Friday, February 14, 2014

Mattel '66 Penguin 2013

I've been looking at a few of the Batman '66 figures that Mattel has produced lately, and this one is no exception. Technically, this is a review of the character The Penguin, but I don't really care about all of that. No, to me, this is a review of Burgess Meredith. Why is that? Well, come inside and we'll find out!

"Eat lightning and crap thunder!" These words made me fall in love with Burgess Meredith. I wasn't aware of him being Penguin at the time. No, he was just Mickey, Rocky's hard luck former boxing champion and current coach. He had non-traditional training techniques, a hard knocks outlook on life, and charisma you could cut with a butter knife. Screw Rocky, the title of the movie should have been Mickey. I know Burgess Meredith was recreated at least one other time by a company called Jakks that has never produced a figure that I've paid for, but it isn't terribly impressive to me and never really scratched my itch for something more than just a Mickey figure. And then came along the company I love to hate - Mattel.
There are some roles I just accept that I'll never see Burgess Meredith represented as in plastic form. The father from Grumpy Old Men? Not very likely. Georgie from Of Mice and Men? Not holding my breath. Blacklisted Communist Meredith? Probably not. I used to think that Burgess Meredith as Penguin from Batman was on that list, but last year, thankfully, proved me wrong!
The actual sculpting on this figure is top notch, particularly when you consider that they not only had to capture Meredith's visage, but do so as a character that is fondly remember by many. They really did knock it out of the park. The rest of the body is unique as well, from top hat to spats on the shoes, everything is fresh and new. Naturally, a lot of this is because of Penguin's unique build, but it still works really well and is definitely appreciated.. especially for the premium price that was charged for these figures.
You guys have probably seen me complain time and again about there being no accessories with this line, so that must mean that Penguin's two accessories just send me over the moon, right? Wrong. I would be thrilled with them if they weren't pretty much utter crap. The umbrella is really soft and flimsy and its handle was so incredibly warped out of the package that there was really no redeeming it at all. I'm not one for boiling and fixing my toys. I get the toy that is sold to me, and that's that. In this case, that's a bad thing.
And then there's the stick poking out of his mouth. A funny thing about the character is that Burgess Meredith actually developed the trademark penguin laugh because he didn't have a whole lot of choice. See, he had actually quit smoking twenty years before ever taking the role, but it was considered necessary that Penguin smoke. Not being used to smoking, the smoke would catch in his throat and make him cough, so he tried to cover it with a laugh to try and keep from having to do takes over and over again. Of course, those who don't understand the character probably wonder what that has to do with his chewing a stick.
Well, believe it or not, that's supposed to be a cigarette holder. Yeah. The end is unpainted, likely in an attempt for the litigious-fearful Mattel to avoid getting sued. It also bent in the package and refused to be straightened, which really didn't help matters any. The end result is that it looks absolutely nothing like a cigarette holder and instead just looks like Penguin has an odd stick-chewing habit. Weird things happened on Batman, but that wasn't one of them.
The articulation isn't bad. He's able to get some fun poses, but the suit-body that he has means that most of those poses look really freaky when used. See the picture below as an example. He's best left in the standard pose, which is unfortunate, since it really turns him into a bit of a statue. Still, it is Burgess Meredith as Penguin and left in his original, static pose he really does look really good. Just don't plan on getting any action shots out of him.
Like the other Batman figures, I got this one on the supercheap at Amazon for about five bucks. That means that it's really hard for me to talk about his value overall. I'd say ten to fifteen bucks would be worth it if you really, really like the character or the actor, but anything above that I'd really hesitate. The umbrella is definitely a potential choke hazard for those with smaller children, but otherwise it's a really solid figure for playing, and the paint is limited enough that it won't really be hurt by regular play sessions. He is Burgess Meredith and I'm still not holding my breath for any better figures, but it's another case where Mattel could have done so very much more. As much as I enjoy having this figure, I can't help but think about the figure that could have been.


John Gaither on February 14, 2014 at 4:49 AM said...

Looks great!

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