April 3, 2011

Alfred Pennyworth

I can't think of Salinas, California without thinking of Alfred Pennyworth. Why? Glad you asked.

Way back in 1999/2000, back before I, or most people for that matter, had discovered eBay, the only way to get a newly released toy was (gasp) from the stores that sold them. And then, like now, it was often hit or miss if a store was actually carrying something, even if it was a store exclusive.

Thus was the case with a Batman Animated four pack being sold exclusively at Toys R Us. I had found a picture in Toyfare or Wizard or some other nerd zine of a new set featuring the first ever Batman Animated Alfred Pennyworth action figure! I had to have it!

I cut the picture out and ran with it to my local Toys R Us, and of course they did not have it in stock nor did they have any intention of stocking it ever. Sadface.

Shortly thereafter I was traveling through Salinas and stopped in at their Toys R Us looking for the set. They did not have it on the shelves, but a friendly associate looked all over the store for it (their computer said one was in stock!) and was finally able to locate the set for me! I never got that woman's name, but she was obviously an angel sent from heaven.

Anyways, Alfred was later released with a Batcave/Wayne Manor set, but this version, as the box so excitedly puts it, includes a serving tray! Batman and Robin shall never go hungry again!

"What's for dinner tonight, Alfred? We're famished!"

In addition to Batman and Robin, the set also came with a recolored Clayface.

"Lobster? You know I'm allergic to shellfish!"

"Indeed, sir."
The set also included an accessory for each character. Alfred of course had his serving tray and lid, Robin had his Robin jet car thingamajig, Batman has a projectile firing gun doohickey, and Clayface has a load of dynamite and a 'breakable' safe.

"And guess who gets to clean it all up."

I believe this set was the first set Hasbro released with recolor/re-releases and one 'exclusive' figure. Later sets included such fan favorite characters as Commissioner Gordon, Talia Al-Ghul and Ventriloquist/Scarface. But I will always remember Alfred and my trip through Salinas as the high water mark of my Batman Animated collecting career.