These days, if someone needs a Batman action figure they have many options. There are DC Direct's many, many offerings...there are Mattel's Brave and the Bold, Dark Knight, Justice League Unlimited, DC Universe Classics, Infinite Heroes, Super Friends, or Imaginext figures...there are the uber-expensive Hot Toys figures...or Medicom...or Takara. There's even the odd, pity-inducing Tonner Batman for those that can't stop themselves from having every last Batman figure produced. In fact, for the last 20 years or so, there really hasn't been a point where there was not a plethora of Batman action figures on shelves to choose from. There was, however, a point in the early to mid-seventies when your choice would have been more limited. In fact, limited to ONE...
This is the Mego 8" Batman action figure. If you wanted a Batman action figure in the early 70s, this was your man...er, Batman. First produced in 1973, Mego's Batman was the very first Batman action figure ever produced. Although Ideal's Captain Action had a costume to turn him into Batman several years earlier, he was only masquerading as Batman. Mego's Batman was the first "dedicated" Batman action figure. He wasn't pretending to be Batman. He WAS Batman...or at least the Batman we knew at the time. The Batman we knew as kids in the early seventies could have just as easily have shown up for an 8 year-old's birthday party as he could, say, to thwart a bank robbery downtown. Batman smiled a lot more back then and this demeanor is reflected in the very pleasant countenance of Mego's action figure.
Removable Cowl Batman
The first version of Mego's Batman featured a removable cowl. After less than a year of producing this version, Mego changed Batman to feature a head sculpt with the cowl molded on. This is the version that most people owned and remember from childhood. However, the removable cowl version is much more rare and difficult to find.
A complete Mego Batman includes the black and gray bodysuit (early issues used a shinier nylon for the black trunks), a yellow belt, paper or cloth emblem (paper early, cloth later), a nylon cape (although a vinyl version does exist), plastic boots, and a pair of fingerless gloves that are most often referred to as "oven mitts." Also, when dealing with the removable cowl version of Batman, the cowl itself is very important to have.
The oven mitts were always the first thing to get lost. Always. They didn't stay on Batman's hands very well and were difficult for a child to put back on as the suit cuffs would bunch up, making sliding the gloves back on a difficult task. The paper version of the emblem seemed to come loose and be lost quickly, as well. These days, it's fairly tough to find a loose Mego Batman with the original gloves and emblem included.
Other than costume pieces, Batman didn't come with any accessories. Mego had originally planned on selling small, carded accessory sets (ala GiJoe) for Batman separately but dropped the plans before actually getting them to toy shelves. However, other figures, playsets, and vehicles from Batman's "universe" did become available from Mego over time.
Although somewhat quaint and antiquated by current standards, Mego Batman was the childhood Batman figure of so many kids and holds a special place in the memory of many Batman fans today.
Feel free to share your memories of this great toy in the comments section!
Stay tuned for many more Mego figures in future posts.