BATCAVE (w/ BATMAN)
BATMAN ’66 (MATTEL)
So, it’s apparently Batman Day, a fact I know because pretty much everyone keeps saying “hey did you know it’s Batman Day?” I didn’t realize fictional characters were getting days now, but if anyone’s gonna get one, I guess it makes sense for it to be Batman. He’s does have like one of everything; it’s only sensible he’d eventually have a day as well. In the spirit of the day, I figured I’d take a look at one of the very many Batman items I have in my collection, courtesy of Mattel’s ill-fated run with the Batman ’66 license. Let’s have a look at Batman and Mattel’s go at the Batcave!
THE SET ITSELF
The “To The Batcave” set was one of the last two items to come out of Mattel’s Batman ’66 line, released (initially, at least) as a Toys R Us-exclusive item, alongside the Triumphant Trio three-pack, in the late summer of 2015. While billed as a playset, what it more works out to is a figure with a larger than average selection of accessories, because that’s just how Mattel do, I suppose. The figure included here is a standard Batman, who would receive five separate releases by the time the line was done. He stands right at 6 inches tall (quite under-scaling him when compared to pretty much any other 1:12 lines, since they tend to punch up a bit on size) and he has 23 points of articulation. Despite how many times it would end up re-issued, the Batman sculpt was probably the weakest of the line’s selection of very weak sculpts. Firstly, let’s discuss the articulation. DC Universe Classics was never on par with Legends, but it at least offered a workable selection of joints; not so with this line. In addition to the general lack of joints, the joints included aren’t particularly useful. The ab-crunch, the knees, and the elbows in particular have extremely reduced range, making even rather basic poses very difficult. The quality of the sculpt proper’s not great either. While Adam West may not have been a body builder or anything during his time under the cowl, the extraordinarily skinny build on this figure goes way too far, building a figure that really doesn’t look like a real person at all. Coupled with the already small scale on the figures, it makes Batman downright silly looking when compared to his contemporaries from lines running at the same time. Additionally, despite being based on a real person, and not a comic book creation, this figure’s level of detailing marked a major step down when compared to prior Mattel output, as the majority of the costume is devoid of any sculpted textures. About the best that can be said of the sculpt is that the masked head doesn’t have a terrible likeness. So, that’s the old figure that they threw into the box to take up space. What about all the new stuff they added that was supposed to actually sell this thing? Well, the box proudly proclaims that the set includes 15 accessories…which is true, albeit not quite as impressive as the box might lead you to believe. To go on the figure proper, we get an unmasked Bruce Wayne head. Kind of an interesting choice, since I don’t believe we actually ever saw Bruce unmasked in the costume on the show. However, it’s got a decent likeness of West, and it actually looks a little better on the body than the standard head. The largest piece is definitely the Batcomputer, which is a decent set piece, even if it is pretty simplistic. At least it’s got its proper label, showcasing 60s Batman’s love of labels. The piece is hollow, and the back pops off to reveal the “Secret Equipment Storage,” which is where you can stow all of the other parts when you aren’t using them. The back that pops off is designed to look like the inside of stately Wayne manor, allowing for two different display options, and two different sets of accessories to go along with them. On the cave side, we get three batarangs (all identical), four cans of Batman Spray Repellent (again all identical), the Batzooka, Bat megaphone, and Bat communicator. The duplication of the batarangs and repellent is kind of odd, since obviously he can’t use them all at once, nor is there really anywhere to display the extras, making it really seem like Mattel included as many as they did to bump that accessory count up. Additionally, there’s the ongoing issue with Batman generally just being unable to really hold any of the included extras. The Batzooka in particular is notable, as its size and weight mean that the figure will fall over if its held in any fashion other than at his side. On the Wayne Manor side, we get the Shakespeare bust with the hidden button for cave access and the red Bat-phone. The bust is definitely my favorite extra included here, because the sculpt’s really clean, and the hinge works quite nicely. To complete the two different set-ups, there’s a card with a Batcave illustration on one side and Wayne manor on the other, as well as a stand to hold the card.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
By the time this set hit, my enthusiasm for the line was completely dead. I picked up everything from the initial run, but only ended up picking up the three-pack when I was disappointed at not getting anything Star Wars-y during the first Force Friday event. This set, as interesting a concept as it may be, just didn’t excite me enough to drop $35 on it. However, a friend of mine had gotten one a while ago, and decided they no longer wanted it, and thus it made its way into my collection. As with so much Mattel did, it fills me with mixed emotions. There are some cool things in here, and in general it’s a fun concept, but the core Batman’s kind of rotten, and this being the fifth time we got him really hinders the set. I think if it had been in that first wave of product, rather than pushed all the way to the end of the line, it might have been a bigger hit, but quite frankly there’s a lot of things that could have been done differently to make this line worth while.