It is hard for me to process that it has been a quarter-century since Tim Burton’s 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 kid's table later that year at “Jarrett’s Movie Madness” Bar Mitzvah theme but that’s 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 Nicholson’s iconic Joker (Nicholson’s 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 Bradlee’s 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 wouldn’t 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 Bob Trate tapped me to write a Top 10 ’89BATMAN 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 1989BATMAN has never been more popular.
This is one that I remember very well because not only was it VHTF (Very Hard to Find), it had a “gimmick” that 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.
I always saw this figure as the “official” figure 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 ’89BATMAN 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 ’89BATMAN in 3 & 3/4 size.
7. BRUCE WAYNE QUICK CHANGE BATMAN (KENNER)
Man do I miss Kenner toys. They seemed to have every cool license back in the 80’s. 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. Batman’s costume was removable and you could use it to make your own costume “Bat Vault” as 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 Bruce’s 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. It’s 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 today’s 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.
5. BATMAN MINI-BUST (DC COMICS)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 collector’s item matches Keaton’s likeness perfectly. Plus he is holding his trademark Batarang. Even the base matches Tim Burton’s vision of Gotham City in the base. 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 year’s Hot Wheels 1:18 diecast 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 driver's seat and it even comes with the “shell” as seen in the movie. The Hot Wheels Batmobile is another amazing showpiece 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 collector’s opinion.
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.
2. THE JOKER (HOT TOYS)
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 a 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.
1. 1989 BATMAN (HOT TOYS)
This is the clear winner in the Top 10 list of Burton’s 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.