CSPwT: Spinmaster’s Batman: The Caped Crusader and DC: Heroes Unite 4 inch Action Figure Review!

chachachad

Stop the presses! Spinmaster, as of January 1st, 2020 now holds the license to create 4 inch and 12 inch Batman toys! And DC Universe toys! But mainly Batman toys! There will be a few 6 inch toys, too, but the adult-oriented collector 6-7 inch line will now go to McFarlane Toys. I’m an adult collector (if we’re measuring by age, at least), so why am I so excited about the new Spinmasters line?

Simple.

In the last decade plus that Mattel has had the license, their 4 inch efforts have been disappointing. Mattel never gave the classic versions of characters they’re due, instead focusing on media offshoots.

I was lamenting this in my mostly-done-but-still-yet-to be-published article on the Hiya Toys Injustice 2 figures (adult collectors are more patient; they can wait). Batman has had excellent toys for various movies or video games, but the regular, standard, comic book Batman has been underserved when it comes to quality figures.

Depending on your outlook, they might be still.

Maybe not, though. These have just started hitting stores en masse. Let’s take a looksie at the initial offerings of the line, which I found first at Walmart (which was picked apart down to only Batman figures) for $7.86 and Target (where I found the rest and I picked apart the pegs) for $7.99.

As a point of comparison, I’ll use the two current lines populating your local store or comic shop shelves: Jazware’s Fortnite and Hiya’s Injustice 2 figures and my favorite super hero action figures, Hasbro’s Marvel Universe.

Here’s how they measure up, literally.

Price: Getting figures down to under $10 is a big deal in my mind. Anything under $10, I can budget under a cup’o’noodles lunch day. Sure my sodium intake goes way up, but it’s easy to snag all the figures with minimal financial burden. Even when entire waves hit, it’s much easier to justify stocking my cart. When toys go over $10, I have to think about each purchase. Jazwares makes an excellent Fortnite line that I’ve covered here before, but because their toys are $12.99 regularly, it’s a line where I’ve gotten many but not all of the toys. Contrast that with Hiya’s Injustice 2 line, which are aimed at collectors at a price point between $20-$25. I cherry pick the few characters who I don’t have or have designs I like, but there are more passes than picks, to be sure. Marvel Universe prices crept up and up to the $12.99 point before the line fizzled out a few years ago, so it’s nice to see Spinmaster keeping things affordable.

Super hero toys at a price point that won’t keep kids or collectors away.

Design and Materials: This is probably the biggest “you’ll dig this line or you won’t” point. If you like the stylized almost cartoonish simplicity of the line, you’ll be pleased with what you’re getting. If not, it’s a hang-up I can understand that will most likely keep you away no matter what else I tell you about these toys. Aesthetically, I would say these toys borrow from that Fortnite design. They share a similar cartoony style that works for video game characters or comic books to be honest.

The Batman toys are a bit stockier or thinner depending on the character, whereas most Fornite toys are more in-between. Batman himself measures 4 inches exactly from the top of his ears to his bat-boots. His shoulders sit just a bit below your average Forniter. Enough to notice, but not so much as to keep you from using both lines interchangeably.

Hiya Toys Injustice 2 designs are much more detailed and specific to the video game. They’re great when you’re interacting with other Injustice 2 figures, but they don’t blend as well when mixing lines.

MU had a more realistic design, but it was all over the place when it came to scale and articulation. Is the Spinmaster design aimed at younger audiences? Sure. It’s also comic accurate and consistent. Sometimes they extend the glove or boot colors to the articulation point, which will lead to less paint rub and sturdier figures in the long run. The same is true for the plastic they use. It’s sturdier than the other lines and not as detailed, but the paint apps are spot on and the toys don’t like they’ll break any time soon. My Hiya Batman’s hands pop off if you look at the sideways. The polyester capes on the new Spinmaster line don’t tear easily, but they don’t look as nice as a softer cloth material. That’s ok. Spinmaster is making toys, not high-end collectibles. That’s a feature, not a bug as far as I’m concerned.

Articulation: Here’s where you pay for that $8 price point. Most figures have 11 points of articulation, which in my mind is just over the minimal acceptable number of articulation points for a decent toy. Each figure also has the classic backpack spot on their back for accessories to plug into if needed. Then, They’ve got bendable hinged knees and elbows (4pts). That’s the biggest area where toymakers make sacrifices for “younger” lines. They’ve got swivel peg shoulders (2pts). Their legs and hips share the same design as the Fortnite guys, featuring a t-crotch with pegged hips (2 pts) and an additional hip-swivel point immediately below (2 points). The legs can kick forward or out based on the pegged piece, but then the additional hip-swivel really gives it a nice range for posing. They also have a ball joint at the neck, which allows the head to swivel from side to side, but not much as far as looking up or down. Fortnite adds a hinged neck, wrists, and ankles as well as a torso and waist swivel. And their knees are double hinged for even more bending! That’s 19 articulation points.

MU articulation could range all over the place. By the end of the line, they were mixing in figures with 19 POA that could match Fortnite in the same wave as figures with 11 that would match with Spinmasters. That inconsistency is one of that line’s downsides. Even the best MU figures would have issues with legs popping off or holding poses.

The Injustice Batman features a ball joint with a more robust range of motion (up, down, every which way), a mid-torso joint, hinges on the elbows, knees (twice), and ankles. They also feature a similar leg/hip design with the legs attaching with pegs and then having a hip cut that swivels. Their wrists are a step down in that they swivel only. And pop off to be replaced. But that’s 18 points for Hiya. This is definitely an area where you get what you pay for. I will say that Spinmaster goes 2 over my minimum acceptable amount by including those hip swivels. They offer enough poseability that these figures can be played with and posed without frustration. They’re not like vintage Star Wars-style toys who can only stand their and raise their hands to show if they’re sure. You can pose these toys running, fighting, swinging, menacing, or posing heroically. They also feel sturdy enough you can feel confident giving them to a kid to play with without having to worry about hands or legs or feet falling off and becoming choking hazards.

Of my initial batch of figures, only one figure had any issues. Superman, ironically, was the least super. His leg kept popping out of its socket. It pops back in, but it’s annoying. Supes is the exception, not the rule. Everyone else has a very solid range of motion without any issue. So I feel like the system they have in place is sound; I must have just gotten a bum Superguy. Even the leg-popping issue isn’t a dealbreaker. Marvel Universe figure legs pop off all the time.

Overall, as toys, they’re pretty solid.

Accessories: Here’s where Spinmaster has tried to demonstrate they are indeed the masters of spin.

The mystery revealed!

Each figure comes with three different mystery accessories. Those accessories relate to one of four missions. The accessories are all single-color plastic, but they add a nice bit of flair. Some clip on, some plug into the hole on the figure’s back. It’s interesting, too, that the same figure (Batman or Robin, for instance) could come with different mission-based accessories. I don’t know if the missions extend beyond that and the picture on the insert, but it’s a fun play idea regardless. The other nice part is that if you find all the accessories, you can unlock the Super Rare Batgear. That’s cool.

The mission idea is neat. The proofreading, messy. Aquaman stole Superman’s description, apparently.

For someone like me, it’s not a necessity, so I’m not going to drive myself crazy trying to find the Tactical Batman with the gauntlets. If you look at the pictures, other characters can come with those same gauntlets, just with a different material finish. So there’s still a reasonable shot at completing the gear, even without unlocking all the super rare stuff. It’ll just be different colors. The mystery accessories are hidden behind the packaging, so it adds a touch of that ‘blind bag’ craziness, but with cool action figures, too. The packaging also comes with a card you can punch out with different character combos. One thing I started to do, especially with the other heroes, was save their mystery containers as almost a locker for the Hall of Justice.

Meanwhile in the Hall of Justice locker room, Robin learns he doesn’t deserve his own locker, apparently.

That meant not punching them out to get the accessories, but removing the tape from the bottom and pulling them out that way.

They mystery adds a bit of fun, but once again this line falls short of its more expensive competition. Fortnite adds a stand (which combines to build stuff) and an accessory with each figure. It sounds less than the Batline, but those building materials are awesome. I do wish one of the mystery accessories could double as a figure stand. Maybe next wave.

Hiya included with their Batman 3 batarangs, 2 extra sets of bathands (one set with brass kryptonite knuckles), a zipline gun and a stand. Those things are all cool, but I feel like Spinmasters could release a utility-belt style bat-accessory pack down the line (think Fortnite’s battle chests) and beat all that stuff, all while not charging 3 times the same amount per figure.

Not quite accessories, but not worth skipping over–Spinmaster does plan to release a batmobile, a batcycle (with Batman and Clayface), and Mega packs with additional accessories. These extras are the hallmark of a 4 inch scale line. You can make vehicles, play sets, extras. There doesn’t look like there will be a shortage of toys to track down from this line.

Character Selection:

Here’s where it matters. Spin Masters comes out of the gate with some of the biggest names for their respective lines. Wave one of the Caped Crusader line features Batman, Robin, Nightwing, Joker, Manbat, and Rebirth Tactical Batman. It also features Rare Gold Batman and Super Rare Shiny Paint Robin. Based on Spinmaster’s site, I know there are the Mega Pack figures for King Shark and Batman, and a Batman/Clayface/Batcycle pack in the works as well.

Batman, Robin, Nightwing, and Manbat are all wins in this first wave. The Joker is a little off as he’s in between 80’s crazy hair Joker and the modern shaved sides look. The different Batmans I could take or leave. I grew up in th 80’s and 90’s where there were always 1,001 different Batmans on the shelves. The Damain Wayne Robin is the best Robin figure I’ve seen in a good while, although they appear to have aged him up to at least a teenager, height-wise. He’s definitely more slender than the bulkier heroes, but he stands almost as tall. I’ll take that over the time Mattel made a Tim Drake (a teenager) figure that was half the size of the regular heroes. Man Bat also gets a really interesting sculpt–the sculpted fur contrasts with the smoothness of his clothes to make him seem extra monsterous.

On the DC Heroes Unite side, you get Superman, Flash, Cyborg, and Shazam! Rare Black Suit Bearded Superman and Super Rare Shiny Flash round out the single carded figures.

“We don’t have bad guys yet, so superpose everybody!!!”

The packaging also notes 2 figure Battle Packs featuring Superman vs. Darkseid and Aquaman vs Black Manta. I was only able to snag Superman, Shazam, Cyborg, and Flash from the DC side of things. Shazam and Cyborg both look better out of package, but I was hesitant on them because their sculpts are a bit soft. Flash looks stockier than I would like, but he’s a darn fine figure. I didn’t realize until after I had opened him up that he was the Super Rare version with the gold boots and trim. If I ever find the yellow, this one can be my Wally West, then. Wally’s uniform was always the shinier one.

The biggest disappointment as far as character selection: where are all the girls? I saw on Spinmaster’s official site Wonder Woman and Harley Quinn get 12 inch figures, so I imagine they’ll show up sooner or later in the 4 inch wave. I just hope Spinmasters doesn’t wait too long.

By the by, character selection is where Spinmaster leaves Hiya and Fortnite in the dust. They’re making comic book characters, and that’s right up my alley. Fortnite is making video game characters (and darned fine toys of them), but they don’t really pique my interest the way that DC comics characters do. I guess Hiya has DC characters, too, but they’re making video game versions of those characters. It’s just not as good. Spinmaster gets the win against its current competition hands down!

What about its predecessors? Here are few pics of some Robins from the various Mattel lines alongside Spinmaster’s Damian (3rd from left).

I’ll give Spinmasters the W. It actually looks like a comic book Robin!

Here are Nightwings from DC Direct’s Injustice, Spinmaster’s line, and Mattel’s Multiverse. DC Direct toys are notoriously frail, and Mattel’s Dick Grayson looks like he just came from a swim in the Bludhaven bay.

Simply because I’m not worried about the figure shattering of the pieces when I pick it up, I’ll give a spin master is the win over the DC direct figure.

Finally, here’s Batman out front of a whole lotta Batmans.

Not the best Bats, but definitely not the worst, either.

There’s a lot of Mattel Batmen from their Dark Knight Rises, Multiverse, and Infinite Heroes lines. Infinite Heroes was all over the place in terms of scale and articulation. Microman’s Batman is in there. As is Funko’s Batman ‘66 Batman. I even tossed in my custom Marvel Universe-style Batman (he’s still my favorite). Spinmaster’s new Batman is one of the good ones. I think Mattel’s Multiverse Batmans really looked great, and they demonstrated what could have been if they focused more on the comics instead of the video games. They didn’t though. Spinmasters does, so I’m happy to have them making great toys!

Overall, I’d give their Batman: Caped Crusaders and DC: Heroes United lines a solid B with A upside. There’s room for growth (just a bit more detail on a figure like Cyborg could go a long way). Imagine those metallic paint finishes on Cyborg!

There are more hits than misses, though. I love the devotion to the comic designs over video games and movies. I’m even a fan of the slightly cartoony design aspects. The character selection is off to a great start. Paint apps and playablity are all there. Even the packaging has fun little surprises to it. They’re super affordable and hopefully readily available. And since they’re in the 4 inch scale, the most fun and mixable toy scale there is, I’m sure they’ll find ways to become integral in my own personal toy universe. I hope both lines keep going strong for years to come.

I’m happy Spinmaster is taking advantage of the best scale for toys, and I hope to have tons of more heroes and vehicles and playsets and all that other fun stuff soon!

Until next time, I’ll be scoping the toy aisles to make sure I’m not missing any of these great toys.

OooooOOOoooOoooOoh!

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