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
Not everyone has seen the LEGO Batman Movie yet. I appreciate this. If you click on this link from Facebook, you will be taken directly to the full announcement. If you don’t want any level of spoilage of the movie, stop now. Press the back button, close the browser window. You have been warned.
Out of the blue, just while people are still recovering from news of of the UCS Millennium Falcon, the next Direct to Consumer set was announced this morning. Set 70922 >Spoiler Alert< is the latest set from The LEGO® Batman Movie. I was surprised to get notice of this set: the rumor mill had been remarkably quiet over the last couple of weeks. Perhaps it had been exhausted in the run up to the announcement of the UCS Millennium Falcon. The new set will be released on Black Friday, 24th of November, and be available from LEGO Brand Retail Stores, and shop.lego.com. You have until then to catch up with the movie in a relatively spoiler free fashion. After then, I would suggest that all bets are off. It is sizeable set, with 3444 elements, and costing $US269.99; GBP£249.99; $AUD399.99.
This is a large set. You might speculate that it relates to a significant location in the film, or a ludicrously sized vehicle. But we have already seen the Batcave and Arkham Asylum. And they were probably a dead giveaway for being significant locations in the film, if you know anything about the history of Batman in his associated media. Or if you had seen a trailer. If it were to be a vehicle, its a tough call: we have already seen the Ultimate Batmobile, a fairly large Batwing, and otherwise most of the villains vehicles portrayed in sets have no major role in the film, with barely a few seconds of screen time each. And indeed, the trailers for the movie certainly gave away the majority of the villains involved in the movie, even if in a relatively insignificant way. Have people been crying out for a new UCS Batmobile (Speedwagon) or Scuttler?
If you have not yet seen the LEGO Batman movie, please recognise that this set ups the level of ‘spoiler’ seen for the film, and cannot be unseen. So if you cannot bear such things, turn away, fire up your DVD player or streaming service and watch it now. When you return, read more on get details, and see pictures of the new set…. Continue reading
Larger than life characters need larger than life figures. As such, over the last 18 years, the ‘Bigfig’ has been developed to cover situations where a regular minifigure feel a bit… inadequate. Especially useful for Rock Monsters, Snow Monsters and Trolls, they have also been used to represent super sized villains such as Darkseid, Thanos, Gorilla Grodd, Dogshank and Killer Croc, and heroes such as the Hulk and Maui.
Compared with regular mini figures, they have no leg or neck moment, and only in relatively recent years have they had rotating wrists. What they lack in movement, they make up for with an imposing physique. The degree of sculpted muscular definition varies, as does the amount of printing.
A great hulking(sic) figure, this version of Bane comes from the second wave of The LEGO Batman Movie sets, specifically 70914: Bane Toxic Truck Attack. I would like to compare the advantages and disadvantages of the moulding of this bigfig in comparison to the smaller figure, with multiple printed muscles. Fortunately, this set provides us with one of those as well, in the form of the Mutant Gang leader. We will also compare this figure with the only other bigfig currently active in my collection: Maui from Moana. Continue reading