In 1989, Batmania was sweeping the country! The first Batman movie starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson was coming out, and I was buying up every magazine that even mentioned the film, discussing it with all of my friends, even sneaking into movies just to get a glimpse of the trailer! The bat-symbol was everywhere I looked, and I was loving it!
So it's not surprising that I'd buy the toys. The trouble was, these were very hard to come by. These were not hitting stores yet, and I just couldn't wait to buy them when I first read about them in Comic Buyer's Guide. But track them down I did...and since they were close to scale with the popular Super Powers figures, they would fit right in. Well, almost...
Wave 1 - 1989
This first wave was actually one of the very first action figures created by the then-new company Toy Biz, and only featured 3 action figures (one with a variation), 2 vehicles, and a playset. Some of the early prototypes shown on the cardbacks were actually modified Super Powers figures, but the final product was very different. (I did pick up the Batwing, but that will come in a future update, since it's in storage at the moment.)
The man himself, all decked out in his sleek black battle armor from the film. This figure came with a batarang, speargun, and an interesting bat-rope built into the body that enabled the figure to "fly" into the air escaping danger. The figure changed somewhere along the line, giving Batman two different head sculpts: a rounded face resembling Michael Keaton, and a squared face with more "heroic" features.
The Clown Prince of Crime did not resemble Jack Nicholson at all, but instead more closely resembled the classic comic book look, with movie-based accessories of a removable hat, cane (which was lost years ago), and an "acid"-squirting flower that was fueled by a water tank that plugged into the back.
Bob the Goon
The Joker's right-hand man included a removable hat, knife, and pistol. he also came with an action feature: by pressing a lever on the figure's back, he could kick his right leg out. In fact, the leg usually stays in the "kick" position, because the internal lock is pretty weak.
Other toys in this wave include:Batcave playset
Wave 2 - 1990
In an attempt to capitalize on the movie's blockbuster status, Toy Biz created more figures, but changed the name to DC Comics Super Heroes, to bring back more characters from the DC universe. Although mostly based on the Batman villains and supporting cast, the focus shifted away from the movie and widened to the rest of the DCU as well. Perhaps having a wave with Robin as the only hero wasn't considered a good idea. However, since I already had the Super Powers figures, I only picked up the characters I didn't own.
Based on the Super Powers version, this figure didn't come with accessories, but he did include a cool color-change feature when places in the freezer or a glass of ice water...his face and armor turned blue.
Since I didn't get the Super Powers figure, I got this one...and they are basically the same. There was a running change to him that included tails on his jacket. The spring-loaded umbrella used to be able to fire at the press of a button, but this one never did lock into place, so it pretty much ALWAYS launches!
A new figure for this wave, although certainly not the most exciting. The Riddler's riddles can be separated into 6 riddles left for Batman to discover, but I left them intact, just rolled up into a scroll.
This version of Robin is almost exaclty the same as the Super Powers figure, except that the hinges in the knees are visible and the karate chop action feature is activated by a lever in the back of the figure. Since this line was quickly made, shortcuts were taken. I almost didn't buy this figure, but it was a Batman character, so I had to have him.
Another Super Powers-inspired figure that I would have passed on if I bought the original. But I didn't, so here she is! Once again, her action feature was activated by a lever sticking out of the back.
Other figures in this wave include:Lex Luthor
Wave 3 - 1990
With this wave, I was losing interest...and Toy Biz was losing the license. As mentioned above, since I had the Super Powers line, I was picky over which figures I would buy, and I only got one figure...another Batman villain. The rest were members of the Justice League of America, but they weren't as good as the Super Powers toys.
While not the most exciting figure, Two-Face was somewhat fun to play with, because you could try to guess with side of the coin would come up. The flipping action was activated by a wind-up knob sticking out of the figure's side.
Other figures in this wave include:Aquaman
Overall, this was a fun toy line that quickly lost its steam. The likenesses weren't that great, especailly compared to the Super Powers line. But they did satisfy my Batman hunger for a time...although that would change very soon...
Be sure to tune in next week, same Bat-time, same Bat-site, for more classic toys in a future installment of "Flashback Friday" right here on Cool Toy Review!