From the early Kenner days to the latest from DC Collectibles, we share the complete history of Batman: The Animated Series action figures
Batman: The Animated Series is not only one of the most beloved superhero animated television shows, it could be argued that it is one of the most popular and sophisticated animated shows of all time. Over the course of its run, the show captured three Daytime Emmy Awards and one Primetime Emmy Award. The series was so popular, it received a sequel titled The New Batman Adventures. Both shows focused on your favorite Batman characters from the comic books including Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, Barbara Gordon, The Joker and much of the rest of Batman’s gallery of rogues. The show even introduced new characters that became fan favorites, like Harley Quinn. Even the look of the series became popular for its distinctive style. In the end, for many viewers, these animated adventures also became a gateway to their comic book fandom as they read on to share more adventures with Batman.
Action figures for Batman: The Animated Series were released immediately after the premiere of the show in 1992. The toys were produced by Kenner. During the show’s time on air, Kenner released four series of action figures (Series 1, Series 2, Series 3 and Series 4) along with vehicles and playlets.
The company then created a set to coincide with the animated movie Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. At that point though, it felt as if the overall toy line was starting to lose steam as the company was using basically the same mold for many of their Batman: The Animated Series figures especially when it came to the principal character, Batman.
Kenner tried retooling their line with their next toy series Batman The Animated Series: Crime Squad. Most of the action figures in this set included different versions of Batman and one Robin figure. Kenner retooled once again still sticking with the Crime Squad theme calling it The Adventures of Batman & Robin: Crime Squad. This set also managed to squeeze in a figure of Harley Quinn with a punching glove and trick pistol.
Kenner’s next Batman The Animated Series related line was The Adventures of Batman & Robin D.U.O. Force. Seeing its full run over two series (Series 1 and Series 2), this run of figures included a Wind Blitz Batgirl action figure, but sadly the rest of the figures are simply repainted ones using old molds.
After a mix of failed toy lines, Hasbro stepped into the picture and bought out Kenner. With that acquisition, they started their own series of Batman: The Animated Series action figures. Their first toy line for the franchise was called The New Batman Adventures. This line featured new sculpts based on the updated animated series from the WB network. It also included figures of Batman, Nightwing, and some Batman: The Animated Series villains. Notable in this run are the including of Mad Hatter and the Creeper!
The New Batman Adventures set led into a different toy line from Hasbro called Mission Masters, which had a total of four toy series. It also led to some interesting action figure and tech mashups.
After the Mission Masters set Hasbro started making figures for the Batman: The Animated Series spin-off TV show, Batman Beyond. A Batman related show set in the future with even darker themes than it’s parent show. Batman Beyond starred a new Batman, Terry McGinnis, who was mentored by an aging Bruce Wayne.
The first Batman Beyond action figure line made a similar mistake to The Batman Animated series toy lines. Their figures showcased many different versions of Batman Beyond, but didn’t include many of the other characters from the series. The first set included designs like Manta Racer Batman, Lightning Storm Batman, Thunderwhip Batman, and Hydro Force Batman.
Later Hasbro released a new set of Batman Beyond figures called Batman Beyond: Batlinks. These action figures were not connected to the television show, and instead had an elseworld computer theme. Batlinks included different versions of Batman, Firewall Robin, and Virtual Joker. The Batman figures in this set were Circuitry Storm Batman, Codebuster Batman, Energy Surge CD-ROM Batman, Mainframe Attack Batman, Particle Burst Batman, Power Grid Batman, Search Engine Batman, Virtual Joker, Firewall Robin and Virtual Bat.
Hasbro also released figures for the direct to video Batman Beyond movie, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. The figures included in this set were Golden Armor Batman, Gotham Defender Batman, Gotham Knight Batman, Rapid Switch Bruce Wayne and Arkham Assault Joker.
The Batman: The Animated Series action figure line had a bit of a confusing history with the move to Hasbro, the multiple spin-off television series, and the many repainted figures. I’ve done my best to untangle it here but I also wanted to use this article to discuss the new figures coming out currently. These new figures are turning heads and generating toy headlines.
DC Collectibles began releasing new figures for the show in 2015. There were four waves in that year. The first wave of figures included Robin, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy. Harley Quinn is debatably the most popular character spinning out of the Batman: The Animated Series TV show, and she will be starring in her own movie, Suicide Squad, in August. The second wave of figures included Batman, Batgirl, Penguin, Riddler, and even the Batmobile. The third wave had a smaller selection with Man-Bat and Rocky Rocket, lesser known characters from Batman: The Animated Series. The last wave in 2015, released in December, was their biggest collection that year. The set included Killer Croc, Nightwing, Bane, Scarecrow, The Mad Hatter, Batman, and Catwoman.
The Batman: The Animated Series action figures did so well for DC Collectibles that they released more figures in 2016. In January they unveiled a small grouping of figures, which included Robin and the Joker. These two would mark the last of the figures that have been currently released through DC Collectibles, but there are still many more figures to come.
In August 2016 DC Collectibles will serve up Zatanna, Jim Gordon, Ra’s Al Ghul, and an Etrigan & Klarion two pack. A few notable figures coming out in October 2016 are the Girls Night Out 5 Pack (Including Poison Ivy, Livewire, Supergirl, Batgirl, and Harley Quinn figures) and Tales of the Dark Knight set (Including Batman, Carrie Kelly, and Mutant Leader).
The DC Collectibles line has already announced a Batman Beyond 3 Pack (Including Batman Beyond, Aging Bruce Wayne, and Ace the Great Dane) set to be released in January 2017. It’s great to see the Batman: The Animated Series collection growing, and I can’t wait to see what DC Collectibles has planned for the future of this line.
The Batman: The Animated Series action figures have really grown from their initial launch with Kenner in 1992. It’s wonderful to see more characters being made available in these new action figure sets from DC Collectibles! Now many of the Batman: The Animated Series characters that deserved the spotlight are finally having the chance to shine. The much loved series continues on in the collections of its fans and that is a very good thing.