A tip of the knit cap to the Fifth Beatle of Batman ’66 villainy.
Y’know, with Batman ’66 villains, it’s Big Four, Big Four, Big Four. Joker, Penguin, Riddler, Catwoman in whichever order you prefer.
But I’d posit (because I like using words like “posit”) that if there were a fifth venal villain, it’d be Mr. Freeze.
Some might go with Egghead. Others King Tut. But for me, you have to separate the TV-only bad guys from those from the comics. And Mr. Freeze is an icicle above those guys anyway.
Since the Batman ’66 merchandising juggernaut began a couple years ago, we’ve largely been treated to that Big Four. That’s understandable. Those are the ones that’ll sell most.
But seeing Mr. Freeze items sneaking in there gives me chills.
And Diamond Select Toys/Art Asylum has hit the jackpot with their Mr. Freeze bust, the sixth to be released in their Batman ’66 line. I’d go so far as to say it’s the best so far, with an uncanny likeness and a perfect pose. (It’s out this week with an SRP of about $60.)
Otto Preminger was easily the most recognizable of the three Misters Freeze from the show. His look really helped define the character in most people’s minds, I think, and I imagine that’s why his likeness was licensed as part of this latter-day Batmania.
Because really, George Sanders was probably the best of the three, all things considered. At least his Season 1 episode was the best. To this day, that blue/red, cold/warm device remains one of the most imaginative contraptions in Batman ’66 lore. I make a point of watching the two-parter every summer: We don’t have central air conditioning, so to go from one point in the house to the other, you go from icy cool to sweltering heat and back again. I remember that same feeling as a kid.
But Sanders‘ smoking jacket isn’t exactly flamboyant and his cold gear not only obscures his face, it’s a fairly bland ensemble. I’m guessing the licensing powers that be didn’t bother to secure his image.
Eli Wallach? His look always left me a little … well … cold. There was at least one piece of Wallach/Freeze merchandise planned by one company but I’m not sure it’s actually gonna make it to market.
Anyway, the producers nailed it with Preminger — at least with his appearance and that iced-over green reflecting pool in the back of Stately Wayne Manor. (I actually talked at length about this episode on The Batcave Podcast, so if you want to hear me go on about it with host John S. Drew, click here.)
Like the producers of the show, the artists at Diamond have given us a visual treat.
Mr. Freeze‘s skin tone is just the right shade of icy blue and the red eyebrows pop. Even better, the detailing on the suit is superb. Seeing it up close, it looks like you can turn the little knobs, and the collar even has the nozzles that ostensibly provide Freeze with his chilly climate — but really gives viewers a chance to see the cool, cruel criminal’s spectacular face.
I like getting items like this. I’m not so jaded that getting, say, Riddler or Catwoman items is old bat. Quite the opposite. The last two years have been an utter thrill.
But adding characters like Mr. Freeze to the mix adds an extra element, an extra reason to pinch myself and say, “Jeez, who’da thought we’d get something like this after all these decades?”