Thursday, September 19, 2013

Toy Review – Batman ’66 TV Masters Batman and Robin 2-Pack (TRU Exclusive) By Mattel

I mentioned in Tuesday’s Batmobile review that I was totally stoked about that Batmobile toy coming out and might have understated my level of excitement about the actual figures.
I was very excited about the figures.

As much as the appearances of the characters from Batman ’66 may be the most iconic and oft-used for licensed materials; this is the first time the likenesses of the actors have been used. And to me that is a fairly important distinction. There have been many toys that utilized the design and color scheme of Adam West’s Batman, but this is the first that actually is Adam West as Batman. And Burt Ward as Robin, and on and on.
Another potentially exciting thing about this line was that Mattel would be relatively unable to farm parts. Each figure was using a specific depiction of the character as portrayed by the appropriate actor. And you can’t really fudge the physical differences between, say, Adam West and Frank Gorshin. Of course, this also meant the line might be grossly more expensive than Mattel’s other DC offerings. With prices for a single 6” scale figure with some shared parts and no accessories ranging from sixteen to twenty dollars, this TV Masters line could have ended up pricing itself out of existence from the get-go.
Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed at Mattel and the average price for these seems to be in the $15-16 range. Excepting Toys R Us, where the single figures are $19.99.
I’m not here today to talk about the single figures, though. I’m here to talk about the Toys R Us Exclusive Batman and Robin two pack, which is currently the only way to obtain a Robin figure. You can get it from more places than just Toys R Us, though. That’s just the only brick-and-mortar store carrying the set.
First Glance: I wasn’t expecting this set to be in such a big box for some reason. I knew it came with the wall piece and that the figures were posed, but I was still expecting a blister card. The figures are immediately impressive. The proportions are what jump out the most – these are much more human physiques than the DCUC lines.
Articulation: Both figures have the standard DCUC articulation.
Head – ball joint
Shoulders – swivel/pivot
Biceps - swivel
Elbows –pivot
Wrists – swivel
Abdomen – pivot
Waist - swivel
Hips – swivel/hinge
Thighs - swivel
Knees – pivot
Ankles - pivot
Batman and Robin’s legs both have a significantly wider range of motion than other DC figures. The legs can be positioned almost ninety degrees to the body and the knees have a deeper bend than that. Batman’s ankles pivot a good bit more deeply than Robin’s but Robin can still achieve a pretty decent climbing stance. This is due to the fact that the whole gimmick with this set is that they can be posed climbing the included wall.
Batman’s neck joint is great, as it is mostly concealed by the way his cape and cowl meet but it still has a very good range of motion. Robin’s head movement isn’t so great, as it is the traditional single ball joint. He can sort of look up a little bit. His right-to-left motion is okay though.
All of the other joints are quite functional. The abdominal pivots work nicely and look pretty good, especially considering these are much more realistic sculpts than the usual DC figures. The arms are great, too.
It’s been a long time since I bought any Mattel figures that had stuck joints, but the dreaded affliction has returned with this Robin. His right thigh swivel won’t budge. I’m sure I need to do the old hot water trick, but I just haven’t yet.
Sculpt: This Batman is, of course, 100% new tooling.
The head features Adam West’s likeness and is spot-on, right down to the mask being slightly crooked over the eyes. I love the tiny, little ears.
The body has great proportions and the joints are worked into the sculpt quite well. That’s not to say they don’t look a little funny when the figure is posed, but for this scale and this price point everything is great. The only real improvement would be if Mattel had implemented NECA’s rubber underpants method to conceal the hip joints. I still dislike Mattel’s (and Underground Toys’) method of articulating hips.
The boots, gloves, and the part of the cape that is bunched up around Batman’s neck are all sculpted. The gloves in particular look great because the three pointy tips are uneven and look very natural. The hands are sculpted with open fists that are definitely intended to look as though they are climbing. The trunks are not sculpted, which I thought was a bit odd. But maybe there’s another use in the line for Adam West legs.
The utility belt sits appropriately high on the figure’s waist and looks awesome. It’s all big and bulky and even has the little fasteners sculpted onto the bottoms of the pouches.
Side Note: When Mattel showed their “Prop Replica” Batman ’66 Utility Belt (and Mattel’s definition of the term “Prop Replica” is a whole other post) at San Diego Comic Con, me and Evil had a whole discussion about the design. In the end we realized that Adam West’s belt pouches did, indeed open upside-down. I decided this was because with the Bat-Gloves on it would have been extremely difficult to root around in pouches. It was much easier to just open the catch and have whatever Bat-Item was needed just drop into his satiny hand. So any time you see a comic book Batman with pouches that open on top, just think about how ridiculous that is. And don’t even get me started on the utility belts with the stupid little capsules on them.
Also, despite my misgivings about the likely overall quality of Mattel’s Utility Belt, I still really want one.
Robin has a good bit more sculpting than Batman. The facial features are a bit soft, but this is still unmistakably Burt Ward. I love the size and thickness of the mask. It is sculpted on and not just painted, so if Mattel produces a Dick Grayson (hopefully the line will be successful enough to get that far – I see Secret Identity figures as 4th or 5th series at the earliest) they will need a new sculpt. My only gripe is that for figures this realistic I would have preferred more detailed hair along the lines of what NECA does rather than the blobby hair with only suggestions of detail that we have here. This would be fine for a comic book figure, but for this line more detail is needed.
The rest of Robin looks awesome, though. His tunic has some great folds and rumples. The laces across the front are very well defined and you can even see the eyelets. The bottom of the tunic is a separate piece that hangs under the utility belt and over the trunks. The sleeves and trunks are sculpted and look very good.
The gloves and boots have a nice amount of detail and feel very substantial somehow. Like they have a weight to them. Like Batman, Robin has hands that are posed to grip a rope. They aren’t quite suited for punching. Knowing Mattel, we’ll get “BAM KAPOW” variants of the Dynamic Duo with new closed fists. Maybe they’ll have different face sculpts. With Angry Eyes.
Robin’s utility belt looks great and the way that it is situated on the figure gives it a certain weight. The tunic underneath is sculpted to look like the belt is tight on it. I am not using my words very well here, but you know what I mean.
It’s worth noting that this is the first Robin figure that feels proportionally correct when compared to the corresponding Batman.
Coloring: Robin’s paint job is just about perfect. The only thing way it could have been better would have been to make the boots and gloves a bit glossier than the trunks and sleeves. Well, and if Mattel had used sculpt rather than paint for the hair.
If you look at Robin’s legs you can see that they are a slightly darker shade than his arms and face. This is to suggest the tights that Burt Ward wore. I think they should have actually been a bit lighter, but it doesn’t really matter. I like that they put the effort in.
The shades of the colors are all spot-on and the paint is applied accurately. There’s no splotching or bleeding and the colors are all very solid. Even the “R” symbol is super clean and centered.
Batman also sports a mostly fantastic paint job. The bodysuit is grey with a darker wash to give it some texture. The only issue is that on my figure the legs have a slightly darker wash than the torso. This makes sense for Robin, not so much for Batman. Also, some of the wash on the top of the right thigh is smudged off.
The blur portions look awesome. They are a nice, dark hue with a metallic effect to resemble satin. It looks great and is a nice touch to make this figure seem a bit more special.
The yellow of the Utility Belt and chest Bat Symbol is bright and contrasts the darker colors quite well. The gold belt buckle with the painted-on Bat Symbol is also nice and bright. None of Mattel’s previous problems with yellows are present on these figures. The colors are thick and bright. The chest Bat Symbol is centered and well-defined.
The best painted part of this figure is by far the head. The facial features are precise and the lips even have a slightly different hue. The cowl has the black face portion with the eyebrows and nose painted on. It looks amazing.
Flair: Both figures have fabric capes to facilitate being seated in the Batmobile. There were these ridiculously huge tags sewn into the seams on the capes:

I had to cut those out.
The fabric is shiny but cheap. I think Mattel could have done a little better, but the capes don’t look terrible. Well, the fabric doesn’t. The wires kind of do. Both capes have wires sewn into the edges. The idea is that when you pose the figures on the included wall horizontally, you can use the wires to make the capes stand out. 
This does not work. At all. Not even a little bit. The wires aren’t attached to anything, so they simply hang there like an unsupported cape would. Except they look ugly and make the capes hang poorly.
Accessories: Included with this set are a climbing wall, a Batarang, and a piece of packing material that I don’t want to dignify with the designation “rope”.
This is the “rope”:
It is a piece of shit. This is the sort of thing used to secure toys in packaging, not an accessory.
The Batarang is made out of rubber, which I don’t like because it was warped right out of the package. Interestingly, it has a hole in it for a much more slender lien than what is included. I do like the metallic paint on this, though if asked I wouldn’t have said that the Batman ’66 Batarangs were blue.
The wall is pretty neat. The windows open and close so you could conceivably have your Charles Nelson Reilly figure (I wish) lean out and question your Caped Crusaders. There are pegs for Batman and Robin’s feet and they do fit securely enough that you can pose this thing vertically or horizontally. There is a loop at the top to secure a rope and there’s a hole on the back so you can mount this on a wall. It would have been nice is this thing were a bit bigger, but for the price of the set I think this is better than we had any right to expect from Mattel.
Packaging: I like that this is in a window box rather than a blister card. I get that the figures needed to be posed for this, even if I don’t like it (though my figures seem to have minimal package-induced warping). But I still don’t like the overall design of the graphics for this line. They’re just so bland and the fonts are awful.
The bio on the back is fine and I do particularly like the TV screen theme for the list of additional figures.
Value: I paid $32.99 + shipping for this set from BigBadToyStore. The shipping was diffused among some other stuff, so it was probably a couple of bucks or less. I’m okay with that price given the special nature of the set. Granted, the cape thing didn’t work out, but it’s still a nice two-pack with a gimmicky thing going on.
Overall: The cape thing is a totally fail and messes up the figures’ profile a bit, but this is still a really neat set that fires on all nostalgia cylinders. Aside from the capes and a few minor quibbles Batman and Robin look as good as I could have wanted. The sculpts are fantastic and Mattel really put their best paint jobs on these. If you’re patient, you’re probably better off buying the single-carded Batman (he doesn’t have the cape wire) and waiting for a Robin. But you won’t be disappointed if you go ahead and buy this set now.
4 out of 5
BigBad and Entertainment Earth both have the set in stock now. I have seen it in Toys R Us stores as well, though I can’t remember what their price was.
-Phantom

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