It is, unfortunately, awfully difficult to revisit Tim Burton’s Batman with an impartial eye in the wake of Christopher Nolan’s genre-defining Dark Knight trilogy and now, of course, Affleck’s Batman. However, you don’t get Nolan’s Batman – heck, the very idea of Batman, his modern age personification, might never have been realized had it not been for 1989 Batman. Despite Frank Miller’s The Dark Night Returns and other defining Batman comics of the time, for most children of the 80’s, and for fans of yesteryear, their idea of Batman was predominately localized to Batman 66 reruns and Hannna Barbera’s Superfriends. Burton’s Batman came along and forever changed the identity of the caped crusader. Burton effectively echoed the visual style of the original Bob Kane comics while conjuring up a Gothic world of his own. His vision for Gotham and its ranged cast of characters is impeccable. It set the standards for Batman and modern comic book films.
Batman 1989 holds a very special place for many a Bat-stalgic heart, and to it, are open wallets. While there is a treasure trove of goods, old and new, commemorating the landmark superhero film, consider what the fine folks at NECA Toys are offering. For one of the biggest superheroes of all time, NECA decided to go, well, big.
Based on the iconic 1989 film that defined Batman for the modern generation, comes the Batman 1989 – Michael Keaton – 1/4 Scale Figure via REEL TOYS. Coming in at a whopping 18″ tall this poseable figure features Michael Keaton’s likeness, and comes paired with a utility belt, batarang, grapple-gun, interchangeable hands, and loads more. Featuring over 20 points of articulation, incredible detail, and a real fabric cape!
This is a large window box, comparable to the size of 2 shoe boxes end to end. The front graphic is a close-up of Batman mid-section with the Bat symbol taking center frame, followed by the familiar Batman title text below, and pictures of the figure in various poses around the sides and back of the box. It’s a simple and striking box display that is instantly recognizable. However, the one quibble, the figure is hard to see inside the window. An all-black figure inside and all-black box. It’s sure to win over points with the goth and emo kids but for display purposes “Everything is better in black” doesn’t quite apply here.
In this day in age, with higher end collectibles, its common to see packaging that allows for figures to be removed and re-inserted w/o having to damage any part of the box. So it is disappointing to find this figure not so collector friendly. Pulling Bats outta his confines, he’s attached to a cardboard insert. Cursed twist ties abound! Yes, these are only twisties – with enough patience they can be undone and re-threaded but ain’t nobody got time for that.
When looking at this, there is no mistaking this as anything but Michael Keaton in the Batsuit from 1989’s Batman. NECA rendered what’s on screen into a large and intimidating three-dimensional action figure. The head sculpt is superb. Looking at this, there’s no doubt this is Michael Keaton. Keaton’s distinctive chin, Donald Trump-esque lips, and intense eyes (even that black eyeliner that has become standard for Batman movie portrayals) are captured exceedingly well.
One of the many things great about this figure is that it gives a close eye view of the suit Keaton wore, which was never quite in full view on screen. All the intricate details from tehe cowl, protective/muscled chest/torso armor, arm gauntlets, utility belt, and armored boots are on full display.
The painting crew over at NECA’s production warehouse must cheered when they got assigned this job, as it must have been one of the easiest painting applications ever. Sans the flesh colored chin, the eyes, the Bat symbol and some other varying finishes, the figure is predominately all-black. However, what is, upon first impression, a monotone looking figure, is anything but. In general, the paint ops are clean and tidy. The black is consistent all-around, and they’ve used a combination of matte for the body (that implies the rubbery nature of the suit nicely) and gloss on the boots, gloves, and gauntlets.
And that cape! Wow. It’s large. Almost the size of a small baby blanket. When fully unfurled and stretched out (Batwing, bitch!) it’s an impressive sight to behold. The lining is satiny and the exterior is a very thin pleather-like material. The stitching on this thing is immaculate. The edges are folded over and even all the way around. Each point of the subtly scalloped edge has a stitch running up to the corresponding point on the bottom of the cowl. The lines are straight and even. The cape is designed to fold exactly as it did in the movie.
Keaton’s Batman, is in part, remembered for not being particularly agile; he had a slower, imposing presence that was, in part, due to being encumbered by his suit. So, NECA could have gotten away with minimal articulation points, as restricted movement on the figure would have matched the on-screen counterpart. This figure, however, given how large it is, has a surprising range of movement – Batman has swivel ankles, swivel/hinge knees, ratcheting swivel/hinge thighs, a swivel waist, a ball jointed torso, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel/ hinge elbows, swivel forearms, swivel/hinge wrists, and a ball jointed head. The knees, thighs, shoulders, elbows, forearms, and wrists are notably mobile and really help provide a variety of formidable poses with Keaton’s limbs, particularly while holding his cape and gadgets. Downside is these joints are way stiff and cumbersome. It takes effort to maneuver limbs.
Batman comes with a total of five hands: two fists, two gripping hands for the cape extenders, and one open right hand which holds the grapple gun. Switching out the hand pegs is quite easy. They’re very thick and sturdy and I never felt like they were delicate.
In addition to the three extra hands, Bats comes paired with a Batarang, a grappling hook, the grapple gun, batons, a clear plastic line, and piece to connect the grapple gun to Batman’s utility belt.
The Batarang is cooler than one would expect. It has silver paint apps on the tips of the blades and can actually fold up: it folds in three different places! In theory, it can be tucked somewhere on the utility belt. There’s also a hole in the Batarang that allows you to loosely slide in a length of rubbery plastic cord.
Batman comes with an enormous grappling hook. It’s decently detailed and can also hold the clear plastic cord for display. No, unfortunately, it is not strong enough to hold Batman’s weight or anyone that weighs 108 lbs (damn you,Vicki Vale, you lying sh*t), so don’t even try it.
Do you remember seeing Batman use batons? He did. They weren’t seen. In that scene in the ACE Chemicals factory where Bats comes swooping down with his cap fully spread – yeah, it was thanks to metal extenders/batons that allowed his cape to outstretched. These batons are included here and allow a faithful recreation of that infamous shot/scene.
The grapple is a nice looking piece of equipment. It features the fold down handle (just like in the film) and can split into two pieces for storage. The two pieces of the gun can store easily on a device that attaches to Batman’s utility belt.
This figure does not come with instructions. While some of the pieces/accessories are obvious in their function, others are not. An illustrated guide, while not completely needed, would have been helpful so assure that accessories are being toyed around with correctly.
While the figure has a surprising level of articulation (it can move more than Keaton could in the suit), the difficulty in moving the limbs/joints shouldn’t be an issue on a figure this large, but it is. Considering the inside of the limbs and torso are completely hollow, forcefully positioning the figure can lead to breakage at seam points (particularly, the forearms).
Twisties on the package. Dang nabbit, NECA! You’re better than this.
Oversize/jumbo figures are nothing new. However, nothing, short of extinguished competitor Sideshow Collectibles, offers this level of quality and precision. These 1/4 scale figures from NECA are behemoth in size and offer more than a respectable show of detail, faithfully recreating the characters their inspired from. This Batman is no different. It is, arguably, the best 1/4 scale figure NECA has ever made. Perhaps, though, that has just a much to do with craftsmanship as it does nostalgia.
1989 Batman holds its place as a defining evolution of the Dark Knight. And while there are many toys and collectibles celebrating this film, this particular piece stands large, in every conceivable way.