Thursday, January 30, 2014

Mattel '66 Riddler 2013

Ah, Mattel. We have a love story for the ages tracking back to my childhood. You've pleased me and disappointed me, lied to me and delivered on promises! When I heard that you were making figures based off of the Batman 1966 television show, I had to wonder which Mattel was I dealing with. Were you going to be the drunken Mattel slurring your figures and hitting me with quality control issues and too-high prices, or would you be the repentant Mattel, promising that you love me and will never do that to me again? Well, today we take a look at their figure based off Frank Gorshin's portrayal of The Riddler, and we'll find out the answer.

The Riddler is another Batman character that was played by two different actors. Frank Gorshin is perhaps the most famous portrayal, but John Astin (a.k.a. Gomez Addams) took over in the second season. See, Gorshin had a lot to do with the popularity of the first season of Batman. His laugh and manic energy added a flair to the show that all the audiences appreciated. When it came time for season two, Gorshin wanted more money. When the producers weren't inclined to grant it, they instead recast the role with a mustached Astin taking over. He never had the popularity in the role that Gorshin enjoyed, but he did deliver a solid performance.

This figure is undoubtedly based on Frank Gorshin. From the dead-on sculpt of the face to the lack of a mustache, there is no doubting who this is behind the mask. As with all of the Mattel figures for this line, the entire body is brand new from the lime-green booties to the slicked back hair. It captures the look of his lanky build, and the expression helps make him look menacing and more than a little crazy.

Gorshin actually had two looks as Riddler. The first is this spandex suit, and the other is a suit with question marks decorating it. Reportedly, Gorshin much preferred the suit, but I suspect Mattel chose to go with the spandex outfit due to it being both iconic and different from the suit-wearing Joker. It works, and the gloves and sculpted belt add a lot of personality to what would otherwise be a fairly bland body.
I'm not particularly happy that Riddler comes with two closed fists. I wish at least one of them had been left open for accessories. Not that he comes with any, of course. No, he just comes with the same stand that all of the figures receive, and a cardboard backing for it. The sad thing is that the image of the Riddler is actually printed in landscape, so it only sits sideways in the stand! It's a stupid mistake to make, and one that shows Mattel didn't put as much thought into this line as they should have. All that aside, I just wish I could give him a cane or some other prop, but with his hands closed that isn't going to happen.
The paint also isn't as clean as I would want it to be, especially considering how little of it there is. Most of the body is sculpted in the lime green, with details like the boots, gloves, and sash painted on. There is some slop over the lines and the mask isn't as accurate as it should be. It's not egregious, but it definitely could be better. The tampos of the question marks are all really well applied, however.
There are figures in this line I love and some I hate. This one falls blandly in the middle. There is absolutely nothing offensive about it, but it just is another case of a $20 figure coming with no accessories and an embarrassing mistake on the card that fits in the stand. Mattel is often good at dropping just as many balls as they carry, and this is just a great example of it. This is an iconic portrayal of a classic television villain, but it could have been more exciting with accessories and open hands. The stand is lazy, but the expression on the figure is absolutely fantastic. Overall, the main saving factor of this figure is the late Frank Gorshin himself. I have such deep memories from my childhood of watching him prance around the television screen that I can't help but love that I finally have a figure of him. Once that comes into play, all other errors are forgotten.
I will say that like the other figures in this line, I managed to get it for $5.00 from during a Christmas sale. At that price, this becomes a pretty fantastic figure. Just be aware that the enjoyment of the figure decreases as the price increases. For their original sale point of $20, they were a blatant rip-off. That, as much as anything, is why we'll never see Series 2, and that is a real shame.


John Gaither on January 30, 2014 at 4:53 AM said...

Frank as the Riddler was awesome and this figure has his likeness down but because of how simple that outfit is it becomes bland. Much as i like it i would love to have seen his suit outfit instead but maybe somewhere down the road we will. Great review too by the way. : )

Eric Stettmeier on January 30, 2014 at 8:50 PM said...

I predict there will be a second wave, and it will be a Toys R Us exclusive.

But I have to agree that there were so many more misses than hits with this line in it's entirety (thus far.) I was thinking to myself how something as simple as a BAF piece of some off-the=wall oddball villain that could never possibly see regular release (Egghead, Clock King, Shame, False Face) would have been enough to knock this first wave out of the park!

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