Figure Friday: A Tale of Two Batmen

It’s a frustrating Figure Friday this week due to the couple of new acquisitions I have to write about. One was a preorder and the other was one I picked up purely by luck alone but they’re both basically the same figure. Let’s see what’s up!

Ages ago I preordered the McFarlane Toys DC Multiverse Batman Beyond figure from US retailer Target…and promptly canceled my preorder the same day. You see, I don’t follow many toy companies on social media, instead choosing to get my toy news from dedicated websites or twitter/instagram accounts. So when I saw that McFarlane himself had announced their take on the Batman Beyond character I jumped at the first preorder I saw since I had quite the time tracking down Mattel’s version of the figure over a year ago.

This is where things get frustrating. The key points of information I was missing was that the Target version of the figure was a store exclusive with a different head sculpt and batarangs than the version that was set to be released to other retailers. It also included a build-a-figure piece I had no interest in and and extra five dollars tacked on to the price because of that.

For me personally, it is exceedingly rare that I will collect a whole wave of figures just to complete a BAF. It’s literally been something like 17 years since I did that for Marvel Legends and these days I can’t justify buying a figure I don’t want to obtain a piece for another figure. Again, that’s just me…some people really go nuts for that stuff.

Since this wasn’t the “standard” version of the character I canceled my Target preorder and waited for the other version to go up for order. Surprisingly, Amazon was first and even MORE surprising they didn’t cancel the order on me (I’m still a little bitter about not getting the Scareglow figure I ordered from them). But then, a week before the figure was scheduled to arrive, I just happened to be in a Target and saw a couple of the Batman Beyond exclusives I had previously canceled.

My thought process was something along the lines of, “Well, I’m here…it’s here…may as well.” I also justified it by saying I could do a compare and contrast for this very column. Oftentimes, being a toy collector requires one to make gold medal leaps in justification when buying a toy that you do not need.

The McFarlane DC Multiverse toys have been a thing now for just over a year and I’ve been sporadically collecting them during that time. To date, I’ve yet to be 100% happy with one of their figures. Maybe it’s because I’m still bitter about the DC Direct figure line getting torpedoed in favor of these or maybe it’s because they come so maddeningly close to being great only to not completely stick the landing. For me, it always seems like there’s one fatal flaw in each figure I’ve purchased that keeps it from being “perfect.”

In the case of Batman Beyond specifically, I’m not sure this needed to be two figures. For starters, the Target exclusive version comes with the appropriate batarangs for the character, the standard version does not. The standard version comes with a nifty clear articulated flight stand and snap-on jet boot effects and the exclusive version doesn’t. So if you’re looking to get either version of the character with all the necessary accessories…you’re going to have to buy BOTH versions.

From a design standpoint the figure is amazingly sculpted and well articulated. The Batman Beyond character has an iconic design that was an instant classic when it debuted back in 1999. The design is very sleek and minimal, so adding anything unnecessary completely ruins the aesthetic appeal of the figure. This version of Batman has black and red glider wings on his back which disappear when not in use, making the character visually distinct from the original Dark Knight and it’s here where the toy really falls apart for me.

The wings cannot be removed. Well, they aren’t meant to be removed I should clarify. The wings can fold down the back of the toy when it’s not in a flying pose but you’re left with a narrow, red, not-quite-cape thing on the back of the toy which completely upsets the aforementioned sleekness of the design. When I had opened my Target exclusive version, one wing fell off entirely and the other seemed stuck in place. I went on YouTube and looked up some reviews which all confirmed the wings were to be permanently attached but could be removed with a quick dunk in some hot water to loosen the plastic.

Now, that’s all well and good and may very well save the figure from being a total loss for me. But, like I mentioned before, these toys always come maddeningly close to perfection before farting it off into the ether. When the wings are removed you’re left with a nice, coin-sized hole in the back of the toy which looks terrible. It would have been SO EASY to have added smaller, unobtrusive holes for the wings to peg into but instead it looks like Batman Beyond is missing his Tron Identity Disc.

As of this writing I haven’t decided if I’m going to give one or both of my figures the soak to remove the wings. Currently, I have the standard version on a bookshelf in the flying stand and it does look pretty cool but that’s ALL it does, it’s an articulated statues and that drives me nuts.

McFarlane Toys is getting a LOT of mileage out of adding small tweaks or accessories to figures and passing them off as new. I can’t help but think about the Marvel Legends Wolverine and Cyclops figures I bought a month ago, both of which come with alternate head accessories. Just this week McFarlane Toys announced an “unmasked” Red Hood figure that comes with a couple alternate accessories and a new head sculpt, all things that could have easily been included with the first version of the figure (one that I still cannot find after months of hunting).

See, I told you it was going to be a Frustration Filled Figure Friday.

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