SUPERMANIA is proud to present a unique guide to the licensed action figures bearing the authorised likeness of Christopher Reeve as Superman. As this site is 100% dedicated to showcasing material from the classic Superman Movies series (1978-87) this guide is restricted to the official action figures and statues released in association solely with the movies.
In 1977, licensing for movie merchandise was subject to an unforeseen explosion from which it would never recover with the commercial juggernaut that was George Lucas Star Wars. With a precedent set of unexpected calibre studios and toy companies all raced to facilitate and merchandise the next big thing and Superman, by then already a 30 year old property, would be given similar treatment.
Comic book ads for Superman Movie Merchandise
Although Warner Bros. offered a thorough catalogue of tie-in’s it was still a modest campaign compared to the rolling 20th Century Fox deal and unfortunately came with limitations due to a series of rights issues that would literally take decades to unravel. One of these many trappings was the use of an actor’s likeness. Elementary today and a lucrative stipulation of any performer’s contract, in the late 70’s this concept was in its infancy. Indeed, some stars were not enamoured for whatever reason with the idea of becoming an action figure at all. The late Christopher Reeve was well documented as being one of them.
The 1978 Mego Catalogue announcing the Superman 12 1/2″ Action Figure line
With deals struck, however, figures were indeed produced bearing the actor’s portrait from 1978 onwards by the Mego Corp. but unlike the Star Wars packaging (where the actor’s photograph would also appear) and limited by the licensing restrictions, the iconography of the Superman Movies would never be truly embraced.
Above: Full-page ads for Superman Movie related merchandise, 1979
Thirty years later events would conspire to seemingly unravel this unjustness overnight, with various deals put in place and litigation settled to finally make the Superman series a unified property and, therefore, subject to licensing opportunities at last. This, combined with deals made with the Reeve estate/family after his untimely passing would also permit use of his likeness not only with their blessing, but on the condition a percentage of sales would go to a worthy cause.
Which brings us right up to date and to the guide below, where the evolution of both the industry trends and demands of collectors are apparent as the product becomes more detailed and movie-accurate with each succeeding release. Presented in height order, as of now this is the definitive guide for all official Superman movie figures commercially available. Should one of the plethora of custom figures or statues produced in the meantime be what you are looking for then please go to the ‘Figures and Statues’ tab on the right hand bar, where they will have been documented exhaustively in postings.
We will always believe.
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From left to right (click on links for related posts)
1). Mego ‘Pocket Superheroes’ Action Figure (1978)
4). Madelman ‘Superman The Movie’ Action Figure (1979)
5). DC Direct ‘Christopher Reeve as Superman’ Statue (2009)
12). Cinemaquette/Toynami ‘Superman’ Statue (2010)