Everybody has to have a preschool mini-figure line these days. I suppose it all started with the Playskool Star Wars line (now called Galactic Heroes) way back in 2002. The trend took a while to really catch on, but eventually everybody wanted in on the action and we now have cutsey versions of Transformers, G.I. Joe, Marvel, Hellboy, Toy Story, Indy, and now, Batman.
While I like preschool minis, I've never actually gotten into any of the other lines. The style was always a little too bubbly for my tastes. But I've been hankering for decent figures based on the Batman: The Brave and the Bold cartoon for a while, and the regular 5" action figure line, with its garish holes, just doesn't cut it. This Action League toyline might be just what I'm looking for!
Size: roughly 2" - 2 1/2" tall
Price: $7 at Wal-Mart
I really dig the style of the Batman: The Brave and the Bold cartoon and these figures capture that look and feel pretty well. But they also take the designs a bit further, distorting the proportions of the figures to preschool mini levels while still maintaining the angular styling of the cartoon.
The paint apps are a bit sloppy though. Element Man's neck just seems to be all over the place, and Batman's batarang isn't painted all the way down to his glove. There are a few other paint slop annoyances, but it's nothing that overtly detracts from the look of the figures. And the bold colors make them pop on the shelf.
Articulation: Batman Element Man
Both Batman and Element Man have three points of articulation each: swivel necks, shoulders, and waists. But Element Man moves much better than Bats, whose waist and arm articulation is limited by his cape.
I wasn't expecting any accessories, but the more I think about it, the more I think this line is the perfect scale for cool equipment. Maybe Batman could come with an bat-glider and Rex could have come with a hammer that could fit over one of his arms, "transforming" it a la Clayface. Alas, nay.
At $7, this set is a bit of a tough sell. They're roughly the same price as the 5" figures, which are double the size with big accessories and better articulation. They're also more expensive than Glyos Crayboth (and designer toys are almost always more expensive than their mass-production counterparts). While they're priced competitively to other preschool minis, I'm not too giddy about the cost. Some sort of accessories would have eased the pain of the price tag.
I love the styling of the figures: they're cute but geometric, with dynamic gestures. This is in contrast to most preschool minis, which have blobby sculpts and generic poses. But ultimately they're still pretty static: lack of accessories, articulation, and playability features keep these guys from a higher score.
I love the look of the figures, which mixes cuteness with the angular styling of the cartoon and uses basic, but fun, color schemes. Accessories and better movement would have really helped the figures. But in the end, I like them much better than the 5" figures, so Action League has now filled the B&TB void in my collection. Apparently, Mattel has a bright future for this line planned. Let's hope so... I'd love to see an entire DC Universe of these guys!