BATMAN 1989 TOP 10 TOYS AT 25 -

BATMAN Retrospective

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I'm Batman

By Jarrett Kruse     June 23, 2014

© Warner Bros.
It is hard for me to process that it has been a quarter century since Tim Burtons BATMAN hit screens. I remember June 23rd well, as I was a precocious 12-year old camping out at the very front of the line in a lounge chair. The hype had been building for months and I could not wait. It was going to be the first live-action Bat adaptation since watching reruns of the Batman live action show with Adam West and Burt Ward. This was going to be different though; this looked to be an epic blockbuster. And it was. It was the biggest movie I had seen in my short time on earth and I went back and then back again to see it three more times. It also solidified BATMAN as the kids table later that year at Jarretts Movie MadnessBar Mitzvah theme but thats a story for another time. 
Michael Keaton, known mainly for comedy roles like MR. MOM & BEETLEJUICE stepped into the cowl and hit it out of the park. Even though he was playing second fiddle to Jack Nicholsons iconic Joker (Nicholsons name came first on the poster), Keaton was perfect as Bruce Wayne setting the bar for superhero movies which were a rarity back in the day. For me, a Batman movie meant one very important thing: Batman toys. I spent that summer calling stores like Caldor and Bradlees every day when I got home from camp calling incessantly asking if they had the movie toys in stock. It was maddening and it has really made me appreciate online outlets like Amazon that we have today. But I wouldnt trade it for going on toy hunts as a kid. I was a man on a mission. I had to have the toys and I was planning on bothering my parents until they were mine. It was a glorious time. So when head Maniac Bob Trate tapped me to write a Top 10 89 Batman toys, I was at the ready. It was a damn fun stroll down memory lane. From the old Toy Biz and Kenner lines to the updated incredi-figures from NECA and Hot Toys, the 1989 Batman has never been more popular. 
10. THE JOKER (ToyBiz)

This is one that I remember very well because not only was it VHTF (Very Hard to Find), it had a gimmickthat made it one of my favorites. Although it looks nothing like Jack Nicholson and more like a Neal Adams Joker, this clown prince of crime comes with a real squirting orchid just like in the movie. Just water and not acid though. All you did was fill it up with water and then find a mark, like your parents, and squirt them in the face. Still a classic.
9. BATMAN (ToyBiz)

I always saw this figure as the officialfigure of the movie Batman. You can find it Mint on Card for less than ten bucks at your local comic shop or on eBay. It is not the best Batman figure but it comes with some pretty cool Bat-tech as featured in the movie. While ToyBiz would not hit their huge stride for articulation for years to come with lines like Marvel Legends, this figure is a solid go-to version for those that want to get the official figure that fits perfectly in the Batmobile.

These Marvel Universe style figures just hit stores and are already a big hit with collectors. Not only did MATTEL nail the Keaton likeness on a very small scale, they got the look of the 89 Batman just right. While the DC Multiverse line is pretty new, these figures are a step in the right direction for the toy giant. Both have been pretty easy to find at retail stores for around ten bucks but can see an online price of around $20 apiece. Great to finally see the 89 Batman in 3 & 3/4 size.

Man do I miss Kenner toys. They seemed to have every cool license back in the 80s. From STAR WARS to SUPER POWERS, Kenner was king in my opinion. This was one that eluded me as a kid but I found as an adult collector. Batmans costume was removable and you could use it to make your own costume Bat Vaultas seen in the movie. While they did not nail the bat symbol like in the movie, the figure was the best likeness of Michael Keaton. I am still not crazy about the script writing on Bruces chest but it is still a super cool piece.
6. BATWING (ToyBiz)

The Batwing was one of my favorites from the film and it still holds up all these years later. Its hard not to remember the Batwing flying up to the sky and matching perfectly against the moon background. The Bat-vehicles from ToyBiz were way ahead of their time and still hold up really well against todays vehicles. Complete with stickers and labels for the interior and exterior, you can still get this gem Mint-in-Box on the secondary market for around $75 to $150. It is also a terrific display piece and great for a desk or man-cave shelf. 

This mini-bust of the Keaton Bats is outstanding in every way. Made in conjunction with the 75th anniversary of Batman, this is a truly awesome looking piece. Nailing the costume including the bat symbol (that was always a big deal to me!), this collectors item matches Keatons likeness perfectly. Plus he is holding his trademark Batarang. Even the bases matches Tim Burton's vision of Gotham City as realized by Academy Award winner Anton Furst. It is a must have and the price has remained pretty steady at around $50 to $75. At the very least it is a conversation starting paperweight that will look cool wherever you put it.
4. BATMOBILE (ToyBiz & Hot Wheels)

Its a dead heat at number four with the 1989 ToyBiz Batmobile and last years Hot Wheels 1:18 die cast model. The former has excellent playability function and comes with all sorts of bells and whistles like missiles and lights. Plus you can seat the Batman figure right in the drivers seat and it even comes with the shellas seen in the movie. The Hot Wheels Batmobile is another amazing show piece and is die cast metal. It is easily the best and most affordable Batmobile on the market at around $65. The ToyBiz model can be snagged up brand new for anywhere between $40 and $100 while loose collectors can get this on the cheap for around thirty bucks. The 89 Batmobile is still the best iteration of the world famous car in this collectors opinion. 
3. 1989 1:4 BATMAN (NECA)

This brilliantly realized mega-figure is nothing short of amazing and can be bought brand new for under $100. At the 1:4 scale, this is a cheaper version of my number one Bat-toy from Hot Toys. NECA has been on a big time roll in the past few years churning out high quality figures at an affordable price. This 1989 18-inch Batman boasts all sorts of goodies including a utility belt, batarang, grapple gun and interchangeable hands with over 20 points of articulation. With the Michael Keaton likeness to boot, this is an absolute home run from NECA.

Hot Toys has become the gold standard of the high end action figure industry in the last few years. These are not just figures, they are serious works of art. At close to 16-inches tall, Hot Toys makes this Jack Nicholson Joker the absolute best one on the market. Looking exactly like the Oscar winner is just the tip of the iceberg with brilliantly realized features that are scarily accurate. On top of the 30 (wow!) points of articulation, Hot Toys using their PERS technology (Parallel Eyeball Rolling System) to make it look like this Joker could come alive at any minute. Plus it comes with some amazing extra pieces like his signature fedora, megaphone and giant gun. As gravy, they provide the collector with a light-up figure stand with a nameplate and the movie logo. This is the Mercedes of figures and worth every penny. And its a lot of pennies at close to $400 brand new.


This is the clear winner in the Top 10 list of Burtons Batman toys. Not only does it look exactly like Michael Keaton, it even comes with three interchangeable faces and facial expressions. It is outfitted with his grapple gun, gauntlets and smoke capsules making this the most screen accurate figure I have ever seen. Listing all of the extras here would just sound like me gushing at what an amazing product Hot Toys has put out. Like The Joker, it has the PERS tech and the brilliant points of articulation that the Japanese based company has become known for. It leaves pretty much all of the other 1989 Batman figures in its wake also at around $400. Hot Toys sets the bar very high for collectors that want to get the highest quality figures on the market. Well done. 



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redhairs99 6/23/2014 8:20:50 AM

 I've ben digging around the old nostalgia train myself lately.  I've been going through many of my old toys (in particular the Toy Biz and Kenner Bat-Stuff) and auctioning them all off on ebay.

monkeyfoot 6/23/2014 9:16:41 AM

I wonder does Jack Nicholson still get money for the use of his face as the Joker? Most actors don't make money from toys or comic book adaptations with their face seen. I believe it comes under the use of their image as advertisement for the movie. They don't get paid for being on movie posters, promotional stills, or trailers. But Jack had the pull to get paid for anything with his image as the Joker on it. Bubblegum cards, comics, cereal - Jack got paid!

BunyonSnipe 6/23/2014 10:04:28 AM

But the Toy Biz Joker looks NOTHING like Jack, jst look at the pictre on the box, it's clearly the comic version.

RobertTrate 6/23/2014 11:22:48 AM

 monkeyfoot, I know the original Star Wars actors still get money for their likinesses on everything. 

monkeyfoot 6/23/2014 12:55:35 PM

Robert, yeah I think its something either the actor has the power to negotiate or the the producer can just do at his disgression. Lucas took care of that cast.

I was at a comic con many years ago and the publisher of a Forbidden Planet graphic novel was there. The studio had told them it would be alright to use the likeness of any of the actors except Earl Holliman who played the cook. For some reason that clause was not in his contract. But the artist they used for the comic decided not to use anyone's face. He just created new ones.

jochimus 6/23/2014 6:26:18 PM

I was always kind of disappointed in the Toy Biz figures, mostly because so much of the advertising material for the line up until their release used repainted versions of the Super Powers figures of Batman and the Joker, and THOSE I actually wanted.

nemesis1_57 6/24/2014 3:37:38 AM

 Your forgetting the Batman cereal that came with the Batman piggy bank/mini bust it was the coolest piggy bank ever.



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