The Island of Misfit Toys: Batman (ToyBiz, 1989)

MisfitToys

Today we’re going to be looking at Batman, from the toy line based on the 1989 movie starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson. This toy was produced by Toy Biz in 1989. I bought it for $10 dollars at a small toy convention in New York State. I’m not a “mint on card” collector by any means but I have such a huge amount of affection for this toy line, I thought I’d keep Batman on his blister card and take a shot at collecting the whole line.

Unfortunately, somewhere during the return trip to Ohio, the blister card became warped. The plastic bubble encasing the toy nearly detached from the card.

If ever there was a toy I loved more than this one, I can’t think of it. As an eight year old, my ToyBiz Batman formed the center of my action figure world. ToyBiz held the DC master license for a very short time. Their Batman and DC Superheroes toy lines featured awful articulation, shoddy plastic, and bad joints. Considering the rather rough shape the toy ended up en route to the Buckeye State AND my attendant nostalgia, I am more than happy to release Batman from his plastic prison to see if he holds up to my wonderful memories.

You will, I am sure, be unsurprised by what I found.

PACKAGING

The gold and black motif was standard for most of the Batman products flooding stores in ’89 and Toy Biz proved to be no exception. There’s a bit of “dot pitching” on the card back as well as a mimic of the sound effect from the classic Batman TV series; I have to imagine that’s a throwback to yesteryear. Batman1

I’ve always rather liked the painting on the front of this card but I have no clue who did it. It’s not very ’89 Batman but he looks appropriately heroic.

Batman2 The cardback ably displays the rest of the Batman toy line which, for a movie as gigantic as Batman was, looks fairly anemic. Three action figures, two vehicles, and a playset. I know there were a couple of other vehicles but yeah… no other Batman action figures to speak of…

Batman3

It must be said – the toy on the back of the card is SO not the toy people were buying. It’s a repaint of Kenner’s Super Powers Batman. I don’t even know what they did with that belt/rope thing; maybe they drilled a hole into the Super Powers Batman torso. In general it seems like Toy Biz rushed their Batman toy line onto shelves to capitalize on the success of the movie. Quality was sacrificed for speed.

Batman4

PAINT

Not a lot of paint on this toy. Almost entirely cast in black plastic, the only highlights are the yellow for the belt and the Bat-emblem. The bat looks fairly good but the sprayed-on belt is a mess. The head has two paint applications: white for the eyes and flesh-tone for the face beneath the cowl. Again, no big problems.

Batman5

SCULPTING

The sculpt on the Batman toy is fairly screen accurate, including some nice details on the glove gauntlets and boots. The plastic is cheap but it’s clear the person who sculpted this Batman had some access to the designs from the flick. The right hand is sculpted open so that it can hold the two weapons/accessories ToyBiz provided, and it does so well.

ToyBiz went through several different version of the Batman head sculpt and they were all shipped out to stores. The version in this package is the “round head” version.

Batman6

Later, ToyBiz would drop a sculpt more resembling Michael Keaton into the mix, and ended their run with a more heroic square-jawed version. The sculpt on this version is about as soft as they come, with no real definition on the few details provided.

ARTICULATION

The toy has seven points of articulation: Cut joints at the head and both shoulders, a “T” joint at the crotch, and two joints at the knees. Most of the articulation is very reminisent of Kenner’s Super Powers line of action figures from a few years before. Toy Biz reused quite a few of Kenner’s molds, including an almost direct re-use of The Joker for this line. The articulation on Batman is decent enough for 1989 standards but this toy… man, this toy has some loose joints. I’d be willing to cut it some slack for being over twenty years old, except this was a huge problem for all of ToyBiz’s Batman products back in ’89. My Batman stands alright but the left arm is comically loose.

ACCESSORIES

Batman7

Two small accessories, both cast in the same black plastic. Batman comes with a batarang and a grappling gun. The grappling gun is fairly screen accurate.

I’m going to count the black cloth cape as an accessory as it is removable from the figure. The use of “soft goods” on boys’ action figures is a matter of taste amongst collectors – most modern toy fans dislike getting a cloth cape with a toy and prefer it to be molded in some kind of plastic. Personally, I prefer a cloth cape like the one ToyBiz used here and the ones Kenner would use on their future Batman toys to a big hunk of molded plastic.

The toy also comes with an instruction manual, a courtesy most modern action figures wouldn’t bother with, I don’t believe.

batman8

ACTION FEATURES

All of the characters in Toy Biz’s Batman line had action features, but Batman’s was the most impressive. The figure comes with a “Bat-rope” attached to the character’s belt. Pull the line and the rope extends. Let the line go and the rope snaps back into the figure. As a child, I remember hearing my other Bat-obessed schoolmates complain that their Batman action figure’s mechanism was faulty… and indeed, I can see the potential for LOTS of problems one could have with this thing. A small knot in the string would ruin the feature. Further, if the rope detached from the belt portion, I can’t imagine a way a kid could fix that.

My toy seems fine and I never had any problems with the Batman toy I owned in ’89… so take that for what it’s worth.

OVERALL

This is not a great Batman toy. DC Comics would see the job ToyBiz did on these action figures and quickly take the Batman license back to Kenner for Batman Returns… but for us young Batfans, this was what we had to content ourselves with during the summer of 1989. I’m mindful of my nostalgia but still… now that I have Batman AND the Batmobile, I’ll probably take a pass on picking up the rest of ToyBiz’s Bat-efforts.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: