Tuesday, February 6, 2024

The New Adventures of Batman - BATGIRL!

Batman '66: The New Adventures of Batman (1977) - Batgirl - McFarlane 2024

I'm a huge fan of Filmation animation. I know everyone thinks Masters of the Universe (1983) is the epitome of Filmation's library (and maybe it is), but I personally love their earlier stuff even more: Teen Titans (1967), Space Sentinels (1977), Blackstar (1981), and Super7 (1978) are among my favorites. But there was always something special about their two contributions to Batman lore: The Adventures of Batman (1968) and The New Adventures of Batman (1977). The live-action Batman '66 show had ended in March of 1968 and Filmation picked up the torch and ran with it. By the '77 series they even got Adam West and Burt Ward to provide the voices. Melendy Britt (She-Ra) voiced Batgirl. This figure is a dream for me. It merges my love of Batgirl, action figures, and classic animation. At this stage in my toy collecting, my biggest joys come from filling in the very few obscure gaps I have left. So this figure has been high on my wishlist for a while. And she's perfect. Let's check out Batgirl below!

This The New Adventures of Batman series is technically a sub-line of the Batman '66 toyline from McFarlane. They are all slightly retooled versions of existing figures. The packaging is basically the same, with the exception of the logo on the card. This logo is from the title card of the cartoon, which in turn was a variation of the comic logo that started in 1972.

Batgirl comes with handcuffs and a batarang in blue. These are the same accessories that came with the Batgirl '66 figure.

One of the most wild character designs from The New Adventures of Batman (1977) was Catwoman. She had long brunette hair, a two-tone orange catsuit with a cat logo on the chest, a black mask, and white gloves. I would love to see a figure of her someday, but I doubt there's a demand strong enough to warrant a new sculpt.

Another wild design choice was a pink Riddler in the opening animation. He never appeared in an episode, only this brief glimpse in the beginning of each episode. This show, The New Adventures of Batman (1977) by Filmation was airing concurrently with Super Friends (1973) by Hanna-Barbera. Although the main characters, Batman and Robin, were allowed to be in both series, the villains were forced to choose side. Scarecrow and Riddler were claimed by Hanna-Barbera, but all the other Batman rogues were claimed by Filmation (Joker was supposed to be in the Legion of Doom, but was unable to legally appear in Super Friends until 1985). My hunch is that Filmation had completed the opening animation sequence before they knew Riddler was off-limits and coloring him pink was an additional concession to acknowledge the restrictions. Riddler was a standard green in the first Filmation series. Another notable change in the 1977 series is that Robin's "R" emblem on his chest had inverted yellow and black colors. This is a design change unique to this series.

Nine years earlier Filmation made their first Batman show, The Adventures of Batman (1968-69), consisting of 34 six-minute segments (many of which were two-parters making a single 12-minute story). These were originally aired as part of The Superman/Batman Hour alongside Superman and Superboy segments. (Note: Later on in 1969, the Batman segments were edited together into full-length thematic episodes without the Superman content and named Batman with Robin the Boy Wonder (1969)). Almost all the character designs were identical between the 1968 and 1977 series. Batgirl quite literally used the same character models (although she was voiced by Jane Webb in 1968 and Melendy Britt in 1977). So this figure can easily represent Batgirl '68 as well as Batgirl '77.

Again, the most wild character design in The Adventures of Batman (1968) was Catwoman. In this series, she has a costume inspired by Julie Newmar's live-action catsuit and the subsequent 1967 comic interpretation in crazy green colors. This design could easily be a simple retool of the Catwoman '66 figure.

Time for some Group and Comparison Pics!

Here is Batgirl '77 with Batgirl '66.  The new figure has a resculpted head and belt.

And here is Batgirl with two similarly-costumed figures: Mattel DC Super Heroes (2006), McFarlane 2024, and DC Direct Unmasked (2006) (Missing her purse somehow).

And here are all the The New Adventures of Batman figures together. From Left to Right: Commissioner Gordon, Bat-Mite, Joker, Batgirl (cartoon), Batman, Robin, Riddler, and Batgirl (comic).

And here are some comparisons of the other characters in the wave with their original Batman '66 Classic TV show releases. These animated versions each have new heads, accessories, and paint decos.


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