McFarlane Toys has extended its fantastic range of classic Batman Classic TV Series action figures with the imminent release of Robin, Riddler, and Egghead. Based on the TV series that first aired in 1966, the range includes seen a mix of color and greyscale variants of the characters.
Batman was an extraordinary TV series we’ll never see the likes of again, because of a number of contributing factors. Firstly, a producer, William Dozier, who had never read any Batman comics, and when he did, decided that the only way to make it work on screen was as a comedy. We know that’s not true now, of course.
Secondly, Batman was made in an era of kitsch pop art; of brightly colored, loose-hipped, psychedelic glamour. The Sixties have a style that’s so recognizable that anything remotely like it is seen as a pastiche. The series was brash, bright, and almost surreal in its humor. It poked fun at the over-earnestness of superheroes and absolutely reveled in the outlandish campness of the villains.
In portraying those villains, the producers gathered a collection of theatrical actors who delivered such bold caricatures that I’d like to think they inspired the likes of Johnny Depp. Certainly, Jim Carrey’s performance as the Riddler in Batman Forever could be favorably compared to the template created by Frank Gorshin Jr. Of the three seasons of Batman, he appeared in season one, was actually replaced by John (Gomez Addams) Astin for season two, before returning for season three. He also appeared in the legendary film Batman (1966) and reprised the role in the 1979 TV movie, Legends of the Superheroes. His was a performance of such manic energy that it earned him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Comedy.
While Gorshin was recognized at the time as a comedian, Vincent Price’s name is known and respected to this day, due to his theatrical, horror roles. The huge success of the first season of Batman would have caught his attention and he was hired to play Egghead, a character created especially for the show. It’s a creative origin similar to that of Harly Quinn of course, but Egghead didn’t take off as a character in the same way probably because he reflects the spoofing nature of the show – a bald-headed, egotistical intellectual proclaiming himself to be the World’s Smartest Villain is a joke aimed somewhere between Batman and Lex Luthor.
Despite brief appearances in other Batman stories, Egghead embodies a unique association with the TV series. The fact that this Batman Classic TV Series figure has such a great likeness to Vincent Price gives it an appeal beyond its origins.
Amidst these visually bold characters, it was important that our two heroes, Batman and Robin, were not lost from view. Burt Ward was just 19 when he auditioned for the role, but his Robin leaves such a strong impression that it’s hard not to wonder if it’s the reason Tim Burton resisted putting him in his 1989 movie. You’ve got to admire Ward’s commitment to a role that included those pants, tights, and boots, and that crazy dialogue. When anyone thinks of putting “Holy” in front of a crazy situation, followed by the word “Batman”, we’re all imitating Burt Ward. Especially if you punch your fist into your hand the way he did.
While Egghead‘s a color figure, Robin and the Riddler are in monochrome. The full-color figures capture the brightness of the show and its ridiculously fun tone, while the greys deliberately make the figures look dated. It places them in a bygone era and celebrates the malleability of the characters. This is fitting, as when the series originally aired many households still only had black & white TVs.
The TV show didn’t capture many people’s definitive version of Batman, but it was bold and outrageous enough to present the essence of Batman’s outlandish villains from the Silver Age and celebrated them in a way that was impossible to resist. It was a time when Batman first became popular with the mainstream, albeit in a Pop Art style of the time associated with Roy Lichtenstein, bringing an old-fashioned association with comics with its “Zap!” and “Pow!”
In subsequent decades, those onomatopoeic expressions have been used in articles about comics, comic characters, or reviews for movies. It’s taken a long time to shake those associations but they’re of historical importance and that’s why it’s so great to see those exclamations included with these Batman Classic TV Series action figures.
SpecificationsDimensions (Overall): 11 Inches (H) x 6 Inches (W) x 2 Inches (D)
Weight: .68 Pounds
Suggested Age: 12 Years and Up
Number of Figures: 1
Doll Theme: Superheroes and Comics
Articulation (posable joints): 12 Points of Articulation
CPSC Choking Hazard Warnings: Choking_hazard_small_parts
Material: Metal, Plastic
Battery: No Battery Used
Images and press release courtesy of McFarlane Toys