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UnBoxing | BATMAN 1989 v HUSH

Two of the most popular collectible toy manufacturers take on the Dark Knight from two different eras and bring into the hands of fans fully-realized versions of two of the most popular iterations of BATMAN!

No other property appears to snag more of the collective instinct of fans than Batman! The iconic DC Comics character has proven himself, time and time again, a sure-fire bankable commodity. The hero’s more than 80 years of popularity has ranged across all media from his introductions in pulp comic publications (Detective Comics #27, 1939) to television to film and each time he is reimagined in ways that continue to captivate our attention. And with every reinvention, there’s also been a collectible action figure to boot!

With the rising interest in adult collectors adding onto the market due to their affinity to nostalgic attachment, more frequency has been allotted by toy manufactures to revisit the scope of the Dark Knight’s legacy and reinsert into the marketplace all-new product, and with the technology what it is, these latest rounds of collectible items couldn’t be more spot on! S.H.Figuarts and Medicom Toys MAFEX line are among the best in delivering to fans the most detailed, highly-articulated replicas in the popular 1:10 range of collectible figures.

I’ve recently added onto my collection of figures based on Batman with what must be two of my most favorite versions of Gotham City’s Caped Crusader. The first is particularly special and is S.H.Figuarts’ BATMAN 1989 based on character as portrayed by actor Michael Keaton in Tim Burton’s masterpiece, and the second is Medicom Toys MAFEX BATMAN: HUSH which captures the lines in its sculpt based on the illustrations of DC legend Jim Lee and realizes the hero as he appeared in the epic story arc first published in 2002.

Let the Unboxing Begin!

Back in 1989, when the film was released, there wasn’t a proper children’s merchandising tie-in to Tim Burton’s Batman. The movie which was a blockbuster hit landed with a thud in toy stores. Perhaps parents thought the film’s darker and grittier take on the Dark Knight was too violent and the price tag attached to recreating the famous face of one of the film’s leads (Jack Nicholson) may have deterred others. When action figures did hit shelves, they were less than enticing especially given most were repurposed sculpts acquired by Toy Biz.

Cut to 2020 and the resurgent interest in the 1989 film that revolutionized the way Hollywood looked at the genre is at its peak, perhaps it could have something to do with the continued reference to Michael Keaton’s Batman returning into the cinematic fold as the character is rumored to play a major part in the big-screen debut of The Flash starring Ezra Miller. But as for an action figure bearing the actor’s likeness and perfectly replicating the suit he wore in the 1989 theatrical release, the S.H.Figuarts’ BATMAN 1989 is sure to delight any Bat-fan!

Academy Award® Winner Colleen Atwood’s design is captured in miniature down to Keaton’s trademark chin. At 6 inches in height, the figure is highly-articulated allowing you to pose him and recreate many of the most iconic moments from the film, including the opening introduction on the rooftop where Batman reveals his full wingspan. The leather cape is beautifully constructed and although it’s not as posable it includes handgrips that when placed in the figure’s grip will replicate that intimidating open-cape look!

In true authenticity to play, it’s practically impossible to move Batman’s head such as Keaton reported was one of the greater challenges of working in the suit, but it does come packed with alternate facial features and several different hands to hold the various accessories (grappling gun, gauntlet, Batarangs, and Shuriken throwing star). The eyes are the most striking feature of this figure, which appear to have been meticulously painted to capture Keaton’s deep blue stare. The costume detail from the boots to gauntlet to chest plate is extraordinary.

Hush… Here Comes Another One!

Jeff Loeb’s 2002 storyline “Hush” spanned the entirety of the Caped Crusader’s gallery of friends and foes in a mystery unlike any other and introduced one of the most complex adversaries — one that had a deep connection to both Bruce Wayne and his caped and cowled alter-ego. The extraordinary artwork provided by Jim Lee gave us the most definitive look of the Dark Knight in contemporary comics, not since Neal Adams was at the helm of the character’s look. Lee’s Batman was far more predatory, an urban warrior that was ready for action at every turn.

It’s no lie that the Medicom Toys MAFEX line is among some of my favorite and is exceptional at capturing the look and feel of the DC heroes, especially in their big-screen blockbuster adaptations. The entire line based on the Justice League is remarkable and the spin-offs from Wonder Woman and Aquaman are really beautifully detailed, not to mention replicate the essence of the actors in those roles as well. So it’s no surprise that for the Medicom Toys MAFEX BATMAN: HUSH the designers really dove deep into the source material!

The figure stands over 6” tall and is proportionally close to resembling Jim Lee’s Batman from Hush for sure! You can see similarities in the figure’s jawline to Lee’s squared sensibility and the detail is spot-on down to the treads along the bottom of the figure’s boots. The muscular build is also very accurate and provides the proper dimensional “shades” to graph the figure’s look in the world of Jim Lee’s comic books. It’s the cape that’s a problem! It practically has a life of its own — it’s as malleable and posable as the figure, but it’s big!

Lee certainly imbues the cape with a certain personality of its own, but he illustrates it as a membrane, an extension of the Dark Knight itself. It tears and becomes easily battle-ravaged, but inevitably maintains its shrouded hold around the Batman’s physique. The articulated cloth cape proves more challenging to manipulate and is somewhat fragile — it can’t take the constant flexing or has the endurance that you’d expect. So be gentle with it, but once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to mold into familiar shapes that translate off the page — though it takes up space!

For the comic enthusiast, the “Hush” action figure will undoubtedly be appealing, but as more fans rally around the nostalgic appeal of Batmans gone by, the 1989 version definitely stands alone!

S.H.Figuarts’ BATMAN 1989 | $74 | Medicom Toys MAFEX BATMAN: HUSH | $90 | both action figures can be found at your favorite collectible retailer or online through AMAZON.

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