Holy, Missed Opportunities, Batman!
As we reported earlier (HERE), Warner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) has begun licensing the likenesses of actors, characters, vehicles and props from the iconic 1960s TV show, Batman, and a flood of new “bat-merchandise” is expected to burst forth upon the marketplace soon.
Most bat-fans are already aware that highly detailed 1:6 scale action figures bearing the likenesses of Adam West, Burt Ward, etc. are being planned, and that a glorious 1:6 scale Batmobile will be released sometime in 2014 (see preview HERE), But what many may not know, is that industry leader Mattel has already jumped out in front of the competition and released two new Ken and Barbie dolls dressed as Batman and Catwoman, respectively.
For decades now, GIjOE fans have cast their watchful eyes on Mattel, envious of the company’s incredible business acumen and continued mastery of the “razor and blades” marketing strategy. While Hasbro’s misguided leadership allows the GIjOE brand to continue to languish, there’s little disagreement over the reasons behind Barbie’s ongoing retail success: Mattel’s management “just gets it.”
The Dreaded “Pink Aisle Effect”
There’s a lot to be said for being first, but that doesn’t mean Mattel produces the best products. Barbies are clearly targeted to a younger, less discerning market (i.e. little girls) and a niche segment of adult collectors who rarely remove the toys from their boxes. The rest of us could care less.
In fact, most GIjOE collectors and customizers dread being near the “pink aisle” in a toy store and only venture down it when looking for “worthy bits” that might be useful in some future kitbash or custom project. We believe that’s the sort of attitude best applied when considering these two new dolls (yes, they’re dolls).
Not “Purr-fect” by any Means
At first glance, in their cool retro-packaging, the familiar figures may get your heart to racing, but upon closer examination, the details of Mattel’s “Bats” and “Cats” prove disappointing. Predictably, Mattel has opted to retain the vintage head sculpts of its 1960s Ken and Barbie, rather than create new head sculpts based on Adam West or Julie Newmar (they’re leaving that to Sideshow and Hot Toys). To be blunt, Catwoman-Barbie’s not nearly as pretty as Newmar, and Batman-Ken looks positively ridiculous in Batman’s cowl (see at top).
But that’s not all. While kitbashers eagerly look forward to transferring the pair’s costumes to other 1:6 scale bodies, they will be saddened to discover the accessories are also sorely inadequate. Batman-Ken’s cowl is cut short at the neck, and his gloves, boots and utility belt are all trade pile fodder. Catwoman-Barbie fairs a little better. Her catsuit is skin-tight sexy and properly textured. Her ears, necklace and mask seem detailed enough for most purposes. But her gloves and boots are such undersized, simplified pieces that only a little girl will find them acceptable. Into the bin they go!
Bottom Line: Barbie fans and “buy ’em all” collectors will probably pick these up without a second thought, but most Joeheads and 1:6 scalers will likely pass, or at least wait until they go on clearance (as they always do). Hopefully, some creative customizers will cherry pick the best parts from each set and show the rest of us how these figures SHOULD look. To the Kitbashing Poles!