LEGO DC Justice League: Gotham City Breakout Blu-Ray/DVD review

While DC’s live action movies get increasingly sombre and serious, thank goodness for the LEGO DC movies, that bring the fun back into super heroics.

LEGO DC Justice League: Gotham City Breakout is the latest of the LEGO Justice League series, and as the title suggests is a Batman centric tale.

However, Batman is away from Gotham for most of this story – having been taken on a holiday by his associates Nightwing and Batgirl. He asks Superman to looks after Gotham while he’s gone – something Superman thinks will be easy, given that most of the city’s villains lack superpowers. He soon discovers how wrong he is.

Batman’s ‘holiday’ turns out to be a working one, as he is taken to revisit his old mentors – and there’s trouble involving super villain Deathstroke at the very first stop.

Meanwhile in Gotham, Superman is finding the likes of the Joker far trickier to deal with than he imagined. Even calling on the likes of Cyborg and Wonder Woman don’t seem to help. Perhaps only the new Robin can save the day?

A particular draw to this movie was the featured appearance of LEGO Batgirl, a favourite character of my daughter’s. It was also great to see Wonder Woman included again as well.

This movie has the same irreverent knockabout humour that has characterised the likes of LEGO games and other movies. Of the two plot strands, the Gotham one was by far the most engaging. We also loved the appearance onscreen of LEGO Jokerland – which was probably one of our favourite ever LEGO DC Superhero sets.

The Blu-Ray of the movie also comes with an exclusive Nightwing LEGO minifigure, which was a nice added bonus.

Justice League: Gotham City Breakout is out now.

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Disclosure: I received a Blu-Ray copy of this product free of charge.

Review: Batman Unlimited Toys

These Batman Unlimited toys are from Mattel, and feature Batman characters with updated futuristic looks and gadgets. The first thing I noticed were the key differences to the classic depiction of the three characters.

Batman and Robin look broadly similar to what we’re used to, but their outfits are more like hi-tech armour than a costume. Robin also has a hood, which makes him appear more mysterious – just like Batman.

But appropriately, the weirdest one was the Joker. His look has been completely revamped from the purple suit wearing clown to become a muscled up thug with a crew cut and a sash of bullets draped over him. While he is clearly the Joker – with his green hair, white face, red lips, and magical yellow toothed grin – it took my daughter a while to feel confident in identifying it was him.

These are pretty sturdy looking figures, with Batman & Robin’s fabric & vinyl  capes being the only potential weak link. Anatomically, it’s fair to say these are somewhat stylised. For instance, they have lower legs that are 2-3 times longer than their thighs.

While they offer 8 points of articulation (POA), additional movement in the legs would’ve been welcome – there’s no knee joint for instance, which really limits how these figures can be posed by a child. They can’t even sit properly. My daughter sometimes likes her figures to have a rest, enjoys a tea party, or go to the loo!

Actually, The Joker isn’t the weirdest of these Batman Unlimited Toys in this set. It also includes what appears to be a Robot Batdog. It has no limb or head movement. It does have a removable tail, which the characters can also hold as some kind of sword/club/furry duster. Robo-batdog (as we call it) isn’t even named on the packaging. It feels like this part of the set is a toy they had left over from another line.

My daughter even asked “What is that dog doing there?”. Not knowing how to answer, a visit to BatmanUnlimited.com (as the packaging suggests) indicates it may be one of The Penguin’s robotic Cyber Animals. Who knows? Anyway, while it feels out of place in this set, and is little more than an immovable toy dog, it does look kind of cool.

Overall, my daughter loves that these figures are of Batman, Robin, and The Joker, and they are funky and colourfully designed. But I feel the lack of movement in the legs in particular will be a big drawback for her long term, as she is unable to pose them in a way that she does other figures of this size (about 15 cm high). And the inclusion of robo-batdog is a mystery worthy of investigation by the Batman.

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UPDATE: Batman Unlimited Toys Vehicles

Turns out the Batman figure fits a random Bat Jet I bought my daughter second hand for 80p, so there’s life in these figures yet.

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Disclosure: We received these Batman Unlimited toys as part of the Toys R Us Toyologist programme. They send us toys in exchange for honest reviews. You can read the original post here.

Family Fever

Review: DC Comics Secret Hero Society – Study Hall of Justice

Existing somewhere between a comic and a book, DC Comics Secret Hero Society – Study Hall of Justice, is a fun way to explore the characters of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman in an all new setting.

Set in an alternative timeline, this sees a young Bruce Wayne attending the exclusive school Ducard Academy, where he befriends a certain Kansas farm boy and a foreign young woman of royal descent (Superman and Wonder Woman in case you were wondering).

But all is not right in the school, and if you’re a follower of the DC universe in either it’s comic, film, or TV forms, the names of the teachers – and the academy itself – should be a hint at what’s really going on there.

It’s written by Derek Fridolfs and illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, who were the team behind a similarly cute Li’l Gotham. While ostensibly a comic book, this also has tracts of text and graphics as part of the story – such as text messages, letters, articles, diary entires, and more. It’s a book equivalent of a multi-media story telling approach that works really well, and encourages more reading than your usual comic book.

The characterisations are spot on, and close in spirit with their comic equivalents while being a wry commentary on them. While this centres on the young dark knight detective, it’s also nice to see the bond forming (and sometimes cracking) between him and Superman & Wonder Woman.

I liked a sequence when Diane Prince (Wonder Woman) tried to go undercover and get on the cheerleading team, followed by an unsuccessful athletics try-out. There is also a nice nod to her mission in fighting war – by trying to stop Superman and Batman fighting. Plenty of other female characters from the DC universe show up too such as girls called Harley, Pamela, and Talia 😉

This is a fun little book, that’s may be of particular interest to a young reader looking for something a little more relatable to them, while still staying true to the classic characters.

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DC Comics Secret Hero Society – Study Hall of Justice

by Derek Fridolfs and Dustin Nguyen, is published by Scholastic and is available now.