to re-define what it means to be Batman in futuristic Gotham City.

The mass market Total Heroes line retails for about $10, which is much more reasonable than most 6" toylines. The exclusives double that price (and also have Matty's typical exorbitant shipping and handling charges dumped on top of that), but they attempt to make up the difference by including a butt-ton of accessories.

The reason Total Heroes can be so affordable is that they share a lot of simple, basic parts. Like Sigma 6 or Hasbro's new Superhero Mashers, the sculpt is more "cartoony" than "realistic" - it's all chunky, geometrical lines, rather than naturally organic shapes. This may not be a great style for some characters, but come on: Batman Beyond comes from the world of cartoons, how is a stylized look not perfect for him? Yes, he has some of the weird sculptual holdover that Rustin mentioned - the shields on the shoulders, the lines on the thighs, the big kneepads - but they're not terribly distracting. He gets the spiky Batman forearms, his unique Beyond utility belt (normally just a series of silver pouches around his waist, but the toy puts them on a separate strap), and the angular batsymbol on his chest. It should perhaps be larger, but then it would extend over the joints.

This isn't Mattel's first Batman Beyond figure - they made one before, in Series 4 of DCU Classics. It was fairly forgettable (other than a minor bit of notoriety for having a KB Toys exclusive variant just as KB Toys was going out of business), but it did have one really neat feature that sadly is not reproduced here: it was gloss black, not matte. The Total Heroes are mostly molded in color, and you can't mold gloss. So he's still got the white eyes and mouth, and the extra-long ears, but his suit is not as shiny as it might have been.

As mentioned above, the Total Heroes Ultra figures get the benefit of accessories that their normal counterparts do not. In Terry's case, that means six total hands (a pair of fists, a pair of "chopping" hands, and a pair of "clutching" hands), four futuristic batarangs, and the glider wings that the DCUC figure should have had but didn't. The wings are just in the form of a backpack, but you can spread his arms wide enough that they end up in the right place (more or less). The hands swap out easily, and the batarangs are black with red painted on the edges. But that's not all.

The DCUC4 KB variant we referred to was an unmasked version of Terry McGinnis, and this figure does the same thing. Except that in this case, you can just swap the heads, instead of having to buy a whole second figure - he's already paid for himself! And just like the DCUC Terry had a loose mask to hold in his hand, so does this figure.

All that wouldn't have been enough to make me get the figure - not with two Mattel Batmen Beyond in the collection already. This one gets a third alternate head, featuring an older Bruce Wayne. It's not the one usually seen in the cartoon, but rather the one shown wearing this suit in the pilot episode. What an attention to detail!

And all that is awesome, but what really got me - what really pushed this into the "buy" column for me - was the opportunity to indulge in one of my favorite gags: making up secret identities for Micron. Fridge "Micron" Largemeat. There's been a comic that showed his origin, and yet we still don't know his real name; thus we're free to give him whatever ridiculous civilian ID we want. Names like Gnar Slabdash (the N is mostly silent). And really, how many more opportunities are we going to have to talk about Kip "Micron" Joggletog?

Sklavellio "Micron" Frinkle has the ability to shrink and grow, so this little 2¼" unarticulated figure of him is perfectly in scale with the ~6"-ish Batman. He doesn't move, naturally, and there's not a lot of re-use potential: his legs are sculpted with the Total Heroes kneepads, but his mask is the distinctly alien-looking one that Shakiraquan "Micron" Carter always wears.

I didn't really need Plonf "Micron" Croidbetter to make me buy this set - the alternate heads and the wing pack were enough. Yes, it's expensive to get, but there's enough play value there to live up to the price. This toy renders the previous Batman Beyond figures unnecessary, even without glossy paint.

(Vingelbert "Micron" Wangledanck.)

-- 10/16/14

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