This week sees the release of Square Enix' latest action figure in their Play Arts KAI line: Batman! The Dark Knight is based on his appearance in the extremely badass "Batman: Arkham Asylum" video game and is quite possibly the BEST damn Batman figure in existence! (*That title will switch hands once the Hot Toys version comes out.) We first saw this figure at last year's San Diego Comic Con, and our unwavering desire to own him only grew when we were once again faced with his cowled visage during Toy Fair 2012. Now, only a month after the drool-worthy visit to Square Enix' booth, we have this action figure in our grasp! Upon picking him up at our LCS, we tore into his window box packaging and freed the "World's Greatest Detective" from his plastic prison so we could go on patrol together like best friends bring you this review!
SPOILER ALERT: If you're looking to read loads of negativity, you're looking in the wrong place. This figure is just that good!
Like Square Enix' other lines, the sculpt for Batman captures his look from the source material while still managing to toss in a little Japanese styling. The head sculpt has been kept very close to the art of the game when it comes to the eyes and face but the ears on the cowl have been lengthened a little. The sculpt for the rest of the body is covered in different texturing effects from the weave on the suit to the dents and scratches on the gauntlets. The sculpting on the cape may be the most impressive since it is made up of three separate pieces that can be posed in different ways while still managing to match up well with one another as a whole. As with their Metal Gear line, Batman seems to have extra long thighs but we're blaming this partially on the free-floating waist section that can ride a little high depending on how the legs are posed.
Square Enix didn't slouch in the paint department either. This figure costs at least three times as much as your average action figure, so there's a certain level of expectation with detailing that is above and beyond what we normally let slide on mass market toys-- and we were not disappointed in the slightest. The figure has been mostly molded in the appropriate base colors, but you wouldn't really know it thanks to almost every single bit of this figure receiving at least one paint application. Only the inner joints escaped the brush since with their movement, paint wouldn't stick around to long on them anyway. Metallic hues have been used on the gauntlets, shin guards, and utility belt and have just the right amount of shine. The body has been detailed with black airbrushing to show off the muscular body sculpt, while the cape and cowl benefit from some simple drybrushing. The eyes might be decals, but we're not certain. All we know is that they're are tiny and if someone painted them by hand, then they are truly magicians.
Beyond even the sculpt, the articulation is our favorite part of this figure and the reason we pre-order almost every Square Enix figure that comes out. First off, the figure has joints that not only move smoothly (or tightly when talking about the ratcheted knees) but also that have no problems holding their positions. Now, let's run down the long list of articulation points on Mr. Wayne: dual ball-joint neck (one point at the top and one at the bottom of the neck), swivel/hinge cape joints (yes, you read that right), dual swivel/hinge shoulders (the extra hinge allows the arms to cross farther in front of the chest), swivel biceps, swivel/hinge elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, ball-joint torso, ball-joint waist, ball-joint hips, swivel thighs, dual hinged knees (w/ ratcheting stop points), and swivel/hinge rocker ankles. The ankles have the benefit of being like the ones used by Hasbro that fans have been praising which allows the figure to be sturdy and flat-footed in almost any pose. Our only minor complaint is with the shoulders. The cape pieces that lay on the shoulders, while soft and flexible, don't hinder movement when using your hands to pose Batman; but, can restrict shelf-posing the arms too high above his head since they can't hold back the pressure from the overlaying piece on their own. The coolest part of the articulation? The articulated cape, of course! There are swivel/hinge joints placed on each shoulder blade where the cape connects to the back. This allows for tons of posing opportunity for the cape that really helps add expression to the poses.
Batman is known for all of the gadgets that Wayne Industries can afford and Square Enix packed a couple of them in with this figure: a batarang and the triple grapple/Bat Claw. The batarang is made of thin, model-style plastic, but this lets it's sharp edges come through. Thanks to not being a kid's line, there's no reason to round off the edges or make the batarang out of a rubber. The triple grapple looks exactly as it did in the game (when Batman's badassery was apparent as he invented it on the fly) and fits tightly in his hand. Thanks to the wrists, he can also aim it correctly for all those cracked walls he loves to tear down in the game. Also, since it's pretty tough to hold weapons with clenched fists, Square included a couple of extra open hands. They slip onto the wrist pegs easily, fit snugly, and match up with the paint on the rest of the figure. Last, but certainly not least, is the final accessory: the alternate cape piece! This art slips over the peg on the left shoulder/cape hinge and changes the whole look of the cape as it now wraps around Batman's body. So, not only does this figure have a multiple-articulated cape, but also accessories for it. Damn, we love this toy!
Needless to say, we think this figure is worth every stinkin' penny! While he is in a scale that won't fit in with a lot of collector's other figures (he's actually smaller in scale than Square's Metal Gear line), never fear because there are more denizens of Arkham Asylum in the pipeline and the Joker is already available now! For more on this line, and all the other incredible figures Square Enix have on the way, be sure to check out their official website!
Stay tuned to MTV Geek for all your Batman and Square Enix coverage!