Batman Prototypes from 1960's to now

General goings on in the 1966 Batman World

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finestcomics
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Batman Prototypes from 1960's to now

Post by finestcomics » Fri Jun 08, 2018 7:12 am

Hello everyone, I'm a long-time collector of comics, and recognize a few names here just through my participation in other online communities such as the CGC forums.

Some years back, my youngest son came home from daycare saying he wanted to be Batman. Some great memories of him walking around the house with his Batman costume, and even though I've been a Marvel guy from a young age, his interest in the character started to rub off on me. We began collecting together, and with my background in comics and comic art, I knew the people and places to look for stuff. I also have been a long-time toy collector, so I really felt we should dip into (within reason of course) into some preproduction pieces. I did this also because he seemed to really be interested (and began showing an appreciation) for the process involved in making the comics and toys we read or played with. I probably spent a few years at least accumulating some pieces, and up until a month ago, the timeline of prototypes (at least from what I found) was going to cover the timleline between the 80's through to around the late 2000's.

Then in April, a piece appeared on eBay and I frantically began researching as much as I could about it. It was a prototype of the 1966 Batman Bicycle Ornament produced by Empire Toys. That item opened up a whole new chapter on the licensing of Batman toys and merchandise, as well as leading me to learning about a company that was once one of the biggest manufacturers of blow molded toys, even making die heads for other companies such as Ideal Toys, and to this day is still operating, but under a different iteration of name and owners.

The history of the piece itself was pretty cool. It came from a Batman museum that operated in Springfield, MA in the late 80's through to around the late 90's. The museums owner was a Ralph VanAken Budington. He passed away late last year, and his children began selling off items from the museum. This was one of them. It was originally acquired directly from the sculptor. I handed over all the names and information I had to CIB who does authentication in the toy hobby, and it returned to me late last month.

Now because of this recent addition, it's brought the timeline back about 20 years, but the knowledge I gained from the research experience was really fun and interesting. Anyhow, I thought I'd share this with the community for its history, and it now sits as a centerpiece in a custom display that I had made and arrived just a few days ago. The timeline shift unfortunately means I'm missing a 70's era piece, but it's been great fun putting this small little run of figres together and have it displayed. If anyone has any leads on a 70's prototype from MEGO (for size/space considerations, I'd prefer a pocket super heroes Batman, or head from the mid and/or large action figure) please feel free to contact me. Below are some photos, and a scan of a Hooks ad from 1966 showing the toy:
batman_display2a.jpg
BatmanProto.jpg
batman_bicycle ornament.jpg

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Dan E Kool
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Re: Batman Prototypes from 1960's to now

Post by Dan E Kool » Fri Jun 08, 2018 9:54 am

Great story and interesting find! Thanks for sharing.
- Boy Genius

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AndyFish
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Re: Batman Prototypes from 1960's to now

Post by AndyFish » Fri Jun 08, 2018 10:23 am

Finding one of the produced Bike Ornaments in nice condition at a good price is one of my goals.
That's a great piece.
Nice display.

Springfield is only 30 minutes from me, but I'd never been to or heard of this museum. There was the Words and Pictures Museum which was owned and operated by Turtles Co Creator Kevin Eastman which was an absolutely great place a few miles West of Springfield in Northampton. The further out Norman Rockwell Museum had a great comic art display a few years ago, so the medium gets its respect here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

finestcomics
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Re: Batman Prototypes from 1960's to now

Post by finestcomics » Fri Jun 08, 2018 12:51 pm

Thanks Dan E Kool and Andy Fish for the kind words! :)

@Andy Fish, I too had never heard of the Batman Museum until I began researching this. I found a single mention of it online, and it was in Mr. Budington's memorial page. I don't know the appropriateness of linking his page here, but here is a snippet from his page:

"Ralph was locally renowned in the late 1980's and '90's for his Art car and Batman Museum."

After the children's mention of it, and the reference of it on his memorial page, I tried to search online newspaper archives, but whether it was because it was too far back in time, or it may not have been seen as important enough news, I didn't find anything. I was hoping even a small locally run newspaper would have written a blurb about it opening, or better, taken a photograph, but no such luck.

I really wanted to have it more just to continue on with it's neat history, as it's not every day you hear of someone running a museum, unless you're Steve Geppi. ;)

Being that you are so close to Springfield, if you happen to have any ideas or advice on how I might go about researching it, I'd greatly appreciate it. I live in Canada, so access to newspaper archives is really difficult. I have no trouble with Canadian newspaper searches, but it's not as easy for me to do a search on US papers.

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BatMite
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Re: Batman Prototypes from 1960's to now

Post by BatMite » Fri Jun 08, 2018 6:25 pm

Very cool find.

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AndyFish
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Re: Batman Prototypes from 1960's to now

Post by AndyFish » Sat Jun 09, 2018 10:31 am

The Springfield Republican Archives are https://www.masslive.com/entertainment/ ... ive_1.html

Worcester Ma is the second largest city in New England (In case you aren't a Patriots fan-- New England encompasses Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island) after Boston-- and they have an extensive http://www.telegram.com/archives too.

The local network affiliate out there is Channel 22 http://www.wwlp.com/
They might have contact info there.

Don't know if any of this helps-- Massachusetts is a funny state (Commonwealth actually) To people living in Boston the state stops at Framingham which is about 30 miles west of Boston, to people living in the Center part of the state it starts in Boston and ends at Spencer (60 miles west of Boston) and to people living on Cape Cod the rest of the state is on their own. Nobody knows how the People in Springfield feel because no one talks to them ;)

AND the state goes on for about another 120 miles or so west of Springfield before you hit the New York border).

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BATWINGED HORNET
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Re: Batman Prototypes from 1960's to now

Post by BATWINGED HORNET » Sat Jun 09, 2018 5:29 pm

Thanks for sharing!
Beneath Wayne Manor

finestcomics
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Re: Batman Prototypes from 1960's to now

Post by finestcomics » Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:03 pm

AndyFish wrote:
Sat Jun 09, 2018 10:31 am
The Springfield Republican Archives are https://www.masslive.com/entertainment/ ... ive_1.html

Worcester Ma is the second largest city in New England (In case you aren't a Patriots fan-- New England encompasses Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island) after Boston-- and they have an extensive http://www.telegram.com/archives too.

The local network affiliate out there is Channel 22 http://www.wwlp.com/
They might have contact info there.

Don't know if any of this helps-- Massachusetts is a funny state (Commonwealth actually) To people living in Boston the state stops at Framingham which is about 30 miles west of Boston, to people living in the Center part of the state it starts in Boston and ends at Spencer (60 miles west of Boston) and to people living on Cape Cod the rest of the state is on their own. Nobody knows how the People in Springfield feel because no one talks to them ;)

AND the state goes on for about another 120 miles or so west of Springfield before you hit the New York border).
This is really great, thanks Andy Fish! I will spend some time going through this, really appreciate the information :)

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