The Batman Batmobile


Baaat-man, baaat-man, does whatever a baaat can...Hey, Spidey might be big right now, but us Bat-fans will get our due next year. At least we hope we do - of course, nothing can be as bad as the last two Bat-films.

We also get a new animated version this year, simply called The Batman. It's not quite like the animated shows we've all come to love, and some fans may reject it outright because of the differences. Some of the designs are rather unique - the Joker looks like the love child of Bob Marley and Sideshow Bob - but I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, for now.

The toys are already hitting, although the show isn't set to premiere until this fall. The regular and deluxe figures are showing up at Toys R Us, as is the new Batmobile, reviewed tonight.

This version costs $20, and I've also seen it at the local Meijers. I'm betting it will be a very short time before both Target and Wal-mart have it as well.

Packaging - ****
Now here's an amazing score, especially for a mass market toy from Mattel. But they deserve some serious kudos for something so often missing in mass market packaging - innovation!

Yep, this is the first completely collector friendly box I've ever seen for a Batmobile. I doubt that the reason Mattel went this way is because of collector's, but that doesn't mean we can't reap the benefits.

There are no twisty ties here, nothing to tear up, nothing to damage. Open the box, and slide out the insert, then look on the bottom. Where you'd normally see twisty's, you'll see three 'knobs'. Turn each and the car pops right out of the insert! You can easily place it back on and reverse the process. No need for wire cutters, and the car is out of it's plastic prison in seconds.

The package also allows for the 'try me' feature, and shows off the car fairly well. All in all, a nice piece of package design.

Sculpting - ***
While we have seen some shots of Batman and the Joker, we haven't seen much else of the show yet. Therefore it's tough to decide how well this version matches with the source material, but the detail and scale are very good.

The top is open, making it easy for kids to get the figures in and out. I haven't managed to find a Batman yet (although there are many reports of him hitting stores as well), but the older Animated Batman figures fit fine and looked good in the single seat. Nope, no room for poor Robin.

There are two rather unusual design features. First, there's the seat belt. Obviously, Batman is a lot more safety conscious these days than he used to be. I had trouble getting the figure to sit straight in the seat because of the belt, and most kids will tear it out after about five minutes.

The other odd design feature is the steering wheel. More specifically, the lack thereof. I'm not sure how the new Batman manages to steer this buggy, but it isn't in the traditional way. That makes it a lot easier for kids to get an action figure in and out, but I don't know if it's particularly accurate. Of course, this wouldn't be the first Batmobile to sacrifice its steering wheel for the sake of the children.

I really like the overall design, and feel it captures the idea behind the Batmobile without being too much like the previous versions. I still have high hopes for the show as well.

Paint - ***1/2
Technically, there's not a lot of paint. Most of the pieces are cast in their color, and there aren't any small detail paint operations.

However, there are a number of detailed stickers. And the extremely nice thing about this stickers is that they are already applied. Thank you Mattel! I hate getting stickers on straight.

Action Feature - ***
The car comes with two buttons on the top of the 'trunk'. Pressing one activates the lights and sounds, pressing the other adds in the 'pop out' action of the side torpedoes.

The lights and sounds work fine, and you get two different noises. One sounds like the engine starting, and the other is the Batmobile peeling out. The lights effect the blue plastic areas of the car, lighting them up fairly well. It looks so much better on a Batmobile than on an actual car. Anyone else think putting neon blue lights on the undercarriage or floor boards makes it look like you're driving around in an aquarium?

The sides pop out smoothly when you press the second button, revealing two rocket launchers. The rockets can then be fired by pressing a small button on the top of either. The springs won't be putting any eyes out, but they throw the light, translucent blue rockets a decent distance.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
Once kids get used to the new look and design of the show, they should have a good time with this Batmobile. It's smaller than many of the more recent releases, perhaps done to keep the price down, and the shelf space used to a minimum. But I don't think kids will mind, and the lights, rockets and general appearance should make up for the condensed size.

Value - **1/2
At twenty bucks it feels a little too expensive to me, by maybe five bucks. Even with the lights and sounds, it's considerably smaller than other Batmobiles, and $20 tends to be the going price for the larger versions.

Overall - ***
The design isn't perfect - it doesn't have the nostalgic retro feel of the old BTAS Batmobile, or the sexy dangerous look of some of the movie versions - but it's sporty good looks remind me of the Chrysler Crossfire Roadster. I've never really thought of the Batmobile as a 'sports' car before, so this takes a little getting used to, but kids should have fun with this new version. I have high hopes for the cartoon, although they will have a mighty tough time coming close to the greatness that was the original BTAS.

Where to Buy - 
These are hitting most major retailers right now. I've already seen them at most Toys R Us and Meijers.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

This page copyright 2003, Michael Crawford. All rights reserved. Hosted by 1 Hour