Captain Action: The Secret Origin of a Batman Toy

A new feature! Ed Catto of Captain Action Enterprises starts a new column about how a new, modern action figure is made, from concept to execution. Over the next few months, he’ll take you through the whole process — and it’s pretty dang cool!

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By ED CATTO

I’m the type of guy who loves the behind-the-scenes info on how stuff gets made.  Movies, television series, books, comics, toys – it doesn’t matter, I just find it fascinating. My wife will tell you the downside is when I transform into the obnoxious know-it-all. I then must suffer through her inevitable “SHHH-ing” during the coming attractions in the theater or on the couch. I admit, it’s usually a deserved SHHH-ing.

But with that caveat firmly in place, that’s the purpose of this new column. The idea is that we want to take you behind the scenes in the development of a toy. Specifically, a Batman toy. How’s it developed? How long does it take to produce?  How do you sell it into retailers? How’s it marketed?

As part of our Captain Action line, we’ll be introducing a Batman costume set next year. And at each stage during the development, we want to take a little sidestep into the 13th Dimension. So buckle those seatbelts, adjust your batteries to power and rev up the turbines to speed. We’re ready to move out!

Kool Pop Captain Action

Captain Action Kool Pops game card

 

Captain Action 101

But first, a little primer on Captain Action. Created in 1967 by Stan Weston, Captain Action is really the world’s first superhero action figure. Just as GI Joe, created a couple of years earlier by Weston and his cohorts, could transform into an army soldier or a navy frogman, Captain Action could transform into various superheroes.

Parents would buy the Captain Action figure and then also buy superhero uniform sets in order to transform him into heroes like Superman, the Lone Ranger, Spider-Man or the Green Hornet. Captain Action enjoyed great popularity and sales for about three years, and then as the nation quickly shifted away from superheroes and their violent (i.e. punching) solutions to problem-solving, so too did retailers shift away from Captain Action.

1966 Batman set

1966 Batman set

But like any good comic character, Captain Action, and the concept behind him, just wouldn’t stay dead. He was revived a few times in different forms and most recently re-emerged as a hit toy with a new line of product we’ve been developing with Round 2’s Forever Fun division.

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During the past two years, the world’s kids, fans and collectors have again been able to transform Captain Action into new heroes. These include Iron Man, Spider-Man, Captain America, Wolverine, Hawkeye and Thor. New characters will be added to the roster next year, including Superman, Joker, Brainiac, Aquaman and…Batman!

 

One Last Look Back

But before we jump into the new stuff, we have one more backward glance.

As a kid, I just loved Captain Action. And I had a lot of the costume sets, including the Phantom and Buck Rogers. But in those days before the Internet and online inventory management systems, it was tougher to collect a full set of anything. That, combined with the fact that the Adam West Batman TV show made the character white-hot popular, meant that I was never able to get a Batman Captain Action costume set back then.

Captain Action as Batman

Captain Action as Batman

It seems unimaginable to today’s collectors — to imagine there were no comic cons or eBay or Midtown Comics from which to order a particular, sought-after item.

I was out of luck.

My wonderful mother (from a long line of seamstresses) helped me create a Batman cowl and cape, tweaking a Barbie Doll sewing pattern, and it was extraordinary. In so many ways it was better than the official Batman outfit.

The homemade Batman costume, with CA Superman

The homemade Batman costume, with CA Superman

But I always wanted that Batman costume for my Captain Action figure.

And now the time is here. We’re working hard to create an official Batman costume set

And that’s the point of this column. We’ll telling the tale, the origin story if you will, of the best Batman toy ever! Or at least, the best Batman toy in the opinion of my 7-year-old self.

But seriously, trust us – this is going to be very cool.

Next time: “I Shall Become A Bat”

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Author: 13th Dimension

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9 Comments

    • Counting on this to be an interesting, fun and informative column!

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      • Beautiful…
        .Happy New Year to all the Captains..!! My wish: that Round 2 surprises us with Green Lantern and The Flash. Do I have reason to hope for that? Anybody knows something about that?

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  1. You have my full attention. You may proceed.

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  2. I was like 3 during the CA / Batman heyday in the 60’s. I remember shopping with my Dad trying to get me a Spider Man but because of the hotness of the Saturday morning cartoon,they were always sold out. In 1972 I was in a drugstore and I found Batman and a few other heroes in the toy aisle. I searched the store all over for Spidey but the guy said they don’t make CA anymore and they were getting rid of the toys. I didn’t have a CA figure so I put him on a G.I. Joe. Sadly this Joe was a talking one and had a beard so I couldn’t access the pull tag and the mask wouldn’t fit.It was my favorite toy though.

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  3. I cannot wait to see more of this wonderful line. Batman will be a great addition, with the likes of the Joker and Supes, the CA guys are hitting me in my nostalgic collector heart.

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  1. TOY FAIR 2014 EXCLUSIVE: Captain Action — “I Shall Become A Bat” | 13th Dimension, Comics, Creators, Culture - […] little while back, our friend Ed Catto wrote about the beginnings of the Captain Action Batman figure. Now, with…

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