Thursday, July 14, 2011

That's the Wonder of Woolworth's

A little bit of a trip down memory lane today with this photo of my earliest Batman and Robin collectibles, and which pre-date my earliest Batman comic acquisition (#186 - Cover Date Nov 1966 - "The Joker's Original Robberies").

The figures in the photo are 4” high plastic figures produced by toy soldier makers Charbens or Cherilea in the UK in the late Summer of 1966. Although the Batman TV series (the catalyst for my comics interest) premiered in the US in January 1966, it was not until July 4th that it premiered on ITV in the UK). 

The two figures you see were purchased by my mother in Woolworths in Palmerston Road, Southsea in September 1966, and given to me after school one day while we waited in Pembroke Road, Old Portsmouth for my father to collect us on his way home from work.

When my father arrived, he also produced a figure of Batman that he had purchased himself from Woolworths in Commercial Rd, during his lunch hour! So I ended up with two Batmen and one Robin!

These figures are incredibly rare, in any condition, virtually unknown outside of the UK. A quick “google” has shown that a pair of these figures is up for sale at $454, and a shabby Batman on its own for $125, with no base. I see that a firm has acquired the moulds, and it is now possible to purchase unpainted versions of the Batman figure for a modest price.

Woolworths played a major role in selling Batman-related merchandise in the 1960s, and we’ll take a look at some of the other items in later blogs. As far as I know, Woolworths never sold American comics in the UK, but they were a major influence on promoting awareness of the superhero genre in a drab Britain.

(Note : the pictures of Woolworths in Portsmouth from 1966 shown here were swiped from Flickr, taken by a chap called Richard Baker. His photos capture a Britain transitioning from austerity to the "Swinging Sixties", a world away from the imagined colour and excitment of America, as seen through the lens of the Batman TV series).


  1. Actually, my local Woolworths (in Scotland) sold DC Comics, and I remember buying Batman #184 in 1966 or '67. I also remember buying these figures - I probably bought two or three of each over a period of months. I was fascinated by that purple (?) colour on Batman's cape and cowl, etc, 'though I used to repaint them with those little Humbrol (I think) glass-phialed paints that Woolworths also sold.

  2. Aahh! Good old Woolies! The base of my Cherilea Dalek army, (long since departed!) God bless 'em! Such an important part of our childhood, we must never forget old F.W.