The Hot Wheels Garage: 3 July 2012

July 3, 2012--In 1939, comic book artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger created the character of Batman, who would first appear in "Detective Comics" #27. The new Superhero differed from others in the era, in that he did not possess any superpowers. Batman thrived in the use of intellect, detective skills, science and technology, wealth, physical prowess, martial arts skills, an indomitable will, fear, and intimidation in his continuous war on crime. The dark, brooding character was portrayed in this manner until the campy, made-for-TV series "Batman" was released on January 12, 1966. Batman was remembered in this manner for many years after, and the 1989 release of "Batman", starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson still held the comedic tone of the '66 series. The next 3 releases, "Batman Returns", "Batman Forever" and "Batman & Robin" continued the tradition of mixing chaotic, humorous villains and outlandish sets. Order was restored in 2005, with the release of "Batman Begins", where Batman's persona returned to his original roots; a dark, emotionally-charged crimefighter, without the campy villains.

Years after the original TV series, Hot Wheels began to commemorate the Batman phenomenon by releasing several different modern versions of the Batmobile. The first issue was in 2004, and the '66 TV Batmobile released in 2007 drove collectors to the stores in search of one. It proved to be a very difficult find, until months later.

In 2012, Hot Wheels released a Wal*Mart exclusive Batman set, which is comprised of 8 different Batmobiles, all of which were released as prior issues. The set commemorates the TV series, a couple of the movies, cartoons and random Batman offerings. Putting a set of all 8 together would prove to be a difficult task, as the the shipper mixes rarely (if ever) provided collectors the opportunity to complete an entire set. You basically had to check different Wal*Mart stores to find the missing cars.

While the set was generally well-received, the criticism remained. Collectors were either a) peeved at their inability to complete the set, due to poor mixes, or b) unwilling to purchase Batmobiles that they already had. I encountered quite a bit of difficulty finding the ones I needed, and ended up being assisted by a collector on Otherwise, I'm not quite sure I would've been able to complete the set, myself.

So, what was the drawing power of this series? Well, there are a lot of Batman fans, and a lot of TV/Movie Hot Wheels collectors (A-Team Van, Ecto-1, Back To The Future, etc). But, what drew me in was the fantastic and colorful blister card artwork. It didn't bug me at ALL that I had all of the same exact cars from over the years; this set looks GREAT on the wall! The effort it took to complete this set was worth it, to me.

In closing, I think this was a very interesting and collectible set issued by Mattel. It's likely going to be one that, years down the road, some will wish they had gotten in on them, due to the ever-present popularity of Batman. Good luck finding them all! Pics of the set are listed below.

Neal Giordano Founder/Editor

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