Ertl Batmobile & Cocoon

June 25, 2009 | By | Reply More


Batman, Batmoblile, Model Kit, Mail Away, Premium, Cocoon, Ertly, 1989

I love mail away stuff. I think it started when I first saw the ad for a “Rocket Firing Boba Fett.” I’ve collected box tops, proofs of purchase, UPC and Flag Points. From Crystal Skeletons to Star Wars Survival Kits, I’ve sent for a ton of stuff over the years. I came across the subject of this review and thought it unique enough to dust off and bring to the light of day.

The 1989 “Batman” has been on my list of top 10 favorite films for a long time. Well, for that matter, it’s been on my list since 1989. As a wee one, my favorite superhero was Batman, and he still is to this day. I don’t read much of the newer Batman stuff on News shelves these days. I find it just messes with my ideas of who he is, what he stands for, and how he accomplishes his business.

I recently re-screened the 1989 version of the film when it was on TV. I know a lot people are oohing over the “Dark Knight,” including me. However, as a film buff you have to look at the 1989 film in context for it’s time. And for it’s time, it was a pretty dark look at the caped crusader.

Consider this, the previous film version of the Joker had been played by Cesar Romero, and played for laughs at that. The non-comic reading public knew a Batman from a TV show that danced and joked more than he fought crime. The ones who didn’t know him from the TV show, got their taste of Batman from the animated “Super Friends.”

Appearance:

The thing I remember the most from the first time I saw the Tim Burton version of Batman was the visual style. It had a very real world look to it, at least as much as could expect from a late eighties movie. The second thing was this Batman was getting back to his Noir roots. There’s some obvious inspirations from a variety of comics, including 1986’s “Dark Knight Returns” and “Batman: Year One.” The Joker is not quite the psycho that comic readers had seen, but he’s no Romero either. Honestly, if Jack Nicholson had played the Joker as over the top disturbed as Heath Ledger in 1989, I can guarantee it would have been rated R or may not have made it to the screen at all without heavy cuts. Ironic when you think about it, Tim Burton is normally known for surreal fantasy environments, and yet he was responsible for bring Batman backto a gritty real world environment more in line with a Raymond Chandler novel than the Bat-tusi.

The reveal of the 1989 Batmobile in the film is a pretty perfect scene. Batman and Vicki Vale racing out of the museum, and her asking, “Which car?” The camera pans back to show us there isn’t any doubt about which car it would be.

The Batmobile in this case turn out to be a cross between James Bond’s Aston Martin, a rocket engine, and a Corvette. It’s long and mean looking. This car is meant to inspire fear and awe as much as Batman’s costume itself. Most of the film and animated versions of Bruce Wayne’s ride were at least inspired by this car, with the “Tumbler” version in the new film being the break from that styling.

As a model kit, the Batmobile looks just as it should. Unlike a lot of other kits, this is one that if you didn’t paint anything, it would probably still turn out decent. There are a number of little details on the car as well as a full interior. You really wouldn’t expect anything else for a scale model would you?

IF memory serves correct, you can build this car with the guns up or down. (They would come out of the panels on the tops of the fenders.) There was also a little grappling hook door you could option out. Mine has some light damage to the passenger side from storage where the hook would be.

On the downside, there are two very minor things that would have made this kit even better. The first being a more detailed bottom side. There’s no suspension and the bottom of the car is basically one sculpted piece. The second cool feature would have been a Batman driver. The Batwing came with one, why wouldn’t the Batmobile?

Overall, this was a fairly easy kit to get a great looking vehicle out of. I didn’t have the patience in 1989 that I have now, so I’m sure this thing would have been a breeze to get looking spectacular today.

Batman, Batmoblile, Model Kit, Mail Away, Premium, Cocoon, Ertly, 1989

Fun:

Similar to some of today’s collectors clubs, Ertl offered a club where they sent a periodical pamphlet called the Blueprinter. I say pamphlet because if I remember right it was only about 8 pages long or so and punched for a three ring binder. In it, they presented up coming kits, model building tips and
special offers.

I can’t remember if the Batmobile Cocoon was a special offer in Blueprinter, or you had to order Blueprinter to get it. Either way, I couldn’t pass it up in 1989.

For those of you that don’t remember or haven’t seen the film, there’s a scene where Batman says, “Shields” into a small transmitter and the Batmobile armors it self. Armor plates start popping up and covering all the sensitive areas of the car. Based on the size and form of some of these plates,
it doesn’t seem likely that the armor would really work.However, it does make for a cool scene and cool looking Batmobile.

In order to reproduce this look for the model, the folks at Ertl created a vacuum formed shell to place over the finished model. Holy instant armored crime fighting cars, Batman! As a vac-formed piece, the detail is fairly soft when compared to the car itself. Also, since it a shell piece intended to fit over the car, it’s obviously a bit larger than the car itself. The vac-forming process also left a little lip all the way around the bottom of the piece.

If I recall right, it wasn’t exactly clear what you were getting when you ordered this, or at least it wasn’t in 1989. If there was a graphic at all, it was line drawing of the movie car. I’m not sure if it’s the armor design, the cocoon itself, or the design of the movie armor, but the general shape of the armored car seems more angular and not quite as smooth as the car itself. The two shapes don’t really reconcile themselves completely, and my guess this is more from a little movie magic than anything else.

Batman, Batmoblile, Model Kit, Mail Away, Premium, Cocoon, Ertly, 1989

My biggest gripe with the Cocoon was the wheels. In the film, the wheels are covered in a very stylized way. Here they look like wheel covers you see at RV parks. And because the shell is bigger than the car, you can’t cut them out and have the shell look right.

I’m sure there were some modelers back in the day that used the shell to create a kickass Batmobile. Cutting out the armored sections and blending them all on to an actual car kit,
and then finishing it all off with some black paint. I wasn’t one of them. Besides I had a Batwing to build. (Which I might finish one of these days.) )

Overall:

I know model kits aren’t something I would normally review, but I’ve been on a Batman kick. The 1989 Batmobile kit was a scale model that accurately enough represented it’s screen counter part. The cocoon, despite its’ flaws, is still a cool premium. Which would you rather get in the mail; a Little Orphan Annie Decoder Ring or an Armored Batmobile?

Engineernerd Score: 90/100

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Category: Other Film, Toy Reviews

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