April 29th-May 2nd is the “Houston Classic Weekend” auction by Worldwide Auctioneers, and one of the lots features “The Ultimate Set of Collectible Vehicles” from Batman Returns (1990) – the iconic Batmobile, the Batskiboat, and the “Batduck” or “Duckmobile”. The estimate for the lot of vehicles is $300,000-$400,000.
Full details about the event can be found at WWGauctions.com:
Full details about Lot 157 can be found via the portal below:
Below is the description of the lots, along with some of the auction photos:
LOT NUMBER: 157
ESTIMATE: $300,000 – $400,000
CHASSIS NO: BAT-90-WB-01
From a Respected Private Collection, The Ultimate Set of Collectible Vehicles, From the Warner Bros. Movie “Batman Returns”
350 Chevrolet V8 rated at approximately 250 horsepower, automatic transmission, independent coil spring front and rear suspension and four wheel power drum brakes; wheelbase: 140”
The vehicle that became the Batmobile was introduced in Detective Comics No. 27, the first Batman story. Originally, the vehicle was a simple red convertible with nothing special in its functions. Although the Batplane was introduced in Detective Comics No. 31, the name “Batmobile” was not applied to Batman and Robin’s automobile until Detective Comics No. 48 which was published in February 1941. Other bat-vehicles soon followed, including the Batcycle, Batboat, and Robin’s Redbird.
The car’s design gradually evolved. It became a “specially built high-powered auto” by Detective Comics No. 30, and in Batman No. 5, it began featuring an ever-larger bat hood ornament and an ever-darker paint job. Eventually, the predominant designs included a large, dark-colored body and bat-like accessories, including large tailfins scalloped to resemble a bat’s wings. More specifically, Batman No. 5 from Spring 1941 introduced a long, powerful, streamlined Batmobile with a tall scalloped fin and an intimidating bat head on the front. Three pages after it was introduced, it was forced off a cliff by the Joker to crash in the ravine below; however, an identical Batmobile appeared in the next story in the same issue.
The live action television series was so popular that its campy humor and its Batmobile, a superficially modified decade old Lincoln Futura concept car, owned by George Barris whose shop did the work were quickly introduced into the Batman comic books. But the high camp and general silliness of the television show did not sit well with long-time Batman comic book fans. So, when the series was canceled in 1968, the comic books reacted by becoming darker and more serious. This Batmobile still appears from time to time in the comic books, most recently in Detective Comics No. 850 and the issues of Batman Confidential.
In Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, the Batmobile has been modified into a tank-like armored riot control vehicle, complete with machine guns shooting rubber bullets, a large cannon mounted on the front, and large tank treads in place of tires. According to Batman’s narration, the only thing that can penetrate its armor “isn’t from this planet.” Batman also mentions that it was Dick Grayson who came up with the name. This Batmobile reappeared in All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder No. 4, which shows its construction by robots in the Batcave.
Beginning in the 1990s, the number of comics featuring Batman mushroomed with spin-off titles, limited series, and graphic novels. At the same time, there was considerable experimentation with styles of illustration. With different illustration styles in so many different books, there was naturally a corresponding diversity of designs for the Batmobile. This has continued with designs for the Batmobile ranging from conservative and practical to highly stylized to outlandish. During the Cataclysm storyline, it is revealed that Batman has hidden a number of spare vehicles across the city just in case. A HUMVEE serves as a primary mean of transportation to across the earthquake-ravaged city during the Aftershock storyline, as most of the Batmobiles are wrecked by the quake. These vehicles are not as sophisticated as the Batmobiles, but some of them are armored to withstand weaponry mounted on military automobiles. Interestingly, the Batman: Hush storyline, a splash page by Jim Lee shows all the previous Batmobiles from comics, movies, and all TV series in storage in the Batcave. In addition, some incarnations of the character, such as Batman: The Animated Series, establish that Batman has a large ground vehicle fleet of various makes and models as well as utility vehicles to use when the Batmobile would be too conspicuous.
The first major movie release of Batman came in 1989, and for it, an all-new Batmobile was created. This one represented both a dramatic change from previous Batmobiles, as well as a return to some classic features. The Bat mask was removed entirely from this model. In its place resides the intake for the jet turbine. The fins were retained, shorter in length but taller than the previous generation, and this car marked the return to black liveried Batmobiles.
Offered here at The Houston Classic Auction is a truly unique collection of memorabilia from Batman Returns. Besides the authentic Batmobile actually driven by Michael Keaton in the film, we are also proud to offer the “Batskiboat,” a fiberglass prop also used in the film, and the ominous looking “Batduck,” used by Penguin who was portrayed by Danny DeVito.
The Batmobile is a custom designed and constructed piece based on a General Motors station wagon chassis. The 350 cubic inch Chevrolet V8 is rated at approximately 250 horsepower and can propel the Batmobile to a top speed of about 50 miles per hour. The custom fiberglass body looks incredibly sharp with its black paint and shows almost no wear. When running, this car sounds like a monster and has an unmistakable roar when the exhaust note is piped through the four exhaust tips. The front fiberglass cover is raised and lowered via hydraulics, which allow access for inspection or mechanical service. The dash is filled with all manner of dummy lights and buttons to allow for deployment of Batman’s array of weapons and evasive decoys. Whether shown to a crowd of adults or children, it will cause squeals of excitement to all who view it.
Chassis No: BAT-92-BSB-04
Early in his career, while investigating arms dealers operating along the wharves of Gotham City’s Chinatown district, Batman used a prototype Batboat to pursue the fleeing criminals. In what was later regarded as an “extreme measure,” Batman destroyed their launch with a bow-mounted flame-thrower. The first official Batboat made its debut in Detective Comics No. 110 which was published in April 1946. The storyline involved Scotland Yard providing Batman and Robin with the boat in order to speed their search for the villainous Professor Moriarty.
The Batskiboat offered here is a darker version of the Batboat. In the film Batman Returns, Batman uses the jet-powered hydrofoil near the climax of the film to travel through Gotham’s sewer system towards the Penguin’s lair. The Batskiboat’s design has elements from the film’s Batmobile and the figure of a shark. It is a single-seater and has the same extras as the Batmobile, including torpedo launchers. It also has radar, which can be used by Batman to control each area of Gotham City. The Batskiboat is one of two fiberglass props made, and this one is the larger of the two. The exterior is completely fiberglass with tube-steel frame and plywood supports. The entire exterior is finished in a sleek black which is virtually free from defects, and its presence will fully complement the Batmobile wherever it travels.
The name “Batduck” is really a misnomer. Although it was used in the movie Batman Returns, it was not one of Batman’s many vehicles. The “Batduck” was one of the evil Penguin’s vehicles, and made a number of appearances in the film. Therefore it would be more aptly named the “Penguinduck.” In any case, the prop vehicle offered here was featured in Batman Returns and today is an impressive sight to behold. Standing over seven feet tall at the top of the head, this Batduck is a six-wheeled vehicle that features manual side-to-side control of the head. The body is constructed of fiberglass with reinforcements and presents today exactly as it did when constructed and used in the film. There is virtually no undue wear to the body, the most notable loss of paint is on the solid rubber tires which were airbrushed and have now worn through on the high points.
A collection of Bat vehicles like this will not likely be offered to the general public for some time to come. It has an appeal to movie fans and automobile fanatics alike and will continue to hold a wide general appeal in the years to come.
*The purchaser of this lot will be required to sign authorized forms from Warner Bros. These forms can be viewed in the auction office prior to bidding.
Batmobiles used in the Tim Burton films have surfaced in the past (see Batmobile Makes Brief Appearance on eBay?), though it seems that some that have include contracts from Warner Bros. with restrictions about the use and exhibition of the movie prop vehicles.