Before props and action figures of super heroes were popular staples at comic book stores and other novelty retailers, the ancestor of what collectors know as DC Direct released a Batman statue of Batman sitting on top of a gargoyle that was sculpted by Randy Bowen in 1991. I was one of those lucky one who ordered this statue 16 years ago and here’s my review of this early piece of delight.
In the early 1990s, one of the most popular Batman artists was Kelly Jones. His figures were elongated and his Batman almost vampire-like. Many, like Todd MacFarlane used to draw Batman with a long cape that made no sense for a street fighter, as it would get in the way. The concept of Batman sitting on a gargoyle became a popular culture icon, just like Elvis Presley sitting on a toilet bowl.
This Batman is a mix of several influences. His shoulder pads are spiky, like many artists of the time and today like to portray him. His head is inspired by Dick Giordano with well balanced feature and ears that are just a little too high. Yet the neck and the way the cape drapes Batman’s body and the base of the gargoyle is clearly inspired by Jones. Once could argue that this statue captures Batman has he stretched out of the silver age and bronze age design, into a more stylized figure.
The sculpt is imposing, although Batman’s figure is almost nowhere to be found. His cape covers him almost entirely, yet his shape can be guessed underneath. His body is contorted in a weird way that would hurt most humans. The gargoyle is strong and steady and the liquid-like Batman creeping all over it adds to the contrasts of the two. The gargoyle looks good, but it is too blocky and lacks gothic styling that would have made it more in line with Batman. Batman’s neck is extremely long.
The paint job is not great. Dirty and blacks are used instead of tones and shades. It makes the whole set look dirtier than it really is. The paint can chip too. Still, the base includes a frame with Batman’s name painted like copper.
If The Batman included in this set was an action figure, he would be in the seven-inch scale. Everything measures about 13 inches.
This set is stable. The base of the statue is hollow inside. Each of the corners are padded with Velcro-like pads. There should be no problems with this set staying put.
This set is made in porcelain and is extremely fragile. The edges of Batman’s ears and his cape are easy to break. There is a smaller version of this statue in resin that should be more durable.
This statue was packed in a large box with foam holding the statue like a clamshell. There was sufficient packaging to make sure this statue would not break. Some idiots, like me, got rid of the box a while ago and are now faced with a challenge when it’s time to move this statue from location to location...
At the time, way back in 1991, I paid around $120 Canadian for this statue. That was a long time ago. Bids for this statue on auction sites have gone has high as $USD 1,500.
Of course, this set is no longer available from DC Comics nor DC Direct. At the time, only 5555 were said to have been produced. They were all numbered. Mine was # 5176. If a store still has a copy of this, it must be something they bought off another collector and not an original order. From time to times collectors sell their copies on auction sites. Do not ask me if mine is for sale. This item is rare because many collectors see no reason to part away with such an early well done statue, before vendors like DC Direct would release something new every month.
Last Updated: Feb 19, 2015 - 11:46
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bowen batman comment
were all the statues numbers hand written on the bottom underside of the statue?
I have a statue that looks like this but it is made of bronze (made by Bowen)...any idea how much its worth? I can't find anything about it...I've had it for years but could never find any info about it...any help would be appreciated! :) x@sapmailbubblegum
Hard to tell. There have been many other casts of this statue done over the years, including bootleg versions. One thing for sure is that they won't command the same price as the original piece which is really really rare. If I'm not mistaken the bronze version is also smaller.
Great writing.!! The price of these pieces seems to fluctuate as popularity increases or decreases. I was able to obtain one with all original packaging (including the eggshell wrapping) at a great price. As I was checking for flaws and chips, i noticed the paint job was exactly the same as the one depicted here, that was a relief. i had not seen the black shadings in such detail and had to confirm it wasn't a replica. Having ALL of the packaging is one of the best markers. It would be hards and senseless for bootleggers to try to produce the numbered sleeves and packaging, there just isn't the market and would cost to much to do to try and fool someone. Since the going rate now is $300.00 and up (some are listed at $1000.00 and more) they are valuable to collectors but not yet common enough to be in department or retail stores. I am glad I own one (and a mini, too!!) they are truly iconic and a collector's dream.!
Mark, that's a great find you've got there. Now you probably know why I will not part with mine!
For those looking to buy the authentic statue, check the packaging. The box was made of white cardboard and contained a sleeve packaging with black and white pics of the statue on at least two sides if my memory is good. The foam was yellow and had spikes on each half.
The paint will chip very easily and reveal the white porcelain underneath. Anything made of bronze or resin is not the real thing.
Herve good article hope I can add more info the sleeve has #1 batman logo,#2 pecil drawings of statue with serial number in red ink,#3 photo of sandman /lobo on same side and a #4 photo of batman with batman writing imposed on and to left of photo. The two pieces of shipping foam are egg crate shape. The plastic wrapped around the statue was numbered. The statue was numbered 1-5555 of 5555 hand written in gold.The box it was shipped in was white and taped with clear shipping tape and statue was also shipped with foam shipping peanuts. I was also told that the first 100 to 200 statues are hand checked and examined by the sculptor and the painter to make sure that the casting and painting are what they expected. I have #8 of 5555 and bought it 1992 in a Port Jefferson Long Island New York comic shop it sat there for about a year and then I bought it for $125.00 dollars.