DC Collectibles are back at it with a brand new wave of Batman: The Animated Series action figures.   Their output over the past several years has resulted in, hands down, some of the best Batman toys ever created, and this series is no exception.  The new wave of figures consists of Two-Face, H.A.R.D.A.C., Gray Ghost, and Scarecrow, the latter three of which DC Collectibles have provided us for review.  Unsurprisingly, these action figures have spot-on sculpts and great accessories, and they’re bound to be welcome additions to your ever-growing collections.

Each figure comes with a basic character sheet that shows other figures in the series, as well as well instructions for removing hands and heads. Each figure is secured with a twist tie about the waist and plastic about the ankles to hold it in place, while the accessories are in form-fitting molds in the plastic.

The backing board is simply the iconic Batman: The Animated Series silhouette in red, but man does it look cool.

Scarecrow

First up is the master of scares himself, the Scarecrow. It’s based on the “straw hair” look he had for most of the series’ run, not on the first kind of goofy bulbous-head design, nor on the crazy creepy New Batman Adventures look (which already has its own figure).

Right up front: I love this action figure. Measuring around six and a half inches in height, this plastic rendering of the despicably evil Dr. Jonathan Crane looks like it jumped right off the TV screen.

Is that a cliched phrase? Probably. Do I care? Definitely not.

The blister pack the figure comes in is nice and sturdy, with all of the contents easily viewable. There’s a sticker stating that the package contains 6 pieces, which isn’t accurate: if we’re counting the preassembled figure as one piece and the loose accessories individually, that’s only five pieces; however, if we count every interchangeable piece along with Crane’s body (two heads, four hands, sickle, and body), that’s 8 pieces. It’s not a big deal, but I felt the need to mention it.

Besides that the rest of the packaging is great. I really like the “SCARECROW” printed in large script on the side, as well as the figure’s sculptor being prominently displayed.

At first glance this figure looks pretty simple, as it only comes with a single accessory besides the extra head and two additional hands. That’s kind of what makes it so great, though, because the Scarecrow has a design that’s free of clutter. The construction of his hat is solid (I love the lopsided brim), as is the “baggy” look of his mask. I love the slight ruffling at the collar, and the nice little “tears” that make it look like his mask is made from a burlap sack.

Crane’s unmasked head is equally impressive, with well-sculpted hair and a nefarious sneer that’s oh-so-punchable. He has four hands: a right hand that is in an open grip for the sickle, a left hand that’s clenched in a fist, and a pair of hands that are held open. They pop in and out of the wrist sockets and have a decent range of articulation, making it easy to capture some pretty cool poses.

While I do wish the figure came with another accessory or two (say, some beakers or a canister of fear gas), the sickle looks really good and fits in Crane’s hand easily. The way the long, thin weapon slides into Crane’s grip provides some great inspiration for contorting his equally thin, wiry form into a variety of poses.

True to the Animated Series style, the costume is simple, but no less impressive. Besides some stitching here and there, there’s not an awful lot of extraneous detail, so sculptor Irene Matar’s texturing is used to render the design in three dimensions. The way the costume bunches about Crane’s torso looks great, as do the bits of rope at his ankles and wrists.

There isn’t a stand included like with previous figures, and his small feet and thin legs make it a little difficult to get the Scarecrow to stand on his own. The super-posable hip and knee joints make finding a workable stance a fun exercise, though.

Overall, this is a great figure. What it lacks in quantity it makes up for in quality, with a terrific sculpt and clean paint application.

Next up is everyone’s favorite robot duplicate, H.A.R.D.A.C.

For those who have never seen Batman: The Animated Series (and if that’s the case, stop reading now and go remedy that) or don’t remember H.A.R.D.A.C., here’s a quick primer. Originally appearing in the episode “Heart of Steel,” H.A.R.D.A.C. (which stands for Holographic Analytical Reciprocating DigitAl Computer) was a supercomputer created to study artificial intelligence and to create super creepy robot duplicates. Seriously, all these years later and the monotone, emotionless robot Jim Gordon still gives me the willies.

Needless to say, Batman investigate the shady goings on, eventually destroying the supercomputer and disabling all of the duplicates.

Until his own duplicate resurfaced in the episode “His Silicon Soul,” that is. Yes, Batman’s robotic replicant returns to run amok before being defeated at the hands of the Dark Knight, who poetically intones that while the robot may have had an artificial soul, it was a soul nonetheless.

Deep stuff.

And also the robot brandishes a sword. Which is rad.

Anyway, while the Scarecrow was lacking in too many details or accessories, H.A.R.D.A.C. here is not a victim of such shortcomings. It’s a beautifully sculpted action figure with details and accessories galore, another fine example of Irene Matar’s stellar craftsmanship.

I went over the packaging before, and the same holds true here: the blister pack is sturdy with every accessory easy to see, and the nice “H.A.R.D.A.C.” script on the side really catches the eye. It goes without saying that the awesome Batman silhouette on the back looks great, but I’ll do it anyway: the awesome Batman silhouette on the back looks great.

The figure itself is sculpted well, evoking the iconic look of Batman’s Animated Series suit. The chest symbol really stands out, and I absolutely love the blue interior of the cloth cape. The exposed mechanical innards draw the eye without being distracting, and the torn fabric of the suit is sculpted and painted really well. Even without the accessories, this figure is practically ready for display right out of the box, with the damaged half-cowl head looking incredibly eerie.

Like I said, though, it’s the other details that really set this figure over the top. The detachable cape has a molded “Batman face” that, while not detachable itself, works well with the included full robot head to drive home just how creepy the idea of a robotic duplicate really is. Just imagine seeing Batman slowly peel away his face to reveal a red-eyed, metallic skull…

Plus you can do this:

Hi guys!

Beautiful.

Also included are two additional hands whose primary fingers are “folded back” at the first joint, as well as a sword. Combined with the great posability and pretty solid center of gravity (a stand isn’t included, so standing on its own is very important), this figure can be twisted into all sorts of cool poses. I had about as much fun contorting his limbs and playing around with different accessory combinations as I’ve had with any merchandise I’ve reviewed in quite some time.

Where the Scarecrow figure was great because of its simplicity, this figure is even better because of all the details. The accessories are fantastic, that mangled Batsuit looks so good, and there are practically limitless possibilities with the display and posing options.

And here’s one more image I call “Alas, Poor H.A.R.D.A.C.,” because I think I’m hilarious.

Gray Ghost

And finally, my personal favorite: none other than Simon Trent, the Gray Ghost.

For a character who only appeared in a single episode of Batman: The Animated Series, the Gray Ghost sure has left quite an impression. It makes sense, though, for multiple reasons. For one, “Beware the Gray Ghost” is widely regarded as one of the best episodes of the series, wherein Batman teams up with the star of his favorite television serial from when he was a kid to solve a mystery. It’s a fun episode in itself, and a nice recognition that even our heroes have heroes.

What really sets it apart, though, is that the titular Gray Ghost is voiced by none other than Adam West. It’s an inspired bit of casting that’s a little bit meta (he plays an actor who feels typecast and haunted by his most iconic role) and nothing if not honorable to his legacy as Batman. It doesn’t hurt that it’s one of West’s finest performances either.

So here he is in action figure form, and yes, this figure is my favorite of the bunch. Considering how much I loved the other two pieces, that’s saying something.

I can’t really add much about the packaging that I didn’t cover in the other two reviews, besides noting that this figure is sculpted by Tony Cipriano instead of Irene Matar. The piece I received had been damaged a bit in transit, with a hole punched into part of the backing board around the character’s legs. That’s no fault of the manufacturer, though. Just wanted to make that note.

I also want to mention that the product image on the DC Collectibles site differs slightly from the final figure. It shows a miniature poster and two closed fists on the Gray Ghost, whereas the figure as shipped has two open hands and no poster. The other accessories match, though.

And man, are they some great accessories. The right hand on the packaged figure has a slightly hooked pointer finger, so the included gun fits into the trigger hand nicely. There are two other right hands included: one is open to fit the other accessories, and the other is grasping a pen so he can sign autographs. The latter is a truly wonderful touch that isn’t entirely necessary but perfectly captures the spirit of the character. My only gripe with the pen hand is that the pen can actually be removed, even though it fits pretty snugly. Because of that it’s the piece that is most likely to get lost, so be aware when handling the figure.

The left hand that comes attached to the figure and the matching extra right hand are both wide open so the Gray Ghost can grasp either the VHS box accessory (which has print on both sides and looks so, so cool) and the remote control bomb car.

He only comes with one head, which has his trademark goggles and hat molded on. It would have been nice if an “unmasked” head were included, but I understand why it wasn’t. It’s still wonderfully rendered and sculpted, along with the rest of the figure. I love the way the soft plastic cape drapes about his shoulders, and his coat and pants have believable creases and wrinkling. Gray Ghost doesn’t have a svelte, form-fitting costume like Batman, and Cipriano captures that without making his costume look bulky and shapeless.

As you can probably tell, I had a blast getting some cool poses out of this guy. You can go from a nice action shot with his gun in hand to a contemplative pose with the toy car to a laid-back look where he’s “signing” an autograph, and they all work. Of the three figures I received, this is the one least in need of a stand, as he can hold a pose and stay upright no matter how you position him.

Even with some very, very minor quibbles, I adore this figure. There wasn’t a loser in the three pieces I reviewed, but personally, I think the Gray Ghost is the winner. It’s a cool piece in its own right, as well as a tribute to one of the men who did so much for the Caped Crusader’s legacy in popular culture.

Overall: Each figure stands on its own as a wonderful piece, and together they’re a reminder of just how great a job DC Collectibles have done in creating these figures.  There’s not a bad sculpt in the bunch, and even though some more accessories with a few of the figures would have been welcome, they’re all great as they are.  The fan-favorite Gray Ghost is sure to be a hit, Scarecrow perfectly captures the creepy smarminess of the Master of Fear, and H.A.R.D.A.C. is the Batman variant you didn’t know you needed.  Whether you get one or collect them all, you won’t be disappointed.

Disclaimer: DC Collectibles provided Batman News with the three figures for the purposes of this review.

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