It’s rare that any line of DC comics figures would commit the sin of omitting Batman. He’s the best-selling, pointy-eared anti-hero that carries the weight of DC on his shoulders. But across all modern figure offerings, it’s generally variations of different movie Batmen instead of classic comic stuff, which is an undeniable bummer. On a scale of one to Martha, it’s definitely a Martha. With apologies to anyone named Martha, because that name is now ruined, like “Adolph” and “Sinead.”
DC Comics has a hard time reconciling its goofy history with all of the gritty, visceral stuff it wants to be now that it’s a big boy, which is something all angsty teenagers go through, except DC is like eighty years old. The result of this change, on top of worse comics and insufferable movies full of bullet time, is limited toy offerings. As far as world problems go, it’s a minor one, but once DC started rebranding itself over and over, all hope for the classics was pretty much lost. We’ll never get that hunchbacked Sam Kieth Batman action figure, and that’s a small tragedy. At least we have the statue.
So, Bat-nerds embrace any Batman that comes along that isn’t directly related to a movie or a video game. Jada’s Nano Metalfigs aren’t as hulking and brutal as the metal figures that Eaglemoss produced, nor are they as detailed and awesome as older mini ToyBiz offerings of Marvel characters (which included a MODOK that could probably kill someone if thrown hard enough), but they fill a collectible gap that I’ve been eager to fill: inexpensive, small, and not completely tied to any stupid movie.
With 36 1.5″ DC figures planned so far, seven of these are Batmen, which is a great ratio for Bat-nerds. Upcoming, or currently available, are Animated Series Batman, Adam West Batman, a few comic Batmen (classic and modern), and yes, even a few movie Batmen. They’re pretty much in scale with most of the Batmobile Collection offerings by Eaglemoss, if you’re into that kind of thing. And as someone looking to fit as many small points of joy into an office atmosphere that’s crushed by the monotony of work, these guys do a pretty great job, especially at only a dollar each. For a price like that, I’d end up buying thousands of different characters, but for now, the focus seems to be on mainstream Justice League and Batman stuff. But I’d buy 15 different Swamp Things and Bizarros. Just putting that out there, Jada. My Bizarro bucks are yours.
Even though the facial features on the Nanos are pretty much limited to a sculpted nose and some drawn-on cartoon eyes like some kind of Trump child, I’m a fan, especially at this price. And sure, they might put you through that bologna where you have to buy a 5-pack to get an exclusive Batman, but at five bucks, who can even argue? They’re the kind of thing you can perch on a sandcastle at the beach and not be upset when they wash away. I’m pretty sure that’s Aquaman’s only purpose in this world anyhow.
And there’s also some inherent class that comes with metal, at least in the collectible hierarchy of things. It’s debatable whether it’s metal or wood at the top of that list, but it sure isn’t plastic, which is how you’re going to find most of your Batmen. And the world may be running out of wood, and plastic, but we’re still pretty good when it comes to metal. Right?
We’re probably still all doomed. Enjoy one-dollar Batmen while you can.
The great thing about Batman is that no matter what size he is, he’s still Batman, and he still carries all of the incredible iconography. So, a minuscule Batman is pretty much just as awesome as an enormous one, which Kenner realized way back in 1997, three short years before the weight of unsold Episode I toys crushed them into nonexistence.
Working with The New Batman Adventures (aka, the redesigned Batman series that wasn’t as great as the original ’90s series), Kenner produced three 1998 micro-playsets: Batplane Fighter Fortress, Batman’s Battle Headquarters, and The Joker’s Battle Headquarters, each with three tiny plastic figures, a vehicle, a projectile weapon or two, and a weird, marbled plastic bust of the heroes and villains the sets were named after, as though Batman’s dojo was an enormous sculpture of his own head. Among the minifigures included across the sets were three identical Batmen, Robin, Joker, Harley Quinn, Riddler, and Mr. Freeze. Think Mighty Max, but far less dorky in one direction, and far more dorky in the other. You can’t really win.
Kenner also produced a few other full-on playsets in their Microverse line, including ones for Batman & Robin, Batman Forever, and more for The New Batman Adventures, but the real money’s on these tiny surrealist Batman dreamscapes, where everyone tussles around Mount Rushmore versions of themselves… and which, fortunately, are still available for pretty cheap. And they’re not for anyone with curious pets, small children, or shag carpeting. These suckers will get lost real easy.
And while we’re talking about tiny Batmen, one of the weirdest entries into the category happened earlier in 2017 when extremely small versions of original Super Powers action figures began appearing in Walgreens, not even that long after Kotobukiya released their own oversized version of the figures, and Gentle Giant released their own 12″ versions. Once again, the tiny guys were for kids and collectors on a budget, at only a couple of bucks each. Impressively, many of the figures wear cloth capes, which is borderline ridiculous at this inch-high scale.
There’s something about tiny worlds that makes them much easier to get lost in, despite having no hope of actually fitting into them or literally getting lost in them. For me, the broad assault of everyday makes it a bit difficult to get lost in the details, so those things that bring you back down to a small scale, no matter how meaningless, are refreshing. Maybe it’s even better that they are completely meaningless: Batman waging a battle of life and death in the space of three inches is immensely more satisfying than any real life battle you have as an adult.
C. David is a writer and artist living in the Hudson Valley, NY. He loves pinball, Wazmo Nariz, Rem Lezar, MODOK, pogs, Ultra Monsters, 80s horror, and is secretly very enthusiastic about everything else not listed here.