Mattel The Dark Knight Rises Target Exclusive "Battle for Gotham City"
Batman figure five-pack is a good deal and fun for kids...
To insure your action figure collection, get in touch with Collectibles Insurance, the official insurance company of the Figures.com network. Say "Figures.com" to get 5% off your first term premiums.
To buy action figures, take a look at BigBadToyStore.com, RedfordFilms.com, Toynk.com, PastGenerationToys.com, BriansToys.com, ToyWiz.com, and MonkeyDepot.com.
One of this summer’s most highly anticipated movies is of course The Dark Knight Rises, third in a Batman trilogy by Christopher Nolan and starring Christian Bale. While the gloomy PG-13 offering will have plenty of toys aimed squarely at adult collectors, Mattel is also putting out a line of kid-friendly DKR figures that are hitting store shelves now. Set in that gray area between 3 ¾ and 4 inch scales, these toys naturally include a variety of Batman as well as his enemies. Along with single-carded standard and deluxe figures, vehicles, multi-packs, role play toys, and more, there are some store exclusives. Probably the best one is Target’s Battle for Gotham City, collecting five figures in one easy package.
Speaking of, let’s take a look at the box. The quintet arrives in a wide window box that you’ll most likely find on a shelf under the single-carded DKR figures at Target. It has a bit of a sleek, techno feel with the angled gold “blades” on the right and the wraparound blue background, while the front surrounds the figures with the film’s logo and an image of Batman from the movie. Below the figures is the set’s name, while each one has a sticker in front of it identifying the character. Finally, there’s the requisite “Only at Target” sticker and an offer for free movie tickets. Meanwhile, the figures are held in a wide tray in front of a Gotham City backdrop that looks pretty cool, divided into three “scenes” for the presentation (we’ll just have to wait and see if these directly correlate to scenes in the film). The back of the box has very brief bios on all of them along with photos of the actual toys.
As noted, these small scale Dark Knight Rises toys are approximately 4 inch scale and will generally look good displayed alongside previous Infinite Earths figures. The name of the game here is solid construction, simple articulation, visually interesting decos, and some accessories. The actor likenesses vary in quality, but again, a lot of kids who will be asking mom and dad for these toys aren't necessarily watching DKR this summer anyway. Let’s take a closer look at the figures fighting for Gotham.
On the side of good we have no fewer than THREE versions of Bruce Wayne (at least according to the box). Master Bruce shows up in pseudo-civilian attire, a familiar martial arts outfit we’ve seen on screen before complete with the bladed bracers. Then there’s “Caped Crusader Batman” as he appears in DKR with the full black suit, and a fun “Stealth Vision Batman” in gray and blue armor. Opposing the trio are the villainous Bane and Catwoman. Bane stands 3 ¾ inches tall, Bruce and Catwoman 4 inches, and both Batmen slightly over 4 inches at the tips of their pointy ears.
Sculpting is pretty good for mass market 4 inch figures targeted at kids. There’s a range of detail among these five figures, but each has some cool things going for it. For example, at first glance Bruce Wayne might not seem all that interesting, but even his outfit has a surprising amount of sculpted clothing details from the folds and creases on his shirt and pants to his embellished gauntlets and boots. Catwoman is a nice upgrade from the female Infinite Heroes figures, still feminine but abandoning the clunky torso articulation and V-shaped crotch. Her belt and goggles have plenty of detail too. Both Catwoman and Wayne have passable likenesses to actors Anne Hathaway and Christian Bale, the former better than the latter. Bane, on the other hand, feels like a bit of a misstep. Not only is he the shortest of the figures here, but he’s got soft musculature and odd proportions. His sculpt isn’t terrible, with lots of creases, belts, and buckles, etc., but it just doesn’t all work together for me. A lot of work was put into the two Batman figures with intricately sculpted armor and textures that look pretty darn good for this scale.
Paint applications also vary in quality between the figures. Bruce and Bane each have four basic colors, black, gray, flesh tone, and brown for the former and flesh tone, brown, light gray, and dark gray for the latter. There are very few sculpted details accented by paint which is a shame, though both of them do have painted pupils and sclera. Catwoman meanwhile looks great from far away but falls apart up close. Her black on black outfit is appropriately broken up only by gray components on her belt. Catwoman’s deep brown hair contrasts with her pale skin and bright red lipstick. Her black mask and goggles have cool blue highlights, but unfortunately the paint on her face is very sloppy. Caped Crusader Batman likewise is overall black with some variation in gloss. His belt is a bright gold while his cowl reveals the usual lower part of Bruce’s face and his eyes. Stealth Batman’s suit is a light gray color with metallic blue and gold accents and white eyes. While it’s not the most intricate paint job it is the cleanest and looks great.
For those of you who have bought figures in Mattel’s Justice League, Infinite Heroes, Young Justice, or Green Lantern lines, you know that articulation is not a high priority in their 3 ¾ / 4 inch lines. The Dark Knight Rises is no different. Bane and Catwoman have only five points of articulation: neck, shoulders, and hips. The other three bump that up to seven with knees. In this day and age these figures aren’t going to win any articulation or poseability awards. Your mileage will vary; hardcore collectors may find this a deal-breaker but kids certainly won’t care. As is, the figures can assume some basic poses but nothing fancy. Elbows, waists, and ankles (in that order) would have gone a long way toward improving what they can do.
A positive note in these figures is Mattel’s addition of accessories. Many similar toy lines eschew weapons or gadgets for cost purposes, but it’s always fun to equip your figures with cool weapons. In this set, Caped Crusader Batman has a large golden two-pronged weapon (kind of hard to tell exactly what it is), and Stealth Batman has twin handheld claws. All three of these weapons have standard cylindrical handles which can fit in the open grips of all the figures. Note that in the single-carded/ deluxe releases of these figures they may have different accessories; for example, the carded Caped Crusader Batman has a grapple gun and a huge batarang.
For about $22 at Target, the Battle for Gotham City is a very affordable way to pick up five new Batman figures. While they may not stack up in every department (especially articulation) against some other movie lines like Avengers and Spider-Man, the Dark Knight Rises figures are solid for the price especially if this is your preferred scale. Out of these five I was most impressed by Stealth Vision Batman, a very cool looking figure (that could even serve as a base for a Batwing custom). When picking out your Battle pack, make sure to check on the paint apps and pick the best one. Good hunting!
Review and Photos by Scott Rubin