Advance Review: BATMAN Expressions Pack Helps Create The DARK KNIGHT Of Your Choice

"Batman: The Animated Series" Expression Pack
Credit: Zack Smith
Credit: Zack Smith

DC Collectibles just sent Newsarama a big box full of the latest Batman: Animated Series 6-inch scale figures, featuring several upcoming releases and a few that are just starting to turn up at toy shops. So, we took it upon ourselves to test these out and see which are worth your hard-earned dollars.

First up is a new type of item for this series – the “Batman Expressions” pack. With direct market “Adult Collector” figures especially, it’s become more common to include alternate hands and/or heads that can help fans craft a variety of looks for their toys. This pack embraces that trend, offering seven different heads, three different capes, and a plethora of hands and accessories to create the Batman of your choice.

The set comes with a basic six-inch scale Batman in his Batman: The Animated Series look. This is about identical to the versions of this figure found on single-carded and other sets, such as the Batman and Robin set with the Bat-Signal, or the one from the Mask of the Phantasm two-pack. It’s a standard look with the same basic articulation found in other figures, along with a nicely molded bright yellow Bat-Emblem on the chest.

(The line has jumped around, releasing versions of characters that feature the initial designs from Batman: The Animated Series and the later, more streamlined redesigns from The New Batman Adventures. For comparison’s sake, here’s the Batman from this pack next to his New Adventures counterpart – note the one on the left has a darker color scheme and smaller head/eyes, along with no yellow Bat-Emblem).

Credit: Zack Smith

Included heads are: “Basic” Scowling Head; Narrowed-Eyes Head; Open-Mouthed, Wide-Eyes “Shocked” Head; Showing Teeth (Open-Mouthed); Showing Teeth (Clenched); Bleeding From Mouth, Torn Cowl; and Bruce Wayne.

Credit: Zack Smith

In addition, there are a cloth cape, a more spiked-shoulders “Brooding” rubber cape, and a molded “jumping” cape, plus alternate hands for cable gun and Batarang-throwin’, and multiple accessories including a gas mask, night vision goggles, Batarang, cable gun, baseball bat, and several episode-specific items such as an inoculator for curing Man-Bat and a knife.

Credit: Zack Smith

The most interesting accessory is a more elaborate version of the stand that comes with the other figures. This is a little closer to the “Flight Stands” available from other premium toy lines – there are a variety of bases where you can insert the stand, which has several jointed parts and a hinged claw grip. The base sometimes needs some weighing down (it flips over easily), but it allows for a variety of more dynamic poses with not just Batman but a variety of other figures in the line.

The variety of items invites speculation about what could have been in the set, or could be in future packs. For example, a fully-spread “crashing through a skylight” cape was shown in initial pictures of the set, and would have worked well with the flight stand. Also, given there was just an announcement of a bust based on the Robot Batman from the episode “His Silicon Soul,” a Terminator-type head would have been a good inclusion – it lets you turn an extra Batman into a new character.

Given that, the items that are included in this pack offer a variety of advantages and drawbacks. The advantage is that they help create more specific scenes with Batman and allies/enemies; with some different backdrops, there’s the possibility for some cool displays and photos.

The disadvantage is that the figures aren’t particularly dynamic, so the number of poses possible for scenes are extremely limited. It took many edits and photo cropping to get the scenes depicted here… and that was with a lot of takes where the figures fell over.

Credit: Zack Smith

The animated-style Batman figures have more articulation than the 1990s-era Kenner figures, but the designs are, in three dimensions, particularly top-heavy. That means that it’s tricky to get them standing up without the figure stands, and the fact that the figures don’t have holes in the bottom of their feet mean that stands with pegs don’t help. Consequently, making the “Flight Stand” available separately (or getting more of these from other companies) would help in setting up the kind of scenes that this set would otherwise help make possible.

The additional heads work all right; they snap neatly onto the ball joint on the figure’s neck, though some might need a little softening through a hair dryer or warm water to go on more easily. If you have extra Batmen from other sets or earlier waves, it lets you make each of them a little more unique.

The Bruce Wayne head is easily the weakest; it fits awkwardly on top of the ball joint, and the elongated portion of the cape makes him look like he’s wearing those neck-extension rings you see some African natives wearing in back issues of National Geographic. The capes are adequate; the spread one would have added a lot to the set, but as is, the slightly curved one is the only one that really aids in action scenes. It is nice to see cloth capes making a comeback with action figures, though.

Credit: Zack Smith

Overall: There’s some fun potential for the set, but it’s most recommended if you don’t already have a Batman figure from this series. Doing more with it requires a certain amount of staging ingenuity. A similar set with the Animated-style Joker was recently announced; it’ll be interesting to see what kind of scenes fans can create with multiple head/hand/accessory/posing options.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

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