Our resident toy reviewer Kenneth Yu shares his SHFiguarts Justice League Batman review which is now available in specialty stores in Metro Manila and online!
S.H. Figuarts’ Justice League Batman figure promises plenty of features that bat-fans of have been craving for the longest time. It boasts classic SHF articulation and attention to detail, a rendition of the DCEU’s comic-esque movie Batman design, advanced digital-printed face paint, and a posable cloth cape.
Unfortunately, the sum of these parts is a figure that, while solid, doesn’t come together as well as it should.
Visuals (Sculpt and Paint)
The figure is an interesting take on the cinematic / Affleck Batman. It’s not too accurate to the Justice League look– he has the ab-pads and metal gauntlet-plate of the Justice League design, but also has a lot of elements that are unique to the BvS costume. This Batman is as thick and imposing as he was in BvS. Instead of a veiny neck and shoulder area, this figure has the bulky, featureless trapezius of the BvS costume. Fans looking for extreme accuracy will be disappointed here, but I kind of enjoy the blend of elements. It’s almost as if this figure was originally built for BvS, then edited when the company decided to focus on JL merchandise, instead.
Some will notice that the figure looks stockier than the promo shots / box art. This is because the actual figure uses a slightly shorter torso joint in the space between the chest and the stomach. This weakens articulation a bit, and makes the figure shorter and boxier than he was meant to be. It doesn’t ruin the look, but it’s noticeable. This feels like a design oversight.
The mask and overall features on the head aren’t accurate to either of Bruce’s major looks. That aside, the headsculpt is ferocious, with a good actor likeness. Ben Affleck’s a guy with a face that’s a bit crooked, and this figure portrays that well.
The digital paintwork is also impressive. Unlike most figures, the paint on this toy’s face isn’t applied by hand. Instead, it’s printed on in extreme detail. The result is a paintjob which looks a little pixellated when viewed very closely, but which resolves into something really impressive and lifelike when you’re looking at it from a regular distance. We get detailed eyes and a complex skin tone going on around the mouth, with subtly-implemented shadows and lip coloration.
On most of the figures I’ve seen, the print looks very slightly off-center. This bothered me until I checked reference pictures of Affleck. While the print on some units WILL be kind of off, most of them are intentionally asymmetric, to portray the actor’s features. It’s an interesting touch.
The rest of the body is molded in grey and black, with metallic gold highlights, and a bit of shadowing to bring out the features on the sculpt. There’s a subtle cloth-texture that’s been applied to the body. It looks nice, but it comes off a bit soft, compared to the sharp, exaggerated detail of previous offerings like Mafex’s BvS Batman.
The figure has a cloth cape, with a posable skeleton running along the left and right sides. You’re supposed to be able to bend these sides, to get dynamic poses out of the cape.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work very well at all. The skeleton doesn’t hold poses very well– it tends to just keep flat. What’s worse is that they’re not anchored to the figure itself in any way. Any dynamic posing will just cause the cape to droop back down.
This is an improvement over the slabby, hard-plastic capes of other Batman figures, but it’s still not as good as what it should be. SHF needs to really take a look at the engineering logic they’re using here.
Scale seems like a major issue for most people who’ve picked up this figure. This Batman is a very, very short boi– he’s going to look cartoonishly tiny next to a collection of Marvel Legends, DCUC or Mafex figures. While shortness is to be expected in a Figuart (they generally go for a slightly smaller scale), JL Batman doesn’t even match too well with the previous SHF Batman, from The Dark Knight. That figure towers over this one– a painful comparison, especially when you consider how much taller Ben Affleck is than Christian Bale in real life.
SHF has made a name for itself with good articulation– this figure is up to standard, for the most part. We have nice, smooth, multi-part joints in the neck, wrists, knees, ankles and toes. We have a particularly great assembly of joints for the shoulders, with a butterfly joint, double-jointed shoulders, and a bicep swivel-equivalent hidden under the main shoulder. Other reviews have stressed over the missing bicep swivel– I myself don’t. In my experience, you can get all of the motion you need from the hidden joint. Another SHF-signature highlight is the hips, with a hinge-down joint that allows for big kicks and compact kneeling poses.
There are still some weak sections, though. The double elbows don’t have as much range as you’d expect. They go a bit past a right-angle bend, but not much further. The two torso joints aren’t too great, either. While they give you a lot of range backward and a bit to the side, forward / ab-crunching motion is lackluster.
We don’t actually get too much, here. While other SHF figures have multiple weapons, heads, and other fun options, Batman just gets three extra pairs of hands (open, batarang-holding, gun-holding), a batarang, a grappling gun, and an alternate “loaded” clip that can peg to the side of the grapple.
I would have appreciated an alternate head with a different expression, a stand, or even a pair of “chopping” hands, so he can pull off that sweet inward-block / disarm on a parademon that we all saw in the trailers.
Final Thoughts / Suggestions
This figure is one of the best fully-articulated Batman figures available, but it’s not like the standard has been set extremely high. If you’re a Batman fan who’s been hoping for a figure they can really mess around with, this is a good pick– at least until Mafex releases their take; it’s not yet clear just how articulated that competing version will be.
If you’re more of a Marvel Legends / DCUC collector who wants to add some DCEU flavor to their shelf, you may want to stay away. Height and scale issues on this guy are enough make him look really weird in a display.
If you’re a kitbasher / modifier like me… Buy two.
Seriously, buy two. There’s a ton of fun things you can do with this figure, if you decide to start down the long road of customization. I myself have switched the torso joint for a longer piece, lengthened the neck, shaved down the elbow joints and replaced the wires on the cape. All of these are relatively simple modifications, but they’ve resulted in improved articulation, height and proportions. This toy can serve as an intro kit on the many ways modifications can make toys better, and it’ll be good to have a spare in case you want extra parts, or something goes wrong.
On the average, this thing is maybe a 3 out of 5.
I picked my copy for this SHF Justice League Batman review from a toy store in Osaka, for JPY 5220. They should be arriving at local stores now, for around Php 2200 to 2500. Shop around, and make sure to pick one with paint that you like!