Nothing says style like an oversized amphibious duck car. I know I'd love to drive around in one, and squawk at all the ladies whether they be on the sidewalk or on the beach. Unfortunately, I'll just have to settle for this Hot Wheels toy.
The Duck (sometimes called The Duck Mobile) was Penguin's technically unnamed vehicle in Batman Returns. Originally part of a zoo ride, The Duck is capable of traveling on land, in the water, and can even function as a lift. This instantly iconic, all-purpose vehicle proved invaluable to the Penguin for moving between his secret lair and the city. While the vehicle looks harmless enough, there was always something about it that seemed a little oddly menacing.
Don't change that Bat Channel! There's more after the jump.
The packaging for these is incredibly generic. You'd expect at least an image of Batman or something, if not a shaped card. The only real identifying franchise mark is that Batman Returns logo, which is swapped out for the 1960s Batman logo on some of the other vehicles this wave. Equally tacky is the use of multiple languages on the pack, meaning it's intended as a multinational release rather than a localized market. Then we have the product numbers instead of names for the other vehicles displayed on the card-back, ugh...
You'll also notice that the Duck Mobile's paint on the promo image is a bright yellow rather than a textured mix of yellow and orange.
[Film image via Batman-Online.com]
Hot Wheels did a pretty decent job on the likeness. While the exact proportions are a little off and the paint lacks a weathered look, it's certainly close enough to the source material. My biggest criticism might be that it lacks the grid thingy on the front (I think it was a speaker?) but it's a relatively small gripe. Unlike the die-cast version (by ERTL?) released back around the time of the movie, this one has the proper wheel decals and is mostly plastic.
Given the price-point, the fact that it's not metal is mildly irritating, but at the same time the vehicle seems a little bit larger than the average Hot Wheels car. The wheel decals, and the decoration at the base, are stickers while paint is used for the eyes and highlighting. Sadly, there's a defect on my duck's right eye. It makes me cry. Otherwise, you can also find variation in the highlights between figures with some having heavier washes than others. I think the heavier orange in places really looks great and makes the other colors pop.
The back of the vehicle has this really weird molding issue or seam. The odd placement almost makes it look like the designers decided to give the Duck an anus. When you're done staring I'd like to direct your attention to the feather sculpting on the wings. The wing design in the film is considerably thinner, and I believe there was some additional sculpting on the back. Beyond that, the wings on this version aren't designed to move (they functioned somewhat like a car door in the film) which is a mild letdown.
The interior, by contrast, is hilariously half-assed. Unlike the exterior, it is metal and the paint quality is awful. The plastic steering wheel/controls look equally cheap. While The Duck looks like it could accommodate a rider, very few figures are going to fit. I managed to squeeze a biker from the Star Wars Action Fleet into the driver's seat, but the space in the back doesn't allow enough space for his feet.
Of course, what they SHOULD have done was included a little Penguin figure. Even if they didn't have the rights to use DeVito's likeness they could have given us a comic-inspired Penguin. All the same, the Duck (or Duck Mobile) is a really neat little item with a passable level of quality. The only thing I haven't mentioned is that the plastic seems uneven or scoffed in places, but I'm not sure if that's a problem specific to my copy, a running flaw, or an intentional design to give the vehicle a more weathered appearance.
If your Duck Mobile gets lonely, you can always pick up its vehicular co-star, the Armored Batmobile. The line/wave also includes the Batmobile and Batcopter (?) from the 1960s Batman show/movie. I believe the set is just hitting stores now, as today was the first time I've seen it, and BBTS still has it listed as a pre-order. I picked it up from Target for US$7 (normal price is supposedly US$8) but you could also pre-order it for US$10 from BBTS. For what it is, the price-point seems a bit much, but it's certainly not outrageous. It's also a welcome reminder of one of the greatest superhero movies of all time. Can you believe it's been twenty years since Batman Returns first hit theaters?
Finally, to play us out, here's a rendition of "Rubber Ducky:"
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