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By Thomas Wheeler

Mattel has had the license from DC Comics for some years now, to produce toys using the popular stable of characters from the DC Universe, featuring such notables as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and others.

Their products have not been limited to the action figure world, however. While this may be the main emphasis of Mattel's efforts with the DC characters, in such forms as the Batman movie-related toys, DC Universe Classics, Justice League, and others, it has not been the only such outlet.

While it may seem odd to some for a fashion doll such as Barbie to cross into the world of DC super-heroes, Barbie has actually been far more than a fashion doll for many years, and special collector edition dolls are not at all unheard of. In recent years, that has included Barbie style dolls for a number of DC super-heroines, including Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, and others. Barbie even turned up as Harley Quinn at one point.

But I have to say, one particular product that I came across recently was a little unexpected.

Now, my main emphasis in toys has always been and I expect always will be action figures, first and foremost. That being said, I do try to keep myself reasonably informed of other realms of the toy world. I enjoy the occasional Hot Wheels and Matchbox selection, I pay some attention to the preschool-designed Planet Heroes lineup, and although I'm not terribly inclined towards spending money in it, finding out what new licenses have made their way into Barbie can at least be interesting information at times.

But somehow, I never quite expected Kelly and Tommy to make the transition. So, some of you who avoid "the Pink Aisle" as though you're going to catch cooties from it might ask, who the heck are Kelly and Tommy?

It goes without saying that Barbie is not the only person in her world. There's Ken, there's other assorted girl friends, there's been a few other boyfriends, although I think Ken's replacement that actually made the news several years ago, Blaine, got kicked to the curb almost as soon as he showed up, and then there's the younger crowd. There's some kids in Barbie's world.

They're not Barbie's kids. She and Ken remain happily single. Technically speaking, this is Barbie's little sister. Her name is Kelly, and although her age has never been specifically stated, the doll has generally looked to be moderately past the toddler years, let's say about four years old to be fair. And Kelly has her own group of friends. Most of these are girls. A couple of these are boys, the most prominent of whom is named Tommy.

Kelly and Tommy have managed to get around a fair bit in assorted unusual likenesses and even licenses. Target has produced a Halloween series of dolls each year, with the kids in various costumes. There have been Kelly and Tommy dolls, with varying levels of collectivity, based on Scooby-Doo, The Flintstones (including a recent two-pack with the kids as Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm), Alice in Wonderland, and even Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

But -- Tommy and Kelly as -- BATMAN AND CATWOMAN?! I didn't see that one coming. And it was just peculiar, and in its own way, cute enough that I decided I wanted it.

The package is clearly collector-intended. Along with the Batman logo printed on the front in fair size, there's a Barbie logo that is one of several used to denote certain collector levels. According to the legend on the back, this set is, admittedly, at the lowest level of their collector products, described as "An Invitation to Collecting", denoted by a Barbie silhouette with a pink background. The other levels are silver, with no more than 50,000 produced worldwide; gold, with no more than 25,000 produced; and platinum, with no more than 1,000 produced of the particular item.

The two dolls are packaged against a fancy illustrated background that has the DC logo in one corner, a purple and gold sky with bats flying around in it, and a cityscape that is a rather cartoonish interpretation of Gotham.

Since this is technically from a line of dolls that is predominantly a GIRLS' product, I'm going to let boys go first, and review Tommy as Batman to start with.

These dolls stand just short of 4-1/2" in height. A little over an inch of that is head. They're poseable at the head, arms, and legs. The package very clearly states that the costume is not removable, and indeed, it's sewn up in the back. On others of these dolls that I have seen, they routinely have rooted hair -- even Tommy. In this case, though, he's wearing a molded Batman -- helmet, for lack of a better term. This isn't removable, but checking around the edges, I see no sign of hair. I suspect if this were removable, he'd do a good Kojak impression if I took it off. I don't intend to try.

The majority of the costume is made out of the same kind of stretchy fabric routinely used on cloth-costumed superhero action figures -- just smaller. This is a fairly traditional interpretation of Batman. Tommy is wearing a uniform with a grey shirt, black trunks, and grey leggings. His arms have been molded in black to represent gloves, and he is wearing rugged-looking little shoes that taper up into leather-like boots that come up almost to the trunks. He also has a very effective little bat-cape made out of the same sort of leather-like material. The cape is thick enough so that it's just about poseable in its own right.

Add to this a little yellow plastic utility belt, and the traditional Bat-symbol, complete with yellow circle, which admittedly Batman hasn't worn in the comics in some years now, but it works well here.

I'd like to say one additional thing about the uniform colors on this little guy. Mattel really got it right. The grey is a proper dark but not too dark grey, and the black works well with it. This amazes me, given the number of cloth-costumed (and some plastic painted) Batman figures that I've seen over the years from any number of companies that have managed to blow the color scheme. Either the grey is too light -- Alfred apparently overbleaching the laundry -- or the grey is okay but the blue, which preceded the black as a main color for Batman's uniform, is too bright, or -- something. Too often, there's something that's just not right.

So how is it that on a doll of a little kid that looks like a preschooler -- they got the colors right? The next time Mattel wants to do a Batman figure, regardless of format, somebody needs to take this doll into the action figure department and say, "Here's the color scheme." Period. It's perfect.

Now let's consider Kelly as Catwoman. While I didn't feel I had to explain Batman's origin to anyone, some might not be entirely familiar with Catwoman. And while I won't get into any great detail, the basics are this: Catwoman is Selina Kyle, an expert burglar and thief who has something of a feline fetish. She is a highly trained and skilled acrobat, and is something of an enigma in Batman's life, as while she does engage in criminal endeavors, she's not the sort of psychotic nutcase that Batman usually deals with. In fact, the two have shown that they have feelings for each other more than once, and Batman, while he tries not to let Catwoman get away with too much, isn't always inclined to have her locked up, either. Conversely, there are times when Catwoman will work the "right side of the tracks" and assist Batman in an emergency.

Unlike Batman, whose uniform has remained reasonably consistent throughout his career, Catwoman has been given a lot more clothes Doubtless there was some question as to which outfit to give the doll. Mattel ultimately chose something fairly close to her current uniform, which looks like purplish-black leather with a glossy sheen.

The one variance from the current Catwoman as she appears in the comics (most recently for me in a borderline hysterical team-up with Superman in "Brave and the Bold") is the headpiece. The current Catwoman wears a bodysuit that is identical in basic design to the Kelly doll. However, she also wears a headpiece that completely conceals her hair, and includes what appear to be night-vision goggles.

Arguably, the Kelly Catwoman doll uses an earlier headpiece, which is likely most similar to Catwoman's uniform from several years ago, which was purple tights with high black gloves and boots, and a mask that allowed her hair to flow from the back, and didn't include special goggles. A more than reasonable compromise for this doll.

Most of the Kelly dolls that I have seen in passing or at toy shows have been blonde. That makes sense. The character is supposed to be Barbie's sister. However, Selina Kyle is not blonde. And neither is this doll. Unlike Tommy's Batman, Kelly's Catwoman very definitely has rooted hair and plenty of it. The doll has wavy black hair that extends below her waist. She is wearing a helmet similar to Tommy's, except this one has cat ears rather than bat ears, and the eyeholes are larger. As with Tommy's, it's not removable, but it is possible to raise it up enough to get a look at Kelly's unmasked face!

Somebody did quite a paint job on this kid. She has green eyes, purple eyeshadow, and these downright malevolent arched eyebrows. Criminy, this is not a little girl that's going to go play with her friends on a picnic or sit quietly in a classroom with "Teacher Barbie" or whatever. She looks like she could kick every butt on the playground and then take on the teacher and probably get away with it!

The costume is superbly made, a fairly tight-fitting purple-black leather-like material with a distinct glossy sheen. I have no idea what the actual fabric may be, but one has to admit, as much of a fashion plate as Barbie has been over the decades, doubtless those in charge of the Barbie department at Mattel know where to find just about any fabric needed for any situation.

There's a thick silver thread sewn vertically along the front of the outfit, a fake zipper, with a little zipper lead attached at the top. There is also a black belt with a little metal buckle around her waist. The hands, like Tommy's, are molded in black to represent gloves, and she's wearing boots identical to Tommy's.

Technically, these dolls are not intended to be removed from their package, but I chose to do so anyway. They stand well on their own, and I was also careful to preserve their packaging.

This set MAY be a Wal-Mart exclusive, although it's not marked as such. I haven't seen it anywhere else, although granted, I haven't exactly looked too hard. The specialty section in the Barbie region at Toys "R" Us doesn't seem to have this set. They've got these two kids as the aforementioned Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm, as well as two Barbie dolls as Wilma Flintstone and Betty Rubble. I'm not expecting Ken as Fred and Barney.

Are any other DC sets in the works for these two kids? I have no idea. Certainly there's potential. Superman and Supergirl? At least Kelly could be blonde in that set. Joker and Harley Quinn (I dare them to do this, complete with rooted green hair...)?

So, what's my final word here? Granted this is not the typical Batman item. They don't even really qualify as action figures. And perhaps the average superhero fan and action figure collector wouldn't be caught dead with these in his home. But hey, consider this. If you have a wife or girlfriend and you're wondering how to maybe get her just a little more involved in your hobby, there's worse ways than this. They are cute, in their own way, even if "cute" and "Batman" don't usually go together that well.

Anyway, if you're a Bat-fan, and you're looking for something a little different to put on display, it's right here. With that, the TOMMY & KELLY AS BATMAN & CATWOMAN SET definitely has my recommendation!