Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Mattel '66 Surfing Batman 2013

I feel like I should say right away that you did read the post title correctly - this is Surfing Batman. In a list of action figures I never thought I'd own, this is one I never even dreamed of putting on the list it was so obscure. Not only did figures from the 1966 Batman television show seem unlikely, but having a one-off figure from a few minutes of one episode was just never even talked about. Why waste our time talking about the impossible - but here it is! I'll get into the history in a moment, but for now just bask in the beauty that is Adam West's baby blue gaze. And remember, for this article especially, embiggening the pictures is possible just by clicking on them! I upload them huge, just for you!

"Surfs Up, Joker's Under" was an episode that aired in 1967 during Batman's third and final season. Joker decides that if he can win a surfing competition, he can rule Gotham by taking their hearts and winning their love. It.. seems like a plan that is a bit lacking, but hey - it was all about the fun. Cesar Romero was fantastic as an incredibly over-the-top Joker while Burt Ward, Adam West, and Yvonne Craig totally sold themselves as serious super heroes just trying to save the day. This isn't easy to do when Batman is walking around in his full outfit with bright yellow surfing jams on top.
It is the addition of the shorts that I applaud Mattel for. Seriously, they deserve absolute credit. They are the kinds of reusing old bodies, but there is just no way they cheated with these shorts. They are fully sculpted, from the belt on his mid-abdomen down to his spindly legs. It. Is. Glorious. There are some action figures that I look down on for being utterly ridiculous, and there are others that climb out of the pit of ridiculousness, climb the highest mountain of camp, and shout out their victory to the world. This is the latter.
Batman has all of the articulation he needs to adopt great surfing poses. Most of this figure is the stock Batman body, which was already pose-able, and he gives none of that up with his new upper legs and waist. He can adopt deep poses for those hard to manage waves, and more upright poses for calmer waters.
That he comes with a large surfboard does wonders for his posing options. It features two foot pegs that are sized perfectly for the soles of his feet, and keeps him absolutely stable for whatever positions you want to put him into. It is an exceedingly bright yellow with a bat symbol tampoed onto it, but it really doesn't have to be more than that - although it is. The fin on the back of the surfboard is removable, allowing it to rest flat on the shelf, or to give it a bit of an angle by leaving it in. Either way doesn't compromise the stability.
Batman has a fabric cape, and this was absolutely the way to go with this figure. Mattel isn't great with capes. The Batman capes I've seen in the past often seem like they are choking Batman or giving him no neck. The cape wasn't nearly as prominent in the television show and those definitely gives that appearance. It's a very thin fabric without and hemming, which is unfortunate, but it could also likely be replaced at any time. I haven't tried popping off the head to check, but it doesn't seem to be glued on in any way.
Along with his surfboard, Batman comes with another figure stand similar to the ones included in all the other figures, and a cardboard cutout that fits in the back, although once again it is a landscape image printed on a vertical card. It just doesn't work. Still, for once I can't complain about the cheapness of the stand when he comes with a much better stand anyway. I'll just use his other one for a figure that would otherwise be without, like my new Assassin's Creed III figure.
There have been a lot of problems with Mattel's Batman '66 line, but this figure is not one of them. The sculpting is top notch, right down to Batman's front of his mask being a separate piece added to give more depth, and the concept of Surfing Batman is just the kind of goof that's never going to be topped. That I got this on sale at Amazon for $5 is unnecessary icing on the cake, as this is one of the few figures I would have definitely full price for - not that I'm complaining, mind you!
Surfing Batman has a permanent spot on top of a clock in our living room, surfing to his heart's content as my fan conveniently keeps his cape flapping. It's a blast of a character that's well executed and incredibly unique - these are the things that make toy collectors like me squee. I really can not recommend this figure enough. If you want to own one '66 Batman figure, this is absolutely the one to go for. Do not hesitate if you see a chance to pick him up for a reasonable price. You'll thank me later.


Jeff Quillope on February 13, 2014 at 12:00 AM said...

Really great review. Too bad I didn't get this.

Wes Grogan on February 13, 2014 at 12:01 AM said...

I hope you're able to at some point, Jeff, I really do. It's just one of those rare, truly fun and ridiculous figures that light a fire in my inner child's heart. I'm still not holding my breath on a second wave, so I don't know that Joker will ever surf side by side with Batman, but I'm hoping the scalping never gets too bad on this line and they all remain affordable for those that want them!

Eric Stettmeier on February 13, 2014 at 12:09 AM said...

This is the one of three from this series that I own that I did pay full price for - and didn't give it one single second thought! Sure, it would have been great to get at $5 (or even $15!) but man-oh-man I am right there with you in thinking I would have never lived long enough to see this moment in action figure form.

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