I feel like I hardly need to write a preamble at this point. You all know I love the Sixties Batman television series. You know I welcome any and all merchandise based on the show. You know that McFarlane Toys have been making some pretty solid action figures based on the show, and that I am going to jump at the chance to review them.
All of this is known, and so it shall be. Here is the latest batch of figures based on one of my favorite versions of Batman.
Batman (“Surf’s Up! Joker’s Under!” and unmasked Bruce Wayne)
A Batman line wouldn’t be complete without the Caped Crusader himself, and these waves offer up two different versions of the Bright Knight. First we have Batman in board shorts, just like he wore in the immortal classic episode “Surf’s Up! Joker’s Under!” I am not exaggerating in the slightest when I say this was the finest half hour of television ever broadcast, so any opportunity to discuss it is welcome.
Aside from the shorts, this Batman is largely the same as the standard figure, but come on. It’s Batman. In board shorts. So he can surf. That’s amazing.
I do wish he came with some sort of accessory, like a surfboard or a can of trusty Shark-Repellant Bat-Spray. Instead, he has two sound effect attachments, which every other figure in the line has, and which are still absolutely incredible. POW indeed.
To quote The Simpsons, like I am wont to do, the other Batman in this wave is pure. West.
For lo! It is in fact an unmasked variant, revealing that Batman’s true identity is none other than respected millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne. The body is the same as the standard Batman figure– even though mine had a bit of a defect with the chest symbol, given that it was stamped a few millimeters right of center– though the head is a pretty spot-on likeness for Adam West. A responsible crimefighter would not be running around in costume without his mask on, so as to protect his secret identity, but I think we can give it a pass if it gets us more Batman ’66 figures.
The Joker (“Surf’s Up! Joker’s Under!”)
To go along with our surfing Batman, up next we have that ruthless rapscallion of raditude the Joker, also sporting baggies to better engage in a surfing contest.
Just… man, I love this show so much. This is the silliest thing, and they treat it with the utmost seriousness, and that’s what makes it work. They’re in on the joke, but they don’t let you know it’s a joke, which makes it that much funnier. And seeing the Joker with board shorts on over his three-piece purple suit is already pretty dang funny.
The head sculpt is a nice likeness for Romero, and the green shorts with black paisley pattern really pop against the purple of his suit. As with Batman, I wish he came with a surfboard or hot dog walkie talkie (seriously, watch the episode. It’s great), but I’ve come to expect the sound effects to be the only accessories at this point. Even so, the figure still rocks on its own.
Doesn’t mean he should be alone, though. Now where are my Duke and Buzzy action figures?
That fine-feathered fink the Penguin is new in this wave, and with a unique body sculpt and some appropriately upper-crusty accessorizing, he’s one of the best figures in the line so far.
Burgess Meredith’s take on Oswald Cobblepot was so well-received that the Batman writing staff supposedly always had a script on tap in case the actor was available, so it’s fitting that his legendary and iconic portrayal be immortalized in plastic form. This figure’s likeness isn’t too far off Meredith’s features, at least how they appear under heavy prosthetics and makeup. I love the top hat and monocle in particular, as they help sell the Penguin’s pretensions of legitimacy.
When he’s not committing umbrella crimes and stealing submarines, that is.
The rest of his body and suit fit the look from the show, and his wider girth helps set the figure apart from the other, leaner male characters of this line. Once again I’ll lament the lack of accessories, as an umbrella would be perfect for dear old Cobblepot, but no matter.
Were I of a sharper mind and quicker wit, I would come up with some sort of riddle to introduce this figure. I am not, so I will not, and instead will just jump right into the review.
Like Burgess Meredith’s performance as the Penguin, Frank Gorshin practically defined the Riddler for decades. He was the very first villain featured on the show, after all, and Gorshin’s ability to go from cool, collected brainiac to manic, unhinged savagery made the Riddler as entertaining as he was terrifying. He also had a fairly diverse wardrobe, sporting both a green leotard and a dapper suit in his crusade of crime.
The Riddler figure here is decked out in the former, with the skintight green outfit emblazoned with question marks both big and small. It’s a striking look, one that let’s you know exactly who you’re messing with, which is befitting of the man who knows he’s the smartest man in the room and will do anything to prove it.
His likeness isn’t as spot on as Batman or Penguin, but you can see Gorshin in that sneer. My favorite detail, though, is the pair of fashionable loafers that Nygma is wearing. For what point is there in wreaking havoc across Gotham City with riddle-based crimes if your feet are not comfortable?
I’ve saved the best for last, because holy cow this Catwoman figure is fantastic. Bonus points right away for having the first representation of the feline femme fatale in this line be based on Eartha Kitt, who portrayed Catwoman in season three of the series. Most Catwoman merchandise for the series takes after Julie Newmar or Lee Meriwether, so giving Kitt some time in the sun is a welcome surprise.
And everything about this figure is great: the likeness, the sculpting, the paint application. Everything.
Just look at her hands, both of which are sculpted with all of her fingers spread. It makes the lack of an accessory easy to dismiss, because there’s so much potential for great posing with her clawed fingers ready to strike.
The coloring of her bodysuit is by far the most eye-popping aspect of the figure, as the black outfit has tiny specks of gold all throughout. It gives the character a bit of a glow and radiance, when McFarlane could have easily gone with a flat black paint application and called it a day.
There are other figures in the line that are more fun, but Catwoman here is the best all around. She has great sculpting, and pays tribute to a sadly overlooked performance by a wonderful actress.
Overall: These waves are the most diverse yet, with new characters, new sculpts, and nods to one of the best episodes of the entire classic television series. Whether it’s the hilarious sight of Batman and Joker in board shorts, the different body sculpts for Penguin and Riddler, or the welcome decision to make a figure based on Eartha Kitt’s underrated performance as Catwoman, waves 2 and 3 of this line offer plenty or variety for fans of the television series.
Disclaimer: McFarlane Toys provided Batman News with several figures for this review.