Batman is equipped with an impressive range of vehicles in The LEGO Batman Movie but we only see a few in action. 70916 The Batwing is among the most prominent of these so should prove to be very popular and I have been looking forward to this model since it was announced in January.
The set contains 1053 pieces and is priced at £99.99 or $89.99 so seems to offer reasonable value, particularly in the US. Furthermore, this incarnation of the Batwing is much larger than those we have seen before and the updated Harley Quinn minifigure looks tremendous, leaving me with very high expectations for the quality of this set as a whole.
The Batwing would not be complete without Batman to pilot the vehicle and the standard minifigure is accordingly included here. He wears a black cowl with a frown moulded around the eyes and the head underneath features a stern expression on one side and a bemused visage on the other. A crenelated black cape is fitted around the neck and this is made from a spongy material so will resist creasing.
Batman’s torso design has remained almost unchanged since the first wave of DC Super Heroes sets was released in 2012. It is decorated with the bat emblem and some muscle definition but lacks the yellow belt which has been present in the past. That is instead represented by an entirely separate element lined with intricately detailed pouches and capsules. The legs are left without printing so look rather plain in comparison with many other figures from The LEGO Batman Movie which push the boundaries of minifigure design.
Robin is a perfect example of such an impressive figure. He sports a brand new hair piece which incorporates a pair of green-tinted goggles intended to exaggerate Dick Grayson's eyes, thereby improving his adorability and adoptability! The head is printed with grinning and worried expressions which both look splendid, as do the few scattered freckles on Robin's cheeks.
The Boy Wonder wears a red, green and yellow costume repurposed from Batman's reggae suit. This includes a red shirt with short green sleeves and a yellow cape to match the collar. The matte interior and shiny exterior surfaces of the cape are very striking and I like the dual-moulded legs too. These feature red boots as well as a pair of green underpants which seem certain to terrorise any villain.
Harley Quinn appeared in 70906 The Joker Notorious Lowrider earlier in the year but this minifigure is almost entirely new, wearing a quartered corset, elbow length gloves and tall boots. The level of detail is exceptional and covers almost every surface, from the hair right down to the feet. Harley's elaborate hairstyle is dyed black and red to complement the outfit while the head features a smile on one side and a dejected expression on the other. These are the only elements which are carried over from her previous appearance.
The torso is decorated with a diamond pattern which is also present on the colourful gloves and the alternating red and black colour scheme continues onto a tutu worn around the waist. The legs include a similar combination of red and black on the boots and her torn stockings are printed across the front and onto the sides of the figure. This version of Harley Quinn is one of the best minifigures from The LEGO Batman Movie in my opinion and the high level of detail continues onto her hammer.
This weapon is constructed from seven pieces and includes two printed elements which are both brand new. The head is decorated with a series of concentric circles and three diamonds, matching Harley's costume and maintaining the circus theme of the character. It bothers me slightly that the head can rotate freely on a Technic pin but the hammer looks great on the whole and is on par with the bat found in 70906 The Joker Notorious Lowrider.
The Completed Model
Harley Quinn also wields an enormous cannon with a six stud shooter at the end. The alternating red and black gun barrels look superb and I like the design of the support structure too, although the light bluish grey hinge looks odd beside an otherwise consistent colour scheme. A control panel is fitted to the left side and a winding key is situated on the right, through which Harley presumably activates the cannon. We must instead turn the barrels at the end to launch six red studs and six spares are also included.
The Batwing has a wingspan of over 50cm when in landing mode and measures some 31cm from nose to tail. I love the overall shape of the vehicle, with bulky engine pods on either side of the fuselage and enormous wings which include some pleasing textured detail on the upper surface. This high level of detail is present throughout the model and relies upon stickers to some degree, although I think the use of small parts is more vital to the Batwing's appearance and the final result is very effective.
The cockpit is constructed using wedge plates and curved slopes on either side so looks very sleek. I like the pearl silver elements which break up the black silhouette and a few stickers are also useful in this respect. Batman has dubbed the Batwing 'Black Thunder' just as 70905 The Batmobile and 70908 The Scuttler, among others, are labelled and his penchant for trans-yellow windscreens is also evident. This component is printed with some black supports and looks brilliant, slotting perfectly into place between two wedge plates.
Opening the canopy reveals two reddish brown seats for Batman and Robin along with plenty of control consoles. The interior is very spacious and looks superb, due in part to the use of stickers but also to the brown upholstery which presents a pleasing contrast against the black bodywork of the exterior. I like the trans-yellow lights beside the rear seat too as these match the headlights fixed just behind the cockpit.
Batman's vehicles include a number of consistent design features in The LEGO Batman Movie, among which are red stripes which complement the black bodywork. These are present on the leading edge of each wing and stickers are used to represent ribbing on top. The volume of stickers is slightly bothersome but they look great and I love the pentagonal tiles placed between the curved slopes. Disc launchers and spring-loaded shooters are slung beneath the wings and both are more visible than I would like, although they increase the play value and are easily removable if you prefer.
The wings can be angled downwards for flight and you can adjust the winglets along the rear edge to change the wing profile. The model is surprisingly heavy so may not be ideal for a child to fly around but it feels great in the hands of an adult and feels very sturdy, despite the presence of several moving parts. The weight is attributable to the density of parts packed into the fuselage as its design leaves very little empty space.
The two thrust pods are situated between the wings and the fuselage. These are decorated with more stickers warning minifigures to avoid the air intakes on the front and radiator grilles are fitted on top to cool the engines inside. More mechanical details are found on top of the fuselage alongside a twin gun turret which controls one of the most significant and satisfying features of the entire set.
Rotating the turret will change the direction of the engine pods, thereby granting the Batwing exceptional manoeuvrability. This function works very well and is a lot of fun to play but I suspect it would be difficult for a child to hold the vehicle in one hand while twisting the gun turret with the other. Perhaps a slightly lighter structure would therefore have been more appropriate for play, although this may have compromised the rigidity of the model.
The underside is almost as detailed as the top and includes rows of trans-orange landing lights as well as some yellow thrusters. The wings look less impressive from this angle but you can see the mechanism which allows them to angle downwards around a single click hinge joint. This connection is very strong so the wings will remain fixed in any position you choose, although the natural flexing of LEGO pieces does cause the wings to sag slightly when horizontal so a second click hinge would have been ideal.
The fuselage is quite bulky for most of its length but narrows to a sharp point at the rear which looks brilliant. Two more thrusters are situated beneath the black curved slopes and a dark bluish grey loading ramp is found underneath those. This looks rather out of place to me as little attempt has been made to ensure that the shaping remains consistent throughout but it does facilitate another interesting play feature.
The ramp lowers to reveal a small storage area which houses a tiny buggy! This model is very simple but includes a seat for the driver which is complete with reddish brown upholstery to match the cockpit and the front is decorated with the bat symbol. Its small size is quite comical but I think it works in relation to the enormous and intimidating Batwing. You could also store some accessories in the cargo bay, although there are no clips so anything smaller than the buggy might rattle around during flight.
I think the sets based on The LEGO Batman Movie have been very impressive on the whole and 70916 The Batwing certainly maintains the high standard we have come to expect from the range. The level of detail is very impressive so it looks great when viewed from a distance or at close quarters. Furthermore, the size and weight of the model justifies the price point in my opinion, particularly in the US and Germany where the set costs just $89.99 or €89.99.
However, a couple more minifigures would have been welcome given the price, despite the excellence of Harley Quinn. It is also worth noting that the weight of the Batwing may detract from its playability to some degree, although the dense internal structure is vital to ensuring that the model remains sturdy. Ultimately, this is certainly a set which I would recommend, particularly if you already own some of the other vehicles from Batman's collection.
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