New release, care of our friends at Heroes' Haven Comics, is the brand new import PlayArts Kai Joker based of Heath Ledger's performance in the Dark Knight. Ledger's performance evokes a lot of cheers and jeers from fans. Some think he re-imagined the Joker too far past being recognized from his comic book appearances and some think his take on the Joker is where it was destined to evolve. I feel like my opinion falls somewhere in between; it's a groundbreaking performance and a great villain but it's not the Joker to me. Anyways, since his untimely death just before the movie was released, I feel like the character had never really gotten the justice it deserved in action figure form. DC Direct produced a horrible 1/6th scale figure with cloth outfit that bared little resemblance in accurately capturing the face, Mattel released a handful of renditions that while beautifully sculpted fell short in the paint application department and Hot Toys released two 1/6th scale figures that were incredibly produced with loads of attention to detail but out of the price range of most collectors. It seemed like most of us were just going to have to make due with the Mattel figures until Square Enix announced the Dark Knight Trilogy was one of the DC licenses they had acquired for their flagship PlayArts Kai line.
PlayArts Kai is an ongoing series of import figures, roughly 6 to 9 inches, loaded with detail and articulation. The line started with covering mostly video game and anime brands; Tomb Raider, Metal Gear Solid, Halo, Hitman and other popular series. When they started making figures based off of the widely popular Arkham Asylum video game, DC comics fans really took notice. The first edition Batman sold out within weeks of it's initial Previews magazine solicitation and then the Joker followed suit. Harley didn't sell too well but that's the concern with most female figures, and it's just the truth sorry guys. It also didn't help that Harley didn't seem to live up to the high expectations already left by the Batman and Joker figures. When Square Enix announced acquisition of the Dark Knight movie license and showed off flat gray prototypes at NYCC, fans made plans to save their pennies for Bane and Joker. While Bane was slightly over stylized, Joker and Catwoman did a great job capturing the realism Christopher Nolan pumped into the last trilogy.
The Joker stands just over 7 inches tall which places him just slightly out of scale to place him with my Arkham City Batman and Catwoman figures. He does fit in scale with the Dark Knight Rises Batman released with Bane a month ago. The articulation on the figure is staggering, just while writing this I discovered the tails on his overcoat have an articulation hinge. Most of the time I am not too thrilled with an abundance of articulation but the PlayArts Kai figures are equipped with joints that ratchet and lock into position and the Joker comes with the newly designed Square Enix translucent base which makes locking your figures into epic battle poses a real ease. The paint job on the figure does a good job of recreating the Joker's shabby appearance. The face paint is smeared and uneven, the clothes have a great deal of shading to give the appearance of being layered. The only fail in the paint scheme is the eyes, they are way too dark and could stand to be whiter so the stand out from the black around them. The sculpt is impressive; every strand of hair, every wrinkle in the face is matched as close as possible for a figure this scale. They even went so far as to reproduce the creases in the pants, buttons, hemming and stitching all over the figure. The accessories are simple; 2 Joker cards (both different and fully detailed), an alternate head with slightly more worn face paint, an alternate bank robbery head (sadly it's not a mask that fits over one of the two heads but I'll live), his trusty knife and an assortment of hands to hold the cards, knife or to throw a closed fist punch.