08 July 2011
Mike Pigott takes an in-depth look at the final diecast model toy Batman models produced by Corgi between 2005 and 2007. ...
The Dark Knight returns
It’s been a while since we last looked at Batman models, and in the meantime a wide range of models of his various vehicles have come on to the market. At present, Hot Wheels has the Batman franchise, and has produced a selection of his vehicles from TV and film, most notable being the 1966 TV version of the Batmobile in several scales. However, in this issue we will be looking at the models produced by Corgi between 2005 and 2007 based on vehicles from the DC Comics books, following on from a previous article where we looked at the first wave of Corgi Batman vehicles.
A lot of interesting stuff has been happening in the Batman comics over the past couple of years. The first is the revelation that some time ago he had fathered a child with Talia, the daughter of his arch enemy, Ra’s al-Ghul. The boy, Damian Wayne, had been raised by al-Ghul’s organisation, the League of Assassins. Worried about his development, Talia sent him to live with his father to teach him some morality. Batman had no choice but to take him under his wing as the new Robin. The 10-year old Damian, already a trained warrior, proved to be callous and vicious, and became quickly disliked by Batman’s team, including Alfred the butler. In fact, the previous Robin, Tim Drake, left the Batcave and set himself up with a new identity, Red Robin.
The other major storyline was the death of Batman, featured in the storyline ‘Batman: RIP’. To be honest, in the comic book world, deaths are usually not permanent; Superman, Flash Gordon, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Superboy, Green Arrow and several others have all been killed off and later restored to life. Batman, worn down by the coordinated attacks of an international crime society known as the Black Glove, became involved in a death duel with the intergalactic dictator Darkseid. Although he destroyed Darkseid, Batman appeared to be vaporised by the despot’s Omega Beams. As it turns out, Batman was not killed, but sent back in time to the Stone Age. The series ‘The Return of Bruce Wayne’ featured Batman’s adventures in several historical eras, with Batman gradually being thrown forward in time as the effects of the Omega Beams wore off.
In the meantime, the original Robin, Dick Grayson, who had changed his code-name to Nightwing, took over as Batman, with the unpleasant Damian Wayne as his sidekick. Upon his return to the present, Bruce Wayne took crime fighting to the next level by establishing ‘Batman Incorporated’, a superhero franchise, recruiting heroes from around the world to act as local Batman representatives. At present, Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson are both operating as Batmen.
With Batman appearing in about six titles every month, plus supporting titles such as Red Robin, Justice League and Batgirl, there is a certain amount of inconsistency regarding the various Batmobiles. While it has long been established that there is more than one Batmobile parked in the Batcave, many of the artists in the different magazines illustrate the cars according to their own style. Sometimes a Batmobile may appear in a single issue and then only for a few panels, while other times there may be a concerted attempt to keep the vehicle consistent for a period of time. Some Batmobiles are based on modified versions of production cars; others are completely futuristic, while some are even retro-style.
Corgi continued producing its Batman series after 2004. For 2005, it released 10 new models in the nominal 1/43 scale, plus three in larger scales. In 2006, there were five new 1/43 models and one in 1/24 scale; these are not easy to find and don’t seem to have been as widely distributed as previous items. In 2007 no new models were produced, but six of the existing 1/43 items were released in new colour schemes with an oversized character figure. Throughout this period, several of the models were made in different colours and packed in sets of two or four as ‘exclusives’ for various shops and distributors. After 2007, the Corgi Company was sold and the Batman license was not renewed.
The 2005 models were an interesting bunch covering all eras of Batman’s comic book adventures, from his earliest days through to the present. Villain cars were represented as were companion vehicles, although quality could vary greatly. Let’s look at the models from this year, in chronological order.
This was something as a misnomer, as this was an anonymous red coupé that pre-dated the Batmobile. It debuted during Batman’s second appearance in Detective Comics 28 (June 1939), and was described as ‘a specially built high-powered auto’. At this time, Batman was not really a superhero; he was more of a masked avenger along the lines of The Shadow or the Green Hornet. He carried a gun and often killed his enemies.
PICTURED ABOVE 1940s Batmobile.
PICTURED LEFT 1960s Batmobile II.