Topless Toy Chest: NECA’s 1989 Michael Keaton Batman With Blu-ray


He’s the toy I always wanted at age 14.

Well, okay, technically I might have had more fun with the 4″ scale one from Mattel as he would have been in scale with GI Joes…and also an acceptable sculpt by 1989 standards. But for 2014, this is the guy I want. With the exception of one detail, I’m quite happy.

NECA’s ability to find the loopholes to make this thing have been genius. With Mattel owning the Batman action figure master license in this scale for mass retail, and DC Direct owning it for the specialty market, it would seem like nobody else could take a crack at it. There are, however, technicalities.

First, NECA found out that the toy rights to the Batman movie Nintendo game were available, and made a blue and purple Michael Keaton figure. Then they found some kind of contractual exception that allowed them to make a bonus premium for Blu-ray sets – thus the same figure, in movie-accurate colors, is available only with purchase of the Blu-ray. It is the pre-existing disc and not the new “Diamond Luxe” one, but the price isn’t bad; at $24.99, this figure is basically priced as a convention exclusive. Or, if you look at it like a typical NECA figure of this scale going for $15, the Blu-ray is ten bucks, which isn’t a bad deal, especially if you don’t already have it – it’s a disc loaded with extras.


The action figure comes in a replica of the old Toy Biz cards that the movie figures originally appeared on in 1989. It’s not exact – the original cards featured a drawing of Batman and description of his action feature too. But it is a nice tribute, especially on the back.



Judging by the shininess of the cape, I suspect the photo above is of the 18-inch version, which is – as best I can tell – the same sculpt scaled down.


The set is a Toys R Us exclusive, and different stores are handling them differently. At mine, I had to ask for it – it was not on the shelves, as they feared theft. The bad thing about that is that I couldn’t pick out the best one, and thus mine has a crooked ear, which I think is the result of the cowl being glued on the head slightly off center.


In a way, though, that could be a tribute to Toy Biz as well – one of the three headsculpts the original figure featured had such splayed out ears I used to call him “Rabbitman.” Like the Toy Biz figure, he comes with a Batarang and zipline gun. Unlike it, he comes with alternate hands – two closed fists, and two accessory-holding grips. You can see the detail on the sculpts is pretty outstanding.


Scale-wise, he’s a little big to play with Mattel Bat-figures…


…but measures up well to DC Direct.


He’s more poseable than Michael Keaton’s actual costume probably was, with ball jointed elbows, hips, knees, mid torso, ankles and head. He also has holes in his feet that match similar figures, so you can do this…


I’m pretty satisfied, but I really wish both his ears were straight. They’re soft and rubbery – they have to be at this scale, or they’d be eye-pokey – so it’s not a case where you can heat and repose. The odds of me finding another and being able to choose its appearance are slim. I see at present it is unavailable online, though I’ve heard there may be more shipments. NECA wants to sell as many units as they can, but there is high demand given Mattel’s weird lack of a similar toy in this scale.

Sadly, there probably won’t be a Joker to match – as Randy Falk explained to me at Toy Fair, Jack Nicholson’s merchandise deal is exorbitant, and only Hot Toys can afford to pay it at this point. But I imagine we can cross our fingers and hope for a scaled-down DeVito Penguin with a Batman Returns disc, unless Mattel figures out a way to close the loophole.