LEGO Batman | 1989 Batwing [REVIEW]
Theme: LEGO Batman
Name: 1989 Batwing (76161)
Price: €199.99 | $199.99
The third UCS-style LEGO Batman set comes in the form of the 1989 Batwing. Thanks to the allure of double VIP points, I finally got my hands on it. The Batwing was released in late 2020 following the release of the 1989 Batmobile the year previous. The 1989 Batmobile is one of my favourite sets ever, so let’s see how this set compares.
The set has the same 18+ all black box-art as most D2C sets these days. The actual picture of the Batwing has a glossy finish to it which, when combined with the white rim-lighting and yellow glow in the background, makes this one of the cleanest, most premium looking box-arts I’ve ever seen.
The instruction manual is very thick and dawns the same artwork as the box. There’s a few pages of information about the set and the Batwing model in the movie, which is always nice to see. There isn’t an awful lot to read, which isn’t a bad thing (see Burj Khalifa set). There’s even an entire 2 pages dedicated to showing this set alongside the 1989 Batmobile.
The instructions are printed on the regular blue-ish white background. This is honestly a blessing for this set considering how many black pieces are used in it. As much as I love the black background, it was a pretty good call here to avoid it.
The set comes with 3 minifigures which are Batman, the Joker, and of course Lawrence. Of these three, two of them are exclusive to this set. This set comes with a brick-built stand to display them on, which resembles a Gotham city rooftop. This is exactly the same as the stand which came with the 1989 Batmobile, if you’re familiar. This is great for consistency of course, but it also means you can combine both into one stand if you wanted to.
The Batman is the exact same minifigure as the one from the Batmobile set. This is kind of a shame to me, seeing as though a sizable chunk of people who buy this set would also have owned the Batmobile. That being said, you couldn’t really have made this set and not include Batman, so I can’t really complain. He does have a double-sided faceprint, so you can display him twice and have them be at least slightly different.
The included Joker minifigure represents him from the “pen is mightier than the sword” scene in the movie. I love the inclusion of this minifigure, even though technically he was never in the same scene as the Batwing. With this, you now get two the iconic versions of Joker from the movie, which is perfect. He also comes with the little feather/quill piece he uses in the scene to kill that guy.
Then there’s Lawrence, otherwise known as “the Joker goon with the moustache and the boom-box”. This is a strange inclusion to me considering Lawrence was only referenced by name I think once in the movie. He isn’t a main character by any stretch unlike characters such as Bob who didn’t get a minifigure here. A much more sensible decision would’ve been including Bob instead, seeing as though he is actually IN the scene with the Batwing AND the pen is mightier than the sword scene, and hes Jokers “number one guy”. He is much closer to a main character than Lawrence. Admittedly though, I am glad they went with Lawrence because honestly, nobody really cares about Bob. Lawrence definitely feels like a joke inclusion to me, but I do legitimately prefer it this way.
As mentioned above, the Batman is exactly the same as the figure from the Batmobile set. I still cant really tell if the white band on his face is opaque enough, but with the cowl on it certainly looks good. No leg printing, but I don’t think its strictly needed to be honest. The only thing I could imagine actually printing on his legs would be some grey detailing for the diagonal textures on his boots, but even then I feel like that would look worse than the all black version they went with. Other than that, the prints are sharp, seemingly opaque, and that giant rubberised cowl/cape piece is as good as ever.
Joker looks way better than I expected. The white printing on his torso isn’t pure white (unlike the official pictures) but it’s white enough that its passable. I wish LEGO would sort out their printing issues, but this figure isn’t affected too badly by it. Otherwise, his leg printing on my figure was absolutely flawless. I must’ve gotten lucky or something because these prints were perfectly centred, as was the foot printing. The cloth piece you put between the legs and torso works better in person than it does in the picture. It doesn’t puff outward like it does in official images, instead it sits almost flush against the legs. The face printing is different to the Batmobile Joker, with his eyebrows now black and only the tip of his lips having lipstick on. It retains the quality of the older figure though, with sharp detailing and accurate colours.
Lawrence is an appropriately simple minifigure for his simple character. He gets a single face-print, with his iconic sunglasses and mustache. His torso print is well detailed, with some dice printing and a joker ‘badge’ on his chest. He gets no leg printing, but does get arm printing in the form of a set of Joker playing cards. I think the print quality is fine, and his figure isn’t missing any important details. His boombox accessory actually has moulded speaker sections, which was a surprise as a print would’ve been completely acceptable here. Overall a solid minifigure, but nothing incredible.
- Batman: The figure is already ranked at 25th out of 131 figures.
- The Joker: We have a new Top 10 minifigure here! Just edging out The Joker with the purple suit, placing at 10th out of 131 figures.
- Lawrence: As much as I’d love to say otherwise, I don’t have a strong connection to Lawrence. His figure doesn’t offer anything incredible either beyond a single arm print. As a result, I’m ranking him 62nd out of 131 figures.
The build experience with this sets predecessor, the Batmobile, was one of my favourite build experiences ever. Sadly, this doesn’t live up to that, but its still an exceptionally good build even for sets at this price.
It starts off with a huge technic ‘grid’ that creates the inner skeleton for the rest of the build. Then you have a genuinely painstaking stretch where you’re just pushing these very large plate pieces down onto the frame, which I hated in all honestly. Its always the worst part of a large model like this, because theres very little ‘clicking’ into place, and you end up hurting your fingers to a degree as you push down randomly just hoping its fully attached.
Once you get past that part though, the build experience becomes infinitely more interesting and enjoyable. The curved sections inside the wings on each end attach as SNOT sub-assemblies and fit snugly into place. I really like the smoothness of these sections, and I don’t think they could’ve attached in a better way.
The build largely follows the same process all throughout after that, where you build a sub assembly (such as the underside wings, bat ears, air brakes, machine guns etc), attach it to the main build, and repeat the process but mirrored for the other side. This kind of repetition is obviously unavoidable given the model in question, but it gets very tiresome after a while. You spend multiple pages building an intricate and interesting sub-assembly and attaching it in whatever way it attaches, only to be greeted by a page that says you have to start again for the other side. This is just the way it is and there’s no avoiding it, but it is still something worth mentioning for anybody who despises repetition in their builds.
The Wing Lining
One area in particular that deserves a special mention would be the curved edges of the wings. It is a genius piece of LEGO engineering that involves creating two very long “strips” of wing-lining that attach to the main build by wrapping 4 rubber bands (2 for each wing) to carefully positioned ‘tap’ pieces, while a (for some reason) printed disc piece slots into place AND a pin-like piece slides into a 1×2 technic brick hole. That was a mouthful. You had to be there, I guess. The effect this technique creates is honestly so lackluster compared to the joy of actually building it. I thoroughly enjoyed that section, which you then repeat (but mirrored) for the other side.
The giant cockpit piece is interesting because it doesn’t actually attach to the set at all. Instead it just slides snugly into place. It was really satisfying to build up the area it slides into throughout the build without even realising that it accommodates the windshield piece perfectly.
The other highlight of the build experience was definitely how the ‘tail’ of the batwing was put together. the shaping is incredible. even something as seemingly simple as the narrow ‘fin’ section has some interesting techniques to achieve it
Overall the build was a chore at times, but when you start making the sub-assemblies, it is incredibly satisfying to attach them to the main build and see it all come together.
As a side note, in my set I was missing a 1×2 black cheese slope piece, which was unusual. What made this even stranger though is that in its place I got this random grey hairpiece? It doesn’t represent anything, and it’s definitely not a hairpiece for any of the figures. In my 100+ LEGO sets, I’ve never had a missing piece, so to get the wrong piece was exceptionally weird (but kinda funny).
The set only contains 11 stickers, and I honestly have no complaints with how they were used. Every sticker bar the plaque information is used to detail the interior of the set, which you don’t really see unless you look close. If you really despise stickers, you can leave them off altogether if you want.
It’s really nice to see them not use any stickers to create the external details. At this scale they were able to achieve it all through brick-built methods, which is ideal.
They clearly designed this set with the 1989 Batmobile in mind, and it looks absolutely incredible alongside it. It really feels like a “part 2” of the Batmobile in a sense. Its surprisingly big, as they built it to the same scale as the Batmobile, judging by the interior space. In case it wasn’t obvious, this set is very much not minifigure scale.
The Grey Accents
I like the tiny grey accents sprinkled across the set. Originally I thought it looked odd and that it would’ve looked better in all-black, but seeing it in person it does break up the model nicely and I think the end result looks much better than if they had done it another way.
Shaping and Details
The shaping of this set was the most important thing for them to get right, and I think they absolutely nailed it. They went above and beyond when it comes to detailing and accuracy. Looking at the source material, they got the vent texture perfect, as well as the body shaping including the grooves for aerodynamics. The front headlights are tiny and almost funny looking, but the size of them on this model is spot on. They even managed to get the intakes on each side of the cockpit at an almost perfect scale. They managed to include details as small as the apparent divot/dip along the ‘ears’ of the batwing in the front, and the small hump that comes just before that. The more you compare the models, the more you appreciate the designers’ attention to detail. It is genuinely as well done as I could possibly imagine.
Definitely the most unique feature of this set is the ability to mount it to a wall. I believe this is actually the first time a LEGO set can do so outside of the LEGO Art sets. The set uses the same mounting piece that you find in the LEGO Art sets, placed dead center on the bottom of the model.
I love this ability with this set, it’s so appropriate for the vehicle and I will definitely display it like that in the future, once I find a wall with enough space for it.
If that’s not your thing though, it also comes with a UCS-style display stand with a plaque to match. Unlike other UCS stands, this is actually done in light grey as opposed to black, which is a brilliant decision. It stands out from the rest of the mostly-black model as well as matching the minifigure display stand and the rotating display stand on the Batmobile. On its stand, it angles itself upward. I quite like this as it looks like its flying while also allowing you to read the plaque easily.
Whichever way you decide to display it, the set looks incredible. If you already have the 1989 Batmobile, there isn’t a single set out there that pairs better with it than this.
The set retails for €199.99 and contains 2351 pieces and 3 minifigures. I think the price-per-piece undersells it if anything, given how it uses many large pieces and relatively few small pieces. The minifigures and display options are huge bonuses too, which hugely add to the value of the set.
Unfortunately for it, the €199.99 price point is probably the most competitive area in the LEGO catalogue. Among its competitors, some that stand out would be the UCS A-Wing, Ghostbusters ECTO-1, Buildable R2-D2, and The Upside Down.
I think the Batwing is overall the best set available at this price. If you already have the 1989 Batmobile, absolutely get this Batwing set over the others. They look incredible on display together, and you’d have a full 1989 Batman Collection already with just the two. I was hesitant at first, but I absolutely don’t regret it at all and I cant imagine you would either.
That being said, none of the €200 sets are bad. In fact, they’re all amazing in their own right. If you’re a particular fan of any of the IP’s, then absolutely get the set relevant to it. All I’ll say is that from my own experience building each one, it’s the best LEGO set of the lot.
Overall, I think this is a stunning set with great minifigures and unrivaled displayability. An essential set to own if you already have the Batmobile.
Ranking it is relatively straightforward, as I only have the one table to add it to. Relative to every set I own, I’m ranking this 10th out of 96 sets. The first time the Top 10 has had a new set added to it since I starting ranking them, as it turns out. I think it displays better than the Parisian Restaurant and has much better figures. I’ve put it below the Ship in a Bottle set because I just think the Ship in a Bottle is too perfect a LEGO set.
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