‘I/4th Art Works…’

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While it would be SUPERMANIA’s ultimate pleasure to inform Superfan’s that what you see here is an all-new soon-to-be-available licensed statue from (insert your favourite manufacturer here), sadly this breathtaking work in progress is the latest private art from the father of the Hot Toys Superman figure – Arnie Kim.

Literally expanding his longtime 1/4 scale head project to a full-figure, the shots above portray the astonishing level of detail Arnie is renowned for even on a sculpt that will mostly be enveloped in costume.

And what a sculpt it is – rather than opting for a generic body Kim has obviously put as much work into studying his subject’s physique as he has the face, perfectly capturing Christopher Reeve’s proportions (long legs, short torso) as well as the finer motif’s such as the protruding ribcage and broad shoulders (top pic) making it the most accurate rendition in this scale to date.

And the pose, simplicity itself, proving beyond doubt that a statue need not be contorted into an uncomfortable looking ‘action’ pose to be dynamic.

The future of this piece is unknown at this point, maybe even to Mr. Kim himself.  There is always hope, however, that this could be made available in a similar fashion to Arnie’s recent (extremely) limited run of the finished headsculpt.  While these were expensive, certainly, the quality was such that its unlikely their current owners will ever part with them.  Should this figure yield a similar run history may well repeat itself.  We shall see…

NECArrives…

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From the NECA website;

“We still believe a man can fly… Decades after its release, Christopher Reeve iconic portrayal of Superman: The Movie in the 1978 remains the definitive version. Working closely with the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and Warner Bros, we are deeply honored to present this new 1/4 scale action figure of the hero as generations have known him.

Superman stands over 18” tall and features the authorized likeness of Christopher Reeve. The figure comes with a tailored soft fabric cape and interchangeable hands. Highly poseable and movie-accurate, this is a must-have for fans of every age. Ships to retailers in May!”

Highly anticipated and unveiled only yesterday at the New York toyfair, flourishing US toy company NECA, having already capitalized on vintage WB/DC Batman properties, finally came through with their long-hinted Superman figure in quarter scale.

Presenting the fourth contemporary action figure (discounting statues) based on the likeness of Christopher Reeve (top pic), NECA will be the first to release the largest to date at a whopping 18″ tall due to be released this May.

Cautiously optimistic since the announcement from last year’s NY Toyfair and encouraged by the company’s output and constant interaction with fans through their Twitter account, SUPERMANIA is typically as frustrated with the prototype shown (second third & fourth pics) as it is elated.

For something apparently approved by the Reeve estate and WB, its galling that something that claims to be Movie Accurate (that term again!) has obvious issues in the forehead area (where the towering hairline makes the hair itself appear disproportionate) and the now standard free (juvenile) interpretation of the chest shield detract from a figure that gets so many other details right.  Indeed, among the positives are the rendering of the boots, (managing not only to achieve the correct cuff widths but even incorporating the correct seams) passable representations of the screen seen costume colours, correct cut of the shorts and a correct length cape.  The likeness, though suffering from slight cross eyes in the prototype (top pic) has great merit with the nose, cheekbones and lips possibly the best attempt since Hot Toys 1/6 version.

Of particular note is how NECA have listened to their fans and gone to considerable effort to mask the articulation in this figure (always difficult in a ‘skintight’ suited body) having wisely excised the abdominal joint that became such a distracting eyesore on the Adam West Batman figure.

As ever, one hopes for intervention and some amendments being made before the figure goes to production (and, refreshingly, for NECA this would not be a first) but as of right now, one can forsee this item being popular in its own right and of infinite potential for customisation.  SUPERMANIA will keep you informed…

Thanks to TOYARK for the pics taken from the show…

“Freeee!”

DSC_3211DSC_3214DSC_3217DSC_3216SUPERMANIA 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…

Lois Barbie ArtsexyLOISLois_Mego_CustomPictures6-001Right 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

DCM STM…

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SUPERMANIA welcomes one and all to 2015 with a Christmas show & tell.  It may have taken over 30 years but at last a childhood dream of having a Superman figure you could jam into a toy X-Wing fighter has finally been fulfilled.

The announcement earlier last year that Mattel was planning to add a 4″ Superman and General Zod from the classic movies to their expanding DC Comics Multiverse line was met with curious indifference from fans, having been reared for years on what had now become standard 6″ and suitably outraged that such an beloved version of the character should be produced in an unfashionable scale.

The reveal of the prototypes (alongside characters from Tim Burton’s Batman movies) did little to silence the cynics, if anything fuelling fans scepticism that finer details would be lost in translation to the smaller scale.  Where Zod came off best with his minimalist design, Superman, though nicely rendered, suffered from a highly questionable sculpted chest logo (which had the unfortunate effect of looking like stuck-on confectionery).

With the initial excitement somewhat dampened by the preview, fans hope for an improvement in the production samples would be subject to a considerable wait, with Michael Keaton’s Batman first to hit shelves followed closely by General Zod. The unveiling of the packaging did generate more enthusiasm, with early word that the final products were surprisingly good (see an excellent pictorial review of the ’89 Batman figure here)

Indeed, when the Superman figure was finally released it was universally acknowledged that seeing Christopher Reeve’s portrait on any action figure was worth the whole endeavour regardless of the quality of the finished product.  With that in mind, come Christmas morning and with figure in-hand, it was SUPERMANIA’s turn for a slice of humble pie.

Having expectations firmly in-check based on Mattel’s first foray (1/6 Movie Masters) into figures from the Superman franchise (with the sculpt of The Man of Steel easily the most disappointing) it has to be said the likeness captured in this scale is genuinely impressive. Distracting cocked eyebrow aside, the face is clearly Reeve and captures his demeanour and Hawk-nose perfectly (even in profile, something the Hot Toys figure actually failed to do).  The hair sculpting is also top-notch and the paint (traditionally a stumbling block for Mattel) is flawless.

Now, as the backing card (second pic) claims “These figures are meticulously designed to be truly authentic” and without subjecting it to the kind of scrutiny reserved for figures twenty times the price, (see Hot Toys again) its sad to see the godawful chest shield (third pic) made it past prototype stage and that somebody who obviously didn’t see the movie slapped on the massively oversized and inaccurate cape shield (bottom pic). These details, (I refer to the above quote) are not only overlooked but simply let the whole thing horribly down.  Not even the excellent body proportions and extraordinary articulation (even in the wrists!) can save it from the shoddy finish.  Overall the figure (and its copy – Time travel ability??) deserved a little more care.

SUPERMANIA hopes to address this by presenting a reworked custom version of this figure in a future post.  This will feature corrected details and a replacement fabric cape..!

And coming soon – General Zod…