Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Toy Review – Batman ‘66 TV Masters Batmobile From Mattel

I am squeezing this into my Dragon Con posts for two reasons, one slightly less acceptable than the other:
1) I mentioned this toy at the action figure panel – which you can listen to as part of the Needless Things Podcast: Episode 10 – and did a brief review of it for the audience because somebody asked. So this is sort of part of that, which was part of Dragon Con.

2) I didn’t have anything Dragon Con-related to post today and I didn’t want to post two Podcast episodes in a row. For some reason.
I can’t think of the last line that I was anticipating as much as I was Mattel’s Batman ’66 TV Masters.
The line was announced at last year’s San Diego Comic Con and it was a huge surprise. I had somewhat of an idea beforehand that licensing had been worked out that would allow for merchandise based on the Adam West/Burt Ward TV show, but I don’t think I was expecting an actual toy line.
I grew up with that show. For all intents and purposes, as much as Tom Baker is my Doctor, Adam West is my Batman. As silly and tongue-in-cheek and campy as Batman was; it was my introduction to the Caped Crusaders and their gallery of relentless rogues. Adam West’s portrayal of Batman was all there was for me until around 1987 when I actually read my first Batman comic book. And that Batman was angry and somewhat creepy.
The first toys I remember owning were Megos. I had Batman and Robin and the Batmobile and you better believe they were Adam West and Burt Ward. And obviously that Batmobile was the design from the show; the same design that endured through almost all of the animated and marketed portrayals until 1989. That’s about two decades of consistency for a vehicle that has changed designs dozens of times since its inception in 1939 (though it wasn't called "The Batmobile" until 1941).
As excited as I was about owning action figures with the likenesses of Adam West, Burt Ward, Caesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, and who knows what other members of the amazing cast of that show; the real prize of this new collection was going to be the Batmobile. I haven’t really mentioned it before here because I have no way to display them and haven’t for years, but I collect Batmobiles. Not thoroughly or with any zeal – I don’t buy every single one that comes out. But I do have a few and when there’s a model that catches my eye I have to have it. And a new, highly-detailed, 6” scale toy of this classic model is something I wouldn’t pass up even if I wasn’t collecting the figures.
Naturally, despite the fact that this is literally one of the most iconic and well-known vehicles that has ever been created, Mattel opted to make it a Toys R Us Exclusive. What that means is that I had no idea what the availability would be. I didn’t know if it would be online-only or in-store only or both or if it was both if I would ever even see it in either. So as soon as I saw that it was available from ToysRUs.com, I ordered. Sight unseen. And I didn’t even have any of the figures yet.
I still haven’t seen it in stores, though apparently others have. I don’t want to give away review, stuff in the intro, so I’m going to go ahead and get down to it.
First Glance: Great googly moogly, this thing is huge. I mean, this is a big toy. Scale is one of the things I was most concerned about, but Mattel definitely got that right. Or at least, close enough to be satisfactory.
Sculpt: I’m going to go ahead and get this toy’s biggest failing out of the way:
The tail fins, exhaust pipes, airfoils (the things to either side of the dome light on top), radar, and ejector seat release are all made of rubber. The tires are not.
Unacceptable. Totally and absolutely unacceptable. I cannot believe that as much as these people love to make inappropriate things out of rubber – guns, spears, capes, Batarangs, and any other accessory you can think of – they made the one thing that should always be rubber out of hard plastic. Mattel has once again come up with a way to do something wrong that would never even have occurred to me. There are plenty of things wrong with this vehicle that I had anticipated, but this one was a total surprise.
The body of the Batmobile is a hard, heavy plastic. The shape is absolutely perfect. It’s long and wide and looks exactly like it should. All of the lines and contours are represented, exactly as they have been ingrained into our consciousness over the last five decades. The front portion has the menacing bat shape with the grills and headlights. The rear has the turbine and the license plate.
My big gripe with the body is that the lights are not translucent plastic and as a result take away from the quality appearance of the Batmobile. That is the one detail that detracts from the “Good from far, but far from good” thing this car has going.
While it is hugely disappointing that the wheels and tires are all one piece of plastic rather than plastic wheels with rubber tires, they do at least look good. The wheels have the five-star design and the Bat Symbol in the center. The tires themselves have nice looking treads and manufacturer’s information stamped on the sides.
The windshields or windscreens or face bubbles or whatever you want to call them look great. I’ll give Mattel credit for using a high-quality, ultra-transparent plastic for these. Also props for sculpting the trim rather than just painting it on.
I might have complained about the small exterior parts being made out of rubber – and I do hate that – but they look good. The proportions and detail are quite well done and they are so far holding their shape. I am a little concerned about how those exhaust pipes are going to look after a few years, though.
The interior looks great. Sure – it would have been nice if the seats were separate pieces. But all of the detailing on the consoles, steering wheel, and dashboard is well done. I honestly couldn’t tell you if all of the bits and pieces are 100% accurate, but they certainly look right. This is, however, the one place where the scale fudging is betrayed. Like many toy vehicles, the Dynamic Duo have to sit in this with their legs straight out in front of them rather than a normal seated position.
Coloring: This is the one area of the Batmobile where I have zero complaints. Mainly because everything is paint. Not one sticker mars this mighty vehicle, and for that I am thankful. All of the logos, buttons, trim, and everything else are paint.
The body itself is molded from a glossy black plastic. While it could certainly stand to be glossier, I’m good with it. The red trim is tightly done, with no errors or fuzzy edges.
The wheels look great. The rims themselves are a dull chrome with the bright red Bat symbol in the middle and the tires are a slightly flatter black than the body.
The trim on the windshields is as tightly placed as the trim on the body. As a matter of fact, at first glance you might think the transparent pieces are seated in the silver pieces when in fact they are one.
The interior has a wonderful amount of painted detail. Not only is the center console accurate, complete with the “Emergency-Bat-Turn-Lever” sign up top – the dashboard is covered with buttons and switches.
The front and rear signal lights are all painted. I would have preferred separate, translucent pieces, but at least the paint apps are good. The license plate looks nice, as well. Once again – not a sticker!
Moving Parts: Here are the moving parts I expected out of this vehicle that I did not get:
  • An opening trunk
  • A functioning hood with a sculpted engine (at least sculpted into the body if not entirely separate)
  • Steerable front wheels controlled by the steering wheel
  • Some sort of flame effect for the exhaust turbine
What we got was rotating wheels. Rotating wheels mounted on simple, metal axles like a toy from 1975.
And seatbelts. We got seatbelts.
The seatbelts are rubber and extremely difficult to fasten properly. The free ends plug into a slot on the middle console and exit through the bottom of the vehicle – because of course it’s all just open and there’s no undercarriage. I suppose a child or somebody with very slim figures could pull the end through but I had to use tweezers. And you have to pull the ends all the way through or else you have these goofy seatbelt loops sticking way up over the Dynamic Duo’s laps.
Features: I didn’t have any reason to expect this, but I really thought this thing would have lights. To the point where I noticed the lack of a “Batteries Required” note on the package and thought it was odd. Once I got it out of the package I realized that this toy was not the caliber I had been expecting.
Packaging: This box strikes me as totally weird. First off, the “Adult Collector” note is bizarre. Once out of the package, it is clear that this is a toy designed for children. While I like the window box design, I think it was a bad idea to have the packaging mimic higher-quality releases from companies such as Diamond Select Toys and Maisto.
This Batmobile does none of these things.
I’m not a huge fan of the graphics on the box, either. I feel like they’re generic and kind of ugly. There’s nothing about this design that would have caught my eye on the shelf except maybe the Batman logo. And that just isn’t very large.
I do like the purple-tinted Batcave interior that was used in the background. I also have to say that the car was quite easy to remove from the box. There weren’t 8,000 thick, plastic twist ties holding the thing in place. So well done there, Mattel.
Value: No way is this a sixty dollar toy. It simply isn’t. $39.99 would have been perfectly reasonable for what we got, but for $59.99 I would expect at least some of the features I mentioned above. Although I will say – this explains why Mattel thought that $215 was reasonable for that ECTO-1.
Overall: I wanted so much more out of this toy. I understand that I couldn’t have had it all, but I do think Mattel could have given us more than we got. I suppose my final decision is this:
If you are collecting the Batman ’66 line, you must own this Batmobile. There’s no way around it. This is one of the few lines that I think is really going to compel people to, if not complete, at least buy one of each character. And the Batmobile is as important a character as any other. You simply can’t not own it.
And while the toy costs more than it should, it at least looks good on the shelf. Visually it is almost perfect, with the painted signal lights being my only gripe (though you may not agree). It’s once you get up close and have it in hand that you realize that it just isn’t up to modern standards.
I’ll also say one more thing – my son loves it. I didn’t voice any of my complaints to him and asked what he thought about it and he just sat there, wide-eyed, and said, “It’s awesome.” So maybe it’s not so much for the “Adult Collector”.
3 out of 5
I almost gave this thing a “2”, but it isn’t that bad.
If you want this model Batmobile but don’t need this scale, I highly recommend the Hot Wheels 1/24 scale version that came out a few years ago:
It’s a far superior product if you just need an accurate representation of the ’66 car.
But if you’re collecting the 6” figures and need this one, it is a Toys R Us Exclusive. So if you want one, keep an eye out in stores and online. And if you do find it, I wouldn’t put off buying. I have a feeling this thing is going to skyrocket in price once people are able to figure out an estimate for production numbers and this Batmobile becomes harder to find. Because let’s face it – this is the Batmobile.


  1. You have 12 Batmobiles, but you don't have the best one XD

    1. I'm sure I couldn't begin to count the number of Batmobiles I don't have. Which one do you think is the best?