Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Christmas Haul 2015: Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham Origins, Batman: Arkham City Bruce Wayne, Batman: Arkham City, & Batman: Arkham Knight from Batman: Arkham Asylum by DC Collectibles

     I know we're now almost a week into 2016 but since I had written a number of reviews in advance to give myself some time off between Christmas and New Years's, I'm just getting around to showing off my Christmas haul! Since we exchange gifts with my wife's family and my parents I usually end up with quite a hall. Today I'm looking at a really cool gift that I received from my wife's parents: The Batman: Arkham Asylum 5 pack which includes Batman from all four of the videogames in the Arkham series as well as an all new Bruce Wayne figure. When I first heard about this set in early 2015 I was kind of pissed. I thought DC Collectibles was leaving behind the old idea of packaging one highly desirable new figure with straight rereleases. Unfortunately, that's not what happened here: If you've been a dedicated completest of the various Arkham lines then you're getting four duplicates. Not repaints: Duplicates (although the paint work differs on the Arkham Origins Batman, but that seems more like a variation than an intentional new paint scheme). As I started thinking about this set more, though, I realized that I didn't actually own the Arkham Asylum Batman, nor the standard Arkham City Batman. The Arkham Knight Batman hadn't yet been released when this set was solicited so I went ahead and skipped him. It turned out that this five pack wound up being a great set for me as somehow skipped most of the basic Batman figures. Ready for a look at the positive and negative aspects of each figure in this set? Then join me after the break as we check out this collector's set from what in my mind is the definitive Batman universe...

 The Facts:

Batman: Arkham Asylum

Height: 6 7/8ths inches (without ears)

Articulation: Boot swivels, hinged knees, swivel hips, swivel/hinge shoulders, hinged knees, swivel forearms, and a balljointed head.

Accessories: Grapnel gun and batarang.

Sculpted by Dave Cortes

Non-Scalper Price for the Set of 5: $70-$85 dollars

- Negative: There's a problem that I know the original figure had and it's carried over here as well: Batman's cowl, trunks, gauntlets, and boots are blue while his cape is black. Don't get me wrong: I'd be fine with a a gray-suited Batman with blue accessories. It's the mixture of black and blue that's rather odd, though. It kind of clashes in a weird way.

+ Positive: Sculpted by Dave Cortes, Batman in his standard batsuit from Arkham Asylum is a gorgeous figure. He's a nice mixture of the popular Jim Lee "Hush" era batsuit with touches of the animated series and Nolan-verse styling. While I picked up the villains from Arkham Asylum, I never grabbed Batman so he's new to me.

 + Positive: The paintwork is nice and clean on this figure and everything looks great (other than the aforementioned mixture of a blue cowl and black cape). I love the colors chosen for this Batman and the utility belt looks fantastic. It has a gold and silver metallic appearance that just sells the whole thing for me.

 - Negative: DC Collectibles/ DC Direct has been making Batman figures for almost 20 years now. You'd think they could figure out how to package a Batman figure without his arm blades getting bent. It sucks that this is still beyond the reach of some modern toy companies. Seriously, this needs to be someone's 2016 New Year's resolution. Batman should not have bent arm spikes. Period.

 + Positives: Batman comes with both accessories from the two different Arkham Asylum Batman figures originally released back around 2010: A grapnel gun and a batarang. The grapnel gun is a solid piece that looks a bit oversized but has an incredibly detailed sculpt. The batarang is even cooler, though, because it folds up thanks to a swivel joint in the middle.

 + Positive: Batman can wield both of his accessories at once if you so choose. He does look pretty sweet carrying his batarang and grapnel gun.

+Positive: Batman's flowing cape looks really good. It's made from a softish rubbery material and nicely drapes out behind him. It definitely works to capture in some small way Batman's dynamic cape from the videogame.

 The Facts:

Batman: Arkham Origins

Height: 6 7/8ths (not including his ears)

Articulation: Swivel/hinge ankles, boot swivels, double hinge knees, ball jointed hips, swivel waist, mid-torso hinge, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel/hinge elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, and a ball jointed head.

Accessories: None

Sculpted by: Gentle Giant Studios

+ Positive:  The Arkham Origins Batman is without a doubt one of my favorite Batman figures ever. I reviewed him when he was originally released and loved him then but I think the improved paintwork actually makes the sculpt look sharper. This is an incredible figure with excellent articulation. Easily my favorite Batsuit in the Arkham series., actually. Since he's nearly identical to a figure I've already reviewed, just go read that review for all of the nitty gritty details.

+ Positive: The only change I can discern between this figure and the original release is that the colors on Batman's boots, gauntlets, and bat-symbol have been darkened. Everything that was a dark gray on the original figure is now all black. It honestly looks pretty good and does improve this figure a bit.

 The Facts:

 Batman: Arkham City Bruce Wayne

Height: 6 7/8ths

Articulation: Swivel hips, swivel waist, swivel/shoulders, hinged elbows, swivel wrists, and a ball jointed head.

Accessories: 4 interchangeable hands: Two open grips and two fists.

Sculpted by: Chris Dahlberg

 - Negative: Bruce Wayne is the only unique figure in this set, so he's definitely the main reason most collectors are buying this. Sadly, Bruce is a very static figure. His joints are quite limited, meaning that if you plan on doing anything other than having Bruce stand around, well, too bad. I wasn't expecting a super-articulated figure or anything but swivel/hinge shoulders and wrists would have been nice.

+ Positive: I love the Arkham City protest badge that Bruce is wearing on his left lapel. It really nicely ties him in as being specific to Arkham City but it's small and unobtrusive enough that it shouldn't make this guy feel like he doesn't belong in other displays. The print is really neat and clean on the button.

+ Positive: I'm loving this Bruce Wayne sculpt. It has a great look to it that does look like a very classic Bruce Wayne. While he's based on the character's appearance from the beginning of Arkham City, I do believe that he'd also look great with the Greg Capullo inspired figures.

 + Positive: Bruce's business suit looks awesome. It's a standard grey and black business suit with a blue tie. Nothing crazy but it looks really good, particularly the pinstripes. For years most of the Bruce Wayne figures released by toy companies usually feature Bruce in some sort of quick change outfit so it's awesome to have one in his billionaire duds.

 + Positive: Interestingly, Bruce comes with an alternate set of hands that can be swapped out. He comes fitted with some open palmed hands but they can easily be swapped out for a pair of fists for when Bruce has to fight off some of the Arkham City rabble early in the game.

+ Positive: The wrist pegs on Bruce's hands are really thick so they swap out easily without any risk of breakage. Just give them a gentle tug and you'll be good to go.

 The Facts:

Batman: Arkham City

Height: 7 inches (without ears)

Articulation: Boot swivels, hinged knees, swivel hips, swivel/hinge shoulders, hinged knees, swivel forearms, and a balljointed head.

Accessories: Explosive gel dispenser and cryptographic sequencer.

Sculpted by: Dave Cortes.
 + Positive: I love the sculpt on the Arkham City Batman. Oddly enough, I didn't technically own the basic Arkham City Batman figure. I own the Detective Mode version (which was a series 2 "pre-paint" of this figure) and the series 1 "unmasked" Batman, but not the basic guy. He looks incredible. My guess is that when many of us picture a modern Batman, this is what we have in mind. Dave Cortes did a beautiful job in capturing the likeness of the in-game character and translating him into three dimensions.
 + Positive: The painwork looks great on the Arkham City Batman. He has the darker, more modern colors than the Arkham Asylum version that should appeal to a number of fans. The utility belt looks great here. In fact, it's probably the best utility belt of any of the Arkham designs. It looks classic and functional. The gunmetal color on his gauntlets and boots also helps to add some extra "oomph" to them, giving some extra color diversity to the costume.

 - Negative: Again, you can see that one of Batman's arm spikes is bent. Seriously, DC Collectibles: Can you not figure out how to solve this problem? Maybe just design a plastic tray that fits over the gauntlets before they ship? It's not like you're slapping these in simple blisters with no tray like vintage Kenner figures or anything.

 + Positive: Unlike the Arkham Asylum Batman, the Arkham City version uses one solid color for Batman's cowl and cape: Black. It looks great and it's nice to see that this change was made here. This is definitely an exceptional looking Batman figure.
 - Negative: Like the Arkham Asylum Batman, the Arkham City Batman has the same static articulation. Other than repositioning the head and arms, there's not much you can do with this figure. He's sturdy and looks great on the shelf, but that's about it. This would have been pretty standard DC Direct/ DC Collectibles articulation when it was first released in 2011 or 2012 but now, due to their improvements, it's sadly lacking.

+ Positive: Batman comes with the same two accessories that the Detective Mode Batman and the "unmasked" Arkham City Batman figures came with: The cryptographic sequencer and the explosive gel dispenser. Both accessories have fairly nice sculpts and a few extra paint apps to bring some life to them. I like the gel dispenser a bit more but the sequencer does swivel open just like in the game. It's never a bad thing to have more Batman accessories around, is it?

 The Facts:

Batman: Arkham Knight

Height: 7 3/8ths inches (not including his ears)

Articulation: Swivel/hinge ankles, boot swivel, double hinged knees, swivel thighs, ball jointed hips, swivel waist, hinged mid-torso, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, double hinged elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, and a ball jointed head.

Accessories: Line launcher and batarang.

Sculpted by: Gentle Giant Studios

+ Positive: One of the areas where DC Collectibles really improved the Arkham Knight figures over their predecessors is in the articulation. Batman not only feels far sturdier than you'd imagine your average DC Collectibles figure to be but he can attain a number of great posers, particularly due to his double hinged knees and double hinged elbows.
 -Negative: Because I knew that this set was coming out I held off on picking up the Arkham Knight Batman figure. I'm glad I did because not only is this figure exactly the same as the standard figure but it's actually kind of a weak Batman sculpt. Gentle Giant Studios is credited with the work here and I have to say that the soft sculpt seems like a 3D printed model. There's a lot of detail but none of it is crisp. It really looks overly busy, although that's more a fault of the costume design than the sculpt.

- Negative: The soft sculpt really isn't helped by the paintwork. Rather than neat, clean paint applications that look like they're covered by a bit of grime, DC Collectibles seems to have gone for an intentionally messy, smeary paintjob that reminds me of the older McFarlane style of paint application. What works on some horror figures just doesn't work with Batman, though, and the figure just looks rather blah to my eyes.

+ Positive: The Arkham Knight Batman does have a nice flow to his cape, though. It's made from a thinner, flexible plastic that nicely drapes over his back and effectively captures the look of the Dark Knight. I dig it.

+Positive: Batman comes with the same two accessories the single packaged figure comes with: The line launcher and a batarang. I guess whether or not this is a positive depends on whether or not you own the basic figure. Not that these are terrible accessories to have duplicates of, though. They're really nicely sculpted and absolutely look like their in-game counterparts.

+Positive: One thing that is really cool about this Batman is that his left hand is perfectly sculpted to hold the line launcher. His index finger and middle finger easily slide into their two respective slots while the lower fingers are covered by a guard. The line launcher looks great when posed in Batman's hand.

   This is an interesting set because you're really getting four figures from four different points in DC Direct/ DC Collectibles' recent history, so you get to see how the Arkham series line has evolved since 2010. How much you'll like this set really depends on your love for the source material and whether or not you already own any of these figures. The only figure from this set I already owned is the Arkham Origins Batman so I got more new content than someone who had purchased the rest of these previously. While the articulation on the Asylum and City Batman figures are definitely not up to par with the current work of DC Collectibles, it's tough to fault them for that as they were pretty average for their time. I still love the Origins Batman (it's one of my favorite Batman figures ever) but I was sadly disappointed by the Arkham Knight Batman. He's just not up to par with the rest of the figures from the first series. Bruce Wayne, while rather static, is a cool figure for the shelf. A sited Bruce Wayne is a figure I always wanted as a kid and I'm glad to have him in this series. Overall, I'm giving this set a Good and a 1/2 rating. It's a lot of reuse and definitely forces your hand in buying some figures you may already own in order to get Bruce, but there's nothing too disappointing here. The quality is nice and the inclusion of a number of accessories definitely adds a good bit of value. The price seems to be dropping on this and you can find some real deals if you shop around. At the retail price these guys end up costing out around $17 bucks each but if you're diligent you can find this set at a lower price where you're only paying around $12-$13 a figure. That's not bad at all, so be patient and you'll be almost certain to score a great deal.

I have reviewed a ton of figures from the Arkham Video game series, including:

 Batman: Arkham City by DC Collectibles (2011)
Dr. Hugo Strange
Rabbit Hole Batman
Solomon Grundy
Talia al Ghul

Batman: Arkham Knight by DC Collectibles (2015)
Arkham Knight
Harley Quinn
Red Hood

Batman: Arkham Origins by DC Collectibles (2013)
Black Mask
Dr. Harleen Quinzel, Electrocutioner, and Lady Shiva
The Joker
The Joker as Red Hood, Copperhead, & Deathstroke (Unmasked) Action Figure 3-Pack
Killer Croc

DC Comics Multiverse by Mattel
Mr. Freeze from Arkham City

Hot Wheels: Batman by Mattel (2015)
Batman: Arkham Knight Batmobille  

I've also reviewed plenty of other figures of Batman himself, including:

Batman by Mattel (2003)
Arctic Shield Batman

Batman by NECA (2013)
1/4 Scale Michael Keaton Batman

Batman Animated by DC Collectibles (2014)
The New Batman Adventures

Batman: Classic TV Series by Mattel (2013)
Surf's Up Batman

Batman: Classic TV Series Bendables by NJ Croce (2014)

Batman Unlimited by Mattel
Beware the Batman
The Dark Knight Returns Batman
Planet-X Batman
Vampire Batman

DC Comics Unlimited by Mattel
Injustice Batman

DC Total Heroes by Mattel

DC Total Heroes Ultra by Mattel
Batman Beyond

Legends of Batman by Kenner
Cyborg Batman
Dark Rider Batman
Dark Warrior Batman
Deluxe Flightpak Batman
Deluxe Silver Knight Batman
Egyptian Batman & Egyptian Catwoman
Gladiator Batman
Knightsend Batman
Pirate Batman and Pirate Two-Face
Samurai Batman
Ultra Armor Batman
Viking Batman

Young Justice: Invasion by Mattel


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