Ranking the Best and Worst of the Batman ’89 Action Figure Line

Regardless of your feelings about the movie itself, there’s no denying that 1989’s Batman was a phenomenon. It spawned an entire “Batmania” movement in popular culture, with toys, video and board games, comics, apparel, and all sorts of merchandise appearing everywhere that summer. It changed movies, comic books, and even the character of Batman forever.

The toy line in particular is the stuff of legend, focused more on quality than quantity. As we take a look back at these toys this week, let me preface it by saying nothing here is really “bad” or “worst.” All of these pieces are pretty great, so this is more “The Best and Slightly Less Best of the Batman ’89 Action Figure Line.” You’ll see why.

Figures, Vehicles, and Playsets

13. Remote Control Batmobile: It goes without saying that I love this Batmobile, more than any other Batmobile in the history of Batman. The late Anton Furst’s design is absolutely perfect, looking like no other car before or since. This remote control Batmobile is only ranked last for a relatively silly reasons the control itself is kind of bulky. That’s it.

12. Electronic Batmobile: This looks like a fun little compact toy, with some cool features. The buttons on top of the cockpit canopy kind of interfere with the silhouette of the car, though, detracting just slightly from its shelf appeal.

11. Radio Control Batmobile: The control is a bit more traditional, and looks like it would be slightly easier to hold and handle than the remote control Batmobile’s. Sometimes, it’s those minor differences that make one toy better than another.

10. Batcave: What I love most about the Batcave in this movie is that it actually looks like a cave. This compact playset looks like it packs a lot of features into such a small space, capturing the claustrophobic feel of the Batcave from the film. Why Joker is there on the packaging, I don’t know, but maybe Alfred let him in too.

9. Turbine Sound Batmobile: I had not idea what the “turbine sound” is or is supposed to be, but without a remote control that means there’s one less piece to lose. Kind of wish the cockpit was enclosed, but eh. Still looks great.

8. Batcycle: Oh man, if only we had gotten a sweet Batcycle in the movie, and especially if it had looked like this. What a great design.

7. Joker Van: Same for the Joker Van here. The design and concept are both stellar, with the amazing “The Joker” script on the side and the hilarious Joker head on the front hood. I could easily see Nicholson’s Joker and his crew riding around in this, as well as the Joker in the comics. You can’t always say that about translating ideas between film and print, but it works here.

6. The Joker: A great figure, only held back because he’s a repaint of a Super Powers toy. Those figures rocked, though, so it’s entirely forgivable. Love that hat and cane.

5. Joker Cycle: This is just weird and silly, which is why I love it. The launching sidecar is hilarious, because you can just imagine Joker getting fed up with one of his goons and pressing the eject button for a laugh. My only complaint is that the Joker head hood ornament needs to be like seven times bigger.

4. Batwing: The Batwing in this film is to other Batwings that the Batmobile is to Batmobiles. It is the very best design for this vehicle to ever be seen, though the Batman: The Animated Series design does come relatively close. It’s also part of the coolest shot in the entire movie, and maybe any Batman movie. The only reason it’s overshadowed by the Batmobile is the car is more closely related to Batman, while a Batwing is typically just a cool extra vehicle. Batman will always need a car, but not always a plane. When he does need one, though, this is the one he should use.

3. Batman: Cool suit, three cool accessories, and the star of the film. Can’t go wrong with this guy.

2. Batmobile: In lieu of talking even more about how much I love this Batmobile, let’s just listen to this banger on repeat.

1. Bob the Joker’s Goon: He’s our number one guy. Don’t act like you didn’t expect this.

All images were obtained from Figure-Archive.net, unless otherwise noted.