“Freeee!”

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SUPERMANIA closes out the month the way it began with a pictorial review of Mattel’s DC Comics Multiverse General Zod from Superman II.

As of now only the third figure ever to bear the likeness of Terrance Stamp as everybody’s favourite Kryptonian villain, this release had credible competition as its 1/6 counterpart (from the 12″ Movie Masters series) was far and away the best of the trio with its all-round superior sculpt.

Thankfully nothing has been lost in the character’s translation to 4″ scale, with crisp details similar to the Superman figure and splendid articulation.  Perhaps wisely this time the maroon highlights (a subject of contention with the 12″ figure) were dropped in favour of the perceived all-black costume as seen in Richard Lester’s footage.  Zod even has an accessory in the bendy shape of an M-16 rifle which is a nice little touch but again, given the authenticity promised, a straight one with strap would’ve been welcome (and where was Superman’s accessory?  is a tiny crystal too much to ask??)

Only minor quibbles then in an otherwise solid release – now, can/will Mattel follow through and fulfil collectors dreams by rounding out the group with Ursa and Non or are they to remain in the eternal void that is the toy Phantom Zone..?

 

Barbie Lane…

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Right up there with the figure enthusiasts question of why the Mego Corp. failed to produce a 12″ WIlma Deering from Buck Rogers In The 25th Century (in the likeness of Erin Gray) is where was the Lois Lane figure in the Superman line?

Its not as if Mego had any prejudice regarding female figures – see Ilia from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Holly Goodhead from Moonraker and Kate McCrae from the Black Hole being fine examples from the Sci-Fi genre alone, arriving long after such Mego staples as Farah Fawcett & Cher.

Besides the ever-present rights/licensing issues (as documented here) inhibiting the Superman series, could the absence of the feisty Daily Planet reporter be a result of Mattel’s plans to add Lois Lane to their own ever-expanding Barbie doll collection?  This newly-discovered concept art from the late 1970’s (top) would certainly suggest as much.

Presumably following the established Barbie tradition of offering a basic doll followed by a plethora of outfits, whether or not the dolls would bear the likeness of the divine Ms. Kidder (second pic) in her most famous role is unclear but the fact a Superman sweater worn by her for numerous publicity shoots represented in illustration here would hint at the possibility.

While this proposal sadly never came to fruition, ironically by 2006 Mattel did finally get to produce an official Lois Lane (in the likeness of Kate Bosworth) for Superman Returns – leaving fans deprived to this day of an official Lois Lane from the classic movies.

Thankfully, talented and creative Superfans frustration has evolved to fill the void with custom figures arguably tailored to a higher standard than the unmade figures may have been.  I defy even the most fervent toy historian to look at the custom Mego Lois Lane (third pic) and deny it was anything other than a genuine factory prototype.  In fact Ray Flores unmistakable Margot Kidder is a reworked Lynda Carter Wonder Woman housed in a reproduction box.  And just to give a taste of how a Barbie Lane may have looked, check out ferdalump.com’s pitch-perfect Lois from Superman II (bottom pic)…

SUPERMANIA extends its thanks to Trev2005 for use of the Mattel art from his awesome flickr page

 

Everyman…

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“I look at Superman IV as the unmasking of Superman, with much more emphasis on the Kal-El, the being from Krypton.  It becomes clear in the film that both of his identities are a job – both Superman and Clark Kent are personae that he has to become for other people…”

To aid Christopher Reeve on his ambition to give Kal-El his own identity, costume designer John Bloomfield would select an understated casual wardrobe befitting a contemporary farmer for his Smallville homecoming in the opening scenes of Superman IV: The Quest For Peace.

Always trying to add new dimensions to the character, Reeve would pepper his story (to be adapted by Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal) with subtle vignette’s expanding on the quote above by showing Kal-El just as ‘himself’ rather than his other assumed identities.  Whereas the comics would typically portray Clark Kent as permanently bespectacled whether ‘on duty’ or no, it was refreshing for audiences to see Superman’s transformation to ‘Everyman’ in very human (but ultimately deleted) scenes as visiting his adoptive parents graves (Top pic).

Today, that costume resides in the halls of The Super Museum in Metropolis, Il, where, it stands (seemingly unprotected) among hordes of other artefacts from the classic movies and beyond.  While it may not be the most memorable costume from the franchise, it does symbolise an advancement in the character that would be adapted in some form for every incarnation of the character going forward, most prevalently in Superman Returns years later…

Thanks to Jim Bowers of Capedwonder.com for the one-of-a-kind continuity Polaroid of Reeve in costume (Third pic – note his stand-in wearing an identical gilet).  To see more behind the scenes stills of this costume in action go here