DC Collectibles is churning out a new wave of their incredibly popular line of Animated Series figures, and Batman News was lucky enough to get some early review samples. Here’s a look at the upcoming Catwoman and Riddler collectibles from The New Batman Adventures.
While The WB gave the team behind The New Batman Adventures more creative freedom than Fox, the budget was smaller than that of Batman: The Animated Series. To work around this, the show took on a sleeker, more minimalistic aesthetic. For example, Batman dropped the yellow oval and the blue cape lining, Joker lost the orange shirt…lips…pupils, and Catwoman essentially became a solid black silhouette, dropping the grey, the gold belt and any other accents. The new look was cheaper to animate and it more closely resembled Michelle Pfeiffer’s outfit from Batman Returns as well. In fact, you’ll see her exit her first scene of “You Scratch My Back” with a series of back flips just like Pfeiffer leaving the snowy alleyway in Returns. Personally, I prefer the more detailed BTAS take of Catwoman, but I regard TNBA’s Audrey Hepburn-esque Selina far more highly than the BTAS version that had Aileen Wuornos hair.
Catwoman arrives in the same packaging as previous TNBA toys except this new round of figures improves its moulded interior with an extra plastic plate locking in the small accessories rather than simply fastening them down with scotch tape.
According to the included paperwork, this figure is made in homage to the episode “You Scratch My Back,” where Nightwing learned an important lesson about trusting the rest of the Batfamily to help him rather than attempting to be a loner. However, Catwoman, like always, steals the show. Snatching the spotlight from Grayson is made all the easier by the fact that the episode doesn’t feature any other A-list rogues, instead opting for an original baddie named “Ricky the Hook.” While the smuggler might not be all that memorable to you, it’s worth noting that he’s one of the few foes to draw blood from The Dark Knight.
The toymakers did excellent work capturing the look of Catwoman with a careful sculpt and excellent paint job on the outfit, but there’s not really a whole lot of detail that could have been lost in the translation, is there? Her petite body is all black. Just black. There’s something about it that’s so black…it’s like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black.
The head sculpt is also quite nice and I love her smile; the figures that give some expression are typically the best. There’s zero bleed from white eye to black mask or from the mask to the face on my figure, everything was done with precision. However, some might be turned off by the blueish hue of Selina’s face. Don’t be alarmed! Sure, in some photos it may look like an S&M Smurfette, but that’s really just a matter of poor lighting. If you go back and watch the show you’ll discover that the shade chosen is quite accurate to what was on the screen. Catwoman’s exposed skin was so pale it was blue. So…does this mean that Selina powdered her face before hitting the streets as Catwoman? I mean, we know she’s not that white when out of costume so she must have, right? Anyway, moving on!
For her accessories, Catwoman is sold with a rubber whip that’s surprisingly long, and three extra pairs of hands that are quite tiny and show her itty-bitty clawed fingers in various poses including grips ideal for holding the whip. Selina’s pet cat, called “Precious” in the episode and not “Isis” (it was a simpler time, folks) like in BTAS, is also included. The feline companion has all the articulation and basically the same sculpt of the Isis miniature that came with the BTAS Catwoman toy only this one also sports a free-moving red collar. If you’ll recall, “You Scratch My Back” sees Catwoman plant a bat-tracer that Barbara was using to follow Nightwing onto this collar.
Now let’s skip way ahead to the series finale of TNBA, “Judgment Day.”
You probably don’t remember this.
I assure you, The Riddler was in the episode “Judgment Day.” Yes, he was. In fact, some of you might be scratching your heads right now because you don’t recall seeing this particular interpretation of Nygma AT ALL. Don’t feel bad. It doesn’t make you any less of a Batman fan. While Riddler was one of the finest rogues of Batman: The Animated Series, his appearances in The New Batman Adventures are quite forgettable. Poor Eddie never got his own episode! He was utterly shafted in the revamp, confined to only two cameos and no more. Sure, his name was dropped in “Mad Love” but besides that he only appeared on TV! Once in the episode this figure pays homage to “Judgment Day” where Riddler was featured in a blink-and-you-miss-it news broadcast, and again on a talk show in “Over the Edge.” Which….really the “Over the Edge” cameo was a TV appearance that was actually part of a larger hallucination. It didn’t really happen. He couldn’t even make it onto real TV in that one.
In the short little snippets I saw of Riddler while watching the series, I felt like The New Batman Adventures design was a major downgrade from Nygma’s suit-and-tie days, but actually holding it in my hand has given me a new appreciation for this Gorshin-inspired interpretation. The figure looks great. I love the Clockwork Orange-style bowler hat and Kubrick-stare combo, the dramatic slope of his back, the incredible level of flexibility and ample articulation (23 points by my count, same as Catwoman), and the paint job is very neat and tidy as well. When I heard that Riddler was getting a TNBA figure already my immediate reaction was “Who cares? He’s barely in the show. Why don’t they do someone else?” but now he’s an integral part of my display. The New Batman Adventures took on a much darker look and as a result the corresponding action figures almost fade into the shadows compared to the collectibles in my Batman: The Animated Series display (yes, I keep them separated) so it’s nice to have the bright green and purple of this leotard-wearing Eddie add a splash of color to an otherwise grim band of characters. He and Creeper might not have been my favorites on the show, but they are standing out beautifully in my personal collection.
When it comes to accessories, however, Eddie is a bit light. He comes with two extra pair of purple-gloved hands and an all-black cane shaped like a question mark. BTAS Riddler had a tiered Wacko Toys pedestal complete with a variety of puzzles on every level, but since TNBA Riddler didn’t really do anything in any of his cameos…there’s not much to supply him with as an accessory. Heck, he didn’t even have his own henchmen in the “Judgment Day” appearance, the animators just gave him Joker’s goons Mo, Lar, and Cur.
Both Catwoman and Riddler also come with a plastic stand featuring character design sketches painted on the base, keeping with the toy line’s tradition. Neither has peg holes on the feet, so you’re stuck with this method of display unless you get clever and put Selina in Nightwing’s arms.
Excellent craftsmanship on both figures. Spot-on sculpt and perfect paint. It would have been nice to have had additional accessories with Riddler or for him to be sold at a lower price than figures that include much more, but at the end of the day these two have my approval and I’m glad they’re a part of my collection.
Both figures are sold for $28 each and will be available at your local comic shop in late March (currently expected to hit shelves on the 22nd) and Amazon.com in April. Next week, I’ll review the Dark Knight Returns 3-pack based on characters from fan-favorite New Batman Adventures episode “Legends of the Dark Knight.” For updates, follow me on twitter @AndrewBatReview.