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1966 Classic Batman Television Show
Batman, Penguin and Riddler
Mattel

Penguin 1966 Classic Batman action figure by Mattel


After a lifetime of waiting, fans of the classic Batman television show have finally gotten their first action figures based on the campy characters. With the licensing beast that plagued it for years now apparently slain, lots of companies are releasing product, but Mattel has them beat with their schedule.

I already covered Mattel's two pack of Batman and Robin, and there's the SDCC exclusive 'Batusi' Batman as well. Now the first regular series should be showing up at most retailers, which includes Batman, Penguin and the Riddler. Series two also includes these three, as well as the Surf's Up Batman, Joker and Catwoman. Once I receive my Catwoman, I'll be covering the latter three as well.

These figures run $18 - $20 each, depending on the retailer of course. I know Toys R Us will be carrying them, but I'm not sure if other mass retailers have gotten on board.

Packaging - ***1/2
While I'm not covering him yet, I did use the Joker's package to illustrate the style. I love the use of the Robin word balloons, although most of them seem totally unrelated to the particular character.

The front of the card makes good use of show graphics and font styles, but the back is a bit of a disappointment. While it does show other figures in the line, more show specific graphics would have been nice.
Click on the photo below for a life size version
1966 Classic Batman action figure by Mattel
Joker 1966 Classic Batman action figure by Mattel
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1966 Classic Batman action figure by Mattel
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Joker 1966 Classic Batman action figure by Mattel
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Riddler 1966 Classic Batman action figure by Mattel
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1966 Classic Batman action figure by Mattel
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Riddler 1966 Classic Batman action figure by Mattel
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Riddler 1966 Classic Batman action figure by Mattel
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1966 Classic Batman action figure by Mattel
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1966 Classic Batman action figure by Mattel
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1966 Classic Batman action figure by Mattel

Sculpting -***
If we were only talking about the character likeness, then the Penguin would be the clear winner here. While the entire line has a slightly cartoony look to the portraits, the Penguin's comes closest to capturing the Burgess Meredith likeness. The clear monocle looks great too, and the overall scale is good.

But he drops to the level of the other two when you add in his hideously over sized cigarette and cigarette holder. Yes, that's what that's supposed to be, although it looks more like he's playing the clarinet. It's not the length that's a problem - it was always ridiculously long. But for whatever reason (and God knows, I'm sure they could come up with something) they decided to make it look nothing like what it was.

Batman doesn't suffer from that issue. He has the tiny ears and rounded cowl, with a reasonable West likeness under there. The skinny legs seem appropriate, and again the scale is good.

I'm not a huge fan of the cloth cape though, which is different than the one we got with the two pack. Here there's no wire edging for posing, and no hem at all. For those of you that collected the old BTAS figures, this cape will look very familiar in style.

That means it's likely it will fray at the edge over time, and you have no good way to get rid of the poofy look at the shoulders. I did fold it over for the one photo above, but I wasn't thrilled with that either. I included a shot of this one with the two pack version (two pack on the left, single carded on the right) to give you some idea of the difference.

Finally, there's the Frank Gorshin Riddler. One of the most manic characters to be on 60's television, this guy took ADHD to a new level. Again, the likeness here is reasonable, especially with the shape and size of the body, and he stands great on his own.

Paint - ***
While the paint work here isn't outstanding, it's solid enough to rate a B score.

There's a little slop at some of the cut lines, but I really like the metallic flake look they gave most of the blue on Bats. The eyebrows and nose lines on his mask are also spot on, and the gray of the leotard seems about right.

I did try to show a serious problem in the photos, but it doesn't come through. The single pack Batman, at least mine, has a abdomen that is MUCH darker than the rest of the torso. It's painfully obvious in person, but does not come through properly in photos.

On the flip side, the green costume of the Riddler shows more variation in tone in the photos than it does in person. This gets back to how each piece absorbs or reflects the bright lights.

In the end, the paint seems a bit bipolar. Some areas are spot on perfect (check out the Penguin's eyes) while others look like dollar store work (again on the Penguin, look at the bow tie and shirt collar). That lack of consistency is frustrating.

Articulation - Batman, Riddler ***1/2; Penguin ***
The articulation is one of the better features of this line, much like Masters of the Universe Classics, or DC Universe Classics.

There's a ball jointed neck, but none of them can get much tilt out of it due to the sculpted design. There's ball shoulders and cut biceps, pin elbows, knees, wrists and ankles, a cut waist and thigh, as well as an ab-crunch (on Batman and Riddler) and hinge hips.

The Penguin has the hardest time actually using all these joints. His sculpted suit tends to restrict various joints, especially the ankles and wrists.

Accessories - **
Sadly, this is where these figures fail, and fail in a major way. It's all those cool toys that make Batman so much fun, and on the 1966 show he had plenty of them. All the members of his rogue's gallery had their own nifty toys as well, and yet not any of them 
are included here.

Penguin does better than the rest, since he does get an umbrella. It doesn't open, and the sculpt is pretty basic, but at least it's something.

Batman and the Riddler (as well as the Penguin) do have a small plastic base with a foot post and sticker. The sticker declares one of the classic fight bubbles, like Bif or Pow. Penguin's says, quite appropriately, Awk. They don't need the bases to stand, but they're cute.

The also have a "collector's card" included for each. They have artwork on both sides, and can slip into a slot on the back of the stand for display. Unfortunately, the Riddler's is printed landscape, making it sideways for use with the stand, but I doubt many people will be displaying these anyway.

Fun Factor - ***

The articulation is great, and with the old show still in re-runs on cable, kids do have some exposure to this goofy version. There was plenty of conflict on the show too, as an episode never went by without at least one big fight. The articulation allows for some solid play value, but accessories would have gone a long way to upping this score.

Value - *1/2
Eighteen bucks is a lot of money for a 6" action figure. With no real accessories (and a plethora they could have chosen from) that price tag is all the more difficult to take. I suppose it could be worse - these could be Matty Collector only, and costing another $5 - $10 each.

Things to Watch Out For -
I didn't have a single issue to worry about.

Overall  - ***
I suspect that my nostalgic love for the show is causing me to inflate this score by a half star. And I also suspect that most fans of the show will feel the same way.

Sure, the price is ridiculous. Everyone will wonder where the accessories went. And not all the likenesses are what they could be. I'm not going to try to convince you that these are at the same level as the Masters of the Universe Classics, or even the DC Universe Classics. But they are decent, and they took a long time coming. I'm hoping we see some things improve as they get a better feel for the production and costs, especially at this price point.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpting - ***
Paint - ***
Articulation - Batman, Riddler ***1/2; Penguin ***
Accessories - **
Fun Factor - ***
Value - *1/2
Overall - ***

Where to Buy -
Online options include these site sponsors:

- Big Bad Toy Store has the singles for $18, plus a couple different ways to buy sets at a bit of a savings.

- Urban Collector has the singles at about $19 each.

- Alter Ego Comics has a set of four at $80.

- Things From Another World has the singles at $23 each.

- Entertainment Earth has the singles at just under $18 each.

- or you can search ebay for a bargain.

Related Links -
I also covered the two pack of Batman and Robin.

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Riddler Penguin 1966 Classic Batman action figure by Mattel


This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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