Sideshow’s latest Premium Format Bat-figure is a variant (and quite the improvement) of a statue released a year or two ago. This polystone sculpture, a limited edition of only 2,000, may be poured from the same mold, but, rather than sport the black on grey of its predecessor, features characteristics most commonly found in the comic pages of the 70s, 80s, and 90s illustrated by the likes of Jim Aparo, Neal Adams, and Norm Breyfogle.
The box is gargantuan and beautifully illustrated, a keepsake in itself. The matte black and blue package features a stylish depiction of the very Dark Knight you purchased posing in the moonlight with a swarm of bats overhead, and the Gotham skyline and Bat-signal behind him. The artwork is highly detailed and features crosshatched shading to give Batman’s muscles greater definition. The opposite side is far more minimalistic, showcasing The Caped Crusader’s silhouette against the moon. All other sides are printed with clouds of angry bats in flight, the 90s bat symbol, or bold lettering that spells BATMAN: MODERN AGE (with swarm of bats, of course).
The statue is not a single piece, but is instead comprised of four parts plus extra interchangeable pieces, which you’ll find are all nestled within a two-piece Styrofoam mold inside the box. Each component has its own specially molded portion of the Styrofoam so as not to rattle free during shipping, and tissue paper is used generously as well for added protection.
The sculpture is impressive in size, standing over 25 inches tall and weighing in at 30 lbs. When the cape is attached, the figure takes up an area of 10L x 17W inches, favoring its left side.
As you can see from the photos, this classic blue and grey Batman is not in an action pose. He’s surveying the city– or your room, really, but let’s use our imaginations here. It’s an iconic stance with the cape billowing behind him and one boot stepping a little higher onto a frightening, ancient gargoyle. There’s no cityscape or Bat-Signal behind him, but your mind just kind of plants those elements in there when you lay eyes on this piece. Dramatic, heroic, whatever you want to call it, the vigilant figure has a strong presence in any setting. It is a perfect sculpt aesthetically, but not so much in terms of balance, which could scare some folks away. The positioning of the legs and the swoop of the cape is simply a degree or two too much for the weighted base to handle. The exceedingly top-heavy design will do a little dance at the slightest nudge and collectors who live where there are earthquakes probably shouldn’t even bother.
Those gothic carvings on the stone gargoyle base (flaunting a bat-motif, no less) really set the right atmosphere. While Batman himself appears as clean as is inked comic counterpart, the heavily distressed gargoyle truly looks like a genuine piece of architecture. It’s the same design as what we saw in the previous sculpt, but the darker, more timeworn paint job is far superior than the somewhat sandy tone of its predecessor.
While the figure definitely has some heft to it due to the use of polystone, that isn’t actually the only material employed. Batman himself features other materials like cloth and plastic. The grey areas of the costume are made of nicely stitched fabric, which I think added a terrific texture to the statue as opposed to having the entire costume merely painted on the stone surface. There’s also some subtle shading on the cloth that really emphasizes Bruce’s muscular build. However, a big complaint with the previous black/grey version of the figure was that the fabric sagged at the armpits and I can see that very problem on my statue’s right pit. Fortunately, the ideal way of posing the statue puts that arm to the back so it’s never noticeable. But given the premium price you pay for something like this, you really do want everything to be perfect. The trunks are a dark blue faux leather, the chest emblem is rubber (and looks awesome), and the bright yellow belt is plastic, but all other elements of the suit are polystone sculpts. And rather than be constrained by the 70-90s comics theme, the artists did paint some subtle armored detail onto the gloves and boots, which looks fantastic without losing the classic look we want. Of all the details on the costume, the belt is the only piece that I think is poor. The previous design had real pockets, a functioning buckle, and was made from cloth, but this is just a solid plastic ring. Yes, it keeps with the original comic image, but when they made it three-dimensional I think the artists should have added some shading and a real working buckle. This mustard yellow plastic accessory just comes off as a noticeably of cheap feature on an otherwise great work of art.
The body slides into notches drilled into the heavy base and is then followed by the surprisingly hefty cape. The flowing, fully sculpted cape looks amazing, but you will want to exercise caution when pushing it into place! The right corner of the cape comes dangerously close to the gargoyle base and a collision will cause the polystone to chip.
Now that the bulk of the figure is assembled you get to have fun with the interchangeable pieces! Modern Age Batman includes a pair of heads (portraits, as they’re called by Sideshow) and a pair of right hands. There’s a closed fist and then there’s a hand that’s holding a batarang. The batarang hand was what I went with because it’s more visually interesting. But, fair warning, the famous weapon/gadget is a bit thin and would most certainly break if you dropped it from even the shortest height. A magnet built into the hero’s elbow will attract the metal hidden within the gauntlet and the limb will click and become whole.
Batman’s head (whichever you choose) secures in similar fashion, but it doesn’t offer quite the same peace of mind. In fact, I was overconfident in the magnet when I first assembled the figure and within about half an hour my favorite “portrait” fell and both pointy ears broke. Luckily, Sideshow’s customer service is extremely understanding and they sent me a replacement. But the problem still remains: there should be a better way to lock the head into place. This base of the neck should have a turn-and-twist function to lock the noggin into position so you never have to fret about it again (I’m currently using a bit of sticky-tack to keep the head fixed firmly to Batman’s mighty shoulders), the balance of the statue as a whole is enough to worry about already. The first portrait is incredibly similar to the short-eared design included with the previous model and the other, brand-new variant is more Adams/Aparo-esque right down to the extra shading on the forehead. It looks phenomenal. Like the rest of the statue, this head is beautifully hand-painted and the sculpt is divine. The expression on Batman’s face is just right. It’s not an angry grimace, but it’s not exactly a warm smile either. He’s all business without being overly brooding. And while most times a long-eared cowl will look ridiculous, this one is perfectly proportioned. The second head has the kind of ears I typically go for, but the five o’clock shadow and exaggerated frown are off-putting for my taste. Plus, it looks like Batman’s bicep is bigger than size of the grumpy head. I like the more heroic look of the comic-inspired portrait.
Overall, I think it’s a great statue. It’s the kind of piece you build your entire collection around, and, looking at the other statues Sideshow has put out in the past, I think this is the best-looking one yet. My only major complaint with it is the stability issue. Still, I simply plan to find an easy way to anchor the whole thing down and then build a cool Gotham rooftop scene around that and it’ll make for an incredibly cool display in my home. The Batman Modern Age Premium Format Figure is available through Sideshow Collectibles and sells for $429.99.