Dark Knight: “Grapnel Launcher” Batman by Mattel

Clearance hasn’t been all that great to me this year. I can usually snag some good finds after Christmas, but I think a lot of retailers cut way back this year and so there just isn’t as much to find, at least not in the area of action figures. I did see some interesting things in Walmart’s post-holiday clearance run, including the Rise of Cobra Pitt for $65 and the Night Raven for $20. Of course, the Pitt is way too big for me to justify buying unless it really does drop down to next to nothing, and the Night Raven, well, it doesn’t really live up to the awesomeness of its vintage predecessor. I did, however, pick up a couple of GI JOE 25th Anniversary Comic 2-packs (The Crimson Twins and the Dreadnoks) for $1.00 each. Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about! Sure I already own them, but these display real well on the wall. I also picked up the figure that we are going to talk about today. It’s Batman!
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The unfortunate thing about finding a figure line on clearance is that you can usually only find the figures that were overpacked. With a license like Batman, you can expect to find 1,000 of the various repaint and gimmick-heavy versions of Batman, but usually nothing else. When I saw a bunch of these Batman figures on the pegs today for three bucks each, I was content to go home with the one that looked the most like the movie version, and that was “Grapnel Launcher Batman” but I was pretty surprised as I shuffled through the pegs to find a single Joker and a single Two Face figure as well. In one pass, I was able to pick up the three principle figures in the line for under ten bucks. Considering the overwhelming bulk of this line was just repaints of Batman with different gear, the selection I got was none too shabby. We’ll save Joker and Two Face for another entry, so today let’s look at Bats himself.glbats3
The packaging on these is pretty standard fare for what feels like a throwaway movie line. The front is a generic card, but the back is character specific, showing a detail shot of the figure and a little blurb. The bubble does a nice job showing off the figure, although he looks like he doesn’t have a cape. When you open it you find that the cloth cape is neatly folded behind him and in a plastic sleeve. 

“Grapnel Launcher” Batman is very film accurate, which is important to note since every other Batman except for “Sonic Spy” feature some decidedly wild paint jobs. If you’re looking for a straight out of the movie Bats, this is the one to get, so long as you aren’t expecting anything all that great. I should also note that while these figures are obviously intended primarily for kids as toys and not as adult collectible display pieces, the scupt is remarkable.

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The attention to detail on Batman’s combat suit is fantastic as the individual pieces of armor are all clearly shown as is the webbing between the plates. Obviously not much of the face is showing, but the lower half and the eyes are a pretty good likeness for actor Christian Bale. There aren’t a whole lot of paint apps here, but the suit itself is done in both matte and gloss black, which makes for a more dynamic appearance of what is otherwise an all black suit. Apart from that there’s just the skin tone on his face and the gold on the molded utility belt. The cape is actual cloth and it has a small slit in the center, which appears to be designed to give access to the peg hole on his back, although this figure doesn’t come with anything that makes use of it.

Articulation on this figure isn’t exactly up to par for this day and age, but it has just enough to make it passable. The head turns, the arms have rotating shoulders and hinged elbows, the legs move up and down at the groin and have hinged knees. He also swivels at the waist. That’s it. Honetly, I would have been perfectly fine if they had just tossed in ball jointed shoulders. Again, not terrible, but could have been better.

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So, what is terrible? The accessories! Batman comes with two accessories, both molded in the same gold color used for the paint apps on his utility belt: A missile firing gun and a batarang. If you’re like me you don’t expect much from these types of accessories as they are mainly added for “play value.” The gun is huge and Batman can only hold it using a little peg on the bottom of the handle, so it looks ridiculous in his hand. I will say that with a name like “grapnel launcher” I expected there to be some kind of cord attached between the missile and the gun, but no dice. The Batarang is slightly better, but its still ludicrously huge. I suppose it would be tough to give a 5″ Batman a lot of accessories, as they would be tiny, so I’m not going to come down hard on this figure for his goofy weapons. At least you can cast them aside and they don’t detract from the figure one bit.

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Overall, I’m really happy with this figure, but keep in mind it was only three bucks. At about 5-inches, he doesn’t really fit with many other action figures I own. The quality and detail of the sculpt really goes a long way to make up for the basic articulation and goofy weapons. Sure, he’s obviously targeted to the kid market rather than for collectors, but he still looks great on display on my shelf. And in this case, you just couldn’t go wrong for the price.

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