The Road Less Travelled: DIY vs Hot Toys

“Oh my god…”

“Ohhhhhh man…”

“Look at that…”

“But the price..”

“… yeah, I know”.

That is the gist of the conversation that my brother and I have been carrying on since the existence of HOT TOYS, a Japanese company that makes remarkable 1/6 toys of Hollywood favorites.  I think I discovered them when I saw a picture in a sculpting forum of a Brad Pitt portrait and it was Down. To. The. Skin. Pores. Perfect.

And for the price, it needs to be.


In 1989, a new hobby fad was vinyl model kits.  Vinyl allowed for better sculpting.  The parts were manufactured much like roto-casting, such that each piece (this kit included 7 main body parts) was hollow but mounted to a part base.  Your job was to cut out each piece and then, with hot water, compress-attach joints (Batman came with FIVE points of articulation!).  Crazy glue was used to attach accessory detail parts.  Capes were a challenge for the technology at the time because they required dual surfacing (the outer and inner sides of the cape) that wasn’t possible.  My Batman came with a cape made from a lightweight parachute fabric.  Over a few short years, HORIZON went on to make a more kits that I would hunt down.  The sculpting seemed to be significantly better on the movie kits, like BATMAN RETURNS, ROCKETEER, or even the old Buster Crabbe FLASH GORDON serials, then comic kits.

It was a ton of fun to build: this was the first time I used my Dad’s airbrush.  He also showed me how to spot eyes.  The cape was a pain, but I finally got it to attach to the body.


I think I dragged that model to every dorm room I was assigned, and beyond.  It’s aged… okay enough: a ding here or there.  Really, the cape bore the brunt of the wear, as it browned over the years.  Finally, I broke down this holiday and made an order to Japan.

I don’t argue that HOT TOYS isn’t an amazing quality product (it is), nor do I argue that my model is a better sculpt in comparison (it isn’t).  I can’t even say my paint job is on par with the HOT TOYS team, as I look back at my work from 25+ years and see lots of things I could change.  Then again, I’m not changing my Dad’s job on those eyes.


I won’t spend $200-$300 on that HOT TOYS Batman.  I had more fun with my $20 model.


It DOES look good with that HOT TOYS cape, though.  It looks like I always thought it did in the first place.



Filed under Deane Aikins

8 responses to “The Road Less Travelled: DIY vs Hot Toys

  1. Whoa, what 66 Batman is that? Where’d you get that?

    I had this model. I might get another one…

  2. Xander Martin

    Dig it! These kits have always been a groovy novelty that just doesn’t really exist anymore save for Garage Kits. I’ve got a Dredd I’ve put away for cannibalizing purposes on a rainy day.

    West Bats looks swell too!

  3. Deane Aikins

    @Rocko: A Kool Kat made it for me. It’s based on a 1966 Captain Action, with hand made fabric costume and rubber boots and such.

    The cowl comes off to reveal a full painted Adam West.

    @Xander: I had the Judge Anderson kit. It looked like Debbie Harry. I really liked building those kits. Hurm… I think I may have 1 or 2 more locked up somewhere….

  4. Very envious. Joe and Ed need to fast track an Adam West kit for Captain Action.

  5. Deane Aikins

    The gloves are starting to disintegrate a little bit at the cuff. It’s 11 years old or so!

  6. Sweet one! Im going to do a review on the Hot Toys inringade an near future of youre interrested 🙂 cheers!

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