Thursday, December 23, 2021

Miscellaneous Content: Legends of Robin audiobook

The last few Christmases I've uploaded Batman audiobooks. I've done Batman Returns, Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. So I'm out of movie based audiobooks. 

I hope this one will be of interest (and won't get taken down). It's an audiobook called Legends of Robin from 1996 that loosely adapts various comic books arcs to show how Tim Drake took over from Jason Todd. 

It's got a couple of interesting voiceover actors. John Shea (who played Lex Luthor in the TV show Lois and Clark) narrates the story and Mark Hamill (who voiced the Joker in the Batman Animated series) does the voice of the Joker.

Give it a listen and have a Merry Christmas. See you in the new year.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Batman & Robin Merchandise Review - Razor Skate Robin figure from Kenner

The suit up sequences were key elements of Schumacher's Batman movies so it's no surprise that Kenner made a couple of figures for both Batman Forever and Batman & Robin that allowed kids to dress up their figures.

Interestingly Razor Skate Robin - a companion figure to Battle Gear Bruce Wayne - goes for a very different approach than Batman Forever's Quick Change Dick Grayson. That figure had a colour changing mask while this one opts for a chunky visor that covers most of Dick's face. 

I think on balance this works best. Robin's mask is so tiny it would be too easily lost if it was smaller. What I can't figure out is why Kenner never tried to do a retractable head like the Batman/Bruce Wayne figures had.

Anyway, I like this figure a lot. For me it's a must have from the line. 

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Batman & Robin Merchandise Review - Ambush Assault Batman figure from Kenner

Given that Batman fights Mr Freeze in the film most of Kenner's figures were based around ice or heat. Far fewer were based around him battling Poison Ivy. 

Ambush Attack Batman is one of those rare exceptions. Batman is in some nifty looking green gear (so presumably he's fighting Poison Ivy). The cape pivots at the back of the waist allowing the whole thing to swing up and point two missiles forward.

This is a fun one, I like the cape missile thing - I've not seen that before - but this is maybe not a massively essential purchase... unless you're making a plant themed Batman figure collection and need something to go with Jungle Tracker Batman from the Batman Returns line.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Batman & Robin Merchandise Review - Aerial Combat Batman figure from Kenner

Kenner often gets accused of producing the same old figures and just repainting them and slapping a different accessory on their back. 

Aerial Combat Batman is genuinely an attempt by Kenner to do something totally new. So I have to give them some props. Rather than make a vehicle and give you a figure to put in it, Aerial Combat Batman gives you a figure already fused into the vehicle. There’s pros and cons to this idea. 

On the one hand, the figure fits neatly, grasps the steering wheel and flips their head up when the canopy opens. You're also not going to lose the figure or the vehicle.

But on the other hand I would love to take the figure out because it looks like it would be a pretty great representation of the Ice suit Batman wears at the end. 

One day I'll hopefully track down the matching Aerial Robin figure too.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Batman & Robin Merchandise Review - Jungle Venom Poison Ivy figure from Kenner

Sadly Poison Ivy was not best represented in the Kenner action figure line and only received two figures (despite being a major villain). 

The main one was Jungle Venom Poison Ivy - a generic representation of Uma Thurman in a plain green bodysuit. It's a little disappointing. The accessories are kind of fun though. The vines are good at tangling up other figures and the water cannon (a typical Kenner play feature) fits the character's green fingered tendencies. 

I maybe prefer the other Ivy figure (Evil Entrapment Poison Ivy - part of a two pack with Robin) but this figure does have the better accessories. Get either. Get both.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Batman & Robin Merchandise Review - Heat Scan Batman figure from Kenner

Right let's keep going with the Kenner action figures. I've got a lot of these lined up. 

Heat Scan Batman was one of the first figures I remember seeing on the shelf in 1997 and possibly the first one I picked up (I can't quite remember). I had some reservations at the time. It’s BRIGHT but then again so is most of the toy line (and to be fair, the movie too). 

Putting the garish colour to one side it's a really good sculpt of Clooney with a huge chunky cape and I like the laser things that clip onto his elbows. It’s really simple but gives the figure and epic quality. 

As I mention in the video it's worth looking out for the Fuji Film exclusive that uses the same sculpt but in all black.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Batman & Robin Merchandise Review - Batgirl figure from Kenner

Okay, I guess it's about time I start reviewing some Batman & Robin merchandise. First up is the Batgirl figure from Kenner. This was one of only two figures they made of the character and unfortunately doesn't look much like Alicia Silverstone. It was based on the concept art by Miles Teves and had a cowl rather than a domino mask. Still it's kind of a fun figure and worth getting if you like this period of action figures.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

External link: Toy Armada podcast with Aaron Archer

This week I thought it would be a good idea to highlight this great podcast called The Toy Armada. The show is hosted by "Protoman" and features Aaron Archer as its co-host.

Aaron was a toy designer at Kenner and Hasbro for many years starting in 1995 and has some great insights and behind the scenes stories. This episode he covers his work on Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. Give it a listen and subscribe for more episodes.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Behind the Scenes: Mr Freeze make-up transformation

This week we're looking at the make-up transformation of Arnold Schwarzenegger. The combined efforts of make up artist Jeff Dawn, assistant Jim Kail, and hairstylist Peter Tothpal.

I've got to admit the bald cap was pretty seamless on Arnie. Interesting to note the wall of Arnie mouths on the wall. I believe these were applied to Arnie's stunt doubles so that they would closely resemble him.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Concept Art: Mr Freeze (and Bane, Batman, Batgirl) costumes

Last set of concept art for a while. First up we have some Mr Freeze costumes. Interesting to note that the initial idea seems to have been to cover his whole head in a glass helmet unlike the finished film.

NThen we have a quick sketch of one of Mr Freeze's goons.

Next up we have a sketch of Bane by Wil Rees.

Then another picture by Wil Rees of Batgirl wearing the slightly different "Ice" suit from the end of the film which included a cowl/helmet when she rode the bike.

And finally Batman in the "Ice" suit again by Wil Rees. Kind of looks neater here than it does in the finished film. Maybe having it been glossy and shiny like this would have improved the look slightly.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Concept Art: Poison Ivy costumes

This week we're taking a look at some of the concept art for Pamela Isley aka Poison Ivy. 

First up in a nice black and green design by Tim Burgard. 

Followed by a wild, spiky (and kinky) design by Miles Teves that would have surely caused a lot of parental complaints!

Then two by Wil Rees that more closely resemble the finished film (though I don't think Uma's nipples were that prominent).

And finally two entries by Susan Zarate. I really like these alot. The framed basque cleverly recalls the kind of trellis work you get in gardens. Again, maybe just a tad too sexy for a kids film.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Magazine Article: Sci Fi Universe July 97

Another magazine article this week. Apologies Sci Fi Universe has insanely small font but there's some good stuff in there including Val Kilmer explaining why he didn't come back for Batman & Robin.

Bizarrely the article finishes with a fictional chronology of what the Bat franchise would do in the then future of 1998, 1999, 2000 and beyond.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Concept Art: Batgirl costumes

Batgirl was a new character for Batman & Robin and there were some questions about what her costume should look like. The task was given to costume concept artist Miles Teves who produced these four wonderful and wild designs. 

In an interview even he admitted the boob window on the second was maybe a step too far. Obviously the cowl was dropped for the finished film in favour of a domino mask like Robin.

Those who are disappointed by the lack of yellow should check out the 2002 TV series Birds of Prey which sports the exact same costume with yellow highlights and a cowl.

Also Tim Burgard designed this costume that is also super interesting. It looks like he was going for a mix of leather, latex and (possibly) spandex. I particularly love the goggles over the eyes.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Book: Batgirl To Dare the Darkness by Doug Moench

Following on from the previous post I also have a scanned pdf of Doug Moench's tie in novel Batgirl: To Dare the Darkness.

For those who aren't aware Doug, like Alan Grant, was a writer on the DC comics Batman titles throughout the 80s and 90s. Together with Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan he is credited with creating the character of Bane (I wonder what he thought of the film's loose interpretation of the character) and also wrote many classic stories including big chunks of the Knightfall saga and the popular Elseworlds story Batman & Dracula: Red Rain.

The story picks up after the events of the Batman & Robin movie and sees Barbara Wilson leave Batman and Robin and set up on her own in Gotham City feeling that she isn't needed or appreciated by the dynamic duo. She considers leaving the Batgirl persona behind (much like Robin did in Facing the Enemy) before reaffirming her vigilante commitments and going up against Black Mask (another character Doug created) and the False Face Society.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Book: Robin Facing the Enemy by Alan Grant

One of the cool (pun not intended) bits of spin off merchandise for Batman & Robin were the two novels Robin: Facing the Enemy and Batgirl: To Dare the Darkness that gave us a glimpse of what happens before and after the movie. 

Robin: Facing the Enemy was written by Scottish writer Alan Grant who was a prolific writer at DC. During the 90s he wrote almost every issue of the Batman: Shadow of the Bat title (which lasted 96 issues!). 

The story picks up shortly after the events of Batman Forever and sees Robin fall out with Batman (*groan* again) and leave Wayne Manor to live in Gotham City. He gets a job at a diner and ends up having to take down a wannabe villain who rather unimaginatively dubs himself " The Enemy". 

It's a fun, brisk story (98 pages) that reminds me of the Nightwing comics of the early 00s. If you want to give it a read, here's a link to a pdf:-

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Miscellaneous content: Batman & Robin Style Guide illustrations part 2

 More illustrations by José Luis García-López this week to enjoy. I particularly love the way he's kept the yellow oval symbol. I wish the film would have included that rather than the plain blue one.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Miscellaneous content: Batman & Robin Style Guide illustrations part 1

Unfortunately I still haven't managed to track down a hardcopy of the Batman & Robin Style Guide however there are lots of images online. I've pulled together as much as I can find. 

These are mostly illustrations by José Luis García-López depicting the various characters from the film. His beautiful line work really works well and lets us see the characters/designs in a fresh light. These were all used in a variety of Batman & Robin merchandise.