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Fat Bat and Little Bird

Smart Bombs
by yo go re

This week, DC Comics celebrated "Batman Day," marking the 75th anniversary of Bill Finger creating the Caped Crusader and Bob Kane putting his own name on it. This week is also the start of SDCC. This happy coincidence has inspired us to pull out a Batman-themed SDCC exclusive that we never got around to reviewing before.

After leaving Palisades Toys in 2005, Ken Lilly founded his own company, Creatus Maximus (CMX), which was an attempt to facilitate the production of artists' products. The idea being that he'd use his experience in the toy industry (product manager for ReSaurus and VP of product development at Palisades) to help make cool ideas real. At SDCC '06 they released their first products, Smart Bombs.

Smart Bombs were designer figures based (loosely) on Fat Man and Little Boy, the nuclear bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Like all designer toys (e.g. Qees, Dunnys, Mighty Muggs, etc.) the idea was to have a simple "blank" that could be turned into different characters through the use of paint apps. In this case, a pair of nuclear bombs.

To inaugurate the line, Lilly sponsored a contest on the CMX message board allowing fans to design the initial two-packs: there was a Star Wars-inspired set that I've been after Rustin to review for eight years now (mail him and tell him you want to read it), and this totally-not-DC set, featuring Fat Bat and Little Bird.

Fat Bat stands 2⅞" tall, and has a large, egg-shaped body. The tip of the bomb is clear plastic, allowing us to see the big, wrinkly brain inside (remember, the name of the toy is Smart Bombs). There's a line of sculpted rivets where the dome meets the body, and four large "latches" that pretend to hold them together (in reality, the dome is glued on, which is a pain since mine was assembled backwards - you have no idea how long it took me to crack him open and get the dome turned around 180°). He has a tiny grimacing face, and the logo on his chest is part of the Smart Bombs logo. His uniform is gray and blue, and there's a yellow utility belt around his waist, with a batarang tucked into the back. On both sides of the body are holes where extra pieces get plugged in - in Fat Bat's case, it's a pair of curving wings.

Little Bird is 3½" tall and share a lot of the same sculptural embellishments: the rings of rivets around the body, the latches at the top, etc. Instead of bat wings, his arm holes have weird prongs coming out the sides: a stick, a loop, and then another stick, all arranged in a straight line. The slender tube of a body is painted with red and yellow costume details, including a B in a circle on his chest. For "bird," we assume? The lower ring of rivets is entirely black, forming a belt, and then there are little green shorts and pink legs (not gray like the prototype showed). The stabilizing fins are green with a more intricate black pattern on each side. Again, the head is clear, but this time the brain inside is on a stalk since there's more room inside. The top of the cap is painted black, like hair, and there's a black mask with white eyes in the center of the head.

Sadly, these Smart Bombs were the only products Creatus Maximus ever released. As Lilly himself said, "what started out as a great ride and a fun dream ended up as a string of disappointments and what-might-have-beens." There were plans for a line called kockBLOCKerz, which were essentially just a rebranding of Palisades' PALz with original characters instead of licensed properties, but that never happened (if you want some new PALz these days, your only option is to buy the game Get Bit, which is either licensing the molds or flat-out stealing them). As sad as I am that CMX never got to take off the way it should have, I'm glad I got one of their sets when I had the chance.

-- 07/24/14

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