Monday, August 12, 2013

Review: Hot Toys The Dark Knight Rises Catwoman 1/6th Scale Collectible Figure!

I am an unapologetic Hot Toys enthusiast and each time I wind up with a new one you will hear me loudly and awkwardly shouting its praises from the most easily accessible rooftop. I love the craftsmanship, the attention to detail, the accurate likenesses, and most of all I really love photographing them and sharing them with you.  So what happens when the newest figure, Anne Hathaway as Catwoman from last year's The Dark Knight Rises, fails to give me that buzz?

It's far from a total disaster but find out why this one isn't quite a favourite... after the jump!

But I do like the box!

This is different from the Avengers figures which all have a window box encased in a cardboard sleeve. It’s more like an ornate shoe box with a lift-off lid.

And underneath is this very nice insert to set the mood. Although, as much as I like the quote, the lipstick kiss motif seems a little out of place for this version of the character who didn’t really play up her sexuality at all...

Lift it to reveal the figure underneath...

Okay, so here she is straight out of the box...

Now many would argue that the difference between a doll and an action figure is minuscule to non-existent. And when we’re talking about 12 inch figures that are wearing clothes (and in this case have rooted hair) then we’re definitely in doll country. Personally I don’t mind either way. If you want to say I collect dolls, then fine, I collect dolls. Look at all my precious little dollies! But the thing that I really admire about Hot Toys is that they usually manage to break away from this reductive definition by being incredibly realistic and well-made. What I enjoy most about them is when people look at the photos and are surprised by them. They say, “Oh! Is that the actual toy? At first glance I thought it was the actor!”. But Catwoman here isn’t going to surprise you like that. There’s something about her stance, her proportions, her hair, and her neck... this one is a doll.

And it’s not because she’s a female figure either. I think Hot Toys did an excellent job on the Scarlett Johansson Black Widow figure who has far better proportions and feels a lot more robust. She’s more detailed and she just seems more action orientated. By contrast, Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman is quite passive. They’ve captured a pretty good likeness but it’s comparatively bland...

And the rooted hair really doesn’t help. Firstly it’s pretty wild and hard to keep in check (no she doesn’t come with a tiny pink plastic comb, although at this point I kind of wish she did) and it definitely adds to the overall Barbie effect.

But she’s not intended to be displayed like this. She’s supposed to be wearing her mask and goggles combination, right? I think it’s nice that Hot Toys decided to give us the option of displaying her without, although this ambitious decision raises more problems than it solves. And here’s the worst thing I encountered when opening this figure - the goggles very quickly broke.

Now, in every single review I urge you to read the instructions to avoid breakage. Hot Toys have always been relatively fragile and you want to think about what you’re doing before you do it. But in this particular instance I really feel like the instructions led me astray. Her mask attaches via a rubber strap at the back - one end has a rubber peg and the other has a hole that it clips into. You’re supposed to undo it, wrap it around her head and clasp it back together again. The problem is that once it’s on her head, and the hair is in the way, it’s virtually impossible to clasp together again. I struggled with this for a frustrating five or so minutes as her hair got wilder and wilder, totally unable to make the two ends clip together, and then one of the extremely thin arms leading up to her goggles twisted and detached from the frames.

The crazily thin arms leading up to the goggles are attached with something the size of a pinhead. Smaller probably. You have to be ridiculously careful with them - the instructions warn you to take care with them - but that’s very difficult to do when you’re still wrestling with the first instruction. And as I stopped to survey the damage one of the circular lens pieces detached from the goggles as well. Two breakages in a very short time. Both on her most important accessory too - she isn’t really Catwoman without them.

I hit forums and Facebook and soon discovered that many other customers had also broken their goggles. And it turns out that the people who haven’t didn’t follow the instructions. The best way to get her mask on (and the only way I’ve managed to do it) is to keep the clasp attached and then carefully slide them over her head. It’s not easy, and you need the hair to be slicked back as much as possible so that it doesn’t bunch up over the ears. And once you finally do it, you’re never going to want to touch it again.

I admire Hot Toys’ ambition and their desire to make things as screen accurate as possible. The intent with the goggles is that they are able to slide down over her face, or push up onto the top of her head and rotate 180 degrees to form the faux cat ears. They’ve chosen function over a more solid piece, the problem of course being that now my goggles aren’t functional at all. This was the first figure that I ended up feeling genuinely pissed off about, so I stopped photographing it and left it for a day. So what now?

All of my dealings with Sideshow Collectibles have been extremely positive and from what I can gather from people’s postings, they have been organising replacement parts, although this may take some time. I ended up deciding not to bother. I display my stuff and am not likely to resell it, so I just manned up and fixed the damage with a bit of superglue. It’s not perfect (and I got a tiny bit of glue on the tip of one of the “ears” but it’s all together on her head like it should be, even though they probably won’t slide down over her face anymore. So that’s why I haven’t included any shots of that.

So now that she’s repaired and I’m viewing her with fresh eyes, she’s grown on me a bit. She’ll look fine in my Batman display and I managed to get some pretty decent close up shots her.

The problem from a review perspective is that there’s not really a lot of variance to show you. Her accessories are light - she has a few extra sets of hands and a pistol. And due to her rubbery and restrictive outfit, she can’t really get into many poses - her legs are particularly stiff and difficult to move without the rubber bunching up.

Her stand is unique, featuring a shattered Batman logo, but this is about the extent of the mileage that I can get out of that...

Oh, I know! If you wanted a more casual Catwoman showing off some of that Black Widow cleavage, then you’ve been blocked! She’s wearing a bizarre white cotton sack underneath! Bizarre! Keeping her chaste, I guess.

So there you have it. Catwoman! Breakage issues aside I’d say that this is a decent, if not especially exciting, rendition of the character. I wouldn’t get this one unless you’re a hardcore fan. (And it should be noted that she’s pretty much sold out everywhere and commands high prices on eBay, so she does have lots of fans. If you’re planning for an eventual resale, however, I’d definitely keep her in the box).


  1. I'm new to Hot Toys. But have been playing with and collecting 12 inch Superhero action figures and dolls since I was 4! It started with Mego in the late 1970s. They made Superman, Batman&Robin, Hulk, Lex Luther, Spiderman and "Lynda Carter" as Wonder Woman. This led me to Mego's Sonny&Cher, Kiss, The Charlies Angels et. And I have loved figures of "my heros ever since! Ur right, there is a very thin line between a doll and an action figure. And (from Mego to Mattel to Tonner) Hot Toys is the winner at creating the perfect action figure/doll hybrid! They were very wise to do this because of its mass appeal. Anyway, the next time u find urself with a figure that says "I'm more a doll than an action figure" find a person online or in person who plays with/collects Barbies. Ask them to help with placement of accessories. Barbies come with tiny ear rings, hats, gloves, bracelets, necklaces et that are f***ing hard to put on the figure. But once you learn how, you got it. And the goggles for HT's Catwoman remind me of Barbie accessories. Just saying.

  2. Can any custom doll artist made reproductions of the goggles and sell them on ebay?