Sunday, June 9, 2024

Batman Forever Merchandise Review: Tide Racer Robin figure from Kenner

Well, this is it! The final Kenner figure I needed to get.

Tide Racer Robin is a Target Exclusive figure and a repaint of Hydro Claw Robin. If you liked that figure, you might like this variant. 

Don't worry my reviews will continue. I've looked ahead and won't be going anywhere for the foreseeable future. Still lots of vintage merchandise to review as well as new stuff like Hot Toys and McFarlane.


Tuesday, June 4, 2024

News: Beast Kingdom is making new Batman Forever and Batman & Robin figures

Beast Kingdom has previewed these 8 inch (I think) figures at the Licensing Expo 2024.

They seem to be doing the same thing as McFarlane and making a whole range of Batman movie figures from Michael Keaton to Robert Pattinson and everything in between.

Most interesting are some new figures of Val Kilmer's Batman, George Clooney's Batman and a Jim Carrey Riddler figure.

I've got to say I love the look of the Riddler (maybe even more than the forthcoming McFarlane figure). The cloth jacket and bowler hat look ace.

I'm less keen on the Clooney and Kilmer figures though. I don't know, something feels a bit off about them. Their heads seem quite far off their bodies.




Thursday, May 30, 2024

News: McFarlane reveals close up look at Batman Forever figures in poster

McFarlane Toys have released this cool poster showing off the new Batman Forever wave of figures in more details.

Obviously it's based on the classic John Alvin poster which is really neat. I will say doing this makes it stick out even more that they didn't do a Chase Meridian figure. I've had a think about why they chose not to do her. I wonder if it's possibly because - unlike all the actors in the Batman & Robin line - Nicole didn't have a figure back in 1995 so has no pre-existing contract to base a figure off her character? Another reason is maybe that they didn't think people would be interested in the character.

Anyway, the other things to notice. We finally have a close up look at Robin, Riddler and Two-Face's facial sculpts.
  • Robin looks really close to the one from the Batman & Robin line (except obviously for the mask). I liked that sculpt on that figure so I'm happy to see it return. The colour of Robin's suit is quite a bright red and doesn't really have the metallic look the movie suit had. Still it looks great. Interestingly the collar looks to be plastic but the cape looks to be a yellow fabric on the inside.
  • The Riddler looks not bad. I don't love the face sculpt but it is recognisably Jim Carrey. The teeth seem really big but maybe it will grow on me. I feel the ab crunch is going to look a bit weird on this figure because there's no details on the costume to hide it.
  • Two-Face is - for me - the weakest of the bunch. Don't get me wrong, the detail is great but I'm just not getting Tommy Lee Jones. The head seems quite chunky. Maybe it's one of those things where if you see it from the side or at an angle it'll look better. I can't quite tell from the way the pictures are blended but it looks like he'll have a coin in his hand.
Of course, in the background we have the Nightmare Bat (which will be the Build-a-Figure part - ie. you'll get a bit with each of the main four figures and can put it together once you have all four). Can't see too much detail on this but it looks solid. My only concern is that the figure's head will be fixed. I'd love if it could move so you can stand him face to face with Batman (and recreate that deleted shot from the film).




The other thing to note is that the Batman figure doesn't appear to have a plastic cape - it looks cloth. I assumed it would have a plastic one so it was different from the one from the Ultimate Batman set however as someone pointed out to me if McFarlane do a Forever Batmobile the figure will need to fit inside it - so it will need a flexible cape.

And that brings me to the final bit of news - well rumour - this list of forthcoming McFarlane figures has been leaked. It mentions two Forever Batmobiles. One with Alfred - I'd assume an exclusive Michael Gough figure. And one that's listed as GITD - which I think stands for Glow In The Dark. Exciting to see if this is true.



Thursday, April 4, 2024

News: McFarlane announces a Batman Forever line

Well I think we were all hoping this would be coming sooner or later.

Finally last weekend - at Wondercon - Todd McFarlane announced that a Batman Forever 7 inch action figure line is on the way!

See the picture below. 

(Although it says Summer 2025 but apparently this is incorrect and they'll be out this year).



Some interesting things to note:-

Unfortunately we're only getting a reissue of the Sonar Suit that came out last year in the Ultimate Batman set. There's no Panther suit. However the rumour is that an exclusive Panther suit may come later (possibly with a 7 inch scale Batmobile!).

Although I can't see from the photo. I imagine the difference will be that the Batman figure will come with a molded plastic cape.

Two-Face, Riddler and Robin are the other three figures to collect. I think we all expected that given that the Batman & Robin line also had 4 figures. It's a shame the line isn't bigger - a Sugar, Spice and/or Chase figure would have been cool.

The big surprise is the choice for Build-a-Figure. It's the Nightmare Bat that Bruce keeps dreaming about in the film. This is a cool choice as it is only briefly seen in the film (poor Rick Baker who designed it). 

It's most famous for the deleted scene where Bruce spreads his arms out and stands face to face with it (which was put in the trailer).

Again, I can't tell from the photo but I hope you can move the Bat's head to recreate that scene.

I'm sort of hoping this helps a tiny bit in getting the Schumacher Cut finally released. Who knows? Every little bit helps.

Lastly, I'd recommend watching this video of Todd talking at Wondercon (skip to 15 minutes in to go to the Batman Forever reveal). 

He mentions two things of interest - 1) the Batman & Robin line had a "really big response at the toy fair last year and at retail" 2) he specifically notes that there "a group of you that are trying to collect the Batman movie characters" and he's "trying to deliver on that".

It feels nice to hear Todd say that. I (and I think everyone else that reads this blog or watches my YouTube channel) feel seen.


Sunday, March 17, 2024

Batman Forever Merchandise Review - Batmobile phone by Micro Games of America

I love the design of the Forever Batmobile but I'll be honest I've got so many toys and models I don't need any more.

At least that's what I thought until I saw this Batmobile telephone on eBay. I've seen versions of the 1989 Batmobile as a phone but not the Forever one.

As shown in the video the phone lights up when you call it. Sadly it doesn't play any cool ringtones. 


Sunday, February 18, 2024

Batman Forever Merchandise Review - Riddler and Two Face figures from Kenner

Given that Riddler and Two Face are partners in crime in Batman Forever, it makes sense that Kenner made a double pack of figures.

These are basically just repaints of existing figures. The Riddler has a new head sculpt but other than that they aren't any different.

Two Face comes with a gold gun accessory that annoyingly my one is missing. It's based on the gun he uses to blow up the gas line and bury Batman in the subway.

These are definitely good value and perfect if you just want the most movie accurate versions of the two villains.


Monday, January 22, 2024

Batman Forever Merchandise Review - Solar Shield Batman figure from Kenner

If there's one thing everyone remembers about Batman, it's that he needs the sun for power.

Wait, no that's the other guy.

Oh well, as was often the case with 90s Kenner figures they went with an absolutely bonkers concept because:-

1) it sounded cool and 

2) made for a great figure.

This is Solar Shield Batman, one of the wave 2 figures. It come with some enormous wings and a crossbow (?) for his hand.

The material on the cape is particularly neat. They could have gone with just black but the metallic blue really makes it stand out. 

It took me a long while to track this one down. Glad I have it because there's nothing quite like it. Get one if you can.


Friday, January 5, 2024

Book Review: Neon Knight Forever: The Legacy of Joel Schumacher’s Batman Duology by Tomasz Zaglewski

Review by Neil Rickatson

I have to preface this review and state that I am acknowledged twice within the text of this book. I will do my best to stay as impartial as possible. 

In today’s world everyone is very quick to compartmentalise every aspect of their life. Turn everything into a binary 0 or 1. Nothing is immune. I can’t throw a virtual rock on the internet without hitting “That’s the worst movie I ever saw” or “That’s the best movie I ever saw.” There is little room for any sort of nuance. And inevitably we end up with a handful of great movies that everyone universally agrees are great, and the rest go in a pile to the side to be left untouched. 

Logic dictates that only this first pile of great movies should be written about when actually I find much more satisfaction in looking at the other pile. For years, the Schumacher Batman movies have been dragged through the mud. On release Batman Forever was seen as a slick but empty exercise in commercial filmmaking. Batman & Robin by contrast was seen as an excessive, noisy, exhausting hollow product. Comic book fans, in particular, turned to the internet and railed against both films for multiple reasons: their deviation from the comics, their humorous take on the material and their style choices. 

And here’s the thing that bothered me. They didn’t let up. At all. No one was allowed to get a word in edgeways. So the narrative has been the Schumacher movies sucked, they have zero value and they should be talked about as briefly as possible. 

Thankfully time is a healer. After almost 30 years, Professor Tomasz ┼╗aglewski (from the Institute of Cultural Studies, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland) has taken the task of looking at both films and trying to find what their legacy is. To be clear this is not a book about the making of the films (though a little bit of that is covered here and there) but a book that examines how people thought about Schumacher’s Batman duology then and how they think about them now. 

Here is a quick overview of the topics covered:- 

Part 1 talks about the place of the Schumacher films in Batman fandom. How they are seen as being “wrong” because they did not have a dark and serious tone. How they were also out of step with where the character was in the comics at the time. It also talks about how difficult it is to pin down any kind of definitive Batman portrayal (very true) and looks at some of the various versions of Batman over the years. Some were familiar to me such as Dark Knight and Camp Knight. Others were new terms I hadn’t seen before Cute Knight, Toy Knight, Dad Knight! 

Part 2 looks in more detail at the elements around the movie. Joel Schumacher (often seen as a generic journeyman director) is viewed with a fresh lens. Seen as a director who kept coming back to “trespasser” characters and stories. There is also a look at the shift from Burton's version of Batman to Schumacher's version. Were they their own thing or was Schumacher attempting to tie both universes together? 

Part 3 looks at some of the talking points around the films. The figures (which some people thought were disappointing because you couldn't get a figure that looked like they did in the film). The video games which are not beloved due to their frustratingly clunky controls. And finally… the bat nipples that featured in both films and what an overblown fuss they caused. 

The final part looks at how the duology has shifted in terms of public perception over the years. How the films were not well reviewed at the time and B&R, in particular, had a disappointing (but not disastrous) box office. To today where the films enjoy a small and loyal fandom (this is where I come in - which was surreal to read). And finally ends by talking about the online push for an extended cut of Batman Forever. 

All in all, this is a great, very knowledgeable book with a fantastic grasp of the subject. Tomasz is – I believe from the introduction – sympathetic to Schumacher’s aims and picks through both Batman movies, finding all sorts of interesting and varied subject matter. He draws on all areas of prior Batman expertise – such as Will Brooker, William Uricchio and Roberta E. Pearson. 

I must confess the whole book even made me look at both Batman Forever and Batman & Robin with renewed respect. I particularly enjoyed the second part of the book which dealt with Joel. I recently have been going through all of Schumacher’s filmography and was delighted to be shown this idea in Neon Knight Forever that there is this unified “trespasser” theme that runs through many of his films (one of his last movies was even called Trespass – how did I miss that). There’s this thinking that Tim Burton was “the artist”, and Joel was a “studio shill” but the book makes great pains to remind us that Joel did have thematic elements that interested him and with these two Batman films he did have a vision – to make a “living comic book”. It might not have been beloved by everyone but there was thought put behind it all. He was not the toy and cartoon and merchandise-obsessed man that a lot of people think he was. 

The book also reminded me of various little moments that I’d filed away and forgotten or outright missed. Such as how, even though the continuity is sketchy at best, Batman & Robin is designed to be a progression from the Burton films. Joel wanted to evolve the character of Bruce Wayne to be in a different place from the beginning of the franchise. I also chuckled at some of the old reviews and comments about both films. Gene Siskel’s review of B&R as a “a sniggering, exhausting, overproduced extravaganza that has virtually all of the humanity pounded out of it in the name of an endless parade of stunt sequences”. In some ways he’s not wrong, there’s times I watch and feel the same way (other times I just go with it and enjoy the "extravaganza" and "endless parade of stunt sequences"). 

The book also compares - or rather brings up comparisons of - Batman & Robin to recent films such as Thor: Love and Thunder and Birds of Prey. The former (which I haven’t seen yet) is an interesting comparison because the Marvel Cinematic Universe for many years has been a success juggernaut yet even I was aware that online fans had roundly eviscerated the fourth Thor movie in similar ways to B&R. Criticising it’s campy, playful, comedic tone. Neon Knight Forever begins by citing MCU boss Kevin Feige talking (in 2009) about B&R being a watermark that “demanded a new way of doing things. It created the opportunity to do X-Men and Spider-Man, adaptations that respected the source material and adaptations that were not campy.” Interesting to see that 14 years later Feige is producing a new campy, comedic superhero movie that goes against these earlier words. Perhaps camp is a necessary outlet that must be brought out every few years – a sort of cyclical event – if nothing else for a bit of variety. Perhaps there is a limit to the public’s appetite for dark, serious superhero movies. Maybe we can't keep telling the same story, with the same tone over and over again.

There really isn’t much I can criticise the book about. I would have loved for it to be a little bit longer. I also would have loved to have seen the book cover a little more on the online reaction to Batman & Robin circa 1997 - I feel it was a watershed moment when the internet started to become infinitely more important in terms of film criticism than newspapers/journals/TV. It democratised film criticism for better and for worse. Ain’t It Cool News’ review of Batman & Robin which drew comparisons of the audience feeling like “survivors of Hiroshima” was - I feel - a lightning rod for comic book fans and set the tone for the next few decades of online film reviews. 

But maybe that’s for part 2. I certainly feel there’s more to be discussed about both these films. And hopefully now Tomasz has broken the seal, others will come forward to give Schumacher’s duology their own analysis. 

I thank Tomasz for writing such an eloquent book, it has given me much to think about and I urge anyone with a passing interest in Batman Forever and/or Batman & Robin to buy a copy.




Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Batman Forever Merchandise Review - Val Kilmer Batman figure from McFarlane

Merry Christmas everyone!

In a bit of Christmas kindness, a fan of www.1995batman.com reached out to me on Instagram and asked if I would be interested in the Val Kilmer figure from the recently released McFarlane Ultimate Batman Collection - a six figure set of all the most recent movie Batman actors.

I can't thank the guy enough for sending it to me. 

This is a really great figure and hopefully it will be released as a solo figure soon as part of a Batman Forever line.

It really captures the likeness of Val and the sonar suit. All the details are there, right down to the gold belt buckle. I particularly love that they've captured the metallic blue silver colour (something the vintage figures never really did).

Being a fan of vintage figures I wasn't aware how good articulation had gotten. The an crunch and should joints in particular are really well done. As is the flexible "pants" that allow the figure to look good as a statue and be able to be put in tons of poses.

One thing to note is that this figure has a cloth cape. When the solo figure comes out it may not. The solo George Clooney figure changed the cape to be a plastic one. So if you're like me an love cloth capes, get this one.


Sunday, November 26, 2023

Batman Forever Merchandise Review - Cosrider figure from Hot Toys

I reviewed the 4 Batman Forever Cosbaby figures by Hot Toys a while back. When I saw they were also doing a Forever Batmobile I was going to give it a miss. I'm not super into the "super deformed" style of figures and I have a ton of other Batmobiles in my collection.

However on closer inspection this is something a little different. It's actually a miniature version of the kids ride-on batmobile that was out at the time. You know the kind of thing where they'd be outside shops and your mum would put a pound in and you'd sit in it and it would go up and down and play a tune for 2 minutes.

The Batman figure that is standing out the top is also not just the original Cosbaby figure. It's a new sculpt. Hats off to Hot Toys for coming out with such an oddball idea. It's totally unique in my collection.

Anyway, as I say in the video it's a shame this doesn't play Seal or U2 or even some Elliot Goldenthal. I'll have to look into that - getting some kind of motion sensor that automatically plays "Kiss From a Rose" when you walk into my collection.


Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Batman Forever Merchandise Review - Bruce Wayne Target Variant by Kenner

Towards the end of Kenner's toyline Target (the US store) asked them to make a few exclusive repainted figures.

One of these was this variant of the Transforming Bruce Wayne figure. A straightforward repaint.

Decked out in metallic green and gold. It's a really nice colour scheme - maybe even better than the original flat blue and red.

However I'm not sure they needed to make Bruce Wayne's hair dark red. I'm sure they could have recoloured some other part of his body. Maybe given him a new coloured top or trousers.

Anyway, I love this figure. As I say in the video it might be my favourite Batman figure ever!


Sunday, October 1, 2023

Batman Forever Merchandise Review - Leaping Batman statue from Applause

Applause was a company that made several 12 inch cold cast statues for Batman Forever that I reviewed a while back.

But I knew there was one more statue that they produced and I wasn't able to get it until now.

It comes in a huge polystyrene box but is actually only about 8 inches high. It depicts Batman in the sonar suit leaping off a rooftop.

As I say in the video, I like how clever the figure is given that it is actually off the ground and is held in place by the cape. But the likeness and proportions are very cartoon-y and reminds me of the Batman Forever Kids illustration style (See the video I did on the Style Guide).

Anyway, it feels good to have all the Applause stuff now. 


Sunday, August 6, 2023

Batman Forever Merchandise Review - Dick Grayson figure from Kenner

Now we come to one of the most experimental figures in the Batman Forever line - the transforming Dick Grayson figure.

I remember having this one as a kid. I really liked the Dick Grayson character in the film and I love figures that have the ability to change. So this was a must buy.

First up the negatives, I was always disappointed the figure didn't have some dramatically different costume underneath. I always loved it when you had a figure in their casual clothes and got to suit them up. I get the reasoning but it sort of defeats the object of being a transforming figure if he's already wearing a sort of Robin costume underneath his Robin costume.

Secondly the colour changing mask on Robin was always a bit temperamental. It's a neat idea but the reality is your figure will usually just have a grey outline most of the time rather than looking like a fresh faced Chris O'Donnell.

I remember sometimes I'd try to change it without the aid of water. I had this has heater in the room where I placed with my toys and I remember melting my original figure by leaving him too long near the heat.

That said, I still like the figure and still have fond memories of it. Even with it's flaws I still find it fun and it reminds me of Kenner's constant desire to make some of the most innovative, playful figures of the 90s.


Friday, July 21, 2023

McFarlane are doing more Batman & Robin figures

Wow, did not expect this so quickly. McFarlane Toys have announced they are also releasing at least 5 figures from Batman, Poison Ivy, Batgirl, Robin and Mr Freeze.

Again these are 7 inches.

There's no mention but there will also probably be a Bane build-a-figure (ie. You'll get a part of Bane with each figure you purchase - collect them all and you can make the full figure).

Release date is listed as Fall 2023. No price guide but likely $20-25 per figure.

I'm assuming they'll also be doing some Batman Forever figures too but who knows.