Finally getting action figures emulating the gorgeous style of Batman: The Animated Series has been like a dream come true for fans of the cartoon - or it should have been, if they weren't riddled by quality issues. But hooray! DC have finally addressed the problems, and have announced plans to hopefully fix them.
If you're not familiar with the situation, the first waves of DC Collectibles' action figures based on Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures have come under a lot of fire from fans thanks to a multitude of problems with the strength of the joints in the figures - made from a weaker plastic, the tiny joints used for articulation in figures' wrists and ankles have been prone to snapping off the moment you try to move them. It's especially been a problem for the Batman figure: the top heavy, tiny-footed Bats is faithful to Timm's classic style, but has literally been snapping his own ankles under the pressure of his huge chest and upper body. Yeeowch. It's hard enough to get the figures to stand thanks to the smaller legs that are a trademark of Bruce Timm's designs, but the breakages have been an understandably sore point for customers - especially when each figure costs $25.
But here's the good news. In a recent fan Q&A, the company tackled the issue and announced that going forward, the animated figure series would use - incoming fancy plastic names by the way - polyoxymethelene in their smaller joints rather than polycarbonate. Not only is polyoxymethelene a stronger material that should see the amount of breakages heavily reduced, it can also be molded in colour, rather than has a clear joint that has to be painted. So not only are the joints less likely to break the moment you touch them, it also means that they're less likely to be stiffened up from being painted to blend in with the rest of the figure (trust me, you start caring about dumb shit like that when you buy action figures):
Starting with most products in 2015, we are upgrading to POM (aka polyoxymethylene) for those joints previously made in polycarbonate. This is a stronger plastic that allows it to be molded in a color instead of clear. We have heard from our fans loud and clear that this is the number one issue for our action figures.
We will continue to use PVC (aka polyvinyl chloride) for the larger size joints (such as elbows and knees), ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) for harder plastics and on a case by case basis, we will be thickening the size of very small joints. This may affect some of the aesthetic look of the small Batman Animated characters but we feel the balance between look and quality will be appropriate.
The bad news? It means it's going to take a little while before the currently announced figures - including Animated Series Batman, and New Adventures Batgirl - will hit shelves, to take into account the new tooling and QA measures. The wave featuring The Joker, Robin and Man Bat has been pushed to March, with the next waves coming in May and July, with Poison Ivy (who, as you can see above, has really small joints) pushed back to the last wave especially so DC can ensure she doesn't break into a billion pieces the moment you vaguely look in her general direction.
They also mention that the thicker joint sizes may impact on the aesthetics of the animated series figures, but honestly, as awesome as it was for DC to so faithfully adapt the style of the cartoons into the toys, I'll take a slightly less aesthetically pleasing Batman toy to one with a penchant with snapping his own ankles with his weight.
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