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…

A Fair Trial…

6515248353_a5ea5b5811_o6515786487_b9890730ee_o6515605601_0d6eba379b_o6515242763_944af1b5fd_oSUPERMANIA had reserved this post for the reveal of the long-awaited custom Hot Toys Superman figure featuring movie-accurate modifications.  Alas, due to experimentation, timewasters and inevitable delays the project is further delayed but will continue until the desired result is achieved (as first conceived here).

In the meantime, we celebrate the enduring legacy of the MMS152 with these amazing shots captured by figure photographer extrordinaire Ronnie Del Puerto (view his photostream here). Besides the dramatic shots highlighting the best aspects of the figure, Ronnie blurs fiction and reality in considerable style with the somewhat controversial portrait (second pic) of Reeve’s Superman apprehending Saddam Hussein and Bin Laden.

While reminiscent of the final scenes of Superman: The Movie where Superman drops Lex and Otis into the Prison grounds, this portrait may be done just for fun but does seem to hearken back to the days where the Superman character was used in comic books to motivate troops by taking on real-world oppressive regimes.  If nothing else, it serves as a contemporary reminder of what is meant by ‘Truth, Justice and the American way’…

Superangebot…

Mego_German_Ad-0016014840610_54e2004ff2_o-001Super_Ad

Translated from the German of the rare print ad (second pic) as ‘Super Offer’ it may come as a surprise that the now-beloved line of toys based on Superman: The Movie were neither a big hit with its target audience, or indeed, its star, who apparently was not too enamoured with the idea of being further immortalised in plastic.

Already constrained by a licensing deal that limited usage of designs directly from the movie, it is now the stuff of figure-collecting legend that the Mego Corporation were forced to market the newest addition to their World’s Greatest Superheroes line as a mere representation of its cinematic counterparts rather than the faithful adaptations it would become so renowned for with later Sci-Fi properties.

While the 1/6 line may have been outfitted in garish costumes torn straight from the comic book page and packaged in boxes with similar slapdash art, Mego did not compromise on the portraits, (despite the leading man’s objections) where convincing (for the time) likenesses of the actors (created by Ken Sheller) topping off the patented muscular bodies were highlights of the collection.

Charged with maintaining the history of the fondly remembered company itself is the Mego Museum website, where recent interviews given by its former creative team reveal further interesting details about the conception and development of the Superman line – the first excerpt below from a chat with Harvey Zelman;

MM: Did you have a lot of input on lines like the Worlds Greatest Superheroes?

HZ: Oh yeah, it was one of my big lines.

MM: How did you choose characters?

HZ: You have to understand the relationship that we had with [ then president of DC Sol] Harrison (Editor’s note, Sol’s son Marty worked at Mego in the mid seventies) We get a lot of advanced comic books, we knew who all of the characters were, we knew Superman was going to be the big star and all the other characters were going to be “B” players.

The greatest thing we came up with in those days was the flying Superman on a string. I don’t remember what we called it, that was my item. I remember hooking up that up at a toy show and in those days we didn’t have what we do now, so here was Superman flying all over the place, that was really cool.

MM: With the individual characters, what were some of your favourites to work on?

HZ: Superman, I remember when they went out to the movie and they came back, they said “Chris Reeve, he [doesn’t like us] ” He didn’t want the licensing deal, I don’t know what the problem was, those stories are true.

MM: He didn’t want to be made into an action figure?

HZ: No he did not but what was really great and I remember sitting down with everybody and they lined up all the still frames from the movie and we got the insight of what was going on. Sitting there in the meeting saying :OK, we gotta do a Fortress of Solitude, we gotta do this, we gotta do that’ {Editors note, Actual notes from one of these meetings can be found in the Vincent Baiera interview) and that’s how great Mego was. We’d show Marty and say “this is what we want to do” and he’d say “Fine, do it” and we just cooked.

Reeve’s intriguing conflict with the toy giant takes on an even bigger twist due to the baffling involvement of a certain James Bond Producer as cited by Bill Baron – Mego VP of RND;

MM: You were on the set of Superman the Movie weren’t you?

BB: Yeah, Lenny Jacobs (The movie’s licensor) outfit ran me out there. Christopher Reeve was [really ticked off about his licensing deal] and he didn’t realize it wasn’t me [who had done the deal] it was Cubby Broccoli. I had to say “Whoa Superman!” (Laughs). He seemed like a really nice guy. Len said to me, “I’d like to take you out there and see what’s going on” This was the set of second movie. It was mainly a PR thing; I took some pictures but the next year Superman really kind of faded. It was a good franchise but you need good product too.

MM: Mego didn’t do anything for Superman II?

BB: We had a twelve inch line for the first one but for the second one, I can’t remember what happened.

MM: I have read that the first Superman the Movie didn’t do much for Mego sales.

BB: No, I don’t think it did, it was a loser.

From the top, TV Commercial for ‘The World’s Greatest Superheroes’ Superman figures, a print ad from Germany representing the only instance of promotional material from the movie, an ad taken from a Superman comic book of the era, and finally a full-page ad of Superman memorabilia presumably taken from a Warren Publications magazine…

“Selfish..?!”

Blog1Blog5Blog2Blog6“After all I’ve done for them?  Will there ever come a time when I’ve served enough?? At least they have a chance for happiness – I only ask as much…No more…”

SUPERMANIA is proud to present the second movie-accurate custom 1/6th figure based on Hot Toys range of classic Superman figures (the first being Jor-El from Superman Returns).

Modelled specifically after a scene shot by Richard Donner and long thought lost, (after a dispute between Marlon Brando and the producers meant none of the footage featuring him could be used for the sequel) the prints were unearthed by Michael Thau for reinsertion into the 2006 Richard Donner cut on DVD.  The original sequence (reshot with Susannah York in place of Brando for Richard Lester’s Superman II) featured a petulant Kal-El ready to sacrifice his earthly powers for the love of Lois Lane.  Dressed in a relaxed version of his Clark Kent formals (allowing Lois to wear the top half of his Superman costume) but still sporting the Superman hairstyle, the tension between father & son as he pleads for him to reconsider his sacrifice is a standout moment in the movie.

Hot Toys MMS 152 features the perfect base model for this custom ‘Depowering’ figure – with a heavily modified torso (permitting the arms to be posed much closer to the body) and subtly altered hairline/kiss curl to more accurately reflect Christopher Reeve’s hair from the scene.  The screen-accurate costume is a bespoke shirt and pants with identical details such as the button down collar, side pockets and even correct shirt pocket pattern made by 1/6 tailor extraordinaire Tinela Ayers.  Finishing touches came from other Hot Toys stock figures including Agent Coulson MMS 189 (belt) and Wolverine MMS220 (shoes).  The figure was then photographed with the Hot Toys Fortress base and Crystal control panel from the Mattel 1/6th Collectors series.

Click here for a full gallery on the Capedwonder.com ‘Figures’ page and Coming soon – an all-new custom with screen accurate Superman movie costume…

BelieveReeve?

Reeve_PF1Reeve_PF4Reeve_PF3Reeve_PF2From the Sideshow Collectibles.com website;

“The Man of Steel explodes into action like never before, with the Christopher Reeve as Superman Premium Format™ Figure.

Having just celebrated his 75th anniversary last year, the all-American icon endures through the decades like, well, a Man of Steel. Superman’s famous red cape soars on, even while aspects and attributes of the world’s first comic book superhero change as a reflection of the times and culture…”

Unveiled for preorder on this splendidly presented page, the highly anticipated reveal of this latest PF is not quite the embodiment of SUPERMANIA’s worst fears realised but still does little to advance them beyond the initial thoughts as offered here.

Besides the hideous (and unnecessary??) wooden plinth to force the height of the piece over two feet the addition of the out-of-scale Green Crystal (as an exclusive) elicits yet more bafflement but little incentive.  There are positives – the costume (less skinny belt and padless cape) is fabulously realised but the irony of such time and effort being spent on this and having the best view coming from behind is not lost here.

Even this excellent article documenting the talented Matthew Black’s artistic process and obsession with the Reeve lifecast can’t detract from how much better the Hot Toys figure manages to appear sat on his own desk.  Sadly, the gaunt, unbalanced portrait simply fails to capture Reeve and the pose is every bit as out of character.

With less ambition and more faith in simplicity and the source material this may well have been the definitive licensed Reeve as Superman statue.  To expand, a base comprising of a top-tier corner from a New York apartment terrace, a headsculpt by Trevor Grove resplendent with warm expression, a revised costume with correct details and a pose, well, see any publicity photo from ’78 and take your pick.  Whichever way you slice it,  the fusion of iconic vintage with 21st century aesthetic in this instance fails to soar…