SINGAPORE - Holy smoke, Batman - toys of The Dark Knight are also rising in super alloy form these days, not just plastic, all thanks to a Singapore company.
High-end, fittingly tough collectible figurines of classic comic superheroes such as Batman, Iron Man and Superman are now being made for the global market by local toy company Play Imaginative.
Scoring one for the little guy - well, in global business terms - the company approached United States entertainment company DC Comics, which publishes Superman and Batman comics, off its own bat, and managed to obtain the licensing rights to make a 30cm-tall Batman figure in 2011.
After seeing the company's prototype of the shiny, sleek Caped Crusader last year - made of die-cast metal, which stood out from many such action toys on the market made of plastic and cloth - DC Comics said Ka-pow!.
It gave the local eight-year-old toy company the rights to make more figures from its library of comic- book characters, including Superman and The Flash, in their new armoured costumes.
So far the company has sold its entire production run of 6,500 pieces of the DC Comics character, priced at $350 a pop, and is currently working on
Superman, Green Lantern and a new Batman figure.
Not only that, the company also signed a deal last December with Marvel Comics to make toys based on its movie characters.
Play Imaginative co-founder and business development director Jacky Teo, 42, recalls that his knockout success in the world of superheroes began when he and his friends were reminiscing about older collectible toys from Japan.
"Some of us were talking about the classic Chogokin toys and the idea started," he says. Chogokin is Japanese for super alloy and is used to refer to toys made of die-cast metal.
As a collector of high-end figures, such as the detailed 12-inch ones released by Hong Kong company Hot Toys, considered to be one of the biggest names in detailed, posable, high-end collector figurines, Mr Teo has seen fans clamour for the posable dolls based on movie characters such as Batman, Indiana Jones, Iron Man, Rambo and RoboCop.
Aside from major toy makers such as Hasbro and Mattel, which mass-produce toys for major retailers, there is a market for smaller, speciality toy companies that produce high-end products for collectors.