Batman: The Dark Knight Collection Tec-Shield Batman Action Figure Kenner, 1990
Day #2,180: March 24, 2020
Tec-Shield Batman Uses His Flight Pack And Shield Suit To Escape From Danger
Batman: The Dark Knight Collection Action Figures
Item No.: Asst. ??? No. 63120 Manufacturer:Kenner Includes:n/a Action Feature:Pull plunger and backpack's wings open Retail:$5.99-$7.99 Availability: Fall 1990 Other: NECA recently did their own take on this figure
I remember hunting down Tec-Shield Batman - the Kay-Bee Toys in Metrocenter had the other figures from wave one, but were sold out of this one. I convinced the people in our shopping party to stop at the Lionel Playworld on Peoria to overpay a buck to get this one. Kenner's line came hot off the heels of the 1989 Batman movie with Toy Biz' action figure line doing a pretty bang-up job. While Toy Biz had a diverse line with DC Comics heroes and other movie characters, Kenner made a line with less articulation and even less character variety - it would go on to be a huge success made primarily out of costume variations of the Caped Crusader. To call it influential would be a massive understatement - Playmates' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would also make up its own new character variants that would outsell new and secondary characters, or villains.
Nearly every kid-driven line in the 1990s would have "mission gear" figures all inspired by a single quote from Tim Burton's movie - "Where does he get those wonderful toys?" I had the pleasure of talking to Kenner creative Mark Boudreaux at a sci-fi convention back in 2000, and he told me that was indeed the pitch to DC/Warner Bros. to allow them to make new versions of Batman. And, as a result, we'd see the same for The Shadow, Spider-Man, Spawn, Riker, Data, Picard, Shaquille O'Neil, and countless other action figure heroes in the years to follow. Spin Master launched a new line in January of this year for Batman, and sure enough, it's almost 100% Batman - nary a villain to offend the eye.
It works. It can be tedious, but oh, is it successful to just sell the kids what they want.
The not-quite-5-inch Michael Keaton-inspired gold-suit Batman still shines 30 years later. I can't believe the gold paint looks as good as I remember it being the day I brought him home. He has 5 points of articulation and is not entirely dissimilar from the 1980s Super Power Collection toy line - except now, he has no knees and all of the action features have been outsourced to his accessories rather than the figure itself. This figure can stand, sit, drive a Batmobile or Batwing, and not much else. You have to make him punch, you have to pose him, and you have to push buttons and pull strings to make all the gimmicks work. The cape, still cloth, is pretty much the same concept that we saw in The Super Powers Collection.
Batman in C-3PO drag wasn't enough, we got a bulky and weird winged backpack. There's a loop at the top where you can put in a string and fling him around, there are a couple of gold rockets, but what's interesting is a big golden plunger at the base. When you pull it down, two black wings separate and eventually spring-loaded golden wing tips will extend and give it life. Now you can pretend Batman can fly, which he can't. Magic! While positioned as the accessory, this is really the toy - you can clip Batman into it, but this is the element that actually does something interesting. And presumably, will get lost in a box of toy debris, as little Timmy is just going to want to play with Batman.
Kenner's The Dark Knight Collection were an amazing innovation in how to market super hero toys to young boys, particularly when a movie really only had one or two core characters. A toy of this quality would probably be a hit with kids today, but Spin Master gives you far more articulation at (adjusted for inflation) a better price. In the 1990s you'd find far more colorful toys, with brighter packaging and more spring-loaded bang for your buck - and they sold like crazy for nearly a decade, at which point Mattel took control for an even longer period of time. Get it if you love the golden, ripped abs of Bruce Wayne - it's a wonderful artifact with surprisingly good detail for its time. I'm sure you can easily find other, bigger, or better Batmen at a store near you for a lower price and no shipping charge in 2020.
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