Thursday, July 18, 2013

Review: DC Mystery Minis from Funko!

Blind-box packaging is fun, right!? You never know what you’re going to get! Your favourite character? A rare chase? A live scorpion? An actual diamond? A punch in the face? It’s super fun! And now the crazy pranksters at Funko have further capitalised on our designer vinyl obsession with a cleverly calculated, new range of stylized DC Mystery Minis figures, focusing specifically on the Batman universe (both comic and film!). Batman! Vinyl! Stylized! Blind-boxed! BIFF! POW! ZOMG!

As you may have guessed, my tastes are wildly eclectic. I like the eerie realism of Hot Toys, but I also appreciate the complete other end of the spectrum. I like my Batman either gritty, spitting and shit-scary, or adorable like a puppy.

I’ve got six of these wee beggars and I’m going to scream about them like Christian Bale, and possibly drop you from a rooftop... after the jump!

You can’t have blind-boxed figures without a box, so here’s the cardboard prison that securely hides the bat-spoils...

And it’s really the art style that is the most important factor here. There are plenty of larger companies attempting to bring popular franchises kicking and screaming into the designer vinyl market, and many of them fail to achieve an appealing design. But I’m sold on the DC Mystery Minis, which I think have just the right balance - they’re super deformed and simplified, but they have personality, and and admirable faithfulness to the original characters.

Here’s what’s on the menu, along with their respective rarities...

As you can see, there’s a solid selection of characters and a wide range of poses available. In fact it’s really quite impressive for a single wave of vinyl figures, especially considering that these are all unique sculpts as well. I assume that Funko was confident channeling a little extra money into these based purely on the enduring popularity of Batman.

I’m also pleased with how they’ve handled the rarer chase figures. Rather than denying you specific characters by making them harder to get, they’ve chosen to make the harder-to-find characters specific poses. If you’re happy to just own one of each character (as I am) then it’s far easier to put together a “set” while ignoring the chase figures entirely. Conversely, this single wave provides a massive hunt for completists.

Let’s have a look at some of the figures themselves. There are two styles of Batman and Joker, the first being based on their classic comic book appearances.

The sculpts are fun and definitely match-up with the artwork on the box. I also think that the quality control has improved here compared to Funko’s similar lines. For the most part the paint application is quite good, with only the slightest aberrations on occasional figures. But, generally speaking, they are clean and bright.

I especially like that Joker. Leaning on the cane is a great pose and I think it makes these far more interesting than the neutrally posed Pop Vinyls that Funko is accustomed to.

The second style of figures are a complete tonal shift, based more on Nolan’s movie universe. It’s not as obvious with the armoured up Batman who is really just darker and more grim looking. (Note that I scored the 1/72 rarer version with the open wings)...

But it’s far more apparent with the Joker who is clearly a scarred-mouth, eye-liner version with receding hair..

The Dark Knight Joker is my favourite figure of the entire set. And I dig the creepy pose I got.

Now let’s bring in the ladies. Batgirl is next, sporting a more classic comic/television look in blue and yellow...

And we have a classic Catwoman too, in purple and black. I guess this is to fit in with the others, but I would have thought that these days perhaps the black-suited goggles version is a little more iconic. That’s probably a blasphemous to say and someone reading this wants to slap me. I LIKE GOGGLES CATWOMAN THOUGH.

Catwoman is easily the smallest and thinnest of the figures and no doubt weighs the least, so if you’re looking for her and you’re patient then that might be a strategy.

And what I don’t have is the Penguin or Riddler, but you would have seen those on the back of the box. Which makes for eight unique characters in total, ten if you count the two different styles of Batman and Joker.

So, as a vinyl collector (and Batman appreciator) I think that these are a success and a good direction for Funko to take. They’ve gone this exact same route and art style with a range of Disney figures too, plucking characters from the entire history of animated movies (including Pixar). I’d like to see them do more work like this in the future, but it doesn’t look like everything will be getting this royal treatment. Toy Fair teased blind-boxed vinyl Game of Thrones figures but they were far more generic using neutral poses and an overly simplified, almost unrecognisable style.

And if the Batman wave is a success, then I’m curious to see what they might follow up with. I don’t think that Superman and his supporting cast can carry an entire wave by himself, but a mix of Justice League characters certainly could. I would not be opposed to adding some of those.

High-five, Funko! I think these are some of the nicest figures you’ve released in a while!

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