Living The Dream…

20160716_16212020160715_14454220160715_14562620160716_085619Regular visitors to SUPERMANIA could be forgiven for noticing a lack of posts in the last few weeks but now we are back, and with exclusive coverage of the most significant and personally gratifying event this site has ever hosted.

As the sun sets on this years Milton Keynes International Festival #IFMKFest, a wide ranging celebration of culture and history within the city, the 10 day celebration closes this very evening with the big screen premiere of Director Richard DeDominici’s Superman IV: Redux – Thirty years to the date of the UK release of Superman IV back in 1987.

This latest addition to the Redux Project, a bold experimental attempt to remake selected scenes from Hollywood blockbusters brought DeDomenci to the infamous locations used in 1986 by Cannon Films to shoot there some thirty years later. Keen to celebrate their small but fondly remembered involvement in Superman cinematic history, Milton Keynes Council lent their full support to Superman IV: Redux.

With years of research dedicated to the making, marketing and mayhem of Superman IV: The Quest For Peace it was only natural that the project would eventually come to my attention where I would admit to initially being sceptical.  However, as the casting call was open to all and the opportunity to access indoor locations was rare I decided to tag along for the audition process.

Never once did I anticipate or dream I would be cast as Superman/Clark Kent and embark on a short, but life-changing journey but that’s exactly what happened.

A full account of the events leading to, during and after the shoot will be uploaded to a permanent page on the site in the coming weeks.  I can’t wait to share my dream come true with you all…

From the top – Martin Lakin as Superman alongside actor David John Waterman, reprising his role as the Hot Dog Vendor from Superman IV, one of the many props reproduced for the filming of Superman IV Redux, Martin Lakin as Clark Kent in  the Avebury buliding, original location of the Daily Planet offices and Esther Webb exhibiting appropriate sass as Lois Lane…

Poster Gigante..!

Postermag120160607_14230520160607_141900Postermag2Presenting the latest piece of vintage memorabilia to be added to the SUPERMANIA archive – this unique poster magazine was released exclusively in Spain and is so rare this is the first and only copy seen in decades of collecting.

The Superman Movies have a long and rich history with this most ’80’s of collecting staples.  Most big genre movies of the decade were awarded with similar colourful fold-outs which would adorn many a childhood bedroom wall until, much like cinematic events themselves, their fade into obscurity.

Whereas the foldout format would be limited to European/UK shores (with II and III upcoming in future posts) Stateside offerings would be appropriately heftier affairs with the glossy magazines for Superman III and IV by Starlog Press emerging as arguably the best tie-in’s for each picture – both of which will also appear here soon..!

Rated PG…

SIVPress1SIVPress2SIVPress3SIVPress4By 1987 the traditional bumper advertising manual was steadily being consigned to history.  Indeed, what began as a series of grand ‘Exhibitor Campaign Books‘ concluded with the above basic four-page leaflet.

SUPERMANIA gets back to good old-fashioned vintage ephemera with the fine vintage example reproduced in its entirety above.  For what was a modest campaign thanks to the low-key efforts made by Cannon Films, the poster and still sets made available by the National Screen Service are of immense quality (the UK Quad arguably the best variation of the poster with its bold silver title) and form a vital part of the SUPERMANIA collection.  Enjoy..!

“For Real…”

13234720_10208531476700620_1090034604_o13219757_10208523069490445_659303663_n13223636_10208523058370167_908964285_o13242341_10208523061730251_1671658281_oSUPERMANIA cuts the virtual ribbon and welcomes you to the newest wing of the SuperSebas gallery with these stunning brand new pieces above –

After you have feasted your eyes on these flawless new renders we further invite you to attend a conversation with the artist to hear all about what it takes to create such awesome likenesses and discover the inspiration behind them.  Click here to go straight to the studio for an exclusive interview with SuperFan Sebastian Colombo where he talks about his techniques, breaking into the comics industry, his plans for the future and the moment he saw a genuine Superman costume for the first time.

The Colombo Portfolio has been thoroughly revised and updated and coverage of his upcoming art and costume projects will be showcased there.  Meantime, enjoy the candid conversation with the SuperFan who thought the man he saw on screen at a young age was Superman for real and continues to apply his considerable talents to keeping the Reeve legacy alive…

Extra! Extra..!

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SUPERMANIA spins the world back to 1986 for yet another pictorial exclusive from the making of Superman IV: The Quest For Peace courtesy of actress Stephanie English.  A tenured performer appearing in numerous productions of the 70’s and 80’s, Steph shares her experiences of being a background artiste in the quick chat below…

Stephanie, thanks so much for talking to SUPERMANIA – can we start by asking you how you came to be involved in so many memorable movies & shows back in the 80’s and what exactly was your contribution?

I started doing films/TV in the early 70’s from being a model it was really just a transgression from one to the other as I started getting small parts as a model and it went on from there.

Can you tell us what a typical day for you as an extra/stand in would entail? What was the most memorable show you spent time on and why – were there any jobs you look back on as the best of them all?

A typical day on a film would be an early start around 6 to 7am then time spent waiting to have your hair and make up done and getting into costume – you have no idea what time you will finish and often no idea what you will be required to do.  My most memorable films I would say are Batman as the Gotham city set was amazing and Robin Hood as we spent many memorable weeks filming in the woods at Burnham Beeches.

And so to SUPERMAN IV – how and when were you approached by the production  company and were you excited to be a part of it?  Had you been a fan/seen all the SUPERMAN films up to that point?

I got the job on Superman IV through my agent – I had already worked on Superman II but the scene I did where we were being blown over by the super villains was cut out unfortunately.

How much time did you spend on the set and what were your specific scenes?  From your pictures its evident you were in Milton Keynes for the two major sequences where Superman flies down into the Train Station.  What was the atmosphere like and was seeing Christopher Reeve in flight as cool as it looked onscreen?

I worked one day Milton Keynes as far as I remember and I was an onlooker watching Superman flying in.  It was interesting to see how they did it and how well they made the area look like Metropolis.  I was in the crowd behind Superman when he walks to the podium to make his speech.

Speaking of Chris, you were also present for what would sadly be a cut scene at the London Hippodrome nightclub.  That picture of you together (Top) must be special to you.  Can you give us your impressions of working with him and how he came across as a person?

My memories of Christopher Reeve from the Hippodrome scene were that he was very nice – friendly and down to earth.  I remember him saying his feet were hurting as the shoes they had given him were too small..!

Stephanie – thank you very much..!!

Lot 774/983…

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Eubanks Entertainment & Memorabilia (Movie, Music, Sporting & Toys), 12th May 2016, 12:00pm

Lot 774
Description

Superman IV: The Quest For Peace (1987) Christopher Reeve leotard in pale blue stretch fabric with Superman logo to front, zip to back & four stud fasteners on shoulders to attach cape, label to inside, ‘ Bermans & Nathans, 40 Camden St, London NW1, Christopher Reeve 4913 Flying Superman IV ‘.

Provenance: A friend of the vendor worked on the set of the film.

Lot 983
Description

Superman – Acrylic crystal production used movie prop in the Fortress of Solitude scenes with Gene Hackman as he learns about his arch-nemesis Superman, and later in the film as Superman’s powers are taken away from him. approx 11 inches long.

Provenance: The vendors family have a long history of working on film sets in Elstree, Pinewood & Shepperton Studios. Her granddad was Bill Lowen (Rigger) & her father was Dave Lowen (Carpenter). This was given to the vendor as a gift from her father who worked at the Studios.

These two superior upcoming lots from the famed Surrey auction house represent the first original pieces of genuine Superman movie memorabilia on offer this year –

The ‘flying’ tunic (top three pics) is a great example of what distinguishes the Superman IV costume from the preceding films with its narrow bottom curve of the \S/ on the chest shield.  The lack of shorts also suggests (or harness vents) also indicate this tunic may have been used for bluescreen effects and its soiling indicates potential use for the climatic Moon battle…

Superb…

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SUPERMANIA brings you not one, but two firsts this week – an all-new series of posts on SuperFans and their collections and the first memorabilia showcase from the Salkind produced Superboy TV series from 1988 ever to be hosted on the site.
Collector and SuperFan Zach Curtis (above) volunteers his insights and shares his phenomenal collection of rarities and high-end costumes headlined by a screen-used costume (top) from the first season of Superboy and the original watercolour costume design (second pic – art by Matt Larson) from Disney Studios. Zach takes up the story below;

Zach thank you for taking the time to talk to SUPERMANIA about your superb collection. How long have you been collecting super-memorabilia and what drew you to it?

-I have been collecting Superman memorabilia since I was 13 years old and I just turned 23 this week! It’s hard to believe ten years have gone by so fast and that Superman has been a part of my life for almost half of it. I’ve always had collecting in my blood- I collected baseball cards and coins as a kid. It wasn’t until junior high school that those collecting passions shifted towards Superman after falling in love with the character through the TV show “Smallville”. I was obsessed with that show. I watched it religiously over and over again and then picked up a few comics and watched the Reeve movies. In no time at all, Superman was my guy.

What is it about the character (and which incarnation) appeals to you most and why? Do you tend to collect from a specific era?

Superman stands for truth and justice. In a world of increasing moral relativity and growing evil, Superman represents what is good about human kind. In the words of Brando’s Jor-El, “They are a great people Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way”. Superman represents the good inside each one of us, the potential of what we can be. It’s inspiring to me. I think perhaps the best representation of this is Christopher Reeve’s portrayal of the character which is why I especially love collecting 70’s memorabilia. Though I really collect from all eras to be honest, because it’s not about the actor for me, it’s what the character stands for.

What was the very first Super-item you remember having at an early age and what has been the most difficult piece to add to the collection as an adult?

My collection began with two items. Around the time I started really loving the character, one of my church youth pastors gave me a Superman toothbrush he had won at a white elephant gift exchange. That same weekend I went to an arcade and won a plush Superman figure and I looked at these two items together and thought “I think this is the start of a collection”.
As far as items that have continued to remain elusive to me, I have had trouble finding original props and costumes from “Smallville” for sale which got me initially hooked on the character. Many of the 1940s merchandising has also been especially hard to obtain.

You also work in the vintage toy field which must provide great opportunities to see and obtain all sorts of collectables. What rarities have you seen and what do you recommend as good investment opportunity to fellow collectors?

Yeah it’s a fun job. I’m currently a full time student at Cedarville University and will head off to the Ohio State University for dental school next fall. A few years ago I started my business “That Vintage Toy Guy” (Find me on facebook!) to help pay for my hobby and education! It certainly has got my foot in the door with every major toy dealer in the area, which is nice to have first dibs on some cool pieces. I have seen many rare items from nearly every toy line in my time in the business, especially browsing toy shows and conventions. As far as investing, I have two pieces of advice. 1) Always buy vintage. It will always be harder to find. 2) When you don’t buy vintage, buy Lego. Lego’s (especially superhero Lego’s like Superman and Batman) tend to double in value in just a couple of years.

Has experience given you a reliable eye for valuations? What is the most scarce article you’ve ever handled and/or the most expensive? What sources or websites do you use and trust?

Absolutely! I typically buy out over 100 toy collections per year which requires me to be up to date on values and scarcity of the vintage toy and collectibles market. I base my evaluations on completed eBay listings, certain price guides and books, but mostly my own experience and a wide variety of friends who have expertise in different areas. It’s nice to be able to make a phone call to the right person and get an immediate appraisal for the rare stuff.
The rarest item I have handled in regards to my business has to be a double telescoping mushroom tip Kenner Star Wars Darth Vader prototype. It’s one of three in the world and extremely valuable. I live near Cincinnati which is where the old Kenner Toys factory was located so I get rare Kenner items from time to time, including Superman prototypes. As far as the rarest Superman item in my collection (props and costumes excluded), there are several options to choose from. I recently acquired a 1940’s clerk badge for the “Superman Bread” program and it is one of only five in the world. I have a lot of 1940’s items as their scarcity makes the hunt more fun!

As this is a site dedicated to the classic Salkind Superman Movie series please give us both your thoughts on the movies and share with us your favourite items. Do you have any props from the films?

I just LOVE the Reeve films. They are fantastic and capture the essence of the character in a beautiful way. Superman IV is obviously a little hard to get through at parts, but I will still love it just because of Reeve. I also am not a huge fan of Superman sleeping with Lois in the Fortress in the second movie, it does not seem to fit his character well, but again the movies are overall fantastic!
Props and costumes from the Salkind movies are very pricey so that has hindered my ability to collect some of that merchandise….. yet. But I still have a few things. I have one of Reeve’s capes from Superman II and a collection of hand drawn story boards from the “Kneel before Zod” sequence which is one of the most iconic in my opinion.

And please do talk us through the John Haymes-Newton Superboy costume you recently obtained – it looks to be in splendid condition and the costume design is, to my knowledge, a world-first reveal. How did you secure this and what is it about Superboy that resonates with you?

This costume was actually at a pretty big auction house and I was fortunate enough to end up with the winning bid! The costume was originally obtained from a Superboy contact by Jim Bowers and then sold to Franco Tuscanini. Franco recently passed away and his collection made available to the market. Now I am honoured to house this amazing piece in my collection.
I have always loved the Superboy television series, but the main reason that I love the costume is because it is the closest thing to a true Christopher Reeve costume I can obtain and afford at the moment. The series was also produced by the Salkinds so the costumes were made remarkably similar to Reeve’s, in some cases even recycled. A Reeve costume in the modern market will sometimes break $100,000, but I was able to obtain this for a fraction of that cost. It displays well and remains a symbol to me of everything Superman stands for and his place in Hollywood history.

And is that Tom Welling’s red T-Shirt from Smallville I see in the bottom left hand corner? Where and when did this materialise and was it a challenge to get? How do you display and maintain such expensive items?

Yes. I mentioned earlier that it has been hard to obtain original Smallville props and costumes, but this is the one iconic piece I have been fortunate enough to make my own. This was first introduced to the collector market on screenused.com (one of the most reliable sources of screen used items on the web) and then actually popped up on ebay a while ago. The very hour it was listed I messaged the seller and worked out a deal with him. It included the COA and provenance.
Displaying my items varies depending on what the item is and the rarity of the particular piece. I am currently a college student that lives near school so my collection resides at my parents in my room there. I am fast running out of room so my displays are often jam packed and tight. I still do my best to make sure everything is well lit and protected though, and use frames, cases, and other protective measures. I also use heavy curtains to block out light that may cause fading. I bought a couple glass cases from IKEA and lighting from Lowes and have picked up acrylic cases from various other places as well. My most prominent and expensive pieces obviously get the most attention as well as pieces that mean the most to me.

Have you met many Superman celebrities face to face and gotten autographs? Who was your favourite and why? Was there any one living or dead you would really want to have met?

I’ve been really fortunate to meet a host of Superman celebs. I have met- Brandon Routh, Dean Cain, Sam Huntington, Michael Rosembaum, John Glover, Justin Hartley, Stacy Haiduk, Margot Kidder, and Laura Vandervoort just to name a few. Most of these I have met at the annual Superman Celebration in Metropolis, IL. They have all been so nice it’s hard to pick a favorite. I would still LOVE to meet Erica Durance or Tom Welling from Smallville, and of course Christopher Reeve would be a dream if he was still alive.

And finally what is your ‘grail’ item from the Superman pantheon? Do you have it already? Given an unlimited budget what would be the first thing you would seek to add to your collection and why?

There are a couple pieces I would love to have, but the biggest hurdles are budget and actually tracking down the stuff. I would LOVE to own a significant costume of some kind from Erica Druance’s Lois Lane. And of course a Reeve costume would be fantastic. Action Comics #1 of course. A few years back the check that initially bought Superman from Siegel and Shuster went to auction, That would be pretty fantastic as well!

Zack Curtis, Thank you very much..!

A Sentimental Replica…

DSC_3218 (2)DSC_3224DSC_3210DSC_3222First shown case-fresh over a year ago on SUPERMANIA, Mattel’s DC Comics Multiverse 4″ General Zod action figure returns to Planet Houston having endured the full custom treatment.

Now somewhat more worthy of the ‘Highly detailed and authentic’ promise of the packaging, the discerning adult collector would surely appreciate the subtle cosmetic changes made to match this figure to his screen counterpart as shown in Superman II (and perhaps more literally in the Donner Cut)

In fact as custom mods go, this was a relatively simple task as the sculpt for the scale is rather magnificent and only diminished by a stock paintjob.  If anything the challenge here was to find a paint that would replicate the metallic maroon finish of the actual costume trim and boots (the boots themselves now residing at Propstore, click here for the story). When Mattel correctly emulated this detail on their great 1/6 scale Movie Masters figure in 2010 it was met with derision as the costume was generally perceived to be jet black. There would be no such ‘mistake’ with this later release.

Having tested dozens of colour combinations salvation would come in the form of nail polish of all things – a perfect balance of colour and shine applied to the appropriate areas – (top pic) only betraying hints of the maroon (second pic) just like the original costume on film.

With only a few more embellishments (chest hair and silvered temples) the figure was finished and photographed against the perfect backdrop of the Hot Toys Superman figure and the result when compared to the factory version speaks for itself.

The Superman figure from this line is next to receive the custom treatment but is typically a far more complex and intricate job – look out for him in a future post..!

Toy Story…

IMG_3940-001IMG_4078IMG_3947IMG_4084An American Toy Story
19 March – 30 October 2016

Just like the films that inspired the toys and collectables in our new exhibition, An American Toy Story promises to be a real blockbuster!

This exhibition explores the huge impact that movie-licensing had on toy production and the way we play. A collection of vintage treasures and modern classics, spanning over 100 years, is on display together for the very first time. Whether you’re a Disney princess or the next James Bond, you’re certain to find something to delight you in this show.

Exhibition highlights include;

Iconic early-twentieth-century celebrity dolls, including Charlie Chaplin and Shirley Temple
Classic movie posters
Early Disney toys, including a rare 1930s Donald Duck
A collection of vintage James Bond toys
Favourite toys from the Science-Fiction films of the 1980s
Superman costume worn by Christopher Reeve
An interactive room with dressing up and photo zone

Press Release;

This spring and summer, the major exhibition at the American Museum in Britain is An American Toy Story. It will appeal to avid cinema fans as well as families looking for an interesting day out, as it tells the story of the toys and games that inspired – and were inspired by – popular films.

As well as showcasing movie props, vintage toys, and memorabilia from various famous films – including James Bond, Star Wars, Snow White, Mickey Mouse, Frozen, and Toy Story – the exhibition will also give visitors the chance to take part in various interactive activities, a stop-motion animation zone, and the chance to dress up as film characters.

Exhibits will include well-loved toys displayed alongside mint-condition treasures from film buffs’ collections. Donald Duck and Shirley Temple dolls from the 1930s will appear alongside the ET Extra-Terrestrial video game from 1982; 1970s Early Bird Deal and Millennium Falcon toys can be contrasted with Buzz Lightyear 1996 action figures; and more recent films such as Frozen will be represented too.

Disney started early in the licencing and franchise business, but few other early film companies ventured into that arena as it was not seen as not very profitable. In 1977, there was a radical change when George Lucas struck his infamous deal with 20th Century Fox for a share of the merchandising rights for Star Wars. The money made from this deal exceeded box office takings and enabled Lucas to set up his own production company. It also heralded an era of film in which merchandise became both commonplace and also collectable.

Items on loan to the exhibition have come from a variety of sources ranging from children lending their beloved toys to serious collectors showing valuable and unusual pieces.

The exhibition will be open from 19 March – 30 October 2016 in the Exhibition Gallery.

Tuesday – Sunday, 12noon – 5pm. Gardens and café open from 10.30am.
Closed Mondays except during August and on Bank Holidays.

An inspired conception competently executed, this exhibit currently housed in The American Museum in Bath is sure to bring joy to children and a nostalgic misty eye to the parents.

SUPERMANIA was lucky enough to get these preview images of the Superman display as it was being installed, showing a very rare and complete costume from Superman IV: The Quest For Peace on loan from the V&A’s Hollywood Costume exhibit of a few years back.  Having just toured the world, this is a rare opportunity to see the only genuine Superman costume on display anywhere in the UK.  Unfortunately, the same restrictions on photography still apply and fans will also notice the cape has been re-mounted with the straps on the outside – Chief Curator Kate Hebert explains;

“I am aware that the Superman cape is mounted incorrectly. I am, alas, unable to correct this. The costume is a loan from the V&A Museum. They mounted the costume on the mannequin and we, as the borrowing institution, are not permitted to change it. I suspect that it has been mounted in this way for conservation reasons but I will contact them to confirm this…”

Regardless, set against a perfect backdrop and accompanied by arguably the greatest Superman action figure produced to date (Hot Toys) in such great surroundings this has all the makings of a memorable day out..!

 

“He Can Fly Now…”

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SUPERMANIA returns after a spell in the Phantom Zone with an all-new update from our friend and longtime Superfan favourite Arnie Kim.

Perhaps best known as the talented sculptor responsible for his incomparable likenesses and scale replicas of Bruce Lee, his 1/6 scale Christopher Reeve Superman head for Hot Toys also remains the standard by which all others are judged –

But now Arnie has surpassed himself with the above reveal of this one of a kind semi-poseable mixed media quarter scale figure entitled ‘He Can Fly Now’ featuring accurate fabric costume (Designed by Yeo Jeungmin) and miniature acrylic eyes.

SUPERMANIA has faithfully followed Arnie’s progress on all his Superman projects over the last few years, from the genesis (and ultimate revision) of his Hot Toys sculpt to the limited quarter scale bust and is proud to present the culmination of his work with what must be considered the ultimate tribute to Reeve’s incarnation.

Besides the impeccable likeness (second pic) what sets the finished piece apart is the body proportions (so often overlooked by most commercial releases) where Reeve’s broad shoulders and long legs (third pic) put it in a different class than the likes of Sideshow Collectibles or the more recent offering from NECA, exhibiting a degree of realism most fans have been clamouring for.

Its not 100% perfect however – very minor quibbles regarding the size of the hands, low positioning of the belt, length of the boots and inaccurate cape shield do not detract from the overall effect where they might be dealbreakers on a lesser figure.

Alas, typically the statue is a personal work and therefore apparently not for sale until Arnie says otherwise – short runs of his bust when produced commanded stratospheric sums when offered so expect this to whip up a similar frenzy if offered.  Meantime, rumours abound of new and upcoming licensed Christopher Reeve statues from such revered companies as Blitzway and Prime One Studios, so there’s always hope…