Anatomy of a blockbuster toy: Rubie's Batman costumes - ToyNews

Anatomy of a blockbuster toy: Rubie's Batman costumes

Bruce Wayne. The Dark Knight. The Caped Crusader. Adam West. Michael Keaton. Val Kilmer. George Clooney. Christian Bale. Ben Affleck. Batman. The iconic superhero has enjoyed many different faces and even more batsuits in his time, and Rubie’s has been on hand to help consumers cape up every step of the way. ToyNews talks to the firm about its most popular superhero costume year-on-year.
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Despite turning 75 this year, Batman has never been more popular.

The Dark Knight has worn more faces than just that of billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne. Along with waves of hit animated TV shows and movies, we’ve had the camp of Adam West, the gothic of Tim Burton, the edgier Schumacher years complete with nipples on the Batsuit, and the dark origins of Nolan’s most recent trilogy.

He’s even muscled his way into the next Superman film.

And through it all, dress- up firm Rubie’s has provided Batman fans young and old with the chance to dress up as the iconic superhero, in all his guises.

“Since Gotham City’s most famous crime-fighter appeared Detective Comics #27 in 1939, Batman has been a hit with boys and teenagers all over the world who are drawn to the excitement and heroic fantasy that the character extols in them,” Struan Robertson, trade marketing and digital manager at Rubie's Masquerade enthuses to ToyNews.

“The combination of escapism and otherworldliness is a potent mix and superheroes like him have become almost god-like in our modern secular age, able to deal with the problems of society and protect the people, whilst simultaneously being relatable; Batman could almost be seen as the ultimate policeman, and as role models go, there’s not many that come close.”

Rubie’s believes that embracing a superhero is something most youngsters go through and that the key to Batman’s long-term success lies in his decade-spanning expansive portfolio of films, TV shows and animations.

“Dressing up as your favourite superhero is almost a rite of passage for any young lad, and the most popular superhero costume year- on-year for the best part of the last decade at Rubie’s has been the iconic Batman,” adds Robertson.

“Part of Batman’s enduring appeal can, of course, be attributed to the amount of films and cartoons which he’s featured in recently; he could even be counted as the one who started the current reign of superheroes at the box office when Tim Burton gave him a fittingly gothic makeover in his 1989 movie Batman.

“Although Superman reigned supreme in the Eighties, by the time Superman 4: The Quest For Peace came out in 1987, it took a mere $15m at the box office compared to a whopping $411m for Batman two years later.

“It was Batman who conquered the box office in the Nineties, and with the advent of technology and CGI during that period, the Batman films have acted as a spring board for the pantheon of superhero movies that have become ever-more advanced and fantastic since his Burton- esque makeover that made superheroes ‘cool’ again.”

This presence on the big screen has been key in charting Rubie’s wide range of Batman costumes, with each director, film or animated series bringing something different to his iconic Batsuit.

Robertson says: “Following the advent of the Tim Burton movies, Batman’s costumes moved into a more gothic stage which continued through to the stylised outfit featured in the Joel Schumacher- directed Batman and Robin from 1997, a costume which Rubie’s produced at the time.

“During that period Rubie’s also produced an unusual Batman costume based on the Batman: Beyond animated US TV series, which was remarkable in that it introduced a red emblazoned Bat logo and cape.

“More recently a colourful blue and grey range of skews were introduced to represent the superhero in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, again an animated TV series which was aired until last year, the costumes from which still feature strongly in the Rubie’s range.

“But it’s the recent Christopher Nolan trilogy that most people associate Batman with currently, which again harks back to the Burton-era of gothic styling and predominantly black colour scheme.

“Rubie’s has been introducing further variants of the costume since Batman Begins kick-started the next wave of movie-mania for the iconic superhero in 2005, which again helped propel sales of the dress-up range.”

With Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy all wrapped up with The Dark Knight Rises in 2012, it seemed like fans would have to wait a while for another studio reboot to come along.

But news broke last year that Ben Affleck would be stepping back into the world of superheroes to play the caped crusader in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel sequel, Batman vs. Superman, set to land in 2015.

With this new Batman on the horizon, complete with a new Batsuit, the popularity of Rubie’s Batman range shows no sign of slowing down.

Robertson concludes: “Currently in its most recent incarnation as The Dark Knight Rises, and with Batman vs. Superman coming in 2015 with Ben Affleck taking up the role, the evolution of Rubie’s range of Batman costumes continues and go from strength to strength, illustrating the well-worn maxim that superheroes never grow old, they just change with the times.”

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