Holy ’66 Batman!!!

Batman '66 is making a resurgent comeback too. It was several months ago when I noticed in Previews that there were action figures coming out based on the series. I am not a big DC toy collector, but my love of the series immediately piqued my interest in picking these up. I have been able to locate only Batman, Riddler and Penguin at regular retail, while I have found Joker, "Surfing" Batman and "The Dynamic Duo" at a specialty store.

 

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I am willing to bet there are a bunch of us, who our first exposure to Batman was the original TV series from the sixties where Adam West portrayed the Caped Crusader.

That is how it was for me.  I still remember catching re-runs of the show on Saturday afternoons at lunch time.  And that was before satellite too.  Heck… that was before the days of the “interweb”.  I remember having to watch through the electronic snow on the screen, and squint so I could see Batman and Robin “The Boy Wonder” thwart the evil plans of villains like The Riddler, The Penguin and that “clown prince of crime” The Joker.

Being a superhero fan back in those days, this is all we had.  Superheroes were popular then, but not at the same level they are today.  If we wanted to experience super hero action on the small screen, all we had was the 60’s Batman series, re-runs of Spider-Man from the 60’s and the odd chance you could catch a re-run of Super Friends (I didn’t have cable, so that was a very odd chance for me).

Now everything changed in 1989 when Tim Burton’s Batman became a huge hit.  That was followed by an amazing animated series (which is still one of the best cartoons ever produced).  But back in the early to mid 80’s there wasn’t much available.

The Batman series from the 60’s was campy and goofy.  It completely changed the tone and feel of Batman.  But looking back at it now, it was a reflection of the times.  It included parts of pop culture, psychedelic imagery, humour, action, and campy goofy fun which became a worldwide phenomena in the  60’s.  Sure it changed the character and it took creators like Denny O’Neil and Frank Miller to bring the character back to his dark menacing roots.  But ’66 Batman is important because that’s how many of us (some of us are in our 60’s now too) discovered the character Batman.

Batman '66 Action Figures
Batman and Robin “wall walking figures” and The Riddler

Batman ’66 is making a resurgent comeback too.  It was several months ago when I noticed in Previews that there were action figures coming out based on the series.  I am not a big DC toy collector, but my love of the series immediately piqued my interest in picking these up.  I have been able to locate only Batman, Riddler and Penguin at regular retail, while I have found Joker, “Surfing” Batman and “The Dynamic Duo” at a specialty store.

Generally the figures are economical, for what they are.  But availability will drive up the market on these, so you may have to shop around depending on your budget.

Batman '66 Surf's Up
Surf’s Up Batman!!

Action figures is not the only thing that has come out to celebrate the TV series.  DC Comics has released a title called “Batman ’66” which continues the adventures of Batman in the same tone and feel as the TV show.  It is wonderfully written by Jonathan Case.  He has been able to capture the feel and essence of the series and when you read it, you can just hear Adam West and Burt Ward’s voice in your head.  It is a must read.

Batman '66 #1
Batman ’66 issue #1 by Michael Allred (photo from dccomics.com)

The comic series features covers by Michael Allred, and though I am not a fan of his art, his cover’s for Batman ’66 are amazing, and are worth “the price of admission alone”.

I hope this new found love for the 60’s Batman series will lead to its eventual release on Blu-Ray, but that discussion has been mired in debate over rights issues and royalties.  For me personally… I couldn’t care less.  I just want to have a copy of the complete series in my hands, so my kids can grow up watching Batman the same way I did.

So… tune in next week.  Same “Knowing is Half the Battle time… Same Knowing is Half the Battle channel!”

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Ed Campbell
Ed Campbell is a collector of comics and action figures, primarily G.I. Joe. He is also a Cosplayer with Thor and Captain America as just a few of the characters in his arsenal. When not fulfilling his Comic Book Daily duties, he's "working for a living", volunteering his time for his local Fall Fair, and spending as much time with his family as possible. Use the links below to get in contact with him.
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8 Comments

  1. As a retailer the Mattel Batman ’66 figures offered through Previews have been troublesome.

    We had customers who wanted full sets, so we ordered the case lots available for order in Previews, which contained Batman, Joker, Penguin, Riddler and Catwoman plus a sixth figure (pictured was Surfing Batman but description said Radio-Active Cowl Batman — or pink cowl Batman).

    We found out later about the Radio-Active Cowl switch and placed an order for Surfing Batman which will probably never be filled because the item is back-order only, which with toys means “highly unlikely”.

    Diamond says they shipped individual units of Batman, Surfing Batman, Joker, Riddler and Penguin in mid-September —- Catwoman has not shipped (it is reportedly shipping October 30th). Since we ordered case lots we have seen none of these in the store and my customers are all antsy and may have gone elsewhere already.

    Also offered was the Batman and Robin climbing 2-pack case lot. No sign of that either – although I have seen these at other locations.

    Finally, we also ordered the Batmobile, which we were told was cancelled — but, also annoying, I’ve seen retailers with these at shows selling between $60-$100 each.

    End result is I will just avoid ordering any and all Mattel products from Previews in the future.

  2. A quick check sees that the AF case lots are now scheduled to ship on Nov. 13, individual Catwoman figures on Oct. 30 (no change) and the 2pack case lot on Dec. 25(! not a real date – usual it means “by the end of the year sometime hopefully”).

  3. This is a shame that retailers get screwed around through no fault of their own. I’d love to have the whole set of these figures, but as you can see by the price attached, the specialty market gets expensive.

    I found The Riddler at one store for $34.99, but it is on the shelf at “Toys R Us” for 25% off this week. It’s hard for you to compete with those prices.

    If the “Radioactive Cowl” or “Surfing Batman” (or hopefully someday… Surfing Joker) were LCS or specialty market exclusives you would be able to corner the market on something and have an advantage over the “big box stores”.

    I wish Mattel didn’t screw you around like that Kevin… because these are Mattel toys that I actually want to buy.

  4. I don’t deal with a lot of toys, but I did have a number of my regular comics customers want these figures as they are fans of the tv show, hence their preorders – Diamond even called to confirm we wanted that many cases at the time the order was placed back in March. I want to get them what they want without them having to resort to dealing with high prices on the secondary market.

  5. Ed, thanks for the write up. I still love that show and have had my eye on this comic series for awhile now. Are the stories appropriate enough to read to a 4 year old fan? My daughter’s fascination with Batman ’66 hasn’t subsided and these might make for fun reads. Plus I would like to have them for myself as well.

    Also “Surf’s Up, Joker’s Down” is her favorite episode. I will be keeping an eye out for Surfer Batman for her.

  6. The comic series is rated “E” so it will be suitable for your daughter. I have issue #1-4 and the series follows the same tone and feel as the TV series. The only difference is they can do anything in the comic, which they couldn’t do on the TV series because of special effects, technology or budget of that time (like the one episode that was too expensive to afford the cast so they had the complete fight scene in the dark).

    Batman ’66 is one of those comics that has stood out in 2013 as being one of the best comic series of the year.

    Your daughter will love it.

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