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.



New McFarlane Kilmer and Clooney figures coming soon

Todd McFarlane just announced a new 6 figure Ultimate Movie Collection of figures based on the most recent Batman movie actors. 

The set will retail for $119.99 and feature the following actors:-

Michael Keaton (1989 suit)
Val Kilmer (Sonar suit)
George Clooney (non-Ice suit)
Christian Bale (Dark Knight suit)
Ben Affleck (looks like the Tactical suit from Justice League without the goggles)
and Robert Pattinson 

Most are reissues of existing McFarlane figures but Kilmer and Clooney are brand new sculpts. Have a look at the pictures below and see what you think.

Here's a link to the McFarlane page:-

They are all 7 inches and come with one bat signal with interchangeable bat symbols! No batarangs or other gadgets have been mentioned.

I don't love the poseable heads (it makes them look less like the actual suits) but everything else seems really good. I particularly love that these have cloth capes. And I think the likeness (the mouth and chin) are pretty good - certainly much better than Mattel DC Multiverse figure of Kilmer from a few years ago.

Hopefully these will be able to be purchased separately at some point in the future.

There were rumours earlier in the year that McFarlane may released more figures from Batman Forever (Batman, Robin, Two Face and The Riddler) and Batman & Robin (Batman, Robin, Batgirl, Poison Ivy, Mr Freeze and Bane as a build-a-figure). 

Who knows if that will happen but this certainly makes it more likely.

I know Todd will never see this message but THANK YOU for not forgetting the Schumacher Batmans.








Sunday, July 16, 2023

New book on Schumacher's Batman movies "Neon Knight Forever" to be released in December

Tomasz ┼╗aglewski - a professor in film and audiovisual culture - has written a NEW book that analyses both of Joel Schumacher’s Batman movies titled “Neon Knight Forever”. 

I'm really looking forward to reading this (and will no doubt be reviewing it when it comes out). As far as I know Schumacher's Batman movies have never really been written about in this way - deconstructed, analysed, and talked about in an academic fashion. 

Let's face it, for the last two decades most of what has been written about Batman Forever and Batman & Robin has been negative online comments by irate comic nerds mad about nipples or campy acting. It's nice that someone wants to talk about it in a balanced way. 

Here's a preview of the chapter headings:-

Introduction: 'Can I persuade you to take a sandwich with you, sir?' 
1. Neon Knight Begins: The Not-So-Dark Knight as an Element in Batman's Transmedia Multiverse 
1.1. Into the Bat-verse: From the Multiverse of Stories to the Multiverse of Readings 
1.2. Camp Knight, Dad Knight or Cute Knight? Exploring the Foundations of the Neon Knight 
2. The Neon Knight Unchained: Questionable Choices and the Ice-Catching Spectacle in Batman Forever and Batman & Robin 
2.1. Who's Afraid of the Big, Black Bat? Joel Schumacher as a Cinematic Trespasser 
2.2. Tim Burton's Noir-tmare before Christmas vs. Joel Schumacher's Camp Noir: Embracing a Living Comic Book as a Visual Thriller 
2.3. The Lite Knight Rises: The Troubling Case of the Plastic Figures, Virtual Grappling Hooks, and Rubber Nipples 
3. The Neon Knight Triumphant: Modern Perception of Joel Schumacher's Batman Duology 
3.1. 'It's So Bad, It's Almost Good': Fandom's Online Discourse Following Joel Schumacher's Passing 
3.2. Schumacher was right': Social Media Appreciation for the Neon Knight Closing Remarks or 'We're going to need a bigger cave'

The book is due for release in December 2023, you can pre-order now by following the link:- https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/neon-knight-forever-9798765100608/



Tuesday, July 4, 2023

A Schumacher Cut of Batman Forever finally screens! Details revealed.

Well, after months of waiting for any kind of movement on the long-fabled Schumacher Cut we finally got a flurry of activity these last few weeks. First it was revealed on Kevin Smith’s Fatman Beyond podcast that a listener Joe Black had handed Smith a workprint copy of Batman Forever on a thumb drive. Apparently Joe went to a tiny screening somewhere else and managed to convince the person who screened it a make him a copy. 

 Smith and Black discussed a little bit about the differences in this workprint from the theatrical release and then – Smith did the unthinkable – he announced he would screen this cut at his own SmodCastle Cinema in New Jersey. He would add it as a bonus to the end of a Clerks cartoon marathon. So technically he wouldn’t be charging people for watching it – as he put it “maybe I’ll put a film on at the end.” As I said, it’s his cinema so essentially it’s his rules. He can do what he wants. 

Cut to a couple of days ago and sure enough, he did (at like 3am!) screen this workprint. Now sadly, being based in the UK I was unable to attend but word has been spread by the 30 or so people who did stick around to watch it. Among these lucky viewers were the Epic Film Guys podcast. They recorded this great podcast detailing all the differences they spotted and I want to thank them for letting me write up notes based on what they said. Go listen to their podcast and follow them:- http://www.epicfilmguys.com/e/batman-forever-the-schumacher-cut-review-breakdown/ 

First off, the film is around about 2 hours and 16 minutes – we know this because there was a timecode burnt into the bottom of the screen. It also says WORKPRINT 11/94 which implies it was from November 1994 – we know there were some additional pick up shots done later. Apparently – and I’m assuming this was Joe Black because he mentioned he’d like to do it on the podcast – any shots that we identical to the theatrical cut, they had swapped out the workprint footage and just kept the audio. So it was very clear to audiences where the new material was. 

This is an early cut of the film – seemingly made before Elliot Goldenthal had completed his full score. As such, the film has a temp score that re-uses a lot of Danny Elfman’s scores for Batman and Batman Returns. This is a typical thing that is done on movies when you need to get a sense of what the finished film will sound like (or needs to sound like) before the composer creates their own score. 

The film has some unfinished effects work and the dialogue is much rougher. Apparently Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones re-recorded the audio for a lot of their performances (this is known in the business as ADR). 

Now there was rumour that the performance of Jones in particular was much subtler but the Epic Film Guys say that’s not really the case. He’s still cackling, hooting and generally being over the top. Other people who saw this cut did report that Jones performance was a littler subtler and generally improved. 

Some of the takes in the film are alternate takes of lines and some of the shots last longer. The Epic Film Guys said some shots they could tell the actors were waiting for the director to say “cut”. 

The main thing to note is that this cut follows the scene order of the original script. We don’t start at the bank and then go to Wayne Enterprises. And Chase’s seduction of Batman on the GCPD rooftop is later in the film. 

WHAT’S IN THE CUT? 
  • We start at Arkham Asylum with Dr Burton finding Two Face has escaped (this deleted scene is on the DVD/Blu-ray). There might be one extra exterior shot of the Asylum that we’ve not seen. 
  • Next we go to Wayne Enterprises, we zoom in on one window. Bruce Wayne is inside talking to his assistants. They are harassing him with lots of questions. One of the assistants is Jon Favreau – who can be briefly seen in the theatrical cut but has no lines. Bruce has just come back from meeting the President. He stops his assistants and then announces he needs to give himself a raise. (This scene is featured in the original script but we’ve never seen footage of it). 
  • Then we go to Bruce meeting Edward Nygma and being shown the prototype box. This is the same as the theatrical cut (there’s apparently a little more of him starting the machine – glimpses of this might be the ones seen in the U2 music video). 
  • As with the theatrical cut, Bruce sees the Bat signal, leaves Edward hanging, heads to his office and takes the chair luge thing to the Batcave. He gets dressed in the batsuit heads to the Batmobile. Alfred says “Can I persuade you to take a sandwich?”. Batman “I’ll get drive thru.” At this point, we have the main title! 
  • Now Batman arrives at the bank (there’s a few extra shots of the crowd). Everything plays out as the theatrical cut. When Batman comes out of the elevator he says ”Going down?” (as seen in the trailer). 
  • When Batman rescues the security guard with the hearing aid – there’s less dialogue between the two. The guard does not say “Oh no, it’s boiling acid.” There’s a few more shots of Batman standing on the vault. 
  • There are more effects shots of the helicopter going through the Ocu-Wash sign. Two-Face’s “If the bat wants to play, we’ll play” line (seen in the trailers and used in the video game) is also in this cut. 
  • There’s more of Two-Face in the helicopter after he’s shot the pilot – telling Bruce “You’re a killer too.” (This is probably close to what is the deleted scene on the DVD/Blu-Ray). There’s apparently a little more of Batman trying to get the lock off the flight stick and a few more effects shots of the helicopter hitting Lady Gotham’s face. 
  • As Batman falls into the water – this cut has flashes of young Bruce falling into the cave as a child. And flashes of the giant bat. I’ve got to agree with the Epic Film Guys, this is an odd placement for such a flashback. 
  • After Nygma kills Stickley there’s a little more of him being creepy – taking a photo of Bruce and smashing it on the ground. 
  • Bruce then wakes up in Wayne Manor and we get a little more conversation between him with Alfred. Alfred has the Batsuit in his hands (respect to Michael Gough – those suits were heavy!) and they talk a bit about Bruce being Batman. (Again, I’m assuming this is the extra bit from the script). 
  • The next change is the circus, there’s a few more shots Two-Face and a few more of Dick trying to get rid of the bomb but otherwise this is the same. 
  • When Dick Grayson arrives at Wayne Manor and Alfred tells him “Broken wings mend in time” Dick is looking at a newspaper with a headline about Two-Face. 
  • Chase’s scene where she tries to seduce Batman on the rooftop and moved back to after the circus scene and her dialogue makes more sense – “Two-Face’s coin. It’s his achilles heel.”- because she saw him at the circus. 
  • When Dick Grayson goes up against Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson’s skull faced gang leader – the audio isn’t dubbed. It’s Wilson’s actual voice which is a little flat. 
  • After Batman swoops down and scares the gang away apparently the scene of Dick punching Batman in frustration and yelling “It’s your fault” goes on longer and ends with Dick Grayson collapsing in exhaustion. Apparently there’s a cool overhead shot of in this. A unit still of this has been available for a while and I’m assuming this is how the shot ended. 
  • The scene of the Riddler coming up with his identity is slightly extended and after the Riddler looks over at his fortune telling machine we get a shot of his computer and see him making the costume on screen. 
  • During the montage of Riddler and Two-Face robbing locations there’s more of the Two-Face showing how to punch the guard. After Riddler hurts his hand, Two-Face smacks the guard and he crumples. (Note: the script and trading cards show the Riddler followed this up by beating the guard on the floor with his cane – I don’t think this is in this cut). The Epic Film Guys said this scene was much more menacing and sinister with Elfman’s music over the top. 
  • There’s an extra shot of the exterior of Chase’s apartment when Bruce goes to visit her. He also says “Thanks for her help with Dick” implying she is counselling him too. 
  • At the Nygmatech Party – Nygma does not ask Sugar “How’s my mole?” which I’m really sad about. That is GENUINELY my favourite line in the whole film. 
  • There’s a couple more shots of Batman climbing up the railings to get to the top of the Ritz Gotham. 
  • After Dick rescues Bruce and they’re back at the batcave we get more of Bruce watching a news report by an anchor called Kenneth Frequency who says Batman should retire and is just a menace to Gotham. Bruce then talks to Alfred who tells him he should call Chase and tell her how he feels. Alfred picks up the phone and calls Chase but Bruce can’t talk and hangs up. (This scene is on the DVD/Blu-Ray). 
  • Not an addition – but apparently all the cartoon sound effects are there during the part when Two-Face and Riddler break into Wayne Manor and blow up the Batcave. 
  • When Bruce wakes up after the attack, the bullet graze has given him amnesia. Alfred says they need to go to the cave beneath the cave. Bruce can’t remember anything about being Batman. Alfred beckons him to go into a small crevasse (not unlike the bit in Empire Strikes Back when Luke has the vision about fighting Vader on Dagobah). He goes into the small cave, finds the red diary and reads it. It is his father’s diary – the last entry says “Martha and I have our hearts set on Zorro so Bruce’s cartoon will have to wait.” The implication begin Bruce had blamed himself for going to the cinema the night his parent’s died. He says to himself “not my fault. It’s not my fault.” He stands up and sees a bat fly towards him. The giant turns out to be 7 foot tall (we’ve morphed into some kind of dream sequence) . He stretches out his arms, the bat stretches out his wings and the camera flies around them both. He comes back out the cave, sees Alfred and says “I’m Batman, Alfred. I’m Batman.” (This scene is on the DVD/Blu-Ray). 
  • There is apparently then a very cool but unfinished CGI shot after Bruce says this where a bunch of CGI bats fly out of the small crevasse behind Bruce. 
  • There’s some extra bit when Batman is talking to the Riddler in his throne room where we see Batman try to put his foot forward and notice that most of the floor is a hologram. 
  • There’s a little more of Two-Face on the ledge pointing his gun at Robin, Chase and Batman. 
  • There’s a little more of Edward in his cell pretending to be Batman. 
  • The film ends with Chase getting in the car and asking Alfred “Does it ever end?” to which he replies “Not in this lifetime.” The cut then goes to the Batman and Robin running in front of the Bat signal.
WHAT’S NOT IN THIS CUT? 
  • The Beauty Parlour scene (which was available on the DVD/Blu-Ray) – where Batman’s crime alert monitor in his Batmobile redirects him to a beauty parlour/hair salon and all the patrons laugh at him is not in this cut. Thank God! 
  • The Wooden Dummy scene - (which was available on the DVD/Blu-Ray) – where Dick is training on a wooden dummy with Two-Face’s picture taped to it. Bruce comes in and talks to him about Dick’s plans for revenge, and then kicks the dummy, snapping the top bit off. 
  • There is no scene of Dick Grayson showing Alfred kung-fu laundry. 
  • There’s seemingly no more of Edward Nygma on Claw Island after opening Nygmatech. The trading cards and sticker album did show that some shots of him were taken at a launch party (with two women with bright red hair) and some shots of him driving around in a little buggy with a hard hat. 
  • There is no scene of Sugar and Spice calling for a helicopter to come get them after the Nygmatech party. 
  • When Chase kisses Bruce at Wayne Manor there is no shot to show that she has figured out he’s Batman from kissing him. 
  • There is no shot of Riddler injecting Chase with a giant syringe and says “Nap time gorgeous.” 
  • There is no hero shot of Robin standing over Two-Face. 
  • After Two-Face falls there is no shot of his hand and a coin landing on it. As soon as he falls off the ledge that’s it. 
  • There is no scene of Batman talking to the deformed Riddler “Why can’t I kill you? Too many questions” … “Poor Edward I had to save them both. You see I’m both Bruce Wayne and Batman. Not because I have to be, now because I choose to be.” 
  • There is no shot of Batman and Robin on a gargoyle at the end of the film – we know they shot this on a blue screen so maybe it was scrapped to save money or they ran out of time to finish the effect. 
Once again, thanks to the Epic Film Guys podcast - check their website here:-http://www.epicfilmguys.com/

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Batman Forever Merchandise Review - Colouring and Sticker book by Golden Books

A quick break before we wrap up the action figure reviews to take a look at the Colouring and Sticker books.

Both of these were made by Golden Books - who also made kid friendly products (somehow) for Batman Returns.

Half of the illustrations in here are from the Style Guide by either Jose Luis Garcia Lopez or Neal Adams but the rest are completely unique to this book. If anyone knows the artist please let me know.

And that really is the joy of looking at these books. All the artistic interpretations of the characters and scenarios of the movie - extrapolating them and creating just a little bit of more.


Sunday, May 14, 2023

Batman Forever Merchandise Review - Batman vs The Riddler from Kenner

Sad to say we're really close to finishing the Kenner toyline. Only a few figures left. Even though these are only repaint I thought they were pretty interesting figures to cover.

The Movie Collection was a line of three 2-pack figures that were released in 1997 that packaged a Batman figure with one of the villains from Batman (1989), Batman Returns and Batman Forever.

For this they brought out the molds of Batman (Guardians of Gotham) and The Talking Riddler and gave them new paint colours. 

Unfortunately the colours aren't particularly revolutionary. And there's no fun missiles or backpacks. Still it's nice to have a couple more figures for the collection.


Sunday, April 16, 2023

Batman Forever Merchandise Review - Night Flight Batman figure from Kenner

These last few Kenner figures are getting harder and harder to find. Took me quite a while to find this one.

Night Flight Batman came from later in the toyline and is a little hard to come by. It's a cool figure though. It's got a great colour scheme. Black and copper red and the wing backpack is really neat. The little slide at the bottom makes the wings pop up and a bat mask/visor come down over Batman's head.

The only thing that lets it down is the accessory - a saw blade launcher that doesn't move.

One other notable thing about the figure is the suit is the most accurate version of the sonar suit in terms of sculpt. More so even than the Guardians of Gotham figure.


Friday, February 17, 2023

Batman Forever Merchandise Review - T-Shirt in a Batmobile

It's always fun finding merchandise for Batman Forever that I've never seen before. After several years of doing this website I thought I knew pretty much everything that was made for the movie. Trust me, I own an awful lot of it now.

Anyway, it's a neat idea. Selling a t-shirt in a novelty case. That way you get a bonus thing to play with while you're wearing the shirt (which is great for kids). You could almost use it in place of the Kenner Batmobile - just think of how many figures you could fit in it - at least 7-8.

As mentioned in the video I have no idea why they chose to use the Jean Paul Valley bat symbol on the wheels. That's going to have to remain a mystery for now.


Friday, January 20, 2023

Batman Forever Merchandise Review - The Unauthorized Batman Collectors Guide by Alan J Porter

Searching for all this Batman Forever stuff on eBay I frequently stumble across other items of interest. I was thrilled to find this random book that was made back in 1998 for people who were collecting Batman merchandise back then.

This was fascinating to look through and full of great photos of figures and comprehensive text. For someone like me, who loves 90s Batman, this was great to look through.

The back half of the book contains estimates of every item - books, toys, mugs, statues, duvet sets, posters and any other piece of merchandise out there.

On the one hand I'm jealous of how much cheaper it was to collect Batman merchandise in 1998. But I can't help but feel it would be much harder finding everything without 2023 eBay.