No, it hasn’t lost a wheel. LEGO DC 76188 – Batman Classic TV Series Batmobile [Review]

Holy classic car, Batman! LEGO returns to the 60’s in style with an updated take on the the Adam West era Batmobile. Part of the next wave of super-hero related sets, the 345 piece DC 76188 Batman Classic TV Series Batmobile will be available April 26th from the LEGO Shop Online for US $29.99 | CAN $34.99 | UK £34.99.  How does this new version stack up against the previous LEGO incarnations? Does the Cesar Romero Joker minifigure have his signature mustache? Does Batman have a realistic bat-paunch? Read on and see!

The LEGO Group provided The Brothers Brick with an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

The box and contents

The thumb-punch packaging is pretty standard for a Batman-related set. There are a plethora of logos (LEGO, the bat symbol, DC, and one for “Batman Classic TV series”), a clear product shot in the center, and some non-LEGO background elements giving the set some context. The LEGO Batman that appears in the upper right corner is the current “black cowl” version. I get why they didn’t bother to update the graphics to use the 1966 blue cowl, but I kind of wish they had anyway.

The back of the box has the Batmobile perched on its display stand. The background graphics put the scene in the Batcave, making the sticker on the stand read like a meta joke on the omnipresent “Bat-labels” that adorned most of the cave’s contents.  Along the bottom are two inset shots showcasing the set’s play features. The Batmobile comes with two stud shooters on the hood, and a opening trunk.  You might also notice that the stud shooters are absent from the stand-mounted car – we’ll talk more about that in a bit.

Inside the box are three numbered parts bags, a loose 82 page, stapled instruction booklet, and a sticker sheet.

The parts

There aren’t any new part molds in this set, but there are some interesting pieces. There are five printed Bat-hubcaps, for example. They are the same print last seen in the 2016 Batcave set, but appear to have a slightly brighter shade of silver printing. (Probably just due to production changes in the past five years.) There’s also a new part recolor—this is the first time that the Bar with Clip has appeared in silver.

The sticker sheet’s main focus is on the display stand’s label, but also has some nice designs for adding Bat-pinstriping. My review copy’s sheet arrived with a pretty strong curl to it, but at least it wasn’t creased.

The build

The build starts off with the construction of a display stand for the Batmobile. It’s very similar to the one in the 40433 Gift With Purchase 1989 Batmobile set—a miniature version of the (much larger) 76139 – 1989 Batmobile. Could that previous paring be a hint that someday we’ll see a UCS-scaled 1966 Batmobile? Probably not, but also “Yes, please.”

The construction of the Batmobile starts off with a sturdy frame and some Technic pins for the axles. I’m sure it had to do with keeping the count of distinct parts down, but there’s a little bit of oddness that LEGO decided to use 1×1 down-brackets instead of 1×1 plate on either side of the wheel wells. The first stickers (bat logos) get applied on the 1×4 panels that represent the doors.

Speaking of stickers, this set comes with ones that need to be applied to 1×1 tiles. I figured this was a good opportunity to try out a technique that’s come across my dash a few times in recent months: using a brick separator (not included in this set) to help apply them. I was pleasantly surprised at how well this worked—if you struggle with sticker placement like I do, I suggest you give it a try. In this case, the stickers are for the parachute bundles that sit on either side of the rear jet-exhaust.

At this stage you can see the open grey space that will be the trunk area. You can also see that 1×2 hinge bricks are present on either side of the wheel wells. They’re separated by a pair of 1×1 dome bricks, a strange design choice as we’ll see in a bit.

The next stickers are applied to give the interior some fun control surfaces. These labels aren’t TV-show accurate, but they’re still fun. The red Bat-Phone is a welcome sight, too.

The bodywork makes extensive use of newer curved slope bricks and tiles. The last stickers are applied to the “nose” and rear fins. Just add the wheels and you’re ready to roll!

Putting on the rear fins, a design flaw does become sadly apparent. By putting those 1×1 dome bricks between the two hinge bricks there’s a very obvious gap in the bodywork.

The finished model

The completed Batmobile looks amazing. My favorite building technique is the way that the 2×2 bow plates nestle into the 1×1 bow plates over the headlights.

The interior of the Batmobile has just enough detailing to feel complete without being cluttered. If you display it without seating minifigure inside, the stickered panels and Bat-phone provide plenty of things to look at. There is a slight problem in that LEGO decided to use a 1×6 mudguard for the arch between the seats. The curve looks great, but the mudguard itself is only on one side of that part, creating an asymmetrical look.

Seen from the rear, you can appreciate the shaping on the windscreens, as well as the silver launch tubes. The unbalanced look from using the mudguard is even more obvious, though.

As another small play feature, the Batmobile has an opening trunk. The stepped-slope element has plenty of grip points, making it easy to operate. It would have been fun to have some “Bat-lab” equipment to stow in there, but just having the space is a nice enough touch.

One of the more interesting perks of this set is the ability to remove the play feature if you want to. The set includes parts to replace the stud shooters with curved slopes. (The box art even shows the spare parts being stored in the trunk, along with an extra batarang.)

Removing the stud shooters instantly upgrades the Batmobile to a more authentic look. The only caveat here is that this switch out isn’t super easy to do – prying off the shooters (and slopes) might require taking apart some of the surrounding bodywork.

Speaking of customizations, if you have the parts on hand I do suggest you pop off the domed tiles over the rear wheels and replace them with a third 1×2 hinged brick. It’s a quick and easy mod (lifted directly from the 2016 design) that addresses one of the few weak points to the update. You can also add a couple of 1×2 grill tiles to those exposed studs on either side of the “nose” if you’re feeling saucy. (I think a studless look reads a little better.)

The Batmobile seats the included minifigure just fine, with a nice billow to Batman’s cape. It’s a shame we didn’t get a classic Robin to co-pilot, but I think keeping the set at a lower price point was a fair compromise, and superhero sets “have” to have a conflict, so a classic villain was already a given.

Placing the Batmobile on the stand, you have a swanky display piece that would feel at home alongside any 18+ “adult-themed” LEGO offering. Just please leave the stud shooters in the trunk.

Comparison with earlier Classic Batmobiles

LEGO has released two minifigure scale versions of the Classic TV Batmobile before. The first was 2014’s COMCON037 Batman Classic TV Series Batmobile.  This take was more “cute” than “scaled to the original designs.”  Being a ComicCon exclusive, it was also out of reach of most collectors, but the fan response helped prove there was a demand for this incarnation of the Batman mythos.

2016 saw the arrival of 76052 Batman Classic TV Series – Batcave. That was a huge set that included a slew of vehicles and locations from the TV series – including the classic Batmobile. The 2021 version is very clearly based on that 2016 design, but with a number of upgrades using the parts that weren’t around just five years ago. Most notably, there are a lot more curved surfaces. Sloped tile and brick clean up a lot of the Batmobile’s lines, making it feel sleeker and glossier, matching more of the original vehicle’s shape.

Other differences include a reworked front grille, a change to the red siren on the arch, and the replacement of the two silver Technic connectors with the more accurate three rod-design for the  launch tubes. The trunk lid has been upgraded to make use of the stepped-slope element introduced in the 2020 Ninjago sets.  The parachutes on either side of the jet exhaust are also new.

Nose-to-nose you can also spot that the 2016 version had more Bat-Labeling going on. I think the 2021 version could have benefitted from a few more “informative” stickers, but the real-life labels were pretty small. From a display standpoint, the new version does better match how the Batmobile looked at a distance.

At the time I was completely sold on the 2016 edition, but I think all of the upgrades here are great improvements. (Well, other than that odd choice with the tail fins.)

The minifigures

This set comes with minifigure versions of Adam West as Batman and Cesar Romero as the Joker. At first glance they look identical to the versions that appeared in 2016’s 76052 Batman Classic TV Series – Batcave, but don’t let that fool you. There are indeed differences, and there are both pluses and minuses to these new takes.

Batman has all the iconic details that distinguish the 1966 version from later incarnations. The bat cowl has bright-blue nose ridge and eyebrows, the utility belt has downward-opening pouches, and Batman himself has just a hint of a bat-paunch. He comes with a dark blue cloth cape with a scalloped edge.

Removing the cowl reveals a pretty ingenious upgrade to the previous LEGO solutions for making Batman’s eyes go white while masked. Instead of a big white “headband“, we now have a pair of goggles! This makes this head print so much more useful for other custom characters, although the dual-sided print does mean you’ll probably want to put some other sort of helmet on it.

Another fun detail is the zipper on the back of the Batsuit. Truly a detail I wasn’t expecting to see.

Side by side, it’s easy to tell this version of Batman from his 2016 counterpart. The obvious changes are the modified head print and the lighter grey of the uniform, but the torso print has also changed: 2016 lacked the bat-paunch and zipper. The legs are also a new version, but sadly the 2021 update is a lower quality part than the 2016 offering. Instead of a dual-molded piece we get a cheaper “front print” style. The mask also has been tweaked very slightly, as the light blue accents seem a bit more vibrant in this edition. (That might just be the older part aging on me, though, or variance in production runs.)

The Joker minifigure is also an outstanding likeness. Cesar Romero famously refused to shave his mustache when playing the Joker, and that detail is present in both of the new dual-sided expressions. He has a lime green hairpiece, a double-sided torso print, and printed legs.

This figure is a lot tougher to distinguish from the 2016 edition, but the head, torso, and legs are all different if you know what to look for. The head is the easiest, of course, giving us two new expressions for the Clown Prince of Crime. The smile side is admittedly similar, but the new version has a more pronounced arch to the eyebrow. The second expression is much more distinct; a grumpy frown instead of the earlier “Oh ho ho!” laughing face.

Like Batman, this Joker suffers from a downgrade in the trouser region. The 2016 version had side leg printing and a more complete print in the crotch.  The torso updates are much more subtle—there are some slight tweaks to the front, but the back is the place to look. There’s a vertical seam line down the center that is new for 2021.

Conclusion and recommendation

What can I say? I really like this set. I’m a huge fan of the Adam West Batman, and this is my hands-down favorite version of the Batmobile. It’s a great update to the 2016 design and comes with two great-looking, exclusive minifigures.  At $30 US for 345 pieces, the price-per-part ratio hovers around 9 cents which feels about right for what you get. This set works as a “standard” LEGO playset, but is designed to easily convert into a display piece that feels at home amongst the other “Adult/18+” LEGO superhero offerings. If you’re a fan of this era of Bat-History (and if you’re read this far, I’m wagering you are) then I recommend you make some room in your budget for this set. I think you’ll be pretty pleased with it, too.

DC 76188 Batman Classic TV Series Batmobile will be available April 26th from the LEGO Shop Online for US $29.99 | CAN $34.99 | UK £34.99. It may also available via third-party sellers on Amazon and eBay.

The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

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3 comments on “No, it hasn’t lost a wheel. LEGO DC 76188 – Batman Classic TV Series Batmobile [Review]

  1. Mr Classic

    The 1×1 down-brackets fill the small gaps on each side of the wheel wells. (The gaps are still present behind the headlights.)

  2. Chris Doyle Post author

    @Mr Classic – Good point! And, thinking on it further, the set does include 1×1 plate in black elsewhere in the build. So it had to be a deliberate design choice to include the brackets there.

  3. Jimmy

    It’s really nice that they designed it that way. I have some recent city sets that don’t have that gap filled and it’s really annoying.

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