"Where does he get those wonderful toys?"
-- The Joker, "Batman," 1989
One of the things that Batman has that Spider-Man, Superman, and Green Lantern don't have is deep pockets. As multi-billionaire Bruce Wayne, he has access to funding, technology, and resources that other superheroes cry themselves to sleep over. And because of those deep pockets, the Batcave is filled with vehicles that make Gotham's criminals quake in fear. And yet, they continue their attempts to take over the city. Dummies.
One of the newest weapons in the LEGO Batman's arsenal is the Bat Tank. A behemoth with black tank treads, firing missiles, and those trademark Batwing fins, this is one of the most impressive Batvehicles LEGO has made yet. It's also one of the most expensive, coming in at $50.
The storyline is this: Riddler has teamed up with Bane to create a counterfeiting scheme, flooding Gotham City with funny money. When Batman finds out, he uses the Bat Tank to crash into the villain's hideout, taking them out with the brute force that Bane requires. Bane is the villain who broke Batman's back in the early 1990's...pumped up on a chemical steroid called "Venom," he's come back to Gotham City a few times to wreak havoc. As one of the few villains who also knows Batman's secret identity, he's a particular threat to the Dark Knight.
The LEGO set contains 645 pieces, which are used to build three vehicles, three minifigures, and a hideout. When this set was first announced, the hideout was much bigger--it's been downsized considerably. Here's what you get: Vehicles
The biggest and best vehicle is the Bat Tank. Both Riddler and Bane get small vehicles as a kind of afterthought, but the tank is impressive as can be. At nearly a foot long, this update of the Batmobile is massive, but still feels sleek and maneuverable, like a good Bat-vehicle should be. The twin treads take the longest time to build--individual links all put together one by one. By the time it's finished, they roll quite nicely, and don't go "off track" the way a single rubber piece might. The build was more complicated than I'm used to, with many "technic" pieces that are more complex than the simple LEGO bricks we all grew up with. The cockpit is big enough to hold Batman (cape attached), which has been a problem with some of the other Batman LEGO sets. There are twin missiles in the rear of the tank alongside the iconic bat-fins; with a trigger mechanism, they'll fling quite nicely, but there probably won't be any eyes poked out by the little blunt pieces. The Bat Tank is worth the price of the set. Which is a good thing, because the other vehicles are ridiculous.
The Riddler gets a jet pack--built out of 11 tiny pieces of LEGO, it looks alright, but barely counts as a backpack, let alone a vehicle.
Bane gets an ATV--a dirtbike with a missile attachment, basically. The dirtbike itself is pretty cool--but the idea of Bane taking on a tank with an ATV is ridiculous. Then again, Bane probably thinks he can take out a tank by flexing, so maybe it suits him. Minifigures
I love the Minfigures that LEGO has produced for the Batman line. Instead of using a particular movie, television program, or comic book artist as inspiration, they've distilled each character to a basic interpretation, creating iconic looks for these most famous of comic book characters. So the Riddler isn't Frank Gorshin, certainly, but is in a simple green jumpsuit with a big purple question mark and a domino mask. Batman is in his dark blue cowl and cape (and bizarre superhero underwear briefs), with a yellow pouched utility belt, and Bane (the only truly new figure in this set) has an impressively grotesque physique, with muscles bulging from a singlet both on his front and back. His Mexican wrestler-style mask is menacing, and includes the Venom delivery system pumped into his skull printed on the back. A menacing figure that creates the illusion of size with a skilled design. Very cool. Hideout
The hideout is very basic--VERY basic. It's a gate. A gate for the Bat Tank to smash through. There are two towers on either side of the gate, one with a spotlight, one with a machine gun emplacement. Aside from that, there are two cash tiles (remember, they're supposed to be counterfeiting) some dynamite and a detonator. I would have preferred smaller towers, with the actual counterfeiting machinery (a small printing press, or even a computer and printer, if that's what counterfeiters use these days) or a crime-planning table...or something. The hideout is definitely lacking. A henchman or two would have been great too.
The bottom line for this set is--if you have the other Batman LEGO sets, and enjoy them, this one is almost as good. Most of the sets provide some sort of villain vehicle to take on the Bat, and every vehicle up until this point has been worth of that goal. The ATV and jetpack are silly, but the Bat Tank is a wonderful example of what LEGO can do with the license, and what Bruce Wayne can do with his money. And, ultimately, what I do with mine. If you like Batman, this is a fun set.
What's next for the LEGO Batman collection? With the next Batman movie coming out this summer, there will be a new wave of Batman sets coming too. They won't be official "Dark Knight" sets, so we won't get little Heath Ledger and Christian Bale minifigs, but the set descriptions I've read so far look good. Now if they can just work Batgirl and Commissioner Gordon in somehow...
Who am I kidding? I'll buy them anyway.
MORE BATMAN LEGO Batcopter: The Chase for Scarecrow The Batcave: The Penguin and Mr. Freeze's Invasion Batdragster: Catwoman Pursuit Batboat: Hunt for Killer Croc Batwing: Joker's Aerial Assault