Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mego 8" Riddler

The Riddler is one of Mego's 8" Bat-Villains that was first released in 1974. That makes this guy about 35 years old, at this point. This is some old stuff. Wow. I'm beginning to feel a bit like the old guy down the street with a basement full of Hoppalong Cassidy memorabilia. Oh well, at least Batman and his rogues are still just as relevant today as they were 40 or 50 years ago. When was the last time you heard about ol' Hoppalong?

The Riddler was kind of a second-tier villain in Batman comics until the 1960s TV show popularized the character with Frank Gorshin's fantastic perfomance of the character. Kids watching reruns of the show HAD to have a Riddler for Batman to bring to justice and Mego obliged.

Mego's Riddler has a fun head sculpt but doesn't seem to be modeled after the likeness of Frank Gorshin. He also sports a green jumpsuit with question marks screen-printed all about. He also came with a belt that is the same belt as Mego Batman's belt except that it's molded in purple plastic. The Riddler did not come with shoes...he just runs around in his footy pajamas. It should also be noted that his hands are also molded in purple plastic to simulate gloves.

This is a great, vintage version of the character.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Ben Cooper Batman Jiggler

This is one of the weakest, most pathetic excuses for a toy ever...and yet, it's one of my favorites.

This is Ben Cooper's Batman Jiggler from the very early Seventies...I'm guessing around 1971 or 1972. Ben Cooper's claim-to-fame was children's costumes but it appears that the company delved into "toys" now and again. There were several Jigglers released. I know there were also Superman, Spiderman, and Hulk Jigglers produced.

Nothing to see here, Bubba. Move along...

Just what exactly is a Jiggler? A Jiggler is a toy at it's most basic form. It's basically a 6" rubber figure with an elastic cord attached to it's back. So, you would hold the cord and "jiggle" the figure. That's about all you could do with it. These were REALLY cheap toys that were produced without packaging. These are a lot like the rubber spiders and bats that were plentiful around the same time. When new, each Jiggler had a hang-tag attached to it's elastic cord to let the buyer know the price and what figure they were buying. These were most likely sold at the counter by the cash register to tempt children into goading their parents to buy them something just one more time before leaving the store.

Why is it one of my favorite toys? This is the first Batman toy I can remember ever having as a child (this isn't my original in the photos....long gone). As a six year-old, I remember once asking my Aunt Carol (an artist) to draw Batman for me. She used my Batman Jiggler for reference and did a "spot-on" drawing of Ben Cooper's Batman Jiggler. However, I was hoping for something that looked a little more like a Neal Adams Batman. At any rate, I'd love to have that drawing today.

Just look at the sculpting and paintwork on this exquisite figure!! What a thing of beauty!!

In all honesty, this makes cheap foreign Batman bootleg figures look like something from Hot Toys or Medicom. It's that bad... or good, depending on your point of view.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Mego 12" Magnetic Batman

This is Mego's 12" Magnetic Batman from 1978.

After substantial success with their 8" line of action figures, Mego started to go the "foot tall" route with some of their action figure lines. Superheroes were at the top of Mego's list for 12 inchers along with lines like Star Trek: the Motion Picture and the rock group, Kiss.

This particular 12" figure is somewhat unique, in that, it has magnets in its hands and feet. This makes it difficult for the figure to stand on it's own but allows for some fun play on the family fridge and what-not. Mego also produced a Robin with magnets, as well. This allowed Batman and Robin to perform heroic feats... circus acrobat-style. Hey, you could even take Batman for a ride to the supermarket on the hood of your car, if you were so inclined...thanks to his magnetic ability.

Mego, to my knowledge, never produced a 12" Magnetic Spiderman...which would have been an ideal use of the magnetic hands and feet feature. Mego, did produce a 12" Spiderman figure sans magnets, however.

One thing I find very interesting about this figure is the head sculpt. He has a very determined, grim facial expression that wasn't common to Batman figures from the 1970s. Most toys depicted him to be much more mild-mannered and friendly. This is not a Batman you want to mess around with...and don't forget, he's got magnets, too. Getting pummeled by magnets is not fun.

A complete 12" Mego Magnetic Batman should include his jumpsuit with attached cape, belt, plastic forearm covers, and plastic boot tops.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Mego 5" Bend N' Flex Batman

Okay, here's the thing...when a company produced a figure of a Superhero in the 1970s, it was always with the intent that they were producing a toy for children to play with. There were no expensive, high-end Batman statues or sixth-scale figures like the ones that are being produced for the adult collector's market today. There were just toys...and some of them, well, they just screamed TOY!

This is such a figure. It's Batman, no doubt. However, this is Batman at the most simplified, silly, rudimentary level. This is Mego's Bend n' Flex figure from 1973. Mego produced a full line of characters in their Bend n' Flex line that covered such properties and DC/Marvel Superheroes and even characters from the Planet of the Apes films.

My kids just laughed when I showed this figure to them. My oldest son just shook his head in disgust. To them, it was almost inconceivable that a child would want to play with this toy and consider him to be THE Batman. This is Batman at his silliest and he certainly wouldn't instill much fear in criminals prowling around the alleys of Gotham looking like this. However, our standards were a bit lower as children in the 70s and it was always fun to get a new Superhero toy... no matter how abysmal looking it was.

This figure is 5" tall and is constructed in the standard bendy style... rubber/vinyl over a bendable wire armature. It's fun to look at the quality standards for paint work on these cheap toys from back then. On this figure, it's all over the place and looks as if the painters worked on these figures while under the influence.

All in all, these bendy figures were a good alternative to "real" figures when you didn't have enough money for a more expensive toy...or if your Mom was "brick walling" your pleas for a new GiJoe at the department store, you could most often snag one of these guys without too much trouble.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Kidbiz 1989 8" Batman

Okay, I dropped the ball on "Bat Week" last week to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Tim Burton's 1989 Batman film. However, I'm going to go ahead and make the next batch of posts Batman related to make up for it.

This is Kidbiz's 8" Batman figure that was released in 1989. This isn't a toy from the 1970's and I hate to label it "Almost Vintage" as it's already 20 years old. I'm sure that's considered vintage in many people's books. I have a hard time swallowing something from 1989 being considered "vintage" but that's just my age "talking." In kind, I certainly would have considered something from 1969 to be vintage while living through 1989.

This Batman figure was released in Europe and Australia only. I remember running into one at the San Diego Comic Con in 1990 and wondering why we didn't get this one released in the US. I'm sure it had something to do with Toybiz having the US rights to produce their 1989 Batman figure abominations (alright, they're kind of hindsight).

Kidbiz's Batman was obviously produced with the Mego line of Superheroes in mind. He's 8" tall and in perfect scale with Mego's 8" figures. He's also designed the same way with an articulated base body with a cloth and plastic costume on top.

This figure is a perfect example of how much of the merchandise of 1989 kind of "rode the fence" between the new movie's interpretation and the comic book's interpretation of Batman. For instance, Batman's head and chest emblem look very much like they were designed with Batman's comic book image in mind. However, his all-black costume, boots, and belt are direct imitations of the costume that Michael Keaton wore in the film.

This figure looks a bit goofy in person. He's got a pair of black briefs over the top of his black body suit that makes him look a little thick in the middle and also makes his legs look fairly stumpy. However, to my surprise, he's actually quite photogenic and looks pretty decent in many photos. One thing I DO like about this figure is the fact that his cape is large enough to wrap around the front of his body. This is a pretty rare trait for any Batman figure from any era or price range. Most toy companies don't bother.

A complete Kidbiz Batman should include his cape (vinyl with a "pleather" collar), black body suit with attached forearm covers, black briefs, boots, and belt.