It looks like Batman toys are in the midst of a Keaton-naissance. Mezco’s recent One:12 Collective release of the 1989 Michael Keaton movie Batman sold out immediately, and now Bandai‘s S.H. Figuarts specialty label reveals their take. Even toy companies with the rights have, for some reason, mostly been reluctant to do 6-inch scale versions until recently. It’s about time. Anyone who lived through the great Batman figure shortage of 1989, when Toy Biz failed to meet demand, can now afford sweet vindication. And a higher price tag.
Keaton’s Batsuit, designed to look like a muscular second-skin, ushered in a whole new era of Batman costumes. Every movie Batsuit has been black and armored since, whereas the default look prior had been blue and gray. And every movie Batman since has also donned black facepaint around the eyes, which usually magically disappears when the cowl is removed. That particular bat-logo, designed to split the difference between classic symbol and the actual silhouette of a bat, remained unique to this outfit.
The Figuarts version of 1989 Batman includes a soft cape that can either drape over his shoulders or be fanned out like wings. Interchangeable face plates allow for different expressions, and he packs four left and five right hand parts, grappling gun, gauntlet, two shurikens and a Batarang.
With multiple points of articulation, this toy version is probably more poseable than Michael Keaton himself was in the suit. Movie magic preserved the illusion; Bandai adeptly conceals the joints. Both approaches feel like a kind of magic.
Unfortunately, the odds of a Joker to battle him any time soon look low. Jack Nicholson is known to charge so much for his likeness rights that only high-end, big-ticket collectibles can afford to make it worthwhile. But Catwoman and Penguin? They could be another story entirely.
Expect the Figuarts Batman to become available via US retailers in October, barring any virus-related delays in production. Preorders are up now at your favorite online retailers. Will you try and catch the big black bat? Let us know in comments.