Saturday, 24 June 2017

Adam West - The Batman of our Generation by tony k

A Tribute from the Haunted Toy Box


The bat signal flickers unanswered over Gotham City... a windy silence echoes through the deserted batcave... even the bats have gone.  All that remains are a few dog-eared comics, some old broken toys... and a few film-reel memories of a camp-as-hell TV series which made us laugh out loud, and cry for more.




 Across the world middle-age kids who perhaps never grew up, now reflect and remember their own era and incarnation of Batman, immortalised by actor, Adam West, who passed away on the 9th of June, this year. 




Filmed in a kooky Pop Art style, with its Dutch angle camera tilts, and characteristically crazy cartoon-punch inserts, the 1966 Batman TV series defined the caped crusader for years to come. Adam West's hipster Batman was equipped with a utility belt of tongue-in-cheek morality quotes, and comical capered cliches. 




He soon became the caped king of cliffhangers and choreographed fist fights.  His Gotham City was an artist's palette of bright colours straight from the pages of a comic book... populated with bumbling cops, hired henchmen, feline femme fatales, rubber shark props, an amazing car, a catchy theme tune, and a loyal sidekick called Robin.  




In 1966 tellyland, Batman's Lichtenstein landscape was consolidated by the hilariously eccentric rogue's gallery of reoccurring supervillains who were just plain old-fashioned crackers.  There was no menace or noir... the show was fun and entertaining.  It went from the ABC network to global syndication...  and is now a pop culture zeitgeist of the groovy and tuned-in television driven 1960's. 




A consumer cause-and-effect followed. The success of the TV series created a feeding frenzy for Batman toys and merchandise.  A lucrative market evolved, spilling over with licensed and unlicensed Bat-products. Some toys were top quality and made to last... others were cheap and cheerful, simply put out there to cash-in before the next mania caught the public's imagination.


  


Many of these Batman bygones are sought after by collectors today.  A worldwide search for Batman toys on eBay will generate thousands of results. The majority are modern toys based on the popular and contemporary Batman and Dark Knight movies, graphic novels, and of course, computer games. 




However, a growing number of modern market leaders, such as NECA and Hot Toys, have released a retro range of outstanding Adam West Batman toys and collectibles for nostalgic Batfans. Eaglemoss is one such company. They produced an incredible Bat-fest of display-cased automobilia, as collected, beautifully photographed, and previously reviewed by Scoop for the blog.

 Often hidden amongst the auction listings for these wonderfully sophisticated and modern Batman toys and games, are a few simpler 1960s Bat-bits-and-pieces... many arguably popularised by Adam West's Batman TV series!  Many of you reading this will have had some of them as kids.  




There were so many treasures out there back then - Batman toy cars, boats, planes, helicopters, action figures, capes, cowls, colouring books, comics, annuals and utility belts, puppets, pencil cases, guns and gum cards, rings, robots, stickers, models, masks and merchandise. Adam West made Batman so popular, so colourful, and so wonderfully cool. 




But perhaps without the influence of Adam West's Batman on yesterdays toy merchandising world, we wouldn't have had the pleasure to play with these things as kids, or the privilege to collect and enjoy them once again as adults.  Adam West was the Batman of our generation...  the Batman who made us laugh out loud... and cry for more!

Tony K

6 comments:

  1. A wonderful tribute to our shared childhood hero, Tony. Excellent collection of Bat-items too! My first tv memory is of a Batman cliffhanger ending back in 1967, the same year my godfather gave me a black Aoshin Batmobile for Christmas. My bro and myself also ate and drank from plastic Batman plates and mugs, made under license by a Finnish plastics company Plastex. Still looking for that holy grail of a mug for my collection!

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  2. Hi Arto, thank you for your kind comment and for sharing memories of your own childhood with this tribute/celebration of our childhood hero... and what wonderfully vivid memories you have! I can imagine the scenes you set. It's so nice that Adam West's Batman made a lasting impression on your early life and that you've posted your thoughts here today. I really hope you manage to find your holy grail... it'll be out there somewhere, waiting for you... good luck :)

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  3. What a bat-extravaganza you're showing off there, Tony. Wonderful stuff!
    And as usual, a most evocative write-up. A lot of memories I can echo, and a lot I can applaud.

    I think I still have what's left of my childhood Corgi Batmobile somewhere. And the original series soundtrack on original 33rpm vinyl. And I'll now have to go find the childhood photo albums my Mum so superbly kept, and see if I'm in there wearing my Batsuit (never wore the mask, but certainly the suit. Probably slept in it too! :)

    Cheers -- Paul

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  4. Hi Paul, Always a great pleasure to hear from you... and a big 'well done' of the growing success of your superb SpaceX website. Thanks for dropping by and sharing these lovely childhood memories with us on Woodsy's Baturday. I should have guessed that you'd be here with us amongst the Batman faithful today, ha ha. It must have been amazing to have had your own Batman suit as a nipper... lucky fella! Hope you can find that fantastic old photo. I'd certainly love to see if on here if possible :)

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  5. I was so sad to hear of the passing of Batman - and this article has made me realise that he is a genuine and true legend whose spirit and energy will live on forever - you're right re the toys he had a lot to do with our enjoyment and engaging with them. Like all of these articles I never knew that there were so many (verty cool) batman themed toys!

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  6. Hiya Doc, Thanks for popping in and sharing your thoughts about Adam West as Batman, one of the telly legends from our childhood. It's always lovely to hear from you and we'll catch up soon... same time... same Bat Channel :D

    ... and finally - A big thank you to Woodsy for 'Baturday' and for including this tribute in the line up :)

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