Where Does He Get Those Wonderful Toys? — LEGO 1989 Batmobile Review

To celebrate the 80th birthday of Batman and the 30th anniversary of Tim Burton’s iconic Batman movie, LEGO introduced an exclusive 1989 Batmobile kit that went up for sale on Black Friday of 2019. Retailing for $249.99, this massive kit contains 3,306 pieces and is available at the LEGO store.

What’s In the Box?

Batmobile box front. Image by Paul Benson.

Opening up the shipping package from the LEGO store, I was greeted by this rather sizeable box.

Back of the Batmobile box. Image by Paul Benson.

Around the box are images of the ’89 Batmobile from other angles, as well as an image of Michael Keaton as Batman.

Side of the box. Image by Paul Benson.

Opening the box up, you discover several numbered bags of LEGO pieces, rubber tires, and a smaller box with a technical illustration of the Batmobile.

Main box contents. Image by Paul Benson.
Interior box. Image by Paul Benson.

Inside that second box are the rest of the bags of LEGO, as well as the other two tires, a sticker sheet, and an instruction manual. All in all, there are 24 numbered bags in this kit, as well as a couple of bags of larger pieces.

Interior box contents. Image by Paul Benson.
Stickers. Image by Paul Benson.

Assembling the 1989 Batmobile

While the sheer number of components is daunting, LEGO provides a wonderful (if equally daunting) 435-page manual. Not all of those pages are filled with assembly instructions, however; the beginning of the manual goes over the creation of the Batmobile for Tim Burton’s movie, and the design process LEGO went through to create a brick version of the car.

Batmobile instruction manual. Image by Paul Benson.

Knowing I had quite a bit of work ahead of me, I opened up the first bag and poured the contents out onto the table.

Starting my build. Image by Paul Benson.

LEGO starts you off pretty easy. The first thing that you assemble is a Minifig of Michael Keaton’s Batman. Staying true to the notorious costume problems they had in the Batman movie, the cowl on this Minifigure doesn’t allow you to turn Batman’s head. What was a flaw in the movie becomes a feature in the toy!

“I’m Batman.” Image by Paul Benson.

The kit comes with two other Minifigures: Vicki Vale and The Joker. They are spaced out in the build though, so you don’t get Vicki Vale until about halfway through the bags, and the Joker comes out at the end of the build.

Vicki Vale. Image by Paul Benson.
“Jack is dead, my friend. You can call me… Joker.” Image by Paul Benson.

Below is a slideshow of the assembly, so you can see for yourself how the kit comes together.

The build took me about 18 hours altogether. I probably could have done it faster, but I also had the distraction of a 9-month-old puppy to contend with. It’s somewhat amazing I didn’t end up with any pieces chewed up or swallowed!

Along the way, I did make a few mistakes that I had to go back and correct, but thankfully none of those were major. The illustrations of the build are pretty straightforward, and the majority of the Batmobile’s construction is symmetrical as well.

A page from the instruction manual. Image by Paul Benson.

Rather than try to rush building the kit for this review, I took my time, completing a couple of bags a day. I found it very pleasant to work at this pace. And when I finished the framework and the classic curves of the Batmobile started appearing, it became very exciting. It was never a grind to build, but as the silhouette of the car took shape, I found myself wanting to work on it even more.

Na Na Na Na Na Na… Batmobile!

OK, sure, this isn’t the ’66 Batmobile, but I couldn’t resist. (Though LEGO, if you’re reading this… a “66 Batmobile for 2020 would be lovely).

Here’s how the Batmobile looks once it’s all finished.

Batmobile side view. Image by Paul Benson.
Batmobile front view. Image by Paul Benson.

Unsurprisingly for a large LEGO kit, there are a few working mechanical features of the Batmobile. The cockpit slides open, revealing a detailed interior.

Cockpit open. Image by Paul Benson.

The front wheels can be turned by the working steering wheel.

Cockpit interior. Image by Paul Benson.

And if you remove the panels covering the dual machine guns, you can then rotate the rear exhaust to raise and lower the guns.

Batmobile rearview. Image by Paul Benson.

The final bag of the kit builds a turntable for the Batmobile to sit on, as well as a piece of the church roof from the finale of the Tim Burton film.

Minifigures on the church roof. Image by Paul Benson.

You Ever Dance With the Devil in the Pale Moonlight?

I see a lot of movies. I don’t recall my experiences at each theater for each film I see, but I distinctly remember sitting with my friend David inside of a movie theater in 1989, watching Tim Burton’s Batman. And more specifically, I recall the thrill I felt when I saw the Batmobile for the first time and flames spouted from its exhaust as Batman and Vicki Vale escaped the Joker and his goons.

While I’ve since seen countless superhero movies, the imagery of the 1989 Batmobile has always stuck with me. So when LEGO announced they were coming out with their version of the vehicle, I knew I’d have to get one for myself.

Not only is the Batmobile a joy to build, but it looks amazing when completed, sitting at just under 2 feet in length. It’s full of nice touches that capture the feel of the movie’s car, from the moving parts of the kit down to the tires with bat-symbol hubcaps.

Rear wheels. Image by Paul Benson.

I did have a few minor quibbles, though. The information panel is supposed to attach to the turntable, but when you do that, the Batmobile itself covers over part of that panel. My solution was just to attach the panel directly to the Batmobile for display.

Display panel. Image by Paul Benson.

The seats inside of the cockpit somewhat dwarf the Minifigures. LEGO could have made the Batmobile smaller to better fit the figures, but it’s awfully nice having a 2 foot-long Batmobile. And finally, I would have loved a mechanism to move the panels covering the machine guns aside rather than have to manually remove them before raising the guns. But there’s already a lot of engineering that’s gone into making this kit work; having panels that flip open may just have been an impossibility for LEGO to pull off at this scale.

If you are a fan of LEGO and Tim Burton’s Batman, this is almost a must-buy. Granted, the $250 price tag will give many people pause. But this is a massive kit that not only gives you many hours of enjoyment in the assembly but will then provide you with a fantastic display item to show off on your shelf. I highly recommend picking up this kit while it’s still available from LEGO. As of this writing, it’s back-ordered but expected to start shipping again later in January.

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This post was last modified on January 4, 2020 7:38 pm

Paul Benson: Paul is a comic book writer, screenwriter, an avid board and tabletop gamer, reader of comics and collector of statues and figures. He is the creator of the webcomic "Heroines for Hire" and co-writer of "Disaster!: The Movie." He currently writes "E.I.: Earth Invasion" for Wunderman Comics.