Val’s Toy Chest- Toy Biz Batman Retrospective

I‘ve been focusing on Funko and POP Vinyl figures in the last few columns as they’ve been issuing the most toys these past few weeks. This week is no different and we’re expecting Star Wars POPs including Boushh and Bib Fortuna, the rest of the Orange is the New Black series, Vinyl Idolz of Ghostbusters and Napoleon Dynamite characters and the long-awaited Garbage Pail Kids Really Big Mystery Mini Blind Boxes and Adam Bomb 10 inch Vinyl figure. POPs still in stock from our recent Funko shipment are Crazy Eyes from OitNB, Black Widow from Avengers: Age of Ultron, Disney/Pixar Cars, and characters from the game Fallout.

Our shipment of Hot Toys came in and includes the gorgeous Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly 1:6 Scale Figure as seen in the original Back to the Future, along with a Batman figure based on his appearance in the Arkham City videogame. Still in stock from recent Hot Toys shipments are the single-packed Groot figure from Guardians of the Galaxy, his fellow Guardian,  Gamora, plus the Falcon, and Stealth Suit Captain America from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, amongst others.

The latest issue of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman hits Wednesday. I admit I got bored and stopped reading the Batman title during the “Zero Year” story arc but enjoyed the brief snippet DC teased of this current Batman storyline in the FCBD Divergence one-shot enough to give it another chance. I picked up Batman #41 last month and enjoyed what they’ve done with Jim Gordon in his new role as the Caped Crusader. I am very much looking forward to #42 to see the continuing adventures of Ginger Batman and his Robo-Bunny Bat suit. (It is a lot better than I just made it sound BTW.)

As I briefly alluded to in last week’s column, Batman and his family of characters have been a constant part of my life. It started with me watching Super Friends in the early 80s, but I was only casually interested in the character until the 1989 Michael Keaton film was released. That was my first major foray into Batmania. It had been three years since Kenner’s influential and much-loved “Super Powers Collection” ended and super-hero toys in general had almost died off completely as Mattel’s “Marvel Secret Wars” and “Masters of the Universe/Princess of Power” completed their runs in 1985 and 1987 respectively. The only super heroes around by this point were the four in a half-shell that began populating toy shelves in 1988. 1989’s Batmania rekindled the nation’s love for the Caped Crusader and it was during this period that upstart toy company Toy Biz, Inc issued their movie tie-in line for Batman. The one and only offering for the 5-inch scale Batman series included the all-black clad Batman, the Joker with a squirting flower lapel and Bob, the Joker’s Goon. Toy Biz also ran a line concurrently called “DC Comics Super Heroes,” which included Superman, Wonder Woman, Robin, Lex Luthor, The Penguin, Mr. Freeze and The Riddler. The majority of the prototypes used the “Super Powers” molds but the quality on the sculpts and action features were nowhere on the level with the far superior Kenner line. Lex Luthor was a brand new sculpt in a purple jacket with black scarf and a power punch action figure which when activated made it look as if he was hitting himself in the head. Despite the shoddiness of the Toy Biz DC figures they were the only game in town and I loved those when I was a 10-year-old DC fan.

I remember running around Steinway Street with my parents in 1989 searching in vain for that Batman figure and not finding him. I don’t even think he was rare, just wildly popular because of the movie tie-in factor. Woolworth’s, Genovese and Lionel Play World all had everyone but Batman but I finally found him at a now long-defunct mom and pop toy store on Steinway called Valco (no relation). Valco, if I recall correctly had slightly higher prices than your typical chain store but not outrageous enough to avoid buying toys from there all together. I have a picture of the store in my head but wish I had actual photos of the store just to remember the sheer awesomeness of it. I do remember one thing very vividly however. Valco had a separate section for girls’ toys and I remember a MASSIVE wall of Jem dolls with Synergy, Raya, and Shana sticking out in my memory. Jem is the one toyline that got away from me in my youth and until cheaper options are available, I’ll never have Jem toys.

Toy Biz would do one more set of DC figures before they licensed and eventually co-existed with the Marvel Universe brand and crafted some cool action figures that would raise the bar for the action figure industry with their “Marvel Legends” line before going under in the late 2000s. Their brief career may have begun with the sub-par DC line, but Toy Biz was definitely a company to remember.

Catch you next week with more toy news and toy memories!

Post to Twitter

Post a comment

You may use the following HTML:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>