Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Toy Review – Batman ’66 TV Masters Riddler By Mattel

Penguin might have been the most prolific villain of the old Batman TV show, but Riddler is probably the one people think of the most. Between his bright green unitard (which isn’t actually as bright as you remember) and his trademark riddles; he had the most impact of any of the male villains. And that’s really saying something when you’re talking about a cast of characters that included Vincent Price as Egghead, Victor Buono as King Tut, and freakin’ Liberace as the criminal pianist Chandell.
As much as I desperately want figures of all of those villains, Frank Gorshin’s Riddler was a no-brainer for the first series of figures based on this iteration of Batman. I’d get all wacky and say it would be great to see a John Astin version in later series, but it sounds like Mattel has already killed this line.
First Glance: This is immediately recognizable as a good figure. Partially because it’s well done; but mostly because the character design is so simple and it’s easy to see what’s done right.
Articulation: Riddler has the standard DCUC articulation.
Head – ball joint
Shoulders – swivel/pivot
Biceps - swivel
Elbows –pivot
Wrists – swivel
Abdomen - pivot
Waist - swivel
Hips – swivel/hinge
Thighs - swivel
Knees – pivot
Ankles - pivot
Mattel is still using ball joints for the heads on most of their figures, but they might as well just be doing cut swivels. Few of their figures have any movement beyond what a swivel would provide and Riddler is no exception.
Riddler’s elbow joints don’t bend quite as far as I’d like, but they go a bit further than 90° so that’s not too shabby.
I have always hated these kinds of hip joints – whether on Mattel figures or Character Options’ Doctor who figures. They’re ugly. And if utilizing a joint ruins the figure’s profile, then it isn’t worth having.
The ankles barely pivot at all. Considering that and the head joint, it seems like Mattel has this new design goal of using joints that aren’t really joints – just points where the figure has cuts and pins.
All of the joints on my figure are tight and move freely. They can hold poses and didn’t require any fooling with to get working.
Sculpt: Riddler is a 100% new sculpt, like the rest of this line.
These TV Masters tread a fine line between realism and comic-book looks. I think I’m okay with that. The body on this Riddler is much more realistic than any of Mattel’s DCUC style figures, but is a bit more like an artist’s rendition of Gorshin as Riddler. And this allows for a bit of artistic license.
The head features a really fun sculpt. The hair leaves a lot to be desired, as it has very little texture and is not very distinct from the head. But the rest is great. The mask is sculpted and not just painted, the ears protrude from the head in a very amusing way, and the facial expression is perfect. It’s Gorshin’s signature, “I am so much smarter than you,” sneer.
The body sculpt is just as fun. The figure has spindly little arms and legs with the sorts of folds and wrinkles you would expect to see on a human in tights. There is musculature, but it is not ridiculously defined. Most of the joints blend into the profile nicely. The only one that sticks out is the abdominal crunch.
Both of Riddler’s hands are sculpted as closed fists and I suppose if we’re getting one set of hands and no accessories that’s the position I would have chosen. They look good and the edges of the gloves around the wrists are sculpted. They didn’t just paint his hands lavender and call it a day, so good for Mattel.
Riddler also has his little slippers. Again – Mattel could’ve gotten away with not sculpting these. But they’re here and they’re silly, so good job.
Coloring: The head has a great paint job. It isn’t the paint’s fault that the hair looks kind of shitty. The eyes are centered and don’t bleed out onto the mask. The mask stays within its boundaries – even around the eyes; the color goes all the way back. Riddler’s teeth are pearly white and painted precisely – they don’t bleed out onto the lips.
The rest of Riddler is mostly a uniform green color. Mattel managed to match all of his parts, even though some are different materials. The thighs don’t quite match the rest, but you can really only tell in pictures. In person you might not even notice and it certainly doesn’t stand out on the shelf. The question mark deco is very well done. Each question mark is clean, distinctive, and placed well. Even the one on his chest that’s broken up by the torso joint looks good.
The lavender parts are cleanly done and his slippers are even a different shade of green than the unitard. Again – Mattel could have gotten away with not doing that.
Overall the paint on this guy is excellent. It’s a simple deco, but there were quite a few spots where Mattel could have botched it and they didn’t.
Accessories: Riddler comes with the lowest common denominator of action figure accessories – a stand. He also comes with a “Collector Card”.
The stand is a piece of crap with a sticker on it that is already coming off. Also, the peg is situated so close to the front that the figure’s foot hangs off. It’s pretty bad. Good thing I hate stands and will be throwing it out anyway.
The “Collector Card” is also a piece of crap. It’s extremely flimsy cardboard with a pretty great painted picture of Frank Gorshin on one side and part of a diorama on the other. When put side-by-side with the other “Collector Cards” in the series it forms a picture. The diorama doesn’t make a lick of sense because it is of a countertop in the Batcave. Also, the stands are too large to allow the cards to sit right next to each other to form the picture. What morons come up with this stuff?
As with all 6” scale figures, I think an extra pair of hands would have been nice. An unmasked head would have been good, too. Or maybe the gigantic riddle book on the “Collector Card”. Or some riddles. There are a lot of things this figure could have come with and didn’t.
Packaging: I don’t like the bland packaging for this line, but it is slightly less offensive on the single-carded figures. I do like that these are simple blister cards rather than the ridiculously overdone things Mattel has been using over the past few years.
There’s a bio on the back written in sufficiently hyperbolic language to be reminiscent of the TV show.
Value: I got this guy for $15.99 with free shipping from Amazon. I find his lack of accessories disturbing, but for today’s standards – particularly from Mattel – I have to call this a decent deal. Certainly better than the $19.99 Toys R Us is charging.
Overall: This might be my favorite figure in the line so far. It’s not as great as it could have been, but there’s nothing I specifically dislike about the figure itself (as opposed to Penguin’s weird cigarette, Batman and Robin’s capes, and Joker’s un-mustache) so that’s a pretty huge score for Mattel.
4 out of 5
I have not been seeing these at retail. The only thing I’ve seen recently was the Toys R Us Exclusive Surf’s Up Batman (I passed on that one). Prior to that I only ever saw the Batman and Robing 2-pack and one single-carded Batman. Amazon has had great deals on these since Black Friday, so if you want them I recommend you check that out.

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