“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

The Gift…

II_CoverPictures2Pictures3CollagesPictures5Italy9Roughly translated from the cover as ‘gift of the first comic of Superman’ this magnificent vintage feature from the pages of ultra-rare Italian TV guide is 34 years old this month and SUPERMANIA’s Christmas treat for 2014.

With (flipped, notice the redone ‘S’ shield) cover art utilizing the fantastic painting used for the International release of Richard Lester’s Superman II the nine-page pictorial combines stills from the new movie with reproductions of the pages of Action Comics #1, highlighting ‘Il giorno In cui Superman arrivo sulla terraSuperman’s arrival on Earth.

SUPERMANIA wishes all its loyal followers the most Super-Christmas and all the best for the new year.  The Adventure Continues in 2015..!!!

Astronautics…

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Though the cinematic conception of Planet Krypton as a world founded on crystal technology may be credited to Star Wars designer John Barry, it may come as a surprise that the final designs for Superman’s alien mechanizations were rendered by the man most famous for the iconic look of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Despite their infamy, producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind insisted on hiring the best of the best across the industry for their productions and the late Harry Lange, now known as ‘the man who saw the future’ was no exception.

Credited as an ‘Astronautics Consultant’ for Richard Lester’s Superman II, German born Hans Kurt Lange (bottom pic, holding the astronaut helmet he designed for 2001) was solely responsible for the interior/exterior work on the Artemis II space capsule set (third pic) realised with such authenticity it could’ve passed as a real spacecraft –  

“I’d seen real hardware at Cape Canaveral and in NASA’s research laboratories and hangars, so I knew what the equipment had to look like. A piece of board with blue squares stuck on it may do for TV, but not when you want to do something on a Cinerama screen. It had to be absolutely perfect. I kept that idea in my following films: Star Wars, Superman, James Bond…”

While comparisons between the earth-based hardware in II, Kubrick’s classic and Moonraker evidently bear Lange distinctive style, it is the Kryptonian computers/memory banks (first & second pic) that are standout examples of fantasy art elegantly realised.  While the console (second pic) could easily be the basis of Superman’s computer in the Fortress Of Solitude revised for Superman II, one wonders if he was involved uncredited as early as Donner’s original movie as this lot of illustrations from his estate (in auction this month by Propstore) clearly show a bank of computers mounted in the arch of Lex Luthor’s underground hideaway…

Read Harry’s obituary from the UK Independent here

Celeb Parade…

CP_1CP_2CP_4CP_3Join SUPERMANIA in celebration of what would have been Christopher Reeve’s 62nd birthday with a lookback at this pulpy vintage one-shot tribute magazine dedicated to the star.

Responsible for similarly cheaply-printed fare as Star Blaster and Movie Monsters (littered with reprinted articles from both their crude pages) SJ Publications rushed this 100% unofficial edition to newsstands in the wake of Superman: The Movie’s success and the upcoming premiere of Superman II.

Leafing through the badly reproduced photographs and lowbrow contents (the article on Superman II’s storyline almost hilariously inaccurate) one cannot help a wave of nostalgia especially coming across a splash page (bottom) where the message seems particularly poignant.

Happy birthday, ‘Toph…