Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The LEGO Batman Movie Minifigures Series 2

The LEGO Batman Movie Minifigures Series 2 consists of 20 new figures. Some are new outfits for existing characters from the movie (including two each for Batman, Batgirl, and Alfred), some are new interpretations of previously-released characters (like Jor-El and Zod), while others are characters that have not been released before (including several members of the Justice League).

I have not purchased a complete set of all 20 minifigures. Because of this, I will give more attention to the characters that I did acquire, which are marked with asterisks (*) below.

This series is distinguished by having the Batman logo printed on each baseplate. The next regular Minifigure release, Series 18 (due out in April), will have orange bases, so perhaps this Batman series marks the beginning of a permanent move away from the boring black baseplates that every Minifigures collector has hundreds of by now.

The Bat Family

Batman, Batgirl, Robin, and Alfred all appear again in this series, and all but Robin get two new outfits.

Bat-Merch Batgirl has been hit by the Bat-Merch Gun, so is covered in Batman logos and carries two "Bat Bucks" tiles. This makes her parts largely useless for other purposes, though her masked head and utility belt seem to have escaped the branding.

Disco Alfred Pennyworth wears a glittery white tuxedo that is extended with cloth coattails that fit over the hip posts. He still wears the high collar and bald wig found in every other Alfred minifigure, but his half-specs are replaced by shiny sunglasses. His electric guitar seems to be a standard part.

*Mermaid Batman has the classic, straight mermaid tail from old Pirates sets, but in black for the first time. He wears a clamshell bra that looks rather comical on his macho muscled chest. The head and cowl are standard for the character, and the trident appears in black here for only the second time (the first being the Cute Little Devil from Series 16).

Series 2 also depicts all of Team Batman on vacation at the beach.

*Swimsuit Batman wears black Speedos with his logo on the waistband, and his cowl is molded with swim goggles attached. He carries a red flotation device, and comes with a dolphin that is based on the LEGO Friends version (but with a less cutesy expression, and no blowhole). The dolphin alone is worth the cost of the minifigure, as it has only appeared in a handful of sets, and is shorter than the older white or gray LEGO dolphin.

Vacation Robin wears a red shirt (decorated with his namesake) and green shorts that match his usual costume's color scheme. His accessories--a boombox and an ice cream cone--have appeared in other sets, so the figure is mostly noteworthy for Robin's robins shirt.

*Vacation Batgirl's purple costume is redone as a wetsuit with short sleeves and legs that leave her hands and feet bare. Her dark red ponytail is attached to a small pin at the back of the cowl, which means that she can push the ponytail to one side or the other (or remove it altogether) to make room for a back accessory. Finally, she comes with a yellow surfboard with a purple Batman logo.

Vacation Alfred Pennyworth appears to be the standard Alfred figure from the collar upwards, but he wears a very old-fashioned, one-piece pin-striped swimsuit, and carries a goblet with a cherry cocktail of some sort.

The Justice League

Apart from Batman, five members of the Justice League appear in this series. Four of them--Apache Chief, Black Vulcan, and the Wonder Twins--will be instantly familiar to anyone who, like me, grew up on the Super Friends in the 1970s. Black Canary is just as much a member of the Justice League, but as far as I can recall, she didn't get her due share of the TV spotlight until the Justice League cartoon of the early 2000s.

*Apache Chief has light brown skin, a traditional tribal costume in red and brown, and long black hair held in a headband. (This hairpiece has been previously used by hippy and rocker characters, but looks more dignified on the 'Chief.) His only accessory, a 1x3 tile, is printed as what appears to be a photo booth strip, taken at the Justice League's Anniversary Party (parts of the last two words can be seen in frame). A monkey appears in two of the photos; this must be Gleek (about whom see the Wonder Twins, below). Not having this photo strip illustrate his signature size-changing power seems like a missed opportunity.

*Black Canary wears her signature two-tone blue outfit of choker, jacket, bustier, fishnets, and boots. She is one of only two figures in this series (AFAIK) who has a two-sided head. One face has a neutral expression, while the other shows her either belting out song lyrics or attacking with her sonic scream. She comes with a microphone and stand that is nicely scaled for picking up by the pole (see the photo above).

Like Apache Chief, *Black Vulcan was little more than a token minority on the Super Friends cartoon, but the success of the current live-action Black Lightning series is testament to there being a lot more to the character. This version features his original leg-baring costume, and he wields two lightning bolts. Sadly, his brown head is only printed with one face, which has a mask over his eyes. I would have loved to see the other side printed without the mask, because decent brown-skinned heads are quite rare among LEGO minifigures.

The Wonder Twins, *Zan and *Jayna, were created for the Super Friends cartoon and proved popular enough to cross over to the main DC comics universe. These two figures are, appropriately, identical except for their faces and the initials and gendered contour lines on their torsos. This hairpiece with pointed ears has been used previously for elves and werewolves, but appears here in black for the first time (a welcome contrast to the usual blond elves). Zan's accessory is a bucket with a 1x1 round tile printed with his face--a nod to his usual schtick of changing into water, then being carried by his sister to get to the action. Jayna, on the other hand, gets a record of party songs. This is a reference to the Justice League party scene in The LEGO Batman Movie, but I would have much rather seen the Twins' sidekick, Gleek, appear here instead--especially since Apache Chief's accessory makes the blue monkey's absence all the more obvious.

The Kryptonians

Two characters from Superman's past appear in this series.

Superman's father, *Jor-El, appears in The LEGO Batman Movie as a hologram in the Fortress of Solitude, and this minifigure carries a blue crystal to underline that connection. This version very deliberately evokes Marlon Brando's classic 1978 movie portrayal, but adds a pearl-gray cuirass and a printed beard. The robe is printed with a nicely patterned vertical stripe and a black "S"-shield over the chest; a white tile with a smaller "S" attaches to a stud in the armor piece. This figure would make an excellent white-robed wizard by removing the armor and adding a beard that can cover the "S."

General Zod is based on Terence Stamp in Superman II, from his angular face and pronounced widow's peak to his chest-baring black robe. He carries a Gotham Gazette proclaiming "Kneel Before Zod (in polls)." (This image reveals the full joke: "Candidate Kneel wins on platform: 'Will Not Enslave Humanity'.")

The Villains

Besides Zod, this series includes six other villains, two of whom (Harley Quinn and The Joker) appeared in the first series of The LEGO Batman Movie Minifigures.

The Clock King is one of hordes of minor Batman villains with painfully silly costumes. (This is why I did not buy him.) His head is the Gingerbread Man's head repurposed, and his weapons, presumably representing the hands of a clock, are simply two black spears.

*Doctor Phosphorus is an even more obscure villain, a man transformed into a being of eternally burning chemicals. (Yes, I had to look him up on Brickipedia. It's a very short page.) The minifigure is a very pale, sickly opaque green printed with a black skeleton, but this look might have been more effectively done on a transparent body (like the trans-yellow-green used for ghost characters in some Ninjago sets). Still, he'll make a decent mini for a D&D or Pathfinder burning skeleton, and his yellow-green flames are a new color for my collection.

Killer Moth is another minor Batman villain. He wears wings, and a helmet with antennae, that are identical to the Bumblebee Girl's (Series 10) but in new colors. He wields a ray gun that was first used for the Retro Space Hero (Series 17). For both the 'Hero and 'Moth, I'm a little confused why the designers didn't just re-use the ray gun from the Classic Alien (Series 6), which has a nozzle that can hold a transparent bar "ray."

Disco Harley Quinn wears a white suit jacket, tutu, and tights, and dances on mismatched gold and silver roller skates. Her hair appears to be identical to other Harley figures.

Hugo Strange is a psychiatrist who is dangerously obsessed with studying the inmates of Arkham Asylum. He wears a long white lab jacket with black gloves and boots. His laboratory flasks and short, spiky beard have been recycled from other characters.

*Vacation The Joker wears rose-colored sunglasses, purple shorts, green flip-flops, a turquoise Hawaiian shirt, and a lime-green inflatable duck. He carries a camera and a dubious-looking yellow-green popsicle. Like the other Joker minifigures based on this movie, he has a two-sided head (though with less difference between expressions here) and the same wavy green hair.

Final Verdict?

I had no real interest in roughly half the characters in this series, simply because their inherent silliness would make it difficult to re-use any of their parts in my own creations. That's pretty typical for most Minifigures series, though--I have very different criteria for my LEGO purchases than many Batman fans do. If 50% of a given series appeals to me, it's doing well enough, and I'm honestly surprised when the fraction that I want goes much higher than that (as it did for Series 14: Monsters, and Series 8 promises to do 18 later this year).

However, there were some gems with highly desirable parts, such as Batman's dolphin and mermaid tail, the Joker's hair, Jor-El's robe, and Doctor Phosphorus's weird skeletal body. Others, such as the Wonder Twins, I acquired mostly out to nostalgia, but I also anticipate making good use of Zan and Jayna's heads and hair for elves.

The only real disappointments here were the missed opportunities I mentioned above: Zan and Jayna are simply incomplete without Gleek, and giving Black Vulcan a second face without the mask would have greatly boosted his appeal to collectors.


Past Collectible Minifigures Reviews 

LEGO Minifigures Series 14: Monsters!
Series 15 Minifigures
Disney Minifigures
LEGO Minifigures Series 16
The LEGO Batman Movie Minifigures
The LEGO Ninjago Movie Minifigures

While writing this column, I realized that I never reviewed Series 17 (from 2017). That was another set where I only collected about half of the characters, so I'm not sure whether I will go back and cover that series at some point. If you would like to see a column about that Series, please let me know in the comments!

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