REVIEW: WizKids DC HeroClix Batman Review Part 1: Batman Expansion Set
Gotham City’s Denizens And The Debut Of Hot New HeroClix Vehicles...
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The last few months have been huge for DC HeroClix with the start of the No Man’s Land tournament series and the release of the Batman expansion set. One of the most focused and complete themed sets so far, it includes several versions of Bruce Wayne and many of his allies and enemies. There have been plenty of Batman figures before, but this set brought a whole new standard of Dark Knight in the Modern Age of HeroClix along with sub-themes of Batman Inc., Outsiders, and even the first appearances of WildC.A.T.s in HeroClix. But even that’s not all... We’ve seen Super Boosters before with colossal figures, but the Batman set introduced vehicles to the game with great-looking craft like the Batmobile, Wonder Woman’s Invisible Jet, and more. Highly detailed and accurate to their comic book appearances, these are great mid-scale cars, tanks, jets, and more that look just as good on a shelf in your collection as they do on the map during a game! Read on for an in-depth look at this great set that’s still available thanks to its prominence in the current No Man’s Land scene.
Similar to the large Marvel HeroClix sets from last year, the Batman expansion brought with it a ton of cool new figures for players and collectors alike. The core is the booster set (blind boxes containing 5 figures) with its massive Super Boosters. In addition there’s a ten-figure “Primer” (single figure blind-packed boxes), six-figure Fast Forces pack, Marquee figure, and more. We’ll start with a look at the booster set figures, highly collectible with 17 commons, 16 uncommons, 14 rares, 11 super rares, and 5 chase figures (8 if you count the Flocks of Bats, but we’ll get to those). Batman was also the first set to introduce Prime figures, green-ringed variants of characters at each rarity level!
Primarily a “street level” set, Batman brings to the table all sorts of heroes and villains from Gotham City. The commons of the set are the ones you’ll be pulling most from your boosters, but that doesn’t mean that they’re boring or unheard of. Right off the bat, the 001 figure is none other than Batman himself, a 200 point monster with loads of powers, incredible stats, and plenty of options with multiple starting lines, AE abilities, and more. He’s joined by other heroes like Bruce Wayne (who can Alter Ego into Batman), Nightwing, Red Robin, Blackbat, Katana, Nightrunner, and the first of several Batgirls (Stephanie Brown). At least one of the WildC.A.T.s at each rarity brings us the awesome Grifter among the commons, and here we also see the return of Morphing Beast Boy (in dolphin form). On the other side of the law, you’ll also find in your boosters the Joker, Harley Quinn, generic Hired Henchmen and Joker Thugs, and Catwoman along with her Prime alter ego Selina Kyle.
The uncommons of Batman delve a little deeper into the hero’s catalogue both modern and historic. Bruce’s son Damian appears as the current Robin, as does the modern Barbara Gordon Batgirl, the venerable Alfred Pennyworth, and Dick Grayson in his first HeroClix civilian appearance (and who can Alter Ego into both Nightwing and Renegade). There is lots of team building to be done in the uncommons with the WildC.A.T.s’ Maul and Zealot, Batman Inc.’s El Gaucho, Justice League International’s Godiva, and Roy Raymond, Jr. and Thunder from the Outsiders. Beast Boy returns with a pterodactyl form, while Gotham’s own Sasha Bordeaux appears alongside her Prime Checkmate Black Queen form. Finally, there’s a great new Two-Face with a removable coin that fits into the base behind him!
Batman’s rares follow the trends we’ve seen in the previous rarity levels with some heroic Gotham allies in Batwoman and Lucius Fox and best known villains like Poison Ivy and Hugo Strange. Further team builders include Warblade of the WildC.A.T.s, Halo of the Outsiders, Rocket Red and August General in Iron of the most recent Justice League International, and Batwing and Mr. Unknown from Batman Inc. Hush, not seen in HeroClix since way back in the Legacy set, returns with a great new figure and its Prime counterpart “Bruce Wayne” (really Dr. Thomas Elliot in disguise). Finally, the Batman set brings us a fan voted figure, the mighty New God Big Barda!
Look to the super rares in the Batman set for some very familiar faces from Gotham and beyond, as well as some interesting additions that you wouldn’t necessarily associate with the Dark Knight. The ranks of Outsiders swell with four figures: Black Lightning, Geo-Force, ReMac, and Rex Mason, while the initial lineup of WildC.A.T.s concludes with the super rare Voodoo. It wouldn’t be a Batman set without just a couple more cool Gotham City supervillains, and so here we have a great new version of Mr. Freeze and the first Doctor Phosphorus in HeroClix. Completing the small sub-theme of Justice League International is their leader Booster Gold, while the surprise appearance of Socialist Red Guardsman brings us another member of the Great Ten. Last but certainly not least is a very cool Batman and his blue and gray costumed Prime counterpart The Caped Crusader; both feature special powers that work with the Flocks of Bats.
Like the Superman set before it (and Amazing Spider-Man after), this expansion features multiple chase figures that are variations on the titular character. First up is The Insider, Bruce Wayne in a high tech suit with gadgets that mimic other heroes’ powers from the Road Home storyline. Next is no ordinary Batman, but the Speeding Bullets version that depicts Kal-El crashing in Gotham instead of Smallville and being raised as Bruce by Thomas and Martha Wayne. Omega Batman is the monstrously powerful amalgamation of Bruce Wayne and the Hyper-Adapter (a servant of Darkseid) from the Return of Bruce Wayne. The next Batman is Bruce Wayne with a Green Lantern power ring on loan from Hal Jordan so he can try it out and attempt to come to grips with his past. The final Batman brings to life Bruce utilizing the Suit of Sorrows, a powerful artifact that bestows strength and speed upon its wearer. Not technically chase figures but only appearing about once per brick of eight boosters are three Flock of Bats figures. The different colored swarms of bats have different powers, and while they are fun little additions on their own they work best with the super rare Batman and Caped Crusader.
Each brick of Batman contains one Super Booster, and inside those you’ll find the set’s vehicles, a brand new addition to the game of HeroClix! First off is none other than the Batmobile, a sweet six-wheeled ride with lots of attitude, multiple headlights, a huge hood/engine section, red-tinted cockpit, and big rear fins. Next up is the Batwing, Bruce Wayne’s sleek stealth jet with bat-like wings and another red cockpit. Wonder Woman gets in on the action with the Invisible Jet, one of the most iconic vehicles in the history of DC comics; comprised entirely of clear plastic, the Jet has a great retro design. Things get down to earth with the GCPD Cruiser, workhouse of Gotham City’s finest and the bane of its criminal element. If you want armor and firepower look no further than the Military Tank, or the most famous comics version of it the Haunted Tank from G.I. Combat; both vehicles share the same M3 Stuart sculpt but have unique paint jobs. The final vehicle is Blue Beetle’s personal conveyance The Bug, a huge flying metallic insect that’s incredible potent in the game. A blind box Super Booster will yield one of the vehicles except for the Cruiser and the Tanks that come packaged together: either a Cruiser and a Military Tank or a Cruiser and the Haunted Tank.
Looking closely at the figures of Batman, you’ll find a lot of really nice sculpts that bring out the characters’ personalities from the comics. Whether it’s the gleeful violence of the Joker, the acrobatic stance of Nightwing, or the no holds barred action hero pose of Grifter, the figures are great miniature representations of the characters. Speaking of poses, check out figures like Red Robin crouching with his intricate segmented wings spread out behind him, Blackbat diving into combat with her cape flowing behind her, Nightrunner leaping into the fray from a Paris rooftop, and more. Some of the other standouts include uncommon Batgirl, Big Barda, Rocket Red for his armor suit and technological details, Mr. Unknown’s martial arts stance, Booster Gold’s energy-blasting attack, the incredible Hush/Bruce Wayne sculpt, and the nearly perfect super rare Batman/Caped Crusader posed on a rocky cave base. Even the “normal” humans look really good in this set including the highly detailed Hired Henchman and Dick Grayson with his police uniform, hat, and walkie-talkie. There are some great textures going on with figures like common Beast Boy (the cresting ocean base), August General in Iron (intricate armor plating), and of course Rex Mason with his multiple elements and materials. As always, the chase figures are excellent representations of the cutting edge in miniature sculpting, especially the Speeding Bullets pose, Omega Batman’s highly detailed wing structures, and the Green Lantern Batman’s additions of the projected “badge” and energy bats. Finally, you’ll see that each and every new vehicle has a an excellent sculpt with a plethora of details from the Batmobile’s lug nuts and grille to the Invisible Jet’s intricately lined fuselage, authentic automobile elements on the GCPD Cruiser, and the rugged machinery and treads of the Tanks.
While you may not expect a Batman-themed HeroClix set to include a lot of color and variety, the figures here look great and have lots of unique looks. Of course, there are plenty of “dark” costumes and like common Batman, Catwoman, Nightwing, and more, but even all of those still incorporate some contrasting element to make them stand out. Even figures like Bruce Wayne and the Arkham Asylum Guard have solid paint jobs, with attention paid even to the most mundane characters. The two Batgirls liven up the party with their unique elements in yellow, purples, and gold, and all of the WildC.A.T.s remind you of the 90s with their loud and clashing colors. Metallic paint shows up fairly frequently, from KGBeast’s prosthetic weapon to Batwing’s armor, Warblade’s claws, and more. There are also plenty of figures with cool translucent elements in their sculpts like common Beast Boy’s water, Big Barda’s mega-rod, Rocket Red’s pop up holographic display, Halo’s aura, Doctor Phosphorus’ creepy see-through body, Mr. Freeze’s helmet and icy base, ReMac’s outer shell, Rex Mason’s gaseous parts, the Insider’s camouflage, Green Lantern Batman’s bats, and energy effects on Thunder, Black Lightning, Booster Gold, and more. The vehicles too are all very well painted, with intricate details like the logos and lettering on the police Cruiser and Tanks (including “Haunted Tank” on the front of that one) and the bright metallic gold on the Bug.
While by now hardcore HeroClix players are familiar with it, the Batman set brought a lot of fun game play elements that we’ll be seeing in games for a long time. Notably it saw the return of Beast Boy and his Morph mechanic, now allowing the figure who first appeared in the DC 75th set to swap between six different animal forms. Alter Egos also returned in a big way with Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson, both of whom could transform into multiple heroic versions (and add to them Matches Malone from the Batman OP Kit for even more options!). Multiple starting lines provide even more options on common Batman, and several of the generic characters like the Arkham Asylum Guard, Joker Thug, and Hired Henchman have different versions you can play depending on what you need them to do. The Prime figures too began with Batman, giving players special green-ringed unique figures always limited to one per team. Removable game elements give Geo-Force his Earthshock fist and Two-Face his iconic coin (which you can flip to activate his trait!), while the Flocks of Bats fit into specially sculpted bases on the super rare Batman and Caped Crusader. Finally, this set saw the first major distribution of Improved Movement abilities, allowing figures like Batman and those he trained to get around the battlefield like never before!
As normal in new modern sets, Traits and Special Powers provide characters not only with powerful and useful abilities, but also with fun and referential names on their cards. 001 Batman’s “Team Leader” Trait lets him share his Team Ability with lower point allies with a chosen matching keyword, Selina Kyle’s “Procurer of Fine Artifacts” gives her the chance to steal Relics from opposing figures, “OMACtivated” shuts down Black Queen’s opponent’s wildcards and increases her defenses, Big Barda’s “Boom Tube” gives her unparalleled alpha strike potential, and the aptly named “Mr. Unknown is Dead - Long Live Batman” lets others heal at the expense of Unknown. Meanwhile, just a few of the cool and interestingly named Special Powers include Joker’s “H.A.H.A.D.E.A.T.H.H.A.H.A.” that heals him when he hits his enemies, common Batgirl’s “Electro-Magna-Gooperangs” (one of the best named powers in the game), Maul’s “Half-Titanthrope” that makes him a Giant and more powerful as he takes damage, Hugo Strange’s “Monster Men Serum” that makes monsters out of allies, Mr. Freeze’s “A Cold That Will Freeze Your Heart” with super Barrier and Incapacitate, and Omega Batman’s “Ultimate Condition” that lets him totally shut down adjacent enemies’ powers!
Of course, the Batman set also debuted the vehicles and with them came a whole new set of rules, abilities, and powers. WizKids did a great job of making the vehicles intuitive and easy to learn (especially by actually playing them), and each one comes with a handy fold out card that has all of the rules. Just like regular characters, vehicles have their own standard powers, Special Powers, and Pilot Abilities (keyed off of specific named or keyworded pilots) with some particularly cool ones like the Batmobile’s “Look Out! It’s Batman!” giving it Charge and Ram with bonuses, the Batwing’s “Airdrop” ability to place carried characters during a move, the Invisible Jet’s “Purple Ray Rejuvenation” letting a carried character act immediately, the Cruiser’s “Cuffed to the Bumper” that stops even the Flash from running away, and the Haunted Tank’s “Clankety-Clankety-Clankety!” giving it Running Shot and Ram! Finally, no look at the vehicles of the Batman set would be complete without mentioning that the Bug is just ridiculously powerful with a host of great powers and stats that are made even better when it’s piloted by Blue Beetle or Booster Gold.
Beyond the booster set, Batman also released with a Primer Gravity Feed set of single-figure blind boosters as well as a six figure Fast Forces pack. The former (pictured above) is ten figures with re-used sculpts from the main set but with all new dials, again building your array of options in the game and giving you more chances to collect your favorite characters! This set includes Batman, Bruce Wayne, Hired Goon, Catwoman, Nightwing, Red Robin, the Joker, Harley Quinn, Batgirl, and Two-Face.
Meanwhile, the Fast Forces pack (pictured above) offers yet more variations of Batman, Damian Wayne, Nightwing, Red Robin, Alfred Pennyworth, and Batgirl, with the addition of a sweet double-sided map featuring Wayne Manor and a serene outdoor Temple. For a complete look at the Batman Fast Forces pack, see my review HERE.
But we’re still not done with Batman! Participating brick and mortar stores could purchase two more items: the Batman Organized Play prize kit and the Batman Marquee figure. The former is a pack of figures, special objects, and maps used in tournaments and giveaways, and included Renegade, Matches Malone, The Batman of Zur-En-Arrh, Azrael, Mr. Freeze’s Gun, Suit of Sorrows, Sonic Transmitter, and maps of the Batcave and Lazarus Pit! Again, for an in-depth look at this kit check out my review HERE. Finally, available in individual non-blind boxes is the Marquee figure for stores to give out or sell, the duo of Nightwing and Batgirl! Clocking in at 176 points, this highly versatile team up has solid range, the Batman Ally Team Ability, Improved Movement ignoring just about everything, solid stats, and great powers.
All of the interrelated Batman HeroClix products are available in stores now, and the ongoing No Man’s Land tournament series has two more months that include sealed events so you have even more chances to play with all of these great figures. If you’re a fan of Batman or any of the other characters from Gotham City you should definitely check it out, and if you’re a collector of comic book vehicles you have to take a look at the Batman Super Boosters!
Visit HeroClix.com for even more info as well as downloads of rules and maps, and come back later on this week as delve even further into Batman’s turf with Part 2 of our Batman HeroClix review: Streets of Gotham!
Review and Photos by Scott Rubin
Review Samples Courtesy of WizKids