The Arkham series video game figures have been a really mixed bag over the years, yielding up some great figures – but some absolutely dreadful ones too. The Arkham Origins ones were particularly good -- much better than the game they accompanied, which is probably why there are still plenty of Batmans warming pegs in stores around Sydney, two years after release.
So it was with some trepidation that I gazed on the first wave of Arkham Knight action figures. Batman looks a little neither here nor there; Arkham Knight looks intriguing, though I need to know more about the character first, and Scarecrow looks pretty good. But the real star of this wave is Harley Quinn. So after having a particularly big week at work a few months ago, I decided to have a Parks and Recreation-style TREAT YO SELF moment.
SCULPT & ARTICULATION
Harley has been sculpted with an oddly demure look on her face – it’s a bit of a contrast to her usual sinister expression. Does this mean she’s taking a turn for the better during the course of the game? Possibly, but probably not. (I don’t know all the plot twists and turns – a friend was kind enough to give me Arkham Knight for my birthday a few months back, but I still haven’t finished it – I’ll have to go back to it soon, because it was great fun!)
In fact, it’s a little too demure, virtually devoid of personality. Though the overall character design is much better than it was in Arkham City, Harley has had plenty of action figures in the past that have nailed her facial expressions better. Maybe it’s just a side effect of the (presumably) digital sculpting that Gentle Giant tend to employ. The other side effect of this seems to be the relative softness of a lot of the details – the pattern on her corset, the lacing at the back, the rings on her sleeves -- little bits and pieces like that. Though it’s not awful or anything, it seems a little on the soft side overall.
However, she's quite well-articulated, with the following points:
All the joints move smoothly, with the only one not working so well the neck. The high collar and the ponytails tend to get a bit stuck against each other, and the neck itself feels quite tight. The main thing that I think it missing is swivel biceps – it would have been easy to slot them in where the puffy sleeves end and the arms begin, and made a considerable difference when it came to posing.
As the sleeves are so puffy – and sculpted from hard plastic – within a few minutes they’d caused some paint to scrape on the corset buckles. So just be careful when you’re first moving the joints around.
Accessories with figures are shockingly rare in this day and age but amazingly Harley Quinn comes with no less than 6! Two alternate hands, a baseball bat painted like a barbershop pole, a pistol (which can be held in the left or right hand, thanks to the alternate hands), what looks to be a detonator – and best of all, a jack in the box, mounted on a real spring!
The handle on the jack in the box actually rotates, but I would suggest caution with it. It’s pretty fragile and could break quite easily – but that in no way detracts from how cool it is! You can actually position her holding it to wind it up, though this will NOT be a good option for long-term display.
I assume all of these will have some kind of role to play in the game – the jack in the box is probably some kind of bomb, or maybe a collectible like the Riddler’s question marks in the other games. I'll let you know when I've finished the game (yes, I know I'm months behind...)!
Paint on Harley is great on her face, while the rest of her is adequate but not amazing. I suspect some apps got cut at production stage, as some strange decisions have been made -- shading on the hair and sleeves, but no drybrushing on the skirt, for instance. Some of the issues can be attributed to the soft sculpt, but on the whole lines aren’t quite as tight as they could be. From a distance you won’t mind too much though. Just take a good look before you pick one off the shelf.
Harley isn’t perfectly executed, but I think she’s pretty good. She’s no NECA Predator, but she’s a few cuts above plenty of Marvel Legends. I picked her up for $39.95AUD – not my ideal price, but considering I recently saw Marvel Legends selling for the outrageous price of $49.95, I think she represents pretty good value on the whole. She’s got a decent unique sculpt and enough accessories to make her stand out from the pack. So overall, not essential but a good gift for the Harley Quinn fan in your life.