1967 UK Kerb Drill PSA Featuring Batman

Friends, in this day and age when the internet makes nearly everything known, it is indeed a joy to be able to stumble upon little nuggets of pop culture goodness you haven’t seen before. Case in point is this public service announcement, which originally aired in May of 1967 in the United Kingdom and focuses on the subject of road safety. It happens to feature none other than Adam West as the Caped Crusader , yes, we can now thrill to Batman demonstrating the Kerb Drill aka the Green Cross Code with the help of some willing British children.

At the time of the Kerb Drill’s release, the extremely popular Batman television series had probably just wrapped up its second season on ABC. Adam West’s appearance as Batman in this public service announcement probably has something to do with the fact that Batman: The Movie had been released in the UK in December of ’66. Although with the popularity of the television show, which was shown on Saturday and Sunday afternoons in the UK, is it any wonder that they recruited Adam West to speak to the kids about road safety?

Within the brief minute long PSA, Batman kindly explains that he has taken a quick holiday from Gotham City, to take in the sights of London and enjoy a breather from crime fighting as well. Although the Caped Crusader wants children to know that there is one danger they can never take a break from, the daily threat of vehicular traffic, and the need for them to obey traffic laws. Obviously it is up to Batman to explain the importance of the Kerb Drill, demonstrating it to a group of nearby children.

Not only is the Kerb Drill PSA rather charming and delightful, it was also considered for quite a while to be lost. It was in fact uncovered by the Birmingham based Kaleidoscope organization, a group dedicated to tracking down lost UK television rarities such as this public service announcement. Which as I understand it, when first shared in 2018 it marked the first time in 50 years that the Kerb Drill PSA was seen by the public at large.

VIDEO AND ARTICLE IMAGE PROVIDED BY IAmBirmingham.

1974 Interview With Darren McGavin About Kolchak: The Night Stalker

Friends, when The Night Stalker was aired as the ABC Movie of the Week on the evening of January 11th of 1972, it was a massive success to say the very least. It managed to earn a 33.2 rating and a 54 share of the television viewers that night, the highest rating for an original television movie for that time. The lion’s share of credit for the popularity of that made-for-TV movie goes to the late and great Darren McGavin as Carl Kolchak, a former Chicago newspaper reporter who has been sacked from the major papers and finds himself working in Las Vegas. Which is how the hapless Kolchak finds himself stumbling onto the biggest case of his career, a serial killer that is in fact… a vampire.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY CaptKundalini.

Of course it didn’t hurt The Night Stalker that it featured a slew of solid character actors like Simon Oakland, Ralph Meeker, Claude Akins, Elisha Cook Jr., Carol Lynley, and Barry Atwater to name just a few. Not to mention the fact that it was based off an excellent and at that point unpublished novel by Jeff Rice, with none other than Richard Matheson (I Am Legend, The Twilight Zone) adapting the story into an incredible screenplay.

The popularity of that 1972 TV movie led to 1973’s The Night Strangler, in this made-for-TV film Carl Kolchak finds himself running afoul of a serial killer in Seattle, Washington – one that is using his victims to prolong his own life and has been doing so for over a century.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY Obsolete Video.

It would have been an amazing bit of trivia to share on the Saturday Frights podcast, when the Projectionist and I tackled The Night Stalker on an early episode. But there was in fact a third TV movie written by William F. Nolan (Logan’s Run), based on a story idea by Matheson. Entitled The Night Killers, it would have taken place in Hawaii with Kolchak stumbling upon a UFO, people being replaced by androids, and a plot for aliens to take over the Earth. ABC decided that the popularity of the character however was better suited for a television series, with the first episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker airing on September 13th of 1974.

It was in 1974 when this interview between David Moore of KBAK-TV in Bakersfield, California and the legendary Darren McGavin took place. It sounds like it was just before the first episode aired and it sure seems to me that McGavin is excited about returning to the role of Carl Kolchak. My only complaint is that I wish this interview would have run for at least half an hour, as it is an absolute pleasure to witness the charm and wit of McGavin.

VIDEO AND ARTICLE IMAGE PROVIDED BY But Wait… There’s Moore!

Happy 50th To Here Comes Peter Cottontail!

Friends, it was a half-century ago today that the Rankin and Bass stop motion animated classic Here Comes Peter Cottontail was first broadcast on ABC. While I did not catch it when it was first aired as I hadn’t been born, Here Comes Peter Cottontail was a Holiday favorite of mine when I was growing up. In the days before a VCR or the internet made it possible to enjoy pretty much everything at our convenience, we only had one shot to see TV specials before we were forced to wait an entire year for it to be rebroadcast again. And for what it might be worth, I can recall watching this at my Grandparents a number of times in my youth, followed of course by sitting at the kitchen table and carefully dyeing Easter Eggs. In addition as I will share a little later in the article, watching Here Comes Peter Cottontail one year led to a very memorable and surprisingly scary experience.

VIDEO AND ARTICLE IMAGE PROVIDED BY RogerRabbitFan.

Here Comes Peter Cottontail was inspired by two different sources, the first was the iconic tune of the same name written by Steve Nelson and Jack Rollins, the same duo responsible for the slightly more popular “Here Comes Santa Claus” as well as the “Frosty the Snowman” Holiday songs. Thanks to the popularity of the Santa Claus tune, recorded by Gene Autry and released in 1947, the ‘Singing Cowboy’ would be tapped again to record “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” and “Frosty the Snowman” three years later. It might surprise you to learn that it was the song celebrating the busy Easter Bunny that fared better of the two on the Billboard charts, with it hitting the #3 spot for Hot Country Singles and nabbing the #5 slot on the Hot 100 list.

The second source that inspired the Rankin and Bass TV special came from the 1957 children’s story entitled The Easter Bunny That Overslept by Priscilla Friedrich, Otto Friedrich, and Adrienne Adams. In the case of the book, the titular Easter Bunny manages to miss the Holiday completely and spends the remainder of the book trying to deliver his stock of eggs during the remaining Holidays, finding out that children are less likely to accept them during the likes of the 4th of July. The teleplay for the television special adds a few additional elements and was written by Romeo Muller (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) and Thornton W. Burgess (Fables of the Green Forest).

Not from Here Comes Peter Cottontail… I just like to share classic animation.

It might interest you to know that Here Comes Peter Cottontail was released just a mere four months after another Rankin and Bass Holiday classic, Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town. Which as was pointed out in an article by Greg Ehrbar for the Cartoon Research site, this would most assuredly mean that Rankin and Bass were working on this Easter TV special at the same time as the latter. While Kizo Nagashima (The Wacky World of Mother Goose) is credited with being the Animagic (stop-motion) supervisor, the iconic songs were written by Maury Laws and Jules Bass who provided 6 original tunes for the Easter special.

The story for Here Comes Peter Cottontail concerns the titular character receiving the honor of being elected to the position of the official Easter Bunny, even though he exhibits less than stellar characteristics. The problem is that Peter has a rival of sorts in January Q. Irontail, who has no interest in spreading happiness but wants to be elected to the position so he can enact his revenge on children all over the world for the loss of his tail, which was severed when a child ran over it while roller skating. Irontail proposes a competition to see who can deliver the most Easter Eggs the following day, the winner will be the rabbit who is granted the title and position of Easter Bunny.

Thanks to some underhanded shenanigans by Irontail, Peter manages to sleep through the day, and the contest is won by the devious January who proceeds to transform the Easter Holiday into something more suitable for Halloween.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY disneyfanjsg.

So it is up to Peter Cottontail to somehow fix the mess that his carelessness has caused and take his rightful place as the official Easter Bunny. This is accomplished by meeting and teaming up with a colorful cast of characters, including some other Holiday guardians and the use of… a time machine?

I would certainly be remiss if I didn’t take a moment and point out that Here Comes Peter Cottontail benefits greatly from the fantastic cast of voice actors that were tapped for the production. Danny Kaye (White Christmas) lent his voice to not just Seymour S. Sassafras, the narrator for the special but Antoine and Colonel Wellington B. Bunny as well. In addition there is Casey Kasem (Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!) as Peter Cottontail, Paul Frees (The Haunted Mansion), Joan Gardner (Snorks), and of course the one and only Vincent Price as January Q. Irontail.

Which leads us to the scary experience I had in my youth one year after watching Here Comes Peter Cottontail. As a kid I would always spend the weekends at my Grandparents, for this particular Easter though it was extra special as my cousins happened to be visiting. Growing up as a Monster Kid there was certainly nothing about the Rankin and Bass TV special that would have unnerved me, but as we were quite frankly hopped up on sugar we laid in bed talking about the show. And then from outside of our window we heard something, it sounded just like the clanking of January Q. Irontail’s tail, followed by a shadow on the blinds of what appeared to be a rabbit hopping past the window. We ducked our heads under the covers and waited for that clanking sound to go away and after long minutes we dared to take a peek, thankfully everything was quiet after that and even with that unexpected fright we soon fell asleep.

The following morning we excitedly related the story to our Family and were told it was just our imagination and the amount of sugar we had consumed. To this day I do not believe that was the case, for one thing while hunting for Easter eggs that morning after breakfast, I found a small coffee can with a few nails hidden behind the short hedges in front of the bedroom window. I am absolutely positive that our uncles were the culprits, overhearing us talking about Here Comes Peter Cottontail in bed, with the shadow of the rabbit passing the window being just a little hand shadow puppetry.

So in closing out this overly long article, here is to 50 years of Here Comes Peter Cottontail, a Holiday special that is delightfully unique and fun as when it first aired. From all of us at the Pop Culture Retrorama site, we hope you have a very safe and happy holiday!

Enjoy This 1971 Rendition Of Coconut By Harry Nilsson.

Friends, although I have no doubt whatsoever that in my youth I had heard some of the popular songs of Harry Nilsson, while traveling in the car with my Father, the sad truth of the matter is I wouldn’t have realized it. In fact the first time I ever remember hearing the late and great singer and songwriter was thanks to the animated film adaptation for The Point!, the children’s album which marked the sixth studio album by Nilsson. The ABC Movie of the Week was produced by Murakami-Wolf Films (The Mouse and his Child, Puff the Magic Dragon) with narration and performances by Alan Thicke (Growing Pains) as well as Mike Lookinland (The Brady Bunch). When The Point (notice they took off the exclamation mark) was originally aired on February 2nd of 1971, I was far too young to have caught it, but thanks to it being rebroadcast throughout the ’80s I fell in love with the music of Harry Nilsson long before I was aware of the artist himself.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY Charlie Blakemore.

You will no doubt have noticed that the narrator in that clip was not Alan Thicke but Ringo Starr, that is because the legendary musician lent his voice to the role of narrator for the VHS and DVD releases for The Point. It is a delightful animated movie that we have watched after closing down the arcade on many a night in the past, if you have not had the pleasure of watching the film for yourself I cannot recommend it highly enough.

A little over a year after that animated film premiered, it turns out that Harry Nilsson took part in a special for the BBC entitled The Music of Nilsson, which was presented as one of the In Concert series. Recorded in ’71 but not released until New Year’s Day of 1972, the special allowed Nilsson to perform the likes of “Mr. Richland’s Favorite Song“, “One“, “Gotta Get Up“, and “Coconut” among others. Smarter folks than myself have correctly observed that for the taping of “Coconut“, Nilsson is quite obviously making a nod to the popular sketch comedy act The Nairobi Trio as featured on The Ernie Kovacs Show.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY Kovacs Corner.

Coconut” was one of ten songs featured on the 1971 studio album Nilsson Schmilsson, and marked the third single to be released for the LP the following year. The song managed to nab Billboard‘s #66 spot for the top songs released in ’72 and has gone on to be featured in the likes of Reservoir Dogs, The Addams Family, and Hey Arnold!: The Movie.

VIDEO AND ARTICLE IMAGE PROVIDED BY Weldon Thomas.

1979 Interview with Gil Gerard on Buck Rogers And Battlestar Galactica

Friends, as is often the case, I was doing some research on an entirely different subject when I stumbled across this interview between Gil Gerard and Bobbie Wygant. The video which was uploaded on June 1st of 2020, gives a 1979 to 1980 date for the conversation between the two. As Bobbie Wygant brings up both the theatrical release for Buck Rogers in the 25th Century as well as the fact that Battlestar Galactica didn’t make it on television – I am willing to bet this took place shortly after the Buck Rogers series was picked up by NBC. Interestingly enough, the original concept for Buck Rogers in the 25th Century was that it would not be a series but a couple of made-for-TV films. It would seem though that what Universal Studios was seeing from the dailies, to say nothing of the fact that they had found success by releasing Battlestar Galactica to theaters after the series ended – resulted in the decision to go ahead and release Buck Rogers in the 25th Century as a feature film on March 30th of 1979. To be fair that decision also had quite a bit to do with co-creator and showrunner Glen A. Larson (Automan, Knight Rider) pointing out to the executives that they had suggested a theatrical run for Battlestar Galactica before that series had aired on ABC too.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY Grindhouse Movie Trailers.

As I understand it, that theatrical run ended up netting 21.7 million dollars against a budget of 3.5 million. It also had the benefit of a Buck Rogers series being ordered, with the film acting as a two-part pilot, now entitled “Awakening”. Although they were forced to excise some of the more “mature elements” of the film when it was broadcast on September 20th of 1979 – the biggest change however would be the removal of the death of Princess Ardala’s loyal bodyguard, Tigerman (H.B. Haggerty).

In this short interview with Bobbie Wygant, Gil Gerard discusses why he hoped that Buck Rogers in the 25th Century would not become a television series as well as the reasons for Battlestar Galactica failing to keep its audience.

VIDEO AND ARTICLE IMAGE PROVIDED BY The Bobbie Wygant Archive.

Holy 55th Anniversary To Batman ’66!

Friends, earlier this afternoon one of my esteemed colleagues of the Super Blog Team-Up, Dave’s Comic Heroes Blog, shared the exciting news that today is a rather special day. It turns out that on January 12th of 1966 – the very first episode of the Batman television series aired on ABC. Fifty-five years ago, what would become a campy pop culture juggernaut was released with the first half of a two-part story featuring the Riddler entitled Hi Diddle Riddle. Giving DC Comics fans their first live-action comic book television series since The Adventures of Superman ended back in 1958, in addition to cluing in the audience that this adaptation of DC Comics’ Caped Crusader was going to be a whole lot of fun. Of course it didn’t hurt that the first episode featured the talents of Frank Gorshin as the Riddler – the legendary comedian and impressionist who all but steals every scene he is in – equal parts zany and menacing. To say nothing of being quite a snappy dresser, right?

The Batman TV series would last from January 12th of ’66 to March 14th of ’68, producing 120 episodes in total as well as a feature length film, which actually debuted just two months after the first season had ended. The popularity of the show was thanks in no small part to the way the series leads, Adam West and Burt Ward, approached their characters of Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder with an earnest and straightforward manner. Which allowed the guest stars on the show, who almost always played the villain of the week, to ham it up and have fun with their roles. Just a few of the stars featured as foes of the Dynamic Duo included Carolyn Jones (The Addams Family), Cliff Robertson (Spider-Man), Roddy McDowall (Fright Night), Vincent Price (The Last Man on Earth), and Victor Buono (What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?).

Although it is fair to say that the core and perhaps most memorable villains in the Batman TV series included not just Gorshin but the Joker as played by Cesar Romero, the Penguin who was portrayed by Burgess Meredith, and Catwoman – who was played by Julie Newmar, Eartha Kitt, as well as Lee Meriwether.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY BatEnciclopdia.

You might be interested to know that the genesis of the series began in the early half of the ’60s – as I understand it, the original intention was for it to be part of the CBS Saturday morning lineup. At around the same time though, it appears that ABC was in the market to adapt a comic book character or perhaps a popular hero from newspaper comic strips for a spot in their prime-time schedule. The negotiations for the proposed live action series on CBS fell through and DC Comics took back their rights and decided to go with the pitch by ABC.

Here is another interesting bit of trivia you might not be aware of – we came very close to having the likes of Lyle Waggoner (Wonder Woman) and Peter Deyell (Mr. Novak) as Batman and Robin. As I’ve read online, ABC as well as showrunner William Dozier (The Green Hornet) felt so strongly that both pairs of actors could pull off the roles – they had them each perform a special screen test. Obviously at the end of the day, it was West and Ward who were rightfully deemed to be the perfect choice.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY justwondering50.

If you feel like joining in on the fifty-fifth anniversary celebration of Batman ’66, I have some very good news for you – I believe that you can watch the entire series on Roku at this very second. In closing out this article, let us raise a glass of milk to toast the ’60s Batman television show – for providing untold laughs and comic book fun for 55 years!

Jack Palance Reveals Real-Life Inspiration For Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde

Friends, in the early ’80s on Sunday evenings there was a television show that my Family would never fail to watch, that was the ABC series Ripley’s Believe It or Not! A wonderful show with the iconic Jack Palance (Batman, City Slickers) acting as host – inspired by the newsreels, radio series, books, and comic books of Robert Ripley. After testing the waters with a television pilot on May 3rd of 1981 – ABC picked up the series and the first episode of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! aired on September 26th of 1982. For four seasons viewers were guided by Jack Palance through the more bizarre elements of history, noteworthy individuals, and interesting cultural activities. Just a few of the subjects covered on the TV show included the research on cryogenics, a prisoner who took his life with the aid of playing cards, a fire that burned non-stop for eight months, and Stephen Hawking. Palance did not host the show alone, as he was joined by a trio of co-hosts for various segments throughout the 76 episode run of Ripley’s Believe It or Not!. That included the likes of Catherine Shirriff (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock), Marie Osmond (Donny & Marie), as well as Holly Palance – who not only joined her Father for two seasons on the show but was recognizable from her role in 1976’s The Omen!

Jack Palance was the perfect choice as host, there seemed to be a merry twinkling in his eyes and barely restrained glee when he was discussing something gruesome. The fact that the audience could see that Palance was having fun sharing these interesting facts and legends – it helped to knock a little edge off the sometimes more gruesome subject matters featured on the show. Having said that however, it did nothing to diminish the chills I would experience from the rather memorable intro to the TV show. Which just so happened to feature a theme song composed by none other than Henry Mancini (Peter Gunn, The Pink Panther).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVT3kOxqStA
VIDEO PROVIDED BY CNNRotatingSquare.

Which brings us to the point of this article, the real-life inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde. In the nearly four minute segment, Palance points out the inspiration came from one William Brodie – a man living two very different lives – respectable member of the community by day and a flamboyant burglar by night. The short segment in addition features Palance from his role in the 1968 made-for-TV movie adaptation of Stevenson’s famous story… believe it or not!

VIDEO AND ARTICLE IMAGE PROVIDED BY spookylorre.

As far as I know, the excellent Ripley’s Believe It or Not! series has yet to be released on any version of home media. Which is truly a shame as the show was a whole lot of fun. At the very least we can enjoy the various segments that have been uploaded on social media, right?

Did You Watch The 1987 TV Pilot For The Spirit?

Friends, nine years after Superman made audiences believe a man could fly and two years before Michael Keaton would portray the Dark Knight in the box office juggernaut that was Batman – Sam J. Jones (Flash Gordon) donned the domino mask and brightly colored business suit attire of Will Eisner’s The Spirit in a TV pilot film. Featuring Nana Visitor (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), Bumper Robinson (Transformers: Animated), Garry Walberg (Quincy M.E.), and Philip Baker Hall (Magnolia) to name a few – it was a fun if most assuredly cheesy attempt at bringing the iconic comic book character to the small screen in a regular series.

Video Provided by AndyStego.

My Grandfather and I caught The Spirit when it was originally broadcast on the evening of July 31st of 1987 on ABC. There was no way I was going to miss a comic book character TV movie – although I will have to admit I had only a passing knowledge of the comic book icon at the time. I could not know that eleven years later I would be able to ask Will Eisner in person what he felt about the television adaptation of his character – his response was genuine – that he wasn’t too thrilled with it. Although I should add that when I shared my memory of watching it with my Grandfather – he said that he was extremely happy to hear that the pilot generated such a positive memory.

I’ll leave the importance of Will Eisner to the comic book industry to those who are better equipped to speak on the matter. I can tell you that the TV movie for The Spirit was completed in 1986 – reading online it was meant to be broadcast in September of ’86 – but was shelved when there was a change in the staff line up after ABC was sold to Capital Cities Communications in ’85. The Spirit was aired thanks to comic book fans – as you can read in greater detail in this 2017 article by Mike Cecchini for Den of Geek – when a petition was started and signed by attendees of the San Diego Comic-Con in ’86!

Video and Article Image Provided by warnerarchive.

Directed by Michael Schultz (Car Wash, The Last Dragon) in 16 days, the teleplay was courtesy of Steven E. de Souza – probably best known for penning the scripts for the likes of Commando, The Running Man, and the first two films in the Die Hard series. So the TV movie definitely had more than a few scenes of the Spirit trading blows with the various thugs and henchman that crossed his path… as well as becoming barechested quite a bit in the one hour and fourteen minute running time.

At the moment you can watch The Spirit on the DC Universe app – although as I understand it you will be able to check it out on HBO Max next year after January 21st. It really is a fun movie – it might not completely stick the landing – but after watching the film you can’t help but wonder where the series would have gone if it had been picked up. While I am not attempting to be negative I will admit that I feel the 1987 TV Pilot for The Spirit is a far better version of the character than the big budget 2008 picture starring Gabriel Macht, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Eva Mendes, and Sarah Paulson.

Video Provided by Lionsgate Movies.

Today Is The 40th Anniversary Of Alligator!

Friends, I have mentioned this on the site as well as on the Saturday Frights podcast and Facebook page – but one my favorite subgenre of horror films is animal horror. This is in no small part thanks to catching the likes of 1976’s The Food of the Gods, Day of the Animals, and Empire of the Ants on television in my youth – the last two films were prime time special events as a matter of fact. Well, it was 40 years ago today that Alligator was released to theaters – a cult classic in the animal horror film subgenre – ranking right up there with Them!, Willard, and Piranha. However, while this managed to be shown at the local Drive-In theater of my youth the following year – I first caught Alligator on March 7th of 1982 as the ABC Sunday Night Movie!

Video Provided by KLXT77.

One of the reasons I remember seeing Alligator for the first time – besides the fact it is an awesome movie – is that I had just received a tape cassette player and recorder for my birthday. That Sunday evening I ended up recording the entire audio for the 1980 film – using both sides of one of my two blank cassette tapes that I had also received for my birthday. Somehow I was able to convince my Father to let me take the player to school the following day – and on the nearly 40 minute bus ride to and back from school we were entertained by 1980’s Alligator.

Video and Article Images Provided by GBW PODCAST.

The quick synopsis for Alligator is that a young girl purchases a baby alligator on vacation in Florida, upon returning back to Chicago, her Father flushes it down the toilet. Fast forward 12 years later and sewer workers are starting to get picked off – which draws the attention of police officer David Madison, played by the late and great Robert Forster (The Black Hole, Jackie Brown). While investigating the sewers, David watches in horror as his partner is attacked and dragged off by the rather large alligator – although no one will believe Madison’s story. Which leads him to being introduced to Marissa Kendall, played by Robin Riker (Brothers), who happens to be a zoologist whose study is of reptiles. It will be up to David and Marissa to try to warn the city that an alligator who has grown to 36 feet long thanks to feeding on growth hormones – a byproduct of a crooked pharmaceutical company – is about to emerge from the city sewers with a newly acquired taste for human beings.

Alligator was written by John Sayles (Battle Beyond the Stars, The Howling) and directed by Lewis Teague – who would go on to helm such horror films as Cujo and Cat’s Eye. In addition to Robert Forster and Robin Riker, the film benefits from industry veterans Sydney Lassick (Carrie), Henry Silva (Buck Rogers in the 25th Century), and Dean Jagger (Game of Death) to name a few.

If you have a yearning to celebrate 40 years of Alligator I am sad to say that obtaining Alligator on DVD or Blu-ray is going to set you back quite a bit of money – although if you look around the internet you just might find it uploaded here and there in it’s entirety.

Back To The 3.75″ Batcave!

Seems like it wasn’t that long ago that Funko snagged the license to create a toy line I had wanted since I was a little kid – 3.75″ scale figures based on the 1966 Adam West Batman series. You’d have to understand my kid brain simply not processing that Batman – one of my favorite things to watch on TV, right up there with Battle Of The Planets and Star Trek – was not a “new” show. I didn’t understand the lack of action figures for it when I was a kid. After all, Star Wars was turning every character who got half a frame of screen time into a figure. Why should Batman be any different? And Mego’s Pocket Heroes line, while it at least gave me a strangely bemuscled Batman and Robin (and Superman!), light years away from Adam West’s dad-bod vision of the man in the cowl, wasn’t that great.

It wasn’t until I was doing my own dad-bod thing that Funko came along and rolled out a line of Batman ’66 figures – along with a Batmobile, which was the only way to get Robin – in that scale. And they were great! There were some grumblings from the fanbase that the assortment of villains – King Tut, the Bookworm, Mr. Freeze (in both Otto Preminger and George Sanders varieties!), and Catwoman – wasn’t exactly the royalty of Bat-baddies. Funko said that the big bads – you know, the Joker, the Penguin, the Riddler – and Robin would be in the second wave. And then they seemed to forget to promote the first wave, because they’re kind of notorious for pushing vinyl Pop figures at the expense of just about any other product category. It was a sad single-wave collection – great figures, terrific likenesses, and a cool vehicle to go with them – that never quite lived up to its potential.

All images courtesy Mezco Toyz

Now another action figure maker seems to have picked up on that wasted potential, picking up the 3.75″ action figure license for Batman ’66 for itself: Mezco Toyz has revealed an all-in-one package that corrects nearly all of the deficiencies present in Funko’s line, complementing it and correcting for it in just about every way that matters. Packaged in a box that includes a giant Wayne Manor/Batcave double-sided diorama, it’s a set of seven 3.75″ action figures with copious accessories and a new take on the classic 1966 Batmobile. It’s not a cheap package, sure, but just about everything that anyone wanted from that vaporware second wave of figures can be found here. So let’s go over what’s in the box:

Characters we already had: Batman, Robin, and Catwoman were available in Funko’s line, and with nine points of articulation too, so don’t chuck those out the window just to pre-order this. Mezco Toyz has gone above and beyond to ensure that there are features and accessories that Funko didn’t think of – swappable heads so that Batman and Robin can also be Bruce and Dick without their masks (maybe save those for 2022 or so, though, right?), “POW!” and “BAM!” word balloons that can be attached to their hands for absolute authenticity to the TV series, batarangs, a Bat-Shield, Bat-communicators, and even a handy can of shark repellent because, well, you never know. Catwoman also has a maskless swappable head, a golden cat statue, and a tranquilizer gun.

All images courtesy Mezco Toyz

Characters we still wanted: It would be so easy to focus on the rogues’ gallery of characters promised, but never delivered – Joker, Riddler, the Penguin, each of them with swappable heads (except for the Joker), Penguin has two umbrella props, the Riddler can clutch a freshly-purloined bag of cash, and a picture frame to slam over the heads of the Caped Crusaders in a fight because, honestly, when did that not happen? But the real gem among the new figures is none other than Mr. Alfred Pennyworth. Swappable head? Sure. But have you considered the possibility of putting Alfred’s head on Batman’s body? Because that’s something that actually happened in the show.

All images courtesy Mezco Toyz

Batmobile with more Bat-gadgets: The Batmobile lives again, but now with a retractable buzzsaw accessory (activated with a button on the windshield) and a “flame” that can be attached to the rear of the vehicle.

The Batcave: Don’t write this off just because it’s mostly card stock instead of plastic, because it’s kind of beautiful – the Bat-reactor in the background, three-dimension Bat-Computer consoles, and – yes – the Bat Poles. And yes, Batman and Robin can slide down them. A turntable is built into the floor for the Batmobile, as per the set of the show itself. The only thing missing is the Giant Lucite Map of Gotham City – surely someone with a 3D printer and a working knowledge of building tiny LEDs into something is about to make a fortune on Etsy.

All images courtesy Mezco Toyz

The Bottom Line: Is it a good value? If the figures were individually packaged, they’d probably run $12-$14 each, putting you just under the $100 mark. Funko’s Batmobile box set ran in the neighborhood of $40 when newly released. This is before the accessories, extra heads, or the whole freaking Batcave. Oh, and the stands for each figure – did I mention those are included too? My bad. It’s not a bad deal.

Hopefully the constant mentions of what Funko did or didn’t do with the Batman ’66 license doesn’t steal the thunder of Mezco Toyz’ frankly stunning announcement of their new set, but it’s kind of the elephant in the room: business was left unfinished. This new set, plus a collection of what was already available, adds up to about as much of a 3.75″ Batman ’66 toy line as I ever would have expected. Anything additional from here on out – Egg Head, anyone? – is just pure gravy. Bat-Gravy.

Not cheap either, but hey, the Riddler’s got a bag of loot waiting for you the moment you open the box…and Commissioner Gordon is still nowhere to be found.