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!