I was at Toys R Us last night doing some Christmas shopping. I wandered over to the pre-school section for my three-year-old nephew, and was pleasantly surprised to find a small area devoted to the DC and marvel superhero lines of chunky, young-child-sized action figures. I was aware they were designed for little kids, but it never quite registered before that my nephew was now one of those little kids.
"But, wait," I thought. "He's more interested in trucks and cars than figures."
And my eye quickly landed on the Batmobile toy that's associated with that set of figures. It's designed precisely for kids like him and when I saw that it was officially called "My First Batmobile" I had to get it for him.
My brother and his wife are great folks. Very caring people who work very hard to raise their kids "properly." Now, admittedly, I don't agree 100% with every parenting decision they make, but it's not my place to judge them on that. One of the decisions they've made in raising their children has been to, by and large, avoid overtly commercialized products. No Barbie or Bratz for the older daughter, and no Dora or Bob the Builder for the son. Seemingly discongruously, though, they don't seem to have a problem with Disney. I'm hoping Batman falls into that same arena.
But, ultimately, the name "My First Batmobile" got me to thinking about my first Batmobile. Or, at least, my first Batmobiles...
These are, of course, the Batmobiles made by Mego and Corgi at very different scales in the mid-1970s. Clearly designed from the version used in the 1960's Batman TV show (itself designed from a 1955 Lincoln Furtura). I suspect I got the Corgi car first, as I have a very clear recollection of taking it to show-and-tell in kindergarten and, while the Mego version would certainly have been available then, I also seem to recall wanting the Wayne Manor playset at the same time. But that wasn't released until the following year. Of course, we're talking about 30-year-old memories now, so things may be a little muddled.
In any event, both of my Batmobiles became very well used over the years. The Mego one was the only two-person vehicle I had for my action figures, and the Corgi version was the most distinctive car in my Matchbox/Hot Wheels collection. (With the possible exception -- if you classify it as a 'car' -- of Corgi's Supermobile!) The spiked tailfins, bubbled windshield, and an exhaust system where the back seat should have been clearly made this car stand out. Not to mention that it was covered with bat-symbols, inexorably linking it to a popular comic book character.
In my case, the interest in comic books came first. I got the toys because I loved acting out the stories I had already read. But the designs are still intriguing and, even though my nephew can't read yet, he might still be intrigued enough by the design to seek out variations on it. Perhaps through comics, perhaps through cartoons. But I think it's groovy way to ingratiate my nephew into the world of comic books and sequential art.
Of course, assuming that works, and I am able to get him interested in Batman, then I've got to get him moved over to some good comics!