Polar Lights Batmobile
The Batmobile is the car of the fictional comic book superhero Batman, an iconic American character. The character of Batman first appeared in DC Comics’ Detective Comics #27 (May 1939). By 1940, Batman proved popular enough to spin off into his own dedicated comic, Batman. In the years since, there have been other comics, books, radio shows, television shows, and films featuring Batman and his related characters and equipment. The car used by Batman, called the Batmobile, appeared in the very first stories in 1939 and has evolved over the years. Perhaps the best known version is the vehicle that appeared in the 1960’s hit TV series Batman, which is the subject of this kit. Designed specifically for the TV show by famous customizer George Barris, the car was a heavily modified former Ford Corporation concept car called the Lincoln Futura. This car, which Ford had sold off to the Barris Studios, was converted into the Batmobile in just three weeks in 1965. Later, there were additional copies made for promotional and car show appearances, all based on 1965-66 Ford Galaxies. In 2010, DC Comics authorized additional replicas.
Today we are accustomed to a barrage of promotional items, from toys to foods to clothing, which are produced to hype all sorts of mass media productions. Batman was one of the first examples of this type of promotion, from the beginning of the character up through the latest series of movies.
The Batman TV series was a huge hit, with 120 episodes airing from 1966 to 1968. I remember that my brother’s Cub Scout meetings had to be switched to a night that Batman did not air on TV. The show launched a huge number of promo items, and with the huge popularity of the Golden Age of plastic modeling in the 1960’s, model kits of Batman figures and the vehicles (Batmobile, Batboat and Batplane) were released by model manufacturer Aurora and were successful sellers. The Batmobile kits designed and issued at that time were in 1/32 scale and, until earlier this year, were the only mass produced styrene plastic kits of this subject. Round 2/Polar Lights has reissued the original 1/32 kit several times, including this reissue that features a collectible tin. Polar Lights also released both snap kits and full detail glue kit versions of this car in 1/25 in 2011.
This kit is a rather simplified 1/32 scale model. The design dates back to the mid 1960’s and is not really up to current standards. It is molded in black plastic with clear and chrome pieces. There are just over forty pieces, fourteen for the wheel/tires/axles. There are issues with the fit in many cases, as well as excessive mold lines and sink marks in very visible locations. After test fitting and reviewing the pieces, I decided to approach the build as it was originally intended, a quick build by a young modeler who was more a fan of the TV show than a serious modeler. I have seen examples of this kit heavily modified to fix some of the faults, but with the newly released Polar Lights 1/25 kits coming out, I went with a basic out of the box build for this review.
Like all Round2 kits, the packaging for the kit is first rate. The box art is a copy of the 60’s box, as are the instructions. The sturdy box, along with a poster, is packed inside a large collectible tin with the Batman logos. This makes for a great presentation.
The body is basically one piece with a separate front grille/bumper. The fit is not exact, so I glued it together before painting. The real car was a dark bluish black with prominent red pinstriping. I anticipated issues with the decals (see my comment later on in the review), so I ended up painting the body flat black from a rattle can, then applied some polish to give it a semi-gloss sheen. The grilles, front and rear, were hand-painted with Testors metallic aluminum, and the turn signals were painted with Gunze Clear Orange. There are two parachutes in the rear. I hand-painted these with Tamiya Light Gray. The rocket launchers behind the cockpit are chrome pieces, but since there were very visible round mold marks in front, I just used them as is. The jet exhaust in the back is a chrome piece on which I applied a flat black wash to highlight the ridge detail.
The interior builds up off the flat one-piece chassis floor. The seats and interior side panels attach to the floor but the dash attaches to the underside of the body. The seats, floor, and side panels were painted Tamiya German Gray for a bit of contrast (not much is visible when assembled). The dashboard is a chrome piece.
This is a curbside style kit, meaning there is no engine (the hood does not open). I glued some sheet plastic, painted flat black, on the floor of the chassis to avoid the “see-thru effect” caused by lack of engine and suspension detail. The chassis had lots of prominent circular mold marks which needed to be sanded off. There is a minimum of molded-in engine and suspension details.
The wheels and tires are one of the weaker elements of the kit design. The tires are two-piece styrene, not rubber or vinyl. The wheels are chromed spokes with molded-in Bat-shaped knock offs, for which a red decal is provided. The whole wheel/tire package appears too small. The wheels push onto a plastic axle to allow the model to roll, another example of the intended young audience the kit was designed for.
The windshield is two pieces of clear plastic, front and rear. It fits where it should, and the edges are raised to allow for a guide for painting the chrome trim. I used a silver Sharpie to accent the trim; chrome foil could also be used.
There are two figures provided, Batman and his sidekick Robin. Batman’s arms are separate pieces which attach to his torso once it is in the seat, so filling in the gaps that result when you position the arms on the steering wheel is difficult. I repositioned Robin’s arm since it doesn’t match up well to the top of the windshield where it’s meant to be posed.
The biggest issue with the kit is the decals. As previously mentioned, there are red pinstripes running along the middle of the body and wrapping around the front and rear. There are over twenty separate pieces of this red trim on the decal sheet. I attempted to use them but they did not match up well and they did not adhere well, so I gave up about halfway through the process and did not use any pinstriping. I did use the red Batman logos in the middle of the doors and these went on okay.
If you are looking to build a detailed replica of this famous television car, you will need to do a lot of scratchbuilding and reworking to get it to look right. I assume most builders will opt instead for the newly released 1/25 kits of this car. If you want a bit of nostalgia, this kit provides any easy build and this version with the collectors tin and poster is great for your Batman collection.
Thanks to Round 2 and IPMS USA for the opportunity to build this classic reissue.