LEGO 1989 Batwing 76161 Review & Lighting Journal

It seems the bat signal as been fired up once more, only this time the caped crusader is flying through the night sky himself! LEGO have looked back on Tim Burton's 1989 classic film and released Batman's iconic aircraft, the Batwing!

An awesome pairing with last years ultra popular release, the 1989 Batmobile, the winged counterpart was released this year on annual Batman day! (yes, it's an official holiday, we looked it up!) This thing is enormous, measuring over 11cm high, 52cm long and 58cm wide and made up of a slick 2363 pieces. It's certainly not targeted toward the younger end of the LEGO community, having been given the full master builder 18+ treatment. This bad boy is built strictly for display purposes. Hey, fine with us!

As soon as rumors of it's existence hit the blogs, we knew we had to light it to sit next to our Batmobile. We placed our order and waited patiently on it's arrival. Finally, it landed at LMBHQ and our builders got to work. An enjoyable, methodical build while being fairly straight forward, the finished result is super satisfying. An enormous wingspan that is surprisingly sturdy! Sitting back and enjoying our handiwork, we all had ear to ear grins. Probably looked like we'd inhaled some of the Jokers smylex gas!

We've got to mention these awesome mini figures. The original villain played by Jack Nicholson is featured here in an interesting twist, he features his creepy 'mime' costume as opposed to his iconic purple and green suit. Though it looks like he's not brandishing his equally iconic extra long pistol! Guess that means nothing can stop the Batwing's flight! We've also been treated with a hilarious looking Boombox Thug minifigure, reminding us of all the good New York City (oops Gotham City) henchmen of the late 80's. Bebop and Rocksteady anyone?

As the bat signal must light up the Gotham sky, Light My Bricks must light up the LEGO set!

We began by re-watching the Tim Burton classic film and paid careful attention to the awesome scene featuring the Batwing. While the vehicle itself is quite minimal in terms of lighting, an opportunity to reflect the source material was found in adding in simple green and red bit lights inside the cock pit. You know Batman means business when those are engaged!

The twin cannons presented a great chance for us to utilize our gun effects board once again just like we did with the Batmobile, as well as the handy micro bit lights that fit easily inside the canon's barrels. Their functionality has been mentioned before, but it's worth pointing out that because of their size, no additional LEGO pieces or rebuilding required! Finally, the classic cool white bit lights were employed to give the cock pit that luminous glow, again just like it's wheeled counterpart.

Both kits are subtle, once again giving a nod to Tim Burtons darkly lit film, but part of our job as lighting designers is to show restraint and not over light builds like these as a lesser designer might be tempted to do. We are pop culture fans at the end of the day and it's important to us to get it right!

Having said that, this is not a toy to be handled like perhaps the Razor Crest. This is a heavy duty Master Builder set built for display! So with this in mind, we stepped away from cinematic authenticity for a moment, deciding to take some creative license and expand the lighting on the underside of the craft using several strip lights. This creates a brilliant glowing effect when the Batwing is elevated and displayed horizontal on it the stand or creates a great 'bat signal' effect when installed vertically against a wall!

While no bat-vehicle will ever top the 1989 Batmobile, the Batwing is definitely the clear runner up! They make the perfect bat-pair and we can see the Batmobile displayed on a flat surface with the Batwing either mounted vertically behind it or seated on the well designed display stand side by side!

How will you display your Batwing?

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