Welcome to the DCCollectors collection spotlight, where we showcase one of your DC-themed collections! Whether it is a fan just starting out with a small collection, to some of the largest collections in the world, there is always something you can learn from looking at other’s collections. You might find a new way to display something, or maybe even see something you did not know existed!

Today’s focus is on the collection of Billie Rae Bates.  Billie Rae’s focus is on the character Batgirl. A quick glance at her collection, and you might think that she just might have one of every Batgirl item ever released.

Check out more about Billie Rae and her collection below!

DCCollectors: How did you get into collecting DC toys and what was your first DC toy/collectible?

Billie Rae Bates: I’ve always been a very geeky girl, whether or not it was in vogue. When I was a little girl in the 1970s, there was what I call the Big Three of chick superheroes. “Wonder Woman” was on TV. She was great and I watched her every week, but she was a brunette. Supergirl was in the comics, and she was a blonde. But this Batgirl of the comics and the reruns of a ’60s TV show, she was a redhead like me. I can point to two specific items of my childhood that introduced Batgirl to me, and kicked off a lifetime of collecting her; My grandparents bought me my first issue of the Batman Family comics series back then, and my mother snagged me a Mego Batgirl figure (she would always seek out redheaded dolls for me, like Raggedy Ann. That’s the only reason she got that figure, because she wasn’t into comics or anything like that). I don’t recall which came first, the comic or the Mego, but I was hooked. I loved her instantly. I totally wanted to be her when I grew up.

Ironically, the reason I have a lot of Batgirl stuff nowadays, and tons of Batman stuff by default, is because other people get it for me. They see it in the store and it has my name on it, I guess. Another movie or TV show is released, and there’s another whole big batch of stuff. I don’t buy a lot of these items myself. And my friend Mike is my guy for the Batgirl figures. He sees those coming out long before I ever do.

Rubie's repro of Yvonne Craig's Batgirl costume.
Rubie’s repro of Yvonne Craig’s Batgirl costume.

DCCollectors: How many pieces are in your collection?

Billie Rae Bates:  I concentrate on the Barbara Gordon version of Batgirl, though there have been a few others over the years like Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown. For the Barbara Gordon Batgirl, I have 57 action figures right now, and 10 statues of some kind (counting the diecast chess pieces and bobblehead, for instance). I have a lot of other merchandise, like glassware, buttons, magnets, etc. For non-Gordon Batladies, I have 5 figures. For comics, I am gradually collecting (over a 100-year lifespan, seriously) every appearance of the Barbara Gordon Batgirl in the comics, beginning with an original Detective No. 359 and continuing through the ’60s, ’70s and beyond. I have one full long box of those so far. I will eventually get them all! It’s a casual, no-pressure process.

I also have a deep fondness for the original red-and-yellow-clad Batwoman character of the ’60s, who was featured in an interesting storyline in the ’70s Batman Family series (that’s where I first saw her). I have attempted to collect her, but there’s not much besides the comics appearances. I have a more modern figure of her, plus an old flicker ring and lapel button. That’s it!

Beyond that, it would be too difficult to photograph or count my Batman collectibles. They’re scattered all over the house, woven through all aspects of my life. Dishes, linen, other housewares, anything you could name. I have a lot more regular, non-figure merchandise of Batman than of Batgirl, since there’s been so much more of that available over the years.

DCCollectors: If you could only choose one item to keep, which one would it be?

Billie Rae Bates: I think it would have to be that original 1970s Mego Batgirl.

DCCollectors: What is the one item that you really want to add to your collection?

Billie Rae Bates:  My holy grail for several years has been, hands down, the Ideal Super Queen Batgirl from the 1960s. There were two variations, neither one of them redhead. Ironically they were blonde and brunette (the Mera of that series was the redhead). I’ve seen this Batgirl a few times, online and at toy shows, and I know she goes for about $500. I just haven’t hit the button on the right one in decent condition yet. But I will!

DCCollectors: What piece of advice do you have for those just starting their collections?

Billie Rae Bates:  Collections are only for the collectors. My mother was also a longtime collector of different stuff,  Hummel figurines, clocks, Agatha Christie books, other items. When she passed, my brothers and I were saddled with the task of finding homes for this stuff. It’s not easy. You don’t really want to just give it away; you want it to go to someone who will love it. But beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder, because we didn’t want any of this stuff my mother loved so much. It was really only valuable in her eyes. I don’t ever want to dump that task on someone for my own collection. I will probably leave things to specific people who share the fascination. I don’t buy stuff to sell. I never look at it as dollar signs. I look at it as my own prize that I love and keep for life. So I would leave it to someone who just wants to own it, not to sell it.

DCCollectors: Do you have an interesting story regarding the collection, such as meeting someone famous while shopping for your toys, or a super deal you got on something? Something along those lines.

Billie Rae Bates:  I’ve done a lot of work in the comic book industry over the years. I’ve been a correspondent and on-camera host for a couple different TV shows, “Fantastic Forum” based in Washington, D.C., and “Comics Continuum” in Detroit. For that, I’ve interviewed a lot of folks in the business of creating superhero stories and art. I love that. I’ve also met a lot of folks in the entertainment industry over the years for my own writing projects. I’ve talked to a bunch of people from the original “Batman” series, like Adam West and Frank Gorshin. But if one story stands out, it probably was when Yvonne Craig came to the Motor City Comic Con a few years ago. I had already met and interviewed her several years earlier, but this time, my friend Mike snagged a big 13″ DC Direct Batgirl figure and had her sign the box at the event. And I got to hang with her a bit and get some more photos. So that was cool. She was always so nice.

Check out the gallery below, for a more in-depth look at the collection of Billie Rae Bates!

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