1960s 'Batman' TV Show Returning in New Toy Line, Comics
"I just came along and embellished it in my way," says Adam West of his iconic role at an event launching retro merchandise.
Holy Bat-nostalgia! The 1960s Batman TV show is coming back in a big way this year.
With an original George Barris Batmobile stopping traffic in front of Hollywood’s Meltdown Comics and six-foot tall models dressed in Catwoman suits serving drinks to a nerdy but hip crowd inside, Warner Bros. Consumer Products, along with vintage T-shirt company Junk Food Clothing, threw a swank event Friday to launch a toy line and other merchandising products based on the classic TV series.
The line is two years in the making and marks the first major merchandising push by DC, owned by Warner Bros., involving that particular Bat-world.
The '60s TV show made Batman a household name, and the show, with its wink-wink camp attitude and colorful “Pow!” and “Wham!” flashcards, fit perfectly with the emerging pop art movement at the time. Continuing the theme, the day after the event, DC announced a new comic called Batman '66.
One reason DC and Warners weren’t able to launch a product line is that likeness and talent rights weren’t owned by the company but rather 20th Century Fox Television. Warner Bros. Consumer Products “aggressively pursued the rights,” according to the division’s president, Brad Globe.
Globe, 59, was an avid watcher when the series aired on ABC.
"There’s a whole segment of people like me, who grew up on the show and that are passionate about it, loved it, and have not been able to have it," he said. "For many of us, this was really our first connection, emotionally, to the character."
The line is geared toward adults, but the company, counting on Batman’s rich mythology and broad appeal, is expecting crossover to younger demographics, especially the hip, artsy crowd who will be drawn by the retro appeal.
Among the figures is a Batman in swimming trunks and surfboard, a Comic-Con exclusive box of the Batusi, and a Ken and Barbie in Batman and Catwoman form from Mattel.
"I think this allows us to extend Batman in a way we haven’t been able to before," said Globe.
Meltdown, decorated in a Batcave-meets-nightclub vibe, was packed as the crowd devoured the T-shirts and snapped pictures of the previewed toys. (The line won’t be available until July.) In the crowd was rocker and Bat-fan Chris Daughtry, actress Rumer Willis and Miss Alabama Katherine Webb.
No one could miss the tornado that followed Adam West, who portrayed the Caped Crusader in the show.
West has spent much of the last 40-plus years living up, not living down, his time as Batman. Taking a breather from the crowd, West pondered the enduring popularity of the series.
"We were very fortunate in creating a show that appealed to the entire family spectrum, and I was fortunate to have done a character that was very rich already out there in pop culture," he said. "I just came along and embellished it in my way."
West hammed it up for cameras Friday and was generous and patient with the fans. If it got too much for the 84-year old, he didn't show it.
"I’ve worked 40 years of this," he said. "And to create a character that is so loved by people, well, there is no reason why I shouldn’t love it too."