Catwoman first clawed her way into our hearts in 1940. She was featured in a Batman comic and was called the Cat (real name Selina Kyle) before eventually donning the name Catwoman. Even though her appearance has been around for awhile, most fans (i.e. casual non DC comic fans) are more aware of her television and film reinventions.
Growing up I watched the old Batman series from the '60s as reruns. My parents grew up watching the series originally, so they enjoyed the reruns with me. I liked the show, but what kept me watching was the hope to see the elusive guest starring villain role of Catwoman! My parents had told me about her and I was instantly intrigued. There was a woman dressed as a cat? She was a villain? There was actually a female character that seemed really cool on this show? Huh? I was hooked!
We'd watch episodes and I'd ask, "Will she finally show up in this episode? When will we see her?" She was the reason I kept watching. And when the time finally arrived, it was worth it. Catwoman was cool. Her body suit. That attitude. The ears. I thought she was simply the coolest. There was also an air of mystery because she was played by three different actresses during that period. Julie Newmar was the original, Eartha Kitt successfully prowled around the third season, and Lee Meriwether played Catwoman on the Batman Series Movie. Also, Lee Meriwether was the recast Ruth Martin on All My Children! Gotta love those soap connections!
Anyways Catwoman quickly became one of my favorite characters, though that would be officially cemented with Batman Returns. I can't even begin to explain how cool Batman Returns was. I would pretend to do back flips in my living room. I would say "meow" constantly. I would quote the movie like it was nothing. It drove my family and friends crazy.
Then in 2004, I was so glad that Catwoman was actually getting her own movie. Until I saw it... and I got nothin. Just nothin. Moving on...
Now there is a new Catwoman. Anne Hathaway seems to be making her own mark on the role while also nodding to the previous Catwomen before her. So this got me thinking. I've garnered a small collection of various Catwoman figures and in excitement and celebration for Catwoman's return to the big screen, I thought it best to dedicate a Toy Chest Tuesday to Catwoman!
Batman Returns- Kenner, Applause, McDonalds (1992)
To my knowledge this is the first Catwoman action figure. There may have been other Catwoman products in the years before 1992, but I have never seen any. I believe the old Mego line of toys from the '70s may have featured a Catwoman, but I am not completely sure. Either way, Kenner brought us this Catwoman to coincide with the Batman Returns film. Now this was a special Catwoman because I stumbled upon her at Toysrus. My brother and I had just seen the movie and to help our super hero high, we waltzed into Toysrus hoping to find some cool Batman Returns loot. I was not aware that Kenner had made her, so when my brother and I saw her we gasped. It was a Catwoman! We both found one for each of us and were thrilled that Kenner had made a figure in the character's likeness. Her arm had a flip feature, allowing her to snap a whip. In my mind I feel like I know how to use a whip. I owe that to this figure. In all reality I probably have no clue.
There were many quotes and moments of Batman Returns that I just loved. Some favorites: "I don't know about you, Miss Kitty, but I feel so much yummier." or "Life's a bitch, now so am I." The biggest moment for me was at the very end though. Having already been devastated that Catwoman was "dead" I had done my best to recount the number of times she had died, hoping it couldn't be true. Of course the final second of the film revealed that Catwoman was very much indeed alive. I felt nothing but chills as she looked up at the Bat signal. Is it sad that I always hoped for her return in the Batman sequels that would follow? Me= hot mess.
There were other types of Catwoman items released as well for the movie. Applause had made a 12 inch Catwoman doll with limited poseability. There was nice attention to detail though on this doll. I believe a Batman and Penguin were also made in that scale. I loved Applause items. Does anyone else remember them? There was a store at the local mall that would always sell Applause items and other lil knick knacks for whatever big ticket movie was in theaters.
There was still just a little bit more Catnip goodness from the Batman Returns era. Applause had also released a smaller scale Catwoman figure glued to a stand with the Batman logo. McDonalds had also released a Happy Meal series of Batman Returns toys featuring Catwoman in her Catmobile. When it rolled along a surface, the tail at the back would move. That time was very exciting for Catwoman items. There was an abundance of stuff for fans everywhere. Other items that were released at that time were Catwoman bookmarks, glasses, posters, and beach towels to name a few non-toy items. However this would only be the beginning...
Batman: The Animated Series- Kenner, McDonalds (1993)
Following along the successes of the Batman films, it was inevitable that a Batman cartoon would eventually take shape. Fans everywhere were wanting more Batman. Thus Batman: the Animated Series was born. Following the darker themes of Tim Burton's films and certain eras of the comic (like Frank Miller's run), this animated show took on a vintage look while immersing fans into the world of Batman. It had a unique style and theme. It was gripping. I have never been the biggest fan of the Bat, but I loved this show. There were times where it was hard to even think of it as a cartoon. Either way this show introduced Catwoman with a whole new look.
Kenner rolled out the toys and again, this Catwoman was a shock to find in stores. She was rare and rarely (if not ever) featured on the back of the toy cards. I loved this version. Not only was the gray suit and golden belt cool, but the show really dedicated a great deal of story to her. She had her own nemesis, Red Claw, and though there wasn't much given to her origins, Catwoman did have an important role on Batman: The Animated Series. Her figure featured the same action arm feature while also packed with added accessories like claw hooks and her cat Isis.
This Catwoman came in a McDonalds Happy Meal. This was actually a really nice toy for a Happy Meal. It was similar to the Kenner figure, just a little smaller and with more limited articulation. Also the cat this toy came with was considerably bigger. The toy card in the background came with the Catwoman figure shown above. The art was so cool, don't you think?
Legends of Batman- Kenner (1994)
Kenner would end up releasing numerous Batman toylines and as a result many fans would see Catwoman in various incarnations. (There was a Cleopatra Catwoman folks. Kenner went there.) This version of Catwoman came from the Legends of Batman line and closely resembled her Knightfall comic arc version. The use of purple for her costume was a nice change and nod to her original color choice. I also liked that her hair was flowing in the back. This figure came with a trading card and a grappling hook, though she is featured with a whip. I stumbled upon her in an Eckerds (remember those?) I snatched her up for fear that someone else would. (You gotta be careful with dorky folk.) As I mentioned, Kenner released numerous Catwoman figures, and the majority of the time those figures were really rare.
Batman: The Long Halloween- DC Direct (2006)
DC Direct ushered in a new look for Catwoman as a figure. With highly detailed sculpts and the best articulation money can buy, they have certainly made some fantastic Catwoman toys. However this version was not my most favorite. Based upon the Long Halloween comic arc, this Catwoman looked cool, but I just don't care much for her large cat ears. Though the tail and bangle bracelets were a nice touch. I had bought this version thinking I was getting the Knightfall version, only I was wrong. (This is what happens when you don't read the comics! You get it twisted.) Anyways I have held on to her because a person just does not toss out a Catwoman figure.
Blammoids! DC Direct (2009)
It's Catwoman! In mini abstract figure form! DC Direct released this really cute line of DC characters recreated in a playful form. Blammoids are full of personality and I thought this was such a cute way to celebrate certain heroes. I like how collecting has diversified so much in the last few years. Yes it may be exciting to own a well detailed action figure, but sometimes picking up a goofy looking toy based on a favorite is just awesome.
Lego DC Universe Super Heroes- Lego (2011)
Speaking of awesome, I was thrilled that Lego brought back some DC Lego sets. I missed out on the Batman Lego sets from a few years ago so I couldn't wait for the Catwoman and Batman Catcycle City Chase set. The Catwoman Lego Minifigure came with a bright purple catcycle as well as some diamonds and a whip. I also loved that her Lego head had two different faces to swap around. So much fun and another delightful version.
DC Universe Classics Legacy Edition- Mattel (2012)
This year Mattel released a special Legacy Edition of Catwoman from her early days in the Batman comics. This costume has always been interesting to me, because it was such a drastic departure from how she looks now. The skirt and cape combo makes a lot of sense and I love the use of purple. For those wondering, that bag belongs to Monster High's Spectra. This Catwoman came with zero accessories. Just a poster and a stand. But I must say, Selina Kyle never looked better. (Minus the melted glue or plastic on her left arm.)
DC Universe Arkham City- Mattel (2012)
Here we have the latest comic inspired Catwoman figure. Based on the Arkham City comic arc and video game, this Catwoman has a sleek body suit and a pair of boots that are very similar to a pair I own in real life. She also sports some red goggles that are high tech. This version of Catwoman is alright, though the look is not my favorite. However the articulation and detail that went into this figure is very impressive.
Pop! Heroes- Funko (2012)
Another cute Pop Art release for Catwoman! Funko's super fun Pop! line finally caught up with Catwoman from the Dark Knight Rises. This version came out recently and is just a basic Pop! vinyl figure. I wish these had been around when Batman Returns came out. How cool would that have been?
Movie Masters The Dark Knight Rises- Mattel (2012)
The final Toy Chest Catwoman just came out in time for the Dark Knight Rises. Based on Anne Hathaway's portrayal as Catwoman, Mattel released this rare movie figure. (I'll never understand why a Catwoman figure has to be hard to find.) This figure features goggles that are flipped up. The articulation is very nice and her costume is similar to the old school Julie Newmar while being mixed in with the current comic style. I was worried at first about the new Catwoman, but all in all I am happy with what the world has seen so far.
So that is about it for the Catwoman collection. There are far more items available for the Catwoman fan, but I hope this post helps celebrate the feline fatale. I am looking forward to her return to the big screen. The Dark Knight Rises looks like it will create a new spin on Catwoman while also nodding to previous versions. The new look has shades of the Julie Newmar version. While there also appears to be a masquerade ball like in Batman Returns. It seems like Catwoman is having a nice comeback! (Though she was never really gone, now was she?) Here's hoping the next big screen appearance won't be so long.
What's in store for more figures? I have no clue what to expect for the future of Catwoman in figure form. One wish I do have though is for a nice updated Catwoman from Batman Returns. I think DC Direct could do a really great job on that version of Catwoman.
Enjoy the pictures and be sure to leave your comments about your thoughts and memories on Catwoman in all her various forms!