Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Holy Toy Biz 1989 Batman!

I can say without hesitation, that 1989's Batman is one of my favorite flicks. I don't know if I first saw it on the big screen at the Idle Hour Theater, or if it was at home on a VHS, but I loved it. up to that point, my only exposure to the Dark Knight was Super Friends, and Batman '66 reruns on weekday afternoons. This new, darker version blew all previous iterations out of the water. I mean, if I'm given the choice between sweating through grey and blue spandex, or an all black suit of rubber and leather and body armor, it's a pretty easy decision.

Not surprisingly, there was Batman branded just about everything. You could fill your bowl with Batman cereal, wear your Batman ballcap to the mall, and of course, play with Batman action figures in the privacy of your own room.

I somehow managed to luck into finding this guy at a local record shop. Actually, the first part of that is that we somehow got lucky enough to have a local record shop. He was way up on a shelf near the ceiling, right above the entrance. I stood there staring at him for a couple of minutes before I finally asked, "How much?". The owner came back with "7 bucks", and I was sold. This was actually the better of the two. The guy was getting ready to hand me the one I saw, but decided to give me the one in nicer shape. I didn't have the heart to tell him that I was going to be opening him up as soon as I got home.

Compared to the Super Powers packaging, Batman's is rather pedestrian. It eschewed the bright blue and yellow for gold with..gold dots. Maybe I'm being a bit hard on the package. If nothing else, it puts all the emphasis on that picture of Batman over to the side. I'm sure a Batman in an all black costume wouldn't show up well against the shadows in a comic book, but I have to admit he works here, against a gold and gold background.

On the back, we see the rest of the toys in the Batman line. Of course there's Joker and Bob, but if you look closely at Batman, you'll notice he looks a bit, off, compared to the actual figure. That's because Toy Biz basically just painted a Kenner Super Powers Batman, took a couple shots, and called it a day. Or maybe they took a couple shots, then did all that other stuff. We also get glimpses of the Batwing, Batmobile and Batcave. I'm looking at this, and can't help but think about how much cooler those vehicles seemed when I was younger. Did the Batwing really use those little red suction darts? Bummer..And those Bat-symbol stickers on the sides of the Batmobile..And where's its roof? GAH!

Interestingly enough, Batman was just part of the initial wave of Toy Biz's DC Super Heroes line. I have a feeling they pretty much rushed this wave out, in order to cash in on the buzz created by the film. Which is odd, because Batman is most certainly not a kid's flick. There were jokes and lines that I didn't get until just recently. I know they must have flown over my head back then. I mean, how many 8 year old kids know what an enema is?

Out of the package, Batman's not a bad looking figure. He actually has some nicely sculpted details, such as his gauntlets, and his shin guards. He also has a real cloth cape, and if you know me, you know I'm a sucker for a soft goods cape. It's reminiscent of the style used on the older Super Powers figures, and listen to me when I say that it absolutely will not stay on if you hold the figure out the window while you're driving and let the wind blow through his cape. Trust me. If I had one complaint, it's that his arms seem a bit small compared to the rest of him. Even if they were straight out, I think they would still be a little too short to look normal.

Batman can't fight crime without his gadgets, so the figure came with a couple of different weapons/tools. The vaguely snail-shaped thing he's holding up there is his spear gun. What spear gun? This spear gun:

Photo courtesy of  Nick Derrington

Yeah, the design sorta got lost in translation when it made the transition to toy form. What started out as a grappling launcher roughly the size of a VHS cassette ended up looking more like a French Horn. I guess the toy form is probably a little more accurate to how big something would have to be to be able to pull a fully grown man wearing body armor to the top of a 10 story building in a matter of seconds.

The other accessory included with Batman was his Batarang.  Next to the grappling gun, the Batarang is one of Batman's most prominent gadgets. And boy is this one prominent. It's a little big, but let's just pretend he scaled it up to be used as a weapon for hand to hand combat. It actually works in conjunction with his action feature. Remember that blurb about the Bat Rope on the front of the packaging?

Yep, that one. Well, it would seem that Batman's hidden feature is a belt/grappling hook that comes out of his midsection. He even comes with directions on how to use it:

The original figure I got was from a JC Penney Christmas catalog, (think their version of the Wish Book), and for whatever reason, didn't include this little instruction sheet. I knew the Batarang could clip on to the Bat-rope, but I never thought to use it as a guide for Batman when he was sliding up. Mostly, I just used the rope as a place to keep the Batarang. When I wanted to use the rope, I would just wrap it around another figure's neck, and just let Batman fly into him. Hey, it worked well enough. Having a 200 lb man in an armored bat costume is going to royally screw up your night.

The Bat-rope kinda sorta works well. Wrap Bats' belt around an object, pull him down, then let go and watch him fly upwards. It's a short trip, but I have a feeling the string was kept short to help prevent knots from forming.

This may not have been the first, the last, or even the best Batman figure ever released, but he was certainly my favorite. He managed to stick around until my X-Men days, which made for some interesting team-ups between Batman and Wolverine. I think I even had him fight Spawn once or twice, before that awful comic came out.

So there you have it Bat-fans, a look at my all-time favorite Bat-figure. Keep your Batarangs sharp, and your rope clear of knots. Because a knotted up winch is Batman's true enemy.


  1. I have the long face version.I want that Joker now!

    1. He's pretty easy to find on eBay. I found some carded ones for pretty cheap not too long ago.

  2. Replies
    1. I had all the Batman figures, as well as Superman, Lex Luthor, and Mr. Freeze. I feel like after that, the only one I could find on the pegs still were Wonder Woman and The Flash, and I didn't have an interest in either of those.

    2. The Super Powers collection remains one of the all time great!

  3. I regret not buying this one recently at a local record shop of my own! Great post!

    1. Man, what is it with record stores and random action figures?

  4. I have the Crime Attack Batman from Kenner's Dark Knight collection, which came out a few months after Toy Biz's line. I do have Toy Biz's Superman figure with kryptonite ring, however.

    1. Ooh..I got that Superman to replace the Super Powers version that my dog chewed up. I wore that ring until it left a dent in my finger.

  5. The only better Batman movie than Tim Burton's 1989 film is hands down Tim Burton's 1992 Batman Returns. Yeah, okay...The Dark Knight isn't terrible either.


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