Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Animated Ad

This ad comes for a 1993 magazine.

I have to say that while I am going through my collection and figuring out where to display what, I can clearly state that the toys based on The Animated Batman series are my favorites.

This might be due to the fact that my kids were the perfect age for these toys.
So I also have good memories of watching my kids play with these figures.
This probably also explains why I have just about every one of the toys that are in this ad.

It was easy to buy my kids the same hero I grew up with.
I even made sure they watched the same Batman I did growing up.

While we were expecting Megan, my oldest child, they were airing the 1966 series to ramp us all up for the release of Batman in 1989.
So I programed my VCR and recorded all that I could and saved them for them to watch when they got older.

It was fun to watch these shows with my kids. To see them enjoy them as I did.
They had it better though. They got to see them in color where I had grown up watching them in black and white.
The only bad thing was that they would want what was being advertised on the commercials but they were 6 or 7 years old by the time they were watching them.

Recently a certain Bat-friend gave me the Adam West series on DVD that he had recorded off T.V. Land.
So we got to watch them again recently.
My son even made his fiance watch the 1966 Batman movie last week.
It still holds up. She laughed through the whole thing.

Brian B

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fisher-Price HeroWorld DC Super Friends Toy Line!

While I was stalking the toy aisles at Toys R Us yesterday, I came across a new line of Batman toys that I had NO IDEA were going to be released. In this internet age, we tend to know about everything that's coming down the pike months before things actually start showing up on shelves. So, it was quite a shock to find these guys next to the Batman Imaginext stuff!

They had Superman, Batman, Joker, Penguin, and Mr. Freeze. It looks like Fisher-Price is rebooting the Rescue Heroes line at a smaller size and these HeroWorld figures are meant to fit right in. There were also new Rescue Hero toys right next to these at the same scale. They even share the same packaging design. (Edit: As it turns out, "HeroWorld" is the name for the entire line. Both "DC Super Friends" and "Rescue Heroes" are sub-lines of the HeroWorld line. Like the Imaginext line, I think it's a pretty brilliant idea that Fisher-Price is including Super Heroes in a line that also includes "civilian" playsets and vehicles... what a HUGE world for kids to play in.)

Sorry about the poor-quality photos. I shot these photos in a hurry since I don't have time to set up lights and what-not. I haven't seen word of these anywhere on the net. So, the photos may be down-and-dirty but I wanted to get these up for fellow Bat-fans to see.

Size comparison with Mattel's older, large Super Friends Batman. These new figures are, roughly, double the size of the smaller Imaginext figures.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Toybiz Advertisement

A ToyBiz advertisement from a 1989 magazine.

Brian B

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


The Penguin Batmobile!
I had no idea that Hot Wheels were gonna make this Batmobile.
So when I saw this at the store I was totally surprised.

I have seen all of the 66 series as an adult but I remember a few episodes from my youth and this was one of them.

Always be careful when opening a Bat-item.

Here is a screen grab from those of you who don't remember this episode.
If you look for it it is the episode that aired March 23-24th 1966 and it is called "The Penguin Goes Straight".

I remember how nervous this episode made me as a kid. "Don't trust him Batman" I was thinking.
Oh and the blasphemy of the Penguin using the Batmobile as his own! Shocking stuff to a kid.

In my search for the episode I found this cool website titled "Batmobile Gadgets".
The website shows the special tools that only the Batmobile has and it even has some video clips of them in action. Batmobile Gadgets

Nice interior details.

It is the regular Batmobile with the extras the Penguin threw on to make the car his own.

He changed the symbol on the side to a penguin and added a umbrella on the drivers side and on the front hood.

I think the umbrella on the hood is a gun. ("The one I bought is NON-Firing)

I love the details on these cars and I am thrilled that Hot Wheels has put these out for us.

Nice quality and a reasonable price for the great toy you get.

Brian B

Friday, August 13, 2010

Mattel Retro-Action DC Super Heroes Two-Face

This is Mattel's new Retro-Action Two-Face. Two-Face is part of Wave 2 that also includes Batman, Aquaman, and Black Manta.

Two-Face is another tribute to the Mego figures of a bygone era (the 1970s, to be specific). This time, however, the figure isn't a recreation of an existing Mego figure but a "Mego-ized" version of a character that hasn't been done in this format before. Mego produced several Batman villains like Joker, Penguin, and Riddler, but they didn't produce a Two-Face. So, now, we old guys have a Two-Face to go on the shelf with our original Mego Bat-Villains. I hope this is the beginning of a trend and we end up with a shelf full of Bat-Villains that were never produced by Mego.

Like Batman, Two-Face is packaged on a pink card back that is a huge nod to the original Mego packaging. In fact, the only thing that differentiates Two-Face's packaging from others in the series is his name above the figure's clear package bubble.

Mattel and Emce Toys (Mattel's Mego expert partners in the Retro Action line) really did an amazing job on Two-Face. Of the Retro-Action figures released, so far, this one feels the most "Mego-ey" to me. He really looks like a true Mego figure.

Two-Face's head sculpt and paint job really capture the look of a vintage Mego. He has just the right level of detail to look like a Mego and not like a modern sculpt slapped on an 8" figure. All the other Retro Action figures released, so far, have also done a good job of this.... but Two-Face really "nails it," as far as I'm concerned.

Two-Face's duo-toned suit is also very well-done. The tie is a bit over-sized but that can be expected when producing clothing in this scale. Overall, I would say that the suit is nicely tailored and fits the figure well. There's even a full, long-sleeved shirt under the jacket. I was surprised by this since layers of clothing at this scale usually lead to a figure that looks overly-bulky and "stuffed," for lack of a better term. I hope that Mattel, at some point, will use this suit pattern to produce Secret Identity versions of Bruce Wane and Clark Kent. That would actually make a nice Mattycollector exclusive two-pack... don't you think?

Two-Face has the same loose body issues I harped on in my Retro-Action Batman review. I won't harp on them again in this review.

As far as accessories go, Two-Face is lacking. Two-Face, as a character, just begs for accessories. We all know about Two-Face's trademark coin. That might have been a tough accessory to include, due to it's size. It's also an accessory that Mego probably would have left out of the package. What about a gun, though? A pair of pistols or a Tommy Gun would have been nice. Has our world become so completely PC that a "bad guy" figure can no longer include a gun? I think I've got an old Mego CHiPs pistol somewhere...

In closing, I would say that Mattel's Retro-Action Two-Face really hits the mark it was intended to hit. He screams "classic Mego" while still feeling new and up-to-date. I wasn't expecting it, but Two-Face has turned out to be my favorite Retro-Action figure produced, so far.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mattel Retro-Action DC Super Heroes Batman

This is Mattel's brand spankin' new 8" Retro-Action DC Super Heroes Batman. Batman is from wave 2 of the Retro Action figures line and is hitting Toys R Us and Comic Book store shelves as I type.

Mattel's Retro-Action line of figures are an homage to the highly-successful Mego figures of the 1970s that were produced in the same 8" scale. For those of you that "weren't there," you may not see these figures through the same rose-colored glasses that many of us old-timers do. To us, there's a certain charm in the slightly "clunky" look of these figures. These new Retro Action figures aren't so much replicas of the original figures as they are a re-imagining and tribute to the Megos we knew and loved as kids (well, some of us). Many Bat-fans, like myself have been anxious to see how the new Mattel Mego-style Batman would turn out. (I should mention Emce Toys, as well. Emce Toys is Mattel's partner in this endeavor and they are doing a great job with the design of these figures, including things like head sculpture and costuming. In a nutshell, they are the creators and driving force of this line.).

Original Mego Batman (left) with 2010 Retro-Action Batman (right)

Original Mego (left) and Retro-Action (right) card backs

As you can see, Mattel really tried to capture the look of the packaging of the original Mego action figures. While not a 100% copy, it's apparent that many of the same design cues were used in designing the new package. The new package even goes so far as to include a bit of "distressing" in the printwork to make the new package not look quite so new. Notice that both packages are pink, as well. While all four figures released in this wave (Batman, Aquaman, Two-Face, and Black Manta) are on pink card backs, I'm sure pink was chosen because Batman is the most popular character in this wave and the original 1970s Mego Batman's packaging was pink.

I really like the artwork that Mattel is using on the packaging. It's very cool to see Silver Age style artwork representing all the characters on the back of the package.

The figure itself is also a nice homage to the original Mego Batman. Both the current and vintage figures feature removable cowls (although, Mego would go on to release a molded, non-removable cowl version of Batman after the first year...see packaged photo). Both figures also have very similar jumpsuits, belts, and boots. The new Retro-Action Batman figure even features a similar nylon cape to the original. With all the similarities, there are also differences. The gloves are a major difference with the original Mego wearing "oven mitts" and the new version utilizing a different approach. The new figure uses molded blue hands and vinyl cuffs attached to the suit to give the illusion of gloves. While I'm an advocate of making these new figures as close to the originals as possible, I do like the new figure's solution for gloves. Even Mego started using this same solution on some of the characters they produced in later years.

All in all, I think this and other figures in Mattel's Retro-Action line are very well-done and are wonderful tributes to the original Megos. However, I feel I need to mention a problem or two that I have with this Batman and the Retro-Action line, in general.

Specifically, Batman's emblem wasn't heat-sealed properly (it's like a mini iron-on) and mine started coming loose from the costume almost as soon as I had the figure out of the package. I managed to use heat to re-seal the emblem back on the costume. However, the results ended up a bit uneven.

The other issue is with the body of the figure. Every Retro-Action figure utilizes the same body... and every Retro-Action figure I've purchased is extremely loose in the waist and hips. Also, I don't think there is enough friction in the waist and hip joints for the figure to hold any kind of pose below the waist. So, if you lift one of the figure's legs, it will "flop" back down into it's original position. If you bend the figure at the waist... or twist it, the figure will snap back the moment you let go. This issue wasn't a problem with original Mego figures, although they shared the same internal elastic band design for construction.

I sincerely hope that Mattel will address these issues with the articulation of the body at the waist and hips in further waves of these figures. I know it's a major point of concern for collectors and I would imagine children playing with these would take issue, as well. These are wonderful figures with just a few "kinks" that need addressed. I know that some collectors are currently avoiding this line because of the body issues present. I do have to say that with 45 or so years of action figure history behind us, a working base body should be a "given."

With all that said, I really do like this figure very much. The costume and head sculpt are a nice tribute to the original Mego Batman. I guess it's just frustrating that it would take so little (it seems) to make this figure (and other Retro-Action figures) a complete "homerun." Although original Megos had a certain "clunky charm," the problems with the new Mattel body do not fall under "clunky charm" territory, so to speak. Some of Mego's design choices may have been questionable (oven mitts), but their base bodies held pretty much any pose you put them in. We should expect no less from Mattel... and for the asking price, we deserve no less.

2010 Retro-Action Batman (left) with orginal removable cowl Mego Batman

Look Ma, no cowls! ... and one of us is baking cookies.

Retro-Action Batman sans cowl...WAIT, Bruce Wayne is Batman?!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

1996 Dark Knight Returns statue

This is DC Direct's Dark Knight Returns Statue. This was released in 1996 to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Frank Miller's "game changing" series of graphic novels about the latter years of our favorite Dark Knight Detective. This was one of DC Direct's first statues... in fact, I'm not even sure if DC Direct, as an entity, existed as it exists today. That is, I'm not even sure if they were using the name "DC Direct," at that point.

The Dark Knight Returns series of books were the catalyst for my own "Batmania." I had loved Batman as a kid but found a new love for the character when Miller's Dark Knight Returns series hit comic shop shelves in 1986. I've been a fairly die-hard Bat-fan, ever since. As a nineteen year-old, it was fun to read a story about Batman as an older man and all that he goes through to come out of retirement. Now, as I'm rapidly approaching the age Bruce is in DKR, I find a sort of comfort in knowing that Batman has already been down the road I'm going down (agewise), so to speak. Sure, I know it's kind of silly since he's a fictional character and all, but I appreciate the idea all the same. In fact, I really have to tip my hat to DC Comics for allowing stories that feature aged versions of their characters. In kind, I appreciate the Batman Beyond animated storyline for the same reasons. There's something odd about passing your heroes in age as you grow older. In my lifetime, I've gone from a child looking up to Batman (again, I realize he's fictional... just humor me)... to being a man 10 to 15 years older than the age that Batman is depicted as being in comics and movies (C'mon, Christian Bale is just a KID!). So, I appreciate that there are still stories out there where Batman is still older than I am... and that's also part of the reason I appreciate this statue so much.

The statue depicts Batman guiding a young Carrie Kelly as Robin. The moment depicted never actually appeared in the comic but is a nice realization of the mentoring relationship Batman had in the series with this new, female Robin. This statue was masterfully sculpted by William Paquet. There is a certain "roughness" left in the sculpting of the statue that lends itself very well to a bit of synergy with the rough look Frank Miller used for the illustrations in the series.

I've had this statue near my work desk for quite a few years now. My wife bought it for me as an anniversary present about 7 or 8 years ago. She's the best. The statue itself, stands about 8" tall and was produced as a 5500 piece limited edition.