Thursday, 30 January 2014

Arkham Origins Batman

Series: Arkham Origins
Company: DC Collectibles

Scale: 7”

Year: 2013

The Background
Batman: Arkham Origins was probably my most anticipated game of 2013. When it finally landed, I had a lot of fun playing it, but I was very disappointed with the storyline, and I traded it in right after I finished the main game.

Still, in anticipation of the game – and having admired, but never picked up any of the Arkham Asylum or Arkham City figures – I requested this figure several months ago as a Christmas present. After my disappointment with the game, I was a little more concerned. This was heightened after I ran across all of the figures except Batman in London’s Forbidden Planet store. They had good sculpts, but their articulation didn’t look great. That’s not such an issue with characters like Black Mask, but it’s a big problem for Batman. Combined with my disappointment with DC Unlimited Hawkman, I had some real reservations about going ahead with this figure. But he was already in the mail, so it was too late to cancel. Were my concerns justified?  

The new packaging for Arkham Origins deviates significantly from the cowl-shaped clamshell that marked Asylum and City.  Now it’s more like a rectangular NECA clamshell, but with the Arkham Origins logo flaring out at the top. But clamshell haters need not panic – some of the back has been pre-perforated, allowing you to tear it open with relative ease (just keep a pair of scissors handy).  

The fairly plain insert unfolds into a flyer for both the Arkham Origins and City ranges, both of which seem to have been reappearing at retail lately – a clever touch.
Overall, I don’t dislike the packaging, but I think it’s a little bland in colouring and will probably present storage problems for MOCers, just because of the unusual shape.  


I was never quite satisfied with the sculpts on the Asylum or City figures of Batman. Though mostly great, his head always looked just slightly too small for his body, giving a weird effect. In fact, the whole series was a real mix of fantastic (Harley Quinn) and ordinary (Poison Ivy), which I think may be why I never actually pulled the trigger on buying any of them.

This Batman resolves those issues, and presents us with one of the best Batman toys I think I have yet come across. The sculpting is by Gentle Giant studios, who I understand generally base their work from digital scans of the character model.
I couldn’t say for certain whether it’s 100% screen accurate, but it definitely looks right – the armour plating is all there, the belt’s present and the head is the correct size. The biggest issue that I noticed was that his left bat-ear was slightly larger than his right one, and some of the spikes on his glove are slightly warped. Fussier folk than I may choose to break out the customising tools, but I’m happy to leave him be – I don’t really notice unless I’m looking for it.    

The cape is really cool. It’s made out a soft rubber which manages the delicate balancing act of being neither too stiff nor too soft. It restricts his shoulder movement slightly, but not massively. My only real concern is that it feels quite oily, and I’m hoping it doesn’t fall to pieces quickly.
As for his articulation, he features:

*ball-jointed neck
*swivel-hinge shoulders

*swivel-hinge forearms

*ball-jointed wrists
*ab crunch

*swivel waist
*hinged hips

*swivel thighs
*double-hinged knees

*ball-jointed ankles

"This isn't what I had in mind when I was thinking about 'Predator Encounters'."
One of his ankles was at a bit of a funny angle in the box, but I was able to twist it back into its correct shape easily enough – no boiling required.
All of the joints work well and move smoothly – of all of my “collector” figures, Batman is far and away the most mobile, particularly compared to say, my NECA Predators. There are no complaints here, which is possibly a first for one of my reviews!

In the comics Batman typically has a very plain colour scheme – black (or blue) and grey. Accordingly, the figure reflects this, and the accompanying paint job is pretty basic, though it doesn’t need to be any more complex. The exposed half of his face is painted a flesh tone (slightly darker for the lip) then given a black wash for stubble. Up close he just looks kind of dirty, but it’s pretty effective from a distance – and it still works either way.

I could see DC Collectibles giving us a “Battle-damage” repaint at some point – those of you who have played any of the Arkham games know that the Batsuit takes quite a beating over the course of the game, and a banged-up version could look pretty good. If it doesn’t get a release, of course, all it would take is a steady hand and some Citadel paints… 
The only real issue I have is that the paint is already showing some wear marks at a couple of points. Both the cape and cowl appear to have been cast in grey, and then painted black. As a result, there’s already a wear mark on his cape (possibly from the packaging) and the tips of his ears are starting to wear too.

Batman comes with no accessories. I was hoping he’d come with a batarang, but no such luck. Considering his hands are balled into fists, ideally I think the best way to go would have been to would have liked some interchangeable hands, a batarang and/or a weapon – along the lines of the old SOTA Street Fighter II toys.  

If the range goes for more than two waves, I won’t be surprised if we end up with a variety of different Batmans – perhaps unmasked as Bruce Wayne, Batman in a slightly different costume, or Batman incorporating more accessories. But I hope that they avoid this, as there have already been far too many Batman lines already that simply consist of variants of Batman.
Instead, I think it would be better to incorporate more accessories into a base figure – interchangeable hands, maybe a head and some accessories. It might cost a little more at retail, but I suspect that you’d probably sell more figures too – rather than annoying fans by releasing a bunch of largely unwanted variants. 


"Rookie mistake, Jason."
Despite Batman being my favourite superhero from a very young age, I’ve never really owned a good figure of him. I had an Animated Series Bruce Wayne-to-Batman figure in the 1990s – which was okay – and a Batman Begins basic Batman when the movie was out – which was also okay. But I’ve never really seen one that grabbed me and was within my budget (I’m looking at you, Hot Toys DX 12 Dark Knight Rises Batman). 
The lack of accessories is disappointing, but Arkham Origins Batman is definitely one of my favourite figures that I’ve bought this year, despite my disappointment with the game. The sculpt looks good, the articulation is great and he looks good fighting Lava Planet Predator – I would recommend him thoroughly to any Batman fan. He’s a great addition to the collection. 

Side note: At this stage, the only other figure I’m planning to pick up is Deathstroke, assuming he has similar articulation and a good paint job – he’s scheduled for release in April. However, future waves beyond wave 2 may well hold more characters that I’m interested in. The other figures look fine, but they’re just not up my alley.

"I don't use guns," said Batman, loudly and pointedly.
"Well, how about you shut up let the real cops do their job?" said RoboCop.
The bust that followed was a success, but it was awkward for everyone.


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