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Sunday Toy Chest: WHAM! POW! Mattel’s Batgirl and Catwoman

Sunday Toy Chest: WHAM! POW! Mattel’s Batgirl and Catwoman

This week, we’re looking at two more action figures based on DC characters. After the Trinity from two weeks ago, we’re switching gears and going back in time a bit. The Batman series from the ’60s is beloved among fans and it officially launched Adam West into cult icon territory. But while Adam may be the most recognizable face from the series these days, two actresses on the show left a longstanding mark on their respective characters; Yvonne Craig originated many of the traits we now associate with the modern day Barbara Gordon, and Julie Newmar infused a playfulness into her portrayal of Catwoman’s tête-à-têtes with Batman that has stuck with the character for decades, including the two actresses that played Catwoman on 1966’s Batman after Newmar herself.

In the years that followed the classic Batman series, action figures based on the designs of the show could be found primarily in the 8-inch MEGO range. G.I. Joe was a leader in early American toy history with the “action doll” format, and the MEGO superhero figures followed in that format. Both Catwoman and Batgirl received figures after the series aired, but their costumes were largely based on the designs of their comic counterparts at the time, rather than their on-screen versions. But, as the old adage goes, what’s old is new again, because Mattel has found success with new figures — based on original series designs — in the last few years.

The Batgirl we all know today owes her origin story roots to the Batman series. A character called Bat-Girl existed in early comic stories, and her alter ego was Bette Kane. After the series aired, Batgirl was to become one Barbara Gordon, daughter of Batman confidant and colleague-by-default, GCPD Commissioner James Gordon. Her onscreen costume color palette was primarily purple and yellow, and her intellect was a key component of both her caped identity and civilian identity. Mattel’s 6-inch ’66 series of figures had been lacking Batgirl until this year, when the character was debuted at San Diego Comic-Con. The figure was debuted in Con-exclusive packaging, but has since become available in a three-pack along with Batman and Robin. The Mattel Batgirl figure has an impressive 20 points of articulation, and stands well on its own despite a comparatively small footprint. The figure includes a base for posing, and a slot for an art card that comes packaged with the figure. The Batgirl base has one of the onomatopoeia words (SOCK!) that became the most recognizable visual cues for fight scenes on the television show.

The Catwoman from the television show differed from her comic book counterpart at the time, donning a skintight black (and appropriately synchronous) catsuit with a gold necklace that she no doubt swiped. She is a cat burglar, after all. Julie Newmar portrayed the character in the first two of Batman’s three seasons, and hers is the likeness the figure has been sculpted to reflect. While I personally wouldn’t mind a second figure based on Eartha Kitt’s likeness, I think the Newmar version is acceptable if it is to be the only Catwoman figure in this particular line. The Catwoman figure, like Batgirl, also includes the impressive 20 points of articulation. I keep using “impressive” as an adjective for articulation, because, to me, it is very impressive for these figures — which retail for roughly just under $20 — to be so posable, and more importantly, sturdily posable. The joints, even for such small pieces of plastic, do not feel like they’re going to snap in your hands. The quality of the figures makes me excited to review the forthcoming DC Superhero Girls line of figures from Mattel when they launch.

The remaining figures in the Batman (original series version) line from Mattel include Batman, a Surf’s Up variant Batman, Robin, The Joker, The Penguin, and The Riddler.

Do you have any of the figures? Plan on getting some? Let us know!

Toy News Round-Up

Here’s the best bits of collectible news from the past week!

Leave comments below with your experience with the Mattel ’66 Batman figures, and tell us which toys you’d like us to cover in a future Sunday Toy Chest.

Images: RV Walker

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