Thursday, July 5, 2012

Review: Hot Toys The Joker (1989 Version) DX Series!

Courtesy of our good friends at Sideshow Collectibles I couldn’t be more excited to unbox and review Hot Toys The Joker (1989 version) DX Series 1/6th scale collectible figure. I’ve raved about Hot Toys many times before but their DX lines represents the very height of high-end collecting.

You may find larger and more expensive statues, but I honestly can’t imagine that you will find anything currently available that matches the detail and craftsmanship that is present here. I promise that this one will blow your mind. Even the interior packaging is going to blow your mind. This is the sort of thing that you open in a sealed room, wearing white gloves, while sweating profusely. You need to sit down and take deep breaths before proceeding with this one.

We all love Heath Ledger Joker but don’t ever forget that Jack Nicholson is a legend and it was his iconic look and performance that, for many of us of a certain age, first cemented the Joker in our consciousness. Sometimes we need a reminder of that.

You’ll find the biggest reminder... after the jump!

The box is heavy so you instantly know that something important is locked away in there. You’ll soon be surprised by how much stuff. The shiny panel on the front evokes the creepy leer of Nicholson’s Joker but doesn’t give you any real indication of the awesomeness that lurks inside. The outer boxes for Hot Toys products have never been informative. They’re more of a tease, designed to set the mood or build the anticipation. The bulk of the box is an ominous Joker purple. Or is that ominous Prince purple? To quote Vicki Vale: (hoarse, sexy whisper) "I love purple." 

The bulk of the packaging here is collector friendly, which is to say that you can open it all up and take just about everything out without damaging or ripping into anything. So you do have the option of packing it all away again later if you want to keep it safe. The box is fastened with magnets and you can lift the flap on the side and open the whole thing up like a book. Now we start to get our product info with a write up on the Joker character on the left...

"Truly destined to fight forever? Or at least until the end of the movie when Jack falls off a building and splatters."
... And a removable cardboard layer on the right which is attached to a layer of protective foam.

I dig the quote. This packaging is pumping nostalgia into me already. I want to try that dancing with the devil thing. Do we have to be naked? And what on earth is that removable disc?

It’s a transparency printed with the comic book Joker’s face/logo. The idea behind it is that you can combine it with a focused light source to project the image on a surface. Kind of hard to imagine a practical use for this in your display, but still it’s a fun thing to include and it looks good in the box. All of these extra little details really add to the overall experience of opening up something intricate and valuable. Maybe if you project the Joker signal the Joker will turn up at your house, shoot you in the spine, and you can spend the rest of your life on the Internet?

Let's put that insert to the side and reveal the Joker figure himself, who couldn't be snugger in a custom cut foam tray.

Plastic wraps protect his face and shirt and spaces have been cut to house his extra hands, sculpted in a variety of poses to interact with different accessories (they are hidden under the purple card). But where are all these accessories? 

It turns out that the foam is actually a large block (which accounts for much of the weight) and it lifts out to reveal a separate plastic blister/tray filled with just about every single prop that Jack Nicholson got his fingers on in the film. It’s not everything he used, but it’s pretty close. 

We’ll look at those more carefully as we go...

The base is far more solid than regular Hot Toys’ and features a bat logo and metal nameplate. What I wasn’t suspecting was the twin LED spotlights that reside at the front. Add three AAA batteries and they can be switched on and swiveled around to illuminate the figure.

They’re small, and I found them difficult to pivot to where I wanted them, finding that they’d often stray out towards us rather than back towards the figure. They’re not bright enough to act as your sole source of light but they do create eerie up-lit highlights on Joker once you’ve got him on the stand. I tried to photograph this for you but just couldn’t get the settings right to capture what could be seen by eye. Camera: 0. Eyes: 1.

Okay, now on to the actual figure...

It should be no surprise that the sculpted likeness is not only accurate but also creepily realistic. This is definitely Jack Nicholson. This is what every Oscars presenter sees leering at them from the front row. It’s a very well chosen facial expression which perfectly conveys Jack’s sinister madness. I think he might actually be kind of biting on his tongue on one side.

Burton’s first Batman movie had a huge impact on me as a thirteen-year-old and was what really got me interested in both Batman and mainstream comics in general, so I got a real buzz opening up Jack as it brought back a flood of memories. This is a very iconic character for me and will remain so regardless of future incarnations. It's hard to believe it’s been over twenty years already! I hope that made you feel really old.

This is my first Hot Toy to feature the Parallel Eye System (PERS). The back of his head actually detaches (it’s magnetic and the seam, blended into the hair is virtually invisible) and this reveals a small lever which moves both eyes. The separately sculpted glossy eyes really stand out from the face and it creates a super creepy effect! We’re talking uncanny valley stuff here. Jack can really follow you around the room.

Check it out in motion (this video has frustratingly rotated 90 degrees but for the sake of 10 seconds let's learn to live with it!):

That's bizarre right? And I'm amazed at how a subtle shift of his eyes can really alter his expression.

He has one of the most detailed and carefully tailored outfits I’ve ever seen at this scale. He has pants, suspenders, a shirt, waistcoat, tuxedo jacket with tails and a perfect miniature hat...

 Great care has been taken to remain accurate to the film. He has a separate hibiscus flower (I'm guessing! I'm no florist!) that clasps onto his coat and the microscopic buttons on his waistcoat are decorated with card suit symbols. Strain your eyes and check that out!


He also has a much larger overcoat which he wears towards the end of the film in the parade scenes. I’ve foolishly photographed this over the top of his tuxedo jacket, thinking that this was the right thing to do, but it’s bulky and difficult to accomplish (but not impossible)...

Thinking back to the film, I think he actually wore the overcoat instead of the tuxedo jacket because I think he waltzes with Vikki Vale in just his shirt and waistcoat. Regardless of all that, it looks super sharp, but I’m going to display him in the less heavy jacket.

When you think about it, nearly all his costumes are represented here. One of the few things he’s missing is his purple beret, but perhaps that’s something better left in the eighties. (Come to think of it, there are a LOT of berets in that film!). (I blame Prince).

Many of my other Hot Toys have restrictive tight costumes (Black Widow, Batman) and that has hindered their articulation, but the Joker’s clothing allows for a lot of movement and he can be easily shifted into very natural poses, interacting with his vast array of items:

In fact, why not wind up with a tour of some of his accessories? It seems that the Joker has some "wonderful toys" of his own. You've seen his huge, honkin' orange megaphone in an earlier shot, and above you can see his 1/6th scale playing card and wind-up chattering teeth. Even they have a built-in spring mechanism to allow them to open and close which makes them very easy to fit firmly in his hand.

But what about weapons? He has that ridiculously long pistol that he pulls out of his pants to shoot down the Batwing:

Or if you'd prefer, here's his classic gag pistol with removable flag. As you'd expect with these guns, even the barrels spin:

And here's the same again but hatless:

He also has two remotes/walkie talkies and his gas mask from the parade scene. I spent about a second wondering how the mask attached only to have it magically fix to his face as I brought it close. More magnets? 

And this is one of my favourite accessories just because it's something so insane to include. He has a whole bunch of tiny, printed $100 bills! Absolute wads of them, printed front and back! It's the most wonderfully crazy attention to detail you could ever hope for. Perfect for throwing into a crowd you're about to slaughter wholesale:

And, of course, his trademark cane. A prop so useful that even Jim Carrey wanted one. The posing potential with this thing is endless...

If you're a Batman fan and you grew up with the Burton films then you'd be nuts to miss this one. When these sell out they're usually gone for good and prices absolutely sky-rocket on eBay so I think he's worth a serious look. I would have regretted missing him and he acts as a really strong reminder of what I love about the film. I might even crank up some Prince now! Let's get some Batdance happening, folks!

A Hot Toy is a considerable investment absolutely, especially a DX, and you need to be totally sure about it. But when you see the astonishing level of work that has gone into these pieces (by very real human artists it justifies every cent. I honestly can't think of anything else that remotely comes close to this level of quality. Also extra points because this one doesn't feel fragile. I would definitely keep him safe, but I don't see any of the problem areas present in previous figures (like Batman's fragile gauntlet fins for example). This is my first DX series and I do feel like extra care has been taken. And I look forward to the day in the future when Jack and Heath share a shelf.

You can buy Joker 89 from Sideshow right now and then we can be Joker buddies!:
Hot Toys DX Series Joker Collectible Figure (1989 Version)


  1. wow that is AMAZING. He looks incredible. Some might fine photography there, too Luke!

  2. I have one of these. Unopened. I'm afraid to pull the trigger, as I am with all the handful of HT stuff I have.

    Sideshow came through with amazing customer service for me on it. When I got the piece, that purple insert was crushed and some other of the internal paper parts were too. They replaced the parts I needed to return the packaging to its proper glory. No cost to me whatsoever. Thought that was righteous.

  3. that is one serious figure, holy smokes, i really like it, no matter the cost it's awesome