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…