It’s time for my first review on the new year. In an effort to keep this site focused on more than just one tangible element, I’ve limited my reviewing this week. But it’s time to kick things off and I figured what better way than to start with something I’ve never reviewed before.

It’s pretty much a forgone conclusion that kids and collectors alike, don’t care for Mattel’s new Batman Brave & The Bold figures. With their odd chunky body stock, to the hexagon holes all over their body, the figures have been a mild success at best. That’s a shame too because kids and collectors both enjoy the new Batman Brave & The Bold cartoon. If you haven’t seen it, you should check it out. While it’s not Batman the Animated Series, it doesn’t try to be.

With no decent action figures for this incredible cartoon, fans are left in a bit of a funk. That’s where the Action League figures have come to the rescue. Mattel following in the trend of Hasbro, Mezco, Character Options and every other toy company on the market today has finally decided to make some SD figures of their own. What makes these Mattel figures different? How good is this Batmobile? You’ll have to read the full review to find out.

Although Mattel is my punching bag here a lot at Infinite Hollywood, you have to admit that they love their packaging. Almost too much as half of their money spent on SDCC each year is coming up with wacky packaging that adds little to the figures themselves. Still for collectors, a cool package can mean enticement to buy a product.

The Brave & The Bold line features some great packaging with everything featuring a color scheme that looks like it came out of the old 1960’s Batcave. That’s right in tune with the show, that has a large influence from the 1960’s Adam West Batman TV show as well as the comics of that era too.

The package is brightly colored all around and it’s clearly a much more fun package than the other DC items on the market right now from Mattel. This just screams fun for some reason, while the DCUC, JLU and Public Enemies packages seem drab by comparison.

Once you get this beast open, assuming you can without destroying it (tons of tape all over), there’s a fun little diorama on the inside with a Clock Museum and a road in front of it. I’ve seen better mind you, but this one works in the context of the figures themselves.

Something I did find interesting is that there isn’t a single twist tie in the whole thing. THANK LORD! Instead the Batmobile is held in place by a neat plastic piece that has a locking mechanism in it. You couldn’t do this for action figures, but I’m glad they did it on the Batmobile. So many vehicles get broken or nearly messed up by trying to cut free the twist ties that they weave though them. Kudos Mattel.

Articulation and Special Features:
Let me get this right out of the way… These figures are the equivalent of a Happy Meal Toy. I want to make that ABUNDANTLY clear before we go on. We hear that phrase tossed around a lot on toy forums, usually in relation to some 3 3/4 figure that’s anything but a Happy Meal toy. These however are in the exact same design and articulation as many toys in the 1980’s from McDonald’s Happy Meal. In fact I had a Spider-man from McDonalds that had this exact same look and articulation scheme.

With only three points of articulation, you aren’t going to be getting these guys into a ton of poses. To be completely honest, I’m still not sure what the aim of these figures is. They started in Japan with SD (aka Super Deformed or Chibi) figures that were shrunk down “baby” versions of characters. That slowly came to the United States as shrunken down “cute” figures with less of a design element in the deformed aspect and more in the mini area.

Collectors seem to love these things, but why that is remains a bit of a mystery. These go against every design that collectors claim they want in figures. Minimal paint aps, exaggerated poses, minor articulation and yet fans love them. I guess it’s because they’re just so gosh darn cute? They also make awesome desk trinkets. I can only assume that kids like them for the same reason we loved Happy Meal toys as a kid, the power of imagination. Once you hit about 18, you can’t conjure that up anymore… I miss that, damn it!

I used to hate these figures because I’d see that Hasbro was cranking out a ton of my most wanted characters, but doing so in only this form. Now I’ve just come to accept it. Plus this is a pretty sweet rendition of the Batmobile, even if it’s only for these crazy little figures.

Sculpt and Paint:
While Hasbro’s versions of these figures makes everyone more or less look like a kid, Mattel has only done minor editing to the regular Batman Brave & The Bold designs. That’s why I feel these figures will no doubt be more popular with collectors than the normal Brave & The Bold Line. Make no mistake about it, there is a little bit of SD element in the Action League, but not near as much as you see on the other stylized lines.

Batman comes in at just 2 1/2 inches (no wonder he’s never been able to keep a girl) and this version is a repaint of the more traditional Batman in the line. He’s painted in Batman 1989 movie style and since that’s the best Batman movie ever made, I’m quite happy that he’s the first Bats figure I got in this line.

Clock King is a new take on the old 1960’s Injustice Gang William Tockman character. Not to be confused with the more modern and usually superior, Temple Fugate. I say usually superior, because Batman Brave & The Bold has done an amazing feat in turning all the old 1960’s campy designs into something fun. The show takes itself less serious and yet, feels VERY Batman and DC Superhero worthy. Thank goodness for it too, I’m quite frankly tired of such serious interpretations of everything. I like a little fun in my funny books.

The sculpting is pretty good on Clock King considering his small size and paint on both figures is decent. Of course I have seen better painted toys in a kids meal as well. These definitely feel like they should have been packed with some McNuggets or a cheeseburger, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t well done.

Although Clock King is exclusive to this set (and the first unique exclusive in the line as far as I know) the big draw is probably the Batmobile itself. While this is actually pretty inaccurate to the show, it reminds me of the old ToyBiz version of the Burton Batmobile (Also the best movie Batmobile design if you’re keeping score at home) with it’s open cockpit and no cover.

Batman fits in pretty well and it is a two seater, although you’ll probably have some issues getting certain figures into the passenger side because of how they’re sculpted. But it can fit two figures. There isn’t a Robin in the show or the line yet, so for now Clock King can ride shotgun.

The interior detail is minimal, with no stickers or even a steering wheel to speak of. Still the rest of the design is sleek and has a Barris Batmobile influence throughout.

There technically are no accessories with this line. This pack you could consider the figures as accessories to the Batmobile, if you wish. The figures can’t hold any weapons and the ones that do, come with them sculpted into their hands.

Here’s where things get interesting. I picked this up on clearance for $10 at Target. At that price, this item is a steal. Even if you never buy another figure from this line, the black Batman and Batmobile alone are worth $10. At the normal $22 bucks, you need to be a kid or a fan of this line to commit. The big problem with this line in general is that the normal figures are mostly sold in 2 packs that run about $8 a pop. With the limited articulation, minimal sculpting and paint, plus lack of accessories, that’s a hard pill to swallow.

Score Recap:
Packaging – 7
Sculpting – 8
Articulation – 4
Accessories – Batmobile
Value – 7
Overall – 7 out of 10

If these were being given away with cheeseburgers, I’d be eating at McDonalds every week. As is, I’m not sure that the two packs are worth their high price tag, but these bigger sets aren’t half bad. If you want to adventure into this line and maybe just dip your toes into the water, I’d suggest picking up this set.

As for myself, I’m probably going to buy more of these. I can’t force myself to like those atrocious regular figures in the Batman Brave & The Bold line, but these Action League guys are more my speed. I do wish that they’d pose them in better static positions though because the exaggerated poses leave me more inclined to pass on them, which is what I’ve done with the Hasbro versions.

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