It didn’t start out this way, but Eaglemoss is creeping steadily towards becoming the Franklin Mint of the nerd collectibles world. Sure, the Franklin Mint might whip out a really sweet Picard as Locutus plate painted by the great Keith Birdsong, but they’ll also release creepy, cherubic porcelain figures of hateful little children that have no right to exist. Why can’t it be all Picards, all the time?
It’s true that Eaglemoss is responsible for an amazingly diverse collection of lead figurines of comic characters with good sculpts and fair painting. They made an exceptional collection of detailed Star Trek starships, and a collection of Batmobiles that are also rather awesome, if not occasionally mis-labeled or a little busted on arrival. So, I was cautiously psyched when they announced they were making a series of Batman-centric figures and busts. Eaglemoss makes kinda fancy things, right? You can do your stupid unboxing videos with your pinkies out. Except don’t do unboxing videos; they’re only slightly better than trailer reaction videos.
I slapped down some cash for the first issues in both their Batman: Animated Series Figure Collection and the Batman Universe Bust Collection. Even if they sucked, they’d still be Batman, and I have an affection for all Batman things, whether they’re beautifully realized, or if they totally, absolutely suck. A blown-plastic bootleg Batman from Mexico? That’s like my holy grail. I almost like these Eaglemoss releases for the same reasons I like the deformed, misbegotten, copyright-flaunting Batmen from south of the border, or the insane Chinese bootleg stuff… because these aren’t too far off from that weird, sad world.
Each figure from the Batman: Animated Series Figure Collection retails for $20, and measures about 5″ tall, with a short base. Unlike previous Eaglemoss figural releases which were cast in metal, these are cast in what they describe as “resin”, which feels like a brittle, light cross between plastic and ceramic. Ultimately, a cheap material would be a pretty great compromise if it held some really fine sculptural details, but tragically, the Figure Collection kind of fails spectacularly at that as well. Dull details, bubbled resin, uneven painting, and even a Bat-logo that bears signs of the fingerprints of whoever applied it mire this Batman in absolute mediocrity. It might be a fair figure at ten bucks, but we’ve doubled that investment and have nothing to show for it but a static figure that was basically done better as a happy meal toy when the show was still on the air decades ago. I think collectors will be left wanting something with a little more soul, like the stuff that DC Collectibles is putting out to celebrate the show, which is about the same cost, but with multiple accessories and customization options.
Of course, part of the selling point of many of Eaglemoss’ figures are their accompanying booklets, which are generally very well-researched, fully-illustrated looks at very specific aspects of fictional characters or vehicles. Granted, the accompanying 12-page booklet is nice, but it never seems to really dig into animated Batman like it could, as much as this should be a celebration of the show. So, is the Bust Collection any better?
This time, coming in at $25, Batman is a little more formidable, made of a material a little more hefty than resin, and actually striking a dynamic pose, as opposed to the Figure Collection‘s “waiting for a bus” deal. Both this Batman, and the second bust in the collection, The Joker, are based on Jim Lee’s Hush designs… and that would be great, if there were any care at all put into the painting of this bust.
The bust is all flat, matte colors, and none of them stay within the very clear, very simple lines laid out for them. Worst of all, Batman’s pale human flesh looks like it’s melting up over his cowl, not unlike the many deformed Batman bust banks that have haunted the back aisles of Target for years. It’s sloppy on a fairly epic level, but at half the price of your usual mini-bust, it’s probably a fair trade-off. Still, when you see Diamond putting out vinyl banks at a slightly lower cost, and with a greater amount of detail and care, you’re left wondering why everyone just doesn’t use durable, cheap plastic for this stuff.
There’s this natural implication that something being made out of any non-plastic material somehow automatically elevates it out of being straight-up garbage, simply because plastic is such a maligned material. Ultimately, if you cast something in resin, or ceramic, or metal, or whatever material might fall within that continuum of materials, and it still looks and feels cheap or unfulfilling, it’s still garbage. This applies directly to Eaglemoss, who I truly enjoy as a company which usually puts out great things. Neither of these highly-anticipated Batmans breaches the $10 value mark, and I think it’s these materials is where everything went wrong. I’d much rather have a plain, unpainted Batman bust that I could paint up myself than have to deal with someone else’s sloppy work.
So, where does that put these in the great, unyeiding debate about whether or not to include these objects in the limited space of your life? Usually, the conclusion of these is that nearly every object bears some value; historical, emotional, aesthetic, or something else intangible. As part of an all-inclusive collection of figural Batman items, which is precisely what I aim for, these just exist. Someone chose to license and make these, and they’re an official entry into whatever makes up the insanely huge mass that is Batman collectibles, from Underoos to toothpaste to action figures to life-sized replicas of the hero himself. They’re part of a collection, but ultimately, skew far, far towards the display of things that don’t feel like they really fit anywhere, lost on the island of Misfit Collectibles, like the flash drive figures with crazy eyes. Except those are fun. These are simply too serious to be any fun. Maybe next time, Eaglemoss.
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.