Mezco Toyz debuted its new Batman Mez-itz line from the classic 1966-68 “Batman” TV series in an event held today at Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium in New York City’s Times Square … but, while factual, that hardly captures the excitement of the day because Batman drove up in the Batmobile to unveil the toys.
And I got to be Robin, the goateed 30-something Wonder, sitting shotgun next to the Caped Crusader as he steered through the real-life Gotham City.
Putting on a cape and mask, and playing hero is cool. Going to a con and posing with Batman or getting to meet actor Adam West is cooler. Riding in the Batmobile as Robin alongside Batman? Well, that is just about the coolest thing I can imagine aside from gaining super powers or actually owning a Batcave full of gadgets (although that would also require my parents getting gunned down in Crime Alley and my mom losing her pearls, so I’ll stick with the car ride).
While meant to celebrate Mezco’s classic Batman figures – which will begin hitting stores this July and include Batman, Robin, the Batmobile, The Penguin, Catwoman, The Joker, The Riddler, and Riddler’s Thug – the event became Batman Day as soon as the famous car made its appearance in Times Square.
My portion of the journey to the Ripley’s Odditorium began on 42nd Street near Seventh Avenue, where the crowds swarmed to get their photos taken with the Batmobile. And its driver, who may or may not have been professional Batman Bob DeSimone under the cowl, hooked his thumbs into his bright yellow utility belt and posed with citizens.
Even I, a poor man’s Robin destined to be beat to death with a crowbar-wielding Joker, became the focus of the pedestrian paparazzi. Before you knew it, I was tossing around expressions like “old chum” and “holy heatwave” (Robin’s mask gets kind of hot on a Gotham City summer day, so I can't imagine how Batman does it).
But justice, and Mezco, couldn’t wait, and before you knew it, the World’s Greatest Detective began the drive to Ripley’s. Traffic was thick and I passed the time making small talk with Batman, taking a Batphone-call from Commissioner Gordon and punching a fist into my hand as I spoke of evildoers – you know, sidekick stuff.
Once we arrived a few minutes after our trip began, Batman eased the car into the narrow entrance into Ripley’s lobby, as throngs of fans parted like a sea of nerds. It must have been like what The Beatles experienced. I gently eased out of the car since I’m not as spry of a ward as I once was (and because I was deeply paranoid of scratching the Batmobile – which happens to have a lot of signatures from the classic TV show inside it, and goes on tour with West).
Batman proudly showed off the packaged 1966 classic Batman, Robin and Batmobile Mez-itz set, and debuted the figurine display and a one-of-a-kind giant Mez-itz Batman figure that Mezco’s Mike Drake auctioned off to a lucky Gothamite.
The toys themselves clearly struck a chord with fans nostalgic for the old series. Be it the vibrant coloring on the vinyl car and figures, the spot-on smirk on Batman or the perfectly coiffed-looking hair on Burt Ward’s toy likeness, but the Mez-itz sparked brief conversations about favorite episodes of the old series, and more than a few utterances of “Pow!”
While I kept my eye on the woman dressed as Julie Newmar’s Catwoman – lest she abscond with the prized Mezco Toyz, which she inevitably tried to do -- Batman greeted a Bat-tyke (or was he a Bat-Mite?), a body-painted Batwoman, and other cosplaying fans.
But soon, while Batman spoke with New York City cops, no doubt inquiring about Chief O’Hara’s well being, I knew it was time for this sidekick to hang up his cape and mask. Without being seen by the crowds still huddled around the car and the hero, I returned to my alias of mild-mannered pop culture reporter.
And although my tenure as Batman’s best pal came to a conclusion, I will no doubt be prepared for further adventures when evil rears its ugly head … or at least when the Batman Classic TV series toy line hits the market.