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Batman Unlimited
“New 52” Batman
6 Inch Scale
By Mattel
$16.99

2013 may be Superman’s big year with Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel coming out this summer but as usual Big Blue may be overshadowed a certain Dark Knight Detective. Currently, Batman is dominating nearly all forms of mass media, with a new animated series set to debut this spring, animated films chronicling his adventures with the JLA and solo, the video games Arkham Asylum and Arkham City still heating up game consoles, and several appearances in Mattel toylines (biggest news there being the classic 1966 TV show finally getting the action figure treatment this fall), with the newest offering and the subject of this review being in the 6” scale range from the successor to DC Universe Classics, DC Unlimited. So without further ado…nanananananananana….BATMAN!

As a young boy, Bruce Wayne saw his parents fall victim to a senseless crime. His focused purpose became to avenge their deaths by fighting Gotham City’s criminal elements a Batman. The people of Gotham City see Batman as an almost mythical figure, able to tame any adversary, no matter how powerful. To thwart crime, he relies on his awesome deductive powers, sheer physical speed, and an assortment of high-tech weaponry and unique crime-fighting aids.

When DC announced it was rebooting its entire universe in 2011, dubbing it “the new 52”, much of the company’s near eighty year history was wiped, with the exception of Batman; aside from the erasing of previous Batgirl Stephanie Brown from the timeline, much of Batman’s previous history remained intact. Also unlike most of the DC Universe, Batman has fared better with his current storylines. “Night of the Owls” and “Death of the Family” have both garnered much acclaim, with the core Batman titles getting its best reviews in years.

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2011 also marked the end of DC Universe Classics at retail (Wave 20 being released a year later), to be replaced at first by the rarely seen All-Stars line, and now the Unlimited imprint that is both a replacement for DCUC as well as last year’s Batman Legacy line. Keeping that in mind, the focus of Unlimited is to present characters from the DC Universe as they appear currently, while Batman Unlimited features different facets of the Batman mythos from the years; wave 1 also includes Batgirl appears in her new-52 costume while the Penguin is in colors reminiscent of his Super Powers figure. Wave 2, already hitting stores, is slated to include Batman from Frank Miller’s game changing “The Dark Knight Returns” and another Bats called Planet X Batman (pulled from an obscure Silver Age tale and given a much darker turn in Grant Morrison’s hands during the “Batman R.I.P.” storyline), while yet another is intended to appear in an outfit from the upcoming Injustice: Gods Among Us video game.

Again, for 2013 being Superman’s big year, there’s an awful lot of Batman going around.


Packaging:
For DC Unlimited it appears Matty is basing the design off of what they used initially for Batman Legacy, with the title of the line in large font that wraps around the left of the box. There is a large amount of space inside the tray, as Unlimited is not yet intended to include a build-a-figure piece. Looking at the DCUC boxes it seems that even when the figure didn’t have a BAF piece they fit inside just fine, but for Unlimited it just boils down to a lot of wasted plastic and paper that could have been better served on a smaller card.

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The package doesn’t serve itself well as a collector friendly keepsake; with WWE Elites, Mattel also uses larger packaging that can take up a lot of room but on the plus side the boxes look neat, have unique art on the front and back that show off the superstars, and can be reused for different purposes. For Unlimited, Mattel displays art representing the character, in this case a panel done by writer/artist/co-publisher Jim Lee (fitting as the current costume is his design), with a larger image on the back. Along with the bio, there is a tiny blurb detailing statistics, and art showing the Batgirl and Penguin that are also part of the wave. I do miss the blurbs from the DCUC days where in addition to their bio, there was mention of their first appearance issue and year, but I guess since this is the new-52 DC Comics, Mattel believes that such backstory belongs in the past.

Sculpt:
A common complaint across DCUC’s twenty waves was the constant reuse of bodies, but it appears with Unlimited some of those complaints may have been addressed. Batman is given a slimmer sculpt than previous incarnations. Without the boxy chest that hampered the Batmen of DC Superheroes and DCUC, this Batman can finally put his arms down at his sides without having them stick out at odd angles. I do believe this may have originally been the body for the Batman in the Young Justice line, but since that one never quite made it to mass retail, new-52 Batman gets it first. It was a wise choice if the case, as the smaller body adds a lot of realistic proportions to the character not seen since probably Mattel’s first stab at Batman back in 2003.

Batman’s current costume is actually less of an eyesore than his cohorts, to the extent that the Batman in the previous timeline could have worn this same suit at any point. Gone are the black underwear, capsule belt, and yellow oval. Batman is in his gray bodysuit, with smaller yellow pouches on his belt. The bodysuit I think is supposed to be much more durable than in the past, with either Kevlar or an armor underneath, which explains the linework that criss-crosses his entire body.

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The familiar bat-logo is also larger than previous versions and sculpted onto Batman’s chest than painted. His gauntlets also have an armored quality to them, and are a separate piece from his wrists. Finally, his cape is of the usual stiff plastic that Mattel has given their superhero figures for awhile now. I do miss the cloth that they used to sculpt the figures with. Certainly they got dirty really quick, but tended to look better a lot of times, especially when they were longer and contained wire articulation for shaping.

The sculpted cape does look really nice though, with a swept back feel. It’s no longer a separate piece from the figure’s neck, which is a nice step up from older figures. I hope Mattel one day sees fit to make another 6” Batman with a cloth cape, so he can drape himself with as he so often does when hiding in shadows from the criminal element.

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In case it wasn’t made obvious by the box art this is Jim Lee’s Batman, which probably makes this the first time sculptors the Four Horsemen have based a Batman sculpt so artist specific (the 2003 Zipline Batman had Jim Lee influences, and the 2008 DCUC wave 1 Crime Stopper/Classic Detective Batman—which was Bronze Age influenced—was generic enough to act as a Neal Adams/Jim Aparo/Marshall Rogers Batman). Because of that, I foresee a lot of customizers using this head for their own ‘Hush’-era Batman.

Paint:
I don’t think Batman’s costume is this shiny in the comics, but it looks pretty good. There is a glossy matte finish to the head/cowl, cape, gloves, and boots, with the bodysuit gaining a simple metallic gray paint job. Not too many complaints regarding the paint on the body, although I would advise a word of caution when removing Bats from his tray, as the cape is prone to scuffing if violently ejected from the tray. There was some dust stuck to the cowl of mine that looks permanent, but it doesn’t detract from the figure in any form.

Articulation:
Articulation is the usual as we’ve come to expect from Mattel: ball joints at the neck and shoulders, hinge joints at the elbows, knees, ankles, and abdomen. The famous post-hinge joints at the hips are there, along with swivel joints at the biceps, thighs, wrists, and waist. There is no point of articulation at the tops of his gauntlets, both being solid pieces. Early on in DCUC some figures had rocker joints in the ankles for additional balance but nowadays it seems Mattel has abandoned them, which is a shame as Batman is at his core a street fighter and needs whatever additional joints he can have when facing off against his foes. Many collectors complain about Mattel figures and their inability to move. On the one hand this is correct as some sculpting choices made hinder the figure, case in point being the triple balljoint in the neck of some figures such as Green Arrow and the Question, who are constantly stuck looking down. On the other hand, Mattel figures are not subject to the fragility that affected most Marvel toys with articulation out the whazoo and as standard as they are, it is not difficult to get a Mattel figure into the most basic of poses.

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Accessories:
If I were keeping score, this section would get a zero due to the lack of accessories. Years before it wouldn’t have been out of the ordinary to give Batman some batarangs or a goofy oversized grappling gun to play with, and even after that with the introduction of the build-a-figure pieces you still got a lot for the money plunked down. New 52 Batman comes with zilch, which is a shame as Mattel is not without it’s backstock of batarangs from older offerings, and if the BAF concept is done with for Unlimited introduce something else—it’s not too late for Mattel to bring back the comic book inserts, maybe make them smaller scale (like DC Direct did with their First Appearance line) if they’re worried the comics are still too new to be sold in big box retailers. Anything to justify the near twenty bucks spent.

Value:
This is the part I dreaded because my emotions are torn. Batman is my second most favorite DC character, after the Flash, although I have a larger Batman collection than Flash. He can fit in with just about any 6” scale character—wanna have him face off against Captain America? Savage Dragon? Judge Dredd? He can do that and more. That being said, with the lack of accessories and the price point for just the figure I would say you’d be better off looking for Batman loose unless you’re a MOC collector. $16.99 at Target is still a bit much for what’s being given.

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Final Thoughts:
New-52 Batman is a great figure that is probably the best Batman released in a long time. Granted part of me wishes he were in the classic gray/blue colors with the yellow oval, but even with the new status quo being what it is this Batman blends in pretty well. Unlike the Flash and Superman, whose new costumes already feel dated, Batman can fit in seamlessly with any display pre or new-52 due to his costume not being too different from his classic duds. That ability to blend in well is the figure’s saving grace given his price and lack of accessories. Batman isn’t necessarily a must have unless you really want another Batman in your collection. If you do, then this figure hits many of the right points that collectors would look for in a figure.

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