Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I'm A Grown Man And I Bought This: Batman Classic TV Series Batman And Robin

It's been nearly five decades since the Batman TV series premiered on ABC in 1966, and toys based on the show are just now starting to trickle out

Several companies have begun releasing Batman action figures in various scales. Mattel's the first out of the gate with their new 6 inch line. Last month they released their first wave of figures, consisting of Batman, The Joker, The Riddler, The Penguin and Surf's Up Batman.

The Julie Newmar version of Catwoman was supposed to be included in the wave, but at the last minute Mattel decided to pull her so they can sell her separately and charge more.

But on to the review at hand, the Batman And Robin Two Pack. Mattel, in their infinite wisdom, decided that Robin would only be available in a special (read expensive) two pack of figures. So if you already bought the Batman figure from the regular line, you've gotta buy another in order to get Robin. Nice of them, eh?

The figures are packaged to resemble the famous "scaling the side of a building" scenes from Batman.

Here's the set out of the box. You could probably display the figures this way, as the inner lining forms a nice backdrop, but that's no fun. Take your figures out of the box! Otherwise you might as just well own a photo of them! 

Here's the Dynamic Duo freed from their packaging prison (which took some doing, let me tell you!).

This is the exact same Batman figure that's sold separately in the regular line, with a couple of exceptions. First of all Mattel finally gave him a Batarang accessory, something the original figure sorely lacked and absolutely should have had.

Right now the Batarang is tied to his hand with a clear rubber band. I'm afraid to untie it for fear he won't be able to hold it on his own. His hands are sculpted to hold something much bigger than the tiny little Batarang.

The second difference is the two wires sewn into each side of his cape, to help pose it. The wires don't work all that well and frankly just get in the way. Robin has the wires in his cape as well.

The wires are so you can pose the capes horizontally as they did on the show. Smart cookie that you are, you no doubt know that whenever Batman and Robin would climb up the side of a building they were very obviously walking horizontally along the floor while the camera was turned 90 degrees. When viewed from the proper angle, it looked (sort of) like they were climbing vertically. To help sell the illusion, Batman and Robin's capes stuck out horizontally with the aid of wires, so they'd appear to be hanging straight down when viewed on TV.

One last thing about the capes-- they both came with an enormous and obnoxious copyright tag sewn into them. Seriously, these tags were an inch wide and a good two and a half inches long. None of the figures in the regular line had these tags, so I'm not sure why they were included in this set. The first thing you'll want to do is cut the ridiculous things off. Be careful though, as you could easily cut into the fabric of the cape if you're not careful.

This is a nicely done Robin figure. His costume is accurate, he has realistic proportions and is actually a bit shorter than the Batman figure, as he should be.

Robin's quite well articulated too. He has a ball jointed head and shoulders, cut bicep, wrist, waist and thigh joints and elbow, knee and ankle joints. Unfortunately he also has that ugly "ab-crunch" joint that plagues the Batman figure.There are better, less obvious ways to include that joint than what they went with here.

Here's a rear view of Robin. Still not a fan of cloth capes, but whaddya gonna do? If you look closely you'll see two small holes in the fabric of his cape. That's where he was lashed down in the package in his climbing pose. They actually punctured his cape to secure him in the box! Stupid, stupid Mattel!

Be very careful when removing the figure from the package or you could very easily rip the cape to shreds.

Sculpting-wise Robin looks pretty good. I can definitely see Burt Ward in there. The paint job's very well done, especially for a figure of this scale. Remember he's blown up quite a bit here, so any imperfections you see in this photo won't be evident in person.

If you look closely you can see that Robin's legs have a definite grayish cast to them, especially when compared to the flesh tone of his forearms. At first I chalked this up to a painting mistake on Mattel's part (like The Riddler's color-mismatched limbs in the regular line).

But the more I think about it the more I;m convinced that this color difference was intentional. On the TV show Burt Ward wore flesh colored tights as part of his costume (can't have a Robin with hairy legs, after all). I think they deliberately painted the figure's legs a slightly different color to simulate the tights! Well done, Mattel!

Here's the climbing wall and rope accessories. Note that the box says "Use Base On Shelf Or Wall!" Whoever wrote that was a lying liar who lies.

You can indeed hang the base from a wall, but there's absolutely no way to use it vertically on a shelf. In fact I had to prop it up with something just to get this shot.

The only way to use it on a shelf is to lay it down horizontally like this. Is that what the box meant when it said "use base on shelf?" Would it have killed them to have included some kind of stand to hold the wall up vertically, so you could pose the figures like they're actually climbing it? 

The rope fits into the figures' hands OK, but tends to plop out if you look at it too hard. It's also impossible to get rid of the copious slack in the rope too. I kind of wish they'd just skipped the whole wall climbing theme and given us a plain two pack of figures. It'd no doubt have been cheaper that way as well.
 
I'm also curious as to why the wall isn't just a simple rectangle. Why all the indentions in both sides? Did cutting out those sections in the sides save money on plastic?

Why didn't they make it a rectangle, put both windows on the right side and then have the figures stick to the left side, just like on the show?

Surprisingly the windows actually open up (with quite a bit of fiddling), which is a nice touch. Now you can have your other action figures stick their heads out the windows to recreate the cameos in the climbing scenes from the TV show!

Speaking of the celebrity window cameos: amazingly there were only fourteen of them over the course of the series. It seemed like there were a lot more than that though. Most of the celebrities are still recognizable today, but a few of them you'd only recognize if you were a child of the 1960s. The cameos in order:
• Jerry Lewis as himself.

• Dick Clark as himself.

• Van Williams and Bruce Lee as the Green Hornet and Kato, from The Green Hornet show of course.

• Sammy Davis Jr. as himself.

• Bill Dana as Jose Jimenez from The Bill Dana Show (definitely a product of the 1960s).

• Howard Duff as Sam Stone from the TV show Felony Squad (I'm betting his show needed the ratings boost a cameo on Batman would provide, since it doesn't seem like the type of show a kid would watch).

• Warner Klemperer as Colonel Klink from Hogan's Heroes (no explanation as to why the Colonel appeared to be the same age as he was back in WWII).

• Ted Cassidy as Lurch from The Addams Family.

• Don Ho, perennially popular Hawaiian entertainer.

• Andy Devine as Santa Claus (!).

• Art Linkletter, famous 1960s TV host.

• Edward G. Robinson (who ironically was famous for playing gangsters in the movies).

• Susie Knickerbocker (definitely a product of the 1960s! Apparently she was a gossip columnist and member of the jet set back in the day).

• Cyril Lord as The Carpet King. Who the hell's that, you ask? Good question. Although he sounds like he could be a Bat-villain, he was supposedly a well known businessman who sold expensive carpets in England in the 1960s. William Dozier, producer of Batman, bought a fancy carpet from him and paid him with a cameo on the show! So because William Dozier's wife wanted a Persian rug we had to look at Cyril Lord and act like we knew who he was.
There was only one cameo appeared in Season One (Jerry Lewis). The rest were all from Season Two. There were no cameos in Season Three.

So what's the verdict? Is the set worth buying or should you give it a pass? The figures are fairly well done, but the wall and rope are pretty much wastes of plastic and time. 

But don't let that stop you from buying it. If you're a fan of the TV show or you've already bought the regular line, then definitely buy the set, as this is the only way to get Robin. As I said in my review of the original line, it's taken fifty years to get figures based on the show. You can either buy these or wait another fifty!

Read all about the first wave of Classic Batman figures here.

1 comment:

  1. The indentations in the wall panel piece would be to ideally get more panels and fit them together to form a bigger wall. How to do that without buying multiple sets of this 2pack and spending crazy amounts of money is a mystery to me. But maybe someone doesn't want theirs and is hocking it on eBay?

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