Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Retro Toy Week: Legends of the Dark Knight Man-Bat!

Over the course of Retro Toy Week, we usually see figures that have been replaced by newer, better versions. Today, we have one that still holds up next to so-called upgrades: from 1997 and Kenner's Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight line, Man-Bat!
I remember pretty clearly that ToyFare magazine loved this figure, featuring him in a Toy-of-the-Month style feature. "I'm getting Man-Thing and Man-Spider and we're coming for all your daughters!" Man-Bat proudly proclaimed, or to that effect. I don't think this was Man-Bat's first action figure: he had a solid figure in the Batman: the Animated Series line. But the Legends series was bigger, and more sculpted; a collector's line. (It would very likely be a response to McFarlane Toys raising the bar on terms of paint and sculpt.) The Kelley Jones-inspired Dark Knight Batman was my default Batman for years, and is still a solid-looking figure; and I still wish I could find a reasonably priced Batgirl as well.

The paint work is excellent, particularly on the Kurt Langstrom ID badge pinned to the remnants of his shirt. Also, the work on the wings gives the impression of a creepy, veined bat wing; without going overboard or being overly grotesque. The articulation on the arms is good, without being overdone or fiddly, but he has only hip joints below the waist. (The waist lacks a swivel as well.) Luckily, Man-Bat's feet are good-sized, so standing him is a little easier. He could use a ball-jointed head, though: it's a mere swivel, so he can't look up. Still, he looks good in several positions.

There's been a few more Man-Bat figures over the years: I liked the albino version from the Batman cartoon of a few years back, and DC Direct has taken a stab at it as well. (The Ninja Man-Bat is a different character, from Grant Morrison's run.) The most recent is the DCUC version, a Wal-Mart exclusive last year. (And a San Diego exclusive prior to that.)
But the LotDK Man-Bat still looks pretty good there. If you're a fan of the character, you could do worse. I like Man-Bat, even though in the comics his appearance and characterization and history is going to vary depending on who's writing him and what they need him for: he's gone from Batman fanboy scientist to creepy environmental extremist to private eye/family guy. But whichever one shows up, it's hard to go wrong with a scientist turned into a big bat guy.


Dale Bagwell said...

I like both the Legends Man-Bat and the DCUC one. Obviously the DCUC has the better articulation, but I'd take the Legends' head(maybe as a alt version), and the torn shirt w/ id badge, and put them on the DCUC one. Incidently I used to have the Legends version of Scarecrow and Batman. Scarecrow looked bad-ass didn't he? I also had what I think is the red and gold version of AZBat, but he wasn't from the Legends wave right? My memory must be going.

Anonymous said...

I have boughten this toy from an old toy store, and would you say it's built to last?