Thirty Years Ago, Comics had undergone a Dark and Gritty Rebirth. Inspired in part by stories such as Frank Miller’s ‘The Dark Knight Returns’, and Alan Moore’s ‘Watchmen’ in the mid 80’s, super hero comics went from bright and fun and dark and gritty, almost overnight. It was on the crest of this wave that design cues were drawn, and Tim Burton’s BATMAN was born. Up until now, most people who didn’t read comics only remembered Batman in the form of Adam West’s performances in the late 1960’s. Bright, colourful and camp. In the eyes of the movie going public, Burton’s film changed the public perception of the Dark Knight, from one of Camp Crusader to a Dark and Brooding Knight, taking on the crime and corruption of Gotham.Continue reading
80 Years ago this year, Batman made his first appearance in Detective Comics #27. Thirty years and three weeks ago, Tim Burton’s Batman (with Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson) premiered in Australia, a couple of months after it appeared in the USA. I couldn’t get to the film for a couple of weeks…so I guess this week is probably the 20th anniversary of me seeing that film, which rewrote what we came to expect of superhero movies at the time.
And finally, for reasons I don’t quite understand, Warner Brothers/DC have declared September 21st to be Batman Day, 2019.Continue reading
In which I am astounded to find a LEGO Batman set to related to a relatively recent storyline from the comics. In putting the set together, I reach new highs, new lows and breathe a sigh of relief as I get my hands on a colour I hadn’t seen for a while…
Batman, Batwoman and OMAC. (Oh My!)
The 76111 Brother Eye Takedown set is part of the DC Superheroes line, and was released in the second half of 2018. I was intrigued by the existence of this set: while an ongoing part of the DC (comics) Universe continuity, Brother Eye and OMAC are not necessarily widely recognised by the non comics reading public. In it’s current guise, Brother Eye comes across as a DC satellite equivalent of Marvel’s Ultron: an artificial intelligence with the ability to take down Earth’s Greatest Heroes. I was even more intrigued by it’s presence here as I was reading the ‘Lonely Place of Living’ as well as the ‘Batmen: Eternal’ storylines in Detective Comics when I saw the set announced. Brother Eye, the OMACs and Batwoman play an important part of these storylines. Beyond this I shall not elaborate, as I don’t want to hit you with too many spoilers, and I don’t want to give away the fact that I have misplaced a couple of issues, making a complete rereading of the storyline impossible for me at present.
In which I pick up a LEGO® DC Superheroes DVD for the purpose of just getting the attached minifigure. Then I got caught up trying to workout how I could reproduce the Justice League figures as they are depicted in the film. Do I escape from that rabbit hole before it is too late? Read on!
It’s the start of August, and there has been a wide range of new LEGO® Sets just released: Depending on where in the world you are, there are new City, Friends, DC Superheroes, Unikitty and of course the long anticipated return of Harry Potter to choose from. But today, I am going to look at something completely different…
This week, the latest in direct to video LEGO® DC Superheroes Movies was released: Aquaman: Rage of Atlantis. I have not been a dedicated viewer of Direct to Video LEGO Movies, and the target demographic – kids pestering their parents for Super Hero LEGO Sets – is now absent from my house. I confess I bought this one primarily for the exclusive Jessica Cruz Green Lantern Minifigure, which is included with the DVD. But I thought I would sit down and see how the movie played out.
I shall not dwell too much on the plot: in reality spoilers are not a major issue. This is the kind of movie that will be watched by the target audience time and again. Running at just over seventy minutes, the animation is bright, action shifts from location to location at an reasonable pace, but not so fast as to make my head spin. The music fits the mood of the action brilliantly – giving appropriate moments of dread, excitement and happiness. A musical highlight for me was the musical nod to the theme from ‘The A Team.’ However, there are no surprising plot twists, and corny jokes and cliches abound. I admit I might have had more than the occasional chuckle as I watched it. That said, I have nothing against the use of cliche: to paraphrase the late Terry Pratchett, ‘Cliches are the hammer and nails in the toolbox of communication.’ The film delivers a positive message about the power of Teamwork, and Believing in Yourself.
The Justice League in this film are represented by Aquaman, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, and the self doubting Green Lantern Jessica Cruz. Along the way, Batfamily members Barbara Gordon/ Batgirl. and Damian/Robin join in the action. Continue reading
Over recent weeks, the LEGO® Powered Up App has become available, initially with programs for running both the new Passenger train and Cargo Train Sets, and now also the Powered Up Batmobile.
As well as controlling the speed of movement, there are also a number of sound effects associated with the app. The sound effects are played through the phone/tablet speakers, rather than the powered up brick itself. While exploring the app at the breakfast table one morning, Mabel the Cavoodle hopped up to join us. She was more engaged with the sounds made by the Batmobile App than the City Passenger Train App. Except for the one that sounds a little like our front door bell. Her responses were captured for your enjoyment.
I have a more comprehensive review of the passenger train coming up in the near future. In the mean time, don’t forget about our Antman and the Wasp MOC Competition, open until the 15th of August. Until next time,
The toy fair season is now starting to wind up for now: We have had Nuremberg. We have had New York. Now we have had Melbourne…
Sometimes, I forget about the importance of Play. And the way that it can be a fun thing to do with your LEGO® Bricks. I don’t just mean take a couple of bricks and roll them around until they click together in a novel way. I mean, let my imagination kick in, and have stories unfold in front of me, with no idea where they might be going or how they will get there. Some sets set themselves up for rough and tumble storytelling, where kids can assemble them quickly before getting on with all the serious zooming and swooshing that comes with putting a vehicle together.
These sets are designed to be easily assembled by young builders, and ready for play. Even if you are only partway through the final construction. That’s right: the Juniors sets: designed for younger builders, these sets span the LEGO themes, from City, to Ninjago and Friends to Disney Princess and Superheroes. Many of the sets feature larger elements to simplify the construction process. Today, I would like to take a look at the Juniors set 10753 The Joker Batcave Attack.
After looking at the box art and instruction booklet, I realise that today I have returned to an world of instant gratification. A world where a vehicle can be put together in seconds. From memory. After only a cursory examination of the box art. And it’s all in the first bag, along with our hero mini figures. The second bag contains the second vehicle, and the villain. And the third contains a building. And there are precisely NO stickers. That’s right: would a sticker slow down the time it takes to produce a playable toy? Leave it out. Include a printed element instead.
The Joker Batcave attack is the third DC Superheroes Juniors Batcave set, previously featuring a blue and grey ‘classic’ batman and robin, looking as if they were coming straight from Super Friends, in 1972. Then we had the same Batman, with Superman and Lex Luthor. Each of these came with a Batmobile. This year, we have something a little different…
Just as we thought the LEGO® Batman Movie had been merchandised within an inch of its life, we bear witness to another wave of sets and a second series of collectible mini figures. On the whole, I was a little sceptical of the viability of a third wave, but seeing such sets as the Justice League Anniversary Party (70919) and Egghead’s Mech Food Fight(70920) my spirits have been lifted. I have also been tempted to extend past my original vow to purchase only the sets that resonated with my youth. But now the gloves have come off. The Justice League 57th Annual Reunion Party brings back so many recollections of Super Friends (the prevailing non-Batman DC superhero cartoon series in my childhood), and the sheer lunacy of the Condiment King (introduced in the Batman Animated Episode ‘Make ‘Em Laugh’ in 1994, and appearing in the comics continuity as recently as 2017). While I applaud the inclusion of Wonder Dog (Superfriends S1, 1973), I miss his human teen friends, Wendy and Marvin, and likewise, while they were retired for the second season ( The All-New Superfriends Hour, 1977 – I guess they had gone to college), we haven’t yet seen LEGO Glick, the space monkey companion of the Wonder Twins.
As I looked at the second series of CMFs I became sceptical as to how many of these characters actually existed prior to this series being announced. I think I have tracked down original appearances for most of them, with only a few having a fraction of a second time on screen in the closing credits. And not the one I was expecting!
For the record, all figures (20 in the set) have a 4×3 plate, this time printed with a Bat Logo…
So, I would like to present the Series 2 LEGO Batman Movie CMFs’ in order of their original appearance across various media… You are welcome to disagree with some of my more…creative choices.
Professor Hugo Strange
Detective Comics #36, February 1940
Appearing early in Batman’s Career, this brilliant scientist/psychiatrist was later to appear in Batman #1.
Detective Comics #83, January 1944.
Alfred’s initial appearances in comics depicted him as a bumbling, overweight, clean shaven man (April 1943). However, he was portrayed as as a trim, moustachioed gentleman in a movie serial at the same time. In an attempt to bring the comics in line with this figure, he was sent of to vacation at a health resort. Since then, he has barely been seen vacationing at all!
More Fun Comics #101, January 1945.
Superman’s father appeared relatively early on in Superman’s Story. The design depicted in the CMF is most closely based on that portrayed by Marlon Brando in the 1978 Richard Donner movie.
Batman #53, June 1949
I did not think this one could have possibly existed in ‘real life’ but in the story ‘Batman Under the Sea’ Batman appears to be transformed, albeit temporarily into a Mermaid.
Batman#63, February 1951
In his origin story, Killer Moth aims to adopt many of the facets of Batman’s life fighting crime, but swearing to help criminals rather than stop them. He fails!
The Clock King
World’s Finest #111, August 1960.
Initially a villain plaguing Green Arrow and Speedy, in time Clock King came to torment Batman with his time piece related crimes.
Adventure Comics#283, April 1961
Superman’s nemesis was imprisoned in the Phantom Zone in the 1960’s and has spent the last 57 years trying to escape!
Surf’s Up, Joker’s Under. Batman TV Series, Season 3, November 16, 1967. When Batman takes on Joker in a surfing contest, in one of the more bizarre episodes of the classic TV series, Dick Grayson is there. Perhaps his shirt is more green, and his trunks more orange, and no Robin Specific livery is worn, but he is there is spirit as Robin. The same cannot really be said for Batgirl. While Barbara Gordon is seen at the beach, with a surfboard, she does not take part in the confrontation with the Joker on the waves, in costume.
Detective Comics #469, May 1977.
Around the time that a little film called Star Wars was first released, Doctor Phosphorous also first appeared in the pages of Detective Comics. This is possibly the most brilliant use of the colour ‘Spring Yellowish Green’. Ever!
Black Canary – Dinah Lance
Justice League of America #220,November 1983.
Dinah Lance is the daughter of Dinah Laurel who was the original Black Canary, part of the Justice Society of America. She Debuted in Fresh Comics #86 (August 1947).
The Killing Joke, 1988
I’m sure this was not the intended reference for this figure, but the similarities between the Joker, as portrayed here, and in the opening pages of Alan Moore’s 1988 Graphic Novel, The Killing Joke, are uncanny. Especially once you lose the inflatable ring and the icy pole/ice lolly/popcicle.
Batman and Robin, (Movie)1997?
While technically, this incarnation of Batgirl did not wear purple, go on vacation or surfing, it is the first version of Batgirl wearing a rubber suit that I could locate ( if you wish to be pedantic, perhaps she, along with the other vacation characters appear in the closing credits for approximately 0.75 seconds.
Harley Quinn: Friends Are Family
Debut: Batman (Animated Series) ‘Joker’s Favor’ September 11, 1992)
In this costume: Closing Credits The LEGO Batman Movie, 2017.
There is not much to say about the psychiatrist who became infatuated with the Joker, and ultimately adopted a costumed identity. Created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, Harley Quinn is one of the great characters to come out of the Animated series of the early 1990’s
Swimming Pool Batman
The LEGO Batman Movie, 2017
Dolphins in the swimming pool below Wayne Manor? if nothing else, this figure (along with mermaid batman) provide another two facial expressions. (and a man’s torso!) The 9th ‘ab’ is not obviously visible however!
Soccer Mom Barbara Gordon
The LEGO Batman Movie 1997
A transient costume, viewed with derision by Barbara. Barely worth a mention. But there are figures whose costumes have less screen time!
Alfred: Friends are Family
Closing Credits, The LEGO Batman Movie 2017
What can we say? Looking dashing in his mirrored sunglasses, and gold waistcoat, Alfred can really play guitar. This is probably not canon…
There you have it!
I quite enjoyed this collection of figures, especially the more obscure members of the super friends, and cartoonish villains, which the movie dealt with well. Who would have thought Mermaid Batman was a thing almost 70 years before the movie?
Who is your favourite? who would you put in series three? Apart from ‘Everyone’ in friends are family costumes? Why not share your thoughts in the comments below.
Until next time,
Last night I attended the opening of Kale Frost’s Brickography, an exhibition of LEGO based images and MOCs at the Artboy Callery in Greville St, Prahran.
Kale (@frostbricks on Instagram) is a Melbourne based brickartist and photographer who began his Instagram 365 day challenge a couple of years ago and forgot to stop after twelve months. With a keen eye for whimsy, coupled with fantastic building skills, Kale’s MOCs have previously been featured on the Brothers Brick, Blocks Magazine and as inspirational images featured in the LEGO® Life App.
For this weekend only, he has filled the walls of the ArtBoy Gallery with both his own impressive body of images, as well as images from some of the notable LEGO Instagrammers around the world including Brett Willson (@brett_wilson), CJ Simmons (@harleyquin), Luigi Priori (priovit70), Phil Korn (@phil_korn), Arvin Coloma (@nivrana), Andrew Morrey (@cheepjokes) and others.
A little over a year ago, I wrote up an analysis of gender distribution in LEGO® Minigures in the post friends era. In the years since LEGO Friends had been released, there had been some positive trends towards an equal balance, after starting from a pretty low base line (around 11% in 2012) up to 30% in the Volcano Sub-theme of LEGO City in 2016.
As well as supporting the regular themes, 2017 has been a big year for LEGO tying in with cinematic releases, with both inhouse and external IP. By the end of the year, we will have seen a new Star Wars movie, Wonder Woman and Justice League movies, The LEGO Batman Movie and LEGO Ninjago Movie released.
This post was provoked, in part after reading a comment about the relatively low female representation in the Collectable Minifigure sets recently released. I thought it would be interesting to revisit the question of gender distribution in some popular LEGO themes, and see if there were any significant shifts in trends over the last 12 months, when I last reviewed the numbers. The impending release of the Ideas set ‘Women of NASA’ is also of interest, as it certainly demonstrates a desire to see inspirational female role models immortalised in LEGO form.
I would like to look specifically at LEGO City, overall, as well as broken down into its major sub themes; The LEGO Batman Movie; The LEGO Ninjago Movie, and also LEGO Friends. I would also like to look at LEGO Star Wars sets released since the Force Awakens… Continue reading