Today we’re trying something a bit different. I have a full length review gestating, but it needs just a little bit of work. So, while you wait, here’s a quick review.
I love Kenner, Hasbro, and Mattel’s old DCAU based toys– but there’s only so much you can say about each individual figure. My first Batman: The Animated Series figure review was a retrospective on the toy line as a whole and how it compared to other toy lines of the 1990s. We don’t need to cover that ground twice so, in this review, we’ll just be taking a quick look at one BTAS figure.
It’s pretty simple– just a 5POA Kenner figure and two accessories. So I doubt even I can get too long winded about it. Let me know if you like this kind of stuff, as I wouldn’t mind throwing down quick reviews for basically every DCAU-based figure I own. There’s a shocking lack of content concerning most of these toys on the web.
This time, we’ll be looking at Kenner’s Sea Claw Batman, released in the Crime Squad sub-line in 1995.
1995 Sea Claw Batman Quick Review
In 1995, Kenner rebranded their Batman: The Animated series toy line into The Adventures of Batman and Robin. That reflected the TV series’ own rebranding– after the first 65 episodes were a success, Fox ordered 20 more episodes and insisted that Robin become a more prominent character on the show.
If you’re watching the series on a DVD/Blu Ray release or on a streaming service, it’s a pretty seamless transition. You’d probably never even notice it. There was no real drop in quality, and spending more time with BTAS’ excellent version of Robin was hardly off putting. If you were collecting Kenner’s Batman toys at the time, though, you probably did notice.
Immediately, the AoB&R toy line split itself into a few different sub-lines. You had the regular line, which didn’t feature many figures, but gave us fan-favorites like Harley Quinn, Ra’s al Ghul, Bane, and “Machine Gun” Joker.
Then, you had DUO Force– each figure came with a mini vehicle. The heroes’ vehicles were modular and could combine together. It made for some pretty fun toys.
Finally, you had Crime Squad, which paired our heroes (and no villains) with large backpacks that usually provided some kind of transportation ability. You know, jetpacks and the like.
Here’s the blurb from the packaging:
“Gotham City’s most dangerous villains have escaped from Arkham Asylum! In order to save humanity. BATMAN and ROBIN have armed themselves with special rapid-deployment techno-cape backpack equipment and highly- camouflaged suits to track down every last criminal- no matter where they are hiding! Join the BATMAN Crime Squad on their life or death mission to save humanity from its most dangerous enemies!”
Rapid-deployment-techno-cape backpacks is a pretty good description, for the most part. And most of the figures did feature strange-but-fetching color schemes.
The subject of today’s review, 1995’s Sea Claw Batman, is one of those Crime Squad figures.
As the name suggests, Sea Claw Batman is equipped for underwater operations. His large “progressive deep house” backpack provides a breathing apparatus, weapons, and a method of underwater propulsion– not bad!
Here’s the figure:
This is a simple figure with a unique sculpt (that was reused a few times– more on that later), featuring oxygen hoses and some armored bits.
He’s decked out in black and yellow, which looks fantastic. Though the gaggle of bros who clamor for “absolute realism” and still obsess over Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy might believe otherwise, yellow has always been one of Batman’s main colors, so it looks quite natural on this toy.
Yellow and black is also just a good color scheme for diver figures. Sea Claw Batman reminds me of the 1992 release of GI Joe’s Wet-Suit, and that’s another terrific underwater-based action figure.
The figure looks nice and features the articulation you’d expect from the Kenner of the 1990s: swivel neck, swivel shoulders, and swivel hips.
But any simple Batman figure of yesteryear is only as good as its accessories.
Here they are:
Sea Claw Batman comes with his fast-acting backpack and a claw-shaped projectile. The backpack clips onto the figure’s waist and the projectile launcher is hidden in the backpack.
The sculpting on the Transforming Techno-Dive Backpack (its actual name) is very nice. It has obvious propulsion and intake units, cool segmented wings, and what look to be harpoons molded at the top of each wing.
Here’s the back, where you can see they even included a little cutout shape so you can mount this toy on the wall with a nail or a thumbtack:
And here’s the front, where you can see the waist clip:
The launcher itself swings out on a hinge and then sits at the top of the backpack. Press the yellow button and the claw projectile fires nicely.
The backpack has one more moving part. The breathing apparatus swings up so you can place the backpack on the figure:
Swing it down, and he can breath underwater. It doesn’t look perfect from the side, but that’s a pretty ridiculous nitpick. Kenner did a really good job on this one.
Here’s the figure All Geared Up:
The yellow figure looks very nice with the black and yellow backpack.
And, if you want, Batman can hold the missile as a harpoon and/or melee weapon.
One of the coolest things about the backpack is it can fit on pretty much any other hero figure from Kenner and Hasbro’s many Batman lines. If you have an extra Sea Claw backpack and want Robin to go along with Batman on an underwater mission, it’s both possible and easy.
Hasbro released their own Sea Claw Batman in 1999 in the Mission Masters 2 sub-line, which was a straight up repaint of this toy and its accessories. It features a handsome dark grey and black look with a nice metallic blue bat logo. The figure itself was probably reused at least one more time, but I don’t think the backpack was.
I got that figure in a random lot and I liked it so much that I tracked down the original 1995 Sea Claw Batman just so they could share the backpack accessory.
He looks good with the original’s backpack, if I do say so myself:
The BTAS Crime Squad toys were a cool idea– you got an armored figure and a vehicle all in one package. The sculpts and colors, while not always “traditional” (but this is 90s Kenner we’re talking about), were fun and unique. They’re probably not must-haves, but they feature sharper looks and more play value than many of Kenner’s other Batman offerings.
But if you’re one to (audible gasp) play with your toys, how would you use this figure? It’s not like the old Kenner lines gave Batman a plethora of underwater foes to fight. He can fight JLU’s Devil Ray (Black Manta), of course, but that figure wasn’t released until much later.
Well, I still see the Sea Claw Techno-Dive Backpack as being useful for:
- Underwater rescue missions
- Underwater salvage missions (luxury yacht wrecks and the like)
- Infiltrating Mr. Freeze’s ice palace or the Iceberg Lounge via frozen waterways
- Popping out of Gotham Harbor to surprise unaware goons making arms deals or hijacking shipments
Really, it doesn’t take much imagination to Sea Claw Batman. It’s a fun figure and a great all-in-one package. I don’t know that you’d ever need another underwater-themed Batman when this one exists.
Overall: This is a fun, simple figure with chunky, durable accessories. The backpack is a suit of underwater armor and a sea sled all at once. The yellow and black color scheme is great, and the spring loaded launcher tucks away nicely when you’re not using it. There are hundreds of Batman variants out there, but this one does a great job of scratching a specific itch. Recommended.
Closing Thoughts on 1995 Sea Claw Batman
What did you think of this review style? Are you up for more (relatively) quick reviews of DCAU figures?
Also, why do I like yellow action figures so much? Let me know in the comments!