Holy Bat-nostalgia, the 1960s 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 drink to a nerdy but hip crowd inside, Warner Bros Consumer Products, along with vintage t-shirt company Junk Food Clothing, threw a swank event on Friday to launch a toy line and other merchandising products based on the classic TV series.
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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 was a pop culture moment that not only made Batman a household name, but the show, with its wink-wink camp attitude and giant colorful “Pow!” and “Wham!” flashcards, fit perfectly with the emerging pop art movement at the time. Continuing the 60s Batman theme, the day after the event, DC announced a new comic called .
One reason DC and Warner weren’t able to do 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 one of the show’s avid watchers when it first ran on ABC, and it was something that stuck with him.
"There’s a whole segment of people like me, that 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 towards adults but the company, counting on Batman’s rich mythology and broad appeal, is expecting cross-over to younger demographics, especially the hip artsy crowd who will be drawn by the retro appeal.
Among the figures is a Batman in swimming trunk 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 with such a hip crowd, that was devouring the t-shirts and snapping pictures of the previewed toys. (The toyline won’t be available until July.) Among the crowd was rocker and Bat-fan Chris Daughtry, as well as Rumer Willis and Miss Alabama Katherine Webb.
Some of them easily blended into the crowd but no one could miss the tornado that followed Adam West, who portrayed the Caped Crusader in the show.
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West has spent much of the last 40-plus years living up, not living down, his time as Batman. Taking a short breather from the crowd, West pondered the enduring popularity of the show.
"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 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."