EXCLUSIVE: … and Diamond Select Toys and Barry and Jean…
For the DIAMOND BATMAN ’66 INDEX of interviews and features, click here.
We’re getting closer to the next wave of Diamond Select Batman ’66 merch, so it’s time to go behind the scenes with the latest resin minibusts, designed by Barry Bradfield and sculpted by Jean St. Jean: Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson and Alfred.
The three busts were first shown off at Toy Fair in February (click here) and both Burt Ward’s Grayson and Alan Napier’s Alfred are available for pre-order at your local comics shop or online retailer. They should be available in time for the Christmas season. Each lists for about $60 but shop around. (Oh, and Bruce shouldn’t be too far behind, but he’s still in formal approvals.)
Anyway, as we’re wont to do, we paid a virtual visit with Jean and Barry, who clued us in on the latest Bat-grooviness:
Dan Greenfield: Whose idea was it to give Bruce and Dick accessories?
Barry Bradfield: When I heard we were making these three characters, I immediately pictured them in Bruce’s study. The phone and Shakespeare bust are so iconic, it seemed natural to include them with the characters that interacted with them the most. It’s not typical to include accessories with resin statues, so I asked if we could this time around. Chuck (Terceira), the president of DST, gave the OK so I drew them in.
Dan: Jean, how cool was it to craft the accessories?
Jean St. Jean: The Bat-gear and weapons and various elements that appear regularly on the show are so integral to the ’66 universe, so it was fun to go back and study each piece in a way I hadn’t before. It’s one thing to notice something as set dressing, something else entirely to have to build it in three dimensions. It was great fun, the more the merrier!
Dan: What was your reaction when Diamond told you they would be included?
Jean: I liked the idea of the “secret identity” angle of some of the busts, but the design including the smaller pedestals to accessorize the figural busts really sold me on it. I’ve never seen that done before.
Dan: Did you have any wiggle room on their outfits? I’ve noticed that most merchandise puts them in those clothes…
Barry: For Bruce and Dick, we were never directed on what outfits to use. These are just the outfits I picture them in. I think Bruce in blue and Dick in red helps link them to their secret identities for products. For Alfred, I originally drew him in his black jacket with both hands behind his back. Our approvals contact liked it, but also wondered if his green apron look might be more interesting. I drew it up and it did seem to work a lot better.
Dan: Is that a new design for Shakespeare’s head or did you use the one Paul Harding did for Diamond Select’s life-size bust?
Barry: I actually created the 2D design concept of the life-size bust, so I used my artwork to make the small version as well. I’m not actually sure if the bank sculpt was shrunk down for this, or if a new version was sculpted.
Jean: I did a certain amount of research through the episodes, but I used photos of (Paul’s) bust to sculpt the miniature since he had done such a spectacular job on the bank.
Dan: Where did the Alfred idea come from?
Barry: The original plan was to have Bruce, Dick and Alfred. As I mentioned before, the licensor actually suggested the apron version. I originally finished it in the same pose as the black suit version, with both hands behind his back, but it seemed uninteresting. Then I thought it would be great to include the feather duster so Alfred could be dusting the phone or the Shakespeare bust if you wanted to display it that way. I also feel it’s keeping with the humor of Batman ’66 to have a bust of a person dusting a bust of a bust. (Would this be the world’s first bust of a bust…?)
Dan: What was the toughest part about getting Adam West just so?
Barry: I’ve never had to draw Adam West outside of his Batman costume before, so that was a bit of a challenge. I also wanted to get his hands correct since he tended to hold the Batphone’s cord in that particular way. I feel that details like that help make the product specifically from Batman ’66.
Jean: Working on a likeness of someone you’ve become familiar with over the years is difficult because you realize how little you actually noticed. You have a picture in your mind’s eye that’s contradicted when you actually start taking proportional measurements and studying hairlines and eye spacing. It’s always the most difficult part of any job. In his case, there are no radical aspects of his features or facial hair to gravitate to. He has very classical proportions and subtle features that I find very difficult to capture.
Dan: …Burt Ward?
Jean: In a similar way, Burt Ward was tough. … When I approached the characters in costume, especially in the case of Batman and Batgirl, the cowls are 80 percent of the sculpt so getting all that geometry correct supersedes the portrait, which is just the eyes and exposed lower face. Robin’s head is mostly exposed, but getting that small area around the eyes just right proved very difficult.
Barry: As with Adam West, I have never had to draw Burt Ward as Dick Grayson. I wanted to capture his enthusiasm of waiting to hear why the commissioner was calling. That’s why he’s ready to punch his fist into his hand as he normally does, but he’s not quite there yet. It’s like he’s waiting for the right moment to say “Holy… ____!”
Dan: … Alan Napier?
Barry: Having his costume change aside, I actually felt like he was the easiest to design. It was all in the way he holds himself, mainly in the upturn of his head.
Jean: Alfred actually went relatively easily; there’s so much character in his mature face, between all the age lines, mustache and the pompadour-ish hair style.
Dan: What’s your favorite Alfred scene?
Barry: Alfred is one of my favorite Batman characters, in this iteration or any other. I think his best scenes on the classic TV series are when he’s actively helping Batman and Robin outside of the Batcave. When he drives Batman around on his Alf-cycle is hilarious, as are the times he impersonates Batman.
Jean: I always really liked when he had to stand in for Batman, because it added to his role on the team. It’s funny to go back and watch the ’66 episodes compared to the comic and Batman: The Animated Series Alfred, with his dry sarcastic humor. The role of Alfred on the ’66 series was written more seriously than the camp of most of the other players.
Dan: At this point, there are only a few likenesses left in the license — but a whole bunch of variant possibilities. If it were up to you, what would you still want to do?
Jean: (They’re not in the license, but) John Astin as the Riddler. George Sanders as Mr. Freeze with the helmet. False Face. The Archer. Clock King.
Barry: I think boxing Batman and Riddler would be my first choices. The image of them fighting in the boxing ring is such a fun moment on the show.
— The Making of the Upcoming BATGIRL Bank. Click here.
— The DIAMOND BATMAN ’66 INDEX of interviews and features. Click here.