Batman was created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger, and the superhero first appeared in the Detective Comics No. 27 in 1939, after the successful launch of Superman earlier that year. He was well received by comic book fans, and his own comic book title, “Batman,” was launched the very next year.
The Caped Crusader wouldn’t become a mainstay of pop culture until his television debut in 1966. The live-action TV show is what made him more visible, relatable and real to everyday Americans. This show also helped launch a line of Batman paraphernalia, including toys, accessories and action figures. One of the first toy sets was the Official Batman Playset by Ideal.
This set would have contained Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, Superman, three arch-villains including the Joker, a robot, the Bat Plane, the Bat Car and a solar-ray weapon.
There were other Batman toy sets that were launched about the same time. Each set offered a different lineup of of heroes and villains; however, all had one thing in common — the superheroes were painted by hand, while the villains remained unpainted.
Some of the characters from this toy set are on display at the La Crosse County Historical Society.
The word “superhero” can be traced back to at least the early 1900s and was used to describe someone who battled everyday crime or major threats to humankind. It was someone who punished the wicked and protected the innocent. These heroes and icons also had their own flaws, which is what allowed people to be able to relate to them and inspired many people to overcome their own obstacles.
These and other toys can be found in the online artifact collection of the La Crosse County Historical Society.