TOYHEM! The DC Comics artist/writer brings you little atomic batteries to power, little turbines to speed…
Welcome to TOYHEM! For the third straight holiday season, we’re bringing you a series of features and columns celebrating the toys of our youth, which often made for the best memories this time of year. Click here to check out the complete index of stories — and have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Chanukah and Happy Holidays! — Dan
UPDATED 12/13/21: This is one of my fave TOYHEM stories from the vault, so we’re re-presenting it this year. It first ran in 2019. Dig it! — Dan
TOYHEM! isn’t really a single series of stories. It’s sort of a series of series. We have the 13-day Custom Mego Box of the Day, for example. (Click here.)
But we also have TOYHEM! MEMORIES – a collection of guest essays by comics creators on their favorite childhood toys.
Last time, it was Gene Luen Yang on The Six Million Dollar Man. Click here.
This time? It’s Dan Jurgens on the Corgi Batmobile.
Dan’s probably best known for his role in The Death of Superman, but the comics stalwart has probably touched just about every DC character there is, and a fair number of Marvel heroes and villains too. He’s also the creator of Booster Gold, who just happens to have a big hardcover collection out right now:
So dig this look back at one of the most popular Batman playthings ever — and certainly one of my own favorites:
By DAN JURGENS
In the 1960s, we didn’t have much in the way of toys that were based on comics. More than anything, we had toys that were based on TV shows that were based on comics, and the king of them all was ABC TV’s Batman. Not only was it massive as a two-night-per-week TV show, it was also an iconic symbol of pop culture, capturing much of the crazy concepts of the era.
Part of that craziness was the idea that almost every show on TV seemed to have a unique car as part of its “cast”. The Munsters, The Monkees, The Beverly Hillbillies and more all had recognizable cars that were worthy of exploitation by the toy industry. Batman was the leader in that regard, thanks to the Batmobile.
Designed and built by George Barris, the awesome set of wheels was absolutely the coolest thing rolling on TV. When I saw the Corgi Toys version in a Christmas catalogue, it was something I absolutely had to have. Fortunately, in one of those memories that seems as though it only happened yesterday, Santa delivered, and the Batmobile was mine.
At a time when a lot of TV tie-in toys were cheap knockoffs, Corgi came through with a very credible version, made of metal and detailed in proportion to the car. It had a chain cutter, rockets that actually fired and, when the wheels rolled, mimicked the ignition fire of the nuclear engines.
It was, “Atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed,” from the moment I laid my hands on it, and still one of the era’s best comics-related efforts.
ADDITIONAL NOTE from Dan (Greenfield): By the way, these are Dan’s original items. I told him I was impressed that he saved everything.
“If I liked the art on them — and many boxes featured painted art instead of photos — I saved them. Same with model kits. I didn’t save the boxes, but I cut the sides off the covers and saved them flat because I liked the pictures.”
That’s a budding artist right there.
— The Complete TOYHEM INDEX of Stories and Features. Click here.
— DAN JURGENS Ranks the 13 Greatest ACTION COMICS Covers. Click here.