It’s Batman Day 2023, which really should be an official, international holiday to celebrate one of the greatest comic book characters of all time. I decided to celebrate by ordering the latest Batmobile set from the LEGO® Group. Incidentally, the set happens to pull inspiration from my favorite version of Batman’s ride. The set arrived yesterday, and I spent the early part of Batman Day putting it together. Now, it’s time for the 1989 Batmobile comparison.
Back in 2019, the LEGO® Group released the monster, 3306-piece 1989 Batmobile (76139). While certainly the most epic, brick-built version of the car, it is not our focus today. Alongside it, the LEGO® Group offered a special gift-with-purchase. For one week following the November 29 release of 76139, purchasing the larger car earned you a smaller, Minifigure scale version for free. The Limited Edition 1989 Batmobile (40433) has since become something of a collector’s item. Until recently, it was the only official LEGO® version of the iconic car built on a minifig scale. Nowadays, to get a new one on Bricklink costs an average of $200 CAD. Used sets go for almost $120 CAD. However, now there’s an alternative.
1989 Batmobile (Limited Edition)
- SET #: 40433
- THEME: DC Comics Super Heroes
- COST: Free with purchase ($39.99 CAD value)
- BRICK COUNT: 366
- MINIFIGURES: None
- RELEASE DATE: November 29, 2019
- COST/BRICK: $0.109
Batmobile: Batman vs. The Joker Chase
- SET #: 76224
- THEME: DC Comics Super Heroes
- COST: $59.99 CAD
- BRICK COUNT: 438
- MINIFIGURES: 2
- RELEASE DATE: July 1, 2023
- COST/BRICK: $0.137
Is a $20 price hike worth it?
In July 2023, the LEGO® Group released an updated version of the 1989 Batmobile. While other sets resembled this car, this is the only one since 2019 to feature official 1989 branding through the use of the Tim Burton logo. In addition to modified, truer-to-form tailfins, the set includes two Minifigures and 72 more bricks. However, the price point also took jump up. Though the 2019 limited edition kit was technically free, the LEGO® Group advertised it with a $40 CAD value at the time. The newer Batmobile sets you back $60 CAD. Price is a contentious issue with AFOLs, and we all know LEGO® is more expensive now than in 2019. But a $20 jump? Is that worth it for 72 more bricks?
Looking at the cost/brick, the 2023 Batmobile is actually fairly average compared to LEGO® sets in general, as well as compared only to other LEGO® Superheroes sets. And, we’re not talking just in this day an age of inflation. $0.137/brick was average for LEGO® sets back in 2019 as well. Nowadays, it’s more like $0.142/brick. Let’s be honest, sets with Minifigures cost more, and the 2023 Batmobile comes with two. Conversely, the 2019 Batmobile didn’t have any despite being minifig scale. One CMF minifig sets you back $6 CAD. One BAM minifig costs $4 CAD. So, 72 more bricks, 2 more Minifigures, and inflation combined? I’d say $59.99 CAD is not a bad price for this set.
How similar are the two models?
On a quick glance, the only glaring difference is the tailfins. On the 2019 version, they are one solid element. For 2023, they got a brick-built update that looks truer to the movie version. Closer examination revealed other altered details too. The use of angled plates on the 2023 Batmobile breaks up areas visually, giving it a less boxy, sleeker look. The interior also features upgrades. The newer car uses more stickers, but again, the angled elements make the interior look better. However, the 2019 version featured a hinged roof whereas the 2023 car has a removable one. That is a tiny downgrade in my opinion.
The 2023 Batmobile also has better play features. While both feature a spinning rear flame and hood guns, the newer car incorporates a pop out function for those guns. Both the movie version of the car and the larger 76139 set had those. Thus, getting them on the minifig scale car is a huge bonus. They lost the firing ability of the 2019 version, but I’m okay with that. I don’t really like stud shooters… they only serve to loose studs. Perhaps my only complaint about the new guns is the massive gear used to activate them on the side of the car. That needs to be hidden somewhere. The 2023 car also has a trunk for Batman’s gear, which is nice.
The play features got an upgrade.
Otherwise, I like the side detailing more on the 2023 car. You can’t see into the cockpit, and it just looks more visually appealing. Getting rid of the grey barrels was also the way to go. With that said, the jet engine exhaust on the back is now grey… the LEGO® Group should have left it black like on the 2019 car. Otherwise, much of the design and build is fairly similar. Of course, many of the improvements on the 2023 car owe to new bricks that weren’t around in 2019. A prime example being the new, rounded windshield.
Let’s not forget the minifigs!
As for the Minifigures, they are great. I lamented in my 2019 review that the set had none. While I still like the 1989 Batmobile (larger version), 1989 Batwing, and 1992 Batman polybag versions more, this Batman makes an honest effort to look like Michael Keaton’s character. The torso is new and features the ’89 logo. The aforementioned ’89 minifigs both include the logo as part of the molded cowl and cape element. Of course, that molded element would be no good in this set since it prevents Batman from sitting in the car. Additionally, the cowl is new to my collection. Bruce Wayne’s head no longer needs goggles or a headband. Instead, the cowl has a dual-molded white element built into the interior.
As for Jack Nicholson’s Joker, I like the new one more. Previously, we saw this portrayal with the larger 1989 Batmobile, as well as a different variant with the 1989 Batwing. I like the face print much more on the 2023 version. The thicker eyebrows and greater shading around the eyes make the features stand out more. That gives the character more presence. Of course, we lost the detailing on the pants, but I’m okay with that. The minifig actually looks cleaner without it. There is such a thing as too much detail on a small figurine.
The final verdict…
Which car do I like more? I am leaning towards the new one. The price hike is justified in my mind, and the overall model comes with better play features, Minifigures, and a sleeker look. If you missed out on the 2019 car, you’re not missing out buying the 2023 version. Firstly, you’ll pay way more than the $40 CAD value for the 2019 version. Secondly, while it is a nice set, I like the 2023 version just a little bit more. What do you think? Let me know in the comments or reach out on social media.
Until next time,
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