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Review of Catwoman - 1966 Batman TV Show fashion doll

Tonner Doll Company
Date Published:
Written By:
Overall Average Rating: 3 out of 4

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Tonner 1966 Julie Newmar Catwoman doll by Tonner

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Introduction

I'm a big fan of horror movies. And I find myself frustrated with most movie critics, because they clearly don't like horror movies, and are unable to appreciate the better ones because they despise the genre across the board. I certainly don't want to be that sort of critic. Whether or not you are 'in' to a particular collectible should not have any bearing on whether or not that collectible is well made and a good value in the market. You should be self aware enough to manage it, and you should be upfront enough to warn people in advance of any potential personal bias. And here's your warning: I'm not a big fan of what I'll call fashion dolls. Barbie is the most famous of course, but there are plenty of others, and just like the 1960's G.I. Joe gave birth to the modern day high end Hot Toys sixth scale figure, Barbie has given birth to some pretty high end dolls as well.

One such off shoot is the large scale figures done by the Tonner Doll Company. I've covered them at Toy Fair, I've covered them at SDCC, and I've been tempted on more than one occasion to pick up one of their products.  I've also joined in on the fun when one of their more memorable dolls has been the butt of jokes. Nobody is perfect on either side of that equation.

I do own some Barbie dolls. Most of them related to Batman, and that's probably no surprise. So it should also be no surprise that most of my interest in Tonner is around their Batman and DC line.  When Entertainment Earth asked me if I'd like to review the 1966 Catwoman, the offer was simply too good for me to pass up.

The figure is based on the lovely Julie Newmar, most famous of the actresses that played Catwoman on the old show.  Tonner creations are done in a 16" format, and that's right about where Catwoman comes in. The doll is a very limited edition, with just 500 being produced. She should start shipping in the next couple weeks, and retails for $199.

Click on the image below for a Life Size version
Tonner 1966 Julie Newmar Catwoman doll by Tonner

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Packaging - **1/2
I see what they are going for here - that simple elegance. This is an elongated shoe box with the company logo in silver on an all white background. There is a small label on the bottom that states what's inside, but that's the only indication.

While the figure is packed safely, I was disappointed that there was NO Batman or Catwoman graphics, logos, or designs of any kind. There was also no Certificate of Authenticity, edition size or numbering anywhere, another surprise since the limited nature is part of the marketing.

Tonner 1966 Julie Newmar Catwoman doll by Tonner

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Sculpting - ***
Julie Newmar is the most famous of the three actresses to portray Catwoman on the old TV show (and film), and also portrayed her the greatest number of times. I was fortunate enough to see her speak at an SDCC panel last summer, and she's as lovely as ever. Check out this video to see just how alluring she could be, even on television in the mid-60's.

Tonner has done an excellent job capturing her likeness within the confines of this style. Here's a nice shot of her in the mask, as well as one without the mask. The nose, lips, eyes, jawline and chin all match quite well, and you can clearly see it's her. Yet, she retains that doll-like look that Tonner strives for. It's important to remember they aren't going for ultra-realism here, but rather a specific style.

The rooted hair looks good, although mine was a bit of a mess out of the box. I suspect someone had opened before me, but I was able to get the hair into a reasonable style without losing my mind. They have it a bit more curled than I remember it, but you can always straighten it with some gel. The collectors of these are no different than the collectors of sixth scale action figures - they like to futz, bash, and work with their figures.  Hair styling is an art for them, and I'm betting that she'd look spot on with the right stylist.  For me, the somewhat messy doo right out of the box detracts a bit from this score.

The tall, lanky body doesn't match her proportions particularly well, but again, that's not the goal. It does match the overall look of the Tonner style, and she'll go nicely with other dolls from their collection. Because she's 16" tall, she won't really fit in with other collectible lines, however. If you're wondering what the body looks like under there, check out this page that shows the various available bodies - Catwoman has the 'heroic' style near the bottom.

The only other issue I had that detracted from the score a bit was the gloved hands. Catwoman has some pretty devilish fingernails on the show, but here they aren't sculpted. Instead, they popped a little gold paint on the ends and called it a day. Considering the price point, I think this is the sort of addition they could have given us, and not strayed too far from the overall style.

Tonner 1966 Julie Newmar Catwoman doll by Tonner

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Paint - ***1/2
Perhaps my favorite aspect of the figure overall is the paint work. The eyes, lips and eyebrows really are lovely, and it's important to note that they got the unique look of the eyebrows just about perfect. The lashes are a little heavy handed, but in person it looks about right. Action figure collectors will immediately note the 'doll dots', the painted catch lights in both eyes.  I'm not a fan, and would prefer a bit of gloss on the eyes to allow her to produce her own natural catch lights.

Tonner 1966 Julie Newmar Catwoman doll by Tonner

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Articulation - **1/2
I included this link earlier, but if you'd like to see the bodies that Tonner is currently using, they have a page devoted to showing the various styles. I believe that Catwoman is using the 'heroic' version near the bottom of the page.

If there was one category that surprised me most in a positive way, it was this one.  I had expected pretty limited articulation, with nothing more than a standard straight up stance possible. But I was wrong, and the underlying body has it's fair share of articulation.

There's a ball jointed neck, as well as ball shoulders, pin elbows, ball wrists (swappable hands!), upper torso, and ball hips and pin knees. They say they have 13 points of articulation, which seems right depending on how you count.  I was able to get some actual action poses, something I hadn't expected.

However, without any ankle articulation, you're still going to be pretty limited. Like most fashion dolls, the feet are sculpted for high heels, and without them, she can't really stand.  The heels here are fairly soft as well, making them none too reliable to keep her in a stance, even if you can get it to work. With articulated ankles and flat feet, this score would rise for me.

Tonner 1966 Julie Newmar Catwoman doll by Tonner

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Accessories - **1/2
There aren't a ton of extras here, but they are critical.

As I mentioned, this doll actually has swappable hands - stealing ideas from the sixth scale market, are we? She comes wearing the black painted glove hands, but has a pair of relaxed hands without the glove look as well. They swap easily enough, and I wasn't worried about breakage.

They've included her classic necklace, and it's done in real metal. It has a sturdy clasp in back, and looks great, although the actual sculpt is a little soft. They've also done the nifty mesh belt in real metal, with a hook clasp. Again, the sculpt is a little soft, and both items seem slightly over sized to me, but the use of real metal really improves the look.

Another piece of optional wear is her mask.  This was the most disappointing overall for me, and I was surprised that the quality wasn't better. The black velvet is already wearing at the edges, and the fit is extremely tight.  Getting it in place was difficult but not impossible, but it would shift and move with the slightest touch, and getting it back in place could be frustrating.  Sadly, I never even noticed it had shifted in the last photo until it was too late...I really liked the pose, so I used the photo anyway.

Finally, she comes with a small display stand, with a crotch support. I was surprised there was no logo of any kind - not even a Tonner logo - but the use of clear plastic for the crotch support is a good idea. The post itself is a little too long though, allowing her feet to rest on the base only when they are completely extended. An adjustable post/support would be a nice upgrade. While you can get her to stand on her own, I'd recommend going with the stand for the long term.

Tonner 1966 Julie Newmar Catwoman doll by Tonner

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Outfit - ***
The outfit is made from very high quality materials, and includes the classic glitter black body suit, underlying nude gold body suit, black high heel boots, cat ears, and 'gauntlets' that cover the forearms.

I wasn't sure what was up with the gauntlets til I watched an old episode in high def, and sure enough, the gloves really are that long. They do help cover up the edges of the two body suits at the wrists, but I wish the material had matched the glitter gold.

The outer body suit fits great, and has excellent stitching and tailoring. The suit underneath means that none of the skin color shows through, and adds to the glitter effect.

You might be able to remove the cat ears, because they are done as a head band, but I wouldn't try it.  They match the glitter material of the body suit, and are padded to remain puffy and upright.

The boots are made from soft leather, and look great. However, the heel is made from an only slightly stiffer leather, not nearly stiff enough to maintain poses without the stand.  A plastic sole and heel would have helped in this regard.

Tonner 1966 Julie Newmar Catwoman doll by Tonner

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Fun Factor - ***
Like many high end sixth scale figures, the fun here is for collectors that want to pose and re-pose, but it's also for those that want to style the hair and improve the look with their own skills.

Tonner 1966 Julie Newmar Catwoman doll by Tonner

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Value - **
Most Tonner dolls run $100 - $200, with all the licensed product in the $150 and up range.  Some are even higher than that, with the Avatar figures over $400!  This isn't a huge surprise though, and the doll market has long had a high end. Don't forget that she's quite limited as well, and 500 is far, far fewer than the thousands produced of an average Hot Toys figure. Still, this figure needs a couple more accessories - and certainly a better mask - to fully justify the $200 price tag. Closer to $150, and another half star would have popped up in this category.

Things to Watch Out For -
Not much - take care with the mask, as it looks to be the weak point overall.

Tonner 1966 Julie Newmar Catwoman doll by Tonner

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Overall - ***
I waffled around a bit here, because I feel that while the price is pretty much in line with the market, the quality of the mask and number of accessories should have been higher.

Fans who don't like fashion dolls aren't going to like this figure. But if you're a fan of Tonner and their style, this one is a solid example. There's some short comings here (I really do hate that mask), but as a big 1966 Batman fan, I'm glad I have her.  I will say this style works better, at least for me, with female characters. I also think that the licensed figures end up getting shorted a bit when it comes to the outfit and accessories, and if you look through their catalog, the non-licensed designs can get quite complex.

I'm not going to rush out and start buying these up, but I will admit that perhaps...just maybe...if they have Sheldon and Amy at SDCC again this summer, I might just weaken.

Score Recap (out of ****):
Packaging - **
Sculpting - ***
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - **1/2
Accessories - **1/2
Outfit - ***
Fun Factor - ***
Value - **
Overall - ***

Tonner 1966 Julie Newmar Catwoman doll by Tonner

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Where to Buy 
Online options include these site sponsors:

- Entertainment Earth has her at $199.

Related Links -
This isn't the first time we've gotten a Julie Newmar Catwoman collectible - Tweeterhead did the exceptional statue. If you're looking for other 1966 Batman goodies, check out the 1/4 scale figures of Robin and Batman from NECA, as well as the Hot Toys sixth scale Batman and Robin. If you're into prop replicas, check out the Batbelt from Mattel.

Mattel has done a series or two of 6" scale figures as well. Check out the Batmobile and action figures from Mattel, including Batman and Robin two pack, the Joker,  and the first wave of figures that included Batman, Riddler, and the Penguin.

You should also hit the Search Reviews page, in case any other applicable reviews were done after this one was published.

Discussion:
Want to chat about this review?  Try out one of these terrific forums where I'll be discussing it!

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This product was provided for the review by the manufacturer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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