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Batman Classic TV Series
Riddler Review

After my disappointing bout with the Classic TV Series Batman & Robin 2pk, I cancelled all my pre-orders for the line. It was partially because the figures really aren’t what I want them to be, but also because it became apparent I was going to have to see the figures in person to check the paint. That 2pk was the definition of awful.

Now that I’m back to hunting the figures down instead of pre-ordering whole waves, I’m also back to being open to the option of picking & choosing. I still feel some compulsion to get the set since Mattel has announced their own shortsightedness with no firm plans to go beyond Joker & Catwoman this fall, but I don’t need them all. There was one that stands out above the rest though. Not because the figure is that amazing, but because he just happens to be my favorite villain: The Riddler!

Some of my fellow fans scoff at me for saying the Riddler is my favorite Batman villain, but it’s really no contest for me. And no matter how much flak I get, it’s undeniable that he is one of Batman’s iconic villains. And a large part of that has to do with one man in particular, Frank Gorshin.

See, admittedly, I’m not that big of a fan of Riddler in the comics. There, he might be ‘roided up on Venom. He might be used as the last character you’d ever expect to be a “surprise mastermind” (y’know, I’d never suspect the genius Batman villain would to be a mastermind!). A lot of writers just don’t get the point of the character. And it’s annoying because it was right there on television for decades.

Gorshin brought a great menace to the character. Yes, he hammed it up as did everything else on the show, but Gorshin would also let his Riddler go deadly serious in a heartbeat. He was threatening – and threatening in a very special way. A lot of Batman villains just need to be overpowered by brute force or defeated through sheer force of will. The Riddler has to be outsmarted. His job is to contrast and challenge Batman’s intelligence. His reasoning skills. Joker may face off with the Dark Knight. Penguin fights the Caped Crusader. The Riddler? He’s out to match wits with the World’s Greatest Detective. The show was campy, but I think it used the Riddler effectively (Gorshin was nominated for an Emmy)! I only wish the comic writers could handle him as well.*

* – One great use was his pre-52 turn as a private investigator. A reformed Riddler may seem like an odd idea, but the direct competition was actually fantastic. He could finally beat Batman by being a better crimefighter than Batman. Great stuff.

Anyway, you can see my dilemma. The Batman line just isn’t as good as it should be, but I can’t imagine passing on a Gorshin Riddler. Any other Riddler I own stems from this version! So I had to get it – and I’m glad I did. It’s not a bad figure; it’s just a Mattel figure. Continue to Page 2…

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25 comments to Batman Classic TV Series
Riddler Review

  • Phil

    Wow – cancelling my BBTS pre-order was the smartest move of the year.

    Really underwhelmed.

  • Yeah, I sort of lost my interest in this line over the weekend after hearing that no further waves were planned and realizing that the Batmobile couldn’t accommodate my DCUC Batman and Robin due to the narrow seating. Huge fail there on two counts.

    On the other hand, I agree 100% on all you’ve noted here. I became a Frank Gorshin fan after first watching his Batman reruns as a kid in the 70’s and 80’s. I’ve since watched everything there is out there with Frank in it. His Riddler is my favorite of the live action villains and a huge reason behind the character’s continued popularity in the comics long after the show was cancelled. (Given that he’d only appeared once during the Golden Age!) I also enjoyed his stint as a reformed gumshoe some years back. That was a fine bit of character development that truly deserved to be kept in continuity.

    I just might pick up this figure to swap heads with the DCUC version and give Frank his due. The guy left us way too soon. I always thought the Riddler depicted on the back of the old Mego cards owed a lot to Frank’s version, certainly due to the genuine sense of dynamism he brought to the TV series.

  • 3B

    Although I liked the 2pk, I don’t see myself investing in any more figures, at least not at full price. And the Batmobile, my main reason for buying the 2pk in the first place, is severely lacking. Especially considering I paid $60+ for it!

  • J1h15233

    I cancelled all my orders too and I’m glad I did. I did see the first wave in person and I though Riddler and Penguin looked pretty good but they screwed the pooch with Batman and Robin. I just passed on the whole thing and I havent heard good things about the batmobile either.

  • this is really a pity and i wanted the line to be good but when the pics showed up from SDCC i was like super miffed. Sadly, nopes, no Adam West in 6 inch scale for me. Thank you.
    i’m tempted to get the Neca one but then i’m also not cause it’s a freaking huge monster of a toy!! Gaahh…

  • Well, I’m very impressed that you see what I saw with Gorshin’s Riddler- the sheer, frightening psychotic menace he could bring. At least in the early episodes. Meredeth’s Penguin had somewhat the same vibe.

    I am completely shocked it seems to be a total new sculpt. I’m not shocked they no plans for continuing the line. I’m sure if asked the answer would be “we have to check sales data and performance, this was a kind of risk because it’s not really tied to an event and all the new tooling makes it very expensive and the logistics…” 🙁

    (Batmobile has narrow seating? The hell? that’s a ’60s Lincoln, baby! Cars were f*sking BOATS back then! Even a concept car! So, not only no Penguin hiding in the trunk, no Penguin DRIVING either?! MATTEL!!!!!)

    But I’ll disagree a little on the likeness. I think that’s a FINE Gorshin rendered into a toy. It’s the way I think they should all be. I think trying to capture a photorealistic face on an otherwise stylized body just looks odd, as the human face is a constantly changing landscape of color and contrast and texture due to the interplay of…everything. Faces look different just by shifting angles a little, or a slight change of lighting. The best sculpts, at least to my eyes, are the ones that find that essential ‘core’ of what a person looks like. Yes, I know, the Hot Toys figures are pure ‘Uncanny Valley’ but you can get away with more the larger you make the figure. And I think the sculptors do what I’m talking about, not try for photoreal but instead try for essence.

    This Riddler meets my approval, at least in ‘looks like’. It looks like a toy of Frank Gorshin playing the Riddler.

    But otherwise…Oh, Mattel. Mattel. That packaging is a nightmare of poor choices. The backing card for the stand is…the heck? There wasn’t an available stock publicity shot that aligned vertical that they could have used?! No accessories, no swappable hands (and Gorshin really used his hands in the show), no alternate maskless head with dangling mask? Feh.

    I really hate to say it (but I must, because I am who I am 🙂 ) but seeing this now only makes me wish for a Figma or Figurarts Gorshin Riddler. With crazy articulation and a dozen hands and removable mask and stuff! Can you *imagine* what that would be like? Gee, I wish Mattel could have.

    OTOH, look, it’s a new buck for the DCU line! Oh…wait, that’s dead now. Dammit.

  • Snowglare

    This was the crux of the line for me. When I lost interest in Riddler, it was easy to let go of everything else. The more impressive protoshopped pics had me hoping I’d finally be able to get a Riddler who looked like The Riddler. The suit version had too few question marks and the spandex version might as well be a blank body with “Riddler” sharpied on. I mean, he looks cool, but he’s closer to a hired goon than the subgenius himself.

    This one’s just too soft and, like you, I can’t help thinking how much more impressive he’d be if NECA sculpted him.

    I love the idea of Riddler gone straight. I think I read a couple issues of that, but I’m sure I missed the meat of it. Which trades should I pick up to get the whole story?

  • Yeah, all of the reviews of the two pack and the announcement of no future figures (no Batgirl?) really deflated my enthusiasm for the line. I currently only have Catwoman on preorder right now. I’ll have to see the other guys in stores to determine if I really want to bite or not.

  • J. Lee

    Oh a figma or figuart version of this Riddler would buying gold.

    Have to say it, I got to meet Frank Gorshin and Adam West at a local con one year and if these were out then I woulda brought to be signed. I loved his riddler, and still do. He was a fun guy, though, Adam West I think was still in ah of my Dad’s Vamperilla shirt.

    I have seen these and would like to buy but, hearing no other waves after Catwoman and Joker thats a waste. Was hoping for a thug/minion 2 pack. Egghead, King Tut, Mr. Freeze, Mad Hatter, Clock King. Even Shame woulda been fun to have.

    Glad these would be a line I would buy and not open. Seen just Penguin, Riddler and Batman is that the whole first wave and will Robin get a single release.

  • Megatherium

    “That’s not a riddle, is it?” LMAO! I’m kinda torn on these, they’re cool in theory but in practice….kinda fail.

  • Ebon

    Yeah the Riddler “world’s greatest detective” storyline was awesome.

  • Ebon

    Well you ruined him for me, and I appreciate it.

  • Rod Keith

    I’m gonna buck the trend and say that your review actually made me want this figure MORE. He looks better to me than the original proto shots.

    My excitement for this line dropped when I found out Mattel have no current plans in continuing it (no Batgirl? Mad Hatter? Riddler in sport coat? Robin single release? Shame. Oh, yeah– no Shame!)but I suppose keeping it limited means it’s easily complete-able.

    Anyway, while I think they could have done a stronger, bolder likeness of Gorshin, it’s still pretty good.

    • He-Mullet

      Shame… Now that’s a guy I’d take 2 of… One to keep as is, the other to turn into an Uncle Ben for my Spider-Tobey stuff…

  • Brainlock

    The removable mask was one of the first things I looked for in the pics, so I agree with you on that point.

    Something I never noticed before was the ?’s running down his legs.

    The body is all new? I thought it was a kitbash based on the lean buck (Deadman) body? Altered to make the cloth costume more obvious?

    No sign of anything new coming in up here, as Target just reset and the WMs are in the middle of shuffling things around, so I’m keeping an open mind while looking out for Cesar and CW, but I’m almost disappointed with this line before I even see it in person. :/

    Random thought: Who would have played Riddler in Nolan’s Bat-films? I just saw Kick-Ass 2 and Carrey was decent, but I don’t see him returning to the role, esp for Nolan.
    I know Phillip Seymour Hoffman was the seeming fan-favorite choice for the new Penguin, but there didn’t seem to be a clear pick for Edward here. (shudders at thought of BeneCumby or his effete “Jim Moriarty” in the role!)

  • There is a clear difference in QC between the Batman & Robin 2-pack and Riddler here. Whereas Robin either looks like he’s got a fat lip (or a cold sore) Riddler looks nice and crisp & clean. Accessories would have been nice, but the closed fists would have hurt that. A mask would have been nice though.

    As a mask substitute, maybe you could take a rubber band (a regular brown one would do, just take a magic marker and color it) then poke some holes in it with a needle or pin, cut off enough with just a little slack and glue it together (LET IT DRY) and viola, you’ve got a mask?!

  • dean

    Oh Matty, when will you learn. This was may favorite show when I was a wee tot. I should be frothing at the mouth like a rabid racoon over these. I should feel like one of the Forsaken has placed a weave of Compulsion on me, and I must, I MUST have them. Problem is I don’t want them. They look cheap. They do not look like collector quality figures. They do not look worth my scratch. Dangit, I want to want them. There is no universe in which I should not want these. Somehow, Mattel, you have made this universe into that impossible universe. Congrats, again.

    Matty, please ease up a little on your profit margin, make @$$ kickin’ ultimate figures, charge a little more for quality and people will buy them aplenty. Or, keep doing business as usual, and watch your action figure lines fade away. And we all know it is better to burn out than fade away. 🙂

  • Kelly

    Off topic of the review, can ya’ll maybe update the MU checklist page please? It’s been a loooooong time.

  • Zach

    I too really enjoyed Paul Dini’s pre nu52 take on the Riddler. Like the rest of the bat books at the time, it just really seemed like a natural evolution, as opposed to the garbage that has come afterwards. Great review!

    • TimH

      What has happened to Paul Dini? Did he go completely to scriptwriting? He hasn’t been around in awhile since abandoning Zatanna to the fill-in writers back before Nu52.

  • TimH

    The comparison of the ’66 Riddler and the DCUC Riddler is funny. It’s hard to imagine the Riddler being a gym rat.

    Half the DCUC figs would look better with the ’66 buck. I mean those kind of muscles on the DCUC “lean” bucks would take hours a day at the gym plus a rigorous diet. I just can’t see it. You don’t turn to a life of crime to be a slave to your personal trainer. “Guys, we gotta re-schedule taking over the world to a Wednesday. That’s my down-day after working my pecks and triceps.”

  • davy

    i liked 12 Monkeys just a just bit more because Frank Gorshin was in it, playing a psychiatrist of all things.

  • da man

    Funny, i pre-ordered this set as soon as I could, then cancelled shortly after. So far, the line has looked okay, but not as awesome as I had hoped.