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Mr. Freeze

Batman (Classic TV Series)
by yo go re

Few comic characters owe as much to outside media as Mr. Freeze.

Chill! During an altercation in his secret laboratory, Dr. Art Schivel [sic] was covered in an experimental chemical he had created. The chemicals bonded to his body, and suddenly his metabolism was reversed, and outside fifty degrees below zero could not survive. He created and wore a special suit that kept his body constantly at a freezing temperature and his lair was always Arctic in temperature. From then on, he referred to himself as Mr. Freeze. He vowed revenge on Batman and all of Gotham to suffer and freeze like he did. That is the way the ice cube crumbles!

You already know how Batman: the Animated Series saved him (literally), but that wasn't the start of it. Introduced in 1959's Batman #121, "Mr. Zero" was a joke villain along the lines of Kite-Man or Condiment King. He didn't even have a real name, and was cured at the end of his first appearance with nothing more than ordinary steam. But the TV show needed villains, so it was his time to shine!

For whatever reason, the producers opted to make Mr. Freeze less of a joke than he'd been before. Instead of dressing like a Christmas elf, he was now clad in blue and silver, really selling the idea of him as an ice villain. Although he'd only been in one issue of the comic, he appeared in all three seasons on the TV show; in Season 1, he wore a big round space helmet, but that was changed for Season 2 and 3: since you couldn't see the character's face, they made up a "freeze collar" around his neck that would supposedly keep his head shrouded in cool air without having to be fully enclosed. This also came with a new control panel on the chest, with three knobs on the front. That's re-created here nicely, right down to the tiny tiny bumps for the dials' settings.

Mr. Freeze appeared once per season, and every season had a different actor. The first was George "Shere Khan" Sanders, who was asked back for the second appearance but had to decline; the third was Eli "The Ugly" Wallach, who was brought on because nobody enjoyed working with the second, Otto Preminger. Otto took the role to make his children happy, but his bald head makes him the closest to the modern version of the character, so he's the one this toy (and most of the merchandise) adapts.

The articulation is sufficient, but light. Doctor Schimmel (yes, the show made up a name for him, and no, it wasn't "Schivel") has a balljoined head, swivel waist and wrists, T-crotch, and then swivel/hinges for the shoulders, elbows, and knees. It's not much, bit what more would you give him? Well, technically you'd give him his freeze gun, since his right hand is molded to hold it, but no such thing is included. Heck, it's even shown in the character photo on the back of the card, so why didn't McToys include it? (Forget that urban legend about WB not allowing its characters to be sold with guns: even if a freeze ray counted, the truth is that WB only won't allow its characters to be prominently advertised with guns; if a toymaker goes further than that, it's their own choice.) Like, even if Todd didn't want to do an entire removable backpack, just the blaster itself would have been enough.

Like all the other figures in this line, Mr. Freeze's only accessories are sound effects that clip onto his wrists. It's an interesting gimmick, but hardly something that's really going to win over the people's hearts and minds. Mr. Freeze gets an orange "BONK!" on yellow, and a yellow "CLANK!" on orange, neither of which appeared in Preminger's episodes. We should have gotten a "PAM!" or "Z-ZAW!"

In the Catwoman review, we talked about how it seemed like WB was leaning on Todd to make the Batman '66 figures the same size as Mattel's. One of the theories for why Todd changed scales in the first place was to ensure fans who already had a dozen Batmen or Supermen would buy them all over again, rather than passing on the first release, which is understandable: if some new company got the Marvel license tomorrow and made 6" scale figures, would you run out and spend money on their Spider-Man, or be content with the dozens you already have? But here's the Batman '66 line, repeating all the same figures Mattel made before branching out to variations in boxing gloves or unmasked or what have you. Whatever the reason, we're thankful Todd's not afraid to go a little more nuts, giving us not only Mr. Freeze, but more second-stringers in the future. The odds of seeing a 6" King Tut figure have gone way up!

-- 12/07/22


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