Review > Arkham Asylum Batman (Play Arts KAI, Square Enix)

The Arkham series of videogames is my favorite take on Batman since The Animated Series. Yes, I even like it more than the Nolan films, which are great but are bit too grounded in the real world to really feel entirely like Batman to me. Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City straddle the line between the grim and gritty realism of The Dark Knight Returns and the Dark Knight Trilogy while still giving us all the “unrealistic” villains like Mr. Freeze, Clayface and even Solomon Grundy.

Both Mattel and DC Collectibles has tried their hand at Arkham-based action figures. Mattel inexplicably allowed someone other than the Four Horsemen to sculpt Batman and several of the other figures, made them all out of scale with DCUC and half of them out of scale with each other, and gave them middling-to-bad articulation. DC Collectibles’ offerings have great sculpting but minimal articulation (although the upcoming Series 4 does appear to finally have ball-and-hinge hips).

So – where can one turn to for fully-articulated action figures based on the Arkham games? For now, the answer is Japan-based company Square Enix and their Play Arts KAI line. Continue reading “Review > Arkham Asylum Batman (Play Arts KAI, Square Enix)”

Odds ‘n Ends > PD revs CIEDCUCGAF, SyFy’s Toy Realities, 4H’s OSM, FOTD has AC2

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  • Pixel Dan has posted his review of the Club Infinite Earths DC Universe Classics Golden Age Flash.
  • For those who might be wondering, yes, I did subscribe to CIE, but I don’t plan to review them and intend to sell all my figures (with the exception of the Bat-characters, probably). I’m either going to sell them on eBay or maybe just my own store.
  • The SyFy Channel is developing a couple of toy-related reality shows: “Collection Intervention” will assist desperate significant others in forcing their loved ones to sell off some or all of their beloved collections, while the more interesting and less personally invasive “Toy Traveler” features Shane Turgeon, “the Indiana Jones of toy collectors,” as he jets around the world seeking rare and unusual toys. Do we got anything on this Shane Turgeon guy?
  • The Four Horsemen posted some new info on their upcoming Outer Space Men release dates.
  • Don’t forget, Figure of the Day has the entire set of DC’s Arkham City Series 2 on its site for $89.99 w/ free shipping.
  • Phil Reed at Battlegrip has reviewed a pair of Play Arts Kai figures – Arkham Asylum Batman and Halo Reach Jorge. I’ve had the PAKAS Bats on my shelf waiting for a review for weeks now. I’m evidently lazy. Oh, and I’ve had the PAK Halo Master Chief even longer than that.
  • I should be able to announce the winner of the Bat-Libs contest either late today or tomorrow.
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Odds ‘n Ends > Toy Fair Items of Interest & More

  • A few other things that caught my eye at Toy Fair:
  • Mezco’s stylized Universal Monsters figures. OAFE reviewer and occasional PGPoA contributor Rustin Parr could not possible be more excited for these–he’s planning to get two of each. I’m in for the Gillman, of course, as he’s my favorite UM. They’re due out around September (according to at least one site). Pics at Battlegrip.
  • Jay Cochran of TNI seems concerned about the future of Bandai’s ThunderCats toys; there was nothing new at Toy Fair this year, and the staff wouldn’t comment on its future. The cartoon show has been a moderate success and reportedly renewed for a second season, and from my own observation the toys seem to sell decently, so I’m a bit surprised by this.
  • There will be Play Arts Kai Mass Effect figures, starting with Shepard, Ashley and Garrus. Garrus is great, but Shepard is less exciting since everyone creates their own character, and Ashley? Why no Miranda? Miranda was way more interesting. And–ahem–hotter, for a CGI character anyway. BBTS has these up for preorder.
  • Of course there’s also PAK’s upcoming Arkham Asylum figures. I note that Phil Reed of Battlegrip made sure to get an upskirt of Harley Quinn (prediction: that will be my most-clicked link today. You’re welcome, Phil!).
  • I have to admit to being kind of excited by Mezco’s Mars Attacks figure. I just hope it has decent articulation. It appears to have hinged elbows and knees, but the real question is whether the hips/thighs are ball joints. I’m guessing not the thighs at least, since the feet don’t appear to be articulated.
  • TNI has more pics of the classic Turtles, including the packaging, which is wonderfully nostalgic. They’re due in stores in August at about $15 apiece, so it’ll cost you $60 to put together your Fab Four.
  • In non-Toy Fair news, Poester Chris Pearce sent me a note regarding his blog Teachable Moments, which has been running a series of posts called Thrift Store Finds. He’s reviewed a number of vintage MOTU items recently such as children’s books, coloring books and magazines, all of which you can check out using this link.
  • PGPoA art director Mecha-Shiva pointed me to this neat YouTube video of a self-proclaimed “Greatest Toy in the Universe.” It’s created by a UK company called Wow Stuff, and it looks rather like the vintage MOTU toy Spydor. I dislike radio-controlled toys, but I’ll admit that thing is pretty neat.
  • Finally, I just want to thank JediCreeper again for helping out with the Toy Fair coverage this year. Maybe we can get him a real press pass next year…

BBTS has Arkham Asylum Wave 1

Apologies for the lack of updates, been in Vegas for a few days. Fear not, PGPoA will be back at full bore starting later this week!

Anyway, I know a lot of you like the DC Direct Arkham Asylum figures, which have been hard to come by–well, BBTS has the full set available right now. This is apparently the last time they’ll be in stock (until DCD reissues them, if ever), so if you want them, now’s the time.

Check out my reviews of the AA Batman, Joker, and Scarecrow.

Odds ‘n Ends > September 22, 2011

  • Toynewsi has links to new pics of the Square Enix Play Arts Kai Batman Arkham Asylum figures. I’m really looking forward to these. A lot. A lot a lot. All I need is a preorder link.
  • You may or may not have heard of the campaign to save the 3 ¾ Venture Bros. toy line. If they don’t hit a certain pre-order goal, Bif Bang Pow can’t make the line. So they’ve teamed up with Entertainment Earth to try and get those pre-orders through, and I heartily comment their effort. You can do me, EE, Jackson Publick, Bif Bang Pow, and yourself a solid by pre-ordering (via my affiliate link) right here.
  • Another day, another Arkham City Batman skin–this one for Sinestro Corps Batman. What interests me here is that here’s wearing the same suit as the DCUC figure, which, to my knowledge, has never appeared in the comics.
  • As I’ve mentioned  here and on Twitter a few times, I commissioned another custom from MasterEnglish, maker of 339/1. MasterEnglish is going to reveal said custom, which looks awesome, at PowerCon this weekend…but I couldn’t resist this little, tiny preview hint.
  • It appears that the Wind Raider has been delayed and will not be in the October 17 Mattycollector sale. No word on when it will be sold.
  • I’ve been messing around with some DCUC figures lately, and I have to say that losing the rocker ankles really hurts their poseability. I never knew how much I loved that joint until it was gone.

Bat-Week | Review > Bane (Arkham Asylum, DC Direct)

Bat-foe Bane has had an interesting history. Though many fans forgot this for a long time, as he was originally conceived he was extremely intelligent–so intelligent, in fact, that not only did he identify Bruce Wayne as Batman simply by watching Bruce Wayne at a party, but he concocted an incredibly intricate plan to wear down Batman’s strength and will before infamously delivering the coup de grace of a broken back.

Bane was meant as a “dark mirror” to Doc Savage, the 1930s pulp hero whose only “superpower” was that he had been raised to become a paragon of human development–strong, athletic, brilliant, and wise, with an iron will. Bane likewise had an iron will, but his intelligence was deviant, his wisdom corrupted by a lifetime of pain, and his strength augmented by the steroid-like drug Venom, fed to him via tubes implanted in his head. Continue reading “Bat-Week | Review > Bane (Arkham Asylum, DC Direct)”

Bat-Week | Review > Arkham Asylum Batmobile (Hot Wheels, Mattel)

One dark night a few months ago, I took an oath–an oath to try to buy every toy associated with the Batman: Arkham Asylum/Arkham City franchise.

So that means when I found out there was a Hot Wheels version of the Arkham Asylum Batmobile, I knew I had to track it down. No doubt such a desirable item would be hard to find, vanishing from the shelves of toy stores just as they arrived. My exhaustive search ended with my very first eBay result, where I found one for $2.50 shipped.

Apparently they’re not that rare.

Packaging: While many of the recent Batman-themed Hot Wheels vehicles came in purple Batman-branded packaging, the AA Batmobile arrives in standard Hot Wheels blister card. It’s disappointing, really.

Design & Sculpt: Rocksteady Studios, makers of Arkham Asylum, seemed to have pulled from the most iconic bits of Batman lore to create the so-called Arkhamverse, so it’s no surprise that their version of the Batmobile closely resembles the Tim Burton movie version (yes, the Tumbler is cool and all, but it’s not a very iconic design–really just a big lump with wheels).

The Hot Wheels version is a 3″ long replica of the car. The sculpt is a bit soft; this isn’t a movie-quality replica, but a child’s toy.

Metal, Plastic & Paint: Like all Hot Wheels, the car is made mostly from die cast metal. The windows (and possibly the black body) are made from plastic. I think the bright metal is what makes it look so toyish.

Overall: While it might sound like I’m being quite critical of this thing, I recognize it’s just an inexpensive Hot Wheels car. If I’d been collecting all the other Hot Wheels Batmobiles, it would be a necessary addition to my collection. But if you’re not a Batman Hot Wheels collector, it’s worth grabbing only if you’re a big Arkham Asylum fan like me.

[raven 2.5]

Bat-Week | Review > The Joker (Arkham Asylum, DC Direct)

Much like his arch-nemesis Batman, the Joker’s longstanding popularity is partly due to how easily he lends himself to reinvention. He can be everything from a harmless jester to a murderous psychotic, and everything in between. On screen he’s been played by such disparate thespians as Caesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Mark Hamill and Heath Ledger, and each made a memorable version that was wholly their own.

Given Heath Ledger’s bravura performance the previous year, Rocksteady Studios had to be make sure the Joker they created for Batman: Arkham Asylum was equally engaging. As with many aspects of the game, they chose to walk a line between reality and comic book fantasy, creating a Joker whose appearance and murderous behavior is in line with The Dark Knight and the darker corners of the Batman comics mythos, while casting Hamill as the voice actor. Hamill played the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series, which memorably balanced the murderous Joker of the 1940s and 1970s with the laughing prankster of the 1950s and 1960s. While the Joker of Arkham Asylum never balks at a senseless murder, he’s also much quicker with a joke than Ledger’s Clown Prince of Crime.

As I mentioned in my Batman review, DC Direct seems to have pulled out all the stops for their Arkham Asylum figures. This is somewhat interesting, since two other companies (Mattel and Square Enix) are also making figures based on the games, yet DCD isn’t just trying to make a quick buck as they have with some other their other videogame lines (i.e., anything except World of Warcraft). Continue reading “Bat-Week | Review > The Joker (Arkham Asylum, DC Direct)”