Holy Hot Wheels Batman!!!
One of the most anticipated Batman collectibles of all times is just a few weeks from release.
People have been waiting for a lot when it comes to the classic Batman TV show from 1966. Some fans want replicas of the Batmobiles. Some fans want action figures of the cast. MOST fans just want the show released on DVD! All of these things have been tied up in rights disputes (from studios, actors, etc) since the 1970s.. But Mattel has cut through some of that red tape and has found a way to bring us a piece of that gem from our childhoods. The Batmobile!
Word started leaking out around August of last year that Mattel was close to a deal with George Barris, the designer of the 1966 Batmobile, so that they could make different scales of Hot Wheels based on that classic TV car. When asked about it the answers were vague. Lots of "maybes" and "we’ll see" with some "nothing yet" and "no comments" thrown in for good measure. Then at 2006 Comic Con International there was a BIG teaser at the Hot Wheels booth, in the form of a red phone under glass along with the words "coming soon"
This news was mind blowing and the excitement crossed over from comic fans, action figure collectors, TV memorabilia collectors, die-cast collectors, and just plane ole’ folks that were fans of the classic show that have been waiting twenty-odd years for some officially licensed product.
There have been some officially licensed versions of the 66 Batmobile, most notably the products that Corgi put out in the late 1960 and early 1970s, and it is some great product, but now most of it is prohibitively expensive to the casual fan and the advances in toy manufacturing technology have made enough strides to give us incredible detailed scale replicas of arguably the coolest car on TV.
Bat fans are fortunate that the VP in charge of the Hot Wheels brand is our old friend "Walker Texas Ranger" who is himself a HUGE Batman and comics fan and has made it a personal project to make sure that this product is done right. There were several Batmobiles used in the filming of the show and the feature film and there are countless replicas that now tour the country and all have slight differences that the hardcore fans know all about. Sticker/decal placement, the pin striping and dashboard are ALL sticking points for the hardcore fans online. Check out this interview with Barris himself as he talks about how close he is working with the line manager for Hot Wheels, including paying a visit to to the Peterson Museum in Los Angeles to scan the original "number one" Batmobile.
There has been a lot of unlicensed product of the 66 Batmobile over the years. I’ve seen some amazing recreations of this Batmobile in my years of collecting, but they are also "1 (or 2) offs" and really expensive. Now fans won’t have to break the bank to get a piece of the action.
The 1/64 scale Hot Wheels hits next month, and then in the Fall we will be treated to 1/18 and 1/43 scale versions as well. From what I’ve been hearing the 1/18 scale version is the one that will blow everyone’s mind. I’m hoping these other versions will be shown next month at Toy Fair.
Here are the detailed shots I’ve been promising for the past week:
Let’s look at the 66 Batmobile along-side a few others. This first shot included the Mattel Batmobile redesign from 2004. This was the first 1/64th scale Hot Wheels Batmobile made after Mattel wrenched the Batman license away from Hasbro.
This next Batmobile is from the Super Friends animated series and was manufactured by DC Direct and included in the Super Friends 2-pack boxed set that contained Robin and the Riddler. While it is roughly the same scale it is not a proper "Hot Wheel" because the wheels are molded to the body and don’t turn.
The animated Batmobile in the center of the back row is from a 1999 Jack-In-The-Box kids meal program. It’s actually a little larger than the rest, and it’s got a pull-back feature (plus an opening canopy), but I had it around the office while taking these pictures so I thought I’d include it.
For more information on the Barris designed Batmobile, and to talk to other fans just as excited about this as I am, make sure you check out
History of the Batmobile
Gotham City 1966 Batmobile Message Board
Hollywood Die cast
A big "Thank you" to Mattel for letting us show off this "grail" of a collectable!