In the history of Batman, I’m willing to bet that more words have been written about Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, and Lynn Barley’s The Dark Knight Returns than just about any other story. It’s a seminal work that– for better or worse– changed the character in ways that are still being felt today, almost forty years later. Whether or not you think it’s the best Batman story, there’s no denying that it’s one of the most important Batman stories, and its influence can be felt across all sorts of media.
Do action figures count as media? For the sake of argument, I’ll say yes, and Beast Kingdom have dipped their toe into the TDKR pool to bring us a Batman and Robin two-pack. As part of their Dynamic 8ction Heroes line, the elderly Bruce Wayne and young Carrie Kelley are here to bring justice to your bookshelf. Are they spuds or slicer-dicers, though? Read on to find out.
The titular Dark Knight comes with a number of accessories, including five pairs of swappable hands, three individual Batarangs, two alternate mouths for the main head, and a “battle damaged” head that also has two additional mouths. His main head also has a light-up feature where the eyes will glow, though I wasn’t able to track down enough batteries to test this myself. Per the Beast Kingdom site, he stands 20 centimeters in height and has 20 points of articulation, and he’s outfitted with a real cloth costume and cape, the latter of which has a bendable wire along the edges for posing.
While the texture of the fabric costume isn’t what I was expecting– the gray bodysuit is a pretty wide weave– the colors are nice with that rich blue of the cape, cowl, trunks, boots, and gloves. I’m a yellow-oval guy, so seeing that symbol on Batman’s chest is always a welcome sight, even if it’s a tad big here. The blue areas of the costume are made from durable rubber or hard plastic, and there’s some nice wear to the cork in particular that really evokes Miller and Janson’s art.
As cool as some of the accessories are– and they are pretty cool– the hands were a nightmare to swap out. They’re attached to a rotatable ball joint in the wrist that, to be fair, is sturdy and has a good range of motion. The socket in each hand is so snug, though, that it’s extremely difficult to get a new set of hands-on there. Even with twisting and applying different amounts of pressure, it still took me upwards of ten minutes to get them changed out. Especially the hands with the three molded Batarangs in between each finger, since there isn’t a good way to grab those for stability. That, and the interchangeable mouths were almost too easy to remove, so I found myself accidentally knocking part of Batman’s face off when fighting with the hands on more than one occasion.
Regardless, once you get them on there, you can get some pretty cool poses and action shots. The different joints move easily enough while still holding in place, so you don’t have arms or legs just flopping around. The fabric costume is surprisingly durable too, so I don’t think there would be much risk of wearing it out or overextending it around the joints.
Despite coming with a base and posing arm, Batman stands up on his own pretty well. If anything, the base is cool to use more for the sweet comic art and lettering work than anything.
The Carrie Kelley Robin may be small, but her figure packs a punch. In some ways she’s even superior to Batman, but we’ll get to that.
Robin also sports a cloth cape and costume, which is made of a more solid fabric so it doesn’t look like thermal underwear. The fabric is kind of thick and heavy, but it doesn’t really impede any motion in the figure’s joints, so you can contour her very slim frame into a variety of poses. Like Batman, she also stands on her own pretty well and has good balance, which you might not think at first because of her narrow feet and thin legs.
The Robin costume is an all-timer, and it looks really good here, with solid application around the R symbol and the faux-leather belt. She also comes with two different heads, one with some “windswept” hair and the other get more traditional cut. She comes with a pair of her trademark glasses that got over her face and ears just fine, though it’s kind of disappointing that the lenses are solid, painted plastic. It would have been nice if they were a transparent green plastic, so you can see Carrie’s eyes. Manufacturing costs and simplicity, I’m sure, though it’s still a bummer.
Carrie comes shipped with her own base and posing arm, two extra pairs of hands, and two slingshots. One sling is loose, while the other is drawn tight, so she can be delivered either drawing the projectile back or just after launch, thanks to the different hand sculpts. Though I did run into some trouble swapping them out, her hands snap into the joints much more easily than Batman, which contributed to me enjoying playing around with the figure more than the Caped Crusader.
Overall: You can purchase the two-pack through the Beast Kingdom website, or get Robin individually. The set retails for around $150, which is a bit steep, though if you’re a collector it could be a great deal. At that price, it would have been nice if some more accessories were included, like different suits for Batman and a non-gloved hand for Robin, and there are enough nitpicks about some of the build quality that keeps these from greatness. For Dark Knight Returns die-hards this is worth picking up, though Batfans who don’t exactly jive with that book could find something that suits their tastes elsewhere.
Disclaimer: Beast Kingdom provided this set for the purpose of this review.
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