Toy Review - DC Collectibles Batman: Mask of the Phantasm 2-Pack
For someone that supposedly has Bat-Fatigue, you sure are buying a lot of Batman figures lately.
Truth be told, I don’t hate Batman and certainly haven’t always been tired of him. Rewind back to 1989 and sure enough, you’ll see me there in line for Tim Burton’s Batman on opening night just the same as everyone else…and I was certainly there if not opening night then opening week for the follow-up Batman Returns and for what we’ll be discussing to some degree here, the animated movie Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.
Shortly after Batman Returns had hit theaters, Fox Kids and Warner Bros Animation unleashed Batman: The Animated Series on an unsuspecting world. I say that because, well, there wasn’t much in the way of the internet back then…so neither its release nor just how damn good it was could leak out in any way shape or form. After a successful first season, a project originally intended to be a direct to video release was given the green light to move up to the big screen as a theatrical release…that would be our aforementioned Mask of the Phantasm. As stated above, I saw it as soon as I possibly could on the big screen, then, upon finding out that an action figure of the Phantasm had been released…well, young toy-hunter me had a quest.
A quest that would go unfulfilled. I just never saw the figure in the wild…at least, not until much later in about my college days where it was a fairly easy find in collectors’ shops, conventions and ebay. But by then, well, a lot of factors contributed to my not picking it up…the transition from 4-5 inch action figures to 6 inch, not really wanting to sink $30-40 into it thus rewarding scalpers for keeping something from my childhood self, my attention at the time turning more toward Transformers and, yes, you guessed it, the initial onset of Bat-Fatigue.
Fast-forward to today. DC Collectibles releases a line of figures based on both the old Batman: The Animated Series (Seasons 1-3) and The New Batman Adventures (Season 4) oh, about a year ago…but the initial waves are made from painted over clear plastic and there were MANY reports of figures disintegrating if you so much as looked at them cross-eyed. DC, to their credit, stopped production to figure out how to solve this problem, delaying a couple of lines of figures. Sure, I’m a sadistic bastard at times and I gotta admit, it did bring a smile to my face. Think about it…disintegrating Batmen…doesn’t it…doesn’t it make you just…SMILE? [You’re creeping me out, dude. – Ed.] Anyway, for many obvious reasons, I decided to avoid the line, hoping they had the problem fixed by the time (hopefully) they got to doing Superman: The Animated Series figures or Justice League ones.
Then came word of the Batman: Mask of the Phantasm 2 pack.
So, yeah, I bought the damn thing. And yeah, it’s mostly awesome. I say mostly because while I like the way the Batman figure looks posed…Phantasm? Not so much. In static positions, both figures look fantastic. But since they are action figures…well…that word…action…you know…anyway, Bats passes the test (even with rocker ankles!) but Phantasm proves to be a bit top-heavy. Each figure comes with a stand and some alternate hands: Bats with fists and hands that can hold (kinda) the included batarang, Phantasm comes with a pair of right…or is it left…whatever…hands for the non-bladed arm...for posing purposes. It would have been really cool if an alternate head revealing the Phantasm’s true identity was included…but alas. [Can you spoil a 22 year old movie? – Ed.] I understand why they didn’t though…the rubbery plastic that forms the Phantasm’s hood and cape wouldn’t easily permit swapping heads. Right…so, articulation, both of them have ball joint necks, shoulders with a full range of motion, no bicep cut but an elbow with both hinge and pivot, hinge and pivot wrists, waists, hips with a mostly full range of motion and hinged knees. Bats got the luck of first draw, apparently, and has the aforementioned rocker ankles, Phantasm, however, does not. As is usually the case with DC Collectibles, sure, more joints and such could’ve been added…but weren’t for the sake of keeping the sculpts mostly intact. And given the nearly universally lauded Bruce Timm designs these figures are based on, that was totally the right call. On the bases for each figure, an animation turn-around for the character is present, which I found to be a nice touch.
Now…the conundrum. I have to admit to liking these figures so much that it’s very tempting to pick up others. Dammit DC…at least hint at making Superman ones so that my mind can at least loosely justify buying more Bat-crap! Still, you have to give them credit…here I am, so jaded over Batman and yet thanks to the high quality of this two-pack…I’m considering buying more.