*REVIEW* Play Arts Kai Arkham Asylum Batman


INTRO

It’s hard to believe that Rocksteady’s Arkham Asylum, came out in 2009. It seems like only yesterday I was leaping from gargoyle to rooftop taking out the criminally insane while making my way through the brilliantly laid out story, obsessively collecting Riddler’s clues and knocking out badguys in wonderfully hard hitting and creative ways. I can’t recall any other game that made me feel so much like the legendary comic book hero. Well, at least as much as one can while sitting on an old couch, four feet from a flat screen TV, sipping a delicious strawberry limeade route 44 and mashing buttons on a little plastic controller. It was a fantastic video game experience, in fact one of my favorites. Late last year Rocksteady released the sequel Arkham City, which has gotten stellar reviews and is no doubt every bit as engaging if not more so than it’s predecessor. I’ve nibbled on it but have yet to give it the time it truly deserves.

So all that being said, I find it a little crazy that Square Enix/Play Arts Kai is just NOW releasing their Batman and Joker figures based off of 2009’s Arkham Asylum. I don’t really mind the delay. It’s Batman. The video game version of him, but Batman all the same. As long as they do him justice nobody gets hurt.

There’s only one way to find out, to the Batcave!

PACKAGING

Bruce is packed in a rather large windowed box with a close up shot of himself on the side (just like a playboy billionaire) and various logos. On the back you’ll get a glimpse at Joker as well as a few possible poses you can try out for Batman. I like the fact that you can simply cut some tape on the top and slide out the clear plastic cage that holds Batman in place without completely destroying the packaging. Sorry bubble card fans, I am not one of you. Aesthetically, yes. The nostalgia resonates pretty heavily off some of the more well designed bubble cards. But as a collector who actually enjoys posing and displaying his toys few things fill me with more distress and anxiety.

So yes, box design = good. The only thing that bugs me is the extra bat cape accessory which is bubble sealed to the back inside of the pack. If you want to play with it at all you’re just going to have to tear it free with no do overs. Kinda hate that, but at least it’s on the inside.

WHAT’S INCLUDED

“Where does he get all those wonderful toys?”

Ok, two toys. Batman comes with two toys. Bats isn’t over burdened with a ton of accessories, but what he does carry is fairly iconic to the character. The ever important batarang and the incredibly fun (in the game anyway) grappling gun. He also gets a couple extra hands, one for holding the grappling gun and another we’ll just call his “jazz hand”. These easily pop on and off to suite the pose you’re going for. Last of all he comes with a spare cape piece. The default setting, if you will, has one side of the cape sort of wrapping around Batman. The spare piece is sculpted to flow behind him and out of the crime fighter’s way.

THE BREAKDOWN

This is my first Play Arts Kai figure so I was REALLY excited to check out first hand if what I’ve heard about their quality via the World Wide Web was true. The toy itself has a nice solid feel to it. Standing roughly 10′ tall,  he’s fairly heavy. Despite being loaded down with various joints and swivels, he seems as though he could withstand a tall shelf tumble or two.

The first thing I noticed was that the head sculpt was dead on with Batman’s game rendering. This isn’t a “nod” or a “homage” to the game character, this IS the game character. They did a really fantastic job with it. The paint on the face is nice and tight too. Occasionally when a mass produced toy has painted iris/pupils, at least one out of ever ten turn up with walleyes or something that just looks.. off. Batman looks just as stern and ready to take on the Asylum as you’d hope.

Moving around the toy I found myself very impressed with with the details and sculpt of this toy. Play Arts Kai did a bang up job in accurately capturing everything from the kevlar mesh type quality in Batman’s suite to the dynamic folds and lines in his cape. His arm guards have nicks and scratches molded in and there’s nice “cloth” wrinkles and stretches here and there to add to the overall believability.

The paint application on his body is pretty straight forward. A light blue-ish grey base with dark blue tints in several of the recesses. The armor bits have a purple sheen. It’s not a mind blowing paint app, but it looks good and suits the toy very well.

The cape is one of the coolest features of this figure. It’s sculpted incredibly well and just adds so much movement to the figure. But it’s the way that Play Arts Kai handled the articulation of his cape that makes it borderline brilliant. Most action figures that come with plastic capes get just that, a single solid static sculpted piece of pure posed plastic. (How’s that for alliteration?) You’re usually stuck with whatever the default look of the cape is. Draped or flowing, it is what it is so you better be OK with it. What the good toy cobblers did with Bat’s cape is actually split it in twain and attach the parts to hidden ball joints.

This allows you to do so many different fun things with the cape and really opens up the possibilities of what type of poses you can achieve with Batman. The joints themselves reside under a sculpted rubbery bit of cape that drapes over Batman’s shoulders in a cloak like fashion. You can see the dividing lines and can obviously tell that there are several parts at play here, but the look still manages to be cohesive and awesome!

The batarang is my favorite of the two accessories he came with. It looks razor sharp (fear not parents, it isn’t) and like it could deal out some pretty heavy damage to the wayward thug.

One of Bat’s spare hands is sculpted to hold his grappling gun and does so well. However, that same hand is also meant to hold the batarang and does so poorly. You kinda have to wedge it in there and remember not sneeze in it’s direction if you want it to stay put. You can try to use the “jazz hands” and squeeze the batarang between his fingers, ninja star style, but that doesn’t really work much better. Also, there’s nowhere to put any of his wonderful toys when he’s not using them. A way to clip them to or at least slide them under the belt would have been a nice addition.

Being my first Play Arts Kai figure, I fully admit it took me a good ten minutes to wrap my head around the way Mr. Wayne is articulated. There are just SO many joints going on in this figure it’s almost silly. I stopped trying to count all the various places that bend and twist on Bats, but I can assure you it’s a lot.  If you think he should bend a certain way, most likely he will and then some.

He has your standard affair of swivel ball joints at his elbows, wrists and ankles. His torso is multi-segmented to let him twist and turn however his spine might allow. His shoulder joints are interesting because they actually swivel away from his body in what would be a rather unsightly way to allow for more range of motion across his body. You won’t mind the look as it’s completely hidden by the top of his cape. Of course he sports Play Art Kai’s now standard double knee joint. Personally, I love/hate it.

It does give Batman a little bit of extra flexibility, but it also looks pretty bad when taken full advantage of. While the rest of his body is detailed and sculpted, the double knee joint is smooth save for a simple line meant to continue the appearance of a knee pad of sorts. Why even bother with that little of a detail if you leave off all the rest? It just looks odd. The same could be said of the elbow joint as it’s also completely smooth with no mesh pattern or weathering to speak of, but aesthetically it works better there and doesn’t detract from the overall look.

Another thing that I found a bit odd is that Batman’s.. “loins” for lack of a better term, are not locked into position. Unlike his upper torso, arms and legs, his groin is the same thin rubbery plastic that the cape draped over his shoulders is made from. It’s basically floating there, hiding the joints that allow for movement in the thighs and waist. It’s a little loose too, seemingly favoring one hip or the other. I kept having to rearrange his “situation” to get him looking right. It’s not a big detractor, I’ve just never seen a toy where I was required to continually fidget with it’s crotch.

The last thing I want to bring up about the articulation is that, while it’s here in troves and allows for an absolute massive range of pose possibilities, it’s not perfect.  The main trouble area being the shoulders. Square Enix gave us something akin to a quadruple joint at the shoulder for a maximum movement, yet killed 50% of that with the plastic cape draped over them. You really can’t lift his arms much further than 90 degree’s without risking the possibility of damaging the cape. It doesn’t keep you from getting a million cool poses out of him and with some tweaking you can sort of mimic the look of Batman firing his grappling gun into the air, but it does detract a little from the overall play-ability.

Despite these few complaints, Play Arts Kai has developed a pretty good articulation system that does it’s best not to hinder whatever strange pretzel like arrangement you might have in mind for The Dark Knight.

FINAL THOUGHTS

As my first Square Enix Play Arts Kai action figure, I’m very happy with this toy. At almost $70 shipped from most distributers, these are not cheap by any means. It’s nice to know that the quality of them warrants the somewhat steeper price tag.

As a Batman action figure, I’d dare say this is the best one money can buy for under $100. (For the best OVER $100, look over here) I’ve had a blast posing and re-posing him in attempts to get that one “keeper” pose to display him on my shelf. There are a few hiccups with the way his shoulder joints are hindered, the lack of a true batarang holding hand and a few finicky design choices but overall I think he’s a great toy. I’ve really enjoyed playing around with him. Every time I glance over at him, lurking on my shelf I can faintly hear the first few notes of Danny Elfman’s Batman theme. It may not be at all featured in the game this figure is based off of, but I think an emotional/nostalgic response is warranted and in fact a good thing. This guy IS Batman. He’s a fun, good looking, well made toy based off one of the most popular super heroes ever from one of the best video games of 2009.

At the very least, Batman got me very excited for Joker.

Pros:

  • Great looking sculpt, very true to source material
  • Absolute TONS of articulation
  • Love the cape
  • Very solid build quality
  • Best Batman toy you can get for less than a 100 bones.

Cons:

  • Cape draped over shoulders really hurts shoulder articulation
  • No proper batarang holding hand
  • Knee Joint is smooth and lacks texture/paint. Looks out of place when exposed.
  • Belt cannot hold any accessories
  • Floating groin piece takes some getting use to

 

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