It has begun! As the flood of con-exclusives have been/are being announced from almost all of the fan-favorite companies, we're bringing you our first review of some toys only available at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con International: the black & white versions of Batman and Joker from Square Enix' Play Arts Kai line! Both of these figures are monochrome counterparts to the previously released versions based on the incredibly popular Batman: Arkham Asylum video game that stole a week or so of our life when it was released. We only got to borrow these two arch-enemies for a few days, but are they going to be worth our hard-earned cash when we make it to SDCC? Read on to find out!
As we've already reviewed the original version of Batman here, this look is going to be more pic-heavy (since we both know that's what you really came for)-- and Joker-centric!
The packaging for these two figures is the same as the regular versions, except for a sticker on the lower right hand side of the window with a silhouette of the character and words labeling them as the special black & white versions. Of course, thanks to the large windows in the front of the packages show off the figures, so there's not much of a problem telling these apart from the regular versions. Still, since most fans will be keeping these in the box, a little variety would have went a long way.
The sculpt for these figures is exactly 100% the same as the original releases. While normally this would be kind of cop-out release, in this case it works since the sculpts used are pretty incredible. The Joker is suitably lanky and all of the details of his pin-striped suit are sculpted on, along with the wavy lines on his vest. Like most Play Arts Kai release, Mr. J. manages to walk the line with his design that utilizes his original look while supplementing a Japanese flair into the mix. All of the lines in the sculpt are tight with comes in handy with the washes used for painting the Clown Prince of Crime-- but we'll get into that momentarily.
Both figures are set apart from their previous release by one thing: paint. The figures are molded in appropriate shades of gray and black for their base, with a combination of brushed, airbrushed, dry-brushed (that's a lot of damn brushing!), and even washed with various shades of gray, white, and black. We've had a lot of black & white versions of figures from different toy lines through the years and the best way we can tell if it's an effective paint job or not is through photographs. When we took pics of Batman and Joker, they looked like we used a black & white filter, so-- mission accomplished!
Articulation for these two is just as plentiful as what you'd expect from a Play Arts Kai figure. Batman has manages a larger range of motion than the Joker, who utilizes a ball-joint neck, hinge and ball-joint shoulders, swivel biceps, swivel/hinge elbows, swivel cuffs, swivel/hinge wrists, a ball-joint torso, ball-joint waist, ball-joint hips, dual-hinged knees, and swivel/hinge ankles; but, is somewhat hindered due to the sculpt of his suit jacket and freakishly skinny appendages. The torso joint is almost useless due to the outer jacket, and the sculpt of his shoulders keep his arms from flailing back to far, lest you pop the arms loose from the sockets. Thankfully, they easily pops back on-- still, it can be annoying when you're doing your best to have the Joker put his arm around the shoulders of his full-colored doppelganger... as we found out firsthand. Joker is supported on incredible long legs, and the joints really hold up well here with ratcheting knees to keep him steady in almost any insane pose.
Accessories are plentiful with both figures, and carry on the monochrome color-scheme. Both figures comes with an extra pair of hands that attach via pushing them securely onto the wrist pegs. Batman also has a batarang and his triple grapnel gun for pulling down crates and whatnot. Joker has one of his trademark wind-up teeth with a working hinge-joint, and a huge-ass revolver. All of the weapons fit in the figure's hands securely and there were no problems with anything on that front.
After playing with these figures, setting them up next to our other Play Arts Kai toys,
and taking a bath with them and generally posing them in all kinds of physically impossible ways, we regretted having to box them back up after the review. That in itself is a check in the Win column due to our ever-jaded stance on new action figures. At 59.99 each, these two are gonna cut into our con-budget, but we'll definitely be scoring these for ourselves-- and probably all our friends who are too impatient to stand in line.
For more on Batman and Joker, including pre-order information, be sure to check out the Square Enix online store here. Also, we recommend visiting the Square Enix booth #3829 at SDCC so you can catch a glimpse of all of their upcoming video game-related figures. *cough* Hitman *cough*
Stay tuned to MTV Geek for all your toy coverage from SDCC 2012!