LEGO Batman 76252 Batcave Shadowbox – more than a big black box of bricks? [Review]

Fans of the DC franchise have been waiting years for a Batcave worthy to sit alongside Marvel’s 76178 Daily Bugle and Sanctum Sanctorum. With the announcement of the Batcave Shadowbox, some fans may finally get their wish. Although the nature of this display set may turn out to be as divisive as the 1992 sequel to Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman film, there is no denying that this Batcave is the largest Batcave set so far. LEGO DC 76252 Batcave Shadowbox includes a whopping 3,981 pieces and it goes on sale with VIP early access on June 5th and broad availability on June 8th for US $399.99 | CAN $519.99 | UK £344.99

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.

Unboxing the parts, instructions, and sticker sheets

The set comes in a pretty large black tape-sealed box, almost as large as the LEGO Star Wars Razor Crest. The DC Comics logo and the 1989 Batman movie logo are featured in the lower right corner. The only image of the set is the completed box with some of the Minifigs and the Batmobile visible through the signature Batman logo built into the front of the box.

On the back of the box, the completed set is shown open to reveal more of the Batcave interior and a better view of the Batmobile. A diagram of the set’s dimensions (20in wide, and 11in tall) is in the lower right corner, alongside 5 pairs of insets showing the set’s “play” features activated by turning yellow knobs attached to the back of the build. These include switching the computer displays, swiveling the main computer chair, raising and lowering the vault door to reveal one of the Batman costumes, opening and closing the weapons locker, and lowering the Batmobile garage door. Sadly, there is no elevator entrance from Wayne Manor so poor Alfred will have to bring Master Wayne’s tea balanced in one hand while climbing down the ladder.

The top of the box shows the Batmobile shrouded in darkness, like the caped crusader himself, in back of the full line-up of Minifigs included with the set, including Max Shrek, Catwoman (Selina Kyle), two Batman figures, one with a cloth cape and one with a molded cape/cowl, Bruce Wayne, Alfred Pennyworth, and Oswald Cobblepot a.k.a. The Penguin.

Inside the box, there are 35 numbered bags and 3 unnumbered bags covering 29 building sections. Half of the bags are contained in a smaller plain white box, while the other half are loose in the larger box. There is also a large envelope with 4 instruction booklets and a small sticker sheet for the computer displays and other control panels. Considering the price of this set, I was disappointed that there were stickers at all, especially 2 stickers for a couple of 1×1 tiles.

The build

The first three bags cover the iconic Batmobile with its two large fins, long front, jet engine-sized intake, and flame-spouting rear engine. We start by building the chassis in two sections, with an interesting and surprisingly simple mechanism for raising the twin machine guns mounted on either side of the cab. There is also a small gearbox that connects the jet flame to the rear axles so the flame turns around when you roll the wheels. A fun albeit ridiculous feature.

Very quickly the Batmobile starts to take on its iconic look with the long curved front and low-arched wheel wells. The driver seat looks comfortable and the low windscreen and tinted side windows perfectly capture the on-screen inspiration.

Finally, with the two large fins, low roof, and flame-spewing rear engine attached, the Batmobile is ready for action. The only problem is that the version of Batman with the soft cape designed to fit in the Batmobile won’t be revealed for several more bags, so the best you can do at this point is pose the rubber molded cape & cowl Batman in front of the Batmobile for a photo-op.

Moving on to the Batcave itself, we start out building the long base for the back of the box, which involves a lot of stacked black bricks and a variety of dark gray slopes. The floor of the cave is supplemented by angled plates and a few stalagmites topped with unicorn horns. There are also three sections of light gray walls for a collection of tools in case Batman needs to work on his sweet ride.

Next we start on the base for the front of the box, but only the first layer. More details for the box front come in later bags. The two sections attach to a hinged section on the right which will eventually allow the box to swing open and closed similar to the Star Wars cantina set.

The next section is the long parking spot for the Batmobile that takes up the right half of the lower part of the Batcave. While Batman may only build in black, and sometimes very, very dark gray, LEGO includes a collection of yellow, tan, white, and green parts as structural support which will be completely covered up in the finished model.

Now we attach this part to the main box, and reinforce the connection with stacks of bricks and hinges. The sides of the section are covered in plates and tiles, and the top is finished with 2 large black tiles and a collection of yellow floor lights.

With the Batmobile parking spot complete it’s time to go back to the Batcave rear section, specifically, the computer station, which hides a simple gearbox in the floor to allow you to spin the chair by turning a knob at the back of the box. We also add more slopes and stalagmites along the top of the tools wall. Unlike Imperial facilities, the Batcave has plenty of safety railings along with a big red panic button.


Moving to the right, we set the bottom half of the ladder leading to Wayne Manor, as well as the base section for the vault that hold the Batsuit. We also get the base for the third section of the Batcave interior that will store a collection of bat-a-rangs and the grappling gun behind sliding vault doors. There are also a few hanging stalactites attached to the i=underside of slopes.

Back to the Bat-computer, there are several smaller screens attached to either side of the 3 main screens which are decorated with stickers, including two very hard to place 1×1 stickers. There are also two ladder elements that join the three sections.

The back section of the computer station is a long tiled area for the large computer screen section that can be slid side-to-side to switch out three of the computer screens with the turn of another knob. Now it is time to insert the screen assembly and lock the gears in place that will allow the screens to be switched. The mechanism is pretty smooth, but due to the length of the assembly, it sometimes sticks at the start and you need to wiggle it just a bit to get it to start sliding.

At this point we take a short break from the ABC of the Batcave to start in on the lower portion of the front which features a large cut-out Batman symbol with hints of gray rock visible along the edges.

After we spend a little time building up the middle section above the Batmobile space, we can get started building a simple mechanism that when pressed from the back releases the garage door to drop quickly closed. Above the garage door is a smaller Batman symbol built out of a pair of arches and some curved slopes against a black background, which is quite a nice detail and feels much more integrated than the large box window.

Moving back to the Batcave rear wall, we build the weapons rack and the vault doors. The vault containing the Batsuit gets a bit further along as well.

Moving back to the far left side we add more slopes and stalagmites along the cave wall above the computer station. We finish the Batsuit vault including the drawbridge, and the mechanism for the doors of the weapons rack that slide smoothly open and closed with the turn of another knob at the back of the box.

All of the mechanisms are now complete. One thing that is missing which has been included in pretty much every Batcave set ever released by LEGO is a Batman transformation feature. But these features are more display than play, similar to the Indiana Jones diorama set that had doors that raised and lowered, and a rolling boulder, also triggered by turning knobs.

The back of the box is finished with a row of large grilled plates and black tiles. The underside is lined with scaffolding parts, more stalactites, and bats hanging upside down.

Now it is time to finish the front of the box, which continues the Batman cutout along the base, and has a lot more gray slopes in a variety of shapes and sizes, and of course, more stalagmites and stalactites throughout the floor and wall.

The last section is the top span for the front of the box, which finishes the Batman symbol cutout and includes more scaffolding parts and more lights for the interior of the Batcave, and more bats. The section is build upside down, and flipped at the end to attach carefully to the two side walls of the box front. This was the most delicate part of the build, with the two walls being so tall, and without much support, in order to keep the frame of the box minimal.

With the box now complete, a few simple clips hold the box together along with several tab and slot connections along the bottom and sides of the box, and a set of three axles that slide into Technic holes without friction to guide the two halves together. You can see from my photo of the closed box that some very careful pressure may be needed to ensure all of the studs connect properly.

The minifigures

The set includes seven minifigs, even though three of them are Batman. The single molded rubber cape/cowl looks pretty cool, and all three feature torso printing front and back. All three Bruce Wayne heads include a normal expression, and one that includes white shades perched on his forehead that white out the eye slots in the rubber cowl. The normal cowl includes dual-molded white interior for the eye slots. The back of the utility belt includes a printed bat-a-rang.

The set also includes Max Shrek, Catwoman, The Penguin, and Alfred. Only Alfred comes with a second expression, but all four feature torso printing front and back.

The finished model

The completed Batcave is impressive, both in size and in detail. Following the guidance diagram in the booklet, lifting and carrying the closed box is easy, and the model feels sturdy, although it is pretty easy to knock the occasional bat or stalactite loose. Overall the set has a lot of great rock work and other interior details, although there are a few sections along the floor of the cave that feel pretty empty, and no attempt was made to disguise the use of the large molded rock piece. Any LEGO fan with a few gray slopes lying around could easily fill in any gaps as desired, and there are a few extra unicorn horns to add more stalactites and stalagmites.

The size of the box may present some display challenges, but when closed it would fit in a larger display case, across a mantle or wider shelf when open.

Conclusions and recommendations

While this may not be the kind of Batcave set that many folks were hoping for, I think it is a great display set, and is likely to be popular with some fans. However, I have some concerns about the shadowbox concept in general. It works as a display set but the $400 price may be more than many people are willing to pay for this type of set, and it represents a bit of a risk for LEGO if they were hoping that this set would be as popular with DC fans as the Daily Bugle was for Marvel fans.

LEGO has released more novel-concept sets like the Harry Potter books, or the Disney storybook sets, but those are primarily marketed at younger builders, and at a much more reasonable price for a non-traditional set. And the popularity of their 18+ sets aimed at a wider audience of adult builders with such a wide variety of subjects from typewriters and guitars to plants and art have drawn in lots of new LEGO fans since their launch, but again, primarily at a price-point much lower than the $400 asked here.

All of that said, if you are a Batman fan, and you are looking for a more adult-looking Batcave without many of the bright colors or stickers found in most previous Batcave sets, and you have the display space, I would recommend picking up this set. The build is surprisingly not too tedious with a number of interesting building techniques, and enough variety throughout the build, despite the large number of black bricks and dark gray slopes.

LEGO DC 76252 Batcave Shadowbox includes 3,981 pieces and it goes on sale with VIP early access on June 5th and broad availability on June 8th for US $399.99 | CAN $519.99 | UK £344.99. It may also be available from third-party sellers on Amazon and eBay.

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.

6 comments on “LEGO Batman 76252 Batcave Shadowbox – more than a big black box of bricks? [Review]

  1. Anton Miriello

    Show the back! I laughed to myself when I scrolled down and you didn’t. It’s the only side we haven’t been privy to. Thank you for the review!

  2. John

    Two questions about this set. First- When closed, is it wide enough for the UCS ’89 Batmobile rest in top of it? Second- Is it sturdy enough to be wall mounted like the art series?

  3. Mao Jianqiao

    Disappointed in this review. The press release claimed “several light bricks,” but none of the illumination features are demonstrated. Also, it would be nice to see the back, and how the knobs work.

  4. Daniel Post author

    John, I don’t own the USC Batmobile but the closed box is about 5 and 1/5 inches deep.

    While the set does not feature any kind of wall-mounting options, it could be mounted on shelf brackets if they were deep enough.

    Mao, the only light inlcuded was for the batsuit vault, and I should have included it. As for the back, it is the least interesting part, being a pretty ugly miss-matched wall of brick, but You are right that it would have been good to include.

  5. Cameron Scott

    I have to admit I’m a little disappointed with Mao’s comment. I was hoping for more eloquence when complaining over a free website, but I digress. Anyway, this author is awesome. Great review and replies.

  6. Christopher

    Hi there,
    Thank you for the review! I have just finished assembling the 40433 Limited Edition 1989 Batmobile with parts bought off Bricklink, I was wondering if this Batmobile has any unique parts to it?
    Thanks again!

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