Toy Review: McFarlane Toys Batman: Three Jokers, Shriek, Harley, More
In our most recent shipment of McFarlane Toys DC Multiverse review samples, we previously covered the Superman-related characters. Now it’s Batman’s turn. Included in the box they sent on that score? Two-thirds of the Batman: Three Jokers line, as well as the variant of Batman Beyond villain Shriek, the basic Hazmat Batman, and the Birds of Prey movie edition Harley Quinn.
McFarlane originally announced this Harley as part of their first wave of DC figures. When she never materialized, fans assumed the movie’s relative disappointment caused her cancellation. But she’s back, and the timing works. That first wave didn’t do so well with the realistic Arrow figure, and so McFarlane’s had time to get this one right. Plus they’ve already put out a different Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn from The Suicide Squad, and it easily sported the best likeness in the bunch. Her look in her previous movie differed a great deal, and yet the figures very much both resemble her, if not each other so much. The new one has paler skin, for one thing.
Harley’s overalls look like nothing achieved this well on a domestic action figure before. Fully detailed and shiny metallic in color, they also feature a completely flexible top that allows full execution of all her articulation beneath. No paint flaking whatsoever, and the top perfectly matches the bottoms colorwise. And the detail level on the Harlequin pattern is nuts.
Check out that hair, too, with the dark roots and faded tips. Here’s really hoping McFarlane gives us her third major movie look, from David Ayer’s Suicide Squad, because that could make for a more perfect triptych that three Jokers.
The one bummer, and it isn’t much of one, is that her roller skate wheels don’t roll. This Harley got made for posing, not skating. But she does have the pegs mid skate that attach to figure stands. Accessory-wise, she includes her mallet and the elusive fried egg sandwich. The latter fits her hands best.
From Harley, we move to Shriek, who’s an interesting figural adaptation. The character comes from animation, but the toy reflects a more realistic style. Frankly, he looks like the sculptors used Freddie Prinze Jr as inspiration. This figure features an unmasked head sculpt and no build-a-figure piece, along with two blue discs to represent sonic blasts. In the Batman Beyond cartoon, he blasted invisible sound attacks, but in the tie-in comics, they had to appear somehow. McFarlane approximates that with concentric circle discs that his fingers sink into.
All that extra detail looks cool, and like an inspiration for the Portal games. But he doesn’t quite fit in with the other figures, unless we assume his head is freakishly huge. So he displays better separately, even though he’s the same height as the rest. The helmeted version can probably fake the size a little better. And yeah, some fans complain that McFarlane makes two separate figures rather than one with two heads, but…Here’s a good reason to do it: it allows the company to offer an easy retail exclusive that doesn’t look too different. Most fans prefer masked anyway, so making the unmasked version exclusive ups its demand. That beats making an entirely new figure the retail exclusive. Which, admittedly, they also do all the time.
Red Hood, the first of four figures provided from the Three Jokers wave, boasts a new sculpt. Even if comic fealty hadn’t dictated such a thing, McFarlane might have had to ditch their old re-used one anyway, thanks to DC’s new policy banning guns with figures. Jason Todd now includes the new go-to weapon, a crowbar. Because bludgeoning someone to death is so much nicer than a gunshot. In somebody’s mind, anyway. That said, his hands have trigger fingers just in case enterprising collectors find in-scale pistols elsewhere. He just has no holsters for them. The mask retains that metallic, new-car paint.
Both Jokers reuse a significant amount of parts, including the hair. Loyalists to the one particular comic many want both, but casual fans might just pick and choose their favorite. The Criminal, more inspired by the Joker’s very first appearances, wears a buttoned jacket and comes with a cane. And in a likely error, the elbow and knee joint pieces are made of a slightly lighter purple, giving him that professor patch jacket look. His face looks a bit like an aging Norm Macdonald. Or maybe it’s just the expression that says, “Yep, you guessed it…Frank Stallone.” But there’s also a hint of a Cesar Romero mustache. It’s a Rorschach test.
The Clown, based more on the Silver Age Joker, includes the Joker fish, which looks like nightmare fuel up close. And an even bigger crowbar than Red Hood
This Joker’s face somewhat resembles Rick Baker’s redesign for the DC Direct bust, with a hint of Jack Nicholson in the eyebrows and hairline (Jack’s arguably the only actor to play this version in live-action). As with previous Joker figures, there’s a lot of torso mobility under the jacket. Which is good, because both also feel pretty slim for the price tag, mostly recycled body and scant accessories. Again, though, the intent is probably not that most people buy them all, but pick a particular default Joker that speaks to their personal faves. The third Joker, which we did not receive a sample of, features far more differences, including the Killing Joke jacket and hat.
The Batman in this line feels like it could become the future default Batman body moving forward. Indeed, it already seems to share the body with the Target exclusive Batman: Year Two figure. Beefier, to match the current default Superman/Bizarro body, it seems to leave room for different trunk and chest logos to swap in. And it’s quite poseable. While the new Harley, for example, can’t do much with the complex McFarlane inner hip joints, this Batman makes use of them just fine. The one quirk is his only neck joint comes under the whole cowl, like the Kickstarter Spawn and Dark Knights Metal default Batman. While most McFarlanes articulate under the chin, this one has a thumb shaped headpiece that articulates from inside the chest. Like the actual actors who play Batman, he can’t easily turn his head.
The costume itself combines the best parts of several eras. The Silver Age chest logo, black and gray classic colors, pre-New 52 redesign sans colored trunks, and Dark Knight Returns-ish cowl. For a basic Batman figure, this may be the best McFarlane take so far. He comes with a grapnel gun, but no Batarang. Budget cuts on accessories all around.
The other missing Three Jokers figure would be Batgirl. But she’s apparently a partial resculpt of a prior release. Entertainment Earth has the full wave, minus the Killing Joke Joker who’s exclusive to Walmart and Gamestop, for $119.99. Superhero Hype is part of the Entertainment Earth affiliate network and may earn commissions on purchases.
The final figure included in our sample set? Hazmat Batman, from the Amazo Virus storyline. McFarlane made two versions of this figure: a deluxe with light-up Bat-symbol, and this one. No additional accessories come with (notice a trend?), but several clear plastic details enhance the appearance of gauges and LCDs.
Compared to the Three Jokers Batman, however, he seems quite skinny. Like Shriek, this seems another instance of a figure better displayed by itself than in a group. McFarlane is always more about individual fealty to source material than overall line consistency.
If McFarlane had made this figure in the ’90s, one suspects he might have a water-spraying cannon or some such gimmick. As is, he’s just a guy in a suit that allows him to fight Joker through chemicals, or viruses made by Lex Luthor. And it’s a cool suit, for sure. But very specific.
Harley is the clear winner in this set, followed by the new Batman, of whom I suspect we’ll see many versions in future. The others depend greatly upon which variants one prefers.
Check out a full gallery of images below. Then tell us your favorites in comments.
Recommended Reading: Batman: Three Jokers Hardcover – November 17, 2020
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