1989 Batwing (76161) Review

About a year ago, I shared my review the 1989 Batmobile (76139). That has always been my favorite version of Batman’s ride. Incidentally, Batman is my favorite comic book hero. Tim Burton’s film featuring the car will always hold a special place in my memories. It was the movie that really started my Dark Knight fandom. Consequently, when the LEGO® Group announced the 1989 Batwing (76161) in September 2020, excitement set in. I remember being seven and desperately wanting my own Batwing for my action figures to fly around in. Sadly, I never got one. Acquiring the new LEGO® version allows me to fulfill a childhood dream.

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1989 Batwing (76161) box art.

1989 BATWING SUMMARY

  • NAME: 1989 Batwing
  • SET #: 76161
  • THEME: DC Comics Superheroes
  • COST: $259.99 CAD
  • BRICK COUNT: 2362
  • MINIFIGURES: 3
  • RELEASE DATE: October 21, 2020
1989 Batwing (76161) box art.

1989 BATWING QUICK REVIEW

  • VALUE: 95% (Great cost-per-brick, amazing build-time value.)
  • BUILD: 85% (Looks great but lacks all functionality.)
  • MINIFIGURES: 82% (The minifigs are a little less detailed that in the Batmobile set.)
  • ENTERTAINMENT: 90% (Love it, but not as much a I loved the Batmobile.)
  • OVERALL SCORE: 88%
1989 Batwing (76161)

1989 BATWING (76161) REVIEW

VALUE: 95%

No doubt, the 1989 Batwing is a set that collectors will save for. It costs $259.99 in Canada and contains 2362 pieces. Subsequently, the cost-per-brick is $0.11, which is particularly good. Comparatively, my average cost-per-brick across all theme is $0.14. Even compared to other Superheroes sets, it fares well. My running average for all comic book related sets is also $0.14/brick. Therefore, either way you look at it, the Batwing earns a score of 90%.

1989 Batwing (76161) rear view.

This set took me nine hours and 23 minutes to assemble (563 minutes total). Consequently, at full price, the cost-per-minute of build time was $0.46. By comparison, my average cost-per-minute across all themes sits at $0.838. This set is an excellent value, earning a solid 100%. Compared to other Superheroes sets, the Batwing also does well. For those sets, my average cost-per-minute is $0.761. However, the range between the average and best ($0.44) cost-per-minute is smaller than for all themes in general. Therefore, compared to Superheroes sets alone, the Batwing earns 99%. Rounding up the average cost-per-minute score still gives the Batwing 100% for build-time value. Taken with the cost-per-brick score, this set earns a total value rating of 95%.

BUILD: 85%

Let me begin saying that I love this set. The product looks amazing. However, when compared to the 1989 Batmobile, the Batwing suffers from little issues. Mainly, there is no functionality to any of the details. The Batmobile featured guns the popped out of the hood. Additionally, the steering wheel worked, and the canopy of the car slid open. That final touch made the model for me. The canopy sliding open is an iconic feature of the car. Sadly, the Batwing set does not feature any iconic functional elements. The guns merely sit on the fuselage. The canopy lifts unceremoniously off as one piece. Finally, the scissor device seen in the movie is completely absent.  There is nothing fun to fiddle with or show off on the Batwing.

With that said, the set displays in two different ways. Firstly, you build a stand for the Batwing to sit on. Secondly, you build a mounting bracket into the underside of the fuselage. Consequently, the Batwing can hang from your wall. I opted for the second method of display to save shelf space. Be warned, the Batwing is heavy. Additionally, wall mounting requires a long screw because the bracket is deep set into the body of the plane. I used a 3” screw and mounted the Batwing to a stud in the wall. Ultimately, it looks great next to my Batman lithograph signed by Bob Kane.

1989 Batwing (76161) mounted on my wall.
1989 Batwing (76161) wall mounted next to my Batman lithograph signed by Bob Kane.

The 1989 Batwing also employs interesting build techniques to achieve curved edges. The frame design is solid, and the plane holds together well. At one point, you build pink heart-shaped plates into the body of the Batwing, which I thought was funny for such a sleek, black, gunned jet. However, the functionality issue was a let down. I rate the build at 85%.

1989 Batwing (76161) interior.

MINIFIGURES: 82%

The 1989 Batwing comes with three Minifigures. Firstly, the set comes with the same Michael Keaton version of Batman seen in the 1989 Batmobile. He is probably my favorite Batman Minifigure ever. Secondly, you get a Joker henchman. Not Bob the Goon, but Lawrence. Did Lawrence even speak in the movie? I cannot remember. Bob was a larger character, but I am not complaining. Lawrence has his trademark handlebar moustache and boombox. Thirdly, the set comes with a unique new Joker variant. In this case, you get the mime costume. It is a great selection.

This is my favorite Batman Minifigure of all time.

Each Minifigure consists of all the standard parts. Additionally, each has front and back torso printing. However, only Batman has a double-sided face, and only Joker has leg printing. In terms of accessories, you get a Batarang, a boombox, and Joker has a tailcoat piece. Overall, the characters are a little less detailed than the ones we saw in the Batmobile set. They also have fewer accessories. Since we have already seen this Batman Minifigure, updating him a little with leg printing would not hurt. However, two of these minifigs are unique to the set, and that earns a couple of extra points. I rate the design of these characters at 37/45 (82%).

Three Minifigures in a kit containing 2362 pieces does not translate into a good brick-to-fig ratio. In fact, it results in a failing grade. The ratio works out to 787:1. Comparatively, my average across all themes is 142:1. For Superheroes sets alone, it sits at 177:1. The inclusion of this statistic absolutely trashes the Minifigure score. However, the focus of the 1989 Batwing is not the Minifigures. It is the Batwing build. This is not a playset relying on Minifigures. This is a display piece. As with the Batmobile, I will not include the ratio score in this review. The Minifigures are an amazing add-on, but I would buy this set regardless of them.

ENTERTAINMENT: 90%

I love this set, especially since I can hang it from the wall. The 1989 Batwing will surely please all Dark Knight fans. That assertion is particularly true if you grew up with the Burton films. However, do I love it as much as the 1989 Batmobile? Probably not. Even though the Batmobile sits on my shelf and I never actually use the mechanized functions on it, I love that they are there. The Batwing does not have any of that. Also, the Batmobile is more iconic. I was not as satisfied with this experience as I was with the Batmobile. Therefore, I rate the AFOL score at 90%. Since this is an adult display piece with no play value for kids, I will not rate the KFOL score this time around.

OVERALL SCORE: 88%

Despite being an expensive set, the 1989 Batwing (76161) is a great value. You get a lot of bricks and a lot of build time for the price. Additionally, the three Minifigures included are fun, even if they lack the detail of the ones that come with the 1989 Batmobile. Where the Batwing disappoints a little is the build. It looks amazing when finished. However, it has no functional elements and is missing the scissor detail from the movie. The 1989 Batmobile was a hard act to follow. As with many sequels, this one is good, but just not as good as the original. What are your thoughts? Feel free to comment below or reach out on social media.

Until next time,

-Tom

1989 Batmobile (76139) with 1989 Batwing (76161)

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