In 1997, collectors were very excited to see the V1 BAT legs appear on the 1997 Viper figure. This lead to quick speculation that a full repainted BAT would come in 1998. But, alas, that did not come to pass. Instead, collectors saw the legs used in 1998 and 2002 on various flavors of the Viper. In late 2002, Hasbro indicated that the full V1 BAT would be coming as part of an exclusive mail away pack in 2003. However, they quickly backtracked and restated that the V1 BAT mold was gone and Hasbro would release a repainted 1991 BAT in it's stead. The result was the less than well received BAT army builder pack in 2003. After that failure, Hasbro did not attempt another ARAH style BAT figure at retail. In 2008, though, Master Collector took a chance on a resculpted BAT head and accessories and paired them with an amalgamated body. The result was a solid, if unspectacular, figure: the Headhunter BAT.
Convention army builders are always somewhat problematic. They are very expensive to acquire when compared to retail figures. But, the claimed justification for the higher price points are better accessories, more paint applications and molds that would otherwise not be used. From 2002 through 2006, the Convention army building figures, though, tended to be characters that were interesting, but not something that collectors really would base their Cobra armies around. (OK, the 2002 Crimson Vipers might be an exception....) With the release of BAT's in the 2008 set, Master Collector included a version of a character that very could have become a de facto standard for many collectors in terms of the figure used to represent the BAT in their collections. What they came up with is tantalizing close to a great figure, but still seems to fall a bit flat when compared to the original
This BAT figure uses the chest from the 1991 BAT, the legs and arms from the 1991 Overkill figure and a newly sculpted head that is based on the vintage head from 1986. Cast in sliver with black highlights, the figure is more robotic than even the original figure. The legs and arms forgo the illusion of being human and play up the mechanical, robotic aspect of the character. The mish-mash of parts, though, has some limitations. The main problem with this figure is the head. Aside from the orangish-red faceplate, the reality is that the head is simply too large for the body. The 1991 BAT was designed with a very sleek head. The fatter, more detailed 1986 head looks out of place on the smaller, more compact chest. Overkill's legs are also thin. So, when given the backpack, the figure tends to look a bit top heavy.
Master Collector remolded the V1 BAT's accessories for this figure. The flamethrower, claw, hand and laser are all present and will easily fit on either the figure's arm stump or in his pack. Really, having these back does make the figure that much more valuable from a collectibility standpoint. The 1991 BAT backpack was sub par at best. This 1986 homage is not only a great complement of weapons, but also a great way to tie the figure to its vintage counterpart. (Note, though, that the attachments are not compatible with the vintage figure since the arm peg is differently sized.)
The end result, though, is mixed. It's a solid mold with some limitations. It has great accessories. But, the general feel of the figure combined with the Headhunter logo on his chestplate just doesn't live up to the expectations collectors have of any heir to the vintage BAT figure. It's not a bad figure. The paint details are nothing short of phenomenal. But, it's not a great figure. When you pay $15 to acquire something, you really want greatness. But, even after that, it's a solid convention release and certainly one of the top five army building figures that have been released in that format. But, I don't know if that's a celebration of this figure or an indictment of the remaining convention army building figures.
In the context of the convention set, the BAT was also a stretch. Really, BAT's had no connections to the Headhunters, Headman or Gristle. Tying them to this subteam of Cobra probably wasn't the best way to sell collectors on buying large quantities of figures. The inclusion of Hotwire as an attendee exclusive, though, did bring some additional weight to the BAT theme. While the connection to drug dealers was a bit far-fetched, having BAT figures available with their mechanic was a nice touch. Sadly, I think the BAT would have actually benefited from a splash of the arsenic color used for the rest of the Headhunters. It would have given the figure some humanity.
When I first saw this figure, I wanted to army build them. I figured they would be the type of BATs that would seamlessly blend with my more vintage focused collection and would be a great upgrade to the original figure. Once I got one in hand, though, my enthusiasm for the figure faded. The silver and black combo seems like it would be good. But, it lacks the visual dramatics of the yellow and black juxtaposition of the 1986 release. The red faceplate is an homage to the cartoon BAT. But, the color clashes with the body and just seems out of place. To me, it's an example of allowing a collector reference to override the overall design of the figure. And, in this case, the entire figure suffers for it. As such, I ended up trading or selling off almost all of my Convention BATs and replacing them with more original figures.
Like a lot of the convention figures from 2007 and 2008, the Headhunter BAT has seen some great price fluctuations. Upon release, it was speculated that the figure would be very popular. Prices right after the convention hovered in the $25 range for a while. But, demand quickly abated. For a long time, mint in bag Headhunter BATs could be purchased in the $12-$15 range rather easily. Slowly, though, the supply was absorbed. These days, a mint and complete figure tends to run around $22. That's only slightly less than a high quality version 1 BAT figure. So, the value for the collector looking to army build is likely better spent on amassing vintage BATs in lieu of the more modern release. I feel the figure has its merits and is a pretty solid release given the constraints that existed. The fact that he's been able to appreciate in value tells you that many collectors agree.