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Toy Review: NECA Batman Grapnel Launcher Prop Replicas

Toy Review: NECA Batman Grapnel Launcher Prop Replicas

It wasn’t always, but at least since the 1989 movie and animated series, Batman‘s grapnel launcher has become his signature accessory, almost as much as — and often in combination with — the Batarang. Effectively giving Batman the swinging powers of Spider-Man (while requiring a ton more arm and upper-body strength), the “gun” helps Batman escape tough situations. It helps that the hook magically seems to always find something to grasp on to.

So considering NECA has a prop replica license, it makes sense after the Batarang to go to this particular item. And they’ve done it two ways: animated series style, and 1989 movie style. There’s still a question of whom the audience is — these are explicitly labeled not toys, but they’re also not high-end prop replicas either. Perhaps their best application is for cosplayers, who would never attach breakable polystone or whatnot to their belts, but might feel okay about a $35 plastic copy. The grapnel launchers range from $35 to $40 at Entertainment Earth, with whom Superhero Hype has a business partnership and can earn fees through links. They may have been a little less during their Walmart exclusive window, but the EE prices are currently on the low end, judging by a cursory search.

Unlike the NECA Batarang, these do not include display stands. But also unlike the Batarang, and despite “not a toy” warnings, these are designed for people to play around with. You cannot and should not throw the Batarang at someone, but both grapnel launcher replicas feature fire and retract action. To the point that they require batteries.

Yes, batteries. This may throw some buyers off. The animated launcher honestly seemed broken at first. It fired a strong projectile, but the retract button seemingly did not work. And while the 1989 launcher comes with enclosed instructions the animated one doesn’t. Here is where it helps to know that NECA sometimes prints instructions on the underside of the package.

Note that the batteries required are not the kind most people just have hanging around the house. Rather than AA or AAA, these utilize LR1, also known as N. Three for the animated; two for the movie. Which may explain why the animated one’s recoil is stronger. Considering retractable tape measures work just as well without batteries, one may wonder why these are necessary. But they do make them louder, for one thing.

The movie one is also a beast to open the battery compartment on. Even with the screw all the way out, it takes some prying. The buyer must decide if the potential for scuff marks is worth the risk of the mechanism working. (It is, but a person could always buy two.)

On the animated launcher, hitting the big red button fires the projectile, and powerfully. It will hurt a person who gets hit by it, not that we tested that. The retract button works quickly, sometimes pulling the projectile all the way back in, and sometimes nearly all the way. It needs a final push into the reload click regardless, but if it doesn’t go quite all the way, take care. There’s a solid bit of hardened string at the base; make sure to insert that into the hole before the full projectile body.

For the movie version, the gun handle flips out, and the fire button is in the trigger space, with the recoil up top. The recoil on this is much slower, but it brings it all the way back. But to get the final loading click, keep it upright and push the (chromed) projectile in. Be careful that the hooks go around the barrel and not any place they’re blocked. Also note that the trigger button takes more strength to push in this one.

The string attached to either projectile isn’t super long; a real Batman would find it unusable. But those of us testing the project may or may not have run around the house yelling “I’m Batman!” while firing and retracting. (Do not ask our ages.)

Not everyone’s inner child will be so active. But put these “not-toys” in the hands of any Gen X’er who grew up on them, and prepare to be surprised. Check out the gallery below for more images of each grapnel launcher, then tell us what you think in comments.

Recommended Reading: Batman: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 1

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