Top 10 vintage Batman toys, for your inner Boy Wonder

May 11, 2009 | 8:26 p.m.

 Today we have a special treat for you here on the Hero Complex. We’ve been impressed with the serious fanboy obsessiveness of the Bat Blog, a colorful corner of the Internet devoted to the Caped Crusader and the mountain of collectibles that bear his pointy-eared visage. So today we venture into the Batcave and turn the Complex over to collector expert Tommy from Bat-Blog, for a guest column: The 10 coolest vintage Batman toys. It’s a great list — although we’re not quite sure what’s going with that water gun…

Toy 10 - Batman Water Gun

10. 1960s Batman Figure Water Gun

This vintage Batman toy is a total blast. It’s a 1966 Batman plastic toy water gun, released the same year that Adam West debuted in Batman’s cape and cowl on television and also hit theaters with the tie-in film.

This item was created in a way more innocent time and I bet they never gave any thought at all about where they had placed the trigger for this toy. For that matter, they probably didn’t even care about where the water plug was either.

As you can imagine, Batman collectors really love this item for its kitsch appeal and because it’s really

Toy 9 - Friction Tin Batmobile


9. Battery-Operated Bump-N-Go Batmobile

It would be totally impossible to do any Batman toy list without mentioning the super-famous Batmobile. I mean, come on, that’s one of the coolest pieces of bat-gear.

This toy was one of those battery-operated Bump-N-Go Cars. You flip the switch and this thing went nuts! It had sound effects and lights that blinked … kids loved it.

Toy 8 - Bat-Projector

Today, it’s a really great display piece and a fave of Batman collectors.

8. Chad Valley Give-A-Show Bat-Projector

You might remember these Give-A-Show toys from your childhood. I recall as a little kid having the one with Popeye, and I really loved it.

But this one was produced in Great Britain and is extremely hard to find here in the U.S. Heck, it’s even hard to find in the U.K.!

I also included it on the list because the vintage-style graphics are so distinctive and eye-catching.

Toy 7 - Bicycle Ornament

7. Batman Bicycle Ornament

This is the 1966 official Batman bicycle ornament.

It was a hollow plastic figure of Batman that clamped on to your handlebars, and it had a spring that made the caped crusader go berserk as you cruised your neighborhood.

You know, there’s something I’ve always loved about toys from this era and it goes beyond the actual product. At the time, the box-art often showed children using the product and really, really grinning.

I mean, this kid looks pretty darn happy with the product right here.

6. Japanese Tin Toy Batmobile

Toy 6 - Japanese Tin Toy Batmobile

Another Batmobile makes the list! 

This one is a Japanese friction-driven tin toy.

Now, why is this Batmobile “more cool” than the previous one?  Well, from a toy collector’s point-of-view, it’s a lot harder to find because it was “Sold Only in Japan.” 

Toy 5 - Captain Action

Plus, it’s a unique variation. And OK, it’s a sports car!

5 – Captain Action Doll Batman Costume

In 1966, to compete with Hasbro’s G.I. JOE, the Ideal Toy Company created CAPTAIN ACTION.

The accessorized approach was very similar, but instead of being a military man, this captain could do his heroic duty in the costumes of various crime fighters and adventure stars.

There was Superman, Aquaman, Captain America, Flash Gordon, the Phantom and many more. Of course, our favorite Caped Crusader was the most popular!


Toy 4 - Marx Friction Cars

4. Batman and Robin Friction Toy Cars by MARX

These wonderful toys from the past were made by the MARX Toy Co.

The cars are made of tin litho and the heads of Batman and Robin are vinyl rubber.

Nobody really knows why this pair is so extremely rare but expect to pay a few hundred dollars for them.

That is, if you can find them!

Toy 3 - Japanese Ray Gun

3. Japanese Batman Ray Gun

OK, I really don’t need to explain why this item is so awesome … just check out the picture.

First, it’s a tin toy ray gun, which is always cool. Second, the graphics have Japanese lettering, very beautiful.

Plus, did I mention Japan?

Japan was among many countries that got caught up in the whole Batman TV show craze. In fact, there’s an entire sub-culture of the toy collecting community that is totally devoted to these treasures.

And now the final two…

Toy 2 - Ideal Justice League of America Playset

2 – Batman & The Justice League of America Play Set by Ideal

In the 1960s Ideal made two  Batman play sets, but this version made the list because it’s much more rare.

Why? Well, Ideal added a few more superhero figures to this set and called it “The Justice League of America.”

For that reason, it’s a lot harder to find than the regular “Batman Set.” Plus, visually, it’s just such a great piece for display.

If you could find a mint-condition example like this one, you got something special. One sold at auction recently for $7,300 and there’s a lot of buzz in collector circles about this grand pop-culture artifact.  

Toy 1 - Ideal Utility Belt

1 – Batman Utility Belt Play Set by Ideal

Here it is, the No. 1 Batman item. This is the 1966 Ideal Batman utility belt, a “Complete Set of Crime Fighting Equipment” — it says so right on the box.

The Bat-belt came with accessories that included a plastic dart gun (yes, “You’ll put someone’s eye out!”), a “real-working” flashlight, a pair of Bat-cuffs, a rope with grapple hook (to climb Gotham City skyscrapers!) and, of course, the coolest weapon in the world,the Bat-a-rang.

This classic is what toy collectors call a “museum piece.” To find this rare play set complete with all its parts is virtually impossible, let alone with the original window box! About a year or so ago, one of these babies in mint shape was auctioned for $16,000, a price that would impress even millionaire Bruce Wayne.



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The new voyage: Launching the 21st century toys of “Star Trek”

Joker creator Jerry Robinson reflects on Gotham’s golden age

Marvel comics flashback: Check out these great 1940s house ads


22 Responses to Top 10 vintage Batman toys, for your inner Boy Wonder

  1. Kandyegirl says:

    Heya ~
    Thank you for publishing this marvelous top 10 list of Batman toys. Your guest columnist did a fabulous job! It is very well thought out and thorough. Each photo having such an informative explanation is so helpful since we can't actually hold the items in our hands…. but we can dream! Does anyone have a spare $16,000.00 I can borrow??? Hahahahaha!
    XO ~

  2. John Davis says:

    Wow, how come the Japanese always get the cool stuff!
    RT <a href="” target=”_blank”>

  3. Xag says:

    WOW.. I own # 6 and didint know it was that musch of an important part of batman memorabilia :P my grandma gave it to me as it belonged to my dad when he was kid :P sweet!

  4. Biz says:

    Nice collection of toys. For real Batman fans.

  5. Chuck says:

    GREAT article! Love Batman, loved growing up with those toys. Thanks for the article, please continue to write more on Batman when you can. He means a lot to us out here!

  6. Kandyegirl says:

    Heya ~
    Thank you for publishing this marvelous top 10 list of Batman toys. Your guest columnist did a fabulous job! It is very well thought out and thorough. Each photo having such an informative explanation is so helpful since we can't actually hold the items in our hands…. but we can dream! Does anyone have a spare $16,000.00 I can borrow??? Hahahahaha!
    XO ~

  7. Buddy says:

    Thanks for posting this great article with such colorful pics. Love that Bat Utility Belt, it's a true collectors dream find.

  8. Gay Boy Wonder says:

    Holy smokes batman, I didn't know you had such a large toy collection.
    Cool article!
    Thanks LA Times!

  9. Anonymous Steve says:

    I wish I could go back in time!! I think my Mom robbed me of several thousand dollars worth of toys that she considered me too old for like #5! Oh well thats what makes collectors… Nice read – it was informative and entertaining!

  10. jean says:

    What about a vintage red bat ring or batman ring? What's it worth/

  11. Lisa says:

    I own #7 (without the box)! Any idea of the value?

  12. adam says:

    awsome bat-mania

  13. RightHandDrive says:

    Crikey, come on… where is the Corgi #267 Batmobile in this list? Surely the most iconic and well known of the Batman toys from the 1960s and 70s, and way cooler (and more accurate) than any in this list! It even fired missles out of the rocket tubes! The rest of your list is junk by comparison. Sorry.

  14. […] Check out the full list HERE. […]

  15. paule says:

    need batman lamp for grand son

  16. Ringman007 says:

    I have a batcycle by empire anything known about this?

  17. jeffjinx says:

    Have to agree with RightHandDrive. The Corgi #267 Batmobile is the ONE piece of Bat-ephemera I'd NEVER part with.

  18. Roy says:

    I agree that the Corgi should have been included. I am perplexed as to why none of the robots made it on this list. Since this list was not wholly comprised regarding value I would bet that 10 out of 10 collectors would choose any of the robots over a water gun.

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