Myriad toys can satisfy Bat fever


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The opening of "The Dark Knight Rises" has stirred up a lot of interest in all things Gotham. For the children and inner children, there are more than enough Batman toys and collectibles to content the most ardent fanboys and fangirls.

For instance, there are a couple of accessories released in conjunction with the movie that should bring about delusions of heroism. Mattel has come out with the Zipline Blaster (at $17), which can be shot at and attached to any smooth surface to create a small makeshift zip line (which, sadly, is only strong enough to support the action figure that comes with it -- no zip-lining through the streets). Thinkway Toys likewise released its own Batman equipment: an orange-and-black utility belt, which contains a stock of Batarangs and various other gadgets attached for quick use ($20 at Toys R Us).

Toy stores such as Pittsburgh's S.W. Randall are also excited for a few other "TDKR" products that they anticipate will fly off the shelves. Movie Masters figurines are popular for collectors, as the 6-inch effigies represent a selection of the movie's major characters (and run from $17 to $35, depending on the seller and the character). Outside of a "secret character" figurine to be released later (which would likely spoil the plot if its identity were released), Batman and Bane figurines are joined by Catwoman, Wayne's butler Alfred Pennyworth, and the city cop John Blake. The latter three are highly anticipated, as they've never before been released by Movie Masters.

It's of note to consider that the age range for the figurines is 4 to 15, which, for a PG-13 movie leaves only three of the 12 recommended ages that can see the movie without parental guidance suggested. In fact, many of these toys are recommended for ages as young as 3, which seems to contrast with the movie's dark nature.

The wide age range for "The Dark Knight Rises" merchandise is no more apparent than on the shelves of the nearest neighborhood bookseller. Marketed to the younger among us are the thinner booklets published by HarperCollins, including some that are part of the "I Can Read!" series (retailing at $4) designed to teach literacy to small children. On the other end of the spectrum are books like "The Art and Making of the Dark Knight Trilogy" by Jody Duncan Jesser and Janine Pourroy, which features a foreword by Christopher Nolan and an introduction by Michael Caine (and range from $25-$40). In between is any kind of reading material you can imagine, from picture books to decorated diaries to more making-of tomes.

Regardless, themes from "The Dark Knight Rises" don't seem to transfer into the toys. An emphasis seems to have been placed on the vehicles, with the staple Tumbler joined by the other Dark Knight machines. A Hot Wheels track ($36) comes complete with a small incarnation of the Tumbler, seen last summer on the streets of Pittsburgh, and Mattel is releasing a slot car track to race both Batman's and Bane's characteristic Tumblers (at $40). Thinkway is also buying into the vehicle frenzy with a remote control Tumbler and a similarly controlled Bat-Pod -- the Dark Knight's version of a motorcycle (anywhere from $23-$45, depending on the model).

There are enough toys and collection-worthy "TDKR" merchandise to keep fans of all ages occupied well after the movie enters and leaves the theaters.

moviesvideo

Elliot Alpern: ealpern@post-gazette.com


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