A Tale of Two Kitties :: A Very Special Catwoman Purrrsday

What's this? That isn't Catwoman?!?!
It's true, but I happened to have a chance to look at both the newest Black Cat action figure to hit the market and the recent Batman Classic TV Catwoman which I had purchased way before the holidays but had yet to open - with the opportunity to comment on the differences between the two action figures at the same time. Lucky you!

And I have to admit - I had originally expected my fondness of one of these to minxes to eclipse the other by quite a high degree, but was pleasantly surprised to find that I like them both quite a lot, and that the contest isn't nearly the landslide I had expected it to be. Yes, one is better than the other in my mind, but not by too much!

So...what we have here are two famous comic book kitties for today's special Catwoman Purrrsday: Black Cat and Catwoman.

Black Cat is from the most recent iteration of Marvel Legends, and is one of the 50/50 variant 'Skyline Sirens' figures (along with Spider-Girl) in the Marvel Infinite Spider-Man themed wave from Hasbro.

Catwoman is the Julie Newmar version from the 1966 television series, as envisioned in plastic in the Batman Classic TV Series of action figures from Mattel.

The vast differences in source material notwithstanding, these two tabbies actually look pretty good together!

Black Cat is a much more modern, stylized, comic-book art/cartoony inspired action figure, while Catwoman is a pretty good attempt to mimic the likeness of an actual living and breathing human being...from the nineteen-sixties.

Like I said earlier, I really thought I'd like Black Cat way more than I like Catwoman. How great a job Hasbro did on this Black Cat is pretty obvious. But Mattel did a really good job on Catwoman too. And while they are both different beasts entirely, they are both great representations of their respective sources.

I will say that Black Cat is a better value for your money. She's much more substantial (and not just...THERE...) and comes with a really great grappling hook/whip accessory. She also comes with a BAF part for Ultimates Green Goblin, of which I do not intend to complete, but one can usually trade or sell these parts away and re-coup some of the cost of the full figure. But as far as action figure costs go these days, you wouldn't have gotten this Black Cat for any less money without the BAF piece as part of the overall package, so at least you have a little something extra to deal with as you wish.

Basically the bottom line is: the only thing that should hold you back from owning either of these figures is your fondness for the characters themselves.

Catwoman's packaging is the same as all of the Batman Classic TV Series figures, with Robin saying 'Holy Cats! A CAT! It is good looking packaging and beats Black Cat's boring black, but Black Cat's packaging is re-sealable, so it has that advantage if that is something that appeals to you.

Also of note: the 'Only at Toys R Us' sticker on Catwoman. Fans of this line know there has been some strange doings at the retail level for these, namely they have appeared at very few brick and mortar locations. Yet they are almost everywhere online, and have seen drastic clearance prices at places like Amazon.com. My theory is that Toys R Us made some sort of agreement with Mattel and that future waves will be exclusive to Toys R Us both online and at physical locations. Only time will tell.

There is no doubting this as a 1966 TV representation of Catwoman, and the likeness to Julie Newmar is pretty good for this scale and cost. The eye make-up could be better, but the eyebrows are pretty classic and well done.

Catwoman moves well - all the same DCUC engineering we all know and...know. Nothing new here. I was surprised that her head moves easily - the hair is short enough not to hinder movement all that much.

All the Batman Classic figures are pretty scrawny, and DCUC females have always been scrawny with flat butts. Again, none of this is new news to those of us who have been collecting Mattel's DC offerings for years.

Catwoman's costume is well sculpted and there's a nice difference between her bodysuit (subtle sparkles) and her gloves and boots (shiny!)

Catwoman is a great action figure for any fan of the '66 TV Series. I only have two others from this line: Surf's Up Batman and The Joker. Surf's Up is awesome on concept alone, and Joker is pretty plain and really only appealing to the hardcore fan, so I didn't really know what to expect before opening up this Catwoman. But I was happy with a nice quality, good looking Catwoman action figure.

She REALLY could have used a whip or a cat-statue or something though. The lack of accessories in this line is a bit of a rip-off, especially when she retails for the same price as Black Cat. She does come with a card and a base, and the base is handy with her little feet, but Mattel could have done more.

By looking at Black Cat side-by-side with Catwoman, I kind of feel like I'm comparing apples to oranges here. But I think it also allows for a nice examination of multiple facets of the toy collecting game. I've already noted the huge difference between an illustration-to-plastic as opposed to a person on TV-to-plastic action figure, but there's even more here beyond the obvious. For instance, Black Cat is essentially a 'chase' figure. Now I don't know what numbers either figure are made in, but Catwoman is simply a figure in a wave. Black Cat will eventually be replaced by Spider-Girl in shipments of this wave. Meaning: If you want her and see her on the shelf...BUY HER. Otherwise you will pay a mark-up on the secondary market.

Black Cat comes with a BAF (or Build-A-Figure) piece of Green Goblin (the Hulk-like one, not the classic version.) I REALLY wish Mattel had taken this road with their Classic TV Series figures. They could have put a piece of one of the most off-the-wall and unlikely to ever sell well individually at retail characters: Egghead, King Tut, False Face, Clock King - someone like that. I would have bought the whole wave to have a Shame action figure, and many hardcore fans would have followed suit. And causal fans wouldn't have felt like they missed out on anything. It's win win!

Back to Black Cat. This kitty is krazy kool! The sculpt is top notch, and this female body design is the best I've seen from Marvel Legends.

Her face sculpt is beautiful from multiple angles, which isn't always the case in female action figures.

Her hair is sculpted from a softer plastic than the rest of her, so her head has a surprising range of motion.

In fact Black Cat has many spectacular...assets.

Black Cat comes with her grappling hook tipped whip, and it is both well sculpted and painted silver at the 'metal' end. Mattel didn't even give us a monochromatic thin strand of plastic string and pass it off as a 'whip' with Catwoman. Point: Black Cat.

So even though I am more of a fan of the character of Catwoman, and have a lifelong fondness for Julie Newmar's television portrayal, Marvel Infinite Series Black Cat is a better toy and a better bargain. That isn't saying Catwoman isn't good, and Hasbro released a real dog with their last attempt at a Marvel Legends Black Cat. But Hasbro brought their A game this time.

I used to own a Marvel Select Black Cat, and while she looked good she was nothing more than a statue with little functional articulation. This Black Cat has an excellent range of motion and much the superior toy. Unfortunately I don't own any in-scale Spider-Man action figures, so for now Black Cat will have to hang out in the Gotham City that is my action figure collection. I hope she feels welcome.


  1. Excellent review Eric and that Black Cat figure is very well done much better than i would of thought.

  2. Black Cat = hottest female superhero!