1989 was a big year for Batman fans. While the character had shifted from silly to serious on the printed page, his cultural persona was still very much that of the 1966 Batman television show. It was a silly romp that matched the time in which it was made, but I can vividly remember watching it on my local Fox affiliate into the 1990s. It was Tim Burton’s Batman that established the character as a truly tragic character and a force to be reckoned with on the world stage. Diamond Select Toys tries to capture so many characters and moments from our favorite movies; their “Batman 1989 PVC Diorama” statue catches Batman as he’s about to strike from above.
“You wanna get nuts? Come on! Let’s get nuts.”
1989’s Batman is a tough character to capture. First, he’s dressed in a jet-black suit that has only highlights of color–I’m surprised that ever made it past marketing. Second, the comparatively primitive costume significantly hampered Keaton’s movement, meaning that we didn’t get many dynamic poses for sculptors to replicate. And third, Gotham itself is as much of a character as Batman or the Joker in the movie. Tim Burton’s ultra-gothic take on Gotham might be a bit literal but it’s nothing short of iconic. And that’s one of the things I really like about Diamond Select’s 1989 Batman statue, which was designed by Shawn Knapp and sculpted by Rocco Tartamella. It captures not just Batman himself but a little piece of Gotham, too.
“Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?”
Batman himself measures in at 11-inches, making this a 1:6 scale model of Michael Keaton‘s Dark Knight. The whole thing, though, is about 16 inches tall. Batman himself is a bit of a mixed utility belt. There are a lot of highlights. The gold belt, yellow Bat symbol backdrop, and jet-black suit look like perfect recreations of the movie, and in the right light they have this great sheen that fits the character perfectly. There’s good detail on the boots and gloves, and the all-black paintjob means that none of the detail here can be ruined by questionable paint.
The likeness is actually pretty solid, too, in terms of modeling it to look like Michael Keaton’s Batman. But there’s a problem here that is going to put some Batman fans off of the figure. I’m not sure what the designers were using as a reference point, but Keaton’s face and lips are weirdly orange and purple. He looks less like the Dark Knight from 1989’s Batman and more like an Oompa Loompa from 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. As part of a collection on a shelf, this isn’t terribly noticeable. If you’re going to set it on your desk to look at every day, though, you’ll want to take a close look at the photos. The paint line between Keaton’s skin and the mask is imperfect, too, and worth a second look.
“I want you to tell all your friends about me.”
The platform Batman stands on is another highlight. The oval base uses the Bat symbol as both inspiration for shape and as a small accent. Above the base, the statue serves as a reminder of Burton’s movie and helps to make Batman’s pose a little more dynamic. The rounded surface means Batman’s feet are askew and a bit off-balance, giving the sense that he’s really standing on top of it. The wisp of translucent smoke calls back to Burton’s super-smokey take on the city that never stops doing crimes.
My only real complaint aside from the skin tone is that this is, somewhat by necessity, a relatively monochromatic character. WB gave Burton tons of elbow room to make his Batman, and he made the darkest Dark Knight he could. That means that in the wrong lighting, the character could turn into a sort of uniform shadow. There’s not a lot that could be done about this; a glossier look would’ve felt wrong, and so would tons of color.
The thing is that this 1989 Batman diorama is a $50 statue. Remember that going in. At 16 inches, that’s a lot of statue for relatively little cash. If you’re looking for a 1989 Batman to fill out your shelf, you could do a lot worse than Diamond Select Toys’ statue. You can pick it up for $49.99 through the Diamond Select website, Entertainment Earth, or from Amazon.
Disclaimer: Diamond Select provided us with one DC Gallery Batman 1989 Movie PVC Figure to photograph and examine before writing this review.
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