It took a long, long time for Batman to get a game worthy of his name. But in Batman: Arkham Asylum, fans were finally given the opportunity to truly become the Dark Knight. A well-designed game from top to bottom with a great combat system, good dialogue, an intriguing, original story and a distinctive artistic style, Arkham Asylum was everything I loved about Batman and videogames in one amazing package.
The game’s aesthetic attempts to be both more “realistic” and more grotesque than the comics, and every character was given a redesign with that in mind. Batman’s outfit is the least altered, but he gets some Dark Knight-style armor pieces and, oddly enough, pupils. The Joker is stretched taller and thinner than usual and is given a touch of the disturbing “decayed” appearance of Heath Ledger’s portrayal, but with his trademark Conrad Veidt face from the comics. Harley Quinn is famously tarted up as a naughty nurse, but perhaps the most radical redesign among the game’s central characters is that of Scarecrow.
With the exception of Clayface, Scarecrow seems to be one of the most frequently redesigned Bat-characters, especially in the animated series, but his general appearance is that of a tall, thin man in rags with a burlap sack mask, wide-brimmed hat and, often, a hangman’s noose around his neck. The game designers at Rocksteady took this basic concept and mixed it with a touch of Nightmare on Elm Street* and SAW to give us a Scarecrow for the twenty-first century.
Packaging: Sometimes DC Direct seems to really phone in a toy line; other times, they give it the works. Apparently recognizing the immense popularity of Arkham Asylum–which went way beyond comic book readers–DCD seems to have gone all-out with this line.
The packaging is fun, with graphics that evoke the game and a bubble shaped like Batman’s cowl. It actually looks more like a NECA package to me than DCD.
Design & Sculpt: The design is courtesy of Rocksteady; the question is, how well did they translate that design into plastic? Well, check out the render from the game below.
As you can see, sculptor Jonathan Matthews did a great job translating the videogame model into plastic. There are a few belt buckles out of place here and there, and the hangman’s knot seen on the render is absent on the figure, replaced by a bizarre knot that looks like anything but–no idea what happened there.
The detail on this figure is impressive, particularly given its origins as a pixelated videogame character. DCD is giving NECA a run for its money on this line, which is somewhat funny, considering how crappy most of their other videogame figures have been lately. (I’m thinking of Dragon Age and Mass Effect 2, but their World of Warcraft figures seem to be doing fairly well, and I’m not sure about their God of War figures. The DA and ME2 figures look terrible, though.)
The most impressive part of the figure is probably the texturing of the fabric, which captures the ragged look of the character.
Plastic & Paint: This is the place where DCD has been spotty as of late, particularly on the aforementioned Dragon Age and Mass Effect lines. While there are some paint issues with Arkham Asylum, they’re not on this figure.
The paint applications on Scarecrow are, for the most part, excellent. Again, the work on the “fabric” areas is the most eye-catching, with good color choices and a well-executed wash. The only flaw in the paint work is the way the syringe feed system is painted: the silver and yellow parts are a bit thick, sloppy and uneven.
The fabric over the shoulders and the “loincloth” are made from soft, pliable plastic. The needles are a bit soft, and so they tend to bend a bit, but it’s not as bad as say, any ToyBiz Wolverine’s claws.
Articulation: Like me, you probably looked at the Scarecrow’s heavily pre-posed body and assumed he’d have the least articulation in the line. You–and I–were wrong. Here’s the articulation breakdown:
- Ball-and-socket head
- Ball-and-hinge shoulders
- Swivel biceps
- Hinged elbows
- Swivel right forearm, swivel left wrist
- Swivel waist
- Swivel thighs
- Swivel calves
- Ball-and-hinge ankles
Accessories: The Scarecrow’s only accessory is his bag of…whatever that is, I can’t remember. Fear dust, I guess? While the single accessory is a bit disappointing, I also can’t really think of what else he could have come with. Personally, given how popular the Joker is, I think it would have made more sense to pack Scarface with Scarecrow and then give the Joker a pistol, or a box of Titan.
Quality Control: I had no problems with my figure.
Overall: Scarecrow was always going to be the least popular figure in this wave, but that’s owing more to the popularity of the other characters than his design, which–in my opinion–is great. After the “Preacher Hangman” version of the Scarecrow from The New Batman Adventures, this is my second-favorite Scarecrow design, and I’d be surprised if we didn’t see the comic version creep closer to this one in the coming years.
The only reason I don’t give this figure five ravens is the articulation (ball hips and hinged knees would have been great) and minimal accessories. It’s a fantastic-looking design and a great figure.
* Specifically A Nightmare on Elm Street 3, which features a scene where Freddy Krueger turns his famous glove-blades into syringes. Carlos D’Anda, the artist who did the design work for Arkham Asylum, admitted the Scarecrow’s glove could have been a subconscious reference to the scene.
I have two figures from the Arkham Asylum series: Batman (I won it on twitter, amazingly enough) and Scarecrow. I really loved this design mostly because it reminds me of Psycho Mantis somewhat from Metal Gear Solid.
Dang, this really looks good. And this is the one charcater in the line I was interested in, too.
Thanks for the great review, I really enjoyed it.
I think two great accessories, one or the other, would be an ankle high unarticulated Batman or a child Bruce Wayne, only slightly larger than Scarface, but DC Direct would rather make odder choices than that.
My biggest issue is the source material, I can't help but feel that Rocksteady's design, for all the amazing work they did, is overly derivative of the Batman Begins design, but also alienating to the heart of the character, at least in my opinion. Crane is driven by his civility separating him from his baser humanity, as a result of his bullying and subjugation during his earlier years, his fear of Batman allows him to feel alive and overcome this separation, while his control and exertion of power over others allows him to feel power and control.
That's why designs like Ross's Justice and the New Batman Adventures are perfect for him, he needs to be civilized, but deviant. The Dark Victory design took this too far, by essentially having him be an evil pilgrim, but it isn't present here. There is nothing civil about this design, it's primal, base, and would work great for someone like Victor Zsasz, but Scarecrow needed to simply be a man in a prison uniform, in a mask, in my opinion.
Scarecrow has always been my fave Bat villain, so this is a must buy for me!
i just went over this review w/ my kids, who loved watching me play arkham asylum (it was kind of their first horror movie), and the decision was split… my eldest liked the "true action figure" of the dcsh version, but my youngest thought the "realler looking" AA version was superior, and both were surprised it featured so much articulation.
yes, i'm raising them right. 😉
I think the bag is where he was going to throw it to a water duct going to Gotham and bats kicks it away then Killer croc inexplicably attacks and submerges Scarecrow.
Cool review,Wish the filters on his mouth were duller,he kinda looks like he is biting bent dumbell.
I have a Scarecrow of the serie Dark Victory (Dc Direct). For me this is the best figure of the caracter.
But I really like this version of the game. O bought Batman, Harley and Joker for my collection, I don´t boy this Scarecrow only because I have other version I really like.
I´m waiting series 2 to buy Bane and Poison Ivy.
Man, that classic Scarecrow up above looks sweet.
I did like the redesigned figure from the game too, but I prefer the classic design.
I also really dig the NOES pic. Great review Poe.
Man I still love that DCSH Scarecrow. The only DCSH figure I ever bought.
Honestly, I have no interest in collecting this line, having never played the game, but I always thought this figure rocked because it was its own thing and not like any other Scarecrow that's been made before. That's what makes it cool!