Monday, December 22, 2014

Mattel Total Heroes Deluxe Batman Beyond

I love Batman Beyond. I remember the Saturday that I saw the very first episode. The introduction told me that this was going to be something very different than the Batman cartoons that had come before. It was, as others have noted before me, Batman blended with Spider-Man and a liberal dash of futuristic sci-fi. In other words, it was guaranteed to win me over. Some of the episodes were fantastic while others were meh, but the dynamic between Terry McGuiness and Bruce Wayne was always spectacular, and I don't know that there have been many voice acting casts that have done better or been more memorable.
The idea of Batman Beyond is that Batman has retired after a brutal and often depressing career. He ends up coming across Terry McGuiness, a high schooler who has no idea that he has met up with a legend. Through a series of circumstances, Terry discovers Bruce's secret and the Batcave and ends up stealing Bruce's last and most advanced Batsuit in order to save the day. Needless to say, Bruce is less than pleased, but ends up agreeing to allow Terry to continue using the suit as long as he does what Bruce says and accepts his mentorship. That goes every bit as well as you would expect.

Mattel as been putting out figures in their Total Heroes line at a pretty steady stream. Most are available in retail stores, but it reserved some "deluxe" figures to be sold online at their incredibly crappy These figures would still be on the same base body, but come with a significantly increased number of accessories. When Mattycollector had their Black Friday sale, Terry was one of the figures on sale and I snatched him up for $20 without any hesitation. I've never actually had a Batman Beyond figure before, since I'd never seen one I considered worthy of being owned and representing the property. Of course, now that's all changed.
You might be wondering what Mattel considers to be a significant number of accessories. Well, Terry comes with three different sets of hands. Two fists, two open palms, and two designed to hold the Batarangs. Batarangs? Oh, yes. He comes with four of them, and Mattel didn't even skimp! Batman Beyond had a different style of Batarang, and Mattel took the time to recreate them, paint and all. He also includes a mask that he can hold in his hand, perfect for when he is sporting his Terry or Bruce unmasked head. Also included is a rather small additonal character, Micron, from the Justice League of the future (something entirely unnecessary and entirely appreciated). Additionally, he comes with three heads. One of Terry unmasked, which he wears in the package, one of Batman Beyond wearing the mask, and one of old Bruce Wayne. Finally, he comes with wings. WINGS! I can't tell you how many times Batman Beyond has been made into a character, but they didn't bother to include the wings. It's a huge part of the character and the visual, and it should never be considered optional.
The most amazing part of the included heads is that they really did Bruce Wayne right. There was a scene in the pilot where an older Bruce Wayne is wearing the Batman Beyond suit on his last mission before retiring. That appearance is different from his later appearance post-retirement. This head took the time to make sure it showed Bruce at the right age and appearance. This is not a level of detail I normally expect from Mattel, and I'm frankly shocked they pulled it off so well. It makes me wonder why they can't do this all the time? Part of me is glad they don't, since that means they would then own all my money, but from a business perspective I don't see how they can't understand that financial shortcuts that hurt the toys ultimately hurts their business.
Batman is build on the base body that has been used on almost all of the Total Heroes figures. I've mentioned before that this line is built on figure reuse, just as DC Universe Classics was before it, but there is one critical difference. This line is stylized to the point that the characters manage to look unique. Also, there is enough detail worked into the base body that it can be customized far more effectively than the earlier, smooth DCUC bodies could. Also, they've shown they aren't afraid to change things up when they have to. Mr. Freeze used almost all new parts, while Aquaman got a new torso to emphasize his costume. As long as they are willing to adapt to work with different characters, this line has real promise. Ultimately, I have no problem with them using this body for Terry, since it works perfectly well for him, with enough detail to highlight a high-tech approach and not so bulky that he seems like an entirely different character.
In order to maintain a price point of around $10, the average Total Heroes characters get a hit in articulation. Gone is the complex, but dated, articulation of DCUC. Instead, this is more.. svelte. The head is a ball joint (that actually works), the shoulders are ball hinge, as are the elbows, and the wrists are on swivels. The hips are the same "H" joint that DCUC used, and both the knees and ankles have a basic hinge joint. No bicep swivel, no ab crunch, no thigh cuts. There's enough to get some personality on the shelf, but you are going to be limited if you're used to having more options. Ultimately, it's a question of whether the saved money is worth the lost articulation to you, but I believe they keep all of the necessary articulation. Anything less than this would be too little, however. It's a thin line one way or the other.
The paint is pretty minimal, understandably. The suit is 95% black, afterall. The symbol is done in a sharp, bright red and very well done. There is also some silver and red on the belt that is well applied. The same, unfortunately, can't be said on the heads. Cast in flesh color, the hair lines on both of the heads are really pretty well hosed. It's not noticeable from a distance so much, but up close you can tell where all the problems are. Fortunately, the masked head (perhaps the most important head) is dead on perfect with the application of white paint.

I'm one of those toy fans that would rather not have a figure than to have a supar one, especially when it comes to an iconic character. I have an iconic Optimus Prime. An iconic Spider-Man. An iconic Batman. Now, finally, I have an iconic Batman Beyond. I'd be surprised if I ever replaced this version. It really is just that good. My biggest regret for this figure is that it was only available on If it had been available in retail it would have sold like gangbusters, but it also would have been easier for others to own. Instead, there is a very limited quantity of these that can only be bought second-hand or through a website that might never post it again for sale. To me, that takes a huge amount of fun out of the figure and instead turns acquiring it into a chore and the possession of it a form of elitism. That is something toys should NEVER be about.


Eric Stettmeier on December 22, 2014 at 8:07 PM said...

Beautiful pictures - He's glorious! if he's still available online after the holidays I might have to cave and get him. Until then I will hope my sister gets him for me, as I added him to the Xmas list I gave her!

There was only ever one Batman Beyond action figure worth owning during the initial run: and even he wasn't perfect - the wings were not removable so displaying him without them extended was less than ideal. I never did find the DCUC version at retail either.

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