Oswald Cobblepot has been immortalized as a Premium Format Penguin statue from Sideshow Collectibles for the first time ever, and it was well worth the 82-year wait.
First making an appearance in Detective Comics #58 (1941) as an art thief, Penguin was presented as an upmarket criminal who wanted to join the local mob. He was initially only known as Penguin, which came from a visual association of his top-hat-and-tails look, slightly short stature, and snooty-looking face. While looking nothing like a criminal, he was wily from the off, managing to get accepted into a crime family before quickly supplanting the boss. It was a classic example of his appearance belying his dangerous nature.
It wasn’t until the Silver Age of comics (1956-1970) that we discovered more about Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot. His appearance now had closer associations with Penguins, as he was overweight and had a waddle to his walk along with a more beak-like nose.
We learned that he had been bullied as a child and that his overprotective mother had made him carry an umbrella, as his father had died from bronchial pneumonia after refusing to use one. Focusing all his attention on birds in his parent’s bird shop led to studying ornithology at college.
If you feel like there’s a slightly too sympathetic portrait being developed here, you may not be surprised to learn that the Penguin drifted in and out of comics without any major storylines. That was until after the DC reboot which came with “Crisis On Infinite Earths” (1985) when British writer Alan Grant began to build the more dangerous, violent, hot-tempered persona we’re more familiar with. The Penguin’s trump card is his sanity, an extra level of thinking compared to more psychotic members of Batman’s rogues’ gallery, this has enabled him to profit from situations and build empires.
In many ways, the evolution of Penguin can be mirrored in screen adaptations. In the 1966 Batman television series, Burgess Meridith played an aristocratic parody, then in the Tim Burton movie Batman Returns (1992) Penguin’s appearance had morphed into something more sinister and grotesque with a long, pointed nose, white face, dark eyes, and deformed hands like flippers. Since then, the character’s appearance has existed somewhere between the two and this new statue from Sideshow Collectibles captures the image perfectly.
The Premium Format Penguin statue
Wearing a perfectly formed top hat, monocle, and fur-lined long coat contrast with a dirty-looking shirt and blood-scuffed gloves. He has a bloated, deathly grey face which is pointed with an unnaturally long thin nose and a grin worthy of a shark.
Then there’s the infamous umbrella, an inoffensive accessory that speaks of someone with a delicate aversion to rain… except we know that it could house any number of threats; from built-in guns, poisonous gasses, or spinning blades.
The weaponizing of the humble umbrella is a brilliant symbol and a major theme to Penguin – that you underestimate him based on his appearance at your peril. It’s supported by another of Oswald’s occasional accessories, penguins. What came from an observation that someone in a top hat and tails looks a little like a penguin, has been developed into an interesting representation of character.
Not simply a non-lethal-looking creature, penguins have something inherently comical about them, whether it’s their clumsiness, waddle, or wings that are only useful for swimming. It’s no wonder that in The Batman (2022) Oswald angrily rejects an association with the bird.
In fact, the recent screen adaptation of Oswald Cobblepot, as played by Colin Farrell, finds the character in much the same way that he was introduced back in 1941. Having been the lieutenant of Carmine Falcone, the new television show will see him in a power play to become the crime kingpin of Gotham. This is a version that has none of the usual familiar visual signifiers for the character, yet we still have someone not taken seriously, and slyly planning to use that to his advantage.
So, that’s our tragic, comic, terrifying Bird Of Ill Omen all rolled into Sideshow Collectible’s incredible Penguin statue. As is ever the case, Oswald Cobblepot is planning to take great delight in challenging our perception of the humble penguin.
- Materials – Polystone, Resin, Mixed Media
- Product Size – Height: 20″ (50.8 cm)
Width: 16″ (40.6 cm)
Depth: 13.3″ (33.8 cm) *
Images and Press Release Courtesy of Sideshow Collectibles