In the early 2000s there was an explosion of minifigures in the collectors’ market: Minimates, Pocket Heroes, Kubricks, Stikfas, and Shockinis, just to name a few. Some were clearly inspired by the classic LEGO minifigures, while others focused more on customizability and interchangeable parts.
My personal favorite minifigures were the original Mez-Itz by Mezco. Unlike other minifigures, Mez-Itz had uniquely-sculpted heads and other accessories. And they had a slew of great licenses, including Aliens, Predator, Robocop, Hellboy, Edward Scissorhands, Friday the 13th, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and even Army of Darkness. Later they expanded to their own unique lines, such as pirates and ninjas (much as Minimates is doing now). Sadly, the line died out when the Pirates and ninjas failed to set the world on fire.
In the intervening years, the vinyl figure movement expanded from its niche into the mass market, primarily in the form of Mighty Muggs and its derivates. Mezco hopped on that bandwagon by mimicking the style and size of Mighty Muggs with their newly re-branded Mez-Itz. Now, they come full circle as they shrink the 6″ Mez-Itz down to two inches.
While Mezco has released 6″ Mez-Itz for a number of licenses, the only license to receive 2″ Mez-Itz so far is DC Comics. Alongside the regular Mez-Itz are the same figures with keychains attached. Interestingly, they’re also expanding into vehicles, the first being the Batmobile. The first wave of 2″ DC Mez-Itz feature pairs of heroes and villains, such as Superman & Mongul, Hal Jordan & Sinestro, and the subject of this review–Batman & the Joker. I’ll give credit where it’s due and thank Mezco for not going the obvious route and swapping heroes and villains among the sets, forcing you to buy two to get, say, Batman and the Joker. I got these for $11 plus shipping at BigBadToyStore, but they’ve been popping up at comic shops everywhere.
But are these as cool as the original Mez-Itz?
Packaging: The 2″ figures come on a simple blister card. Not much to write home about here, but anything more would have brought the already high price up.
Design & Sculpt: As I mentioned, Mezco’s Mez-Itz closely resemble Mighty Muggs and their own smaller counterpart, Mini Muggs. The stylized body is smooth and rounded, with stump-like legs and arms and a balloon-like head.*
It seems to me that the appeal of this type of figure has a couple parts. First, there’s the stylistic consistency–all your Mez-Itz or Mighty Muggs or Funko POP figures can be displayed alongside one another and look good.
Then there’s the artists’ ingenuity in depicting the character on the blank slate of the body. This is particularly interesting when comparing, say, a Mez-Itz figure based on movie Hellboy versus one based on Mike Mignola’s art.
As for Batman and the Joker themselves–in terms of design and sculpt, there’s not much to discuss here beyond Batman’s head having the bat ears.
Plastic & Paint: There’s a lot of character in their expressions, and just the right touch of “shine” and “shadows” here and there to give the figures some sense of definition and even a bit of a three-dimensional effect on their two-dimensional bodies.
Articulation: The original Mez-Itz had ball joints at the head, shoulders, and hips, as well as swivels at the wrists and waist. These new Mez-Itz still have the ball jointed heads, but just swivels at the shoulders and hips.
The hip swivels are useless; I’d rather have saved a buck on the tooling. The arm articulation would be a lot more appreciated if the figures came with any accessories…
Accessories: …which they don’t, unless you count Batman’s removable cloth cape. At $12 a pop for 2″ figures, a Batarang and a Joker “Bang” pistol would have made the price a lot more palatable.
Quality Control: No problems.
Fun Factor: While the vinyl style began as an art movement more than anything else, the cartoonish, super-deformed nature of these figures will likely appeal to kids–and the vehicles will make them even more fun. That said, Mattel’s Imaginext and Super Friends toys are arguably already filling that niche, and with more bang for your buck.
Overall: My dislike of the figures’ body type is arguably just a matter of taste (though it would be disingenuous to say I simply don’t like the vinyl style, because I’m fond of Funko’s POP figures, seen in the comparison photo along with DCSH/DCUC Batman and Joker).
But I remember what Mez-Itz used to be. Had the original Mez-Itz never existed, I might not have found these as disappointing. I’ve got the Batmobile set on order, so it’s possible I’ll warm more to that–if Mezco starts putting out a lot of vehicles for these figures, it will give them a unique
Where to Buy:
* The balloon-like heads remind me of that Simpsons episode where Lisa and Bart are trying to find Krusty, and to show what he looks like, they blow up a balloon with his face on it. The Sea Captain identifies this as Handsome Pete, who “dances for nickels.” The diminuative Handsome Pete enters and Barts gives him a quarter, at which the Sea Captain groans, “Not a quarter! He’ll be dancing for hours!” It’s one of my favorite Simpsons gags ever.