The Dark Knight Returns story is still one of the greatest Batman tales ever, in my humble opinion. The fact that Medicom Mafex has selected this particular story as a vehicle to create action figures for just continues to make me a very happy collector. In today's installment of Action Figure Reviews, Dan's ToyBox will look at the Medicom Mafex #146 TDKR Armored Batman Action Figure.
Ten years retired; Bruce Wayne is forced back into action to confront a new menace to Gotham. Only, this time, his presence isn't appreciated. At the time of his retirement, superheroes were shut down by the government. Green Lantern left the planet, Wonder Woman returned to Themyscira, and Superman... well, Superman was permitted to continue operating, "invisibly," under government sanction. Batman's return causes much upheaval and the new Police Commissioner of Gotham's first act in office: to issue an Arrest Warrant for the Dark Knight. As tensions rise and global politics erupt, the President of the United States sends Superman to Gotham to force a final confrontation with Batman. Donning his specially designed armor to face the Last Son of Krypton, Batman fights a valiant battle, seemingly to the death.
WOW!!! I will say this right out of the gate... I am very pleased with this figure, and it turned out much better than I expected it would. The most impressive feature on this figure is the articulation, for such a "chunky boi." As avid readers of this column know, Dan's ToyBox bases the review on three categories, with an overall score rendered at the end of the review. We look at figures Accessories, Appearance, and Articulation in order to determine if they merit the coveted Triple A. That, then, coupled with the price point/affordability of the figure helps me decide on my overall rating. The scale is based on how many toyboxes I'd want to put this figure in, with one being the low end and five being the top rating. So, with all of that in mind, does this Medicom Mafex #146 TDKR Armored Batman figure have what it takes to earn the Triple A and a solid ToyBox rating? Let's dive in with our look at Accessories.
(Photo credit: My niece, CeeCee. Great eye, kid!!!)
We have become accustomed to Medicom Mafex packaging a number of great accessories with their figures. While not packed with as much as other figures in this line, the Armored Batman does come with some great goodies to play with! He has three head sculpts: Masked/Frowning, Masked/Teeth Gritted, Unmasked/Angry. Batman comes with four pairs of hands: one pair fisted, one pair open/grasping, one pair relaxed, and one pair trigger hands, and two additional right hands, one flat palm with a tab for the acid spray attachment (which looks incredible, but more on that later), and one grasping hand for the Thermite Grenade accessory (also, very cool!). He also comes with the standard Mafex Flight stand, but with a bonus single post waist/crotch support stand. (See picture above.) This is a first for me as all of my previous Mafex figures only came with a single waist grasping piece. After much discussion with my niece, we both agreed that this figure deserves the A for Accessories. Even though he doesn't have batarangs or more hands, the other items he does come with make up for it. One out of three so far, let's move on!
The Medicom Mafex #146 TDKR Armored Batman is one incredibly good-looking figure. Once again Mafex nails the look down pat from the comic book series. The paint schemes, designs on the accessories and sculpt work is exceptional on this Batman and really helps make this a figure worth having. Starting at the top... all three head sculpts do this figure justice. The masked versions are very well designed and the paint applications on my figure were flawless. The flesh tones on his mouth and the paint apps for the gritted teeth were finely applied and really enhance the look of the figure. Even the small white triangles of his eyes are clean and look as though they just jumped off the comic page. Of special note, the cowl doesn't cover his neck and you can see his chin behind the strap below his jawline. This is just a really neat design, which makes it look like you could remove the helmet, but DON'T! The unmasked, angry Bruce Wayne face also mimics it's two-dimensional counterpart exceptionally well. We've seen unmasked Bruce Wayne heads in two previous iterations of Mafex's Dark Knight Returns line, but this is a new sculpt. This Wayne has a clenched jaw with teeth displayed and as with the previous version is painted in high detail. I would have liked to have, perhaps, seen some battle damage as on a previous version or maybe a light wash over the hair to give it more depth and break up the "snow white" appearance. Otherwise, I'm very impressed with this face and how nice it looks when on the figure. The cape also seems to be a somewhat different material than those previous versions as well and is darker in color. The pleats in the cape help it to hold shape better when posing with the wires and, much to my joy, the wires are firmly attached on both sides of his torso piece. The stitching on mine is very tight, which has been a concern in previous versions. The body has multiple *ahem* shades of gray (thankfully not fifty though.) The attention to detail on the figure is remarkable, especially considering the way the source material is inked. The hands on the figure are incredibly detailed and sculpted to give that armored, yet very flexible feel. I was concerned, after seeing another review, that there might be some paint application problems. I'm happy to report that mine had none of those QC issues. The belt is a bright yellow, which is a beautiful means of offsetting the dull grays and dark blues of the suit. I believe, for myself, the most impressive feature of this figure is the sculpted detail. The wrinkles on the costume, the plates and overlays, the scalloped spikes on his forearms and legs and the armor enhancements on his arms and legs all look precisely as if they'd been plucked right out of the book. I also think, the best part of this figure are the spikes on the bottom of his boots. I didn't anticipate that Mafex would include those, but if we're going to kick Superman in the chin, those spikes are necessary! Sometimes, I just can't help myself but be amazed at the accuracy that Mafex displays on these comics specific (storyline/art) specific figures. Hats off again to the design team at Medicom for turning out some amazing work. I am very impressed with how well this figure turned out, especially with the very blocky, chunky design. To make an awkward looking drawing turn into something this exceptional, takes tremendous skill. I've spent so much time talking about the figure, that I've almost forgot to discuss the two "weapon" accessories. The Thermite Grenade is a simple, silver square box, with a beautiful translucent orange/yellow flame/smoke trail emanating from the top, indicating that it's about to explode. This looks really good when posed in hand with the figure. The Acid Spray attachment is also the same translucent material, with more of a yellow tint and ports very nicely onto his hand. The "splash" sculpt looks really neat, especially when posed against Superman. (The Mafex TDKR Superman will be released this late spring, according to Mafex, so these shots were taken with the old Mattel TDKR Superman.) The Armored Batman very easily earns his A for Appearance!
Now, how well does he move? We've seen the chunky Dark Knight Returns Batman figures previously and been very impressed with how well they articulate for being such blocky/thick figures. What's more amazing to me is not only how well this figure moves, but how well hidden the articulation is on this figure! All three heads can turn side to side, get some "attitude" tilt, and can look both up and down. Admittedly though, the up/down movement is limited by the round collar piece at the top of his armor. The shoulder pauldrons are attached to the shoulders and can move, to allow more up and down movement to bring the arms out to a fairly decent T pose and the shoulders can rotate 360 degrees. There is a very well-hidden butterfly joint which, when used, can allow for an incredible range of forward arm movement. When used, the joint is also sculpted to beautifully blend in with the rest of the upper torso. He has a nicely hidden bicep swivel and double-jointed elbows, which in spite of the bulky armor sculpting can move very well. With the exception of the "Acid Spraying" hand, the rest can hinge and pivot easily and swapping hands is much easier than expected. Thanks again, Mafex, for including sprues to store the hands on! Batman's torso is on a ball peg and can rotate, tilt side to side and has some limited forward and backward crunch. The first time I tried this, I did end up popping the upper torso off the peg. Thankfully it snapped back on easily. The utility belt is a floating piece which doesn't hinder movement at all. Batman has the standard drop-down legs which allow for great splits, very high forward kicks, and a degree of (hidden) upper let rotation. His knees are double-jointed, but due to the armor sculpt don't quite make it 90 degrees. He has ball joints at the ankles which allow for swivel, hinging, and pivoting. He also has the standard toe hinge, which was very tight on mine and needed some work to loosen. This figure shouldn't articulate as well as it does and that's a testament to engineering and very clever concealment. I want to say I wish there was a bit more range, but I feel like I'm just being nit-picky for the sake of it. This guy deserves an A, and so he's getting it! A for Articulation!
There you have it, folks, the Medicom Mafex #146 TDKR Armored Batman sweeps the Triple A with ease! Is he worth adding to your collection though? At the price point of about $105, he's a bit more expensive than other imports from Mafex, but the size, heft, look and accessories make it more than worthwhile. I am sufficiently pleased with and impressed by this figure to give him a solid 4.5 toyboxes out of 5! If you're a Dark Knight Returns, Mafex, or Batman in general fan, I highly recommend adding this figure to your display. You can find the Medicom Mafex #146 The Dark Knight Returns Armored Batman online at www.bigbadtoystore.com and other retailers as well. Thank you so much for visiting Dan's ToyBox. I hope you enjoyed the review and until next time, as always... GEEK OUT!!!!