Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Toy Review – SDCC Exclusive Batman: Arkham Knight Batmobile from Mattel

I’ve been going through my picture files and trying to play catch up with some toys that I’ve had for months but haven’t reviewed yet.
 
Factors affecting the timing of these reviews include other time-sensitive posts coming up, newer toys that might be more exciting or relevant, or just the subject toy being something a little bigger and more complex so I know the review is going to be more of an effort than usual.
While I was – and am still – totally stoked about today’s toy, it was one of those that qualified as a bigger subject and I wanted to wait until I played the related video game before I reviewed it so that I could relate the toy to the Batmobile in the game. But now the game isn’t coming out until June (if then) and I want to clear out this mass of months-old toy pictures.

Of course, the best thing to do would be to go ahead with the big Planet of the Apes and RoboCop vs. Terminator reviews that I have planned. Each would cover the entire lines rather than just a single figure. I love both of those NECA lines, but the year has already been massively busy so far and I just haven’t had the time to commit to such large projects.
This Batmobile is an odd thing. Mattel made it as a San Diego Comic Con Exclusive. This is weird because you’d think if they were going to put all of the money and effort into creating an item this complex and large they’d want to maximize their sales by offering it through regular retail. As we all know, the big expense of toys is in the development. Once the thing is designed and tooled, the production is a small portion of the cost. So it’s surprising that Mattel would limit their potential sales in that way.
Of course, that might not be the case. I recently learned that there are two different Limited Editions of the game being offered – one with a statue of Batman like the other Arkham games, and one with a “transforming statue of the Batmobile”. That’s very odd terminology and I suspect that it might just be this Batmobile. Either way I reserved the regular Batman Limited Edition because the Batmobile version costs a lot more.
It’s also possible that Mattel will release this to retail when the game comes out or after. They could do any number of things to preserve the “Exclusivity” of this one – minor paint variations, include a different Batman figure, or simply removing the electronic features. I think the last two are likely. Including a Batman that was actually from the related game would be a good idea (more on that later) and eliminating the electronic features would reduce the cost, allowing for a higher profit margin. I mean, this is Mattel. They’ll probably keep the eighty-five dollar price tag.
I kid.
Maybe. 
 
First Glance

This is a huge, beautiful toy. It feels like a throwback to the glorious vehicles of the 80s with tons of detail, features, and moving parts. It was actually hard for me to take my time with pictures and then to open the packaging properly because I was so excited to get my hands on this thing.
It’s sad to me that modern vehicles just aren’t as good as what I had thirty years ago. So sad that I might a whole other post about it.
Packaging

The box for this Batmobile really sells the fact that you’ve gotten something special. There is an outer shell with a handle on top. This shell is made out of a thick, sturdy cardboard. Each side features graphics depicting a side of the vehicle. Two cardboard flaps secure the shell to the inner container.
The inner container is a wonderfully designed box that shows off the contents in all of their Bat-glory. There’s a sort of blueprint design to the whole thing that’s very cool and in keeping with the style of the Arkham games. There are graphics printed on the clear shell on top and they look great. The bats are familiar to anybody that’s played the games and add another layer of specialness to this thing. Additionally, the tabs holding the front of the shell closed are Bat-shaped!:


The back of the box lists the features and functions of the toy. It’s a mix of actual pictures and awesome x-ray-looking graphics that are reminiscent of Detective Mode from the games.
This is an amazing box. You guys know that I open pretty much everything and rarely have qualms about tossing packaging. But I really considered finding a way to keep this one intact. You can’t, really. The whole thing has to come apart to get the Batmobile off of it, so I finally gave up and just tore it open. If it weren’t so expensive it would be worth having two just to display one in this beautifully engineered package that borders on being a display case.
Looks
Thanks to the Arkham Knight Instagram account and a steady diet of teaser videos from Rocksteady, I have a pretty good idea of how this Batmobile should look and function.
I suppose I could write a whole post about the various Batmobiles and come up with different favorites depending on my mood and which Batmobile I had seen or read about in action most recently, but I have to say that right now I think this is the best Batmobile design. It’s part of the reason I had to have this expensive toy that’s part of a line that I do not actually collect.
This model incorporates all of the most successful aspects of many Batmobile designs – the bulk and sturdiness of the Tumbler, the armaments and armor of the tank from Dark Knight Returns, and various Bat-inspired shapes throughout the design like the Batmobiles that have appeared in the comics throughout the years.
It’s a powerhouse, but it’s sleek and cool. And it has plenty of awesome gadgets (wonderful toys). 
 
Mattel has perfectly captured this new Batmobile design. I’m not going to go into the specifics of the sculpt because there’s just too much, but you can see from the pictures that this armored beast is full of details. While the windows of the cockpit are not, unfortunately, translucent, they do have a glossy paint job that creates the illusion of tinted glass.
This thing feels sturdy, like it could survive a drop. I’m certainly not going to try it, but I’m impressed with the thickness of the plastic and how durable the moving parts seem. It’s just put together quite well. 
 
The wheels alone are wild, and very much in keeping with the Arkham aesthetics we’ve grown to know and love over the last six years. It’s a hyper-industrial look that is evocative of the lived-in futuristic style of the great Ridley Scott sci-fi flicks. But with more branding.
The cockpit is probably the toy’s weakest point. It’s pretty light on detail. 

Finer sculpting and stickers or paint would have made a huge difference here. What looks like a high-end collectible toy on the outside falls apart a little bit when you open it and find this decidedly sub-par interior.
The front end features clear plastic headlights with a detailed grill and a bat-head-shaped cattle chaser sort of thing. There’s also a (non-functional) grappling hook planted in the middle of all of that.
The rear has a turbine and two pieces that look like low to the ground spoilers. I don’t know what these are supposed to be, but they look cool and oddly vicious.
The pop-up turret features three different cannons. These feature just enough color detail to look like pieces that are separate from the vehicle. When the turret is retracted it looks like an incorporated part of the Batmobile. There is a large seam running around it, but it looks more like a portion of the engine or an access hatch than a powerful instrument of crowd suppression and long-range destruction.
When the Batmobile is in Battle Mode, the wheel housings extend from the chassis at roughly forty-five degree angles. While I imagine the in-game model will feature a little more detail, the sculpt on the toy still holds up. The only problem is this:
There’s just no excuse for any sort of manufacturing information to be visible on any main display portion of a toy. Mattel lets this happen all the time and I find it immensely frustrating. This one isn’t as bad as some others since it is, at least, concealed in Pursuit Mode, but it still sucks and is an eyesore.
Overall, though, this is a fantastic-looking machine. The flat black of the plastic is preferable to a gloss and the paint that is used sparingly is used well. I love the portions near the wheel sand on the front and back with the wear painted on. The major success is in creating a vehicle that seems massive in scale. I have a feeling the in-game model is larger, but this toy still looks and feels like a monster.
Accessories

The Arkham Knight Batmobile comes with a not-Arkham Knight Batman action figure.
On the one hand I don’t care because I’ll be displaying this Batmobile on shelves with a bunch of other Batmobiles of varying scales. There won’t be any figures around, so it really didn’t matter which Batman this came with.
On the other hand, this is just kind of crappy of Mattel. Especially considering the fact that they have an Arkham Knight Batman.
Nonetheless, this is a good little Batman figure. It’s 3.75” scale. It has a great sculpt and pretty good paint. It’s all in the right places and his eyes are nicely detailed. His utility belt is a dark metallic gold and I like that.
His cape is fabric to allow him to sit in the cockpit, but I’m not digging that big rubber piece. It extends down way too far. 
 
He’s got plenty of joints for this scale and they’re all solid. Most importantly, I suppose, he fits in the cockpit just fine:
This isn’t the correct Batman figure, but it’s a very good Batman figure.
Fun
TONS OF FUN.

This Batmobile has two modes – Pursuit and Battle.

Pursuit Mode is where it looks more like a standard Batmobile. A giant Batmobile, but the same general shape as all of the others. Nothing too wacky.

Battle Mode is where the wheel housings spring out about forty-five degrees from the chassis and the wheels are released to rotate independently of one another, allowing the vehicle to perform controlled turns and move in any direction. Unfortunately there is no mechanism to make this happen automatically – you have to manually pull the housings out.
The functionality of the wheels is great on a flat surface. They move freely and turn whichever way you move the vehicle.

The cannon turret is spring-loaded and deploys with a push. The side mounted guns flip out and the main barrel extends. Like the wheel housings, this is a manual action and you have to fold everything up and jam it back down to put the cannon back into Pursuit Mode.

And then there are the lights and sounds:



Everything sounds great and the lights are very bright, particularly the headlights:
I love the gradient effects used for the turbine and the guns mounted on the sides of the pop-up cannon. Those guns each have a button on the back that activates lights and sounds. The one on the Batmobile’s left lights up, but the one on the right lights up and changes color the longer you hold it down to simulate the gun overheating, which I’m sure will be a gameplay component.
This is awesome.
This Batmobile is one of those toys that you have to pick up and play with every time you walk by. It demands to be handled and transformed and activated. 
 
Overall

The price is high, but this is a must-have Batmobile. It is, beyond a shadow of a Bat, the best Batmobile toy I have ever owned. It isn’t as good as it could be – the boring cockpit and manufacturing stamp bring it down – but it’s a fantastic toy the likes of which we don’t often see nowadays. If you have the means, I highly recommend you track one of these down.
4 out of 5

Maybe it’s on Amazon? But probably for an insane price:






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