Long lived and well-loved American toy company NECA have been producing ¼ scale versions of their popular and far reaching lines of 7 “ action figures for what seems like forever. In years past these figures had simply been larger versions of existing toys with less articulation, due to the nature of their manufacture, but recently NECA has revolutionized the scale, offering high end sculpts with super articulation of characters many thought impossible to produce due to various licensing entanglements, like the Adam West and Michael Keaton versions of Batman. One such long requested and awaited ¼ scale “dream figure” that surprised fans by actually seeing release earlier this year was Danny DeVito’s macabre take on The Penguin from 1992’s Batman Returns. And as a huge fan of that misunderstood Christmas classic in general and DeVito’s over the top performance in particular, I was overjoyed to find the Penguin Man of the Gotham Sewers under my tree.
Having just completed our annual family viewing of Batman Returns Christmas ritual the night before tearing this guy open, I think I’m qualified to say that the sculpting detail on this figure is absolutely flawless. Fresh from the package Oswald comes to us in his off white (they were probably white at some point…) pajamas, full of intricately sculpted rips, tears and what seem like bullet holes, with the paint operations perfectly selling the effects. His clammy flippers are the perfect shade of deathly pale with just a hint of gloss on the nails, and the realism of his head is disgustingly stunning, from the scraggily real hair cresting off the back of his diseased skull to the squinty, vengeful grimace perfectly realized with an amazing likeness of DeVito under the film’s grotesque prosthetics, heaving blackened bile that drips from his chin onto his bib with an amazingly organic and believable paintjob.
Articulation here is so much more than expected and works extremely well within the Penguins “unique” body type. All the joints usually found on a high end super articulated figure are here, including wrist hinges, pivoting ankles and a ball jointed neck and torso that allow an infinite amount of hilariously menacing poses. Some fans have reported that NECA’s ¼ scale line have a tendency toward weak knees/ankles and are hard to keep standing but I’ve yet to experience any such annoyances with Oswald, possibly due to his low center of gravity and generous frame. His bulbous torso appears to be hollow, which keeps him from toppling over. Smart construction on NECA’s part.
If that were all that the diminutive Cobblepot brought to the party then Oswald would still be well worth the asking price, but NECA usually goes above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to accessories and this figure is no exception. First is his top hat which fits perfectly on his head or in his extra gripping hand, and in another brilliant move on NECA’s part, is painted gloss white on the inside to avoid dye transfer when displayed on Penguin’s forehead. He also includes a monocle which has a peg inside that plugs tightly into a seemingly invisible recess next to Penguin’s right eye, and a cigarette that can rest securely in one of the open corners of his gaping be-fanged maw. A half-eaten fish that’s perfectly on model to the one he’s devouring in the film scene where he’s first introduced to his campaign team can also be grasped in the extra hand. The most impressive extra though is his massive, fur lined robe. Expertly tailored and perfectly scaled, even including real pockets to stash Oswald’s small, easy to lose accessories when not in use. With this box of goodies your Penguin is more than ready to sulk in the shadows and plot Gotham’s demise, or burst onto the surface and put the plan into action.
Even without all the accessories the size, sculpt, paint and articulation on this figure would make it a bargain at the $100-ish MSRP but with all the extra options he feels like an absolute steal. NECA could’ve gone the cheap-ass route and produced various releases with different accessories but they’ve admirably chosen to include everything in one box and have given the fervent cult behind this sometimes underappreciated chapter of the Dark Knight saga a masterpiece of a collectible to re-pose and proudly display for years to come, not just at Christmas time, but year round. Highly recommended.