It’s a good year to be a Batman: the Animated Series fan. We just got Mask of the Phantasm in HD home release, the whole series proper is coming to Blu-Ray soon, and there’s more merchandise available than ever before. Some of the best stuff is coming from Diamond Select, whose figures, busts, and such capture the look of the show remarkably well. And of all their pieces, one of my favorites is this PVC statue inspired by “The Laughing Fish,” an episode responsible for one of the best moments in the entire series: Joker shoving Bullock and another ball of meat into a shark tank to “help” Batman.
A cool concept
It would have been quite a challenge to reproduce the shark tank scene at this price point, but Diamond managed to give it a good nod while taking some liberties for practical purposes. Batman has a chain around his torso instead of manacles on his wrists, and there’s no way he would be floating that high in the tank, but honestly, who cares? It captures Joker’s (temporary) triumph from the episode, and it’s a pretty funny pose all by itself.
Some folks like their statues without props, but this is the sort of thing Diamond does (and does well). Particularly when it comes to BtAS, I not only accept this sort of setup, but I prefer it. Joker holding the fish would have been alright, but it tells more of a story with Batman in the picture, and his costume is in nice visual contrast to the Joker’s purple suit.
(Almost) perfectly molded
The mold of the characters is perfect. They look plucked from the cartoon. Joker’s nose, his stubby shoes, Batman’s profile, the fish–all dead ringers for their on-screen counterparts. It’s as much to do with the paint, but Joker’s eyes and teeth especially stand out. This is the BtAS Joker, on my desk, ready to guffaw over my grinning corpse.
The only downside to the mold–and really to the figure as a whole–is that the base is either flawed in the design, or mine has become warped during its stay in the package. When it’s set on a flat surface, you can see gaps between the water and the surface, or between the platform and the surface. I can even make it rock a little bit if I try. Thankfully, it doesn’t rock by itself, and it’s easy to ignore when you aren’t looking for it.
The paint is first-rate. Rather than apply textures or simulated lighting, Diamond went with clean, solid colors, just like the series did. The paint itself is matte, and while it is not what I would call “rough,” it is not smooth, either. The result is a glossless finish that better captures the look of the show than something like Koto’s Batman Animated ArtFX+ (which I have and I love).
The paint application is almost perfect, as well. If you look very carefully, you may spot some imperfect edges, but unless you’re very close up, it just looks clean, even in tighter spots like the mouth and eyes where they (probably) didn’t have the benefit of pre-painting before assembly.
A well-crafted, fun homage to one of Batman: the Animated Series’ most memorable episodes, Diamond Select’s Laughing Fish figure is a great addition to any collection. Despite a few minor quirks, its concept, mold, and paint work make for an excellent reproduction of the show’s aesthetic. You can find it on the street for around $40, and I think that’s a pretty good deal.