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Batman's Animated Adventures Continue with New Figures and Comics
DC Direct first arrived at the idea of creating new action figures in the style and spirit of the classic Batman: The Animated Series after seeing the continued demand for their bestselling action figures based on the series.
"We are following up on the original toy line that we launched," explains DC Direct Creative Director, Jim Fletcher. "We went through almost fifty characters. We were looking for a way to get this line continued and we were trying to think of a way to do it by making enough figures of characters that people would actually want."
From that thought arose the idea of designing figures based on some of DC's most beloved characters that had never appeared on the animated series or utilizing popular characters that had been created after the show had aired.
"What happened after the show ended...?" wonders Fletcher. "All of these characters had been created, like Deathstroke, Red Hood and, most recently, the Batman Who Laughs. So we said, 'This could be a cool way to continue the line and really create something fans would want to own.'"
Of course, as with the Batman: The Animated Series action figure line, DC Direct wanted to make the toys as authentic as possible to the look and feel of the show, so they reached out to writer and Harley Quinn co-creator Paul Dini to advise on the action figure line and to help build up some backstories for these new characters set in the Batman animated universe. Dini was as gracious as ever and agreed to be involved in the process.
"It's great to see classic DC characters we never had a chance to use in the animated series, like Azrael and Red Hood, appear in animated toy form," says Dini.
When deciding on who should design these new characters, DC Direct instantly looked to Ty Templeton. After his work on the comic series The Batman Adventures back in the '90s, Templeton's knowledge of the art style would prove to be perfect for what DC Direct was looking for in a designer for these new toys.
"It's a fun process bringing these characters to life," shares Fletcher "Working with Ty Templeton just seemed like the perfect fit because we knew he could hit the style needed to make this line a success."
As for Templeton, he just feels "elated...honored...thrilled. All of the good words." As he explains, "I'm so happy to be any part of this wonderful franchise and all the great moments it's brought fans."
Templeton had never before designed action figures, so he stuck to what he does best and drew the characters as they would appear in the animated series or comic. Templeton provided DC Direct with dynamic 2D action pose stills of each character, which the DC Direct team sent to their sculptors to interpret into 3D toy form.
"We didn't ask Ty to draw an action figure since that is usually way more complicated," says Fletcher. "The trick was trying to make them simplified to look like they would have if they'd actually been in the animated show. Then we sent the designs out to our sculptors and followed the traditional toy making process."
Dini was extremely impressed by Templeton's process as well.
"When I saw Ty's first models , they were very much like the original models on the series that Bruce Timm did," he shares. "Bruce would always draw his models in action poses, and he would draw a character in motion first before he did the stiff turnaround. That is what Ty did for the new characters, such as Red Hood."
Along with offering characters that were new to the Batman: The Animated Series world, DC Direct wanted to give fans of the series who had missed out on some of the earlier figures a new chance to add them to their collection. Along with the new characters, the Batman: The Adventures Continue line will also include some older and harder-to-find figures, like the Joker, Robin and Catwoman, with all new cel-shaded paint decos. The Catwoman figure will also come with a brand-new head sculpt of her without her cowl.
Of course, the action figures are only one part of this. For the past few months, fans have been getting all-new adventures set within the world of Batman: The Animated Series in the Batman: The Adventures Continue digital first series, written by Dini and Alan Burnett and drawn by none other than Templeton. This bi-weekly comic, set after the final season of Batman: The Animated Series, has been telling the stories Dini and Burnett might have written for characters like Red Hood, Deathstroke and Azrael had the animated series continued.
The chance to return to that world, with two creative partners who were also involved in shaping it, has been a real thrill for Dini. "Ty Templeton was able to capture all the depth we were trying to go for with the characters and even then some," Dini shares. "He brought such incredible emotion to the characters and complexity with the stories. To work with him again is a dream come true."
Templeton was just as excited to be working on the comics as he was to be working on the action figures.
"I get to work with Paul again and Alan for the first time" he reveals. "You couldn't ask for better scripts to inspire this happy bat-artist."
Seven chapters of the Batman: The Adventures Continue miniseries have already been released digitally and a print edition will soon follow. With the first wave of action figures now in stores as well, there has never been a more rich and exciting time to be a Batman: The Animated Series fan. At least, not since the series left the airwaves.
Batman: The Adventures Continue is the definition of a labor of love. The comics and new action figures show that the story Dini, Burnett, Timm and so many others started telling in 1992 still goes on, and we can only guess where things may take us next. It's enough to make everyone who watched the classic series as a kid feel like one again.