- The Washington Times - Monday, July 29, 2013

Mattel finally gets the license to bring the 1960s, live-action adventures of the Caped Crusader to three-dimensional life with its Batman Classic TV Series collection.

These 6-inch-tall action figures tap into the days when kids, and many an adult, were glued to their televisions watching the landmark ABC television show “Batman,” starring a collection of veteran actors.

For the adult collector, right around the age of 50, it’s a glorious nostalgic trip with the first series of figures starring actor Burgess Meredith as the Penguin and Frank Gorshin as the Riddler and actor Adam West as Bob Kane’s famed superhero.

Figure profile: (paraphrased from the box) The debonair millionaire Bruce Wayne may seem like your average cool cat, but you would be wrong. With the flip of a Shakespeare head, it’s to the batcave. Gotham City is filled with a rogue’s gallery of criminals eager to unmask Batman, but they are always thwarted by the Caped Crusader’s clever ways.

Accessories: Dressed in his famed dark-blue-and-grey costume and unique cowl (remember the white lines for eyebrows?) specific to the TV show, Batman gets 20 points of articulation, yellow utility belt and a cloth cape.

Not only is the likeness of Adam West perfect considering the small-scale of the figure but also its body shape manages to incorporate Mr. West’s spindly legs. Batman also gets a pegged display base with a “POW” on it as well as a large collector card (5-inches tall by 3.25-inches wide) that is a real treat.

It features an illustrated front panel of the character and, in my estimation, taking art direction from painter Norman Saunders’ work on the famous Batman trading card set released by Topps in 1966. The backs feature parts of the batcave to assemble (I’m guessing?) as a cardboard poster once the owner acquires all of the cards.

Let’s also look at the package.

For as much as I love the colorful container with its mix of cartoony and live-show logo art, I’m horrified at the piece of sticky tape holding Batman’s cape in place in the plastic insert. It took a piece of the fabric off, even though I tried to carefully remove it.

Of course, two other figures comprise the first series (with comparable articulation), and they represent two of the more famous villains to grace the “Batman” show.

The Penguin — Mattel excels here with not only the facial sculpt of legend Burgess Meredith (complete with long cigarette holder permanently popping from his mouth) but captures the costume perfectly with the purple top hat and tuxedo. The trading card is also a beautiful portrait of the Mr. Meredith at his most maniacal.

The Riddler — Master impressionist Frank Gorshin’s portrayal of the Edward Nigma was one of my highlights from the shows. Mattel has him dressed in his bright green costume but adds no accessories. Still, another perfect facial sculpt of this actor (down to hairline) and the fine paint detail (reference the question marks running up each side of the figure’s leg as well as marks around each wrist) is worth noting.

Price: $15.99

Read all about it: What a coincidence, DC Comics now offers a digital comic book series called Batman ‘66 (99 cents each) presenting some potent pop art and tapping into the television show that ran from 1966 to 1968 on ABC. Fans looking for a hard copy of the comic book should see it in specialty stores now ($3.99 each)

What’s it worth: The 7- to 10-year-old in the household won’t understand what all the fuss is about with the Batman: Classic TV Series collection. However, Bat daddy will be drooling at the cowl as he proudly displays these figures on a shelf, far away from junior crime fighters’ hands. Talk about “Holy, hit one out of the park, Batman.” Future offerings include Cesar Romero as The Joker, Julie Newmar as Catwoman and Burt Ward as Robin.

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