Tim Burton’s Batman movies of 1989 & 1992 paved the way for a new generation of super-hero movies (sadly, nothing lived up to it until Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man a decade later). It scored well with the audience to the point of jumpstarting another successful Warner Brothers produced DC TV show, Batman the Animated Series. Another thing the movies revived was Kenner’s DC toy line that featured some of the best Batman figures despite being mostly repurposed 1984 Super Powers figures. Surprisingly, these toys came after the movie, because ToyBiz initially had the license back in 1989, following their abysmal DC Comics Superheroes line which we consider Super Powers knock-offs (redeeming themselves with their Marvel Superheroes collection later on).
The most iconic of the Kenner line came from the 1991 vehicle line-up: certainly an original, and a loyal representation of what could arguably be the best Batmobiles ever designed. We were lucky enough to get one in pristine condition, Mint in Open box. Here’s a review of one of the best toys of the late 80s & early 90s.
As with the toys of the generation, carrying the car gives one the impression of quality which you rarely get today. Its considerable weight comes from its ABS plastic body which is highly durable, and is one of the reasons why, despite missing canopies, most loose ’89 Kenner Batmobiles have bodies which are almost always intact.
The plastic shell is all black unlike the ’92 Batman Returns Batmissile version that had a yellow button protruding behind the canopy. Because of this, if you look at the car from afar, & put it on the street to be photographed, I’d say it would have been accurate enough to pass for the real deal if it weren’t for the golden hubcaps that the actual ’89 Batmobile didn’t sport.
At a single glance, everyone would have been at awe with how movie-accurate this vehicle was designed, however, it does have one minor flaw - its scale. Like the Super Powers from 1984, the 89-92 Batman toy lines of Kenner sported 4 to 4.5” tall action figures. To make it proportional, Kenner should have produced a Batmobile 16” long. Instead, we got a vehicle a little over 12” long, scaled-down most likely due to cost issues brought on by the Tonka & Hasbro’s acquisition. This may also actually explain why toys from this period repurposed molds from other lines including Silverhawks. At that size, the Batmobile is actually more suited for a 3.75” action figure, which is the reason why Mattel’s DC Universe Keaton offers the best substitute for the Batmobile. Fitting the Kenner Batman comes out as a tedious task, having to carefully set him in place at an angle to make sure the bat-ears fall in the gap in front of the canopy hinges. The easiest way of course would be to remove the canopy itself, but who would want to risk breaking the hinges from a valuable 30-year-old toy?
Scale is a minor flaw as long as you don’t keep taking Batman in and out of the cockpit. The car has some very cool action features which totally makes up for it. Let’s start with the basics, and progress to the more unique gimmicks.
A. Turning Wheels. This is a car afterall, and so requires it to move. The Batmobile rests on 2 pairs of wheels, with each set of wheels connected by steel axels. The front wheels roll independent of the rear wheels, and vise-versa.
B. Hinged Canopy. Unlike the Batmobile from the movie, this vehicle doesn’t feature a sliding canopy, which is sort of a low-key bummer, but you wouldn’t know the difference however once it’s closed (unlike the ToyBiz version which had no canopy at all!).
C. Missile Firing Action. The Batmobile’s front turbine can launch off to vanquish the evil-doers of Gotham with a press of a button found on the middle of the vehicle’s hood.
D. Pop-Out Canons. As if the missile isn’t enough to take care of the city hooligans, the Batmobile also comes with pop-out canons which you activate by flipping tabs on each top-side of the car’s hood.
E. Pop-Out Exhaust Flame. My personal favorite feature, this embodies one of the Batmobile’s signature traits, a rocket exhaust. What better way to relive each car-chase? No combustibles needed, all you had to do was press the vents at the rear of the car to make the flame pop out.
F. Moving Flames. Because Kenner is so extra, they didn’t just settle with 1 rocket booster feature, but 2! Borrowing the same engineering used in the Real Ghostbusters’ Ecto-1, moving the car forward or backwards activates the rotating flame feature which mimics the fluid movement of fire.
To sum it up… Actually we’re just going to say it straight. This quite simply is the best, and definitive Batmobile. In our opinion, this would also make it on the top 5 list of best toy vehicles of all time! With its minor flaws, and an array of features that overshadows them, the 1991 Kenner Batmobile from Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman movie gets a 9.5/10 ToySack rating.
So what are you waiting for? This is your chance to get one brand new, only here at ToySack! Relive your childhood.